Two travellers between Teheran and Bagdad met half-way up the vertical face of a rock, on a path only a cubit in width. As both were in a hurry, and etiquette would allow neither to set his foot upon the other even if dignity had permitted prostration, they maintained for some time a stationary condition. After some reflection, each decided to jump round the other; but as etiquette did not warrant conversation with a stranger, neither made known his intention. The consequence was they met, with considerable emphasis, about four feet from the edge of the path, and went through a flight of soaring eagles, a mile out of their way![A]
[Footnote A: This is infamous! The learned Parsee appears wholly to ignore the distinction between a fable and a simple lie.—Translator.]
A stone which had lain for centuries in a hidden place complained to Allah that remaining so long in one position was productive of cramps.
“If thou wouldst be pleased,” it said, “to let me take a little exercise now and then, my health would be the better for it.”
So it was granted permission to make a short excursion, and at once began rolling out into the open desert. It had not proceeded far before an ostrich, who was pensively eating a keg of nails, left his repast, dashed at the stone, and gobbled it up.
This narration teaches the folly of contentment: if the ostrich had been content with his nails he would never have eaten the stone.
A man carrying a sack of corn up a high ladder propped against a wall, had nearly reached the top, when a powerful hog passing that way leant against the bottom to scratch its hide.
“I wish,” said the man, speaking down the ladder, “you would make that operation as brief as possible; and when I come down I will reward you by rearing a fresh ladder especially for you.”
“This one is quite good enough for a hog,” was the reply; “but I am curious to know if you will keep your promise, so I’ll just amuse myself until you come down.”
And taking the bottom rung in his mouth, he moved off, away from the wall. A moment later he had all the loose corn he could garner, but he never got that other ladder.
Moral.—An ace and four kings is as good a hand as one can hold in draw-poker.
A young cock and a hen were speaking of the size of eggs. Said the cock:
“I once laid an egg—”
“Oh, you did!” interrupted the hen, with a derisive cackle. “Pray how did you manage it?”
The cock felt injured in his self-esteem, and, turning his back upon the hen, addressed himself to a brood of young chickens.
“I once laid an egg—”
The chickens chirped incredulously, and passed on. The insulted bird reddened in the wattles with indignation, and strutting up to the patriarch of the entire barn-yard, repeated his assertion. The patriarch nodded gravely, as if the feat were an every-day affair, and the other continued: