AN elephant named Grand Tusk and an ape named Nimble were friends.
Grand Tusk observed, "Behold, how big and powerful I am!"
Nimble cried in reply, "Behold, how agile and entertaining I am!"
Each was eager to know which was really superior to the other, and which quality was the most esteemed by the wise.
So they went to Dark Sage, an owl that lived in an old tower, to have their claims discussed and settled.
Dark Sage said, "You must do as I bid, that I may form an opinion."
"Agreed!" cried both.
"Then," said Dark Sage, "cross that river over there, and bring me the mangoes on the great tree beyond."
Off went Grand Tusk and Nimble, but when they came to the stream, which was flowing full, Nimble held back; but Grand Tusk took him up on his back, and swam across in a very short time. Then they came to the mango-tree, but it was very lofty and thick. Grand Tusk could neither touch the fruit with his trunk, nor could he break the tree down to gather the fruit. Up sprang Nimble, and in a trice let drop a whole basketful of rich ripe mangoes. Grand Tusk gathered the fruit up into his capacious mouth, and the two friends crossed the stream as before.
"Now," said Dark Sage, "which of you is the better? Grand Tusk crossed the stream, and Nimble gathered the fruit. Each thing in its place is best."
A RAVEN had her nest on a tree; at the foot of the tree a serpent had its hole. The serpent went up the tree, and ate up the young birds in the raven's nest.
The raven said, "I am indeed very sorry that you have had to eat up my dear little ones for want of food. Should you be so good as to keep to your hole and leave my nest unmolested, I would give you every day a portion of the meal I get for myself."
The serpent, extremely irritated at this, replied, "You black, dirty thing that feeds on carrion, I would rather eat up your young ones and yourself than touch anything that you may fetch me."
The raven flew off to the palace, and taking up one of the bracelets of the queen, dropped it into the hole of the serpent. The servants of the royal household followed the bird, and clug into the hole to recover the bracelet. The serpent rushed out hissing at them, and was killed in a moment.
The wicked often fail to appreciate kindness in others, and compel them to work their ruin.
A WASP, named Pin Tail, was long in quest of some deed that would make him for ever famous. So one day he went into the king's palace, and stung the little prince, who was in bed. The prince awoke with loud cries. The king and his courtiers rushed in to see what had happened. The prince was yelling, and the wasp was stinging him again and again.
The king tried to catch him, and was stung; each of his courtiers tried in his turn to catch him, and was stung. Then the whole royal household rushed in, the news soon spread into the city, and the people flocked round the palace.
After much ado, the wasp was caught and flung on the ground, where he was severely hurt. He tried, however, to hol'd hard to a nook in the chamber, till the evening, when the servants that came to make the prince's bed said to one another, "The noise in the city has not yet ceased. They are still proclaiming with trumpet and drum the great event in the palace today."
"Yes," said one of the servants, "I hear their words clearly."
"What do they say?" said another.
"Why," said the former, "they say, a wasp named Pin Tail entered the palace, in spite of the guards, who watched at every gate, and stung the prince, the king, and his courtiers."
"The whole city," said his comrade, "is still in an uproar all business suspended. Everybody is crying, 'Pin Tail, Pin Tail.' Never did such an event happen before!"
The wasp, which was about to die, heard these words, and expired exclaiming "So, after all, Pin Tail has done something which never happened before! That is gratifying! A name without fame is like fire without flame - for some like to attract notice at any cost."
A KING, who was to choose a prime minister, had a person in view. The queen recommended a near relation, not qualified for the place. The king sent for both, and said, "What shall we do to one that spurns the king?"
The queen's man said, "There can be no greater crime than that: the person should have his feet cut off."
The king's man said, "A pair of shoes set with priceless gems should adorn the feet."
"How so?" said the impatient queen.
"May it please your majesty," said the statesman, "dare any touch the king with his feet other than the little prince that lies in your majesty's arms?"
The queen made no further objection to his appointment, saying, "Ah, statesmen have to see and to see through."
A TIGER named Blind Fury became the king of a forest. He made a law that every day an animal should appease his hunger by falling a prey to him. At this rate, in the course of a few months, a great number of animals had been eaten up; the beasts that remained held a council.
A hare among them, named Tiny Trick, observed, "I have a stratagem whereby I can get rid of Blind Fury, if you would let me take my chance with him tomorrow."
They agreed. The usual breakfast hour of Blind Fury was nine; but Tiny Trick trudged on, and came to him at twelve.
"Hullo! you impudent little wretch! what keeps you so long from our presence?" said Blind Fury.
"May it please your majesty," said Tiny Trick, "in a well by the road I have travelled there is another king like your majesty. He said I should not go without appeasing his hunger. It was with difficulty I could obtain permission of him to see your majesty for a moment and return."
"Lead the way to the well," said Blind Fury.
"Yes, your majesty," said Tiny Trick.
When Blind Fury came to the well he found his own shadow reflected in it, and, fancying that it was another tiger, a rival, leapt into it and was drowned. The beasts of the forest praised Tiny Trick as the saviour of the state.
It happens that little folks do great things for the public good.
Two men, one of whom was considered lucky, and the other unlucky, went out fishing in the sea. A storm arose, and upset their frail craft. They swam for their lives; but, as the shore was far, and the sea rough, they gave up all hope of seeing land again.
The man who believed himself specially unlucky said to the other, "But for me, you would be safe; it is my ill-luck that has raised the tempest."
While the other was endeavouring to reply, he felt a rock under the water, and stood on it, as if in water knee-deep, and soon gave a helping hand to his companion. "Behold," said the latter, "to the lucky man the sea is knee-deep."