FABLES FROM AESOP
THE CAT, THE MONKEY, AND THE CHESTNUTS
A cat and a monkey were sitting one day in the chimney
corner watching some chestnuts which their master
had laid down to roast in the ashes. The chestnuts had begun to burst with the heat, and
the monkey said to
the cat, "It is plain that your paws were made especially for pulling out those
chestnuts. Do you reach forth and
draw them out. Your paws are, indeed, exactly like our master's hands." The cat was
greatly flattered by this
speech, and reached forward for the tempting chestnuts, but scarcely had he touched the
hot ashes than he
drew back with a cry, for he had burnt his paw; but he tried again, and managed to pull
one chestnut out; then
he pulled another, and a third, though each time he singed the hair on his paws. When he
could pull no more
out he turned about and found that the .monkey had taken the time to crack the chestnuts
and eat them.
THE COUNTRY MAID AND HER MILK PAIL
A country maid was walking slowly along with a pail of
milk upon her head, and thinking thus:
"The money for which I shall sell this milk will buy me three hundred eggs. These
eggs, allowing for what
may prove addled, will produce at least two hundred and fifty chickens. The chickens will
be fit to carry to
market about Christmas, when poultry always brings a good price, so that by May-day l
shall have money
enough to buy a new gown. Let me see--green suits me; yes, it shall be green. In this
dress I will go to the fair,
where all the young fellows will want me for a partner, but l shall refuse every one of
them." By this time she
was so full of her fancy that she tossed her head proudly, when over went the pail, which
she had entirely
forgotten, and all the milk was spilled on the ground.
Moral. Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
THE ASS IN THE LION'S SKIN
The Ass once dressed himself in the Lion's skin and went
about frightening all the little beasts. Now he
happened on the Fox, and tried to frighten him too; but the Fox chanced to hear him speak,
and said: "Well, to be sure, I should have been frightened too, if I hadn't heard you
bray, and seen your ears sticking out."
So there are some men who make themselves appear very fine outwardly, but are betrayed as
they begin to talk.
THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE
What a' dull, heavy creature," says the Hare,
"is this Tortoise!" "And yet," says the Tortoise, "I'll run with
you for a wager." "Done," says the Hare, and then they asked the Fox to be
the judge. They started together,
and the Tortoise kept jogging on still, till he came to the end of the course. The Hare
laid himself down midway
and took a nap; "for," says he, "I can catch up with the Tortoise when I
please." But it seems he overslept
himself, for when he came to wake, though he scudded away as fast as possible, the
Tortoise had got to the
post before him and won the wager.
Slow and steady wins the race.'
THE VAIN JACKDAW
A jackdaw picked up some beautiful feathers left by the
peacocks on the ground. He stuck them into his
own tail, and, thinking himself too fine to mix with the other daws, strutted off to the
peacocks, expecting to be
welcomed as one of themselves.
The peacocks at once saw through his disguise, and, despising him for his foolishness and
to peck him, and soon he was stripped of all his borrowed plumes.
Very much ashamed, the jackdaw went sadly home, meaning to join his old friends as if
happened. But they, remembering how he had scorned them before, chased him away and would
to do with him.
"If you had been content," said one, "to remain as nature made you, instead
of trying to be what you are
not, you would have neither been punished by your betters nor despised by your
THE FOX WITHOUT A TAIL
A fox lost his tail in escaping from a steel trap. When
he began to go about again, he found that every one
looked down upon or laughed at him. Not liking this, he thought to himself that if he
could persuade the other
foxes to cut off their tails, his own loss would not be so noticeable.
Accordingly he called together the foxes and said: "How is it that you still wear
your tails ? Of what use are
they ? They are in the way, they often get caught in traps, they are heavy to carry and
not pretty to look upon.
Believe me, we are far better without them. Cut off your tails, my friends, and you will
see how much more
comfortable it is. I for my part have never enjoyed myself so much nor found life so
pleasant as I have since
I lost mine."
Upon this, a sly old fox, seeing through the trick, cried, "It seems to me, my
friend, that you would not be
so anxious for us to cut off our tails, if you had not already lost yours."
THE WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING
A wolf put on the skin of a sheep, and getting in among
the flock by means of this disguise, killed many of
the sheep. The shepherd, who wondered why so many of his flock had disappeared, at last
deceit. He fastened a rope cunningly round the pretended sheep's neck, led him to a tree,
and there hanged
Some other shepherds passing that way and seeing what they thought was a sheep hanging
from a tree,
said, "What, brother! Surely you do not hang sheep ?"
"No," answered the shepherd, "but I hang wolves when I catch them dressed
up in sheep's skins!"Then
he showed them their mistake, and they praised the justice of the deed he had done.
THE CROW AND THE PITCHER
A crow, whose throat was parched and dry with thirst, saw
a pitcher in the distance. In great joy he flew to
it, but found that it held only a little water, and even that was too near the bottom to
be reached, for all his
stooping and straining. Next he tried to overturn the pitcher, thinking that he would at
least be able to catch
some of the water as it trickled out. But this he was not strong enough to do. In the end
he found some pebbles
lying near, and by dropping them one by one into the pitcher, he managed at last to raise
the water up to the
very brim, and thus was able to quench his thirst.
THE MAN, HIS SON, AND HIS ASS
A man and his son were leading their ass to market. A
girl, seeing them, cried, "Why walk when you can
ride?" On hearing this, the man set his son upon the ass.
Going further, they heard an old man say, "Shame for the young to ride while old
people walk!" Thereupon
the man made his son get down and rode himself.
Presently they met some women who cried, "Look at the poor tired son and lazy
father!" Hearing this, the
man took his son up beside him and so they rode into the town.
There a young man called to them, "Two men on one beast! It seems to me you are more
fit to carry the
ass than he is to carry you."
Then they got down, tied the beast's legs to a pole, and carried him thus till they came
to a bridge. As they
went, the children shouted so loudly that the ass took fright--kicked his legs free, and
jumped over the bridge
into the river.
Thus having lost his ass, the man went home, crying, "Try to please everybody and you
will please nobody,
not even yourself !"