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

Demian’s Fish Soup

“Neighbour, light of mine eyes! do eat a little more!”

“Dear neighbour, I am full to the throat.”

“No matter; just a little plateful.  Believe me, the soup is cooked gloriously.”

“But I’ve had three platefuls already.”

“Well, what does that matter?  If you like it, and it does you good, why not eat it all up?  What a soup it is!  How rich!  It looks as if it had been sprinkled with amber.  Here is a bream; there a lump of sterlet.  Take a little more, dear, kind friend.  Just another spoonful.  Wife, come and entreat him!”

Thus does Demian feast his neighbour Phocas, not giving him a moment’s breathing time.

Phocas feels the moisture trickling down his forehead.  Still he takes the soup, attacks it with all the strength he has left, and somehow manages to swallow the whole of it.

“That’s the sort of friend I like!” cries Demian.  “I can’t bear people who require pressing.  But now, dear friend, take just this one little plateful more.”

But, on hearing this, our poor Phocas, much as he liked fish soup, catching hold of his cap and sash, runs away home, not once looking behind him.

Nor from that day to this has he crossed Demian’s threshold.

The Wolf and Its Cub

A Wolf, which had begun to accustom its Cub to support itself by its father’s profession, sent it one day to prowl about the skirts of the wood.  At the same time it ordered it to give all its attention to seeing whether it would not be possible, even at the cost of sinning a little, for them both to make their breakfast or dinner at the expense of some shepherd or other.  The pupil returns home, and says: 

“Come along, quick!  Our dinner awaits us:  nothing could possibly be safer.  There are sheep feeding at the foot of yon hill, each one fatter than the other.  We have only to choose which to carry off and eat; and the flock is so large that it would be difficult to count it over again——­”

“Wait a minute,” says the Wolf.  “First of all I must know what sort of a man the shepherd of this flock is.

“It is said that he is a good one—­painstaking and intelligent.  But I went round the flock on all sides, and examined the dogs:  they are not at all fat, and seem to be spiritless and indolent.”

“This description,” says the old Wolf, “does not greatly attract me to the flock.  For, decidedly, if the shepherd is good, he will not keep bad dogs about him.  One might very soon get into trouble there.  But come with me:  I will take you to a flock where we shall be in less danger of losing our skins.  Over that flock it is true that a great many dogs watch; but the shepherd is himself a fool.  And where the shepherd is a fool there the dogs too are of little worth.”

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