The Talking Beasts eBook

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

“Tell me, what do you think of this life of yours?  If there is any truth in all the fine things that are said about Damascus steel, you surely must be ashamed of having to splinter fir chips, and square stakes, and of being turned, at last, into a plaything for children.”

But the Sword-blade replied: 

“In the hands of a warrior, I should have been a terror to the foe; but here my special faculties are of no avail.  So in this house I am turned to base uses only.  But am I free to choose my employment?  No, not I, but he, ought to be ashamed who could not see for what I was fit to be employed.”

The Cuckoo and the Turtle-dove

A Cuckoo sat on a bough, bitterly complaining.

“Why art thou so sad, dear friend?” sympathizingly cooed the Turtle-dove to her, from a neighbouring twig.  “Is it because spring has passed away from us, and love with it; that the sun has sunk lower, and that we are nearer to the winter?”

“How can I help grieving, unhappy one that I am?” replied the Cuckoo:  “thou shalt thyself be the judge.  This spring my love was a happy one, and, after a while, I became a mother.  But my offspring utterly refused even to recognize me.  Was it such a return that I expected from them?  And how can I help being envious when I see how ducklings crowd around their mother—­how chickens hasten to the hen when she calls to them.  Just like an orphan I sit here, utterly alone, and know not what filial affection means.”

“Poor thing!” says the Dove, “I pity you from my heart.  As for me, though I know such things often occur, I should die outright it my dovelets did not love me.  But tell me, have you already brought up your little ones?  When did you find time to build a nest?  I never saw you doing anything of the kind:  you were always flying and fluttering about.”

“No, indeed!” says the Cuckoo.  “Pretty nonsense it would have been if I had spent such fine days in sitting on a nest!  That would, indeed, have been the highest pitch of stupidity!  I always laid my eggs in the nests of other birds.”

“Then how can you expect your little ones to care for you?” says the Turtle-dove.

The Peasant and the Horse

A Peasant was sowing oats one day.  Seeing the work go on, a young Horse began to reason about it, grumbling to himself: 

“A pretty piece of work, this, for which he brings such a quantity of oats here!  And yet they are all the time saying that men are wiser than we are.  Can anything possibly be more foolish or ridiculous than to plough up a whole field like this in order to scatter one’s oats over it afterward to no purpose.  Had he given them to me, or to the bay there, or had he even thought fit to fling them to the fowls, it would have been more like business.  Or even if he had hoarded them up, I should have recognized avarice in that.  But to fling them uselessly away—­why, that is sheer stupidity!”

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The Talking Beasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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