The Talking Beasts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 288 pages of information about The Talking Beasts.

He then went to the brink of a spring of water in which there were a number of frogs who had a potent King and one who was obeyed and renowned.  The Snake cast himself down there in the dust of the road, like to a sufferer on whom calamity has fallen.  A Frog speedily made up to him, and asked him:  “I see thou art very sorrowful.  What is the cause of it?” The Snake replied:  “Who deserves more to grieve than I, whose maintenance was from hunting frogs?  Today an event has occurred which has rendered the pursuit of them unlawful to me, and if I seriously designed to seize one, I could not.”  The Frog went away and told the King, who was amazed at this strange circumstance, and coming to the Snake, asked him:  “What is the cause of this accident that has befallen thee and what act has brought down this upon thee?”

The Snake replied:  “O King, greed plunged me into calamity, and this befell as follows:  One day I attempted to seize a Frog, which fled from me and took refuge in the house of a holy man.  My appetite led me to follow him into the house, which happened to be dark.  The son of the holy man lay there asleep, and his great toe coming against me I fancied it was the Frog.  From the ardour of my greediness I closed my teeth upon it, and the child died on the spot.  The holy man discovered the fact, and from regret for his son, attacked me, and I, turning toward the open country, fled with speed, and the recluse pursued me and cursed me, and said:  ’I desire of my Creator that He will make thee base and powerless, and cause thee to be the vehicle of the Frog-king.  And, verily, thou shalt not have power to eat Frogs, save what their King shall bestow on thee as alms.’  And now, of necessity, I have come hither that the King may ride upon me, and I have acquiesced in the will of God.”

The matter pleased the King of the Frogs, and he thought that it would redound to his advantage; and he at once seated himself upon the Snake, and indulged in vainglorious airs in consequence.

Some time passed in this way.  At last the Snake said:  “May the life of the King be prolonged!  I cannot do without food and sustenance, that I may support life thereon and fulfil this service.”  The King said:  “The case is as thou sayest; I cannot do without my steed, and my steed cannot have strength without food.”  He then fixed two Frogs as his daily allowance, that he might use as his regular supply for breakfast and dinner.  The Snake maintained himself on that allowance; and inasmuch as the attention he paid to the Frog-king involved a benefit to himself he did not find fault with it.

And this story is adduced to make it apparent that courtesy and humility are readier means to uproot an enemy than war and contest.

The Old Woman’s Cat

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The Talking Beasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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