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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 215 pages of information about The Talking Beasts.

The Peacock and the Fox

A Fox, who had an eye on a Peacock, was one day standing in a field with his face turned up to the sky.

“Reynard,” said the Peacock, “what have you been doing?”

“Oh, I have been counting the stars,” said the Fox.

“How many are they?” said the Peacock.

“About as many as the fools on earth,” said the Fox.

“But which do you think is the greater, the number of the stars or of the fools?” asked the Peacock.

“If you put it so, I should say the fools are more by one,” said the Fox.

“Who is that one?” said the Peacock.

“Why, my own silly self!” said the Fox.

“How are you silly, Reynard?” questioned the Peacock.

“Why, was it not foolish of me to count the stars in the sky, when I could have counted the stars in your brilliant plumage to better advantage?” said the Fox.

“No, Reynard,” said the Peacock, “therein is not your folly—­although there is neither wit nor wisdom in your prattle—­but in the thought that your fine words would make an easy prey of me!”

The Fox quietly left the place, saying:  “The Knave that hath been found out cannot have legs too quick.”

The Tiger and the Giraffe

A Tiger, named Old Guile, who had grown weak with age, was lying under a tree by the side of a lake in quest of some animal off which he could make a meal.

A Giraffe, named Tall Stripes, who came to the lake to quench his thirst, attracted his attention, and Old Guile addressed him as follows:  “Oh, what a happy day!  I see there the son of my old friend Yellow Haunch, who lived in the great forest near that distant mountain.”

Tall Stripes was astonished to hear the words of Old Guile, and asked him how he, a Tiger, could be the friend of his father, a Giraffe.

“I am not surprised at your question,” replied Old Guile; “it is a truth known to very few indeed that the Tiger and the Giraffe belong to the same family.  Just look at your skin and my own:  yours is of a pale yellow colour, mine is very nearly the same; you have stripes, I have them, too.  What more proofs do you want?”

Tall Stripes, who was extremely simple and guileless, believed these words, and said:  “I am very happy to know that my father was your friend, and that we are of the same family.  Can I do anything for you?”

Old Guile replied, “No, thank you; old as I am, I make it a point of relying on myself.  Further, a great part of my time is spent in prayer and meditation; for I consider it necessary, at this age, to devote all my attention to spiritual things.  It will, however, be a great gratification to me to have your company whenever you should chance to pass by this lake.”

Tall Stripes acceded to this request, and was about to go on his Way, when Old Guile observed; “My dear Tall Stripes, you are well aware of the instability of all earthly things.  I am old and infirm, and who knows what may happen to me to-morrow.  Perhaps I may not see you again; so let me do myself the pleasure of embracing you before you leave me for the present.”

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