MORAL.—Virtue is its only reward.
A rustic, preparing to devour an apple, was addressed by a brace of crafty and covetous birds:
“Nice apple that,” said one, critically examining it. “I don’t wish to disparage it—wouldn’t say a word against that vegetable for all the world. But I never can look upon an apple of that variety without thinking of my poisoned nestling! Ah! so plump, and rosy, and—rotten!”
“Just so,” said the other. “And you remember my good father, who perished in that orchard. Strange that so fair a skin should cover so vile a heart!”
Just then another fowl came flying up.
“I came in, all haste,” said he, “to warn you about that fruit. My late lamented wife ate some off the same tree. Alas! how comely to the eye, and how essentially noxious!”
“I am very grateful,” the young man said; “but I am unable to comprehend how the sight of this pretty piece of painted confectionery should incite you all to slander your dead relations.”
Whereat there was confusion in the demeanour of that feathered trio.
“The Millennium is come,” said a lion to a lamb. “Suppose you come out of that fold, and let us lie down together, as it has been foretold we should.”
“Been to dinner to-day?” inquired the lamb.
“Not a bite of anything since breakfast,” was the reply, “except a few lean swine, a saddle or two, and some old harness.”
“I distrust a Millennium,” continued the lamb, thoughtfully, “which consists solely in our lying down together. My notion of that happy time is that it is a period in which pork and leather are not articles of diet, but in which every respectable lion shall have as much mutton as he can consume. However, you may go over to yonder sunny hill and lie down until I come.”
It is singular how a feeling of security tends to develop cunning. If that lamb had been out upon the open plain he would have readily fallen into the snare—and it was studded very thickly with teeth.
“I say, you!” bawled a fat ox in a stall to a lusty young ass who was braying outside; “the like of that is not in good taste!”
“In whose good taste, my adipose censor?” inquired the ass, not too respectfully.
“Why—h’m—ah! I mean it does not suit me. You ought to bellow.”
“May I inquire how it happens to be any of your business whether I bellow or bray, or do both—or neither?”
“I cannot tell you,” answered the critic, shaking his head despondingly; “I do not at all understand it. I can only say that I have been accustomed to censure all discourse that differs from my own.”