The reply was probably the wisest ever made; but it has not descended to this generation. It had so very far to descend.
A dog having got upon the scent of a deer which a hunter had been dragging home, set off with extraordinary zeal. After measuring off a few leagues, he paused.
“My running gear is all right,” said he; “but I seem to have lost my voice.”
Suddenly his ear was assailed by a succession of eager barks, as of another dog in pursuit of him. It then began to dawn upon him that he was a particularly rapid dog: instead of having lost his voice, his voice had lost him, and was just now arriving. Full of his discovery, he sought his master, and struck for better food and more comfortable housing.
“Why, you miserable example of perverted powers!” said his master; “I never intended you for the chase, but for the road. You are to be a draught-dog—to pull baby about in a cart. You will perceive that speed is an objection. Sir, you must be toned down; you will be at once assigned to a house with modern conveniences, and will dine at a French restaurant. If that system do not reduce your own, I’m an ’Ebrew Jew!”
The journals next morning had racy and appetizing accounts of a canine suicide.
A gosling, who had not yet begun to blanch, was accosted by a chicken just out of the shell:
“Whither away so fast, fair maid?” inquired the chick.
“Wither away yourself,” was the contemptuous reply; “you are already in the sere and yellow leaf; while I seem to have a green old age before me.”
A famishing traveller who had run down a salamander, made a fire, and laid him alive upon the hot coals to cook. Wearied with the pursuit which had preceded his capture, the animal at once composed himself, and fell into a refreshing sleep. At the end of a half-hour, the man, stirred him with a stick, remarking:
“I say!—wake up and begin toasting, will you? How long do you mean to keep dinner waiting, eh?”
“Oh, I beg you will not wait for me,” was the yawning reply. “If you are going to stand upon ceremony, everything will get cold. Besides, I have dined. I wish, by-the-way, you would put on some more fuel; I think we shall have snow.”
“Yes,” said the man, “the weather is like yourself—raw, and exasperatingly cool. Perhaps this will warm you.” And he rolled a ponderous pine log atop of that provoking reptile, who flattened out, and “handed in his checks.”
The moral thus doth glibly run—
A cause its opposite may brew;
The sun-shade is unlike the sun,
The plum unlike the plumber, too.
A salamander underdone
His impudence may overdo.