The Talking Beasts eBook

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

Presently the old man said:  “Where has that bird got to?  Bird, where is the Bezoar-stone you promised to bring me, the one that was worth at least a thousand?” “Out-on-you,” was the reply, “this is really too ridiculous.  Just think of me, with my body as big as your thumb, carrying a Bezoar-stone as big as a cocoanut!  It really is too absurd.  Why, have I even got the strength to lift it?” At this the old man held his peace.  “Well,” continued the bird, “you will gain nothing by repenting that you set me free.  Only remember in future not to undertake an affair quite out of keeping with your own powers.  Neither try to get your arms round a tree too big for your embrace, nor attempt to climb one higher than your strength permits you.”

The Mouse-deer’s Shipwreck

“Come,” said the Mouse-deer to the Stump-tailed Heron, “come and sail with me to Java.”  So they set sail, and Friend Mouse-deer held the tiller and Friend Heron spread the sail, and the wind blew from the north.  Soon however Friend Mouse-deer got drowsy, and let the boat fall out of the wind.

At this Friend Heron said:  “Why does the boat fall off?  How is your helm, Friend Mouse-deer?” “I was only taking a few winks,” said he.  “Bring her up to the wind again,” said the Heron.  And the Mouse-deer replied:  “All right, I’m ‘on the spot.’” Presently, however, he dozed again and the Heron exclaimed:  “Oh, if that’s to be it, you may die and be done with.  I’ll peck a hole in this boat of ours and you’ll go to the bottom.”

But the Mouse-deer said:  “Please don’t, I’m such a bad hand at swimming.”  So they sailed on.  And the Mouse-deer dozed a third time.  At this the Heron could contain himself no longer, and said, “Confound you, Friend Mouse-deer, for sleeping at the helm.”  And losing his temper he pecked a hole in the boat, and the boat let in the water and Friend Heron flew away.  But the Mouse-deer swam struggling with his feet in the midst of the sea.

Presently there came up a young Shark who exclaimed, “I’ll have a meal off you this time at all events.”  But the Mouse-deer answered, “What, Friend Shark, you’ll make a meal off me?  Why, in place of the little flesh I’ve got, if you’ll carry me ashore, I’ll teach you some excellent Magic which will save you from ever having to hunt for your food again.”  To this the Shark replied, “Agreed.  If you’ll teach me ‘your excellent Magic’ I’ll carry you ashore.”  So the Mouse-deer got upon Friend Shark’s back, and was carried straight ashore.

And on their arrival the Mouse-deer said:  “Wait here a bit, while I go and get the simples.”  And going a-land he hunted up a rattan creeper and took it back with him and said:  “Now I’ll give you the simples I spoke of,” and bound it fast to Friend Shark’s tail.  And presently the Shark said:  “Why have you made the line fast to my tail?” But the Mouse-deer replied: 

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The Talking Beasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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