Long ago, lions were more common around. In those times an abbot once sat down with the monks in his care to speak good words to them as the evening drew on. Just then a lion came limping on three paws into the cloister yard. Some of the monks fled, but the abbot went out to meet the lion. The lion showed him a wounded paw.
The abbot gave the monks instructions to bathe the wounded paw to find why the lion was limping. They found that the paw had been pierced by thorns. The monks removed the thorns, put salve on the paw and bandaged it well. The wound speedily healed.
From then on the lion began to go to and fro among them like any other animal about the house. Jerome saw it, and told the monks: "Can we find any useful and suitable work for this lion, work that will not be burdensome to him, and that he can do well?"
The monks answered: "The donkey who brings us our wood from the forest pasture needs someone to look after him, for we are always in fear that some naughty beast will eat him. If you find it good and right, let the lion guard our donkey, take him out to pasture, and bring him home in the evening."
And so it was done: the donkey was put in charge of the lion as his shepherd. Together they took the road to the pasture, and wherever the donkey grazed, there was his defender. A sure defence he was. Nevertheless, at regular hours, that he might refresh himself and the donkey do his appointed task, the lion would come with him home.
This went on for a long time till one day when the donkey had been duly brought to his pasture, the lion felt so sluggish that he fell asleep. As he lay sunk in deep slumber, some merchants came along that road on their way to Egypt. They saw the donkey grazing and no guardian at hand. Seized by greed they caught him and led him away.
In due course the lion roused up and set out to fetch the donkey her herded. But when he did not find the donkey anywhere, the lion went roaring up and down, here and there, the rest of the day. At last, when all hope of finding the donkey was gone, the distressed lion came and stood at the monastery gate..
The abbot and the monks saw him hanging about outside the gate, without the donkey, and long past his usual hour, and thought that the lion had killed the donkey he was to herd. Therefore they refused him his usual food, saying," Away with you."
But even as they spoke, they somehow doubted that the lion would kill the donkey, and finally the monks went out to the pasture they used. Up and down they scoured, but found no donkey and no sign of slaughter. They hastened to report this to their abbot. He said: "Brothers, it seems we have lost the donkey. But treat the lion as kindly as before, and offer him his food. And let him take the donkey's place: make a light harness for him so that he can drag home the branches that have fallen in the wood."
It was done as he said, and the lion regularly dragged wood to the cloister from the wood in the months to come. Then one day when his daily work was done, he went out and made his way to the field. Up and down, here and there he ran in circles, and then climbed to a rising above the highway where he got a wider view. A great way off he spied men coming with laden horses, and in front of them walked a donkey. The flock was so far off that he could not recognise the donkey, but none the less he set out, cautiously, to meet them.
It was the custom in that part of the country that when men set out with horses on a long journey, a donkey went in front. Now the the merchants came nearer, the lion recognised his donkey. With a fierce roar he charged down on them, making a mighty din, though doing no damage to any.
Crazed with terror, the travellers left all they had and took to their heels. The lion meantime drove the affrighted, laden horses and the donkey toward the cloister.
The other monks saw the animals first, and they quickly informed their abbot. He came out, and bade them to set open the cloister gate and be silent.
"Take the loads off the horses and the donkey," he said, "give them fodder and wait to see what further happens."
The monks saw with great remorse that they had treated the lion unjustly. "He has cleared himself!" they said to one another.
Meantime the abbot said, "Let in the guests to come."
Suddenly a messenger came with the news that there were visitors outside the gate. They were let in and to the abbot. They asked on bended knees forgiveness for stealing the donkey. The abbot cautioned them to live more cautiously, as Someone was seeing them.
With one voice they now cried out, "Father, please accept for the cloister half of the oil that the horses have carried from Egypt. We refuse to eat anything from now on until you do!"
As he hesitated, they added, "We also pledge ourselves and our heirs to give to you and those that come after you about four litres of oil each year from now on."
Then the abbot accepted their offers. They took part in a meal with the monks, got their horses and returned joyfully to their own people.
Once a little mouse and a little sausage loved each other like sisters and decided to live together. They made their arrangements in such a way that every day one of them would go to walk in the fields or make purchases in town, while the other remained at home to keep the house.
One day the little sausage had prepared cabbage for dinner. The little mouse come back from town with a fine appetite, and enjoyed their meal so greatly that she exclaimed: " How delicious the cabbage is today, my dear!"
"Ah!" answered the little sausage, "that is because I popped myself into the pot while it was cooking."
Next day it was the mouse's turn to prepare the meals. She said to herself: "I will do as much for my friend as she did for me; we will have lentils for dinner, and I will jump into the pot while they are boiling." She let action follow words, without reflecting that a simple sausage can do some things which are out of the reach of even the wisest mouse.
When the sausage came home, she found the house lonely and silent. She called again and again, " My little mouse! Mouse of my heart!" but no one answered.
Then she went to look at the lentils boiling on the stove, and, alas! found within the pot her good little friend, who had perished at the post of duty.
Poor mousie, with the best intentions in the world, had stayed too long at her cookery, and when she desired to climb out of the pot, had no longer the strength to do so.
The poor sausage could never be consoled! That is why today, when you put one in the pan or on the gridiron, you will hear her weep and sigh, "M-my p-poor m-mouse! Ah, m-my p-poor m-mouse!"
A long time ago a fox felt very hungry, so he went down into a village where he caught a fine fat hen and ran away with her. In the woods nearby he built a fire of dry brush. When the brush had all burned up and left a pile of coals, the fox took his large hen and covered her all up with the ashes. That was how he always roasted meat for his dinner. It took some time for the large hen to roast, so the fox lay down and went to sleep.
Very soon a weasel came along. Sniff! sniff! He could smell meat roasting, and it smelt very delicious. He saw the fox was fast asleep; so he slipped quietly over to the pile of ashes, stuck his paw in and pulled out the hen. He ran behind a bush and ate as much meat he could and hid the rest somewhere else, behind a river. But he left the bones. Then he took a bone and greased the fox's mouth all around with a greasy end of it. After that he put the bone under the hot ashes and ran away.
When the fox awoke, he could smell hen grease. He licked his tongue and felt grease all around his mouth.
"Surely I have not eaten the hen while asleep. No, I feel too hungry; but where did this grease come from on my mouth, if I did not eat her?"
The fox was much puzzled. He went over the ashes and caught hold of a hen's foot and pulled. Out came a leg without any meat on it.
"This is funny," he thought. Just then he spied some tracks in the sand. "O ho!" he said. "Now I understand! The weasel has played a trick on me and taken my hen. I'll catch and kill him for this."
The fox trotted off, following the weasel tracks. He found the weasel by a cliff. The weasel saw the fox coming and he knew he was angry. He did not have time to run away, so he just leaned against the cliff and called,
"Oh, Reynard, come here quickly and help me! Look up there, this cliff is falling! It will kill us if we don't hold it up."
The fox looked up. The clouds were passing over the cliff and made them look as if they really were falling. The fox jumped quickly over to the weasel and leaned against the cliff just as hard as he could to hold it up. As soon as the fox leaned on the cliff, the weasel jumped away. He made a big jump, just as if the cliff might really fall on him.
"Hold the cliff up, Reynard, while I go to get a stick to prop it with," he said.
The weasel ran away and left the fox leaning hard against the cliff.
The fox stayed there all day waiting for the weasel to come with the stick. Late in the evening he looked up. There were no clouds passing at that time, so he could see that the cliff was not falling. Then he knew that the weasel had played another trick on him, and he was angrier than ever.
Again he followed the weasel tracks and found the weasel down by the river.
When the weasel saw the fox coming, he called:
"Oh, Reynard, come quickly and see what I have for you. I found a cheese and I saved half of it for you; but it has fallen into the river. Look!"
The fox looked down into the water. The reflection of the half-moon was in the water. It looked just like the half of a round cheese and the fox's mouth began to water for a taste of it. He was very hungry.
"I wonder how I can get that cheese!" he said.
"I'll tell you how. Let me tie the end of this rope" - for the weasel had a rope all ready - "around your tail and tie the other end to this big stone. Then you can ump into the river and get the cheese. When you've got hold of it, call me, and I will pull you out."
The fox thought that was a good scheme, so he let the weasel tie the rope around his tail ind around the stone. Then the fox jumped into the river with a big splash. As soon as he did, the weasel threw the stone in after him, and if the rope had not slipped off of the fox's tail when it got wet, that could well have been the end of the fox.