A MAID in the East used to say, "Society is like a dish."
A wise man once heard these words, and said, "Fair maid, what do you mean?"
"Sir," said the maid, "if you wish to know what I mean, you must have dinner with me."
"Agreed," said the wise man.
The maid laid before the wise man plates of salt, pepper, fish, and other articles, each by itself. He could eat of none of these. Last of all, the maid brought a dish of curried fish, and the sage had his dinner.
"But where is the meaning of your saying?" said the sage.
"I have explained it," said the maid.
"I don't see it," said the sage.
"Why," said the maid, "you would not eat the salt, the pepper, the fish, each by itself; but when they came together, you had your dinner."
"You are quite right, fair maid," said the philosopher; "the salt is the witty man, the pepper the tart man, the fish the dull man, and, all together, make the one social man. There is philosophy in a kitchen."
A MAN in the East, where they do not require as much clothing as in colder climates, gave up all worldly concerns and retired to a wood, where he built a hut and lived in it.
His only clothing was a piece of cloth which he wore round his waist. But, as ill luck would have it, rats were plentiful in the wood, so he had to keep a cat. The cat required milk to keep it, so a cow had to be kept. The cow required tending, so a cowboy was employed. The boy required a house to live in, so a house was built for him. To look after the house, a maid had to be engaged. To provide company for the maid, a few more houses had to be built, and people invited to live in them. In this manner a little township sprang up.
The man said, "The world and its cares is far from easy to get rid of."
A KING in the East had, on a lawn in his park, a great number of deer, all remarkable for their graceful appearance. A fox that had long had an eye on one of the fawns, said to the animals in the wood, "I have to go on a mission of importance to the king's park; but if I go in my own form, they will kill me. May I have the guise of anyone of you that I may find it necessary to borrow?"
"Certainly," said the animals.
So the fox tried various forms, but failed in all. He sat brooding over his bad luck.
The wolf said, "Did not my form serve your purpose?"
"If I had gone in my own," said the fox, "I should have fared better."
Thus, after a great many animals had questioned him, and received some reply or other, the dove came up and said, "Surely with my guise it must have been otherwise?"
"Alas!" said the fox, "when I put on your guise, all thoughts of murder fled from my mind!"
The animals with one voice exclaimed, "A weak mind is easily influenced by fine feathers and costly garbs."
A LION was eating up one after another the animals of a certain country. One day an old goat said, "We must put a stop to this. I have a plan by which he may be sent away from this part of the country."
"Do act up to it at once," said the other animals.
The old goat laid himself down in a cave on the roadside, with his flowing beard and long curved horns. The lion on his way to the village saw him, and stopped at the mouth of the cave.
"So you have come, after all," said the goat.
"What do you mean?" said the lion.
"Why, I have long been lying in this cave. I have eaten up one hundred elephants, a hundred tigers, a thousand wolves, and ninety-nine lions. One more lion has been wanting. I have waited long and patiently. Heaven has, after all, been kind to me," said the goat, and shook his horns and his beard, and made a start as if he were about to spring on the lion.
The latter said to himself, "This animal looks like a goat, but it does not talk like one. So it is very likely some wicked spirit in this shape. Prudence often serves us better than valour, so for the present I shall return to the wood," and he turned back.
The goat rose up, and, advancing to the mouth of the cave, said, "Will you come back tomorrow?"
"Never again," said the lion.
"Do you think I shall be able to see you, at least, in the wood tomorrow?"
"Neither in the wood, nor in this neighbourhood any more," said the lion, and running to the forest, soon left it with his kindred.
The animals in the country, not hearing him roar any more, gathered round the goat, and said, "Some credulous ones get ridiculed by outright bluffs."
THERE lived in the East a great sage who had the power of teaching any animal the tones of any other animal on earth. One day a great many animals went to him and received lessons.
Soon afterwards the fox presented himself before the poultry-yard, and crowed like Chanticleer. Chanticleer thought that some rival had come near; so he went out to meet him. The fox got in by another way, and carried off as many of his hens and chicks as he could take.
The wolf went to the fold at night, and, bleating like a sheep, drew away from the flock a number of lambs, and made a hearty meal on them.
Then the kite, chirping merrily, tapped at the door of the sparrow's nest. The little sparrows cried, "Oh, mamma has just returned with something nice for breakfast!" and opened the door. The kite made his breakfast on them.
Thus every animal began to imitate the tones of some other, and do as much harm as possible. So they all went to the sage and told him of the result of their labours. "Ah," said the sage, "I thought as much. You shall not have the power any more. They that would abuse knowledge or power, should not get it."
A DESPOT in the East once said to his fawning courtiers, "He that goes round my kingdom in the shortest possible time shall have one of these two gems."
A courtier went round the king, and said, "Sire, may I have the prize?"
"How so?" said the king.
"Why, you are the kingdom, are you not?" said the courtier.
The despot was so well pleased with the courtier that he gave him both the gems.
The other courtiers said, in a whisper, "Flatterers prey on fools."