THE OLD WOMAN AND THE WINE-JAR
An old Woman picked up an empty Wine-jar which had once contained a rare and costly wine, and which still retained some traces of its exquisite bouquet. She raised it to her nose and sniffed at it again and again. “Ah,” she cried, “how delicious must have been the liquid which has left behind so ravishing a smell.”
THE LIONESS AND THE VIXEN
A Lioness and a Vixen were talking together about their young, as mothers will, and saying how healthy and well-grown they were, and what beautiful coats they had, and how they were the image of their parents. “My litter of cubs is a joy to see,” said the Fox; and then she added, rather maliciously, “But I notice you never have more than one.” “No,” said the Lioness grimly, “but that one’s a lion.”
Quality, not quantity.
THE VIPER AND THE FILE
A Viper entered a carpenter’s shop, and went from one to another of the tools, begging for something to eat. Among the rest, he addressed himself to the File, and asked for the favour of a meal. The File replied in a tone of pitying contempt, “What a simpleton you must be if you imagine you will get anything from me, who invariably take from every one and never give anything in return.”
The covetous are poor givers.
THE CAT AND THE COCK
A Cat pounced on a Cock, and cast about for some good excuse for making a meal off him, for Cats don’t as a rule eat Cocks, and she knew she ought not to. At last she said, “You make a great nuisance of yourself at night by crowing and keeping people awake: so I am going to make an end of you.” But the Cock defended himself by saying that he crowed in order that men might wake up and set about the day’s work in good time, and that they really couldn’t very well do without him. “That may be,” said the Cat, “but whether they can or not, I’m not going without my dinner”; and she killed and ate him.
The want of a good excuse never kept a villain from crime.
THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE
A Hare was one day making fun of a Tortoise for being so slow upon his feet. “Wait a bit,” said the Tortoise; “I’ll run a race with you, and I’ll wager that I win.” “Oh, well,” replied the Hare, who was much amused at the idea, “let’s try and see”; and it was soon agreed that the fox should set a course for them, and be the judge. When the time came both started off together, but the Hare was soon so far ahead that he thought he might as well have a rest: so down he lay and fell fast asleep. Meanwhile the Tortoise kept plodding on, and in time reached the goal. At last the Hare woke up with a start, and dashed on at his fastest, but only to find that the Tortoise had already won the race.