The Fox and the Crow
A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. “That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree. “Good-day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking to-day; how glossy your feathers, how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.”
The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox. “That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future—Do not trust flatterers!”
The Dog and His Shadow
A Dog, bearing in his mouth a piece of meat that he had stolen, was once crossing a smooth stream by means of a plank. Looking into the still, clear water, he saw what he took to be another dog as big as himself, carrying another piece of meat.
Snapping greedily to get this as well, he let go the meat that he already had, and it fell to the bottom of the stream.
The Ass and His Master
A Diligent Ass, already loaded beyond his strength by a severe Master whom he had long served, and who kept him on very short commons, happened one day in his old age to be oppressed with a more than ordinary burden of earthenware. His strength being much impaired, and the road steep and uneven, he unfortunately made a misstep, and, unable to recover himself, fell down and broke all the vessels to pieces. His Master, transported with rage, began to beat him most unmercifully, against whom the poor Ass, lifting up his head as he lay on the ground, thus strongly remonstrated:
“Unfeeling wretch! To thine own avaricious cruelty in first pinching me on food, and then loading me beyond my strength, thou owest the misfortune which thou so unjustly imputest to me.”
The Wolf and the Crane
A Wolf once devoured his prey so ravenously that a bone stuck in his throat, giving him great pain. He ran howling up and down in his suffering and offered to reward handsomely any one who would pull the bone out.
A Crane, moved by pity as well as by the prospect of the money, undertook the dangerous task, and having removed the bone, asked for the promised reward.
“Reward!” cried the Wolf; “pray, you greedy fellow, what greater reward can you possibly require? You have had your head in my mouth, and instead of biting it off I have let you pull it out unharmed. Get away with you, and don’t come again within reach of my paw.”