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

“In any case,” was the rejoinder, “we can never be sufficiently thankful that we are unlike the lowly hippopotamus, who can reach neither the one nor the other.”

“Ah! yes,” the elephant assented, “there does not seem to have been enough of Nature’s kindness to go round.”

“But the hippopotamus has his roots and his rushes.”

“It is not easy to see how, with his present appliances, he could obtain anything else.”

This fable teaches nothing; for those who perceive the meaning of it either knew it before, or will not be taught.

XCV.

A pious heathen who was currying favour with his wooden deity by sitting for some years motionless in a treeless plain, observed a young ivy putting forth her tender shoots at his feet.  He thought he could endure the additional martyrdom of a little shade, and begged her to make herself quite at home.

“Exactly,” said the plant; “it is my mission to adorn venerable ruins.”

She lapped her clinging tendrils about his wasted shanks, and in six months had mantled him in green.

“It is now time,” said the devotee, a year later, “for me to fulfil the remainder of my religious vow.  I must put in a few seasons of howling and leaping.  You have been very good, but I no longer require your gentle ministrations.”

“But I require yours,” replied the vine; “you have become a second nature to me.  Let others indulge in the delights of gymnastic worship; you and I will ’surfer and be strong’—­respectively.”

The devotee muttered something about the division of labour, and his bones are still pointed out to the pilgrim.

XCVI.

A fox seeing a swan afloat, called out: 

“What ship is that?  I wish to take passage by your line.”

“Got a ticket?” inquired the fowl.

“No; I’ll make it all right with the company, though.”

So the swan moored alongside, and he embarked,—­deck passage.  When they were well off shore the fox intimated that dinner would be agreeable.

“I would advise you not to try the ship’s provisions,” said the bird; “we have only salt meat on board.  Beware the scurvy!”

“You are quite right,” replied the passenger; “I’ll see if I can stay my stomach with the foremast.”

So saying he bit off her neck, and she immediately capsizing, he was drowned.

MORAL—­highly so, but not instructive.

XCVII.

A monkey finding a heap of cocoa-nuts, gnawed into one, then dropped it, gagging hideously.

“Now, this is what I call perfectly disgusting!” said he:  “I can never leave anything lying about but some one comes along and puts a quantity of nasty milk into it!”

A cat just then happening to pass that way began rolling the cocoa-nuts about with her paw.

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