THE THREE TRADESMEN
The citizens of a certain city were debating about the best material to use in the fortifications which were about to be erected for the greater security of the town. A Carpenter got up and advised the use of wood, which he said was readily procurable and easily worked. A Stone-mason objected to wood on the ground that it was so inflammable, and recommended stones instead. Then a Tanner got on his legs and said, “In my opinion there’s nothing like leather.”
Every man for himself.
THE MOUSE AND THE BULL
A Bull gave chase to a Mouse which had bitten him in the nose: but the Mouse was too quick for him and slipped into a hole in a wall. The Bull charged furiously into the wall again and again until he was tired out, and sank down on the ground exhausted with his efforts. When all was quiet, the Mouse darted out and bit him again. Beside himself with rage he started to his feet, but by that time the Mouse was back in his hole again, and he could do nothing but bellow and fume in helpless anger. Presently he heard a shrill little voice say from inside the wall, “You big fellows don’t always have it your own way, you see: sometimes we little ones come off best.”
The battle is not always to the strong.
THE HARE AND THE HOUND
A Hound started a Hare from her form, and pursued her for some distance; but as she gradually gained upon him, he gave up the chase. A rustic who had seen the race met the Hound as he was returning, and taunted him with his defeat. “The little one was too much for you,” said he. “Ah, well,” said the Hound, “don’t forget it’s one thing to be running for your dinner, but quite another to be running for your life.”
THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE
A Town Mouse and a Country Mouse were acquaintances, and the Country Mouse one day invited his friend to come and see him at his home in the fields. The Town Mouse came, and they sat down to a dinner of barleycorns and roots, the latter of which had a distinctly earthy flavour. The fare was not much to the taste of the guest, and presently he broke out with “My poor dear friend, you live here no better than the ants. Now, you should just see how I fare! My larder is a regular horn of plenty. You must come and stay with me, and I promise you you shall live on the fat of the land.” So when he returned to town he took the Country Mouse with him, and showed him into a larder containing flour and oatmeal and figs and honey and dates. The Country Mouse had never seen anything like it, and sat down to enjoy the luxuries his friend provided: but before they had well begun, the door of the larder opened and some one came in. The two Mice scampered off and hid themselves in a narrow and exceedingly uncomfortable hole. Presently, when all was quiet, they ventured out again; but some one else came in, and off they scuttled again. This was too much for the visitor. “Good-bye,” said he, “I’m off. You live in the lap of luxury, I can see, but you are surrounded by dangers; whereas at home I can enjoy my simple dinner of roots and corn in peace.”