An ox meeting a man on the highway, asked him for a pinch of snuff, whereupon the man fled back along the road in extreme terror.
“Don’t be alarmed,” said a horse whom he met; “the ox won’t bite you.”
The man gave one stare and dashed across the meadows.
“Well,” said a sheep, “I wouldn’t be afraid of a horse; he won’t kick.”
The man shot like a comet into the forest.
“Look where you’re going there, or I’ll thrash the life out of you!” screamed a bird into whose nest he had blundered.
Frantic with fear, the man leapt into the sea.
“By Jove! how you frightened me,” said a small shark.
The man was dejected, and felt a sense of injury. He seated himself moodily on the bottom, braced up his chin with his knees, and thought for an hour. Then he beckoned to the fish who had made the last remark.
“See here, I say,” said he, “I wish you would just tell me what in thunder this all means.”
“Ever read any fables?” asked the shark.
“No—yes—well, the catechism, the marriage service, and—”
“Oh, bother!” said the fish, playfully, smiling clean back to the pectoral fins; “get out of this and bolt your AEsop!”
The man did get out and bolted.
[This fable teaches that its worthy author was drunk as a loon.—TRANSLATOR.]
A lion pursued by some villagers was asked by a fox why he did not escape on horseback.
“There is a fine strong steed just beyond this rock,” said the fox. “All you have to do is to get on his back and stay there.”
So the lion went up to the charger and asked him to give him a lift.
“Certainly,” said the horse, “with great pleasure.”
And setting one of his heels into the animal’s stomach, he lifted him. about seven feet from the ground.
“Confound you!” roared the beast as he fell back.
“So did you,” quietly remarked the steed.
A Mahout who had dismounted from his elephant, and was quietly standing on his head in the middle of the highway, was asked by the animal why he did not revert and move on.
“You are making a spectacle of yourself,” said the beast.
“If I choose to stand upside down,” replied the man, “I am very well aware that I incur the displeasure of those who adhere with slavish tenacity to the prejudices and traditions of society; but it seems to me that rebuke would come with a more consistent grace from one who does not wear a tail upon his nose.”
This fable teaches that four straight lines may enclose a circle, but there will be corners to let.
A dog meeting a strange cat, took her by the top of the back, and shook her for a considerable period with some earnestness. Then depositing her in a ditch, he remarked with gravity: