A Nightingale was sitting on a bough of an oak and singing, as her custom was. A hungry Hawk presently spied her, and darting to the spot seized her in his talons. He was just about to tear her in pieces when she begged him to spare her life: “I’m not big enough,” she pleaded, “to make you a good meal: you ought to seek your prey among the bigger birds.” The Hawk eyed her with some contempt. “You must think me very simple,” said he, “if you suppose I am going to give up a certain prize on the chance of a better of which I see at present no signs.”
A Rose and an Amaranth blossomed side by side in a garden, and the Amaranth said to her neighbour, “How I envy you your beauty and your sweet scent! No wonder you are such a universal favourite.” But the Rose replied with a shade of sadness in her voice, “Ah, my dear friend, I bloom but for a time: my petals soon wither and fall, and then I die. But your flowers never fade, even if they are cut; for they are everlasting.”
One winter’s day, during a severe storm, a Horse, an Ox, and a Dog came and begged for shelter in the house of a Man. He readily admitted them, and, as they were cold and wet, he lit a fire for their comfort: and he put oats before the Horse, and hay before the Ox, while he fed the Dog with the remains of his own dinner. When the storm abated, and they were about to depart, they determined to show their gratitude in the following way. They divided the life of Man among them, and each endowed one part of it with the qualities which were peculiarly his own. The Horse took youth, and hence young men are high-mettled and impatient of restraint; the Ox took middle age, and accordingly men in middle life are steady and hard-working; while the Dog took old age, which is the reason why old men are so often peevish and ill-tempered, and, like dogs, attached chiefly to those who look to their comfort, while they are disposed to snap at those who are unfamiliar or distasteful to them.
The Wolves sent a deputation to the Sheep with proposals for a lasting peace between them, on condition of their giving up the sheep-dogs to instant death. The foolish Sheep agreed to the terms; but an old Ram, whose years had brought him wisdom, interfered and said, “How can we expect to live at peace with you? Why, even with the dogs at hand to protect us, we are never secure from your murderous attacks!”