The Birds were at war with the Beasts, and many battles were fought with varying success on either side. The Bat did not throw in his lot definitely with either party, but when things went well for the Birds he was found fighting in their ranks; when, on the other hand, the Beasts got the upper hand, he was to be found among the Beasts. No one paid any attention to him while the war lasted: but when it was over, and peace was restored, neither the Birds nor the Beasts would have anything to do with so double-faced a traitor, and so he remains to this day a solitary outcast from both.
THE MAN AND HIS TWO SWEETHEARTS
A Man of middle age, whose hair was turning grey, had two Sweethearts, an old woman and a young one. The elder of the two didn’t like having a lover who looked so much younger than herself; so, whenever he came to see her, she used to pull the dark hairs out of his head to make him look old. The younger, on the other hand, didn’t like him to look so much older than herself, and took every opportunity of pulling out the grey hairs, to make him look young. Between them, they left not a hair in his head, and he became perfectly bald.
THE EAGLE, THE JACKDAW, AND THE SHEPHERD
One day a Jackdaw saw an Eagle swoop down on a lamb and carry it off in its talons. “My word,” said the Jackdaw, “I’ll do that myself.” So it flew high up into the air, and then came shooting down with a great whirring of wings on to the back of a big ram. It had no sooner alighted than its claws got caught fast in the wool, and nothing it could do was of any use: there it stuck, flapping away, and only making things worse instead of better. By and by up came the Shepherd. “Oho,” he said, “so that’s what you’d be doing, is it?” And he took the Jackdaw, and clipped its wings and carried it home to his children. It looked so odd that they didn’t know what to make of it. “What sort of bird is it, father?” they asked. “It’s a Jackdaw,” he replied, “and nothing but a Jackdaw: but it wants to be taken for an Eagle.”
If you attempt what is beyond
your power, your trouble will be
wasted and you court not only misfortune but ridicule.
THE WOLF AND THE BOY
A Wolf, who had just enjoyed a good meal and was in a playful mood, caught sight of a Boy lying flat upon the ground, and, realising that he was trying to hide, and that it was fear of himself that made him do this, he went up to him and said, “Aha, I’ve found you, you see; but if you can say three things to me, the truth of which cannot be disputed, I will spare your life.” The Boy plucked up courage and thought for a moment, and then he said, “First, it is a pity you saw me; secondly, I was a fool to let myself be seen; and thirdly, we all hate wolves because they are always making unprovoked attacks upon our flocks.” The Wolf replied, “Well, what you say is true enough from your point of view; so you may go.”