Mrs. (Sophie Amelia) Prosser.

Fables for the young folks online

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then you have a warm hearth and a comfortable
meal to look to."

" You wouldn't change with me, however," said the

" No ; nor you with me, if you knew all," said the
squirrel. " Be content, like me, to take together the
rough and the smooth of your proper lot. When
I'm starving with cold in the winter, I shall be glad
to think of you by your pleasant fire. Can't you
find it in your heart to be glad now of my sunshine ?
Our lots are more equal than they seem."


" DEAR friend ! " cried the Willow, as she bent over
the stream, and gazed on her graceful form reflected
on the glassy surface, " how tender and how true
I you are ! I have not a single charm that is not mir-
rored on your faithful bosom." And, as the breeze
played gently among her branches, they bent to the
stream, and kissed the placid waters.


Summer passed, and winter ; summer and winter ;
and the Willow grew old. Its leaves were few and
its branches withered.

" How changed you are ! " she cried peevishly to
the stream. " Once I never looked on you but to
rejoice, for all you showed me was pleasant and full
of praise. Now, when I try to bend to catch a
glimpse, I turn away sad and sorrowful ; for what do
you bring before me ? Not verdure, not symmetry,
not grace ; but bareness, deformity, and decay. You
are greatly changed ! "

" Foolish Willow ! " answered the stream, " I am too
true^ that is my fault. There is a change, but it is
not in me ; but you are not the only one that looks
coldly on the truth when it offends the liking."



a COME close to the hedge, Teddy," said a worn-out
horse to his friend the donkey, with whom he was
picking up a scanty meal by the roadside.

" Why ? " asked Teddy, following with his meas-
ured pace.

K Look who's coming ! " said the horse. And there
passed a well-conditioned cob drawing a cart full of

" How nice they smell ! " said Teddy. " I should
think they must be very good ; but I never tasted

" I used to get them in my better days," said his
companion, sorrowfully ; " but I can never hope for
them again."

" He's a happy fellow, isn't he ? " said Teddy, turn-
ing his head slowly round to watch the cart going up
the hill.

" Some are born to prosperity, some to adversity,"
sighed the old horse. And he went on to entertain
the donkey with his recollections of the taste of


beans, and to draw comparisons between their condi-
tion and that of the happy cob.

Some hours afterwards, while they were yet in the
road, the cart returned empty ; and, while the driver
stopped to chat with a friend passing by, the horse
walked up to the cob.

"Good evening, sir. Pray, what have you done
with all your beans?"

" Left them behind," said the cob.

" Well, you're in very different circumstances from
what you were when you passed us this morning,"
said the old horse.

" How so ? " asked the cob.

" Can you ask ? " said the horse. " Were you not
drawing after you a burden of rich delicacies that
scented the air as you passed?"

" True, I was," replied the cob, " but not for my
own benefit. The most that I have to do with beans
is to carry them for the use of others : it is seldom T
get a taste myself."

"Ah," said Teddy to the old horse, as the cob's
master drove him off at a smart trot, " how little we


know of the truth of things ! I have often envied
my cousin Jack, that draws a cart full of delicious
vegetables along this road every Saturday; but I
shouldn't wonder if he would tell the same story.
No one can eat more than enough ; and, although it
looks fine to have so much substance tacked to you,
I dare say in most cases where we see it others get
more good from it than he to whom it seems to be-

So he buried his nose contentedly in a bunch of
nettles; while the old horse stood yet in a melan-
choly attitude, trying to catch the last whiff of his
lamented beans, of which even the empty cart had
left a grateful odor.



" WHAT are the bells ringing for ? " said the young
colt, standing with his ears pricked up, staring eyes,
and distended nostrils, and his mane and tail flying
about in great agitation. "Mother, what are the
bells ringing for?"

" How should I know ? " said the mare.

But the colt took a gallop half round the field,
and strained his neck to look over the fence into the
road, where a cart was loading with soil.

" Can you tell me what the bells are ringing for ? "
he said to the fore-horse, whose nose was in his bag,
from which he did not raise it to give any answer.

" Rude ! " said the colt, and applied to the one be-
hind him.

But the one behind was very deaf, and looked
sleepily on the ground.

Away went the colt to another part of the fence,
and saw a team coming.

"Do you know," he asked breathlessly of the
whole party at once, " why the bells are ringing ? "


Supposing that he meant the bells on their collars,
they merely shook them a little more by way of an-
swer, and passed on.

" What insufferably dull animals ! " said the colt,
and galloped off harder than ever, till he came to
the hedge that separated the meadow he was in from
the vicar's orchard, in which the vicar's horse was

" Now I shall have it," thought he. " This is none
of your stupid, low-bred creatures, but high-born and
well-mannered, and sure to know all about it."

" Pray, sir, may I trouble you to inform me," he
said, with much excitement, " why the bells ring ? "

The vicar's horse with great gravity lifted up his
head, and said, " Do you particularly wish to know ? "

" I do, indeed," said the colt.

"You won't mention it to anybody?" said the

" Certainly not," said the colt eagerly.

" Well, then, it's because the men pull the ropes."

"But," said the colt, rather staggered at this,
"may I ask, sir, why they pull the ropes?"


" Ah," said the horse, " now you go beyond me !
I've told you all I know, and what's enough for me
might be enough for you. If you'll take my advice,
as a rule, never trouble your head about things that
don't concern you. You'll save yourself an immense
deal of trouble, and your friends too." '


A BRANCH, broken from the tree by the tempest,
rode on the rapid current of the swollen stream.

" See how I lead the waters ! " he cried to the
banks. " See how I command and carry the stream
with me ! " he cried again.

A jutting rocky ridge, over which the torrent
dashed, caught the branch, and kept it shattered and
imprisoned while the waters flowed on and on.

"AlasJ" cried the branch, "how can you hold me
thus? Who will govern the stream? How will it
prosper without my guidance?"


" Ask the banks," said the rocky ledge. And the
banks answered,

" Many, like you, have been carried by the stream,
fancying that they carried it. And, as to the loss
you will be to the waters, don't be uneasy. You are
already forgotten, as those are who came before you,
and as those will soon be who may follow."


THE ore lay in the goldsmith's shop, rude and un-
refined. How the costly vessels, pure and polished,
glittered before it !

" Ah, that I were such as you ! " cried the ore. " I
am gold, even as you are ; but where is my beauty ?
where is my glory ? "

" Wait awhile," said the shining vessels : " your
time will come. But, if you would really be as we
are, a lot to which you are destined, remember
not to flinch from the process that awaits you."

So the ore was cast into the furnace, and it
mourned and bewailed the fierceness of the flame.


"You were not satisfied when buried in natural
dross : you are not satisfied now, while being forced
to part from it," said the shining vessels. " But
when you come forth from that furnace, without
blemish, ready to be wrought into a king's crown,
and take your place by us, you will forget the flame
that scorched and purified you, and love the refiner,
who loved you too well to keep you in the furnace
one moment less than was necessary."


" DON'T," said the pony to the flies ; and he shook
his head and lashed his tail about, and away they all '

" Don't, I say," he cried again, moving to another
place, where he hoped he should lose them. And so
he did for a minute or two, but no longer. There
they were, in his eyes, on his nose, at his ears, and
all over him.

If he could have eaten them all he would, or


kicked them into the next county he would, or gal-
loped them out of the world he would ; but there
was no doing any thing with them. As he moved,
they moved ; and, every time he attempted to graze,
they settled themselves on him, or buzzed in a cloud
round his head as regularly as if they had come by

" Oh, dear ! " he sighed at last, " what is to be
done? I can bear my master's whip and spur; I
can stand being half-worked to death over the coun-
try, and with the heavy cart, those are evils I
make up my mind to ; and if that yelping cur comes
behind me I can give him a reception that sends him
flying; but as to these torments, contemptible as
they are, too small to be met effectually, I verily
believe they'll be the death of me ! "

Ah ! so is it in human life as in pony life. Great
trials can be often borne, when petty annoyances, by
their number and pertinacity, vex and wear the soul.



"A NICE pass we're come to!" exclaimed a bundle
of brushwood to some fine tree-tops that were lying
ready to be carted for fire-wood. The tree-tops quiv-
ered their fading leaves with contemptuous indigna-
tion, but did not deign a reply.

" Those were the days," said the brushwood again,
" when we were so gay and green. You gave a fine
shade then ; and as for us, my friends the thorns,
black and white, made the hedges like a garden, and
the bright gold blossoms of us furze -bushes were
something to see. Ah, those were the days! but
we must make the best of it. They've had us in our
summer pride, and now they have got to admire us
in a blaze, as they sit round their fires."

More and more the leaves of the tree-tops quiv-
ered ; and an ash, in pity to both parties, thus tried
first to silenceythe low-born loquacious furze :

" Friends, our union in fate should make us one in
sympathy. You, like ourselves, have rejoiced in life
and freedom, like us you are condemned to the


flames ; but as our beauty and dignity in life differed,
so will differ the last scenes of our existence. You
will but crackle under a pot, while we shall sustain a
clear and steady flame."

Then, addressing his unduly sensitive companions,
he added, "Nevertheless forget not that of both of
us only ashes will remain ! "


" WHAT have they brought in ? " asked the old cat
of Tip, the worn-out terrier, who had just been hi
the yard to see the game-bags emptied.

Tip, not observing Forest and Bluff, two setters,
following him, took his favorite place before the
kitchen-fire, and, stretching out his fore-legs, laid his
nose on his paws, and said, contemptuously, " Miser-
able sport, hardly worth going out forj"

" Such large bags as we used to bring in ! " he con-
tinued: "that was something like sport. Thought
nothing of a dozen hares and rabbits, scores of


'em, and pheasants, till we were fairly tired of
picking 'em up."

" Ah ! " said the cat, who was nearly blind, and
almost asleep, " our days were different from these.
I was telling the gray kitten's mother yesterday,
that, before I was of her age, I had caught as many
rats as she had mice."

But Tip was not interested in the degeneracy of
breeds in cats. He went on still more oratorically
on the lamentable change that had taken place
among dogs, and describing his own prowess in his
day. Forest and Bluff listened quietly.

"Do but hear him," at last Bluff said: "now,
wouldn't you believe he thinks there is not a dog
left worth following a gun?"

" Perhaps, Mr. Tip," said Forest, " you carried off
so much game in your time, that you thinned the
country, and left none for us."

Tip looked disconcerted at this discovery of hav-
ing had more auditors of his boast than he had reck-
oned on, and, dropping his eyelids, pretended to be


".Never heed him ! " said Bluff with a sly glance,
for he knew he was shamming : " it's a way old dogs
have got of fancying there must be an end of good
sport now they are past it. They see double all the
success they ever had, and quite forget that they
missed at any time. Poor old dog! we must mind
and not make the. same mistake, Forest, when we are
in Tip's condition."

Whether it was the fire that was too hot, or the
reflections of his two reprovers, somehow Tip found
it more pleasant to change his place ; and it was ob-
served that, after that time, he looked modest when
the bags were emptied, and was silent about the
" doings of his day."




PADDLE, my lady's lap-dog, and Tom, her favorite
cat, had long entertained feelings of jealousy and
envy toward each other ; but at last they made it
up, and agreed to be friends. Instead of snapping
at Tom to make him go farther from the fire, that
he might have the very front, Paddle would merely
nudge him gently along, looking amiably at him at


the same time ; and Tom, though he wouldn't give
way an inch further than he was obliged, made no
warlike demonstrations, such as putting up his back
and swelling his tail.

"I think, dear friend," said Paddle one day (not
being yet quite satisfied with the deference paid to
him by his companion), " we fail in showing the real-
ity of our regard for each other in one respect."

"What is that?" asked Tom.

"We are not candid with each other as to our
mutual faults. Don't you think it would greatly
improve us both if we acted the part of honest re-
provers to each other?"

" I don't know but what it might," said Tom.

"Be assured of it," said Paddle; "and, that we
may no longer neglect one of the most sacred duties
of friendship, let us begin this very day."

" With all my heart," said Tom ; " and, that being
the case, do you know I've often thought that when

" Hush ! " said Paddle : " every thing in order.
You know, dear, I am older than you. I may say I


remember you a kitten ; so let me give you the ben-
efit of my observations first."

Very well," said Tom : " I'm ready."

"Well, then. First, dear," said Paddle, "you are
too fond of the front of the fire, and sit in such a
way before it that I am obliged to have recourse to
many gentle hints before I can induce you to move.
In the next place, dear, when we go to dinner, you
invariably try to take the nicest pieces, which I look
upon as indelicate. In the third place "

" When will my turn be ? " interrupted Tom.

"Stop!" said Paddle: "I haven't done;" and he
went on to enumerate several other infirmities in
Tom's character, the exhibition of which he consid-
ered in some way to affect his own comfort.

Tom, with some effort, contrived to wait it all out,
and then asked, Pray, is that all ? "

" All I can think of at present," said Paddle.

"Then," said Tom, drawing himself up, "in the
first place"

"Thank you," said Paddle, interrupting him;
" you must excuse my staying now. I hope you'll


improve upon what I've said to you; but I have
an engagement, and can not stop any longer this


THE blast that drove the storm-cloud across the
heavens shook the oak ; and the acorn-cup, loosened
from its fruit, fell on the pathway.

The cloud burst ; a raindrop filled the acorn-cup.

A robin, wearied by the sultry heat of an autumn
day, and troubled by the fury of the storm, hopped
on the path when all was calm, and drank of the
raindrop. Refreshed and gladdened, he flew to his
accustomed place in the ivy that overhung the poet's
window, and there he trilled his sweetest, happiest

The poet heard, and, rising from his reverie, wrote
a chant of grateful rejoicing. The chant went forth
into the world, and entered the house of sorrow, and
uttered its heart-stirring accents by the couch of


sickness. The sorrowful were comforted, the sick
were cheered.

Many voices praised the poet. He said, "The
chant was inspired by the robin's song."

" I had not sung so well, if I had not drunk of the
raindrop," said the robin.

"I should have sunk into the earth, had not the
acorn-cup received me," said the raindrop.

" I had not been there to receive you, but for the
angry blast," said the acorn-cup.

And so they that were comforted praised the
blast ; but the blast replied, " Praise Him at whose
word the stormy wind ariseth, and who from dark-
ness can bring light ; making his mercies oftentimes
to pass through unseen, unknown, and unsuspected
channels, and bringing in due time, by his own way,
the grateful chant from the angry storm-cloud."



" GREAT brother," said the moon to the sun, " why
is it that, while you never hide your face from me,
our poor sister, the earth, so often pines in dimness
and obscurity?"

" Little sister," replied the sun, " the fault is not in
me. You always behold me as I am, and rejoice in
my light; but she often covers herself with thick
clouds, which even / can not effectually pierce : and,
while she mourns my absence, she ought to know that
I am ever near, and wait only for her clouds to pass
that I may reveal myself."



"HOLLOA! young fellow," said the cock to the
shepherd's dog, eying him very fiercely as he ran
by: "I have a word to say to you."

" Let us have it," said Shag : " I'm in a hurry."

" I wish to remark," said the cock, " that there has
been a great mistake made in the stackyard; and
you can tell your master that he and the other men,
instead of turning the corn-end of the sheaves into
the stack, and leaving the stubbles outside, should
have done it the other way. How are my hens and
I, do you think, to get at the grain, under the circum-

Any thing else ? " asked Shag.

The cock was offended, and shook his wattles, but
answered, " Yes : I have also to remark,"

" Never mind, never mind," said Shag, interrupting
him: "you're under a general mistake, I see, and
one answer will do for all your objections. You
fancy that farmyards were made for fowls ; but the


truth is, that fowls were made for farmyards: get
that into your head, and you won't meddle with ar-
rangements which you can't understand, and in which
you and your affairs are not taken into account."


"LooK at this brushwood, this insufferable crowd
of young things about us ! " said an angry oak to an
aged beech.

"Ah, my lord," said the beech respectfully, "the
young things like the protection of our spreading
branches; and, indeed, the place is better than if
there were nothing here but our massive trunks and
heavy foliage : it is pleasant to see their tender
forms bow and bend in the breeze."

" Pshaw ! " replied the oak : " how can you tell
that the place is better than it was before they
came ? You were but a nut when I had the place to
myself, and knew nothing."

" True," said the beech ; " and, remembering what


I sprang from, I can not feel aggrieved at those who,
from equally small beginnings, are trying to emulate
my growth. It is too long since your lordship was
an acorn for you to have the same sympathizing
memories, perhaps, or you would surely feel as I do."


" HEIGHO ! " sighed a weary pack-horse as he
stretched himself for a few minutes on the ground
in a sunny pasture.

" Too tired to eat ? " asked the dun cow as she sat
chewing the cud,

"Rather overdone, ma'am; but a bite or two of
this excellent pasture will soon restore me," said the
pack-horse sleepily.

"Ah! just give you a little strength, that you
may be able to work for them again, that's the
way ! such injustice and tyranny reign in the
world ! "

The pack-horse heard the words in his doze of a


minute or two ; and, when he had recovered himself
sufficiently to rise and eat, he answered after a few
mouthfuls : " Oppression, ma'am, did you say ? tyr-
anny ? Well, if they reign in the world, it must be
a bad place ; so I shall say this is out of the world,
being an uncommonly good one."

" Good ! for what ? just to serve the purposes of
those who rule over us. Here are you, worn to
death, every sinew strained, your bones aching from
work and blows, and not too well covered with flesh :
do you suppose that you would have any food, any
admission to this pasture, if it were not from a selfish
regard to interest in your cruel master? And look
at me : I am obliged to yield my milk without ' by
your leave or with your leave,' and no thanks for it.
Of course, it is simply because it makes my milk
good that I am put in here ; so I owe them nothing
for that."

" I suppose, ma'am, you don't depend on this sweet
grass in the winter ? What a pity it isn't as rich and
full all the year round as it is now ! " said the pack-


" No : we are housed at night then, and have tur-
nips and hay, and a cabbage or two," said Dun.
" They know better than not to take care of us win-
ter and summer."

"Well, ma'am, I hope, for my master's sake, I am as
welcome to the good cheer he has just given me, and
the tolerable quarters and accommodation I gener-
ally enjoy, as he is to my services ; which I consider
to be duly his, and which I feel invigorated to ren-
der cheerfully to him after this rest and refreshment.
If yours gives to you with no better will than you
give to him, he must suffer much from spleen ; and I
am sorry for him. It seems to me that the obliga-
tions on both sides are pretty equal : they don't feed
us out of pure philanthropy, and certainly we don't
serve them for nothing."



" CUCKOO ! cuckoo ! " said the gray-bird as she
rested from her weary flight on a budding elm one
bright, soft April day.

" Would you have believed it ? " said a staid-look-
ing thrush, lifting her head from her nest where she
was feeding her young ones.

" Believe any thing of her" said the blackbird.

" Cuckoo ! cuckoo ! " cried the gray-bird, flapping
her wings and tail among the boughs of the tree as
she hunted for her prey.

" Oh, what times these are, when such- audacious
impudence is to insult the public with impunity!"
said a blue-tit.

" Take care of your nests ! " chirped a hedge-spar-
row: "she was so civil as to leave an egg in mine
last year, and I had as much work to do to feed that
young one as my own brood of six gave me."

" Cuckoo ! cuckoo ! " cried the gray-bird as she
flew hurriedly and heavily from tree to tree, with
curious small birds in her train.


Whereupon there arose a universal twitter among
the feathered tribes ; and cock-robin, who was much
offended by her inelegant flight and appearance,
voted asking the owl for his judgment as to how she
was to be got rid of, and prevented from ever again
obtruding herself into their company.

The owl was fast asleep ; but the chattering of the
sparrows and chirping of the tits, loudest in the out-
cry, awoke him. He half opened one eye.

" One at a time, friends," he said, nearly closing it
again as the din increased. "I really can not pre-
tend to understand more than one at a time."

So the thrush, the blackbird, the tit, the sparrow,
and various others, laid their complaints before him
in succession. He blinked solemnly as he listened,
and, when they had finished, said,

"Friends, having been somewhat indecorously
disturbed in my meditations at this my usual hour of
rest, I am hardly in a capacity to adjudge your
cause; but you shall have the best decision I can

" As I make out from the evidence, the cuckoo is


accused of neglect of home-duties ; of thieving in

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Online LibraryMrs. (Sophie Amelia) ProsserFables for the young folks → online text (page 4 of 6)