A CROW was jealous of the raven, because he was considered a bird of good omen and always attracted the attention of men, who noted by his flight the good or evil course of future events. Seeing some travellers approaching, the crow flew up into a tree, and perching herself on one of the branches, cawed as loudly as she could. The travellers turned towards the sound and wondered what it foreboded, when one of them said to his companion,
"Let us proceed on our journey, my friend, for it is only the caw of a crow, and her cry, you know, is no omen."
❋ Those who assume a character which does not belong to them, only make themselves ridiculous.
A TROUBLESOME CROW seated herself on the back of a sheep. The sheep, much against his will, carried her backward and forward for a long time, and at last said,
"If you had treated a dog in this way, you would have had your deserts from his sharp teeth."
The crow replied,
"I despise the weak and yield to the strong. I know whom I may bully and whom I must flatter; and I thus prolong my life to a good old age."
❋ An abused and despised sheep cannot expose a crow's first concerns unless the crow revals them herself.
A CROW caught in a snare prayed to the merciful Lord Success to release him, making a vow to offer some frankincense at his shrine. But when rescued from his danger, he forgot his promise. Shortly afterwards, again caught in a snare, he passed by Lord Success and made the same promise to offer frankincense to Lord Transporter. Lord Transporter soon appeared and said to him,
"You most base fellow - how can I believe you, who have disowned and wronged your former patron?"
❋ The last sham promise can be the hardest.
A FATHER, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given it. He called them to his bedside and said,
"My sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards."
The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labour by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.
❋ Simple wishes, simple souls.
❋ Nothing worth having ever comes without a lot of hard work. [American proverb, Ap 675]
SOME CRANES made their feeding grounds on some ploughlands newly sown with wheat. For a long time the farmer, brandishing an empty sling, chased them away by the terror he inspired; but when the birds found that the sling was only swung in the air, they ceased to take any notice of it and would not move. The farmer, on seeing this, charged his sling with stones, and killed a great number. The remaining birds at once forsook his fields, crying to each other,
"It is time for us to be off to Liliput: for this man is no longer content to scare us, but begins to show us in earnest what he can do."
❋ Quietly the gentle reflect before killing others.
A FARMER, who bore a grudge against a fox for robbing his poultry yard, caught him at last, and being determined to take an ample revenge, tied some rope well soaked in oil to his tail, and set it on fire. The fox by a strange fatality rushed to the fields of the farmer who had captured him. It was the time of the wheat harvest; but the farmer reaped nothing that year and returned home grieving sorely.
❋ The innocent may also run rampant.
❋ It seems unwise to seek an outlet for negative feelings at the cost of solving a problem with integrity.
A FARMER placed nets on his newly-sown plough-lands and caught a number of cranes, which came to pick up his seed. With them he trapped a stork that had fractured his leg in the net and was earnestly beseeching the farmer to spare his life.
"Pray save me, master," he said, "and let me go free this once. My broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no crane, I am a stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look too, at my feathers - they are not the least like those of a crane."
The farmer laughed aloud and said,
"It may be all as you say, I only know this: I have taken you with these robbers, the cranes, and you must die in their company."
❋ Birds of a feather flock together.
❋ Using your head is safer than just trusting to robbers.
A LARK had made her nest in the early spring on the young green wheat. The brood had almost grown to their full strength and attained the use of their wings and the full plumage of their feathers, when the owner of the field, looking over his ripe crop, said,
"The time has come when I must ask all my neighbours to help me with my harvest."
One of the young Larks heard his speech and related it to his mother, inquiring of her to what place they should move for safety.
"There is no occasion to move yet, my son," she replied; "the man who only sends to his friends to help him with his harvest is not really in earnest."
The owner of the field came again a few days later and saw the wheat shedding the grain from excess of ripeness. He said,
"I will come myself tomorrow with my labourers, and with as many reapers as I can hire, and will get in the harvest."
The lark on hearing these words said to her brood, "It is time now to be off, my little ones, for the man is in earnest this time; he no longer trusts his friends, but will reap the field himself."
❋ Self-help is the best help.
❋ Much depends on who owns the soil.
❋ One is to plumb the depths by being in earnest so as to get a good enough harvest somewhere.
THE LARK, according to an ancient legend, was created before the earth itself, and when her father died, as there was no earth, she could find no place of burial for him. She let him lie uninterred for five days, and on the sixth day, not knowing what else to do, she buried him in her own head. Hence she obtained her crest, which is popularly said to be her father's grave-hillock.
❋ In pursuit of better things, drop impossible fables such as this one. Do not deny yourself such happiness.
A YOUNG MAN, a great spendthrift, had run through all his patrimony and had but one good cloak left. One day he happened to see a swallow, which had appeared before its season, skimming along a pool and twittering gaily. He supposed that summer had come, and went and sold his cloak. Not many days later, winter set in again with renewed frost and cold. When he found the unfortunate swallow lifeless on the ground, he said,
"Unhappy bird! what have you done? By thus appearing before the springtime you have not only killed yourself, but you have wrought my destruction also."
❋ One swallow does not make a summer. [Proverb, Ap 573]
❋ A man must not swallow more than he can digest. [American proverb, Ap 150] :)
TWO GAME COCKS were fiercely fighting for the mastery of the farmyard. One at last put the other to flight. The vanquished cock skulked away and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the conqueror, flying up to a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed exultingly with all his might. An eagle sailing through the air pounced on him and carried him off in his talons. The vanquished cock at once came out of his corner, and ruled henceforth with undisputed mastery.
❋ Pride goes before destruction.
❋ Observe to make good use of real opportunities.
A MAN once kept a goat and a donkey. The goat, envying the donkey on account of his greater abundance of food, said,
"How shamefully you are treated: at one time grinding in the mill, and at another carrying heavy burdens"; and he further advised him to pretend to be epileptic and fall into a ditch and so get rest.
The donkey listened to his words, and falling into a ditch, was very much bruised. His master, sending for a leech, asked his advice. He bade him pour on the wounds the lungs of a goat. They at once killed the goat, and so healed the donkey.
❋ Living takes up a great deal of our time.
❋ Goats and men hardly ever think their fortune too great nor their wit too little. [Cf. Ap 267]
A GOATHERD had sought to bring back a stray goat to his flock. He whistled and sounded his horn in vain; the straggler paid no attention to the summons. At last the goatherd threw a stone, and breaking its horn, begged the goat not to tell his master. The goat replied,
"Why, you silly fellow, the horn will speak though I be silent."
❋ Do not try to hide things which cannot be hid.
A GOATHERD, driving his flock from their pasture at eventide, found some wild goats mingled among them, and shut them up together with his own for the night.
The next day it snowed very hard, so that he could not take the herd to their usual feeding places, but was obliged to keep them in the fold. He gave his own goats just enough food to keep them alive, but fed the strangers more abundantly in the hope of enticing them to stay with him and of making them his own. When the thaw set in, he led them all out to feed, and the wild goats scampered away as fast as they could to the mountains.
The goatherd scolded them for their ingratitude in leaving him, when during the storm he had taken more care of them than of his own herd. One of them, turning about, said to him:
"That is the very reason why we are so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better than the goats you have had so long, it is plain also that if others came after us, you would in the same manner prefer them to ourselves."
❋ Old friends cannot with impunity be sacrificed for new ones.
❋ One is to welcome the new without dispensing with the old that is fit. Also observe: "It is best to be off with the old love / before you are on with the new. [Songs of England and Scotland (1835)]."
A HOUND, who in the days of his youth and strength had never yielded to any beast of the forest, encountered in his old age a boar in the chase. He seized him boldly by the ear, but could not retain his hold because of the decay of his teeth, so that the boar escaped.
His master, quickly coming up, was very much disappointed, and fiercely abused the dog. The hound looked up and said,
"It was not my fault, master: My spirit was as good as ever, but I could not help my infirmities. I rather deserve to be praised for what I have been, than to be blamed for what I am."
❋ Both a friend and a dog are to be taken with their faults. [Cf. Ap 234]
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, amounts to dying a double death."
❋ Keeping life in perspective depends a lot on how big and vehement others are.
A BOY stole a lesson-book from one of his school-fellows and took it home to his mother. She not only abstained from beating him, but encouraged him. He next time stole a cloak and brought it to her, and she again commended him. The youth, advanced to adulthood, proceeded to steal things of still greater value. At last he was caught in the very act, and having his hands bound behind him, was led away to the place of public execution. His mother followed in the crowd and violently beat her breast in sorrow, whereupon the young man said,
"I wish to say something to my mother in her ear."
She came close to him, and he quickly seized her ear with his teeth and bit it off. The mother upbraided him as an unnatural child, whereon he replied,
"Ah! if you had beaten me when I first stole and brought to you that lesson-book, I should not have come to this, nor have been thus led to a disgraceful death."
❋ It seems too late to upbraid a rascal son when he has bitten your ear off.
❋ Prefer to admonish in private, and praise in public. [Cf. Ap 238]
A THIEF came in the night to break into a house. He brought with him several slices of meat in order to pacify the house-dog, so that he would not alarm his master by barking. As the thief threw him the pieces of meat, the dog said,
"If you think to stop my mouth, you will be greatly mistaken. This sudden kindness at your hands will only make me more watchful, lest under these unexpected favours to myself, you have some private ends to accomplish for your own benefit, and for my master's injury."
❋ Having great suspicions and a fierce temper are two of the things the watchdog thrives by.
A THIEF hired a room in a tavern and stayed a while in the hope of stealing something which should enable him to pay his reckoning. When he had waited some days in vain, he saw the innkeeper dressed in a new and handsome coat and sitting before his door. The thief sat down beside him and talked with him. As the conversation began to flag, the thief yawned terribly and at the same time howled like a wolf. The innkeeper said,
"Why do you howl so fearfully?"
"I will tell you," said the thief, "but first let me ask you to hold my clothes, or I shall tear them to pieces. I don't know, sir, when I got this habit of yawning, nor whether these attacks of howling were inflicted on me as a judgement for my crimes, or for any other cause; but this I do know, that when I yawn for the third time, I actually turn into a wolf and attack men."
With this speech he commenced a second fit of yawning and again howled like a wolf, as he had at first. The innkeeper. hearing his tale and believing what he said, became greatly alarmed and, rising from his seat, tried to run away. The thief laid hold of his coat and begged him to stop, saying,
"Pray wait, sir, and hold my clothes, or I shall tear them to pieces in my fury, when I turn into a wolf."
At the same moment he yawned the third time and set up a terrible howl. The innkeeper, frightened lest he should be attacked, left his new coat in the thief's hand and ran as fast as he could into the inn for safety. The thief made off with the coat and did not return again to the inn.
❋ Inexperienced people may be mocked and some may be destroyed by hypocrites.
SOME THIEVES broke into a house and found nothing but a cock, whom they stole, and got off as fast as they could. On arriving at home they prepared to kill the cock, who thus pleaded for his life:
"Pray spare me; I am very serviceable to men. I wake them up in the night to their work."
"That is the very reason why we must the more kill you," they replied; "for when you wake your neighbours, you entirely put an end to our business."
❋ The safeguards of virtue are hateful to those with evil intentions.
A CAT, hearing that the birds in a certain aviary were ailing, dressed himself up as a physician, and, taking his cane and a bag of instruments becoming his profession, went to call on them. He knocked at the door and asked of the inmates how they all did, saying that if they were ill, he would be happy to prescribe for them and cure them. They replied,
"We are all very well, and shall continue so, if you will only be good enough to go away, and leave us as we are."
❋ Fond of doctors, little health. [Cf. Ap 364]
❋ A human should be realistic to enter circumstances and settings that conform to his nature. There he may rise to sing happily for quite a while.