A WISE man in the East had two pupils, to each of whom he gave, one night, a sum of money, and said, "What I have given you is very little; yet with it you must buy at once something that will fill this dark room."
One of them purchased much hay, and cramming it into the room, said, "Sir, I have filled the room."
"Yes," said the wise man, "now it is dark inside."
The other, with scarcely a third of the money, bought a candle. Lighting it said, "Sir, I have filled the hall."
"Yes." said the wise man, "with light and a subterfuge. To both of you: wisdom seeks good means to good ends."
A YOUNG lion, fond of applause, shunned the company of the lions, and sought that of vulgar and ignoble beasts. He passed all his time with asses. He presided at their meetings; he copied their airs and their manners in a word, he was an ass in everything except the ears. Elated with vanity, he betook himself to his father's retreat, to display his rare qualities there. He could not but have some that were very ridiculous. He brays, the lion starts.
"Puppy," said he to him, "this disagreeable noise shows what sort of company you have been keeping. Puppies always betray their stupidity."
"Why are you so severe?" asked the young lion. "Our assembly has always admired me."
"How ill-grounded your pride is," replied the father. "You may be sure that lions despise some of the things that asses admire."
A PEACOCK was near a barn, along with a goose and a turkey. They regarded the peacock with envious eyes, and made fun of his ridiculous pride. The peacock, conscious of his superior merit, despised their base envy, and shook out the beautiful plumage which dazzled them.
"Look at that conceited bird," said the turkey; "with what pride the creature struts along! Was there ever so conceited a bird? If intrinsic worth were regarded, turkeys have a skin whiter and fairer than this ugly peacock. And see what hideous legs and ugly claws the creature has! And what horrible cries he utters, fit to frighten the very owls."
"It is true," rejoined the peacock, "these are my defects; you may despise my legs and my voice, but critics like you rail in vain. Know that if my legs supported a goose or a turkey, no one would have noticed such defects in you."
Beauty and merit cause defects to be noticed. Envious people notice all kinds of faults, also imagined ones.
Two fools heard a drum sounding, and said to themselves, "There is someone inside it who makes the noise."
So, watching a moment when the drummer was out, they pierced a hole in each side of it, and pushed their hands in. Each felt the hand of the other within the drum, and exclaimed, "I have caught him!"
Then one said to the other, "Brother, the fellow seems to be a stubborn knave; come what will, we should not give in."
"Not an inch, brother," said the other.
So they kept pulling each other's hand, fancying it was the man in the drum. The drummer came up, and finding them in such an awkward plight, showed them with his fist who the man in the drum really was. But as his fine drum was ruined, he said, with a sigh, "Alas! Fools have fancies with a triple wing!"
A TAME elephant in the East was once taken to a forest by a party of men to catch wild elephants. A fox said to him, "What a shame that a beast of your size and strength should be led like a cat by men! If I were you, I should at once go back to my kindred."
The elephant thought the words of the fox reasonable, and stole into the forest where the wild elephants lived. They raised their trunks against him, saying, "There comes a traitor to betray us to man."
The elephant replied that he came back to live with them; but they drove him back with curses.
His keeper, seeing that he returned because his kindred had refused to admit him, bound him to a huge tree with chains, and with these words painted on his forehead: "A traitor to his kindred and to his keeper." As often as the wayfarers read these words, the elephant wailed aloud, saying, "The traitor who tries to mend, risks losing both foe and friend."
ONCE words ran high in a smithy.
The furnace said, "If I cease to burn, the smithy must be closed."
The bellows said, "If I cease to blow, no fire, no smithy."
Similarly the hammer and the anvil -each claimed to itself the sole credit of keeping up the smithy.
The ploughshare, that had been shaped by their joint efforts, said, "Gentlemen, it is not each that keeps the smithy, but all together. Cooperation and fair tact work well together."