Mrs. (Sophie Amelia) Prosser.

Fables for the young folks online

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taking house-room to herself without paying for it ;
of uselessness and idleness ; of thrusting her young
on the care of others for support ; and of impudence
in the midst of all her misdemeanors. In regard of
home-duties, Mrs. Thrush, you are a pattern of moth-
ers, and, respecting you as such, let me remind you,
that, although she does not take care of her young in
person, she puts them out to good nurses. As to
thieving, I must say that Mr. Tit, who was first wit-
ness on this head, had his mouth so full of peas that
he could hardly give evidence. For her uselessness,
I have this much to say to you all, I heard the
farmer tell his bailiff that he was welcome to shoot
all and any of you (excepting the thrush, who lives
upon snails and such things), but not to touch a
feather of a cuckoo ; for she clears the trees of cater-
pillars and their eggs so as to save half the young
things that are coming up from being devoured. As
to thrusting her young on the public for support, I
appeal to you all, if, while she is working for the
public, she hasn't a right to that public's assistance.


As to beauty and elegance, there are so many opin-
ions upon that subject, that I must decline answering
to the objection; and, as to impudence" (and here
he opened both his eyes, and looked at the sparrows),
"I confess that I shall cease to be surprised at any
thing, when I hear a charge like that brought by
such proverbial offenders."

The exertion of delivering this harangue sent the
owl fast asleep again ; and as the birds, looking very
foolish at one another, were dispersing to their sev-
eral quarters, they heard the gray -bird crying,
" Cuckoo ! cuckoo ! " They all felt a little ashamed
of the bitterness of their previous hatred of one for
whom so much good could be said.



A HEDGEHOG and a tortoise lived together on ami-
cable terms in a garden. One day the tortoise found
the hedgehog very disconsolate under a hedge.

u What's the matter?" he cried: "every thing is
lively and bright ; it is warm enough even for me ;
I've taken the trouble to walk all across the path on
purpose to know why you sit sluggishly here in the
shade, instead of rejoicing in this glorious sunshine."

The hedgehog was for some time ashamed to tell ;
at last he confessed that he was jealous. " There is
not a creature/' he said, " that is without friends but
myself. The cat, who kills the birds and destroys the
game, is petted and caressed. The dog, who, while
he guards the sheep, often kills the lambs, is made
one of the family. There's not a bird nor a beast
that I see around who doesn't receive some kind of
affection or admiration, however useless, or even mis-
chievous it may be ; but I, who am perfectly harm-
less, and most diligent in discharging the duties for
which I am placed here, I, against whom no single


charge can be laid, am looked on with disgust, or

"And you don't know why?" said the tortoise.

" No : do you ? " said the hedgehog.

" Yes : I do," said the tortoise. " All that you say
with regard to your moral character is true ; but, if
you are aware of it, you have at least forgotten, that
you are covered with prickles, which, though they
don't interfere with your respectability, make you
disagreeable company to all but such as I, who, being
thick-skinned, feel no inconvenience from them. Be
content, my friend, to live quietly and do your work
unnoticed, remembering that, if your prickles keep
you from the caresses received by pets, they also
save you from the caprices which they often suffer.
Dogs are hanged, and cats are drowned; but who
ever heard of any but a hungry gypsy killing a
hedgehog ? "



" WELL ! before I'd put up with that ! " said Crum-
mie, the cow, as she watched the boy putting a col-
lar on Dobbin the cart-horse, that was about to be
taken to plow. " The idea of a great creature like
you submitting to a little fellow like that, it's quite
contemptible ! "

Quietly said the cart-horse, " He is very small,
but very knowing ; and I am not ashamed of being
led and managed by him."

" A poor spirit you must have, then," said Crum-
mie, jeeringly : "why, you might send him across the
field with one kick." She had hardly finished when
Rover the dog came up to call the cow to milking.
Finding Crummie inattentive, he ran barking and
snapping at her legs.

" Oh, dear ! " cried Crummie, and took to her heels,
nearly upsetting Dobbin, who had just time to say,
as she passed in her clumsy run, " Ha, ha ! why
don't you kick him across the field ? I'm sure you're
big enough ; but that's the way with your wise folk,


who can settle the nation, they think, but give way
to the smallest difficulty that they happen to meet.
She abused me for submitting to a superior nature,
and yet runs before a yelping cur not a third of her
size, and no better any way."


"MOTHER, mother!" cried the young larks in great
distress. " Look at father ; oh ! he has gone now into
that cloud, and we have lost him. mother ! why
did he fly so high ? why did he let the cloud swallow
him up ? "

" Foolish children ! " answered the mother-bird, " he
is safe enough ; I can hear him singing even now ;
that cloud which looks so gloomy to you is dark
only on the under side ; he is above it, and sees a
brighter, bluer sky than we do who are down here.
Be content : he will return to us happier and wiser
than he left us, and tell us, that, if he had not pierced
that darkness, he would never have believed how
much glory and beauty were above it."



THE owl wrote a book to prove that the sun was
not full of light ; that the moon was in reality much
more luminous; that past ages had been in a mis-
take about it, and the world was quite in the dark
on the subject.

"What a wonderful book!" cried all the night-
birds, " and it must be right : our lady, the owl, hav-
ing such very large eyes, of course she can see
through all the mists of ignorance."

"Very true," cried the bats: "she is right, no


doubt. As for us, as we can not see a blink, the
moon and the sun are alike to us ; and, for any thing
we know, there is no light in either : so we go over
in a body to her opinion."

And the matter was buzzed about till the eagle
heard of it. He called the birds around him, and,
looking down on them from his rocky throne, spoke
thus :

" Children of the light and of the day, beware of
night-birds ! Their eyes may be large, but they are
so formed they can not receive the light, and what
they can not see they deny the existence of. Let
them praise moonlight in their haunts (they have
never known any thing better) ; but let us who love
the light, because our eyes can bear it, give glory to
the great Fountain of it, and make our boast of the
sun, while we pity the ignorance of poor moon-wor-
shipers, and the sad lot of those who live in dark-



"PRAY, ma'am, may I inquire what affects you?"
said Drover to the black cat, that sat on the step of
a back-kitchen door. You look melancholy."

Puss turned her head away, and made no answer.

" Nay, ma'am," said Drover, as courteously as any
gentleman of high breeding, "I ask pardon for in-
truding ; but I felt sorry for you, and thought 'a little
sympathy might cheer you."

Puss hoped he would go ; but seeing he stood still,
and was bent on an answer, she turned half round,
and rather superciliously assured him she was neither
ill nor melancholy, and wanted neither pity nor com-

" Madam," said Drover respectfully, " allow me :
you are depressed in spirits, a state in which a true
friend is invaluable. Open your heart to me : I may
be so happy as to help to relieve you."

" I tell you," said the black cat, " I am not in want
of a friend. I was just going to sleep ,when you


" How vexatious ! " said Drover : u but that is a
proof you are not well ; for how could any one with
an appetite go to sleep while that beautiful bone was
close at hand ? "

" Bone ! " said the black cat, contemptuously turn-
ing to look at it : "I am not so fond of bones."

" Not fond of bones ! Well, that is surprising. I
thought no one could resist a bone. As for me, I can
only say that (next to meat) they are my favorite
food ; and I should esteem the owner of a bone like
that a favorite of fortune."

" It may be all well that a half-starved shepherd's
dog should think much of a bone*; but for the favor-
ite cat in an establishment like this to be put off with
one is, in my opinion, a great slight ; and, to tell you
the truth, Mr. Drover, I feel it very much."

" Well, ma'am," said Drover, who had now got the
cue to her ill-temper, "there is much truth in your
remark, that circumstances alter cases ; but, as to the
facts you use to establish it, allow me to say I am
not half-starved. There are times when I feed as
well as any noble in the land."


The black cat opened her, and looked full at

" Yes, ma'am, in lambing-time I often have lamb
for days together. My master, too, frequently brings
home a dead sheep; and then I fare like a prince.
Just now we are not in our high feed ; but I get bits
and scraps in sufficiency. This, I should say, is a
mutton-bone?" he said inquiringly with an affec-
tionate look at it.

" I don't care what it is," said the black cat : " our
cook is dining on turkey, and she had no right to
turn me out here with this bone, while she was en-
joying herself in the kitchen."

"A selfish trick, indeed, ma'am," said Drover: "but
no one is perfect ; and, although she has failed in this
instance, I should say cook is very good to you."

" She does her duty : what is she for but to wait
on the family ? "

"True, ma'am," said Drover, who saw that the
black cat was beginning to give vent to some hidden

"And what if I did just look at the turkey when


it was hanging ? Was I to be cuffed and turned out
and made to starve on a bone for that ? "

" Oh, sad, sad ! Most unjustifiable severity ! " said
Drover ; " and you only looked at the turkey ? "

" Well, not much more : it wasn't my fault if the
nail was loose, and it came down at a touch."

" Oh, certainly not. So it came down ; of course
you only touched it to see if it would come down ? "

" Exactly that," .said the black cat with animation.

"And when it was down ?" said Drover, inquiringly.

" Why, I merely tried the head and neck. I as-
sure you what I took was a mere trifle."

"No doubt," said Drover; "but I wonder you
didn't try the breast : they say that is the finest eat-

" Yes : it is," said the black cat, licking her lips at
the remembrance of it. " I did have a taste of it, I
confess ; but before I had had time for a mouthful
came cook: and really you would have thought I
had eaten the whole turkey, she said such things,
and actually hunted me out of the larder with a roll-


"Cruel! cruel!" said Drover, his eyes fixed on the

" She said, ' Who was going to eat things after a

" Oh, what a narrow prejudice ! " said Drover.

" She threatend to hang me."

"It makes one's heart ache to think of it," said

" I shan't forget it," said the cat.

" She is but a woman," said Drover.

"Oh, but she might know better! But I know
how I'll spite her, I won't eat her bones. I'll pine
first ; and, if my mistress and hers sees me thin and
ill, I know who will be sorry for it."

"A very clever thought," said Drover with a
quick glance at the bone. " Not that I would advo-
cate retaliation; but, as you observe, it might be
well to teach cook how to give way to unrighteous
wrath ; for, if she had not left the larder open, you
would not have been able, you see, ma'am, to get at
the turkey ? "

" No," said the black cat indignantly.


u And then she had no right to use bad language,
and cuff, and give you a poor dinner, three punish-
ments for what was merely an indiscretion commh>
ted through her inadvertency in leaving the door

u Oh, I'll starve to punish her ! " said the black cat.

" I certainly would not eat the bone," said Drover.
" It would be encouraging her in her unjust oppres-

" I won't," said the cat.

"No, don't," said Drover. And then, with as much
indifference as he could assume, he added, " Shall I
take it away?"

The black cat looked demurrmgly.

" Just as you please," said Drover : " I thought it
would be well for her to see your determination at
once. Shall I ? " and he put one paw on the bone.
She did not forbid; and, satisfied with that, he seized
and ran off with it at once for fear she should
change her mind ; and no sooner was he gone than
she began to repent. Cook left her to eat her bone,
or go without till the next morning; and she was


obliged to sup on a mouse. Drover kept out of her
way for a day or two; and it was long before she
saw him without an uncomfortable conviction that
he had got a joke against her, and robbed her of her
dinner into the bargain.

Those who, under friendly guise, fan the flame of
anger or pride or other temper, may be suspected
of doing so with a bad and selfish motive. It was
only for the bone that Drover descanted on the
wrongs of puss and the tyranny of the cook.


" CRUEL bird ! barbarous abuser of superior strength !
What ! is there not enough to gratify thee on earth ?
Its precious fruits, so sweet, so abundant, are
they not sufficient, but thou must destroy life to ap-
pease thine appetite? Ah! I rejoice, the lark
has risen beyond thy flight. He is hidden in yonder
fleecy cloud, and thou returnest baffled, defeated.
It is well!"


And the thrush, who had indignantly watched the
hawk on its pursuit, nestled more closely over her
young brood, comparing herself, greatly to her own
advantage, with the bird of prey.

"Madam," whispered a caterpillar from behind a
leaf, " I beg to apologize ; but allow me to say that I
am rejoiced to hear your new view of things. You
breakfasted this morning on an intimate friend of
mine, and I have been keeping close ever since for
fear you should lunch on me; but, after what you
have said, my apprehensions must be groundless.
You will, I am sure, henceforth confine yourself to
vegetable diet."

"Humph!" muttered the thrush : "awkward that;
it never struck me that ' people who live in glass
houses should not throw stones.'"

We often learn the true character of our own
deeds in observing what is done by others.



" I WOULDN'T be a fish," said a gull, as he ducked
down for a small fry that lay on a well-filled net in a
boat, and carried it off in his bill. "What with
sharks and such gentry in the water, and nets and
birds out of the water, I wonder there's a fish left ! "

" Fetch down that fellow," said the captain. Pop !
went the gun, down fell the gull; its broad wings
flapping on the net in which still lay the captives of
the deep.

"Vain was your boast, unhappy friend," said an
expiring cod : " neither the air nor sea can hide us
from our doom. Time was when I rejoiced that I was
not a bird to live so near our common enemy, man,
as you did, and said, 'I wonder there is a bird left
in the air.' But here we both are, confessing by ex-
perience that every lot has its dangers ; and, if we are
free from those that beset others, we had better look
well to those that we are liable to, instead of plum-
ing ourselves on our safety, if we mean to preserve



"On, here come the swallows!" said the spring-
flowers : a that is delightful ! " They smiled at one
another, and looked upward joyously, as the birds
wheeled their flight in the bright sky.

"The swallows! The swallows!" said the little
streams and brooks. "There's an end of ice and
snow to chain us and block us up ! " and they prat-
tled and babbled, full of frolic, over their stony beds,
making much of the birds as they dipped in their

"Why do they ever leave us?" asked the flowers
one of another, bending their little heads for a con-
ference. "While they are here, all is happy and
bright. Let us make a plan to keep them here all
the year round."

" Why do they leave us ? " said the brooks to the"
rills, and the rills to the small streams. K No frost,
no snow ! while they are with us. We will secure
them, and keep a year of summer. Consult ! Con-
sult ! " and there was a meeting of the waters.


Summer smiled on them. " Children," she said, "if
you can lay a trap that will imprison me, and stay
my departing, you may reckon safely on the swal-
lows remaining. With me they come, with me
they go. You owe them to me, not me to them."


"MOTHER, mother!" cried a young rook, returning
hurriedly from its first flight: "I'm so frightened!
I've seen such a sight ! "

K What sight, my son ? " asked the old rook.

"Oh! white creatures, screaming and running,
and straining their necks, and holding their heads
ever so high. See! mother, there they go!"

"Geese, my son, merely geese," calmly replied
the parent-bird, looking over the common. " Through
life, child, observe that when you meet any one who
makes a great fuss about himself, and tries to lift his
head higher than the rest of the world, you may set
him down at once as a goose."



THERE was a feud : red and blue and yellow stood
in open defiance each of the other two.

"Acknowledge me chief!" said red. "lam ever
the emblem of charity. All that is warm, and redo-
lent of comfort and kindness, is arrayed in my tints.
I rest on this rose, and claim precedence."

"Acknowledge me chief!" said blue. "I am the
emblem of truth. All that is high and pure and just
wears my hue. I rise and shine from yonder sky,
and claim precedence."

"Acknowledge me chief!" said yellow. "I am
the emblem of light and glory. Kings are crowned,
palaces glitter, with my lustrous color. Receive me,
sun ! to thee I call, and claim precedence."

" Ah ! my children," said the sun, " the very
heavens weep at your disunion. Be reconciled, I
pray, and show your strength of beauty where it
must ever lie, in harmony." And they rose at the
entreaty, and embraced in the tearful clouds ; and the


sun shone out on them, and glorious in loveliness
was the rainbow they made. //


" How we are admired ! " said the waters of a rush-
ing cascade to the rocks over which they fell, as
many standers-by exclaimed at their beauty.

" Whom do you mean by we ? " asked the rocks.

" Whom ? why, we waters, of course," was the reply.

" Are you so foolish and vain ? " asked the rocks
frowning. " Can you not see that they who behold
tremble before us ? You are merely worthy of re-
mark because you are a feature in the scene."

" Ha, ha, ha ! " shouted the waters, and rushed
on, echoing the laugh from point to point. "Do you
really think your rugged faces would charm any one
unless adorned with our brilliancy ? "

a Depart ! " said the rocks, . with terrible frown,
" and leave us to stand alone ; then we shall know
to whom beauty and glory belong."


" Let us leave them, and flow over yonder mead,"
said the waters. They did so ; and the rocks were si-
lent, and so was the flood of the fields. None came
to gaze or to listen.

"Ah!" murmured the waters, "we should not
have refused the rocks their share of honor. Truly
they made us a thing of beauty."

" Brothers," said the rocks in hoarse echoes, " why
did we drive away the waters ? If we lent them our
strength of form, they clothed us with their grace and
splendor. . Now, alas ! they flow on in obscurity, and
we are passed by unheeded and unpraised."


A DONKEY stood in a meditative attitude, with his
white nose over the palings, switching away the flies
with his tail.

"What are you thinking about, Ned?" said the
gray mare, who was grazing in the next meadow.

"I know," cried the colt: "he's thinking of the


beating he got when he upset the apple-cart; I know
it by his expression."

" No, he isn't," said his friend, the foal : " he's wish-
ing, he was in here with us ; can't you see his eyes ? "

These remarks drew several horses which were
"on tack" in the field to the spot; and each gave his
own opinion as to the subject of Neddy's lucubra-
tions. At last, a cow, who was disturbed in her din-
ner by so much company coming to her chosen
place, suggested, that as the public mind varied so
considerably, and there was such difficulty in coming
to a decision, it would be a good thing to ask Ned
himself, who could soon end their perplexities. Im-
mediately he was plied with questions, to which,
after a few winks and a grave shake of his head, he
replied, " Gentlemen, I beg to say I was thinking of



tt I hate flies ! " said a crop-eared mastiff as he lay
basking in the sun one summer's evening.

His companion, the house-dog, who had been doz-
ing by his side, merely licked one off that had tickled
his nose, and made no reply.

"I can't see what use they are of," said the mastiff.

" Can't you ? " said the house-dog, seeing he must
answer before he could go to sleep again.

"No: can you?" said the mastiff, snapping angrily
at two or three that buzzed in his face.

"Swallows like them," said the house-dog, yawn-
ing, and flapping some off with his ears.

"Swallows, indeed! and what's the use of swal-
lows? Is all the world to be tormented with flies
because swallows like them? They do nothing but
play, and put the housemaid in a passion about the

"Why don't you knock them off, as I do?" said
the house-dog, flapping his ears again.

" I might if they'd left me my ears," said the mastiff.


" Who cut them off? " asked the house-dog.

" Who ? why, my master, when I was a pup. I
wish he'd left them alone. I dare say he'd have
made a fine to-do if anybody had cut off his."
, "No doubt," said the house-dog, "he would have
told them they were too useful to part with."

" And do you suppose mine were not meant to be
as useful to me ? " said the mastiff angrily.

"Doubtless that's your view; but, you see, it wasn't
his. There's no accounting for the different opinions
of people : if you, for instance, were to inquire of
swallows and flies, you might hear that they were as
necessary in the places they occupy as you would
find your ears at this present moment."




" BROOK, bright and gladsome brook ! I pray thee
stay awhile : I love to see my moss-grown face in thy
clear waters."

It was an ancient bridge, with many-colored lich-
ens on its crumbling stone, that cried thus to the

" Nay," said the brook, " I can not tarry : my river
is far off, and I must not rest till I find it."

" Brook, dear, beautiful brook, stay and sing to us


while we dance," said a group of daffodils, that were
trembling with delight in the summer breeze.

" Dance ye, and play," said the brook ; " but I tarry
not. As I sing I flow onwards, for my river is far off;
and I may not stay till I gain it."

" Brook, what song do you sing ? How is it that
you fear not to break our sacred silence ? Remem-
ber the tale of quietness we tell, and cease your gay

Thus spake some old gray tombstones, that rose
above the churchyard wall, and frowned darkly on
the silver brook as it glittered in the moonlight.

" Nay, I can not be silent. My song is given me,
and my voice is made to sing it ; and I must not leave
it off till I have gained my river." Thus answered
the brook.

"Pretty brook, thou art not wide enough," said
the moon. " Spread thyself over thy narrow banks,
that I may rejoice more in thee, and thou mayest re-
flect more of my mild splendor."

" Pleasant moon," answered the brook, " I can not
be more than I am, neither can I have more of thy

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Online LibraryMrs. (Sophie Amelia) ProsserFables for the young folks → online text (page 5 of 6)