eBooksRead.com books search new books
Aesop.

AEsop's fables online

. (page 4 of 11)
Online LibraryAesopAEsop's fables → online text (page 4 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook
of the country. Hence, she earnestly besought them to
help her in picking up and eating the hateful seed, before it
had time to spring from the ground. Food of a much nicer
kind was, however, then so plentiful, and it was so pleasant
to fly about and sing, thinking of nothing, that they paid
no attention to her entreaties. By and by the blades of the
flax appeared above the ground, and the anxiety of the
Swallow was renewed. " It is not yet too late," said she ;
"pull it all up, blade by blade, and you may then escape
the fate which is otherwise in store for you. You cannot,
like me, fly to other countries when danger threatens you
here." The little Birds, however, still took no notice of
the Swallow, except to consider her a very troublesome
person, whom silly fears had set beside herself. In the
course of time the flax grew, ripened, and was gathered,
spun, and made up into nets, as the Swallow had foretold.
Many a little Bird thought, in dying, of the Swallow they
held to be so crazy. The Swallow, in despair at their
thoughtless behaviour, has since preferred the society of
men to that of her feathered companions.



THE LARK AND HER YOUNG ONES.



89




THE LARK AND HER YOUNG ONES.

A LARK, who had Young Ones in a field of corn which was
almost ripe, was afraid lest the reapers should come before
her young brood were fledged. Every day, therefore, when
she flew away to look for food, she charged them to take
notice of what they heard in her absence, and to tell her of
it when she returned, One day when she was gone, they
heard the master of the field say to his son that the corn
seemed ripe enough to be cut, and tell him to go early to
morrow and desire their friends and neighbours to come
and help to reap it. When the old Lark came home, the
Little Ones fell quivering and chirping around her, and
told her what had happened, begging her to remove them
as fast as she could. The mother bade them to be easy,



12



go s SOP'S FABLES.



lt tor/' said she, " if he depends upon his friends and his
neighbours, I am sure the corn will not be reaped to
morrow." Next day she went out again, and left the same
orders as before. The owner .came, and waited. The sun
grew hot, but nothing was done, for not a soul came. " You
see," said he to his son, " these friends of ours are not to
be depended upon, so run off at once to your uncles and
cousins, and say I wish them to come betimes to-morrow
morning and help us to reap." This the Young Ones, in a
great fright, reported also to their mother. " Do not be
frightened, children/' said she ; " kindred and relations are
not always very forward in helping one another ; but keep
your ears open, and let me know what you hear to-morrow."
The owner came the next day, and, finding his relations
as backward as his neighbours, said to his son, " Now,
George, listen to me. Get a couple of good sickles ready
against to-morrow morning, for it seems we must reap the
corn by ourselves." The Young Ones told this to their
mother. " Then, my dears," said she, " it is time for us to
go indeed, for when a man undertakes to do his business
himself, it is not so likely that he will be disappointed."
She removed her Young Ones immediately, and the corn
was reaped the next day by the old man and his son.



THE GOATHERD AND THE SHE-GOAT.



THE GOATHERD AND THE SHE-GOAT.

A BOY, whose business it was to look after some Goats, as
night began to fall, gathered them together to lead them
home. One of the number, a She-Goat, alone refused to
obey his call, and stood on a ledge of a rock, nibbling the
herbage that grew there. The Boy lost all patience, and
taking up a great stone, threw it at the Goat with all his
force. The stone struck one of the horns of the Goat, and
broke it off at the middle. The Boy, terrified at what he
had done and fearing his master's anger, threw himself
upon his knees before the Goat, and begged her to say
nothing about the mishap, alleging that it was far from his
intention to aim the stone so well. " Tush ! " replied the
Goat. " Let my tongue be ever so silent, my horn is sure
to tell the tale."




92



MERCURY AND THE WOODMAN.

A MAN felling a. tree on the bank of a river, by chance
let his axe slip from his hand. It dropped into the water,
and sank to the bottom. In great distress at the loss of
his tool, he sat down on the bank and grieved bitterly.
Mercury appeared, and asked him what was the matter.
Having heard the Man's story, he dived to the bottom of
the river, and bringing up a golden axe, offered it to him.
The Woodman refused to take it, saying it was not his.
Mercury then dived a second time, and brought up a silver
one. This also the Man refused, saying that that, too, was
none of his. He dived a third time, and brought up the
axe that the Man had lost. This the poor Man took with
great joy and thankfulness. Mercury was so pleased with
his honesty, that he gave him the other two into the
bargain. The Woodman told this adventure to his mates,
and one of them at once set off for the river, and let his axe
fall in on purpose. He then began to lament his loss with
a loud voice. Mercury appeared, as before, and demanded
the cause of his grief. After hearing the Man's account, he
dived and brought up a golden axe, and asked him if that
was his. Transported at the sight of the precious metal,
the fellow eagerly answered that it was, and greedily
attempted to snatch it. The god, detecting his falsehood
and impudence, not only declined to give it to him, but
refused to let him have his own again.




MERCURY AND THE WOODMAN.



THE OXEN AND THE BUTCHERS. 95



THE LION AND THE FROG.

THE Lion hearing an odd kind of a hollow voice, and
seeing nobody, started up. He listened again ; the voice
continued, and he shook with fear. At last seeing a Frog
crawl out of the lake, and finding that the noise proceeded
from that little creature, he spurned it to pieces with his
feet.



THE OXEN AND THE BUTCHERS.

ONCE upon a time the Oxen took counsel together, and
resolved upon ridding the land of all the Butchers, who so
constantly led away the finest and fattest of their number
to perish by the axe and knife. They were on the point
of proceeding to carry out their plan, when a wise old Ox
prayed them to reconsider their intentions. " You may be
certain/' said he, " that men will not go without beef. If
then we kill the Butchers, who are already expert in their
trade, and who put us out of pain as quickly as possible, we
shall be hacked and hewed by others, who have yet to learn
the business " This sensible reasoning prevailed, and the
plan dropped to the ground.



96 sE SOPS FABLES.



THE SHEPHERD BOY AND THE WOLF.

A MISCHIEVOUS Lad, who was set to mind some Sheep,
used, in jest, to cry "The Wolf! the Wolf!'' When the
people at work in the neighbouring fields came running to
the spot, he would laugh at them for their pains. One day
the Wolf came in reality, and the Boy, this time, called
"The Wolf! the Wolf!" in earnest; but the men, having
been so often deceived, disregarded his cries, and the Sheep
were left at the mercy of the Wolf.



THE SERPENT AND THE MAN.

THE Child of a Cottager was at play in a field at the back
of his Father's house, and by chance trod upon a Snake,
which turned round and bit him. The Child died of the
bite, and the Father, pursuing the Snake, aimed a blow at
him, and cut off a piece of his tail. The Snake gained his
hole, and the next day the Man came and laid at the mouth
of the hole some honey, meal, and salt, and made offers of
peace, thinking to entice the Snake forth and kill him. " It
won't do," hissed out the Snake. " As long as I miss
my tail, and you your Child, there can be no good-will
between us."



THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE. 97




THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY

MOUSE.

A COUNTRY MOUSE, a plain, sensible sort of fellow, was
once visited by a former companion of his, who lived in a
neighbouring city. The Country Mouse put before his
friend some fine peas, some choice bacon, and a bit of rare
old Stilton, and called upon him to eat heartily of the good
cheer. The City Mouse nibbled a little here and there in a
dainty manner, wondering at the pleasure his host took in
such coarse and ordinary fare. In their after-dinner chat
the Town Mouse said to the Country Mouse, " Really, my
good friend, that you can keep in such spirits in this dismal,
dead-and-alive kind of place, surprises me altogether. You
see here no life, no gaiety, no society in short, but go on



98 /ESOPS FABLES.



and on, in a dull humdrum sort of way, from one year's end
to another. Come now, with me, this very night, and see
with your own eyes what a life I lead." The Country Mouse
consented, and as soon as it fell dark, off they started for the
city, where they arrived just as a splendid supper given by
the master of the house where our town friend lived was over
and the guests had departed. The City Mouse soon got
together a heap of dainties on a corner of the handsome
Turkey carpet. The Country Mouse, who had never even
heard the names of half the meats set before him, was
hesitating where he should begin, when the room-door
creaked, opened, and in entered a servant with a light. The
companions ran off, but everything soon being quiet again,
they returned to their repast, when once more the door
opened, and the son of the master of the house came in
\vith a great bounce, followed by his little Terrier, who
ran sniffing to the very spot where our friends had just
been. The City Mouse was by that time safe in his hole
which, by the way, he had not been thoughtful enough
to show to his friend, who could find no better shelter than
that afforded by a sofa, behind which he waited in fear
and trembling till quietness was again restored. The City
Mouse then called upon him to resume his supper, but the
Country Mouse said, "No, no ; I shall be off as fast as I
can. I would rather have a crust with peace and quietness,
than all your fine things in the midst of such alarms and
frights as these."




THE PEACOCK AND THE MAGPIE. 99



THE PEACOCK AND THE MAGPIE.

THE birds once met together to choose a king, and among
others the Peacock was a candidate. Spreading his showy
tail, and stalking up and down with affected grandeur, he
caught the eyes of the silly multitude by his brilliant
appearance, and was elected with acclamation. Just as they
were going to proclaim him, the Magpie stept forth into
the midst of the assembly, and thus addressed the new
king : " May it please your majesty elect to permit a humble
admirer to propose a question. As our king, we put our
lives and fortunes in your hands. If, therefore, the Eagle,
the Vulture, and the Kite, our unruly brethren, should in
the future, as they have in times past, make a descent upon
us, what means would you take for our defence ?" This
pithy question opened the eyes of the birds to the weakness
of their choice. They cancelled the election, and have ever
since regarded the Peacock as a vain pretender, and con
sidered the Magpie to be as good a speaker as any of their
number.




ioo sE SOP'S FABLES.



THE SOW AND THE WOLF.

A Sow had just farrowed, and lay in the sty with her whole
litter of pigs about her. A Wolf who longed for a little
one, but knew not how to come by it, endeavoured to
insinuate herself in the good opinion of the mother. " How
do you find yourself to-day, Mrs. Sow?" said she. " A
little fresh air would certainly do you great good. Now, do
go abroad and air yourself a little, and I will with pleasure
mind your young ones till you return." " Many thanks for
your offer," replied the Sow. " I know very well what kind
of care you would take of my little ones. If you really
wished to be as obliging as you pretend to be, you would
not show me your face again."



THE FOX AND THE GRAPES.

A HUNGRY Fox one day saw some tempting Grapes hang
ing at a good height from the ground. He made many
attempts to reach them, but all in vain. Tired out by
his failures, he walked off grumbling to -himself, " Nasty
sour things, I know you are, and not at all fit for a gentle
man's eating."




THE FOX AND THE GRAPES.



THE THRUSH AND THE SWALLOW. 103



THE HUSBANDMAN AND THE STORK.

A HUSBANDMAN set a net in his fields, to take the Cranes
and Geese which came to feed upon the newly-springing
corn. He took several, and with them a Stork, who pleaded
hard for his life, on the ground that he was neither a Goose
nor a Crane, but a poor, harmless Stork. " That may be
very true," replied the Husbandman ; " but as I have taken
you in bad company, you must expect to suffer the same
punishment."



THE THRUSH AND THE SWALLOW.

A YOUNG Thrush, who lived in an orchard, once became
acquainted with a Swallow. A friendship sprang up
between them, and the Swallow, after skimming the orchard
and the neighbouring meadow, would every now and then

come and visit the Thrush. The Thrush, hopping from

/

branch to branch, would welcome him with his most
cheerful note. "Oh, mother!" said he to his parent, one
day, " never had creature such a friend as I have in this
same Swallow." " Nor ever any mother," replied the parent
bird, " such a silly son as I have in this same Thrush.
Long before the approach of winter, your friend will have
left you, and while you sit shivering on a leafless bough,
he will be sporting under sunny skies hundreds of miles
away."



io4 s SOP'S FABLES.



THE FOWLER AND THE RING-DOVE.

A FOWLER, seeing a Ring-Dove among the branches of an
oak, put his piece to his shoulder and aimed at the bird.
Just then an Adder, on which unknowingly he had trodden,
bit him in the leg. Feeling the poison spreading in his
veins, he threw down his gun, and exclaimed, " Fate has
justly brought destruction on me while I was contriving the
death of another ! "



THE LION, AND THE ASSES AND HARES.

UPON the breaking out of a war between the birds and the
beasts, the Lion summoned all his subjects between the ages
of sixteen and sixty, to appear in arms at a certain time and
place, upon pain of his high displeasure. A number of
Hares and Asses made their appearance on the field.
Several of the commanders were for turning them off and
discharging them, as creatures utterly unfit for service.
" Do not be too hasty," said the Lion ; " the Asses will do
very well for trumpeters, and the Hares will make excellent
letter-carriers."



THE SENSIBLE Ass.



105




THE SENSIBLE ASS.

AN Old Fellow, in time of war, was allowing his Ass to
feed in a green meadow, when he was alarmed by a sudden
advance of the enemy. He tried every means in his power
to urge the Ass to fly, but in vain. "The enemy are
upon us," said he. " And what will the enemy do ?" asked
the Ass. " Will they put two pairs of panniers on my back,
instead of one?" " No," answered the Man, "there is no
fear of that." "Why then," replied the Ass, " I'll not stir
an inch. I am born to be a slave, and my greatest enemy
is he who gives me most to carry."



io6 s 'SOP'S FABLES.



THE WOLVES AND THE SHEEP.

THE Wolves and the Sheep once made a treaty of peace.
The Sheep were to give up their Dogs, and the Wolves
their young ones, as hostages or security for its due ob
servance. The young Wolves cried for their dams, and the
Wolves thereupon alleged that the peace had been broken,
and set upon the Sheep, who, deprived of their defenders
the Dogs, could make no resistance.



THE YOUNG MAN AND HIS CAT.

A YOUNG MAN became so fond of his Cat, that he made her
his constant companion, and used to declare that if she were
a woman he would marry her. Venus at length, seeing
how sincere was his affection, gratified his wishes, and
changed the Cat into a young and blooming woman. They
were accordingly married ; but at night, hearing a Mouse in
the room, the young bride sprang from the arms of her
husband, caught the Mouse, and killed it. , Venus, angry at
this behaviour, and seeing that under the form of a woman
there was still hidden the nature of a Cat, determined that
form and nature should no longer disagree, and changed
her back again to a Cat.



THE HART AND THE VINE, 107



THE MAN AND THE FOXES.

A MAN whose vines and orchards had suffered greatly from
the ravages of Foxes, one day caught one of these animals
in a trap. In a great rage he tied up the Fox's tail with
tow that had been steeped in turpentine, set a light to it,
and let him run. Mad with pain and fright, the Fox ran
through a large field in which, ripe for the harvest, stood
corn belonging to his tormentor. The corn caught fire,
and the flames, fanned by the wind, spread over the field
and laid it waste. The Man lamented bitterly that he had
not chosen some safer and less cruel means of revenge.



THE HART AND THE VINE.

A HART being hard pursued by the hunters, hid himself
under the broad leaves of a shady, spreading Vine. When
the hunters had gone by, and given him over for lost, he
thought himself quite secure, and began to crop and eat
the leaves of the Vine. The rustling of the branches drew
the eyes of the hunters that way, and they shot their arrows
there at a venture, and killed the Hart. In dying, he ad
mitted that he deserved his fate, for his ingratitude in
destroying the friend who had so kindly sheltered him in
time of danger.



io8



FABLES.



THE EAGLE AND THE CROW.

A CROW watched an Eagle swoop with a majestic air from
a neighbouring cliff upon a flock of Sheep, and carry away
a Lamb in his talons. The whole thing looked so graceful
and so easy withal, that the Crow at once proceeded to
imitate it, and pouncing upon the back of the largest and
fattest Ram he could see, he tried to make off with it. He
found not only that he could not move the Ram, but that
his claws got so entangled in the animal's fleece, that he
could not get away himself. He therefore became an easy
prey to the Shepherd, who, coming up at the time, caught
him, cut his wings, and gave him to his children for a
plaything.





THE EAGLE AND THE CROW.



THE HUSBANDMAN THAT LOST HIS MATTOCK. m



THE HUSBANDMAN THAT LOST HIS

MATTOCK.

A HUSBANDMAN, busily employed in trenching his vineyard,
laid down for awhile the Mattock he was using. When he
went to take it up again, it was gone. He called together
all his hired men, and asked them if they had seen the tool.
They all denied any knowledge of it ; and the Man, in a
great rage, said he knew that one of them must have taken
it, and, let it cost him what it might, he would find out the
thief. With that view he insisted upon their going with
him to the shrine of a famous oracle in a neighbouring city.
Arrived within the city gates, they stopped at the fountain
in the market-place, to bathe their feet. Just at that
moment the town-crier came up, and in a loud voice
announced that, the sacred shrine having been robbed last
night, he was told to offer a large reward to any one who
could discover the thief. Thereupon the Husbandman at
once called upon his men to turn their faces homewards.
" If this god," said he, " cannot tell who has robbed his
temple, the chances are that he knows as little who has
taken my Mattock."



112



s SOP'S FABLES.



THE GNAT AND THE BULL.

A STURDY Bull was driven by the heat of the weather
to wade up to his knees in a cool and swift-running
stream. He had not been long there when a Gnat, that
had been disporting itself in the air, pitched upon one of
his horns. " My dear fellow," said the Gnat, with as
great a buzz as he could manage, " pray excuse the
liberty I take. If I am too heavy, only say so, and I
will go at once and rest upon the poplar which grows
hard by at the edge of the stream." " Stay or go, it
makes no matter to me," replied the Bull. " Had it not
been for your buzz I should not even have known you
were there."




THE FOWLER AND THE BLACKBIRD.




THE FOWLER AND THE BLACKBIRD.

A FOWLER setting his nets in order, was curiously watched
by a Blackbird, who could not forbear coming and asking the
Man civilly what he was about. " I am making a nice little
town for such as you," answered the Fowler, " and putting
into it food and all manner of conveniencies." He then
departed and hid himself. The Blackbird believing his
words, came into the nets and was taken. " If this be your
faith and honesty," said he to the Man, " I hope your town
will have but few inhabitants."




ii4 s SOP'S FABLES.



THE TRUMPETER TAKEN PRISONER.

UPON the defeat of an army in battle, a Trumpeter was
taken prisoner. The soldiers were about to put him to
death, when he cried, " Nay, gentlemen, why should you
kill me? This hand of mine is guiltless of a single life."
" Yes," replied the soldiers ; " but with that braying instru
ment of yours you incite others, and you must share the
same fate as they."



THE ASS LADEN WITH SALT AND WITH

SPONGE.

A MAN drove his Ass to the sea-side, and having pur
chased there a load of Salt, proceeded on his way home.
In crossing a stream the Ass stumbled and fell. It was
some time before he regained his feet, and by that time
the Salt had all melted away, and he was delighted to
find that he had lost his burden. A little while after
that, the Ass, when laden with Sponges, had occasion to
cross the same stream. Remembering his former good-
luck, he stumbled this time on purpose., and was sur
prised to find that his load, so far from disappearing,
became many times heavier than before.



THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE.



THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE.

THE Hare, one day, laughing at the Tortoise for his
slowness and general unvvieldiness, was challenged by the
latter to run a race. The Hare, looking on the whole affair
as a great joke, consented, and the Fox was selected to act
as umpire, and hold the stakes. The rivals started, and
the Hare, of course, soon left the Tortoise far behind.
Having reached midway to the goal, she began to play
about, nibble the young herbage, and amuse herself in
many ways. The day being warm, she even thought she
would take a little nap in a shady spot, as, if the Tortoise
should pass her while she slept, she could easily overtake
him again before he reached the end. The Tortoise mean
while plodded on, unwavering and unresting, straight
towards the goal. The Hare, having overslept herself,
started up from her nap, and was surprised to find that the
Tortoise was nowhere in sight. Off she went at full speed,
but on reaching the winning-post,, found that the Tortoise
was already there, waiting for her arrival.




n6 sEsop's FABLES.



THE FOX AND THE BOAR.

A BOAR stood whetting his tusks against an old tree. A
Fox happened to pass by, and asked him what he meant by
such warlike preparation, there being, as far as he knew, no
enemy in sight. " That may be," answered the Boar ;
" but when the enemy is in sight it is time to think
about something else/'



THE SICK STAG.

A STAG, whose joints had become stiff with old age, was
at great pains to get together a large heap of fodder-
enough, as he thought, to last him for the remainder of
his days. He stretched himself out upon it, and, now
dozing, now nibbling, made up his mind to quietly wait
for the end. He had always been of a gay and lively
turn, and had made in his time many friends. These
now came in great numbers to see him, and wish him
farewell. While engaged in friendly talk over past
adventures and old times, what more natural than that
they should help themselves to a little of the food which
seemed so plentifully stored around ? The end of the
matter was, that the poor Stag died not so much of
sickness or of old a^e as for sheer want of the food

o

which his friends had eaten for him.




THE FOX AND THE BOAR.



THE HORSE AND THE LADEN Ass. 119



THE ASS EATING THISTLES.

AN Ass laden with very choice provisions, which he was
carrying in harvest-time to the field, for the entertainment
of his master and the reapers, stopped by the way to eat a
large and strong Thistle that grew by the roadside. " Many
people would wonder," said he, " that with such delicate
viands within reach, I do not touch them ; but to me this
bitter and prickly Thistle is more savoury and relishing than
anything else in the world."



THE HORSE AND THE LADEN ASS.

A FULL-FED, lazy Horse was travelling along in company
with a heavily-laden Ass, belonging to the same master.
The Ass, whose back was nearly breaking with his load,
besought the Horse, for the sake of common kindness, to
take a portion of it. The Horse, in his pride and ill-
nature, refused ; and the poor Ass, after staggering on a


1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryAesopAEsop's fables → online text (page 4 of 11)
Using the text of ebook AEsop's fables by Aesop active link like:
read the ebook AEsop's fables is obligatory.

Leave us your feedback | Links exchange | RSS feed 

Online library ebooksread.com © 2007-2014