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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 156 pages of information about Cobwebs from an Empty Skull.

[Illustration]

XXXVI.

A defeated warrior snatched up his aged father, and, slinging him across his shoulders, plunged into the wilderness, followed by the weary remnant of his beaten army.  The old gentleman liked it.

“See!” said he, triumphantly, to the flying legion; “did you ever hear of so dutiful and accommodating a son?  And he’s as easy under the saddle as an old family horse!”

“I rather think,” replied the broken and disordered battalion, with a grin, “that Mr. AEneas once did something of this kind.  But his father had thoughtfully taken an armful of lares and penates; and the accommodating nature of his son was, therefore, more conspicuous.  If I might venture to suggest that you take up my shield and scimitar—­”

“Thank you,” said the aged party, “I could not think of disarming the military:  but if you would just hand me up one of the heaviest of those dead branches, I think the merits of my son would be rendered sufficiently apparent.”

The routed column passed him up the one shown in the immediate foreground of our sketch, and it was quite enough for both steed and rider.

Fabula ostendit that History repeats itself, with variations.

XXXVII.

A pig who had engaged a cray-fish to pilot him along the beach in search of mussels, was surprised to see his guide start off backwards.

“Your excessive politeness quite overcomes me,” said the porker, “but don’t you think it rather ill bestowed upon a pig?  Pray don’t hesitate to turn your back upon me.”

“Sir,” replied the cray-fish, “permit me to continue as I am.  We now stand to each other in the proper relation of employe to employer.  The former is excessively obsequious, and the latter is, in the eyes of the former, a hog.”

XXXVIII.

The king of tortoises desiring to pay a visit of ceremony to a neighbouring monarch, feared that in his absence his idle subjects might get up a revolution, and that whoever might be left at the head of the State would usurp the throne.  So calling his subjects about him, he addressed them thus: 

“I am about to leave our beloved country for a long period, and desire to leave the sceptre in the hands of him who is most truly a tortoise.  I decree that you shall set out from yonder distant tree, and pass round it.  Whoever shall get back last shall be appointed Regent.”

So the population set out for the goal, and the king for his destination.  Before the race was decided, his Majesty had made the journey and returned.  But he found the throne occupied by a subject, who at once secured by violence what he had won by guile.

Certain usurpers are too conscientious to retain kingly power unless the rightful monarch be dead; and these are the most dangerous sort.

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