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Aesop's Fables(伊索寓言)

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Aesop's Fables 

Aesop's Fables


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Aesop's Fables 

The Cock and the Pearl 

A cock was once strutting up and down the farmyard among the hens 
when suddenly he espied something shinning amid the straw. "Ho! ho!" 
quoth he, "that's for me," and soon rooted it out from beneath the straw. 
What did it turn out to be but a Pearl that by some chance had been lost in 
the yard? "You may be a treasure," quoth Master Cock, "to men that 
prize you, but for me I would rather have a single barley-corn than a peck 
of pearls." 

Precious things are for those that can prize them. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Wolf and the Lamb 

Once upon a time a Wolf was lapping at a spring on a hillside, when, 
looking up, what should he see but a Lamb just beginning to drink a little 
lower down. "There's my supper," thought he, "if only I can find some 
excuse to seize it." Then he called out to the Lamb, "How dare you 
muddle the water from which I am drinking?" 

"Nay, master, nay," said Lambikin; "if the water be muddy up there, I 
cannot be the cause of it, for it runs down from you to me." 

"Well, then," said the Wolf, "why did you call me bad names this time 
last year?" 

"That cannot be," said the Lamb; "I am only six months old." 

"I don't care," snarled the Wolf; "if it was not you it was your father;" 
and with that he rushed upon the poor little Lamb and .WARRA 
WARRA WARRA WARRA WARRA .ate her all up. But before she 
died she gasped out ."Any excuse will serve a tyrant." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Dog and the Shadow 

It happened that a Dog had got a piece of meat and was carrying it 
home in his mouth to eat it in peace. Now on his way home he had to 
cross a plank lying across a running brook. As he crossed, he looked 
down and saw his own shadow reflected in the water beneath. Thinking 
it was another dog with another piece of meat, he made up his mind to 
have that also. So he made a snap at the shadow in the water, but as he 
opened his mouth the piece of meat fell out, dropped into the water and 
was never seen more. 

Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Lion's Share 

The Lion went once a-hunting along with the Fox, the Jackal, and the 
Wolf. They hunted and they hunted till at last they surprised a Stag, and 
soon took its life. Then came the question how the spoil should be 
divided. "Quarter me this Stag," roared the Lion; so the other animals 
skinned it and cut it into four parts. Then the Lion took his stand in front 
of the carcass and pronounced judgment: The first quarter is for me in 
my capacity as King of Beasts; the second is mine as arbiter; another share 
comes to me for my part in the chase; and as for the fourth quarter, well, 
as for that, I should like to see which of you will dare to lay a paw upon 
it." 

"Humph," grumbled the Fox as he walked away with his tail between 
his legs; but he spoke in a low growl ."You may share the labours of the 
great, but you will not share the spoil." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Wolf and the Crane 

A Wolf had been gorging on an animal he had killed, when suddenly 
a small bone in the meat stuck in his throat and he could not swallow it. 
He soon felt terrible pain in his throat, and ran up and down groaning and 
groaning and seeking for something to relieve the pain. He tried to 
induce every one he met to remove the bone. "I would give anything," 
said he, "if you would take it out." At last the Crane agreed to try, and 
told the Wolf to lie on his side and open his jaws as wide as he could. 
Then the Crane put its long neck down the Wolf's throat, and with its beak 
loosened the bone, till at last it got it out. 

"Will you kindly give me the reward you promised?" said the Crane. 

The Wolf grinned and showed his teeth and said: "Be content. You 
have put your head inside a Wolf's mouth and taken it out again in safety; 
that ought to be reward enough for you." 

Gratitude and greed go not together. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Man and the Serpent 

A Countryman's son by accident trod upon a Serpent's tail, which 
turned and bit him so that he died. The father in a rage got his axe, and 
pursuing the Serpent, cut off part of its tail. So the Serpent in revenge 
began stinging several of the Farmer's cattle and caused him severe loss. 
Well, the Farmer thought it best to make it up with the Serpent, and 
brought food and honey to the mouth of its lair, and said to it: "Let's forget 
and forgive; perhaps you were right to punish my son, and take vengeance 
on my cattle, but surely I was right in trying to revenge him; now that we 
are both satisfied why should not we be friends again?" 

"No, no," said the Serpent; "take away your gifts; you can never forget 
the death of your son, nor I the loss of my tail." 

Injuries may be forgiven, but not forgotten. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Town Mouse and the Country
Mouse


Now you must know that a Town Mouse once upon a time went on a 
visit to his cousin in the country. He was rough and ready, this cousin, 
but he loved his town friend and made him heartily welcome. Beans and 
bacon, cheese and bread, were all he had to offer, but he offered them 
freely. The Town Mouse rather turned up his long nose at this country 
fare, and said: "I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with 
such poor food as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in 
the country; come you with me and I will show you how to live. When 
you have been in town a week you will wonder how you could ever have 
stood a country life." No sooner said than done: the two mice set off for 
the town and arrived at the Town Mouse's residence late at night. "You 
will want some refreshment after our long journey," said the polite Town 
Mouse, and took his friend into the grand dining-room. There they found 
the remains of a fine feast, and soon the two mice were eating up jellies 
and cakes and all that was nice. Suddenly they heard growling and 
barking. "What is that?" said the Country Mouse. "It is only the dogs of 
the house," answered the other. "Only!" said the Country Mouse. "I do 
not like that music at my dinner." Just at that moment the door flew open, 
in came two huge mastiffs, and the two mice had to scamper down and run 
off. "Good-bye, Cousin," said the Country Mouse, "What! going so 
soon?" said the other. "Yes," he replied; 

"Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Fox and the Crow 

A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and 
settle on a branch of a tree. "That's for me, as I am a Fox," said Master 
Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree. "Good-day, Mistress 
Crow," he cried. "How well you are looking to-day: how glossy your 
feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of 
other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you 
that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds." The Crow lifted up her head 
and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the 
piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox. 
"That will do," said he. "That was all I wanted. In exchange for your 
cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future ."Do not trust 
flatterers." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Sick Lion 

A Lion had come to the end of his days and lay sick unto death at the 
mouth of his cave, gasping for breath. The animals, his subjects, came 
round him and drew nearer as he grew more and more helpless. When 
they saw him on the point of death they thought to themselves: "Now is 
the time to pay off old grudges." So the Boar came up and drove at him 
with his tusks; then a Bull gored him with his horns; still the Lion lay 
helpless before them: so the Ass, feeling quite safe from danger, came up, 
and turning his tail to the Lion kicked up his heels into his face. "This is 
a double death," growled the Lion. 

Only cowards insult dying majesty. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Ass and the Lapdog 

A Farmer one day came to the stables to see to his beasts of burden: 
among them was his favourite Ass, that was always well fed and often 
carried his master. With the Farmer came his Lapdog, who danced about 
and licked his hand and frisked about as happy as could be. The Farmer 
felt in his pocket, gave the Lapdog some dainty food, and sat down while 
he gave his orders to his servants. The Lapdog jumped into his master's 
lap, and lay there blinking while the Farmer stroked his ears. The Ass, 
seeing this, broke loose from his halter and commenced prancing about in 
imitation of the Lapdog. The Farmer could not hold his sides with 
laughter, so the Ass went up to him, and putting his feet upon the Farmer's 
shoulder attempted to climb into his lap. The Farmer's servants rushed 
up with sticks and pitchforks and soon taught the Ass that .Clumsy 
jesting is no joke. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Lion and the Mouse 

Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and 
down upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw 
upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," 
cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who 
knows but what I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?" The 
Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that 
he lifted up his paw and let him go. Some time after the Lion was caught 
in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied 
him to a tree while they went in search of a waggon to carry him on. Just 
then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in 
which the Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that 
bound the King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse. 

Little friends may prove great friends. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Swallow and the Other Birds 

It happened that a Countryman was sowing some hemp seeds in a 
field where a Swallow and some other birds were hopping about picking 
up their food. "Beware of that man," quoth the Swallow. "Why, what is 
he doing?" said the others. "That is hemp seed he is sowing; be careful 
to pick up every one of the seeds, or else you will repent it." The birds 
paid no heed to the Swallow's words, and by and by the hemp grew up and 
was made into cord, and of the cords nets were made, and many a bird that 
had despised the Swallow's advice was caught in nets made out of that 
very hemp. "What did I tell you?" said the Swallow. 

Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Frogs Desiring a King 

The Frogs were living as happy as could be in a marshy swamp that 
just suited them; they went splashing about caring for nobody and nobody 
troubling with them. But some of them thought that this was not right, 
that they should have a king and a proper constitution, so they determined 
to send up a petition to Jove to give them what they wanted. "Mighty 
Jove," they cried, "send unto us a king that will rule over us and keep us in 
order." Jove laughed at their croaking, and threw down into the swamp a 
huge Log, which came downrplashto the swamp. The Frogs were 
frightened out of their lives by the commotion made in their midst, and all 
rushed to the bank to look at the horrible monster; but after a time, seeing 
that it did not move, one or two of the boldest of them ventured out 
towards the Log, and even dared to touch it; still it did not move. Then 
the greatest hero of the Frogs jumped upon the Log and commenced 
dancing up and down upon it, thereupon all the Frogs came and did the 
same; and for some time the Frogs went about their business every day 
without taking the slightest notice of their new King Log lying in their 
midst. But this did not suit them, so they sent another petition to Jove, and 
said to him, "We want a real king; one that will really rule over us." Now 
this made Jove angry, so he sent among them a big Stork that soon set to 
work gobbling them all up. Then the Frogs repented when too late. 

Better no rule than cruel rule. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Mountains in Labour 

One day the Countrymen noticed that the Mountains were in labour; 
smoke came out of their summits, the earth was quaking at their feet, trees 
were crashing, and huge rocks were tumbling. They felt sure that 
something horrible was going to happen. They all gathered together in 
one place to see what terrible thing this could be. They waited and they 
waited, but nothing came. At last there was a still more violent 
earthquake, and a huge gap appeared in the side of the Mountains. They 
all fell down upon their knees and waited. At last, and at last, a teeny, 
tiny mouse poked its little head and bristles out of the gap and came 
running down towards them, and ever after they used to say: 

"Much outcry, little outcome." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Hares and the Frogs 

The Hares were so persecuted by the other beasts, they did not know 
where to go. As soon as they saw a single animal approach them, off 
they used to run. One day they saw a troop of wild Horses stampeding 
about, and in quite a panic all the Hares scuttled off to a lake hard by, 
determined to drown themselves rather than live in such a continual state 
of fear. But just as they got near the bank of the lake, a troop of Frogs, 
frightened in their turn by the approach of the Hares scuttled off, and 
jumped into the water. "Truly," said one of the Hares, "things are not so 
bad as they seem: 

"There is always someone worse off than yourself." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Wolf and the Kid 

A Kid was perched up on the top of a house, and looking down saw a 
Wolf passing under him. Immediately he began to revile and attack his 
enemy. "Murderer and thief," he cried, "what do you here near honest 
folks' houses? How dare you make an appearance where your vile deeds 
are known?" 

"Curse away, my young friend," said the Wolf. 

"It is easy to be brave from a safe distance." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Woodman and the Serpent 

One wintry day a Woodman was tramping home from his work when 
he saw something black lying on the snow. When he came closer he saw 
it was a Serpent to all appearance dead. But he took it up and put it in his 
bosom to warm while he hurried home. As soon as he got indoors he put 
the Serpent down on the hearth before the fire. The children watched it 
and saw it slowly come to life again. Then one of them stooped down to 
stroke it, but thc Serpent raised its head and put out its fangs and was 
about to sting the child to death. So the Woodman seized his axe, and 
with one stroke cut the Serpent in two. "Ah," said he, 

"No gratitude from the wicked." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Bald Man and the Fly 

There was once a Bald Man who sat down after work on a hot 
summer's day. A Fly came up and kept buzzing about his bald pate, and 
stinging him from time to time. The Man aimed a blow at his little 
enemy, but acks palm came on his head instead; again the Fly tormented 
him, but this time the Man was wiser and said: 

"You will only injure yourself if you take notice of despicable 
enemies." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Fox and the Stork 

At one time the Fox and the Stork were on visiting terms and seemed 
very good friends. So the Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and for a joke 
put nothing before her but some soup in a very shallow dish. This the 
Fox could easily lap up, but the Stork could only wet the end of her long 
bill in it, and left the meal as hungry as when she began. "I am sorry," 
said the Fox, "the soup is not to your liking." 

"Pray do not apologise," said the Stork. "I hope you will return this 
visit, and come and dine with me soon." So a day was appointed when 
the Fox should visit the Stork; but when they were seated at table all that 
was for their dinner was contained in a very long-necked jar with a narrow 
mouth, in which the Fox could not insert his snout, so all he could manage 
to do was to lick the outside of the jar. 

"I will not apologise for the dinner," said the Stork: 

"One bad turn deserves another." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Fox and the Mask 

A Fox had by some means got into the store-room of a theatre. 
Suddenly he observed a face glaring down on him and began to be very 
frightened; but looking more closely he found it was only a Mask such as 
actors use to put over their face. "Ah," said the Fox, "you look very fine; 
it is a pity you have not got any brains." 

Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Jay and the Peacock 

A Jay venturing into a yard where Peacocks used to walk, found there 
a number of feathers which had fallen from the Peacocks when they were 
moulting. He tied them all to his tail and strutted down towards the 
Peacocks. When he came near them they soon discovered the cheat, and 
striding up to him pecked at him and plucked away his borrowed plumes. 
So the Jay could do no better than go back to the other Jays, who had 
watched his behaviour from a distance; but they were equally annoyed 
with him, and told him: 

"It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Frog and the Ox 

"Oh Father," said a little Frog to the big one sitting by the side of a 
pool, "I have seen such a terrible monster! It was as big as a mountain, 
with horns on its head, and a long tail, and it had hoofs divided in two." 

"Tush, child, tush," said the old Frog, "that was only Farmer White's 
Ox. It isn't so big either; he may be a little bit taller than I, but I could 
easily make myself quite as broad; just you see." So he blew himself out, 
and blew himself out, and blew himself out. "Was he as big as that?" 
asked he. 

"Oh, much bigger than that," said the young Frog. 

Again the old one blew himself out, and asked the young one if the Ox 
was as big as that. 

"Bigger, father, bigger," was the reply. 

So the Frog took a deep breath, and blew and blew and blew, and 
swelled and swelled and swelled. And then he said: "I'm sure the Ox is 
not as big asBut at this moment he burst. 

Self-conceit may lead to self-destruction. 

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Aesop's Fables 

Androcles 

A slave named Androcles once escaped from his master and fled to 
the forest. As he was wandering about there he came upon a Lion lying 
down moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that 
the Lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he 
came near, the Lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, 
and Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing all 
the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion, who 
was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog. Then the 
Lion took Androcles to his cave, and every day used to bring him meat 
from which to live. But shortly afterwards both Androcles and the Lion 
were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the Lion, after 
the latter had been kept without food for several days. The Emperor and 
all his Court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was led out into the 
middle of the arena. Soon the Lion was let loose from his den, and 
rushed bounding and roaring towards his victim. But as soon as he came 
near to Androcles he recognised his friend, and fawned upon him, and 
licked his hands like a friendly dog. The Emperor, surprised at this, 
summoned Androcles to him, who told him the whole story. Whereupon 
the slave was pardoned and freed, and the Lion let loose to his native 
forest. 

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts 

A great conflict was about to come off between the Birds and the 
Beasts. When the two armies were collected together the Bat hesitated 
which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said: "Come with us"; but 
he said: "I am a Beast." Later on, some Beasts who were passing 
underneath him looked up and said: "Come with us"; but he said: "I am a 
Bird." Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took 
place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the rejoicings, but 
they all turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the 
Beasts, but soon had to beat a retreat, or else they would have torn him to 
pieces. "Ah," said the Bat, "I see now, 

"He that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Hart and the Hunter 

The Hart was once drinking from a pool and admiring the noble 
figure he made there. "Ah," said he, "where can you see such noble 
horns as these, with such antlers! I wish I had legs more worthy to bear 
such a noble crown; it is a pity they are so slim and slight." At that 
moment a Hunter approached and sent an arrow whistling after him. 
Away bounded the Hart, and soon, by the aid of his nimble legs, was 
nearly out of sight of the Hunter; but not noticing where he was going, he 
passed under some trees with branches growing low down in which his 
antlers were caught, so that the Hunter had time to come up. "Alas! 
alas!" cried the Hart: 

"We often despise what is most useful to us." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Serpent and the File 

A Serpent in the course of its wanderings came into an armourer's 
shop. As he glided over the floor he felt his skin pricked by a file lying 
there. In a rage he turned round upon it and tried to dart his fangs into it; 
but he could do no harm to heavy iron and had soon to give over his 
wrath. 

It is useless attacking the insensible. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Man and the Wood 

A Man came into a Wood one day with an axe in his hand, and 
begged all the Trees to give him a small branch which he wanted for a 
particular purpose. The Trees were good-natured and gave him one of 
their branches. What did the Man do but fix it into the axe head, and 
soon set to work cutting down tree after tree. Then the Trees saw how 
foolish they had been in giving their enemy the means of destroying 
themselves. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Dog and the Wolf 

A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to 
meet a House-dog who was passing by. "Ah, Cousin," said the Dog. "I 
knew how it would be; your irregular life will soon be the ruin of you. 
Why do you not work steadily as I do, and get your food regularly given to 
you?" 

"I would have no objection," said the Wolf, "if I could only get a 
place." 

"I will easily arrange that for you," said the Dog; "come with me to my 
master and you shall share my work." 

So the Wolf and the Dog went towards the town together. On the 
way there the Wolf noticed that the hair on a certain part of the Dog's neck 
was very much worn away, so he asked him how that had come about. 

"Oh, it is nothing," said the Dog. "That is only the place where the 
collar is put on at night to keep me chained up; it chafes a bit, but one soon 
gets used to it." 

"Is that all?" said the Wolf. "Then good-bye to you, Master Dog." 

Better starve free than be a fat slave. 

29



Aesop's Fables 

The Belly and the Members 

One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were 
doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food. So they held a 
meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike work till the Belly 
consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two, the 
Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive it, and the 
Teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two the Members began to 
find that they themselves were not in a very active condition: the Hands 
could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry, while the Legs 
were unable to support the rest. So thus they found that even the Belly in 
its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body, and that all 
must work together or the Body will go to pieces. 

30



Aesop's Fables 

The Hart in the Ox-Stall 

A Hart hotly pursued by the hounds fled for refuge into an ox-stall, 
and buried itself in a truss of hay, leaving nothing to be seen but the tips of 
his horns. Soon after the Hunters came up and asked if any one had seen 
the Hart. The stable boys, who had been resting after their dinner, looked 
round, but could see nothing, and the Hunters went away. Shortly 
afterwards the master came in, and looking round, saw that something 
unusual had taken place. He pointed to the truss of hay and said: "What 
are those two curious things sticking out of the hay?" And when the 
stable boys came to look they discovered the Hart, and soon made an end 
of him. He thus learnt that Nothing escapes the master's eye. 

31



Aesop's Fables 

The Fox and the Grapes 

One hot summer's day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he 
came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained 
over a lofty branch. "Just the thing to quench my thirst," quoth he. 
Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the 
bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but 
with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting 
morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the 
air, saying: "I am sure they are sour." 

It is easy to despise what you cannot get. 

32



Aesop's Fables 

The Horse, Hunter, and Stag 

A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse 
came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter 
agreed, but said: "If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to 
place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with 
these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I 
may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy." The Horse 
agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. 
Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and 
said to the Hunter: "Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth 
and back." 

"Not so fast, friend," said the Hunter. "I have now got you under bit 
and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present." 

If you allow men to use you for your own purposes, they will use you 
for theirs. 

33



Aesop's Fables 

The Peacock and Juno 

A Peacock once placed a petition before Juno desiring to have the 
voice of a nightingale in addition to his other attractions; but Juno refused 
his request. When he persisted, and pointed out that he was her favourite 
bird, she said: 

"Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything." 

34



Aesop's Fables 

The Fox and the Lion


When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran 
away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the 
King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. 
The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the 
Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, 
and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning 
his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony. 

Familiarity breeds contempt. 

35



Aesop's Fables 

The Lion and the Statue 

A Man and a Lion were discussing the relative strength of men and 
lions in general. The Man contended that he and his fellows were 
stronger than lions by reason of their greater intelligence. "Come now with 
me," he cried, "and I will soon prove that I am right." So he took him 
into the public gardens and showed him a statue of Hercules overcoming 
the Lion and tearing his mouth in two. 

"That is all very well," said the Lion, "but proves nothing, for it was a 
man who made the statue." 

We can easily represent things as we wish them to be. 

36



Aesop's Fables 

The Ant and the Grasshopper 

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, 
chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing 
along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. 

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of 
toiling and moiling in that way?" 

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and 
recommend you to do the same." 

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty 
of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. 
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying 
of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from 
the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper 
knew: 

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity. 

37



Aesop's Fables 

The Tree and the Reed 

"Well, little one," said a Tree to a Reed that was growing at its foot, 
"why do you not plant your feet deeply in the ground, and raise your head 
boldly in the air as I do?" 

"I am contented with my lot," said the Reed. "I may not be so grand, 
but I think I am safer." 

"Safe!" sneered the Tree. "Who shall pluck me up by the roots or 
bow my head to the ground?" But it soon had to repent of its boasting, 
for a hurricane arose which tore it up from its roots, and cast it a useless 
log on the ground, while the little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, 
soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over. 

Obscurity often brings safety. 

38



Aesop's Fables 

The Fox and the Cat 

A Fox was boasting to a Cat of its clever devices for escaping its 
enemies. "I have a whole bag of tricks," he said, "which contains a 
hundred ways of escaping my enemies." 

"I have only one," said the Cat; "but I can generally manage with that." 
Just at that moment they heard the cry of a pack of hounds coming 
towards them, and the Cat immediately scampered up a tree and hid 
herself in the boughs. "This is my plan," said the Cat. "What are you 
going to do?" The Fox thought first of one way, then of another, and 
while he was debating the hounds came nearer and nearer, and at last the 
Fox in his confusion was caught up by the hounds and soon killed by the 
huntsmen. Miss Puss, who had been looking on, said: 

"Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon." 

39



Aesop's Fables 

The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing 

A Wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the 
vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day it found the skin of a 
sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over its own 
pelt and strolled down among the sheep. The Lamb that belonged to the 
sheep, whose skin the Wolf was wearing, began to follow the Wolf in the 
Sheep's clothing; so, leading the Lamb a little apart, he soon made a meal 
off her, and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the sheep, and 
enjoying hearty meals. 

Appearances are deceptive. 

40



Aesop's Fables 

The Dog in the Manger 

A Dog looking out for its afternoon nap jumped into the Manger of an 
Ox and lay there cosily upon the straw. But soon the Ox, returning from 
its afternoon work, came up to the Manger and wanted to eat some of the 
straw. The Dog in a rage, being awakened from its slumber, stood up and 
barked at the Ox, and whenever it came near attempted to bite it. At last 
the Ox had to give up the hope of getting at the straw, and went away 
muttering: 

"Ah, people often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves." 

41



Aesop's Fables 

The Man and the Wooden God 

In the old days men used to worship stocks and stones and idols, and 
prayed to them to give them luck. It happened that a Man had often 
prayed to a wooden idol he had received from his father, but his luck never 
seemed to change. He prayed and he prayed, but still he remained as 
unlucky as ever. One day in the greatest rage he went to the Wooden 
God, and with one blow swept it down from its pedestal. The idol broke 
in two, and what did he see? An immense number of coins flying all 
over the place. 

42



Aesop's Fables 

The Fisher 

A Fisher once took his bagpipes to the bank of a river, and played 
upon them with the hope of making the fish rise; but never a one put his 
nose out of the water. So he cast his net into the river and soon drew it 
forth filled with fish. Then he took his bagpipes again, and, as he played, 
the fish leapt up in the net. "Ah, you dance now when I play," said he. 

"Yes," said an old Fish: 

"When you are in a man's power you must do as he bids you." 

43



Aesop's Fables 

The Shepherd's Boy 

There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the 
foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, 
so he thought upon a plan by which he could get a little company and 
some excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out "Wolf, 
Wolf," and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped 
with him for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a 
few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came 
to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the 
forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out 
"Wolf, Wolf," still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who 
had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, 
and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal 
off the boy's flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the 
village said: 

"A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth." 

44



Aesop's Fables 

The Young Thief and His Mother 

A young Man had been caught in a daring act of theft and had been 
condemned to be executed for it. He expressed his desire to see his 
Mother, and to speak with her before he was led to execution, and of 
course this was granted. When his Mother came to him he said: "I want 
to whisper to you," and when she brought her ear near him, he nearly bit it 
off. All the bystanders were horrified, and asked him what he could 
mean by such brutal and inhuman conduct. "It is to punish her," he said. 
"When I was young I began with stealing little things, and brought them 
home to Mother. Instead of rebuking and punishing me, she laughed and 
said: "It will not be noticed." It is because of her that I am here to-day." 

"He is right, woman," said the Priest; "the Lord hath said: 

"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will 
not depart therefrom." 

45



Aesop's Fables 

The Man and His Two Wives 

In the old days, when men were allowed to have many wives, a 
middle-aged Man had one wife that was old and one that was young; each 
loved him very much, and desired to see him like herself. Now the Man's 
hair was turning grey, which the young Wife did not like, as it made him 
look too old for her husband. So every night she used to comb his hair 
and pick out the white ones. But the elder Wife saw her husband 
growing grey with great pleasure, for she did not like to be mistaken for 
his mother. So every morning she used to arrange his hair and pick out 
as many of the black ones as she could. The consequence was the Man 
soon found himself entirely bald. 

Yield to all and you will soon have nothing to yield. 

46



Aesop's Fables 

The Nurse and the Wolf 

"Be quiet now," said an old Nurse to a child sitting on her lap. "If 
you make that noise again I will throw you to the Wolf." 

Now it chanced that a Wolf was passing close under the window as 
this was said. So he crouched down by the side of the house and waited. 
"I am in good luck to-day," thought he. "It is sure to cry soon, and a 
daintier morsel I haven't had for many a long day." So he waited, and he 
waited, and he waited, till at last the child began to cry, and the Wolf came 
forward before the window, and looked up to the Nurse, wagging his tail. 
But all the Nurse did was to shut down the window and call for help, and 
the dogs of the house came rushing out. "Ah," said the Wolf as he 
galloped away, 

"Enemies promises were made to be broken." 

47



Aesop's Fables 

The Tortoise and the Birds 

A Tortoise desired to change its place of residence, so he asked an 
Eagle to carry him to his new home, promising her a rich reward for her 
trouble. The Eagle agreed and seizing the Tortoise by the shell with her 
talons soared aloft. On their way they met a Crow, who said to the Eagle: 
"Tortoise is good eating." "The shell is too hard," said the Eagle in reply. 
"The rocks will soon crack the shell," was the Crow's answer; and the 
Eagle, taking the hint, let fall the Tortoise on a sharp rock, and the two 
birds made a hearty meal of the Tortoise. 

Never soar aloft on an enemy's pinions. 

48



Aesop's Fables 

The Two Crabs 

One fine day two Crabs came out from their home to take a stroll on 
the sand. "Child," said the mother, "you are walking very ungracefully. 
You should accustom yourself, to walking straight forward without 
twisting from side to side." 

"Pray, mother," said the young one, "do but set the example yourself, 
and I will follow you." 

Example is the best precept. 

49



Aesop's Fables 

The Ass in the Lion's Skin 

An Ass once found a Lion's skin which the hunters had left out in the 
sun to dry. He put it on and went towards his native village. All fled at 
his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud Ass that day. In 
his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then every one knew him, 
and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgelling for the fright he 
had caused. And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and said: "Ah, 
I knew you by your voice." 

Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool. 

50



Aesop's Fables 

The Two Fellows and the Bear 

Two Fellows were travelling together through a wood, when a Bear 
rushed out upon them. One of the travellers happened to be in front, and 
he seized hold of the branch of a tree, and hid himself among the leaves. 
The other, seeing no help for it, threw himself flat down upon the ground, 
with his face in the dust. The Bear, coming up to him, put his muzzle 
close to his ear, and sniffed and sniffed. But at last with a growl he 
shook his head and slouched off, for bears will not touch dead meat. 
Then the fellow in the tree came down to his comrade, and, laughing, said 
"What was it that Master Bruin whispered to you?" 

"He told me," said the other, 

"Never trust a friend who deserts you at a pinch." 

51



Aesop's Fables 

The Two Pots 

Two Pots had been left on the bank of a river, one of brass, and one of 
earthenware. When the tide rose they both floated off down the stream. 
Now the earthenware pot tried its best to keep aloof from the brass one, 
which cried out: "Fear nothing, friend, I will not strike you." 

"But I may come in contact with you," said the other, "if I come too 
close; and whether I hit you, or you hit me, I shall suffer for it." 

The strong and the weak cannot keep company. 

52



Aesop's Fables 

The Four Oxen and the Lion 

A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. 
Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they 
turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached 
them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell 
a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a 
separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and 
soon made an end of all four. 

United we stand, divided we fall. 

53



Aesop's Fables 

The Fisher and the Little Fish 

It happened that a Fisher, after fishing all day, caught only a little fish. 
"Pray, let me go, master," said the Fish. "I am much too small for your 
eating just now. If you put me back into the river I shall soon grow, then 
you can make a fine meal off me." 

"Nay, nay, my little Fish," said the Fisher, "I have you now. I may not 
catch you hereafter." 

A little thing in hand is worth more than a great thing in prospect. 

54



Aesop's Fables 

Avaricious and Envious 

Two neighbours came before Jupiter and prayed him to grant their 
hearts' desire. Now the one was full of avarice, and the other eaten up 
with envy. So to punish them both, Jupiter granted that each might have 
whatever he wished for himself, but only on condition that his neighbour 
had twice as much. The Avaricious man prayed to have a room full of 
gold. No sooner said than done; but all his joy was turned to grief when 
he found that his neighbour had two rooms full of the precious metal. 
Then came the turn of the Envious man, who could not bear to think that 
his neighbour had any joy at all. So he prayed that he might have one of 
his own eyes put out, by which means his companion would become 
totally blind. 

Vices are their own punishment. 

55



Aesop's Fables 

The Crow and the Pitcher 

A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once 
been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the 
Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could 
not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he tried, but at last 
had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a 
pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and 
dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped 
that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into 
the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the 
Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. 
At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a 
few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life. 

Little by little does the trick. 

56



Aesop's Fables 

The Man and the Satyr 

A Man had lost his way in a wood one bitter winter's night. As he was 
roaming about, a Satyr came up to him, and finding that he had lost his 
way, promised to give him a lodging for the night, and guide him out of 
the forest in the morning. As he went along to the Satyr's cell, the Man 
raised both his hands to his mouth and kept on blowing at them. "What 
do you do that for?" said the Satyr. 

"My hands are numb with the cold," said the Man, "and my breath 
warms them." 

After this they arrived at the Satyr's home, and soon the Satyr put a 
smoking dish of porridge before him. But when the Man raised his 
spoon to his mouth he began blowing upon it. "And what do you do that 
for?" said the Satyr. 

"The porridge is too hot, and my breath will cool it." 

"Out you go," said the Satyr. "I will have nought to do with a man 
who can blow hot and cold with the same breath." 

57



Aesop's Fables 

The Goose With the Golden Eggs 

One day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an 
egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead 
and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been 
played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon 
found to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the 
same thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he 
grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the 
Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find nothing. 

Greed oft o'er reaches itself. 

58



Aesop's Fables 

The Labourer and the Nightingale 

A Labourer lay listening to a Nightingale's song throughout the 
summer night. So pleased was he with it that the next night he set a trap 
for it and captured it. "Now that I have caught thee," he cried, "thou shalt 
always sing to me." 

"We Nightingales never sing in a cage." said the bird. 

"Then I'll eat thee." said the Labourer. "I have always heard say that 
a nightingale on toast is dainty morsel." 

"Nay, kill me not," said the Nightingale; "but let me free, and I'll tell 
thee three things far better worth than my poor body." The Labourer let 
him loose, and he flew up to a branch of a tree and said: "Never believe a 
captive's promise; that's one thing. Then again: Keep what you have. 
And third piece of advice is: Sorrow not over what is lost forever." Then 
the song-bird flew away. 

59



Aesop's Fables 

The Fox, the Cock, and the Dog 

One moonlight night a Fox was prowling about a farmer's hen-coop, 
and saw a Cock roosting high up beyond his reach. "Good news, good 
news!" he cried. 

"Why, what is that?" said the Cock. 

"King Lion has declared a universal truce. No beast may hurt a bird 
henceforth, but all shall dwell together in brotherly friendship." 

"Why, that is good news," said the Cock; "and there I see some one 
coming, with whom we can share the good tidings." And so saying he 
craned his neck forward and looked afar off. 

"What is it you see?" said the Fox. 

"It is only my master's Dog that is coming towards us. What, going 
so soon?" he continued, as the Fox began to turn away as soon as he had 
heard the news. "Will you not stop and congratulate the Dog on the reign 
of universal peace?" 

"I would gladly do so," said the Fox, "but I fear he may not have heard 
of King Lion's decree." 

Cunning often outwits itself. 

60



Aesop's Fables 

The Wind and the Sun 

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. 
Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: "I 
see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller 
to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin." So 
the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it 
could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the 
traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in 
despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the 
traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on. 

Kindness effects more than severity. 

61



Aesop's Fables 

Hercules and the Waggoner 

A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. 
At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into 
the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So 
the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to 
Hercules the Strong. "O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress," 
quoth he. But Hercules appeared to him, and said: 

"Tut, man, don't sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the 
wheel." 

The gods help them that help themselves. 

62



Aesop's Fables 

The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey 

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As 
they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: 
"You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?" 

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. 
But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: "See that lazy 
youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides." 

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they 
hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the 
other: "Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along." 

Well, the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up 
before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and 
the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and 
asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: "Aren't you ashamed of 
yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yoursu and your hulking 
son?" 

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought 
and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey's feet to 
it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went 
along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market 
Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and 
caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey 
fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned. 

"That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them: 

"Please all, and you will please none." 

63



Aesop's Fables 

The Miser and His Gold 

Once upon a time there was a Miser who used to hide his gold at the 
foot of a tree in his garden; but every week he used to go and dig it up and 
gloat over his gains. A robber, who had noticed this, went and dug up the 
gold and decamped with it. When the Miser next came to gloat over his 
treasures, he found nothing but the empty hole. He tore his hair, and 
raised such an outcry that all the neighbours came around him, and he told 
them how he used to come and visit his gold. "Did you ever take any of 
it out?" asked one of them. 

"Nay," said he, "I only came to look at it." 

"Then come again and look at the hole," said a neighbour; "it will do 
you just as much good." 

Wealth unused might as well not exist. 

64



Aesop's Fables 

The Fox and the Mosquitoes 

A Fox after crossing a river got its tail entangled in a bush, and could 
not move. A number of Mosquitoes seeing its plight settled upon it and 
enjoyed a good meal undisturbed by its tail. A hedgehog strolling by took 
pity upon the Fox and went up to him: "You are in a bad way, neighbour," 
said the hedgehog; "shall I relieve you by driving off those Mosquitoes 
who are sucking your blood?" 

"Thank you, Master Hedgehog," said the Fox, "but I would rather not." 

"Why, how is that?" asked the hedgehog. 

"Well, you see," was the answer, "these Mosquitoes have had their fill; 
if you drive these away, others will come with fresh appetite and bleed me 
to death." 

65



Aesop's Fables 

The Fox Without a Tail 

It happened that a Fox caught its tail in a trap, and in struggling to 
release himself lost all of it but the stump. At first he was ashamed to 
show himself among his fellow foxes. But at last he determined to put a 
bolder face upon his misfortune, and summoned all the foxes to a general 
meeting to consider a proposal which he had to place before them. When 
they had assembled together the Fox proposed that they should all do 
away with their tails. He pointed out how inconvenient a tail was when 
they were pursued by their enemies, the dogs; how much it was in the way 
when they desired to sit down and hold a friendly conversation with one 
another. He failed to see any advantage in carrying about such a useless 
encumbrance. "That is all very well," said one of the older foxes; "but I 
do not think you would have recommended us to dispense with our chief 
ornament if you had not happened to lose it yourself." 

Distrust interested advice. 

66



Aesop's Fables 

The One-Eyed Doe 

A Doe had had the misfortune to lose one of her eyes, and could not 
see any one approaching her on that side. So to avoid any danger she 
always used to feed on a high cliff near the sea, with her sound eye 
looking towards the land. By this means she could see whenever the 
hunters approached her on land, and often escaped by this means. But 
the hunters found out that she was blind of one eye, and hiring a boat 
rowed under the cliff where she used to feed and shot her from the sea. 
"Ah," cried she with her dying voice, 

"You cannot escape your fate." 

67



Aesop's Fables 

Belling the Cat 

Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures 
they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this, 
and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a 
proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. "You will all 
agree," said he, "that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous 
manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive 
some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, 
therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a 
ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know 
when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the 
neighbourhood." 

This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up 
and said: "That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?" The mice 
looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said: 

"It is easy to propose impossible remedies." 

68



Aesop's Fables 

The Hare and the Tortoise 

The Hare was once boasting of his speed before the other animals. 
"I have never yet been beaten," said he, "when I put forth my full speed. 
I challenge any one here to race with me." 

The Tortoise said quietly, "I accept your challenge." 

"That is a good joke," said the Hare; "I could dance round you all the 
way." 

"Keep your boasting till you've beaten," answered the Tortoise. 
"Shall we race?" 

So a course was fixed and a start was made. The Hare darted almost 
out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the 
Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded 
on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near 
the winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race. Then said 
the Tortoise: 

"Plodding wins the race." 

69



Aesop's Fables 

The Old Man and Death 

An old labourer, bent double with age and toil, was gathering sticks 
in a forest. At last he grew so tired and hopeless that he threw down the 
bundle of sticks, and cried out: "I cannot bear this life any longer. Ah, I 
wish Death would only come and take me!" 

As he spoke, Death, a grisly skeleton, appeared and said to him: "What 
wouldst thou, Mortal? I heard thee call me." 

"Please, sir," replied the woodcutter, "would you kindly help me to lift 
this faggot of sticks on to my shoulder?" 

We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified. 

70



Aesop's Fables 

The Hare With Many Friends 

A Hare was very popular with the other beasts who all claimed to be 
her friends. But one day she heard the hounds approaching and hoped to 
escape them by the aid of her many Friends. So, she went to the horse, 
and asked him to carry her away from the hounds on his back. But he 
declined, stating that he had important work to do for his master. "He 
felt sure," he said, "that all her other friends would come to her 
assistance." She then applied to the bull, and hoped that he would repel 
the hounds with his horns. The bull replied: "I am very sorry, but I have an 
appointment with a lady; but I feel sure that our friend the goat will do 
what you want." The goat, however, feared that his back might do her 
some harm if he took her upon it. The ram, he felt sure, was the proper 
friend to apply to. So she went to the ram and told him the case. The 
ram replied: "Another time, my dear friend. I do not like to interfere on 
the present occasion, as hounds have been known to eat sheep as well as 
hares." The Hare then applied, as a last hope, to the calf, who regretted 
that he was unable to help her, as he did not like to take the responsibility 
upon himself, as so many older persons than himself had declined the task. 
By this time the hounds were quite near, and the Hare took to her heels 
and luckily escaped. 

He that has many friends, has no friends. 

71



Aesop's Fables 

The Lion in Love 

A Lion once fell in love with a beautiful maiden and proposed 
marriage to her parents. The old people did not know what to say. They 
did not like to give their daughter to the Lion, yet they did not wish to 
enrage the King of Beasts. At last the father said: "We feel highly 
honoured by your Majesty's proposal, but you see our daughter is a tender 
young thing, and we fear that in the vehemence of your affection you 
might possibly do her some injury. Might I venture to suggest that your 
Majesty should have your claws removed, and your teeth extracted, then 
we would gladly consider your proposal again." The Lion was so much 
in love that he had his claws trimmed and his big teeth taken out. But 
when he came again to the parents of the young girl they simply laughed 
in his face, and bade him do his worst. 

Love can tame the wildest. 

72



Aesop's Fables 

The Bundle of Sticks 

An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to 
give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a 
faggot of sticks, and said to his eldest son: "Break it." The son strained 
and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the Bundle. The 
other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. "Untie the 
faggots," said the father, "and each of you take a stick." When they had 
done so, he called out to them: "Now, break," and each stick was easily 
broken. "You see my meaning," said their father. 

Union gives strength. 

73



Aesop's Fables 

The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts 

The Lion once gave out that he was sick unto death and summoned 
the animals to come and hear his last Will and Testament. So the Goat 
came to the Lion's cave, and stopped there listening for a long time. 
Then a Sheep went in, and before she came out a Calf came up to receive 
the last wishes of the Lord of the Beasts. But soon the Lion seemed to 
recover, and came to the mouth of his cave, and saw the Fox, who had 
been waiting outside for some time. "Why do you not come to pay your 
respects to me?" said the Lion to the Fox. 

"I beg your Majesty's pardon," said the Fox, "but I noticed the track of 
the animals that have already come to you; and while I see many hoof-
marks going in, I see none coming out. Till the animals that have entered 
your cave come out again I prefer to remain in the open air." 

It is easier to get into the enemy's toils than out again. 

74



Aesop's Fables 

The Ass's Brains 

The Lion and the Fox went hunting together. The Lion, on the 
advice of the Fox, sent a message to the Ass, proposing to make an 
alliance between their two families. The Ass came to the place of 
meeting, overjoyed at the prospect of a royal alliance. But when he came 
there the Lion simply pounced on the Ass, and said to the Fox: "Here is 
our dinner for to-day. Watch you here while I go and have a nap. Woe 
betide you if you touch my prey." The Lion went away and the Fox 
waited; but finding that his master did not return, ventured to take out the 
brains of the Ass and ate them up. When the Lion came back he soon 
noticed the absence of the brains, and asked the Fox in a terrible voice: 
"What have you done with the brains?" 

"Brains, your Majesty! it had none, or it would never have fallen into 
your trap." 

Wit has always an answer ready. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Eagle and the Arrow 

An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the 
whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered 
down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down 
upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of 
the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. "Alas!" it 
cried, as it died, 

"We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Milkmaid and Her Pail 

Patty the Milkmaid was going to market carrying her milk in a Pail 
on her head. As she went along she began calculating what she would do 
with the money she would get for the milk. "I'll buy some fowls from 
Farmer Brown," said she, "and they will lay eggs each morning, which I 
will sell to the parson's wife. With the money that I get from the sale of 
these eggs I'll buy myself a new dimity frock and a chip hat; and when I 
go to market, won't all the young men come up and speak to me! Polly 
Shaw will be that jealous; but I don't care. I shall just look at her and 
toss my head like this. As she spoke she tossed her head back, the Pail 
fell off it, and all the milk was spilt. So she had to go home and tell her 
mother what had occurred. 

"Ah, my child," said the mother, 

"Do not count your chickens before they are hatched." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Cat-Maiden 

The gods were once disputing whether it was possible for a living 
being to change its nature. Jupiter said "Yes," but Venus said "No." So, 
to try the question, Jupiter turned a Cat into a Maiden, and gave her to a 
young man for a wife. The wedding was duly performed and the young 
couple sat down to the wedding-feast. "See," said Jupiter, to Venus, "how 
becomingly she behaves. Who could tell that yesterday she was but a 
Cat? Surely her nature is changed?" 

"Wait a minute," replied Venus, and let loose a mouse into the room. 
No sooner did the bride see this than she jumped up from her seat and 
tried to pounce upon the mouse. "Ah, you see," said Venus, 

"Nature will out." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Horse and the Ass 

A Horse and an Ass were travelling together, the Horse prancing 
along in its fine trappings, the Ass carrying with difficulty the heavy 
weight in its panniers. "I wish I were you," sighed the Ass; "nothing to 
do and well fed, and all that fine harness upon you." Next day, however, 
there was a great battle, and the Horse was wounded to death in the final 
charge of the day. His friend, the Ass, happened to pass by shortly 
afterwards and found him on the point of death. "I was wrong," said the 
Ass: 

"Better humble security than gilded danger." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner 

A Trumpeter during a battle ventured too near the enemy and was 
captured by them. They were about to proceed to put him to death when 
he begged them to hear his plea for mercy. "I do not fight," said he, "and 
indeed carry no weapon; I only blow this trumpet, and surely that cannot 
harm you; then why should you kill me?" 

"You may not fight yourself," said the others, "but you encourage and 
guide your men to the fight." 

Words may be deeds. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Buffoon and the Countryman 

At a country fair there was a Buffoon who made all the people laugh 
by imitating the cries of various animals. He finished off by squeaking 
so like a pig that the spectators thought that he had a porker concealed 
about him. But a Countryman who stood by said: "Call that a pig s 
squeak! Nothing like it. You give me till tomorrow and I will show you 
what it's like." The audience laughed, but next day, sure enough, the 
Countryman appeared on the stage, and putting his head down squealed so 
hideously that the spectators hissed and threw stones at him to make him 
stop. "You fools!" he cried, "see what you have been hissing," and held 
up a little pig whose ear he had been pinching to make him utter the 
squeals. 

Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing. 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar 

You must know that sometimes old women like a glass of wine. One 
of this sort once found a Wine-jar lying in the road, and eagerly went up to 
it hoping to find it full. But when she took it up she found that all the 
wine had been drunk out of it. Still she took a long sniff at the mouth of 
the Jar. "Ah," she cried, 

"What memories cling 'round the instruments of our pleasure." 

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Aesop's Fables 

The Fox and the Goat 

By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he 
could not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the 
Fox what he was doing down there. "Oh, have you not heard?" said the 
Fox; "there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order 
to be sure to have water by me. Why don't you come down too?" The 
Goat thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the 
Fox immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long 
horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well. "Good-bye, friend," 
said the Fox, "remember next time, 

"Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties." 

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