ONCE a dozen pigs had to cross a stream. The oldest of the herd said, "When we have crossed the river, let us count whether all came over safely."
They crossed over to the other side; and the leading pig counted and found they were eleven. "How is this? Weren't we a dozen?"
"One of us could have drowned or been carried away by the stream," said the other pigs, "but which one?"
There was great alarm in the herd for a while. Someone who had been observing the scene from the opposite bank, laughed and told them, "Do not forget to count in the one who counts among you."
AN owl, puffed up with pride and vanity, was repeating his doleful cries at midnight from the hollow of an old oak. "How is it," he said, "that silence prevails in these woods, unless it be to allow my melodious voice to be heard with effect? Surely the groves are charmed with my voice! and when I sing, all nature listens."
An echo repeated the words, "All nature listens."
"The nightingale has usurped my rights," continued the owl; "his note is sweet it is true; but mine is much more melodious."
"Much more melodious," repeated the echo.
Excited by approval, the owl, at the rising of the sun, instead of going to sleep as usual, continued to join his horrible hooting with the matin songs of other birds. But they were disgusted by the sounds, and with one consent attacked the owl and drove him from their society, harassing him wherever he appeared, so that to escape from them he was glad to avoid the light and return to obscurity.
Vain people fancy that their imaginary perfections are the cause of admiration in others, and mistake their self-flattery for the voice of fame.
A WATCH-DOG in a village was barking all night to keep thieves off from his master's house. An ass, who observed this, thought that the dog amused himself by barking. So he brayed all night. When the day dawned, the owner of the ass thought the poor animal had been suffering from some disorder. Therefore he sent for the village doctor, and laid the case before him.
The doctor examined the animal closely, and said, "Friend, you must brand this ass forthwith, else he will soon go into fits and die."
The ass said, "I assure you nothing is wrong with me; I simply amused myself last night."
"Oh, no," said the inexorable leech; "I know what the wily brute means. He would rather die, and make you the loser, than be branded and recover his health."
So they bound the ass with ropes, and branded him all over with red-hot irons. Some time after the ass moved out to see how the village had fared during his illness. The dog asked why he had been branded. The ass narrated the story. Said the dog, "What is acceptable for one is not always so for another. Sound amusement is a matter of tact, but also a blossom of happiness. And it is no small mistake to think that inexorable ones are always just."
A TIGER, named Old Guile, who had grown weak with age, was lying under a tree, by the side of a lake, in quest of some animal off which he could make a meal.
A giraffe, named Tall Stripes, who came to the lake to quench his thirst, attracted his attention, and Old Guile addressed him as follows: "Oh, what a happy day! I see there the son of my old friend Yellow Haunch, who lived in the great forest near that distant mountain."
Tall Stripes was astonished to hear the words of Old Guile, and asked him how he, a tiger, was the friend of his father, a giraffe.
"I am not surprised at your question," replied Old Guile; "it is a truth known to very few indeed that the tiger and the giraffe belong to the same family. Just look at your skin and my own: yours is of a pale yellow colour mine is very nearly the same; you have stripes I have them, too. What more proofs do you want?"
Tall Stripes, who was extremely simple and guileless, believed these words, and said, "I am very happy to know that my father was your friend, and that we are of the same family. Can I do anything for you?"
Old Guile replied, "No, thank you; old as I am, I make it a point of relying on myself. Further, a great part of my time is spent in prayer and meditation; for I consider it necessary, at this age, to devote all my attention to spiritual things. It will, however, be a great gratification to me to have your company whenever you should chance to pass by this lake."
Tall Stripes acceded to this request, and was about to go on his way, when Old Guile observed, "My dear Tall Stripes, you are well aware of the instability of all earthly things. I am old and infirm, and who knows what may happen to me tomorrow. Perhaps I may not see you again; so let me do myself the pleasure of embracing you before you leave me for the present."
"Certainly," said Tall Stripes. Thereupon Old Guile rose up slowly from his seat, like one devoid of all energy, and embracing him, plunged his deadly teeth into his long neck, and stretching him on the ground, made a hearty breakfast on him.
Beware of the crafty professions of the wicked.
A STAG, named High Horn, went to a stream to quench his thirst. A tiger, named Long Leap, had been watching him from an adjacent bush. At the same time a monstrous crocodile, named Great Jaw, came to the edge of the water to seize the stag. High Horn had just finished drinking, when Long Leap darted at him, and Great Jaw drew near. But it so happened that Long Leap missed his prey and fell into the water, where Great Jaw caught him, and drew him down to the bottom of the stream. High Horn, who, a moment ago, had no idea of what the two animals had been planning, exclaimed with a beating heart, "The weak and the meek can hope to live if the wicked destroy each other like these."
A FOX, who had an eye on a peacock, was one day standing in a field with his face turned up to the sky.
"Reynard," said the peacock, "what have you been doing?"
"Oh, I have been counting the stars," said the fox.
"How many are they?" said the peacock.
"About as many as the fools on earth," said the fox.
"But which do you think is the greater, the number of the stars or of the fools?" said the peacock.
"If you put it so, I should say the fools are more by one," said the fox.
"Who is that one?" said the peacock.
"Why, my own silly self!" said the fox.
"How are you silly, Reynard?" said the peacock.
"Why, was it not foolish of me to count the stars in the sky, when I could have counted the stars in your brilliant plumage to better advantage!" said the fox.
"No, Reynard," said the peacock
"therein is not your folly although there
is neither wit nor wisdom in your prattle
but in the thought that your fine words
would make an easy prey of me!"
The fox quietly left the place, saying, "The knave that has been found out cannot have legs too quick!"