“Ah!” meditated the unhappy beast, “I have performed one miracle, but I can’t keep it up all day, you know. The explanation demanded is a trifle too heavy for even the ponderous ingenuity of a marsupial.”
And he permitted himself to be sodded over.
If the reader knows what lesson is conveyed by this narrative, he knows—just what the writer knows.
Three animals on board a sinking ship prepared to take to the water. It was agreed among them that the bear should be lowered alongside; the mouse (who was to act as pilot) should embark upon him at once, to beat off the drowning sailors; and the monkey should follow, with provisions for the expedition—which arrangement was successfully carried out. The fourth day out from the wreck, the bear began to propound a series of leading questions concerning dinner; when it appeared that the monkey had provided but a single nut.
“I thought this would keep me awhile,” he explained, “and you could eat the pilot.”
Hearing this, the mouse vanished like a flash into the bear’s ear, and fearing the hungry beast would then demand the nut, the monkey hastily devoured it. Not being in a position to insist upon his rights, the bear merely gobbled up the monkey.
A lamb suffering from thirst went to a brook to drink. Putting his nose to the water, he was interested to feel it bitten by a fish. Not liking fish, he drew back and sought another place; but his persecutor getting there before him administered the same rebuff. The lamb being rather persevering, and the fish having no appointments for that day, this was repeated a few thousand times, when the former felt justified in swearing:
“I’m eternally boiled!” said he, “if ever I experienced so many fish in all my life. It is discouraging. It inspires me with mint sauce and green peas.”
He probably meant amazement and fear; under the influence of powerful emotions even lambs will talk “shop.”
“Well, good bye,” said his tormentor, taking a final nip at the animal’s muzzle; “I should like to amuse you some more; but I have other fish to fry.”
This tale teaches a good quantity of lessons; but it does not teach why this fish should have persecuted this lamb.
A mole, in pursuing certain geological researches, came upon the buried carcase of a mule, and was about to tunnel him.
“Slow down, my good friend,” said the deceased. “Push your mining operations in a less sacrilegious direction. Respect the dead, as you hope for death!”
“You have that about you,” said the gnome, “that must make your grave respected in a certain sense, for at least such a period as your immortal part may require for perfect exhalation. The immunity I accord is not conceded to your sanctity, but extorted by your scent. The sepulchres of moles only are sacred.”