“May it please your Majesty,” replied the prisoner, with a reverential gesture, repeated at intervals, and each time at a less distance from the royal person, “I will not wound your Majesty’s sensibilities by pleading a love of eggs; I will humbly confess my course of crime, warn your Majesty of its probable continuance, and beg your Majesty’s gracious permission to inquire—What is your Majesty going to do about it?”
The king and his ministers were very much struck with this respectful speech, with the ingenuity of the final inquiry, and with the bear’s paw. It was the paw, however, which made the most lasting impression.
Always give ear to the flattery of your powerful inferiors: it will cheer you in your decline.
A philosopher looking up from the pages of the Zend-Avesta, upon which he had been centring his soul, beheld a pig violently assailing a cauldron of cold slops.
“Heaven bless us!” said the sage; “for unalloyed delight give me a good honest article of Sensuality. So soon as my ’Essay upon the Correlation of Mind-forces’ shall have brought me fame and fortune, I hope to abjure the higher faculties, devoting the remainder of my life to the cultivation of the propensities.”
“Allah be praised!” soliloquized the pig, “there is nothing so godlike as Intellect, and nothing so ecstatic as intellectual pursuits. I must hasten to perform this gross material function, that I may retire to my wallow and resign my soul to philosophical meditation.”
This tale has one moral if you are a philosopher, and another if you are a pig.
“Awful dark—isn’t it?” said an owl, one night, looking in upon the roosting hens in a poultry-house; “don’t see how I am to find my way back to my hollow tree.”
“There is no necessity,” replied the cock; “you can roost there, alongside the door, and go home in the morning.”
“Thanks!” said the owl, chuckling at the fool’s simplicity; and, having plenty of time to indulge his facetious humour, he gravely installed himself upon the perch indicated, and shutting his eyes, counterfeited a profound slumber. He was aroused soon after by a sharp constriction of the throat.
“I omitted to tell you,” said the cock, “that the seat you happen by the merest chance to occupy is a contested one, and has been fruitful of hens to this vexatious weasel. I don’t know how often I have been partially widowed by the sneaking villain.”
For obvious reasons there was no audible reply.
This narrative is intended to teach the folly—the worse than sin!—of trumping your partner’s ace.
A fat cow who saw herself detected by an approaching horse while perpetrating stiff and ungainly gambols in the spring sunshine, suddenly assumed a severe gravity of gait, and a sedate solemnity of expression that would have been creditable to a Brahmin.