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

The Pike

An appeal to justice was made against the Pike, on the ground that it had rendered the pond uninhabitable.  A whole cart-load of proofs was tendered as evidence; and the culprit, as was beseeming, was brought into court in a large tub.  The judges were assembled not far off, having been set to graze in a neighbouring field.  Their names are still preserved in the archives.  There were two Donkeys, a couple of old Horses, and two or three Goats.  The Fox also was added to their number, as assessor, in order that the business might be carried on under competent supervision.

Now, popular report said that the Pike used to supply the table of the Fox with fish.  However this might be, there was no partiality among the judges; and it must also be stated that it was impossible to conceal the Pike’s roguery in the affair in question.  So there was no help for it.  Sentence was passed, condemning the Pike to an ignominious punishment.  In order to frighten others, it was to be hung from a tree.

“Respected judges,” thus did the Fox begin to speak, “hanging is a trifle.  I should have liked to have sentenced the culprit to such a punishment as has never been seen here among us.  In order that rogues may in future live in fear, and run a terrible risk, I would drown it in the river.”

“Excellent!” cry the judges, and unanimously accept the proposition.

So the Pike was flung—­into the river.

The Cuckoo and the Eagle

The Eagle promoted a Cuckoo to the rank of a Nightingale.  The Cuckoo, proud of its new position, seated itself proudly on an aspen, and began to exhibit its musical talents.  After a time, it looks round.  All the birds are flying away, some laughing at it, others abusing it.  Our Cuckoo grows angry, and hastens to the Eagle with a complaint against the birds.

“Have pity on me!” it says.  “According to your command, I have been appointed Nightingale to these woods, and yet the birds dare to laugh at my singing.”

“My friend,” answers the Eagle, “I am a king, but I am not God.  It is impossible for me to remedy the cause of your complaint.  I can order a Cuckoo to be styled a Nightingale; but to make a Nightingale out of a Cuckoo—­that I cannot do.”

The Peasant and the Sheep

A Peasant summoned a Sheep into courts charging the poor thing with a criminal offence.  The judge was—­the Fox.

The case was immediately in full swing.  Plaintiff and defendant were equally adjured to state, point by point, and without both speaking at once, how the affair took place, and in what their proof consisted.

Says the Peasant:  “On such and such a day, I missed two of my fowls early in the morning.  Nothing was left of them but bones and leathers; and no one had been in the yard but the Sheep.”

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