A LION who greatly desired to capture a bull, and yet was afraid to attack him because of his great size, resorted to a trick to kill him. He approached the bull and said,
"I have slain a fine sheep, my friend; and if you will come home and partake of him with me, I shall be delighted to have your company."
The lion said this in the hope that the bull would recline to eat when he came home to his den, and then he might attack him successfully and make his meal on him.
On approaching the lion's den, the bull saw the huge spits and giant cauldrons, but no sign of the sheep. Then, without saying a word, he quietly left. The lion asked why he went off so abruptly without a word to salute his host, who had not given him any cause for offense.
"I have reasons enough," said the bull. "I see no indication at all of your having slaughtered a sheep, while I see very plainly every preparation for dining on a bull."
❋ Fools die young.
❋ The best time to prepare for old age is when you are young, by not being taken in a lot.
A LION was roaming by the seashore when he saw a dolphin lift up its head out of the waves. The lion suggested that the two of them became allied, saying that of all the animals they ought to be the best friends, since the one was the king of beasts on the earth, and the other was the sovereign ruler of all who lived in the sea. The dolphin gladly agreed.
Not long afterwards the lion had a combat with a wild bull, and called on the dolphin to help him. The dolphin, though quite willing to assist the lion, was unable to do so, as he could not by any means reach the land.
The lion abused him as a traitor, but the dolphin replied, "Nay, my friend, don't blame it on me, but Nature: While giving me the sovereignty of the sea, she quite denied me the power of living on the land."
❋ A hint is as good as a kick (American).
AN EAGLE stayed his flight and entreated a lion to make an alliance with him to their mutual advantage. The lion replied,
"I have no objection, but you must excuse me for requiring you to find surety for your good faith, for how can I trust anyone as a friend who is able to fly away from his bargain whenever he pleases?"
❋ Try before you trust.
A FOX entered into partnership with a lion on the pretense of becoming his servant. Each undertook his proper duty in accordance with his own nature and powers. The fox discovered and pointed out the prey; the lion sprang on it and seized it.
The fox soon became jealous of the lion carrying off the lion's share, and said that he would no longer find out the prey, but would capture it on his own account. The next day he attempted to snatch a lamb from the fold, but he himself fell prey to the huntsmen and hounds.
❋ There is no joy without alloy (American).
A LION came across a hare who was fast asleep. He was just in the act of seizing her, when a fine young hart trotted by, and he left the hare to follow him. The hare, scared by the noise, awoke and scudded away. The lion was unable after a long chase to catch the hart, and returned to feed on the hare. On finding that the hare also had run off, he said,
"I deserved what I got, for having let go of the food that I had in my hand for the chance of obtaining more."
❋ Don't nurse your sorrows (Canadian).
A LION was awakened from sleep by a mouse running over his face. Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the mouse piteously entreated, saying: "If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness."
The lion laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this that the lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him by strops to the ground.
The mouse, recognising his roar, came gnawed the rope with his teeth, and set him free, exclaiming,
"You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you, expecting to receive from me any repayment of your favour; now you know that it is possible for even a mouse to confer benefits on a big lion."
❋ Height and size do not take care of everything.
A LION, roaming through a forest, trod on a thorn. Soon afterward he came up to a shepherd and fawned on him, wagging his tail as if to say, "I do indeed seek your aid."
The shepherd boldly examined the beast, discovered the thorn, and placing his paw on his lap, pulled it out. Thus relieved of his pain, the lion returned into the forest.
Some time after, the shepherd, being imprisoned on a false accusation, was condemned "to be cast to the lions" as the punishment for his imputed crime. But when the lion was released from his cage, he recognized the shepherd as the man who healed him, and instead of attacking him, approached and placed his foot on his lap. The king, as soon as he heard the tale, ordered the lion to be set free again in the forest, and the shepherd to be pardoned and restored to his friends.
❋ That is well spoken that is well taken (Canadian).
A LION entered a farmyard. The farmer, wishing to catch him, shut the gate. When the lion found that he could not escape, he flew on the sheep and killed them, and then attacked the oxen. The farmer, beginning to be alarmed for his own safety, opened the gate and released the lion. On his departure the farmer grievously lamented the destruction of his sheep and oxen, but his wife, who had been a spectator to all that took place, said,
"On my word, you are rightly served, for how could you for a moment think of shutting up a lion along with you in your farmyard when you know that you shake in your shoes if you only hear his roar at a distance?"
❋ Honesty which spoils the man and make it all worse for him, is hardly the best honesty to find.
A LION demanded the daughter of a woodcutter in marriage. The father, unwilling to grant, and yet afraid to refuse his request, hit on this expedient to rid himself of his importunities. He expressed his willingness to accept the lion as the suitor of his daughter on one condition: that he should allow him to extract his teeth, and cut off his claws, as his daughter was fearfully afraid of both.
The lion cheerfully assented to the proposal. But when the toothless, clawless lion returned to repeat his request, the woodman, no longer afraid, set on him with his club, and drove him away into the forest.
❋ Even the wildest can be tamed by love.
THE LION wearied Sir Success with his frequent complaints.
"It is true, Sir Success," he said, "that I am gigantic in strength, handsome in shape, and powerful in attack. I have jaws well provided with teeth, and feet furnished with claws, and I lord it over all the beasts of the forest, and what a disgrace it is, that being such as I am, I should be frightened by the crowing of a cock."
Sir Success replied, "Why do you blame me without a cause? I have given you all the attributes which I possess myself, and your courage never fails you except in this one instance."
On hearing this the lion groaned and lamented very much and, reproaching himself with his cowardice, wished that he might die. As these thoughts passed through his mind, he met an elephant and came close to hold a conversation with him. After a time he observed that the elephant shook his ears very often, and he inquired what was the matter and why his ears moved with such a tremor every now and then. Just at that moment a gnat settled on the head of the elephant, and he replied,
"Do you see that little buzzing insect? If it enters my ear, my fate is sealed. I should die presently."
The lion said, "Well, since so huge a beast is afraid of a tiny gnat, I will no more complain, nor wish myself dead. I find myself, even as I am, better off than the elephant."
❋ Who confesses inferiority can't call it superiority too.
❋ How can inferiority that is confessed or shared, be made better for it?
A LION and a bear seized a kid at the same moment, and fought fiercely for its possession. When they had fearfully lacerated each other and were faint from the long combat, they lay down exhausted with fatigue.
A fox, who had gone round them at a distance several times, saw them both stretched on the ground with the kid lying untouched in the middle. He ran in between them, and seising the kid scampered off as fast as he could. The lion and the bear saw him, but not being able to get up, said,
"Woe be to us, that we should have fought and striven only to serve the turn of a fox."
❋ As long as two kingfishers fight one another over a fish, none of them gets it.
❋ It sometimes happens that one man has all the toil, and another all the profit.
THE LION, the fox and the donkey entered into an agreement to assist each other in the chase. Having secured a large booty, the lion on their return from the forest asked the donkey to allot his due portion to each of the three partners in the treaty. The donkey carefully divided the spoil into three equal shares and modestly requested the two others to make the first choice. The lion, bursting out into a great rage, devoured the donkey. Then he requested the fox to do him the favour to make a division. The fox accumulated all that they had killed into one large heap and left to himself the smallest possible morsel.
The lion said, "Who has taught you, my very excellent fellow, the art of division? You are perfect to a fraction."
He replied, "I learned it from the donkey, by witnessing his fate."
❋ Happy is the man who learns from the misfortunes of others, he is perhaps happier than the man who only loiters well.
❋ Having a fine-looking education among the ill-bred is not all there is to mastering life.
A LION, fatigued by the heat of a summer's day, fell fast asleep in his den. A mouse ran over his mane and ears and woke him from his slumbers. He rose up and shook himself in great wrath, and searched every corner of his den to find the mouse. A fox seeing him said:
"A fine lion you are, to be frightened of a mouse."
"It is not the mouse I fear," said the lion; "I resent his familiarity and ill-breeding."
❋ If you excuse yourself you accuse yourself (American).
❋ Many excuses make one sullen.
A LION, growing old, lay sick in his cave. All the beasts came to visit their king, except the fox. The wolf therefore, thinking that he had a capital opportunity, accused the fox to the lion of not paying any respect to him who had the rule over them all and of not coming to visit him.
At that very moment the fox came in and heard these last words of the wolf. The lion roaring out in a rage against him, the fox sought an opportunity to defend himself and said, "And who of all those who have come to you have benefited you so much as I, who have travelled from place to place in every direction, and have sought and learnt from the physicians the means of healing you?"
The lion commanded him at once to tell him the cure, when he replied, "You must flay a wolf alive and wrap his skin yet warm around you."
The wolf was at once taken and flayed; whereon the fox, turning to him, said with a smile, "You should have moved your master not to ill will, but to good will."
❋ The good cure will not always cost too much.
❋ Keep good company and you shall be of the number (Kansas).
❋ Who keeps company with a wolf is not the sole lord and master of ruin and disaster.
A CONTROVERSY prevailed among the beasts of the field as to which of the animals deserved the most credit for producing the greatest number of whelps at a birth. They rushed clamorously into the presence of the lioness and demanded of her the settlement of the dispute.
"And you," they said, "how many sons have you at a birth?" The lioness laughed at them, and said:
"Why! I have only one; but that one is altogether a thoroughbred lion."
❋ The true value of a thing is neither of its wrapping, nor of the way of sending it, express or otherwise.
❋ The value is also in the worth, not in the number.
A LION, worn out with years and powerless from disease, lay on the ground at the point of death. A boar rushed on him, and avenged with a stroke of his tusks a long-remembered injury. Shortly afterwards the bull with his horns gored him as if he were an enemy. When the donkey saw that the huge beast could be assailed with impunity, he let drive at his forehead with his heels.
The expiring lion said,
"I have reluctantly brooked the insults of the brave, but to be compelled to endure such treatment from you, a disgrace to Nature, is indeed to die a double death."
❋ In old age one learns to brood well.
❋ Education is the best provision for old age (American).
A LION, unable from old age and infirmities to provide himself with food by force, resolved to do so by artifice. He returned to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be ill, taking care that his illness should be publicly known. The beasts expressed their sorrow, and came one by one to his den, where the lion devoured them.
After many of the beasts had thus disappeared, the fox discovered the trick and presenting himself to the lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful distance, and asked him how he was.
"I am very middling," replied the lion, "but why do you stand outside? Pray enter within to talk with me."
"No, thank you," said the fox. "I notice that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but I see no trace of any returning."
❋ He that will outwit the old fox, had better make the city livable.
❋ He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others.
A WILD donkey and a lion entered into an alliance so that they might capture the beasts of the forest with greater ease. The lion agreed to assist the wild donkey with his strength, while the wild donkey gave the lion the benefit of his greater speed.
When they had taken as many beasts as they needed, the lion undertook to distribute the prey, and for this purpose divided it into three shares.
"I will take the first share," he said, "because I am King: and the second share, as a partner with you in the chase: and the third share (believe me) will be a source of great evil to you, unless you willingly resign it to me, and set off as fast as you can."
❋ Might makes right.
A BEAR boasted very much of his philanthropy, saying that of all animals he was the most tender in his regard for man, for he had such respect for him that he would not even touch his dead body. A hare who heard these words, said with a smile to the bear,
"If only you would eat the dead and not the living."
❋ A fault confessed is half redressed (American).
TWO MEN were travelling together, when a bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and hid himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, and when the bear came up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned to be dead as much as he could.
The bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When he was quite gone, the other traveller climbed down from the tree, and jocularly asked his friend what it was the bear had whispered in his ear.
"He gave me this advice," his companion replied. 'Never travel with a friend who deserts you when danger approaches.'"
❋ Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.