“Do, by all means,” said the serpent, with a touch of irony in his voice. “There is nothing so improving as a good, square, green sunset.”
“Did you happen to observe that man standing behind you with a club?” continued the sparrow. “Handsome fellow! Fifteen cubits high, with seven heads, and very singularly attired; quite a spectacle in his way.”
“I don’t seem to care much for men,” said the snake. “Every way inferior to serpents—except in malice.”
“But he is accompanied by a really interesting child,” persisted the bird, desperately.
The rattlesnake reflected deeply. He soliloquized as follows:
“There is a mere chance—say about one chance to ten thousand million—that this songster is speaking the truth. One chance in ten thousand million of seeing a really interesting child is worth the sacrifice demanded; I’ll make it.”
So saying, he removed his glittering eyes from the bird (who immediately took wing) and looked behind him. It is needless to say there was no really interesting child there—nor anywhere else.
MORAL.—Mendacity (so called from the inventors) is a very poor sort of dacity; but it will serve your purpose if you draw it sufficiently strong.
A man who was very much annoyed by the incursions of a lean ass belonging to his neighbour, resolved to compass the destruction of the invader.
“Now,” said he, “if this animal shall choose to starve himself to death in the midst of plenty, the law will not hold me guilty of his blood. I have read of a trick which I think will ‘fix’ him.”
So he took two bales of his best hay, and placed them in a distant field, about forty cubits apart. By means of a little salt he then enticed the ass in, and coaxed him between the bundles.
“There, fiend!” said he, with a diabolic grin, as he walked away delighted with the success of his stratagem, “now hesitate which bundle of hay to attack first, until you starve—monster!”
Some weeks afterwards he returned with a wagon to convey back the bundles of hay. There wasn’t any hay, but the wagon was useful for returning to his owner that unfortunate ass—who was too fat to walk.
This ought to show any one the folly of relying upon the teaching of obscure and inferior authors.[A]
[Footnote A: It is to be wished our author had not laid himself open to the imputation of having perverted, if not actually invented, some of his facts, for the unworthy purpose of bringing a deserving rival into disfavour.—TRANSLATOR.]
One day the king of the wrens held his court for the trial of a bear, who was at large upon his own recognizance. Being summoned to appear, the animal came with great humility into the royal presence.
“What have you to say, sir,” demanded the king, “in defence of your inexcusable conduct in pillaging the nests of our loyal subjects wherever you can find them?”