A BOY put his hand into a pitcher full of hazelnuts. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to pull out his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the neck of the pitcher. Unwilling to lose his hazelnuts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said to him,
"Be satisfied with half the amount, and you will readily draw out your hand."
❋ Do not attempt too much at once.
❋ Life is a long lesson in humility [American].
A BOY was stung by a nettle. He ran home and told his mother, saying,
"Although it hurts me very much, I only touched it gently."
"That was just why it stung you," said his mother. "The next time you touch a nettle, grasp it boldly, and it will be soft as silk to your hand, and not in the least hurt you."
❋ Better wear shoes than walk barefoot among nettles, no matter what you mother says in the matter.
❋ He that makes himself a sheep (sheepish) due to bad advice, may suffer undeservedly.
A BOY bathing in a river was in danger of being drowned. He called out to a passing traveller for help, but instead of holding out a helping hand, the man stood by unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his imprudence.
"Oh, sir!" cried the youth, "pray help me now and scold me afterwards."
❋ Counsel without help seems useless.
A BOY was hunting for locusts. He had caught a goodly number, when he saw a scorpion, and mistaking him for a locust, reached out his hand to take him.
The scorpion, showing his sting, said,
"If you had but touched me, my friend, you would have lost me, and all your locusts too!"
❋ It is better to have luck with you than to lose everything.
SOME BOYS, playing near a pond, saw a number of frogs in the water and began to pelt them with stones. They killed several of them, when one of the frogs, lifting his head out of the water, cried out,
"Pray stop, my boys: what is sport to you, is death to us."
A DOVE shut up in a cage was boasting of the large number of young ones which she had hatched. A crow hearing her, said:
"My good friend, cease from this unseasonable boasting. The larger the number of your family, the greater your cause of sorrow, in seeing them shut up in this prison-house."
A NUMBER of flies were attracted to a jar of honey which had been overturned in a housekeeper's room, and placing their feet in it, ate greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the honey that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed,
"Foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves."
❋ Pleasure bought with pains, hurts.
A FLY sat on the axle-tree of a chariot, and addressing the draught-mule said,
"How slow you are! Why do you not go faster? See if I don't prick your neck with my sting."
The draught-mule replied,
"I don't heed your threats; I only care for him who sits above you, and who quickens my pace with his whip, or holds me back with the reins. Away, therefore, with your insolence, for I know well when to go fast, and when to go slow."
A FOX was mounting a hedge when he lost his footing and caught hold of a bramble to save himself. Having pricked and grievously tom the soles of his feet, he accused the bramble because, when he had fled to her for assistance, she had used him worse than the hedge itself. The bramble, interrupting him, said,
"But you really must have been out of your senses to fasten yourself on me, who am myself always used to fasten on others."
"Yes, my friend!" said the brier. "You made a bad mistake when you tried to lay hold of me. I lay hold of everyone myself."
❋ The incident illustrates the folly of those who run for aid to people whose nature it is to hurt rather than to help.
A FOX invited a crane to supper and provided nothing for his entertainment but some soup made of pulse, which was poured out into a broad flat stone dish. The soup fell out of the long bill of the crane at every mouthful, and his vexation at not being able to eat afforded the fox much amusement. The crane, in his turn, asked the fox to sup with him, and set before her a flagon with a long narrow mouth, so that he could easily insert his neck and enjoy its contents at his leisure. The fox, unable even to taste it, met with a fitting requital, after the fashion of her own hospitality.
A CROW having stolen a bit of meat, perched in a tree and held it in her beak. A fox, seeing this, longed to possess the meat himself, and by a wily stratagem succeeded.
"How handsome is the crow," he exclaimed, in the beauty of her shape and in the fairness of her complexion! Oh, if her voice were only equal to her beauty, she would deservedly be considered the queen of Birds!"
This he said deceitfully; but the crow, anxious to refute the reflection cast on her voice, set up a loud caw and dropped the flesh. The fox quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the crow:
"My good crow, your voice is right enough, but your wit is wanting."
A crow sat in a tree holding in his beak a piece of meat that he had stolen. A fox which saw him determined to get the meat. It stood under the tree and began to tell the crow what a beautiful big bird he was. He ought to be king of all the birds, the fox said; and he would undoubtedly have been made king, if only he had a voice as well. The crow was so anxious to prove that he had a voice, that he dropped the meat and croaked for all he was worth. Up ran the fox, snapped up the meat, and said to him:
"If you added brains to all your other qualifications, you would make an ideal king."
A FOX one day fell into a deep well and could not get out. Along came a thirsty goat, and seeing the fox, asked if the water was good. Hiding his sad plight under a merry guise, the fox sang the praises of the water, saying it was excellent beyond measure, and encouraging him to descend. The goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down. But just as he drank, the fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in and suggested how they were to get up again.
"If," said he, "you will place your forefeet on the wall and bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards."
The goat readily complied and the fox leaped on his back. Steadying himself with the goat's horns, he safely reached the mouth of the well and made off as fast as he could.
When the goat upbraided him for breaking his promise, he turned around and cried out,
"You foolish old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down without thinking how you were going to get up; nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had no means of escape."
❋ Look before you leap.
❋ A sensible man never embarks on an enterprise till he can see his way clear to the end of it.
A FOX swimming across a rapid river was carried by the force of the current into a very deep ravine, where he lay for a long time very much bruised, sick, and unable to move. A swarm of hungry blood-sucking flies settled on him. A Hedgehog, passing by, saw his anguish and asked if he should drive away the flies that were tormenting him.
"By no means," replied the fox; "pray do not molest them."
"How is this?" said the hedgehog; "do you not want to be rid of them?"
"No," returned the fox, "for these flies which you see are full of blood, and sting me but little, and if you rid me of these which are already satiated, others more hungry will come in their place, and will drink up all the blood I have left."
THE FOX and the leopard disputed which was the more beautiful of the two. The leopard exhibited one by one the various spots which decorated his skin. But the fox, interrupting him, said,
"And how much more beautiful than you am I, who am decorated, not in body, but in mind."
WHEN A FOX who had never yet seen a lion, fell in with him by chance for the first time in the forest, he was so frightened that he nearly died with fear. On meeting him for the second time, he was still much alarmed, but not to the same extent as at first. On seeing him the third time, he so increased in boldness that he went up to him and commenced a familiar conversation with him.
❋ Acquaintance softens prejudices.
A FOX saw a lion confined in a cage, and standing near him, bitterly reviled him. The lion said to the fox,
"It is not you who revile me; but this mischance which has befallen me."
A FOX entered the house of an actor and rummaged through all his properties. Among other things he found a mask, an admirable imitation of a human head. He placed his paws on it and said,
"What a beautiful head! Yet it is of no value, as it entirely lacks brains."
❋ Some men of impressive physical appearance are deficient in intellect.
A MONKEY once danced in an assembly of the beasts, and so pleased them all by his performance that they elected him their king. A fox, envying him the honour, discovered a piece of meat lying in a trap, and leading the monkey to the place where it was, said that she had found a store, but had not used it e had kept it for him as treasure trove of his kingdom, and counselled him to lay hold of it. The monkey drew near carelessly and was caught in the trap; and on his accusing the fox of purposely leading him into the snare, she replied,
"Monkey, and are you, with such a mind as yours, going to be king over the beasts?"
A monkey made a great impression by dancing before an assembly of animals, who elected him their king. The fox was jealous. Noticing a snare with a piece of meat in it, he took the monkey to it and said:
"Here is a choice titbit that I have found. Instead of eating it myself I have kept it for you as a perquisite of your royal office. So take it."
The monkey went at it carelessly and was caught in the snare. When he accused the fox of laying a trap for him, the fox replied: "Fancy a fool like you, friend monkey, being king of the animals!"
❋ People who attempt things without due consideration suffer for it and get laughed at into the bargain.
A FOX and a monkey were travelling together on the same road. As they journeyed, they passed through a cemetery full of monuments.
"All these monuments which you see," said the monkey, "are erected in honour of my ancestors, who were in their day freedmen and citizens of great renown."
The fox replied, "You have chosen a most appropriate subject for your falsehoods, as I am sure none of your ancestors will be able to contradict you."
❋ A false tale often betrays itself.
A fox and a monkey, as they journeyed together, disputed at great length about the nobility of their lineage. When they reached a certain place on the road, the monkey fixed his gaze on it and uttered a groan. The fox asked what was wrong with him. The monkey pointed to some tombs that stood there.
"Don't you expect me to mourn," he said, "when I behold the sepulchres of the slaves and freedmen of my ancestors?"
"Lie away to your heart's content," answered the fox. "They won't any of them rise up to contradict you."
❋ Certain impostors never boast more loudly than when there is no one to expose them.
A FOX, running before the hounds, came across a woodcutter felling an oak and begged him to show him a safe hiding-place. The woodcutter advised him to take shelter in his own hut, so the fox crept in and hid himself in a corner. The huntsman soon came up with his hounds and asked of the woodcutter if he had seen the fox. He declared that he had not seen him, and yet pointed, all the time he was speaking, to the hut where the fox lay hidden. The huntsman took no notice of the signs, but believing his word, hastened forward in the chase. As soon as they were well away, the fox departed without taking any notice of the woodcutter: whereon he called to him and reproached him, saying,
"You ungrateful fellow, you owe your life to me, and yet you leave me without a word of thanks."
The fox replied,
"Indeed, I should have thanked you fervently if your deeds had been as good as your words, and if your hands had not been traitors to your speech."
A fox was being chased by huntsmen and begged a woodcutter whom he saw to hide him. The man told him to go into his hut. Soon afterwards the huntsmen arrived and asked if he had seen a fox pass that way. He answered "No" - but as he spoke he jerked a thumb towards the place where the fox was hidden. However they believed his statement and did not take the hint. When the fox saw they had gone he came out and made off without speaking. The woodsman reproached him for not even saying a word of acknowledgement for his deliverance.
"I would have thanked you," the fox called back, "if your actions and your character agreed with your words."
❋ There are those who make public profession of virtue but behave like rogues.
❋ Auctions speak louder than words (Joke).