The Hares once took serious counsel among themselves whether death itself would not be preferable to their miserable condition. “What a sad state is ours,” they said, “never to eat in comfort, to sleep ever in fear, to be startled by a shadow, and to fly with beating heart at the rustling of the leaves. Better death by far,” and off they went accordingly to drown themselves in a neighbouring lake.
Some scores of Frogs, who were enjoying the moonlight on the bank, scared at the approach of the Hares, jumped into the water. The splash awoke fresh fears in the breasts of the timid Hares, and they came to a full stop in their flight.
Seeing this, one wise old fellow among them cried: “Hold, brothers! It seems that, weak and fearful as we are, beings exist that are more weak and fearful still. Why, then, should we seek to die? Let us rather make the best of our ills and learn to bear them as we should.”
A Lion, who had grown too old and feeble to go out and hunt for prey, could hardly find enough food to keep him from starving. But at last he thought of a plan for bringing the game within his reach.
He kept quite still in his den and made believe that he was very ill. When the other animals heard of his distress, they came, one by one, to look at him and ask him how he felt. No sooner were they within his reach, however, than he seized upon them and ate them up.
After a good many beasts had lost their lives in this way a Fox came along.
“How do you feel to-day, friend Lion?” he asked, taking care to stand at a safe distance from the den.
“I am very ill,” answered the Lion. “Won’t you come inside a little while? It does me a great deal of good to see my kind friends.”
“Thank you,” said the Fox; “but I notice that all the tracks point toward your den and none point away from it,” and so saying, he trotted merrily away.
Two Men, about to journey through a forest, agreed to stand by each other in any dangers that might befall. They had not gone far before a savage Bear rushed out from a thicket and stood in their path.
One of the Travellers, a light, nimble fellow, climbed up into a tree. The other fell flat on his face and held his breath.
The Bear came up and smelled at him, and, taking him for dead, went off again into the wood. The man in the tree then came down, and, rejoining his companion, asked him, with a mischievous smile, what was the wonderful secret that the Bear had whispered into his ear,
“Why,” replied the other sulkily, “he told me to take care for the future and not to put any confidence in such cowardly rascals as you are!”