A hungry Fox saw some fine bunches of Grapes hanging from a vine that was trained along a high trellis,

and did his best to reach them by jumping as high as he could into the air.

But it was all in vain,

for they were just out of reach: so he gave up trying,

and walked away with an air of dignity and unconcern,


"I thought those Grapes were ripe,

but I see now they are quite sour."


A Man and his Wife had the good fortune to possess a Goose which laid a Golden Egg every day.

Lucky though they were,

they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough,


imagining the bird must be made of gold inside,

they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once.

But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose.


they neither got rich all at once,

as they had hoped,

nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth.

Much wants more and loses all.


There was once a house that was overrun with Mice.

A Cat heard of this,

and said to herself,

"That's the place for me,"

and off she went and took up her quarters in the house,

and caught the Mice one by one and ate them.

At last the Mice could stand it no longer,

and they determined to take to their holes and stay there.

"That's awkward,"

said the Cat to herself:

"the only thing to do is to coax them out by a trick."

So she considered a while,

and then climbed up the wall and let herself hang down by her hind legs from a peg,

and pretended to be dead.

By and by a Mouse peeped out and saw the Cat hanging there.


it cried,

"you're very clever,


no doubt: but you may turn yourself into a bag of meal hanging there,

if you like,

yet you won't catch us coming anywhere near you."

If you are wise you won't be deceived by the innocent airs of those whom you have once found to be dangerous.


There was once a Dog who used to snap at people and bite them without any provocation,

and who was a great nuisance to every one who came to his master's house.

So his master fastened a bell round his neck to warn people of his presence.

The Dog was very proud of the bell,

and strutted about tinkling it with immense satisfaction.

But an old dog came up to him and said,

"The fewer airs you give yourself the better,

my friend.

You don't think,

do you,

that your bell was given you as a reward of merit?

On the contrary,

it is a badge of disgrace."

Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.


There was once a Charcoal-burner who lived and worked by himself.

A Fuller,


happened to come and settle in the same neighbourhood;

and the Charcoal-burner,

having made his acquaintance and finding he was an agreeable sort of fellow,

asked him if he would come and share his house:

"We shall get to know one another better that way,"

he said,



our household expenses will be diminished."

The Fuller thanked him,

but replied,

"I couldn't think of it,

sir: why,

everything I take such pains to whiten would be blackened in no time by your charcoal."


Once upon a time all the Mice met together in Council,

and discussed the best means of securing themselves against the attacks of the cat.

After several suggestions had been debated,

a Mouse of some standing and experience got up and said,

"I think I have hit upon a plan which will ensure our safety in the future,

provided you approve and carry it out.

It is that we should fasten a bell round the neck of our enemy the cat,

which will by its tinkling warn us of her approach."

This proposal was warmly applauded,

and it had been already decided to adopt it,

when an old Mouse got upon his feet and said,

"I agree with you all that the plan before us is an admirable one: but may I ask who is going to bell the cat?"


A Bat fell to the ground and was caught by a Weasel,

and was just going to be killed and eaten when it begged to be let go.

The Weasel said he couldn't do that because he was an enemy of all birds on principle.



said the Bat,

"I'm not a bird at all: I'm a mouse."

"So you are,"

said the Weasel,

"now I come to look at you";

and he let it go.

Some time after this the Bat was caught in just the same way by another Weasel,


as before,

begged for its life.


said the Weasel,

"I never let a mouse go by any chance."

"But I'm not a mouse,"

said the Bat;

"I'm a bird."


so you are,"

said the Weasel;

and he too let the Bat go.

Look and see which way the wind blows before you commit yourself.


A Dog and a Sow were arguing and each claimed that its own young ones were finer than those of any other animal.


said the Sow at last,

"mine can see,

at any rate,

when they come into the world: but yours are born blind."


A Crow was sitting on a branch of a tree with a piece of cheese in her beak when a Fox observed her and set his wits to work to discover some way of getting the cheese.

Coming and standing under the tree he looked up and said,

"What a noble bird I see above me!

Her beauty is without equal,

the hue of her plumage exquisite.

If only her voice is as sweet as her looks are fair,

she ought without doubt to be Queen of the Birds."

The Crow was hugely flattered by this,

and just to show the Fox that she could sing she gave a loud caw.

Down came the cheese,

of course,

and the Fox,

snatching it up,


"You have a voice,


I see: what you want is wits."


There was once a Groom who used to spend long hours clipping and combing the Horse of which he had charge,

but who daily stole a portion of his allowance of oats,

and sold it for his own profit.

The Horse gradually got into worse and worse condition,

and at last cried to the Groom,

"If you really want me to look sleek and well,

you must comb me less and feed me more."


A Wolf came upon a Lamb straying from the flock,

and felt some compunction about taking the life of so helpless a creature without some plausible excuse;

so he cast about for a grievance and said at last,

"Last year,


you grossly insulted me."

"That is impossible,


bleated the Lamb,

"for I wasn't born then."


retorted the Wolf,

"you feed in my pastures."

"That cannot be,"

replied the Lamb,

"for I have never yet tasted grass."

"You drink from my spring,


continued the Wolf.



said the poor Lamb,

"I have never yet drunk anything but my mother's milk."



said the Wolf,

"I'm not going without my dinner": and he sprang upon the Lamb and devoured it without more ado.


A Peacock taunted a Crane with the dullness of her plumage.

"Look at my brilliant colours,"

said she,

"and see how much finer they are than your poor feathers."

"I am not denying,"

replied the Crane,

"that yours are far gayer than mine;

but when it comes to flying I can soar into the clouds,

whereas you are confined to the earth like any dunghill cock."


A Cat heard that the Birds in an aviary were ailing.

So he got himself up as a doctor,


taking with him a set of the instruments proper to his profession,

presented himself at the door,

and inquired after the health of the Birds.

"We shall do very well,"

they replied,

without letting him in,

"when we've seen the last of you."

A villain may disguise himself,

but he will not deceive the wise.


A Spendthrift,

who had wasted his fortune,

and had nothing left but the clothes in which he stood,

saw a Swallow one fine day in early spring.

Thinking that summer had come,

and that he could now do without his coat,

he went and sold it for what it would fetch.

A change,


took place in the weather,

and there came a sharp frost which killed the unfortunate Swallow.

When the Spendthrift saw its dead body he cried,

"Miserable bird!

Thanks to you I am perishing of cold myself."

One swallow does not make summer.


An Old Woman became almost totally blind from a disease of the eyes,


after consulting a Doctor,

made an agreement with him in the presence of witnesses that she should pay him a high fee if he cured her,

while if he failed he was to receive nothing.

The Doctor accordingly prescribed a course of treatment,

and every time he paid her a visit he took away with him some article out of the house,

until at last,

when he visited her for the last time,

and the cure was complete,

there was nothing left.

When the Old Woman saw that the house was empty she refused to pay him his fee;


after repeated refusals on her part,

he sued her before the magistrates for payment of her debt.

On being brought into court she was ready with her defence.

"The claimant,"

said she,

"has stated the facts about our agreement correctly.

I undertook to pay him a fee if he cured me,

and he,

on his part,

promised to charge nothing if he failed.


he says I am cured;

but I say that I am blinder than ever,

and I can prove what I say.

When my eyes were bad I could at any rate see well enough to be aware that my house contained a certain amount of furniture and other things;

but now,

when according to him I am cured,

I am entirely unable to see anything there at all."


The Moon once begged her Mother to make her a gown.

"How can I?"

replied she;

"there's no fitting your figure.

At one time you're a New Moon,

and at another you're a Full Moon;

and between whiles you're neither one nor the other."


A Woodman was felling a tree on the bank of a river,

when his axe,

glancing off the trunk,

flew out of his hands and fell into the water.

As he stood by the water's edge lamenting his loss,

Mercury appeared and asked him the reason for his grief;

and on learning what had happened,

out of pity for his distress he dived into the river and,

bringing up a golden axe,

asked him if that was the one he had lost.

The Woodman replied that it was not,

and Mercury then dived a second time,


bringing up a silver axe,

asked if that was his.


that is not mine either,"

said the Woodman.

Once more Mercury dived into the river,

and brought up the missing axe.

The Woodman was overjoyed at recovering his property,

and thanked his benefactor warmly;

and the latter was so pleased with his honesty that he made him a present of the other two axes.

When the Woodman told the story to his companions,

one of these was filled with envy of his good fortune and determined to try his luck for himself.

So he went and began to fell a tree at the edge of the river,

and presently contrived to let his axe drop into the water.

Mercury appeared as before,


on learning that his axe had fallen in,

he dived and brought up a golden axe,

as he had done on the previous occasion.

Without waiting to be asked whether it was his or not the fellow cried,

"That's mine,

that's mine,"

and stretched out his hand eagerly for the prize: but Mercury was so disgusted at his dishonesty that he not only declined to give him the golden axe,

but also refused to recover for him the one he had let fall into the stream.

Honesty is the best policy.




An Ass and a Fox went into partnership and sallied out to forage for food together.

They hadn't gone far before they saw a Lion coming their way,

at which they were both dreadfully frightened.

But the Fox thought he saw a way of saving his own skin,

and went boldly up to the Lion and whispered in his ear,

"I'll manage that you shall get hold of the Ass without the trouble of stalking him,

if you'll promise to let me go free."

The Lion agreed to this,

and the Fox then rejoined his companion and contrived before long to lead him by a hidden pit,

which some hunter had dug as a trap for wild animals,

and into which he fell.

When the Lion saw that the Ass was safely caught and couldn't get away,

it was to the Fox that he first turned his attention,

and he soon finished him off,

and then at his leisure proceeded to feast upon the Ass.

Betray a friend,

and you'll often find you have ruined yourself.


A Lion asleep in his lair was waked up by a Mouse running over his face.

Losing his temper he seized it with his paw and was about to kill it.

The Mouse,


piteously entreated him to spare its life.

"Please let me go,"

it cried,

"and one day I will repay you for your kindness."

The idea of so insignificant a creature ever being able to do anything for him amused the Lion so much that he laughed aloud,

and good-humouredly let it go.

But the Mouse's chance came,

after all.

One day the Lion got entangled in a net which had been spread for game by some hunters,

and the Mouse heard and recognised his roars of anger and ran to the spot.

Without more ado it set to work to gnaw the ropes with its teeth,

and succeeded before long in setting the Lion free.


said the Mouse,

"you laughed at me when I promised I would repay you: but now you see,

even a Mouse can help a Lion."


A thirsty Crow found a Pitcher with some water in it,

but so little was there that,

try as she might,

she could not reach it with her beak,

and it seemed as though she would die of thirst within sight of the remedy.

At last she hit upon a clever plan.

She began dropping pebbles into the Pitcher,

and with each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last it reached the brim,

and the knowing bird was enabled to quench her thirst.

Necessity is the mother of invention.


Some mischievous Boys were playing on the edge of a pond,


catching sight of some Frogs swimming about in the shallow water,

they began to amuse themselves by pelting them with stones,

and they killed several of them.

At last one of the Frogs put his head out of the water and said,




I beg of you: what is sport to you is death to us."


A dispute arose between the North Wind and the Sun,

each claiming that he was stronger than the other.

At last they agreed to try their powers upon a traveller,

to see which could soonest strip him of his cloak.

The North Wind had the first try;


gathering up all his force for the attack,

he came whirling furiously down upon the man,

and caught up his cloak as though he would wrest it from him by one single effort: but the harder he blew,

the more closely the man wrapped it round himself.

Then came the turn of the Sun.

At first he beamed gently upon the traveller,

who soon unclasped his cloak and walked on with it hanging loosely about his shoulders: then he shone forth in his full strength,

and the man,

before he had gone many steps,

was glad to throw his cloak right off and complete his journey more lightly clad.

Persuasion is better than force


A Widow,

thrifty and industrious,

had two servants,

whom she kept pretty hard at work.

They were not allowed to lie long abed in the mornings,

but the old lady had them up and doing as soon as the cock crew.

They disliked intensely having to get up at such an hour,

especially in winter-time: and they thought that if it were not for the cock waking up their Mistress so horribly early,

they could sleep longer.

So they caught it and wrung its neck.

But they weren't prepared for the consequences.

For what happened was that their Mistress,

not hearing the cock crow as usual,

waked them up earlier than ever,

and set them to work in the middle of the night.


There was a time in the youth of the world when Goods and Ills entered equally into the concerns of men,

so that the Goods did not prevail to make them altogether blessed,

nor the Ills to make them wholly miserable.

But owing to the foolishness of mankind the Ills multiplied greatly in number and increased in strength,

until it seemed as though they would deprive the Goods of all share in human affairs,

and banish them from the earth.

The latter,


betook themselves to heaven and complained to Jupiter of the treatment they had received,

at the same time praying him to grant them protection from the Ills,

and to advise them concerning the manner of their intercourse with men.

Jupiter granted their request for protection,

and decreed that for the future they should not go among men openly in a body,

and so be liable to attack from the hostile Ills,

but singly and unobserved,

and at infrequent and unexpected intervals.

Hence it is that the earth is full of Ills,

for they come and go as they please and are never far away;

while Goods,


come one by one only,

and have to travel all the way from heaven,

so that they are very seldom seen.


The Hares once gathered together and lamented the unhappiness of their lot,

exposed as they were to dangers on all sides and lacking the strength and the courage to hold their own.



birds and beasts of prey were all their enemies,

and killed and devoured them daily: and sooner than endure such persecution any longer,

they one and all determined to end their miserable lives.

Thus resolved and desperate,

they rushed in a body towards a neighbouring pool,

intending to drown themselves.

On the bank were sitting a number of Frogs,


when they heard the noise of the Hares as they ran,

with one accord leaped into the water and hid themselves in the depths.

Then one of the older Hares who was wiser than the rest cried out to his companions,


my friends,

take heart;

don't let us destroy ourselves after all: see,

here are creatures who are afraid of us,

and who must,


be still more timid than ourselves."


A Fox invited a Stork to dinner,

at which the only fare provided was a large flat dish of soup.

The Fox lapped it up with great relish,

but the Stork with her long bill tried in vain to partake of the savoury broth.

Her evident distress caused the sly Fox much amusement.

But not long after the Stork invited him in turn,

and set before him a pitcher with a long and narrow neck,

into which she could get her bill with ease.


while she enjoyed her dinner,

the Fox sat by hungry and helpless,

for it was impossible for him to reach the tempting contents of the vessel.


A Wolf resolved to disguise himself in order that he might prey upon a flock of sheep without fear of detection.

So he clothed himself in a sheepskin,

and slipped among the sheep when they were out at pasture.

He completely deceived the shepherd,

and when the flock was penned for the night he was shut in with the rest.

But that very night as it happened,

the shepherd,

requiring a supply of mutton for the table,

laid hands on the Wolf in mistake for a Sheep,

and killed him with his knife on the spot.


A Stag,

chased from his lair by the hounds,

took refuge in a farmyard,


entering a stable where a number of oxen were stalled,

thrust himself under a pile of hay in a vacant stall,

where he lay concealed,

all but the tips of his horns.

Presently one of the Oxen said to him,

"What has induced you to come in here?

Aren't you aware of the risk you are running of being captured by the herdsmen?"

To which he replied,

"Pray let me stay for the present.

When night comes I shall easily escape under cover of the dark."

In the course of the afternoon more than one of the farm-hands came in,

to attend to the wants of the cattle,

but not one of them noticed the presence of the Stag,

who accordingly began to congratulate himself on his escape and to express his gratitude to the Oxen.

"We wish you well,"

said the one who had spoken before,

"but you are not out of danger yet.

If the master comes,

you will certainly be found out,

for nothing ever escapes his keen eyes."


sure enough,

in he came,

and made a great to-do about the way the Oxen were kept.

"The beasts are starving,"

he cried;


give them more hay,

and put plenty of litter under them."

As he spoke,

he seized an armful himself from the pile where the Stag lay concealed,

and at once detected him.

Calling his men,

he had him seized at once and killed for the table.


A farmer's daughter had been out to milk the cows,

and was returning to the dairy carrying her pail of milk upon her head.

As she walked along,

she fell a-musing after this fashion:

"The milk in this pail will provide me with cream,

which I will make into butter and take to market to sell.

With the money I will buy a number of eggs,

and these,

when hatched,

will produce chickens,

and by and by I shall have quite a large poultry-yard.

Then I shall sell some of my fowls,

and with the money which they will bring in I will buy myself a new gown,

which I shall wear when I go to the fair;

and all the young fellows will admire it,

and come and make love to me,

but I shall toss my head and have nothing to say to them."

Forgetting all about the pail,

and suiting the action to the word,

she tossed her head.

Down went the pail,

all the milk was spilled,

and all her fine castles in the air vanished in a moment!

Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.




The Dolphins quarrelled with the Whales,

and before very long they began fighting with one another.

The battle was very fierce,

and had lasted some time without any sign of coming to an end,

when a Sprat thought that perhaps he could stop it;

so he stepped in and tried to persuade them to give up fighting and make friends.

But one of the Dolphins said to him contemptuously,

"We would rather go on fighting till we're all killed than be reconciled by a Sprat like you!"


A Fox and a Monkey were on the road together,

and fell into a dispute as to which of the two was the better born.

They kept it up for some time,

till they came to a place where the road passed through a cemetery full of monuments,

when the Monkey stopped and looked about him and gave a great sigh.

"Why do you sigh?"

said the Fox.

The Monkey pointed to the tombs and replied,

"All the monuments that you see here were put up in honour of my forefathers,

who in their day were eminent men."

The Fox was speechless for a moment,

but quickly recovering he said,


don't stop at any lie,


you're quite safe: I'm sure none of your ancestors will rise up and expose you."

Boasters brag most when they cannot be detected.


There was once a man who had an Ass and a Lap-dog.

The Ass was housed in the stable with plenty of oats and hay to eat and was as well off as an ass could be.

The little Dog was made a great pet of by his master,

who fondled him and often let him lie in his lap;

and if he went out to dinner,

he would bring back a tit-bit or two to give him when he ran to meet him on his return.

The Ass had,

it is true,

a good deal of work to do,

carting or grinding the corn,

or carrying the burdens of the farm: and ere long he became very jealous,

contrasting his own life of labour with the ease and idleness of the Lap-dog.

At last one day he broke his halter,

and frisking into the house just as his master sat down to dinner,

he pranced and capered about,

mimicking the frolics of the little favourite,

upsetting the table and smashing the crockery with his clumsy efforts.

Not content with that,

he even tried to jump on his master's lap,

as he had so often seen the dog allowed to do.

At that the servants,

seeing the danger their master was in,

belaboured the silly Ass with sticks and cudgels,

and drove him back to his stable half dead with his beating.


he cried,

"all this I have brought on myself.

Why could I not be satisfied with my natural and honourable position,

without wishing to imitate the ridiculous antics of that useless little Lap-dog?"


A Fir-tree was boasting to a Bramble,

and said,

somewhat contemptuously,

"You poor creature,

you are of no use whatever.


look at me: I am useful for all sorts of things,

particularly when men build houses;

they can't do without me then."

But the Bramble replied,


that's all very well: but you wait till they come with axes and saws to cut you down,

and then you'll wish you were a Bramble and not a Fir."

Better poverty without a care than wealth with its many obligations.


Once upon a time the Sun was about to take to himself a wife.

The Frogs in terror all raised their voices to the skies,

and Jupiter,

disturbed by the noise,

asked them what they were croaking about.

They replied,

"The Sun is bad enough even while he is single,

drying up our marshes with his heat as he does.

But what will become of us if he marries and begets other Suns?"




A Dog and a Cock became great friends,

and agreed to travel together.

At nightfall the Cock flew up into the branches of a tree to roost,

while the Dog curled himself up inside the trunk,

which was hollow.

At break of day the Cock woke up and crew,

as usual.

A Fox heard,


wishing to make a breakfast of him,

came and stood under the tree and begged him to come down.

"I should so like,"

said he,

"to make the acquaintance of one who has such a beautiful voice."

The Cock replied,

"Would you just wake my porter who sleeps at the foot of the tree?

He'll open the door and let you in."

The Fox accordingly rapped on the trunk,

when out rushed the Dog and tore him in pieces.


A Gnat alighted on one of the horns of a Bull,

and remained sitting there for a considerable time.

When it had rested sufficiently and was about to fly away,

it said to the Bull,

"Do you mind if I go now?"

The Bull merely raised his eyes and remarked,

without interest,

"It's all one to me;

I didn't notice when you came,

and I shan't know when you go away."

We may often be of more consequence in our own eyes than in the eyes of our neighbours.


Two Travellers were on the road together,

when a Bear suddenly appeared on the scene.

Before he observed them,

one made for a tree at the side of the road,

and climbed up into the branches and hid there.

The other was not so nimble as his companion;


as he could not escape,

he threw himself on the ground and pretended to be dead.

The Bear came up and sniffed all round him,

but he kept perfectly still and held his breath: for they say that a bear will not touch a dead body.

The Bear took him for a corpse,

and went away.

When the coast was clear,

the Traveller in the tree came down,

and asked the other what it was the Bear had whispered to him when he put his mouth to his ear.

The other replied,

"He told me never again to travel with a friend who deserts you at the first sign of danger."

Misfortune tests the sincerity of friendship.


A Slave ran away from his master,

by whom he had been most cruelly treated,


in order to avoid capture,

betook himself into the desert.

As he wandered about in search of food and shelter,

he came to a cave,

which he entered and found to be unoccupied.



it was a Lion's den,

and almost immediately,

to the horror of the wretched fugitive,

the Lion himself appeared.

The man gave himself up for lost: but,

to his utter astonishment,

the Lion,

instead of springing upon him and devouring him,

came and fawned upon him,

at the same time whining and lifting up his paw.

Observing it to be much swollen and inflamed,

he examined it and found a large thorn embedded in the ball of the foot.

He accordingly removed it and dressed the wound as well as he could: and in course of time it healed up completely.

The Lion's gratitude was unbounded;

he looked upon the man as his friend,

and they shared the cave for some time together.

A day came,


when the Slave began to long for the society of his fellow-men,

and he bade farewell to the Lion and returned to the town.

Here he was presently recognised and carried off in chains to his former master,

who resolved to make an example of him,

and ordered that he should be thrown to the beasts at the next public spectacle in the theatre.

On the fatal day the beasts were loosed into the arena,

and among the rest a Lion of huge bulk and ferocious aspect;

and then the wretched Slave was cast in among them.

What was the amazement of the spectators,

when the Lion after one glance bounded up to him and lay down at his feet with every expression of affection and delight!

It was his old friend of the cave!

The audience clamoured that the Slave's life should be spared: and the governor of the town,

marvelling at such gratitude and fidelity in a beast,

decreed that both should receive their liberty.


A Flea bit a Man,

and bit him again,

and again,

till he could stand it no longer,

but made a thorough search for it,

and at last succeeded in catching it.

Holding it between his finger and thumb,

he said --or rather shouted,

so angry was he --"Who are you,


you wretched little creature,

that you make so free with my person?"

The Flea,


whimpered in a weak little voice,



pray let me go;

don't kill me!

I am such a little thing that I can't do you much harm."

But the Man laughed and said,

"I am going to kill you now,

at once: whatever is bad has got to be destroyed,

no matter how slight the harm it does."

Do not waste your pity on a scamp.


A Queen Bee from Hymettus flew up to Olympus with some fresh honey from the hive as a present to Jupiter,

who was so pleased with the gift that he promised to give her anything she liked to ask for.

She said she would be very grateful if he would give stings to the bees,

to kill people who robbed them of their honey.

Jupiter was greatly displeased with this request,

for he loved mankind: but he had given his word,

so he said that stings they should have.

The stings he gave them,


were of such a kind that whenever a bee stings a man the sting is left in the wound and the bee dies.

Evil wishes,

like fowls,

come home to roost.


An Oak that grew on the bank of a river was uprooted by a severe gale of wind,

and thrown across the stream.

It fell among some Reeds growing by the water,

and said to them,

"How is it that you,

who are so frail and slender,

have managed to weather the storm,

whereas I,

with all my strength,

have been torn up by the roots and hurled into the river?"

"You were stubborn,"

came the reply,

"and fought against the storm,

which proved stronger than you: but we bow and yield to every breeze,

and thus the gale passed harmlessly over our heads."


There was once a Blind Man who had so fine a sense of touch that,

when any animal was put into his hands,

he could tell what it was merely by the feel of it.

One day the Cub of a Wolf was put into his hands,

and he was asked what it was.

He felt it for some time,

and then said,


I am not sure whether it is a Wolf's Cub or a Fox's: but this I know --it would never do to trust it in a sheepfold."

Evil tendencies are early shown.


A Farmer's Boy went looking for Snails,


when he had picked up both his hands full,

he set about making a fire at which to roast them;

for he meant to eat them.

When it got well alight and the Snails began to feel the heat,

they gradually withdrew more and more into their shells with the hissing noise they always make when they do so.

When the Boy heard it,

he said,

"You abandoned creatures,

how can you find heart to whistle when your houses are burning?"


Two men were travelling together,

one of whom never spoke the truth,

whereas the other never told a lie: and they came in the course of their travels to the land of Apes.

The King of the Apes,

hearing of their arrival,

ordered them to be brought before him;

and by way of impressing them with his magnificence,

he received them sitting on a throne,

while the Apes,

his subjects,

were ranged in long rows on either side of him.

When the Travellers came into his presence he asked them what they thought of him as a King.

The lying Traveller said,


every one must see that you are a most noble and mighty monarch."

"And what do you think of my subjects?"

continued the King.


said the Traveller,

"are in every way worthy of their royal master."

The Ape was so delighted with his answer that he gave him a very handsome present.

The other Traveller thought that if his companion was rewarded so splendidly for telling a lie,

he himself would certainly receive a still greater reward for telling the truth;


when the Ape turned to him and said,

"And what,


is your opinion?"

he replied,

"I think you are a very fine Ape,

and all your subjects are fine Apes too."

The King of the Apes was so enraged at his reply that he ordered him to be taken away and clawed to death.


A Pedlar who owned an Ass one day bought a quantity of salt,

and loaded up his beast with as much as he could bear.

On the way home the Ass stumbled as he was crossing a stream and fell into the water.

The salt got thoroughly wetted and much of it melted and drained away,

so that,

when he got on his legs again,

the Ass found his load had become much less heavy.

His master,


drove him back to town and bought more salt,

which he added to what remained in the panniers,

and started out again.

No sooner had they reached a stream than the Ass lay down in it,

and rose,

as before,

with a much lighter load.

But his master detected the trick,

and turning back once more,

bought a large number of sponges,

and piled them on the back of the Ass.

When they came to the stream the Ass again lay down: but this time,

as the sponges soaked up large quantities of water,

he found,

when he got up on his legs,

that he had a bigger burden to carry than ever.

You may play a good card once too often.


A Shepherd's Boy was tending his flock near a village,

and thought it would be great fun to hoax the villagers by pretending that a Wolf was attacking the sheep: so he shouted out,



and when the people came running up he laughed at them for their pains.

He did this more than once,

and every time the villagers found they had been hoaxed,

for there was no Wolf at all.

At last a Wolf really did come,

and the Boy cried,



as loud as he could: but the people were so used to hearing him call that they took no notice of his cries for help.

And so the Wolf had it all his own way,

and killed off sheep after sheep at his leisure.

You cannot believe a liar even when he tells the truth.


A Fox fell into a well and was unable to get out again.

By and by a thirsty Goat came by,

and seeing the Fox in the well asked him if the water was good.


said the Fox,

"it's the best water I ever tasted in all my life.

Come down and try it yourself."

The Goat thought of nothing but the prospect of quenching his thirst,

and jumped in at once.

When he had had enough to drink,

he looked about,

like the Fox,

for some way of getting out,

but could find none.

Presently the Fox said,

"I have an idea.

You stand on your hind legs,

and plant your forelegs firmly against the side of the well,

and then I'll climb on to your back,


from there,

by stepping on your horns,

I can get out.

And when I'm out,

I'll help you out too."

The Goat did as he was requested,

and the Fox climbed on to his back and so out of the well;

and then he coolly walked away.

The Goat called loudly after him and reminded him of his promise to help him out: but the Fox merely turned and said,

"If you had as much sense in your head as you have hair in your beard you wouldn't have got into the well without making certain that you could get out again."

Look before your leap.


A Fisherman cast his net into the sea,

and when he drew it up again it contained nothing but a single Sprat that begged to be put back into the water.

"I'm only a little fish now,"

it said,

"but I shall grow big one day,

and then if you come and catch me again I shall be of some use to you."

But the Fisherman replied,



I shall keep you now I've got you: if I put you back,

should I ever see you again?

Not likely!"


A Man once went abroad on his travels,

and when he came home he had wonderful tales to tell of the things he had done in foreign countries.

Among other things,

he said he had taken part in a jumping-match at Rhodes,

and had done a wonderful jump which no one could beat.

"Just go to Rhodes and ask them,"

he said;

"every one will tell you it's true."

But one of those who were listening said,

"If you can jump as well as all that,

we needn't go to Rhodes to prove it.

Let's just imagine this is Rhodes for a minute: and now --jump!"


not words.


An Old Crab said to her son,

"Why do you walk sideways like that,

my son?

You ought to walk straight."

The Young Crab replied,

"Show me how,

dear mother,

and I'll follow your example."

The Old Crab tried,

but tried in vain,

and then saw how foolish she had been to find fault with her child.

Example is better than precept.


A certain man hired an Ass for a journey in summertime,

and started out with the owner following behind to drive the beast.

By and by,

in the heat of the day,

they stopped to rest,

and the traveller wanted to lie down in the Ass's Shadow;

but the owner,

who himself wished to be out of the sun,

wouldn't let him do that;

for he said he had hired the Ass only,

and not his Shadow: the other maintained that his bargain secured him complete control of the Ass for the time being.

From words they came to blows;

and while they were belabouring each other the Ass took to his heels and was soon out of sight.


A Farmer,

being at death's door,

and desiring to impart to his Sons a secret of much moment,

called them round him and said,

"My sons,

I am shortly about to die;

I would have you know,


that in my vineyard there lies a hidden treasure.


and you will find it."

As soon as their father was dead,

the Sons took spade and fork and turned up the soil of the vineyard over and over again,

in their search for the treasure which they supposed to lie buried there.

They found none,

however: but the vines,

after so thorough a digging,

produced a crop such as had never before been seen.


A rich man once invited a number of his friends and acquaintances to a banquet.

His dog thought it would be a good opportunity to invite another Dog,

a friend of his;

so he went to him and said,

"My master is giving a feast: there'll be a fine spread,

so come and dine with me to-night."

The Dog thus invited came,

and when he saw the preparations being made in the kitchen he said to himself,

"My word,

I'm in luck: I'll take care to eat enough to-night to last me two or three days."

At the same time he wagged his tail briskly,

by way of showing his friend how delighted he was to have been asked.

But just then the Cook caught sight of him,


in his annoyance at seeing a strange Dog in the kitchen,

caught him up by the hind legs and threw him out of the window.

He had a nasty fall,

and limped away as quickly as he could,

howling dismally.

Presently some other dogs met him,

and said,


what sort of a dinner did you get?"

To which he replied,

"I had a splendid time: the wine was so good,

and I drank so much of it,

that I really don't remember how I got out of the house!"

Be shy of favours bestowed at the expense of others.


At a gathering of all the animals the Monkey danced and delighted them so much that they made him their King.

The Fox,


was very much disgusted at the promotion of the Monkey: so having one day found a trap with a piece of meat in it,

he took the Monkey there and said to him,

"Here is a dainty morsel I have found,


I did not take it myself,

because I thought it ought to be reserved for you,

our King.

Will you be pleased to accept it?"

The Monkey made at once for the meat and got caught in the trap.

Then he bitterly reproached the Fox for leading him into danger;

but the Fox only laughed and said,

"O Monkey,

you call yourself King of the Beasts and haven't more sense than to be taken in like that!"


Some Thieves broke into a house,

and found nothing worth taking except a Cock,

which they seized and carried off with them.

When they were preparing their supper,

one of them caught up the Cock,

and was about to wring his neck,

when he cried out for mercy and said,

"Pray do not kill me: you will find me a most useful bird,

for I rouse honest men to their work in the morning by my crowing."

But the Thief replied with some heat,


I know you do,

making it still harder for us to get a livelihood.

Into the pot you go!"


A Farmer was ploughing one day on his farm when he turned up a pot of golden coins with his plough.

He was overjoyed at his discovery,

and from that time forth made an offering daily at the shrine of the Goddess of the Earth.

Fortune was displeased at this,

and came to him and said,

"My man,

why do you give Earth the credit for the gift which I bestowed upon you?

You never thought of thanking me for your good luck;

but should you be unlucky enough to lose what you have gained I know very well that I,


should then come in for all the blame."

Show gratitude where gratitude is due.


Jupiter issued a proclamation to all the beasts,

and offered a prize to the one who,

in his judgment,

produced the most beautiful offspring.

Among the rest came the Monkey,

carrying a baby monkey in her arms,

a hairless,

flat-nosed little fright.

When they saw it,

the gods all burst into peal on peal of laughter;

but the Monkey hugged her little one to her,

and said,

"Jupiter may give the prize to whomsoever he likes: but I shall always think my baby the most beautiful of them all."


A certain man had several Sons who were always quarrelling with one another,


try as he might,

he could not get them to live together in harmony.

So he determined to convince them of their folly by the following means.

Bidding them fetch a bundle of sticks,

he invited each in turn to break it across his knee.

All tried and all failed: and then he undid the bundle,

and handed them the sticks one by one,

when they had no difficulty at all in breaking them.


my boys,"

said he,

"united you will be more than a match for your enemies: but if you quarrel and separate,

your weakness will put you at the mercy of those who attack you."

Union is strength.


A Lamp,

well filled with oil,

burned with a clear and steady light,

and began to swell with pride and boast that it shone more brightly than the sun himself.

Just then a puff of wind came and blew it out.

Some one struck a match and lit it again,

and said,

"You just keep alight,

and never mind the sun.


even the stars never need to be relit as you had to be just now."


The Owl is a very wise bird;

and once,

long ago,

when the first oak sprouted in the forest,

she called all the other Birds together and said to them,

"You see this tiny tree?

If you take my advice,

you will destroy it now when it is small: for when it grows big,

the mistletoe will appear upon it,

from which birdlime will be prepared for your destruction."


when the first flax was sown,

she said to them,

"Go and eat up that seed,

for it is the seed of the flax,

out of which men will one day make nets to catch you."

Once more,

when she saw the first archer,

she warned the Birds that he was their deadly enemy,

who would wing his arrows with their own feathers and shoot them.

But they took no notice of what she said: in fact,

they thought she was rather mad,

and laughed at her.



everything turned out as she had foretold,

they changed their minds and conceived a great respect for her wisdom.


whenever she appears,

the Birds attend upon her in the hope of hearing something that may be for their good.



gives them advice no longer,

but sits moping and pondering on the folly of her kind.


An Ass found a Lion's Skin,

and dressed himself up in it.

Then he went about frightening every one he met,

for they all took him to be a lion,

men and beasts alike,

and took to their heels when they saw him coming.

Elated by the success of his trick,

he loudly brayed in triumph.

The Fox heard him,

and recognised him at once for the Ass he was,

and said to him,


my friend,

it's you,

is it?



should have been afraid if I hadn't heard your voice."


Jupiter granted beards to the She-Goats at their own request,

much to the disgust of the he-Goats,

who considered this to be an unwarrantable invasion of their rights and dignities.

So they sent a deputation to him to protest against his action.



advised them not to raise any objections.

"What's in a tuft of hair?"

said he.

"Let them have it if they want it.

They can never be a match for you in strength."


A Lion,

enfeebled by age and no longer able to procure food for himself by force,

determined to do so by cunning.

Betaking himself to a cave,

he lay down inside and feigned to be sick: and whenever any of the other animals entered to inquire after his health,

he sprang upon them and devoured them.

Many lost their lives in this way,

till one day a Fox called at the cave,


having a suspicion of the truth,

addressed the Lion from outside instead of going in,

and asked him how he did.

He replied that he was in a very bad way:


said he,

"why do you stand outside?

Pray come in."

"I should have done so,"

answered the Fox,

"if I hadn't noticed that all the footprints point towards the cave and none the other way."


A Boy was bathing in a river and got out of his depth,

and was in great danger of being drowned.

A man who was passing along a road heard his cries for help,

and went to the riverside and began to scold him for being so careless as to get into deep water,

but made no attempt to help him.



cried the Boy,

"please help me first and scold me afterwards."

Give assistance,

not advice,

in a crisis.


Once upon a time a Frog came forth from his home in the marshes and proclaimed to all the world that he was a learned physician,

skilled in drugs and able to cure all diseases.

Among the crowd was a Fox,

who called out,

"You a doctor!


how can you set up to heal others when you cannot even cure your own lame legs and blotched and wrinkled skin?"


heal thyself.


A hungry Fox found in a hollow tree a quantity of bread and meat,

which some shepherds had placed there against their return.

Delighted with his find he slipped in through the narrow aperture and greedily devoured it all.

But when he tried to get out again he found himself so swollen after his big meal that he could not squeeze through the hole,

and fell to whining and groaning over his misfortune.

Another Fox,

happening to pass that way,

came and asked him what the matter was;


on learning the state of the case,



my friend,

I see nothing for it but for you to stay where you are till you shrink to your former size;

you'll get out then easily enough."




A Mouse and a Frog struck up a friendship;

they were not well mated,

for the Mouse lived entirely on land,

while the Frog was equally at home on land or in the water.

In order that they might never be separated,

the Frog tied himself and the Mouse together by the leg with a piece of thread.

As long as they kept on dry land all went fairly well;


coming to the edge of a pool,

the Frog jumped in,

taking the Mouse with him,

and began swimming about and croaking with pleasure.

The unhappy Mouse,


was soon drowned,

and floated about on the surface in the wake of the Frog.

There he was spied by a Hawk,

who pounced down on him and seized him in his talons.

The Frog was unable to loose the knot which bound him to the Mouse,

and thus was carried off along with him and eaten by the Hawk.


A Boy was gathering berries from a hedge when his hand was stung by a Nettle.

Smarting with the pain,

he ran to tell his mother,

and said to her between his sobs,

"I only touched it ever so lightly,


"That's just why you got stung,

my son,"

she said;

"if you had grasped it firmly,

it wouldn't have hurt you in the least."


A Peasant had an Apple-tree growing in his garden,

which bore no fruit,

but merely served to provide a shelter from the heat for the sparrows and grasshoppers which sat and chirped in its branches.

Disappointed at its barrenness he determined to cut it down,

and went and fetched his axe for the purpose.

But when the sparrows and the grasshoppers saw what he was about to do,

they begged him to spare it,

and said to him,

"If you destroy the tree we shall have to seek shelter elsewhere,

and you will no longer have our merry chirping to enliven your work in the garden."



refused to listen to them,

and set to work with a will to cut through the trunk.

A few strokes showed that it was hollow inside and contained a swarm of bees and a large store of honey.

Delighted with his find he threw down his axe,


"The old tree is worth keeping after all."

Utility is most men's test of worth.


A Jackdaw,

watching some Pigeons in a farmyard,

was filled with envy when he saw how well they were fed,

and determined to disguise himself as one of them,

in order to secure a share of the good things they enjoyed.

So he painted himself white from head to foot and joined the flock;


so long as he was silent,

they never suspected that he was not a pigeon like themselves.

But one day he was unwise enough to start chattering,

when they at once saw through his disguise and pecked him so unmercifully that he was glad to escape and join his own kind again.

But the other jackdaws did not recognise him in his white dress,

and would not let him feed with them,

but drove him away: and so he became a homeless wanderer for his pains.


Jupiter was about to marry a wife,

and determined to celebrate the event by inviting all the animals to a banquet.

They all came except the Tortoise,

who did not put in an appearance,

much to Jupiter's surprise.

So when he next saw the Tortoise he asked him why he had not been at the banquet.

"I don't care for going out,"

said the Tortoise;

"there's no place like home."

Jupiter was so much annoyed by this reply that he decreed that from that time forth the Tortoise should carry his house upon his back,

and never be able to get away from home even if he wished to.


A Dog was lying in a Manger on the hay which had been put there for the cattle,

and when they came and tried to eat,

he growled and snapped at them and wouldn't let them get at their food.

"What a selfish beast,"

said one of them to his companions;

"he can't eat himself and yet he won't let those eat who can."


Every man carries Two Bags about with him,

one in front and one behind,

and both are packed full of faults.

The Bag in front contains his neighbours' faults,

the one behind his own.

Hence it is that men do not see their own faults,

but never fail to see those of others.


A pair of Oxen were drawing a heavily loaded waggon along the highway,


as they tugged and strained at the yoke,

the Axletrees creaked and groaned terribly.

This was too much for the Oxen,

who turned round indignantly and said,


you there!

Why do you make such a noise when we do all the work?"

They complain most who suffer least.


A Boy put his hand into a jar of Filberts,

and grasped as many as his fist could possibly hold.

But when he tried to pull it out again,

he found he couldn't do so,

for the neck of the jar was too small to allow of the passage of so large a handful.

Unwilling to lose his nuts but unable to withdraw his hand,

he burst into tears.

A bystander,

who saw where the trouble lay,

said to him,


my boy,

don't be so greedy: be content with half the amount,

and you'll be able to get your hand out without difficulty."

Do not attempt too much at once.


Time was when the Frogs were discontented because they had no one to rule over them: so they sent a deputation to Jupiter to ask him to give them a King.


despising the folly of their request,

cast a log into the pool where they lived,

and said that that should be their King.

The Frogs were terrified at first by the splash,

and scuttled away into the deepest parts of the pool;

but by and by,

when they saw that the log remained motionless,

one by one they ventured to the surface again,

and before long,

growing bolder,

they began to feel such contempt for it that they even took to sitting upon it.

Thinking that a King of that sort was an insult to their dignity,

they sent to Jupiter a second time,

and begged him to take away the sluggish King he had given them,

and to give them another and a better one.


annoyed at being pestered in this way,

sent a Stork to rule over them,

who no sooner arrived among them than he began to catch and eat the Frogs as fast as he could.


An Olive-tree taunted a Fig-tree with the loss of her leaves at a certain season of the year.


she said,

"lose your leaves every autumn,

and are bare till the spring: whereas I,

as you see,

remain green and flourishing all the year round."

Soon afterwards there came a heavy fall of snow,

which settled on the leaves of the Olive so that she bent and broke under the weight;

but the flakes fell harmlessly through the bare branches of the Fig,

which survived to bear many another crop.


One hot and thirsty day in the height of summer a Lion and a Boar came down to a little spring at the same moment to drink.

In a trice they were quarrelling as to who should drink first.

The quarrel soon became a fight and they attacked one another with the utmost fury.


stopping for a moment to take breath,

they saw some vultures seated on a rock above evidently waiting for one of them to be killed,

when they would fly down and feed upon the carcase.

The sight sobered them at once,

and they made up their quarrel,


"We had much better be friends than fight and be eaten by vultures."


A Walnut-tree,

which grew by the roadside,

bore every year a plentiful crop of nuts.

Every one who passed by pelted its branches with sticks and stones,

in order to bring down the fruit,

and the tree suffered severely.

"It is hard,"

it cried,

"that the very persons who enjoy my fruit should thus reward me with insults and blows."


A Man and a Lion were companions on a journey,

and in the course of conversation they began to boast about their prowess,

and each claimed to be superior to the other in strength and courage.

They were still arguing with some heat when they came to a cross-road where there was a statue of a Man strangling a Lion.


said the Man triumphantly,

"look at that!

Doesn't that prove to you that we are stronger than you?"

"Not so fast,

my friend,"

said the Lion:

"that is only your view of the case.

If we Lions could make statues,

you may be sure that in most of them you would see the Man underneath."

There are two sides to every question.


A Tortoise,

discontented with his lowly life,

and envious of the birds he saw disporting themselves in the air,

begged an Eagle to teach him to fly.

The Eagle protested that it was idle for him to try,

as nature had not provided him with wings;

but the Tortoise pressed him with entreaties and promises of treasure,

insisting that it could only be a question of learning the craft of the air.

So at length the Eagle consented to do the best he could for him,

and picked him up in his talons.

Soaring with him to a great height in the sky he then let him go,

and the wretched Tortoise fell headlong and was dashed to pieces on a rock.


A Kid climbed up on to the roof of an outhouse,

attracted by the grass and other things that grew in the thatch;

and as he stood there browsing away,

he caught sight of a Wolf passing below,

and jeered at him because he couldn't reach him.

The Wolf only looked up and said,

"I hear you,

my young friend;

but it is not you who mock me,

but the roof on which you are standing."


A fox once fell into a trap,

and after a struggle managed to get free,

but with the loss of his brush.

He was then so much ashamed of his appearance that he thought life was not worth living unless he could persuade the other Foxes to part with their tails also,

and thus divert attention from his own loss.

So he called a meeting of all the Foxes,

and advised them to cut off their tails:

"They're ugly things anyhow,"

he said,

"and besides they're heavy,

and it's tiresome to be always carrying them about with you."

But one of the other Foxes said,

"My friend,

if you hadn't lost your own tail,

you wouldn't be so keen on getting us to cut off ours."


Jupiter announced that he intended to appoint a king over the birds,

and named a day on which they were to appear before his throne,

when he would select the most beautiful of them all to be their ruler.

Wishing to look their best on the occasion they repaired to the banks of a stream,

where they busied themselves in washing and preening their feathers.

The Jackdaw was there along with the rest,

and realised that,

with his ugly plumage,

he would have no chance of being chosen as he was: so he waited till they were all gone,

and then picked up the most gaudy of the feathers they had dropped,

and fastened them about his own body,

with the result that he looked gayer than any of them.

When the appointed day came,

the birds assembled before Jupiter's throne;


after passing them in review,

he was about to make the Jackdaw king,

when all the rest set upon the king-elect,

stripped him of his borrowed plumes,

and exposed him for the Jackdaw that he was.


A Traveller was about to start on a journey,

and said to his Dog,

who was stretching himself by the door,


what are you yawning for?

Hurry up and get ready: I mean you to go with me."

But the Dog merely wagged his tail and said quietly,

"I'm ready,

master: it's you I'm waiting for."


A Shipwrecked Man cast up on the beach fell asleep after his struggle with the waves.

When he woke up,

he bitterly reproached the Sea for its treachery in enticing men with its smooth and smiling surface,

and then,

when they were well embarked,

turning in fury upon them and sending both ship and sailors to destruction.

The Sea arose in the form of a woman,

and replied,

"Lay not the blame on me,

O sailor,

but on the Winds.

By nature I am as calm and safe as the land itself: but the Winds fall upon me with their gusts and gales,

and lash me into a fury that is not natural to me."


A Wild Boar was engaged in whetting his tusks upon the trunk of a tree in the forest when a Fox came by and,

seeing what he was at,

said to him,

"Why are you doing that,


The huntsmen are not out to-day,

and there are no other dangers at hand that I can see."


my friend,"

replied the Boar,

"but the instant my life is in danger I shall need to use my tusks.

There'll be no time to sharpen them then."


Mercury was very anxious to know in what estimation he was held by mankind;

so he disguised himself as a man and walked into a Sculptor's studio,

where there were a number of statues finished and ready for sale.

Seeing a statue of Jupiter among the rest,

he inquired the price of it.

"A crown,"

said the Sculptor.

"Is that all?"

said he,


"and" (pointing to one of Juno) "how much is that one?"


was the reply,

"is half a crown."

"And how much might you be wanting for that one over there,


he continued,

pointing to a statue of himself.

"That one?"

said the Sculptor;


I'll throw him in for nothing if you'll buy the other two."


A Hind said to her Fawn,

who was now well grown and strong,

"My son,

Nature has given you a powerful body and a stout pair of horns,

and I can't think why you are such a coward as to run away from the hounds."

Just then they both heard the sound of a pack in full cry,

but at a considerable distance.

"You stay where you are,"

said the Hind;

"never mind me": and with that she ran off as fast as her legs could carry her.


A Fox who had never seen a Lion one day met one,

and was so terrified at the sight of him that he was ready to die with fear.

After a time he met him again,

and was still rather frightened,

but not nearly so much as he had been when he met him first.

But when he saw him for the third time he was so far from being afraid that he went up to him and began to talk to him as if he had known him all his life.


A Man once caught an Eagle,

and after clipping his wings turned him loose among the fowls in his hen-house,

where he moped in a corner,

looking very dejected and forlorn.

After a while his Captor was glad enough to sell him to a neighbour,

who took him home and let his wings grow again.

As soon as he had recovered the use of them,

the Eagle flew out and caught a hare,

which he brought home and presented to his benefactor.

A fox observed this,

and said to the Eagle,

"Don't waste your gifts on him!

Go and give them to the man who first caught you;

make -him- your friend,

and then perhaps he won't catch you and clip your wings a second time."


A Blacksmith had a little Dog,

which used to sleep when his master was at work,

but was very wide awake indeed when it was time for meals.

One day his master pretended to be disgusted at this,

and when he had thrown him a bone as usual,

he said,

"What on earth is the good of a lazy cur like you?

When I am hammering away at my anvil,

you just curl up and go to sleep: but no sooner do I stop for a mouthful of food than you wake up and wag your tail to be fed."

Those who will not work deserve to starve.


A thirsty Stag went down to a pool to drink.

As he bent over the surface he saw his own reflection in the water,

and was struck with admiration for his fine spreading antlers,

but at the same time he felt nothing but disgust for the weakness and slenderness of his legs.

While he stood there looking at himself,

he was seen and attacked by a Lion;

but in the chase which ensued,

he soon drew away from his pursuer,

and kept his lead as long as the ground over which he ran was open and free of trees.

But coming presently to a wood,

he was caught by his antlers in the branches,

and fell a victim to the teeth and claws of his enemy.

"Woe is me!"

he cried with his last breath;

"I despised my legs,

which might have saved my life: but I gloried in my horns,

and they have proved my ruin."

What is worth most is often valued least.


A Dog was crossing a plank bridge over a stream with a piece of meat in his mouth,

when he happened to see his own reflection in the water.

He thought it was another dog with a piece of meat twice as big;

so he let go his own,

and flew at the other dog to get the larger piece.


of course,

all that happened was that he got neither;

for one was only a shadow,

and the other was carried away by the current.


When Jupiter was creating man,

he told Mercury to make an infusion of lies,

and to add a little of it to the other ingredients which went to the making of the Tradesmen.

Mercury did so,

and introduced an equal amount into each in turn --the tallow-chandler,

and the greengrocer,

and the haberdasher,

and all,

till he came to the horse-dealer,

who was last on the list,


finding that he had a quantity of the infusion still left,

he put it all into him.

This is why all Tradesmen lie more or less,

but they none of them lie like a horse-dealer.


There was war between the Mice and the Weasels,

in which the Mice always got the worst of it,

numbers of them being killed and eaten by the Weasels.

So they called a council of war,

in which an old Mouse got up and said,

"It's no wonder we are always beaten,

for we have no generals to plan our battles and direct our movements in the field."

Acting on his advice,

they chose the biggest Mice to be their leaders,

and these,

in order to be distinguished from the rank and file,

provided themselves with helmets bearing large plumes of straw.

They then led out the Mice to battle,

confident of victory: but they were defeated as usual,

and were soon scampering as fast as they could to their holes.

All made their way to safety without difficulty except the leaders,

who were so hampered by the badges of their rank that they could not get into their holes,

and fell easy victims to their pursuers.

Greatness carries its own penalties.


The Peacock was greatly discontented because he had not a beautiful voice like the nightingale,

and he went and complained to Juno about it.

"The nightingale's song,"

said he,

"is the envy of all the birds;

but whenever I utter a sound I become a laughing-stock."

The goddess tried to console him by saying,

"You have not,

it is true,

the power of song,

but then you far excel all the rest in beauty: your neck flashes like the emerald and your splendid tail is a marvel of gorgeous colour."

But the Peacock was not appeased.

"What is the use,"

said he,

"of being beautiful,

with a voice like mine?"

Then Juno replied,

with a shade of sternness in her tones,

"Fate has allotted to all their destined gifts: to yourself beauty,

to the eagle strength,

to the nightingale song,

and so on to all the rest in their degree;

but you alone are dissatisfied with your portion.



no more complaints.


if your present wish were granted,

you would quickly find cause for fresh discontent."


A Bear was once bragging about his generous feelings,

and saying how refined he was compared with other animals.

(There is,

in fact,

a tradition that a Bear will never touch a dead body.)

A Fox,

who heard him talking in this strain,

smiled and said,

"My friend,

when you are hungry,

I only wish you -would- confine your attention to the dead and leave the living alone."

A hypocrite deceives no one but himself.


An old Peasant was sitting in a meadow watching his Ass,

which was grazing close by,

when all of a sudden he caught sight of armed men stealthily approaching.

He jumped up in a moment,

and begged the Ass to fly with him as fast as he could,

"Or else,"

said he,

"we shall both be captured by the enemy."

But the Ass just looked round lazily and said,

"And if so,

do you think they'll make me carry heavier loads than I have to now?"


said his master.




said the Ass,

"I don't mind if they do take me,

for I shan't be any worse off."


Two little Frogs were playing about at the edge of a pool when an Ox came down to the water to drink,

and by accident trod on one of them and crushed the life out of him.

When the old Frog missed him,

she asked his brother where he was.

"He is dead,


said the little Frog;

"an enormous big creature with four legs came to our pool this morning and trampled him down in the mud."


was he?

Was he as big as this?"

said the Frog,

puffing herself out to look as big as possible.



-much- bigger,"

was the answer.

The Frog puffed herself out still more.

"Was he as big as this?"

said she.





-MUCH- bigger,"

said the little Frog.

And yet again she puffed and puffed herself out till she was almost as round as a ball.

"As big as ...?"

she began --but then she burst.


A poor Man had a wooden Image of a god,

to which he used to pray daily for riches.

He did this for a long time,

but remained as poor as ever,

till one day he caught up the Image in disgust and hurled it with all his strength against the wall.

The force of the blow split open the head and a quantity of gold coins fell out upon the floor.

The Man gathered them up greedily,

and said,

"O you old fraud,


When I honoured you,

you did me no good whatever: but no sooner do I treat you to insults and violence than you make a rich man of me!"


A Waggoner was driving his team along a muddy lane with a full load behind them,

when the wheels of his waggon sank so deep in the mire that no efforts of his horses could move them.

As he stood there,

looking helplessly on,

and calling loudly at intervals upon Hercules for assistance,

the god himself appeared,

and said to him,

"Put your shoulder to the wheel,


and goad on your horses,

and then you may call on Hercules to assist you.

If you won't lift a finger to help yourself,

you can't expect Hercules or any one else to come to your aid."

Heaven helps those who help themselves.




A Pomegranate and an Apple-tree were disputing about the quality of their fruits,

and each claimed that its own was the better of the two.

High words passed between them,

and a violent quarrel was imminent,

when a Bramble impudently poked its head out of a neighbouring hedge and said,


that's enough,

my friends;

don't let us quarrel."




A Lion and a Bear were fighting for possession of a kid,

which they had both seized at the same moment.

The battle was long and fierce,

and at length both of them were exhausted,

and lay upon the ground severely wounded and gasping for breath.

A Fox had all the time been prowling round and watching the fight: and when he saw the combatants lying there too weak to move,

he slipped in and seized the kid,

and ran off with it.

They looked on helplessly,

and one said to the other,

"Here we've been mauling each other all this while,

and no one the better for it except the Fox!"


A Man once bought an Ethiopian slave,

who had a black skin like all Ethiopians;

but his new master thought his colour was due to his late owner's having neglected him,

and that all he wanted was a good scrubbing.

So he set to work with plenty of soap and hot water,

and rubbed away at him with a will,

but all to no purpose: his skin remained as black as ever,

while the poor wretch all but died from the cold he caught.


Two Soldiers travelling together were set upon by a Robber.

One of them ran away,

but the other stood his ground,

and laid about him so lustily with his sword that the Robber was fain to fly and leave him in peace.

When the coast was clear the timid one ran back,


flourishing his weapon,

cried in a threatening voice,

"Where is he?

Let me get at him,

and I'll soon let him know whom he's got to deal with."

But the other replied,

"You are a little late,

my friend: I only wish you had backed me up just now,

even if you had done no more than speak,

for I should have been encouraged,

believing your words to be true.

As it is,

calm yourself,

and put up your sword: there is no further use for it.

You may delude others into thinking you're as brave as a lion: but I know that,

at the first sign of danger,

you run away like a hare."


A Lion and a Wild Ass went out hunting together: the latter was to run down the prey by his superior speed,

and the former would then come up and despatch it.

They met with great success;

and when it came to sharing the spoil the Lion divided it all into three equal portions.

"I will take the first,"

said he,

"because I am King of the beasts;

I will also take the second,


as your partner,

I am entitled to half of what remains;

and as for the third --well,

unless you give it up to me and take yourself off pretty quick,

the third,

believe me,

will make you feel very sorry for yourself!"

Might makes right.


A Man and a Satyr became friends,

and determined to live together.

All went well for a while,

until one day in winter-time the Satyr saw the Man blowing on his hands.

"Why do you do that?"

he asked.

"To warm my hands,"

said the Man.

That same day,

when they sat down to supper together,

they each had a steaming hot bowl of porridge,

and the Man raised his bowl to his mouth and blew on it.

"Why do you do that?"

asked the Satyr.

"To cool my porridge,"

said the Man.

The Satyr got up from the table.


said he,

"I'm going: I can't be friends with a man who blows hot and cold with the same breath."


A certain man made a wooden Image of Mercury,

and exposed it for sale in the market.

As no one offered to buy it,


he thought he would try to attract a purchaser by proclaiming the virtues of the Image.

So he cried up and down the market,

"A god for sale!

a god for sale!

One who'll bring you luck and keep you lucky!"

Presently one of the bystanders stopped him and said,

"If your god is all you make him out to be,

how is it you don't keep him and make the most of him yourself?"

"I'll tell you why,"

replied he;

"he brings gain,

it is true,

but he takes his time about it;

whereas I want money at once."


An Eagle sat perched on a lofty rock,

keeping a sharp look-out for prey.

A huntsman,

concealed in a cleft of the mountain and on the watch for game,

spied him there and shot an Arrow at him.

The shaft struck him full in the breast and pierced him through and through.

As he lay in the agonies of death,

he turned his eyes upon the Arrow.


cruel fate!"

he cried,

"that I should perish thus: but oh!

fate more cruel still,

that the Arrow which kills me should be winged with an Eagle's feathers!"


A Rich Man took up his residence next door to a Tanner,

and found the smell of the tan-yard so extremely unpleasant that he told him he must go.

The Tanner delayed his departure,

and the Rich Man had to speak to him several times about it;

and every time the Tanner said he was making arrangements to move very shortly.

This went on for some time,

till at last the Rich Man got so used to the smell that he ceased to mind it,

and troubled the Tanner with his objections no more.




A hungry Wolf was prowling about in search of food.

By and by,

attracted by the cries of a Child,

he came to a cottage.

As he crouched beneath the window,

he heard the Mother say to the Child,

"Stop crying,


or I'll throw you to the Wolf."

Thinking she really meant what she said,

he waited there a long time in the expectation of satisfying his hunger.

In the evening he heard the Mother fondling her Child and saying,

"If the naughty Wolf comes,

he shan't get my little one: Daddy will kill him."

The Wolf got up in much disgust and walked away:

"As for the people in that house,"

said he to himself,

"you can't believe a word they say."


An old Woman picked up an empty Wine-jar which had once contained a rare and costly wine,

and which still retained some traces of its exquisite bouquet.

She raised it to her nose and sniffed at it again and again.


she cried,

"how delicious must have been the liquid which has left behind so ravishing a smell."


A Lioness and a Vixen were talking together about their young,

as mothers will,

and saying how healthy and well-grown they were,

and what beautiful coats they had,

and how they were the image of their parents.

"My litter of cubs is a joy to see,"

said the Fox;

and then she added,

rather maliciously,

"But I notice you never have more than one."


said the Lioness grimly,

"but that one's a lion."


not quantity.


A Viper entered a carpenter's shop,

and went from one to another of the tools,

begging for something to eat.

Among the rest,

he addressed himself to the File,

and asked for the favour of a meal.

The File replied in a tone of pitying contempt,

"What a simpleton you must be if you imagine you will get anything from me,

who invariably take from every one and never give anything in return."

The covetous are poor givers.


A Cat pounced on a Cock,

and cast about for some good excuse for making a meal off him,

for Cats don't as a rule eat Cocks,

and she knew she ought not to.

At last she said,

"You make a great nuisance of yourself at night by crowing and keeping people awake: so I am going to make an end of you."

But the Cock defended himself by saying that he crowed in order that men might wake up and set about the day's work in good time,

and that they really couldn't very well do without him.

"That may be,"

said the Cat,

"but whether they can or not,

I'm not going without my dinner";

and she killed and ate him.

The want of a good excuse never kept a villain from crime.


A Hare was one day making fun of a Tortoise for being so slow upon his feet.

"Wait a bit,"

said the Tortoise;

"I'll run a race with you,

and I'll wager that I win."



replied the Hare,

who was much amused at the idea,

"let's try and see";

and it was soon agreed that the fox should set a course for them,

and be the judge.

When the time came both started off together,

but the Hare was soon so far ahead that he thought he might as well have a rest: so down he lay and fell fast asleep.

Meanwhile the Tortoise kept plodding on,

and in time reached the goal.

At last the Hare woke up with a start,

and dashed on at his fastest,

but only to find that the Tortoise had already won the race.

Slow and steady wins the race.


A Soldier gave his Horse a plentiful supply of oats in time of war,

and tended him with the utmost care,

for he wished him to be strong to endure the hardships of the field,

and swift to bear his master,

when need arose,

out of the reach of danger.

But when the war was over he employed him on all sorts of drudgery,

bestowing but little attention upon him,

and giving him,


nothing but chaff to eat.

The time came when war broke out again,

and the Soldier saddled and bridled his Horse,


having put on his heavy coat of mail,

mounted him to ride off and take the field.

But the poor half-starved beast sank down under his weight,

and said to his rider,

"You will have to go into battle on foot this time.

Thanks to hard work and bad food,

you have turned me from a Horse into an ass;

and you cannot in a moment turn me back again into a Horse."


Once upon a time the Oxen determined to be revenged upon the Butchers for the havoc they wrought in their ranks,

and plotted to put them to death on a given day.

They were all gathered together discussing how best to carry out the plan,

and the more violent of them were engaged in sharpening their horns for the fray,

when an old Ox got up upon his feet and said,

"My brothers,

you have good reason,

I know,

to hate these Butchers,


at any rate,

they understand their trade and do what they have to do without causing unnecessary pain.

But if we kill them,


who have no experience,

will be set to slaughter us,

and will by their bungling inflict great sufferings upon us.

For you may be sure that,

even though all the Butchers perish,

mankind will never go without their beef."


A wolf stole a lamb from the flock,

and was carrying it off to devour it at his leisure when he met a Lion,

who took his prey away from him and walked off with it.

He dared not resist,

but when the Lion had gone some distance he said,

"It is most unjust of you to take what's mine away from me like that."

The Lion laughed and called out in reply,

"It was justly yours,

no doubt!

The gift of a friend,






A Stag once asked a Sheep to lend him a measure of wheat,

saying that his friend the Wolf would be his surety.

The Sheep,


was afraid that they meant to cheat her;

so she excused herself,


"The Wolf is in the habit of seizing what he wants and running off with it without paying,

and you,


can run much faster than I.

So how shall I be able to come up with either of you when the debt falls due?"

Two blacks do not make a white.


Three Bulls were grazing in a meadow,

and were watched by a Lion,

who longed to capture and devour them,

but who felt that he was no match for the three so long as they kept together.

So he began by false whispers and malicious hints to foment jealousies and distrust among them.

This stratagem succeeded so well that ere long the Bulls grew cold and unfriendly,

and finally avoided each other and fed each one by himself apart.

No sooner did the Lion see this than he fell upon them one by one and killed them in turn.

The quarrels of friends are the opportunities of foes.


A Young Man,

who fancied himself something of a horseman,

mounted a Horse which had not been properly broken in,

and was exceedingly difficult to control.

No sooner did the Horse feel his weight in the saddle than he bolted,

and nothing would stop him.

A friend of the Rider's met him in the road in his headlong career,

and called out,

"Where are you off to in such a hurry?"

To which he,

pointing to the Horse,


"I've no idea: ask him."


A Goat was straying in a vineyard,

and began to browse on the tender shoots of a Vine which bore several fine bunches of grapes.

"What have I done to you,"

said the Vine,

"that you should harm me thus?

Isn't there grass enough for you to feed on?

All the same,

even if you eat up every leaf I have,

and leave me quite bare,

I shall produce wine enough to pour over you when you are led to the altar to be sacrificed."


Two Pots,

one of earthenware and the other of brass,

were carried away down a river in flood.

The Brazen Pot urged his companion to keep close by his side,

and he would protect him.

The other thanked him,

but begged him not to come near him on any account:

"For that,"

he said,

"is just what I am most afraid of.

One touch from you and I should be broken in pieces."

Equals make the best friends.


A Hound who had served his master well for years,

and had run down many a quarry in his time,

began to lose his strength and speed owing to age.

One day,

when out hunting,

his master started a powerful wild boar and set the Hound at him.

The latter seized the beast by the ear,

but his teeth were gone and he could not retain his hold;

so the boar escaped.

His master began to scold him severely,

but the Hound interrupted him with these words:

"My will is as strong as ever,


but my body is old and feeble.

You ought to honour me for what I have been instead of abusing me for what I am."


A Nobleman announced his intention of giving a public entertainment in the theatre,

and offered splendid prizes to all who had any novelty to exhibit at the performance.

The announcement attracted a crowd of conjurers,


and acrobats,

and among the rest a Clown,

very popular with the crowd,

who let it be known that he was going to give an entirely new turn.

When the day of the performance came,

the theatre was filled from top to bottom some time before the entertainment began.

Several performers exhibited their tricks,

and then the popular favourite came on empty-handed and alone.

At once there was a hush of expectation: and he,

letting his head fall upon his breast,

imitated the squeak of a pig to such perfection that the audience insisted on his producing the animal,


they said,

he must have somewhere concealed about his person.



convinced them that there was no pig there,

and then the applause was deafening.

Among the spectators was a Countryman,

who disparaged the Clown's performance and announced that he would give a much superior exhibition of the same trick on the following day.

Again the theatre was filled to overflowing,

and again the Clown gave his imitation amidst the cheers of the crowd.

The Countryman,


before going on the stage,

had secreted a young porker under his smock;

and when the spectators derisively bade him do better if he could,

he gave it a pinch in the ear and made it squeal loudly.

But they all with one voice shouted out that the Clown's imitation was much more true to life.

Thereupon he produced the pig from under his smock and said sarcastically,


that shows what sort of judges you are!"


A Lark nested in a field of corn,

and was rearing her brood under cover of the ripening grain.

One day,

before the young were fully fledged,

the Farmer came to look at the crop,


finding it yellowing fast,

he said,

"I must send round word to my neighbours to come and help me reap this field."

One of the young Larks overheard him,

and was very much frightened,

and asked her mother whether they hadn't better move house at once.

"There's no hurry,"

replied she;

"a man who looks to his friends for help will take his time about a thing."

In a few days the Farmer came by again,

and saw that the grain was overripe and falling out of the ears upon the ground.

"I must put it off no longer,"

he said;

"This very day I'll hire the men and set them to work at once."

The Lark heard him and said to her young,


my children,

we must be off: he talks no more of his friends now,

but is going to take things in hand himself."

Self-help is the best help.


A Lion and an Ass set up as partners and went a-hunting together.

In course of time they came to a cave in which there were a number of wild goats.

The Lion took up his stand at the mouth of the cave,

and waited for them to come out;

while the Ass went inside and brayed for all he was worth in order to frighten them out into the open.

The Lion struck them down one by one as they appeared;

and when the cave was empty the Ass came out and said,


I scared them pretty well,

didn't I?"

"I should think you did,"

said the Lion:


if I hadn't known you were an Ass,

I should have turned and run myself."


A Prophet sat in the market-place and told the fortunes of all who cared to engage his services.

Suddenly there came running up one who told him that his house had been broken into by thieves,

and that they had made off with everything they could lay hands on.

He was up in a moment,

and rushed off,

tearing his hair and calling down curses on the miscreants.

The bystanders were much amused,

and one of them said,

"Our friend professes to know what is going to happen to others,

but it seems he's not clever enough to perceive what's in store for himself."


A young Hound started a Hare,


when he caught her up,

would at one moment snap at her with his teeth as though he were about to kill her,

while at another he would let go his hold and frisk about her,

as if he were playing with another dog.

At last the Hare said,

"I wish you would show yourself in your true colours!

If you are my friend,

why do you bite me?

If you are my enemy,

why do you play with me?"

He is no friend who plays double.




A Lion was lying asleep at the mouth of his den when a Mouse ran over his back and tickled him so that he woke up with a start and began looking about everywhere to see what it was that had disturbed him.

A Fox,

who was looking on,

thought he would have a joke at the expense of the Lion;

so he said,


this is the first time I've seen a Lion afraid of a Mouse."

"Afraid of a Mouse?"

said the Lion testily:

"not I!

It's his bad manners I can't stand."


A Trumpeter marched into battle in the van of the army and put courage into his comrades by his warlike tunes.

Being captured by the enemy,

he begged for his life,

and said,

"Do not put me to death;

I have killed no one: indeed,

I have no weapons,

but carry with me only my trumpet here."

But his captors replied,

"That is only the more reason why we should take your life;


though you do not fight yourself,

you stir up others to do so."


A Wolf once got a bone stuck in his throat.

So he went to a Crane and begged her to put her long bill down his throat and pull it out.

"I'll make it worth your while,"

he added.

The Crane did as she was asked,

and got the bone out quite easily.

The Wolf thanked her warmly,

and was just turning away,

when she cried,

"What about that fee of mine?"


what about it?"

snapped the Wolf,

baring his teeth as he spoke;

"you can go about boasting that you once put your head into a Wolf's mouth and didn't get it bitten off.

What more do you want?"




An Eagle built her nest at the top of a high tree;

a Cat with her family occupied a hollow in the trunk half-way down;

and a Wild Sow and her young took up their quarters at the foot.

They might have got on very well as neighbours had it not been for the evil cunning of the Cat.

Climbing up to the Eagle's nest she said to the Eagle,

"You and I are in the greatest possible danger.

That dreadful creature,

the Sow,

who is always to be seen grubbing away at the foot of the tree,

means to uproot it,

that she may devour your family and mine at her ease."

Having thus driven the Eagle almost out of her senses with terror,

the Cat climbed down the tree,

and said to the Sow,

"I must warn you against that dreadful bird,

the Eagle.

She is only waiting her chance to fly down and carry off one of your little pigs when you take them out,

to feed her brood with."

She succeeded in frightening the Sow as much as the Eagle.

Then she returned to her hole in the trunk,

from which,

feigning to be afraid,

she never came forth by day.

Only by night did she creep out unseen to procure food for her kittens.

The Eagle,

meanwhile was afraid to stir from her nest,

and the Sow dared not leave her home among the roots: so that in time both they and their families perished of hunger,

and their dead bodies supplied the Cat with ample food for her growing family.


A Wolf was worried and badly bitten by dogs,

and lay a long time for dead.

By and by he began to revive,


feeling very hungry,

called out to a passing Sheep and said,

"Would you kindly bring me some water from the stream close by?

I can manage about meat,

if only I could get something to drink."

But this Sheep was no fool.

"I can quite understand",

said he,

"that if I brought you the water,

you would have no difficulty about the meat.



A Tunny-fish was chased by a Dolphin and splashed through the water at a great rate,

but the Dolphin gradually gained upon him,

and was just about to seize him when the force of his flight carried the Tunny on to a sandbank.

In the heat of the chase the Dolphin followed him,

and there they both lay out of the water,

gasping for dear life.

When the Tunny saw that his enemy was doomed like himself,

he said,

"I don't mind having to die now: for I see that he who is the cause of my death is about to share the same fate."


The citizens of a certain city were debating about the best material to use in the fortifications which were about to be erected for the greater security of the town.

A Carpenter got up and advised the use of wood,

which he said was readily procurable and easily worked.

A Stone-mason objected to wood on the ground that it was so inflammable,

and recommended stones instead.

Then a Tanner got on his legs and said,

"In my opinion there's nothing like leather."

Every man for himself.


A Bull gave chase to a Mouse which had bitten him in the nose: but the Mouse was too quick for him and slipped into a hole in a wall.

The Bull charged furiously into the wall again and again until he was tired out,

and sank down on the ground exhausted with his efforts.

When all was quiet,

the Mouse darted out and bit him again.

Beside himself with rage he started to his feet,

but by that time the Mouse was back in his hole again,

and he could do nothing but bellow and fume in helpless anger.

Presently he heard a shrill little voice say from inside the wall,

"You big fellows don't always have it your own way,

you see: sometimes we little ones come off best."

The battle is not always to the strong.


A Hound started a Hare from her form,

and pursued her for some distance;

but as she gradually gained upon him,

he gave up the chase.

A rustic who had seen the race met the Hound as he was returning,

and taunted him with his defeat.

"The little one was too much for you,"

said he.



said the Hound,

"don't forget it's one thing to be running for your dinner,

but quite another to be running for your life."


A Town Mouse and a Country Mouse were acquaintances,

and the Country Mouse one day invited his friend to come and see him at his home in the fields.

The Town Mouse came,

and they sat down to a dinner of barleycorns and roots,

the latter of which had a distinctly earthy flavour.

The fare was not much to the taste of the guest,

and presently he broke out with "My poor dear friend,

you live here no better than the ants.


you should just see how I fare!

My larder is a regular horn of plenty.

You must come and stay with me,

and I promise you you shall live on the fat of the land."

So when he returned to town he took the Country Mouse with him,

and showed him into a larder containing flour and oatmeal and figs and honey and dates.

The Country Mouse had never seen anything like it,

and sat down to enjoy the luxuries his friend provided: but before they had well begun,

the door of the larder opened and some one came in.

The two Mice scampered off and hid themselves in a narrow and exceedingly uncomfortable hole.


when all was quiet,

they ventured out again;

but some one else came in,

and off they scuttled again.

This was too much for the visitor.


said he,

"I'm off.

You live in the lap of luxury,

I can see,

but you are surrounded by dangers;

whereas at home I can enjoy my simple dinner of roots and corn in peace."


A Lion saw a fine fat Bull pasturing among a herd of cattle and cast about for some means of getting him into his clutches;

so he sent him word that he was sacrificing a sheep,

and asked if he would do him the honour of dining with him.

The Bull accepted the invitation,


on arriving at the Lion's den,

he saw a great array of saucepans and spits,

but no sign of a sheep;

so he turned on his heel and walked quietly away.

The Lion called after him in an injured tone to ask the reason,

and the Bull turned round and said,

"I have reason enough.

When I saw all your preparations it struck me at once that the victim was to be a Bull and not a sheep."

The net is spread in vain in sight of the bird.




A Wolf charged a Fox with theft,

which he denied,

and the case was brought before an Ape to be tried.

When he had heard the evidence on both sides,

the Ape gave judgment as follows:

"I do not think,"

he said,

"that you,

O Wolf,

ever lost what you claim;

but all the same I believe that you,


are guilty of the theft,

in spite of all your denials."

The dishonest get no credit,

even if they act honestly.


There were two Cocks in the same farmyard,

and they fought to decide who should be master.

When the fight was over,

the beaten one went and hid himself in a dark corner;

while the victor flew up on to the roof of the stables and crowed lustily.

But an Eagle espied him from high up in the sky,

and swooped down and carried him off.

Forthwith the other Cock came out of his corner and ruled the roost without a rival.

Pride comes before a fall.


A Man caught a Jackdaw and tied a piece of string to one of its legs,

and then gave it to his children for a pet.

But the Jackdaw didn't at all like having to live with people;


after a while,

when he seemed to have become fairly tame and they didn't watch him so closely,

he slipped away and flew back to his old haunts.


the string was still on his leg,

and before long it got entangled in the branches of a tree and the Jackdaw couldn't get free,

try as he would.

He saw it was all up with him,

and cried in despair,


in gaining my freedom I have lost my life."


A Farmer was greatly annoyed by a Fox,

which came prowling about his yard at night and carried off his fowls.

So he set a trap for him and caught him;

and in order to be revenged upon him,

he tied a bunch of tow to his tail and set fire to it and let him go.

As ill-luck would have it,


the Fox made straight for the fields where the corn was standing ripe and ready for cutting.

It quickly caught fire and was all burnt up,

and the Farmer lost all his harvest.

Revenge is a two-edged sword.


A Cat fell in love with a handsome young man,

and begged the goddess Venus to change her into a woman.

Venus was very gracious about it,

and changed her at once into a beautiful maiden,

whom the young man fell in love with at first sight and shortly afterwards married.

One day Venus thought she would like to see whether the Cat had changed her habits as well as her form;

so she let a mouse run loose in the room where they were.

Forgetting everything,

the young woman had no sooner seen the mouse than up she jumped and was after it like a shot: at which the goddess was so disgusted that she changed her back again into a Cat.


A Crow was filled with envy on seeing the beautiful white plumage of a Swan,

and thought it was due to the water in which the Swan constantly bathed and swam.

So he left the neighbourhood of the altars,

where he got his living by picking up bits of the meat offered in sacrifice,

and went and lived among the pools and streams.

But though he bathed and washed his feathers many times a day,

he didn't make them any whiter,

and at last died of hunger into the bargain.

You may change your habits,

but not your nature.


A Stag,

blind of one eye,

was grazing close to the sea-shore and kept his sound eye turned towards the land,

so as to be able to perceive the approach of the hounds,

while the blind eye he turned towards the sea,

never suspecting that any danger would threaten him from that quarter.

As it fell out,


some sailors,

coasting along the shore,

spied him and shot an arrow at him,

by which he was mortally wounded.

As he lay dying,

he said to himself,

"Wretch that I am!

I bethought me of the dangers of the land,

whence none assailed me: but I feared no peril from the sea,

yet thence has come my ruin."

Misfortune often assails us from an unexpected quarter.


A Fly sat on one of the shafts of a cart and said to the Mule who was pulling it,

"How slow you are!

Do mend your pace,

or I shall have to use my sting as a goad."

The Mule was not in the least disturbed.

"Behind me,

in the cart,"

said he,

"sits my master.

He holds the reins,

and flicks me with his whip,

and him I obey,

but I don't want any of your impertinence.

-I- know when I may dawdle and when I may not."


A Cock,

scratching the ground for something to eat,

turned up a Jewel that had by chance been dropped there.


said he,

"a fine thing you are,

no doubt,


had your owner found you,

great would his joy have been.

But for me!

give me a single grain of corn before all the jewels in the world."


A Wolf hung about near a flock of sheep for a long time,

but made no attempt to molest them.

The Shepherd at first kept a sharp eye on him,

for he naturally thought he meant mischief: but as time went by and the Wolf showed no inclination to meddle with the flock,

he began to look upon him more as a protector than as an enemy: and when one day some errand took him to the city,

he felt no uneasiness at leaving the Wolf with the sheep.

But as soon as his back was turned the Wolf attacked them and killed the greater number.

When the Shepherd returned and saw the havoc he had wrought,

he cried,

"It serves me right for trusting my flock to a Wolf."


A Farmer set some traps in a field which he had lately sown with corn,

in order to catch the cranes which came to pick up the seed.

When he returned to look at his traps he found several cranes caught,

and among them a Stork,

which begged to be let go,

and said,

"You ought not to kill me: I am not a crane,

but a Stork,

as you can easily see by my feathers,

and I am the most honest and harmless of birds."

But the Farmer replied,

"It's nothing to me what you are: I find you among these cranes,

who ruin my crops,


like them,

you shall suffer."

If you choose bad companions no one will believe that you are anything but bad yourself.


A Horse,

who had been used to carry his rider into battle,

felt himself growing old and chose to work in a mill instead.

He now no longer found himself stepping out proudly to the beating of the drums,

but was compelled to slave away all day grinding the corn.

Bewailing his hard lot,

he said one day to the Miller,

"Ah me!

I was once a splendid war-horse,

gaily caparisoned,

and attended by a groom whose sole duty was to see to my wants.

How different is my present condition!

I wish I had never given up the battlefield for the mill."

The Miller replied with asperity,

"It's no use your regretting the past.

Fortune has many ups and downs: you must just take them as they come."


An Owl,

who lived in a hollow tree,

was in the habit of feeding by night and sleeping by day;

but her slumbers were greatly disturbed by the chirping of a Grasshopper,

who had taken up his abode in the branches.

She begged him repeatedly to have some consideration for her comfort,

but the Grasshopper,

if anything,

only chirped the louder.

At last the Owl could stand it no longer,

but determined to rid herself of the pest by means of a trick.

Addressing herself to the Grasshopper,

she said in her pleasantest manner,

"As I cannot sleep for your song,


believe me,

is as sweet as the notes of Apollo's lyre,

I have a mind to taste some nectar,

which Minerva gave me the other day.

Won't you come in and join me?"

The Grasshopper was flattered by the praise of his song,

and his mouth,


watered at the mention of the delicious drink,

so he said he would be delighted.

No sooner had he got inside the hollow where the Owl was sitting than she pounced upon him and ate him up.


One fine day in winter some Ants were busy drying their store of corn,

which had got rather damp during a long spell of rain.

Presently up came a Grasshopper and begged them to spare her a few grains,


she said,

"I'm simply starving."

The Ants stopped work for a moment,

though this was against their principles.

"May we ask,"

said they,

"what you were doing with yourself all last summer?

Why didn't you collect a store of food for the winter?"

"The fact is,"

replied the Grasshopper,

"I was so busy singing that I hadn't the time."

"If you spent the summer singing,"

replied the Ants,

"you can't do better than spend the winter dancing."

And they chuckled and went on with their work.