“While watching man in all his phases,
And seeing that, in many cases,
He acts just like the brute creation—
I’ve thought the lord of all these races
Of no less failings showed the traces
Than do his lieges in relation.”
The Wagtail and the Jackal
At a time when the animals spoke, a Wagtail laid her eggs on the ground. The little ones grew up. A Jackal and a Fox came to them. The Jackal said to the Fox:
“Swear to me that the Wagtail owes me a pound of butter.”
The Fox swore to it. The Bird began to weep. A Greyhound came to her and asked her what was the matter. She answered him:
“The Fox has calumniated me.”
“Well,” said the Hound, “put me in this sack of skin.”
She put him in the sack. “Tie up the top well,” said the Hound. When the Jackal returned she said to him,
“Come and measure out the butter.”
The Jackal advanced and unfastened the sack. He saw the Hound, who stretched out his paws and said to the Fox,
“I am ill; come and measure, Fox.”
The Fox approached. The Hound seized him. The Jackal said:
“Remember your false testimony.”
A Wren had built its nest on the side of a road. When the eggs were hatched, a Camel passed that way. The little Wrens saw it and said to their father when he returned from the fields:
“O papa, a gigantic animal passed by.”
The Wren stretched out his foot. “As big as this, my children?”
“O papa, much bigger.”
He stretched out his foot and his wing. “As big as this?”
“O papa, much bigger.”
Finally he stretched out fully his feet and legs.
“As big as this then?”
“That is a lie; there is no animal bigger than I am.”
“Well, wait,” said the little ones, “and you will see.”
The Camel came back while browsing the grass of the roadside.
The Wren stretched himself out near the nest. The Camel seized the bird, which passed through its teeth safe and sound.
“Truly,” he said to them, “the Camel is a gigantic animal, but I am not ashamed of myself.”
On the earth it generally happens that the vain are as if they did not exist; but sooner or later a rock falls and crushes them.
Mule, Jackal, and Lion
The Mule, the Jackal, and the Lion went in company.
“We will eat the one whose race is bad,” they said to each other.
“Lion, who is your father?”
“My father is a lion, and my mother is a lioness.”
“And you, Jackal, what is your father?”
“My father is a jackal, and my mother too.”
“And you, Mule, what is your father?”