ONE day a fox seated himself on a stone by a stream and wept aloud. The crabs in the holes around came up to him and said, "Friend, why are you wailing so loud?"
"Alas!" said the fox, "I have been turned by my kindred out of the wood, and do not know what to do."
"Why were you turned out?" said the crabs, in a tone of pity.
"Because," said the fox, sobbing, "they said they should go out tonight hunting crabs by the stream, and I said it would be a pity to kill such pretty little creatures."
"Where will you go hereafter?" said the crabs.
"Where I can get work," said the fox; "for I would not go to my kindred again, come what would."
Then the crabs held a meeting, and came to the conclusion that, as the fox had been thrown out by his kindred on their account, they could do nothing better than engage his services to defend them. So they told the fox of their intention. He readily consented, and spent the whole day in amusing the crabs with all kinds of tricks.
Night came. The moon rose in full splendour. The fox said, "Have you ever been out for a walk in the moonlight?"
"Never, friend," said the crabs; "we are such little creatures that we are afraid of going far from our holes."
"Oh, never mind!" said the fox; "follow me! I can defend you against any foe."
So the crabs followed him with pleasure. On the way the fox told them all sorts of pleasant things, and cheered them on most heartily. Having thus gone some distance, they reached a plain, where the fox came to a stand, and made a low moan in the direction of an adjacent wood. Instantly a number of foxes came out of the wood and joined their kinsman, and all of them at once set about hunting the poor crabs, who fled in all directions for their lives, but were soon caught and devoured.
When the banquet was over, the foxes said to their friend, "How great your skill and cunning!"
The heartless villain replied, with a wink, "My friends, skills and slyness are both learnt - yes, there is cunning in cunning!"
ONCE there was a great assembly of the animals in a wood. The lion said, "Look, how great my valour! It is this that makes me king of the woods."
The fox said, "Look, how deep my cunning! It is this that feeds me so well."
The peacock said, "Look, how bright my feathers! It is this that makes me the wonder and admiration of the wood."
The elephant said, "Look, how long and powerful my tusks! there is nothing that can resist them."
A toad, who lived secure in the heart of a rock, close by, said, ""It is the lion's valour that leads him to the herds, and gets him killed by the hunters. "It is the fox's cunning that brings him to the furrier at last. "It is the plumes of the peacock that men covet; hence his ruin. The elephant is hunted for his tusks, and they are his bane. Your coveted fine sides shown can bring your ruin and death."
A WORM that was out in the sun, said, "I wish there was no sun at all. Of what use is he? If he did not shine, I would go far afield, and should be so glad."
A rook that heard this came near and said, "You are quite wrong; the sun is of great use. I should not now have known that you were here but for his light."
With these words he snatched him up in his bill and put him into his craw.
A sage, who saw this, said, "The worm lived but a short while; yet he would have no sun, though all the world wants it. "It's hard to deal with minds so low, that love of self is all they know."
A DOG was standing by the cottage of a peasant. A man who dealt in dogs passed by the way. The dog said, "Will you buy me?"
The man said, "Oh, you ugly little thing! I would not give a farthing for you!"
Then the dog went to the palace of the king and stood by the portal. The sentinel caressed it, and said, "You are a. charming little creature!"
Just then the dog-dealer came by. The dog said, "Will you buy me?"
"Oh," said the man, "you guard the palace of the king, who must have paid a high price for you. I cannot afford to pay the amount, else I would willingly take you.
"Ah!" said the dog, "how place and position affect people!"
THE beasts in a forest once proposed to entertain the lion, their king. They took care not to invite the fox, lest he should somehow mar the proceedings. The fox went to the lion with downcast eyes, and said, "Sire, I am sorry that your subjects have been planning your ruin. They mean to invite you to a feast, and murder you in the midst of the rejoicing. Well knowing that your humble servant is a faithful adherent of his sovereign, they have carefully excluded him from the party."
"How shall we outwit them?" said the lion.
"I request your majesty to accept the invitation," said the fox. "I shall watch unseen somewhere in the neighbourhood, and just as the traitors, under some pretext, advance to attempt your majesty's life, I will make a signal."
"So be it," said the lion.
The entertainment came off. The beasts were in high glee, and spared neither pains nor cost to please the king. There was dancing and music. The peacock danced and the cuckoo sang, and the whole wood resounded with sounds of merriment. The wolf and the hyena, as the chief among the officers of the king, went up to him with a great garland to be placed round his neck, after the fashion in the East on such occasions. The lion bent his neck to receive the present. Just then the fox gave a low howl. Instantly the lion sprang on the wolf and the hyena, and laid them low; the other animals took the hint and fled. The fox joined the lion and pursued them, shouting, "There go the traitors!"
"Alas!" said the beasts, "it is all the doing of that wily fox. We thought we were safe because we had kept him out, but it has been quite the other way. Never lose sight of a knave!"
THE beasts and the fishes once came to an agreement that they should exchange places for some time by way of variety. So the fish ranged over the plains, and the hawks, the kites, the vultures, and other animals soon made dreadful havoc with them.
Most of the beasts that got into the sea, not being able to breathe, soon died by myriads, or were devoured by the sea monsters. So the others with difficulty came to the shore and met the remaining fishes, who had just arrived from the interior of the country.
Said the fishes, "Oh, let us go back to our home, the sea!" and darted into the water.
Said the beasts, "Oh, let us go back to our home, the land!" and jumped ashore.
A sage, who had been witnessing the scene, said, "When will you change places again?"
"Never more! never more!" said both.
Said the sage, "Each does best in his own element."