THE LION AND THE HARE
A Lion found a Hare sleeping in her form, and was just going to devour her when he caught sight of a passing stag. Dropping the Hare, he at once made for the bigger game; but finding, after a long chase, that he could not overtake the stag, he abandoned the attempt and came back for the Hare. When he reached the spot, however, he found she was nowhere to be seen, and he had to go without his dinner. “It serves me right,” he said; “I should have been content with what I had got, instead of hankering after a better prize.”
THE WOLVES AND THE DOGS
Once upon a time the Wolves said to the Dogs, “Why should we continue to be enemies any longer? You are very like us in most ways: the main difference between us is one of training only. We live a life of freedom; but you are enslaved to mankind, who beat you, and put heavy collars round your necks, and compel you to keep watch over their flocks and herds for them, and, to crown all, they give you nothing but bones to eat. Don’t put up with it any longer, but hand over the flocks to us, and we will all live on the fat of the land and feast together.” The Dogs allowed themselves to be persuaded by these words, and accompanied the Wolves into their den. But no sooner were they well inside than the Wolves set upon them and tore them to pieces.
Traitors richly deserve their fate.
THE BULL AND THE CALF
A full-grown Bull was struggling to force his huge bulk through the narrow entrance to a cow-house where his stall was, when a young Calf came up and said to him, “If you’ll step aside a moment, I’ll show you the way to get through.” The Bull turned upon him an amused look. “I knew that way,” said he, “before you were born.”
THE TREES AND THE AXE
A Woodman went into the forest and begged of the Trees the favour of a handle for his Axe. The principal Trees at once agreed to so modest a request, and unhesitatingly gave him a young ash sapling, out of which he fashioned the handle he desired. No sooner had he done so than he set to work to fell the noblest Trees in the wood. When they saw the use to which he was putting their gift, they cried, “Alas! alas! We are undone, but we are ourselves to blame. The little we gave has cost us all: had we not sacrificed the rights of the ash, we might ourselves have stood for ages.”
There was once an Astronomer whose habit it was to go out at night and observe the stars. One night, as he was walking about outside the town gates, gazing up absorbed into the sky and not looking where he was going, he fell into a dry well. As he lay there groaning, some one passing by heard him, and, coming to the edge of the well, looked down and, on learning what had happened, said, “If you really mean to say that you were looking so hard at the sky that you didn’t even see where your feet were carrying you along the ground, it appears to me that you deserve all you’ve got.”