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  1. The Horse and the Dog
  2. The Goat and the Ram
  3. Well Preserved

The Horse and the Dog

A dog and a horse served the same peasant. One day they began to discuss each other's merits.

"How grand we dogs are," said the dog. "But you - all you do is to plough and draw carts. I've never heard you do anything else. How can you compare with me? For I do not rest either by day or by night. In the daytime I watch the cattle in the meadows; by night I guard the house."

The horse: "Only remember that if it weren't for my ploughing, you wouldn't have anything at all to guard here."

(Adapted Krylov-fable in Ralston 1869.)


The Goat and the Ram

There once was a man and wife, and they had a goat and a ram. One day the man said to his wife: "Look here, let's get rid of the ram and the goat; why, they only keep eating our corn, and don't help to feed us at all!"

So he told them: "Be off, goat and ram, and don't show yourselves at my gate ever again."

The goat and the ram made themselves a bag, and went off. They went on and on, when suddenly they saw a wolf's head lying in the middle of the field. They picked up the head, put it in their bag, and went on again. They went on and on when suddenly they saw a fire burning. They said: "Let's go and spend the night there, so that the wolves won't find and eat us."

But when they got there, lo and behold! it was the wolves themselves! They were cooking porridge.

The goat and the ram said: "Good evening, young fellows, and good appetite to you!"

The wolves answered: "Good evening, goat and Ram! We're just boiling our porridge. Come and have some, and then we'll eat you both up."

At this the goat took fright, while as for the ram, his legs had been shaking with fear for some time. Then the goat began to think - he thought and thought, and at last he said:

"Come now, ram, let's have a look at that wolf's head you've got in your sack!"

The ram took out the wolf's head when the goat said: "No, not that one. Let's have the other bigger one!"

The ram put the head into the sack and took it up again. But the goat said: "No, not that one either! Let's have the largest of all!"

The wolves looked and thought the ram had a whole sackful of wolves' heads. Each said to himself: "Well, these are not nice guests to have! I'd better hop off!"

First one said aloud to the others: "Somehow the porridge doesn't seem to be boiling very well. I'll just run and fetch some sticks to throw on the fire."

He went off and never came back.

Then the second wolf kept thinking how he could get away, and said: "It seems very funny, our brother went to fetch the wood, but he hasn't come back yet. I'll just go and help him!"

So off he went off, and did not come back.

The third wolf was left sitting there. At last he said: "I'll just go and hurry them up. What are they doing all this time?"

As soon as he was out of sight, he set off running and never so much as looked back.

The ram and goat were delighted that the wolves were gone. They ate up all the porridge and then ran away themselves.

Meanwhile the three wolves had met again, and said to each other: "Look here, why were we three frightened of the goat and the ram? They're no stronger than us, after all! Let's go and do them in!"

But when they came back to the fire, there was not a trace of the ram and goat left. The wolves set off in pursuit, and at last saw them. The goat and ram had climbed up a tree, the goat on an upper and the ram on a lower branch. So the eldest wolf lay down under the tree and began to show his teeth, looking up at them, waiting for them to climb down.

The ram, who was trembling all over from fright, suddenly fell down right on top of the wolf. At the same minute the goat shouted out from up above: "There, that's the one! Get me the largest of all!"

The wolf was terrified, because he thought the ram had jumped down after him. You should just have seen him run! And the other two wolves followed after.

(Carrick and Forbes 1920)


Well Preserved

A certain housewife had a young servant lad who devoured everything eatable that lay in his way. He would rummage in the storeroom until he smelled out something good, and would give himself no rest until he had devoured it all.

Now, the woman had a jar of preserved fruit, and, as she feared that the youngster would eat it and leave her nothing to put into her pies, she said to him:

"My good boy, you have now eaten everything that I have except this jam, and you have left this just as if you knew that it was poisoned. See how kind Heaven is to have preserved you from it. One single spoonful is enough to kill one instantly, so I warn you not to touch it unless you want to die."

"Very well," answered the boy.

On the next Sunday, as the woman was getting ready to go to mass, she said to the boy: "Cook the soup and boil the meat and roast this duck; we will have a good dinner today. See that you have all done and ready when I come home."

"Very well," answered the boy.

When the woman was gone he cooked the soup and boiled the meat, and then he put the duck upon the spit to roast. When he saw what a delicious brown crisp was forming all over the duck, he thought, "It can roast itself another one," and ate the crisp all off. He turned the spit and turned it, but a second brown crisp never came.

When he saw this, he thought: "When the mistress comes home she will pepper me well," and he began to consider how he could escape it. In his desperation he remembered the jar of poison against which his mistress had warned him the day before. With a sudden resolution he went into the storeroom and devoured the whole jarful of preserved fruit, and then crouched down in a corner to wait for death.

Soon his mistress came home and cried out angrily: "What have you done to this duck?" He cried: "Oh, leave me in peace, dear mistress! I shall die in a little while anyway, for I have eaten up all the poison!"

At this the woman broke out into a laugh and could not refuse to forgive him. The duck and the preserves, however, were gone all the same.

("Young Neverfull", in Wiggin and Smith 1908, 44-46. Retold)


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