A RAM once said in sport to the ewe and her lamb that if he chose he could meet them in the guise of a wolf in broad daylight. A wolf that had been lurking in a neighbouring bush heard this.
Next day, while the sheep were grazing on the plain, the ram strayed to some distance from the sheep and the lamb. The wolf came by another route, and, presenting himself before them, said, "Now you see I am true to my word. I have just taken the guise of a wolf; if you would only go with me to the mountain over there, I can show you more wonders."
They believed his words, and were about to follow him, when the ram came up just in time to point out the mistake. The wolf beat a hasty retreat into the woods.
The ram said to the ewe, "I am indeed sorry for your stupidity. "It's a strange sheep that hails in a wolf's guise!"
A PIECE of rag, which had somehow got into a king's wardrobe, said to a ribbon on the person of a valet, "What do you think I am?''
"To be sure," said the ribbon, "a piece of rag torn from some old garment."
"I am nothing of the kind," said the rag; "I am a rare ribbon of the cut and colour I am; and the king is proud of having me in his wardrobe."
"What do you think I am?" said the ribbon.
"To be sure," said the other, "a piece of rag torn from some old garment to suit the fancy of the servant who wears you."
"Alas!" cried the rag, "Place hides pedigree."
A KING in the East said to his minister, "Do you believe in luck?"
"Yes," said the minister.
"Can you prove it?" said the king.
"Yes, I can," said the minister.
So one night he tied up to the ceiling of a room a parcel containing peas mixed with diamonds, and let in two men: One of them believed in luck and the other in human effort alone. The former quietly laid himself down on the ground; the latter after a series of efforts reached the parcel, and felt in the dark the peas and the stones. He ate the peas one by one, and threw down the hard, uneatable things at his companion, saying, "Here are pebbles for your idleness." The man below received them in his blanket.
In the morning the king and the minister came to the room and bade each take to himself what he had got. The man of effort found he had nothing beyond the peas he had eaten. The man of luck quietly walked away with the diamonds.
The minister said to the king, "Sire, there is such a thing as luck; but it is as rare as peas mixed with diamonds. So I would say, 'To live for long only by luck can be awfully hard to do'."
A MAN tied his horse to a tree and went into an inn. A thief hid the horse in a wood, and stood near the tree as if he had not done it.
"Did you see my horse?" said the man.
"Yes," said the thief, "I saw the tree eat up your horse."
"How could the tree eat up my horse?" said the man.
"Why, it did so," said the thief.
The two went to a fox and told him of the case. The fox said, "I am dull. All last night the sea was on fire; I had to throw a great deal of hay into it to quench the flames; so come tomorrow, and I shall hear your case."
"Oh, you lie," said the thief; "how could the sea burn? how could hay quench the flames?"
"Oh, you lie," said the fox, with a loud laugh; "how could a tree eat up a horse?"
The thief saw his lie had no legs, and gave the man his horse.
A SNAKE said to a parrot, "Ah! I really envy you your life; how people fondle you! Why, everybody calls you a pet!"
"Yes," said the parrot, "if you will be as good and kind to people as I am, and try to amuse them as I do, they will treat you also as a pet."
"I will try," said the snake; and, creeping to a farmer's door, hissed aloud, as much as to say, "I do not wish to be wicked like other snakes. I wish to be kind and good to you, and amuse you like the parrot."
But the farmer killed the reptile at a stroke, saying, ""It is quite out of the way, this, for a snake to say!"
Goodness in the wicked may not be fully credited.
A WOODMAN entered a wood with his axe on his shoulder. The trees were alarmed, and addressed him thus: "Ah, sir, will you not let us live happily some little time longer?"
"Yes," said the woodman, "I am quite willing to do so; but as often as I see this axe, I am tempted to come to the wood, and do my work in it. So I am not so much to blame as this axe."
"We know," said the trees, "that the handle of the axe, which is a piece of the branch of a tree in this very wood, is more to blame than the iron; for it is that which helps you to destroy its kindred."
"You are quite right," said the woodman; "there is no foe so bitter as a renegade'."