4. I will now tell you another story that I read when I was a little boy. It was called a fable. But before I tell you the story, I must tell you what a fable is.
5. A fable is a story which is not true. But, although it is not a true story, it is a very useful one, because it always teaches us a good lesson.
6. In many fables, birds and beasts are represented as speaking. Now, you know that birds and beasts cannot talk, and therefore the story, or fable, which tells us that birds and beasts, and other things, that are not alive, do talk, cannot be true.
7. But I have told you, that although fables are not true stories, they are very useful to us, because they teach us a useful lesson. This lesson that they teach is called the moral of the fable; and that is always the best fable that has the best moral to it, or, in other words, that teaches us the best lesson.
8. The story, or the fable, that I promised to tell you, is in the next lesson, and I wish you, when you read it, to see whether you can find out what the lesson, or moral, is which it teaches; and whether it is at all like the story of the father and the bundle of sticks, that I told you in the last lesson. While you read it, be very careful that you do not pass over any word the meaning of which you do not know.
The Discontented Pendulum.—JANE TAYLOR.
1. An old clock, that had stood for fifty years in a farmer’s kitchen, without giving its owner any cause of complaint, early one summer’s morning, before the family was stirring, suddenly stopped.
2. Upon this, the dial-plate (if we may credit the fable) changed countenance with alarm; the hands made a vain effort to continue their course; the wheels remained motionless with surprise; the weights hung speechless;—each member felt disposed to lay the blame on the others.
3. At length the dial instituted a formal inquiry as to the cause of the stagnation, when hands, wheels, weights, with one voice, protested their innocence.
4. But now a faint tick was heard below from the pendulum, who thus spoke:—“I confess myself to be the sole cause of the present stoppage; and I am willing, for the general satisfaction, to assign my reasons. The truth is, that I am tired of ticking.”
5. Upon hearing this, the old clock became so enraged, that it was on the very point of striking. “Lazy wire!” exclaimed the dial-plate, holding up its hands.
6. “Very good!” replied the pendulum; “it is vastly easy for you, Mistress Dial, who have always, as everybody knows, set yourself up above me,—it is vastly easy for you, I say, to accuse other people of laziness! You, who have had nothing to do, all the days of your life, but to stare people in the face, and to amuse yourself with watching all that goes on in the kitchen!