Three large fish lived very happily in a pond which few people ever passed.
One of these fish was always wise, the second was wise sometimes, but the third was never wise.
One day two men who were passing by the pond saw the fish.
One of them said, “Let us hurry home and get our nets. Those fish are too fine to lose.” So they hurried away.
The three fish were very much frightened. The first one thought a moment, then swam through the outlet of the pond into the river.
When the men came back with their nets, there were only two fish to be seen. They found the outlet of the pond and made a dam across it.
The second fish now began to think; he came to the top of the water and floated on his back. One of the men picked him up in his net, but he seemed dead, so he threw him back into the water.
The fish that never thought sank to the bottom of the pond and was easily caught. [Footnote: Adapted from “The Three Fish” in The Tortoise and the Geese, published by Houghton, Mifflin Co]
“We must have coal,” said the farmers to the wagoner.
“But the roads are very bad,” replied the wagoner. “I never saw them worse.”
“We can not wait for the roads to dry,” said the farmers, “for without a fire we should take cold. Besides, we should have to eat uncooked food.”
So the wagoner went into the country with a load of coal. He had not gone far when his wagon stuck fast in the mud.
“What am I to do now?” he asked himself. “I ought to have known better than to start out.”
“Get up!” he cried to his horses. “Get up there, you lazy brutes! Pull out of here!”
The horses struggled hard, but they could not start the load.
“Hey there!” he called to a man who was working in a field near by. “Come and help us out of this mud-hole.”
The man in the field had been watching the poor horses as they pulled with all their strength. He was angry at the wagoner for beating them so cruelly.
“Put your shoulder to the wheel,” he called back. “When you have done all you can to help yourself, I shall be willing to help you.”
The wagoner climbed down, muttering to himself, “I don’t want to get down into this mud.”
He put his shoulder to the wheel, pushed long and steadily while the horses pulled. Slowly the load began to move. Before long it was on firm ground.
The wagoner climbed up to his seat and called back to the man who was working in the field, “My load is out, but no thanks to you.”
The man replied, “You took my advice and put your shoulder to the wheel; that is what brought you out.”
A meadow lark built her nest in a field of wheat. She had a happy time raising her family, for no one came near her nest.