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140 ORIGINAL FABLES.

brightness yet; but my banks will be wide indeed,
and my glory great indeed, when I have reached my
river."

"Presumptuous brook!" said the sun, "dry up.
What ! wilt thou dare to steal my splendor to dress
thy poor thread-like course ? Dry up and perish ! "

"Nay, by your leave, mighty sun, I will flow on
under rushes, and hide from your scorn, and so reach
my river."

And the brook did reach its river; for it was like
the strong heart that neither trial nor temptation
can hold in its hands.



AN AWKWARD QUESTION.

"A FINE day, sir," said Drover to a dog that had
come over with an Irish reaper.

"Where will you find it?" said the stranger. "It's
little enough of fine days that I've seen since I've
been in this country."

"Mr. Drover has never been traveling, you see,"



AN AWKWARD QUESTION. 141

said a Scotch terrier; "and isn't knowing in any
weather but English."

" I pity him," said the stranger, " if he's never seen
the beautiful clear sky of old Ireland, where the sun
shines all the day long all the year round."

" Well, for clear skies," says the terrier, " give me
bonnie Scotland, where the mists make such beauti-
ful contrasts that a heap of brightness comes doubly
delightful."

Drover trotted on in the middle.

"I'm sorry our sky doesn't please you, gentlemen,"
he said ; " but, at any rate, you won't find fault with
the earth. How pleasant and fruitful all around us is ! "

" Pleasant ! " said the Irish dog. " Oh ! but it's the
green island that's pleasant; and for fruitfulness,
where is yours compared with hers ? Why, I haven't
seen green grass since I left her, though I've looked
for it all the way."

" And think of the oatmeal that comes from us ! "
said the terrier; "and isn't whisky made from the
very sod beneath your feet ? And then the pleasant
heather : oh, how I long for it ! "



142 ORIGINAL FABLES.

"Well," said Drover, still trotting on between
them, "what do you say to yon pretty brook so
bright and so clear, and winding in and out among
the fields, so that one never wants water long on the
hottest day: I suppose you've nothing better than
that?"

"Is it water you speak of?" said the Irish dog.
"Well, then, you've never heard of the lakes and
streams and the rivers that cover my country, and
make it the delight of the whole earth ? "

"No; nor of our lakes and our streams and our
rivers," said the terrier. " The very thought of them
fills my heart with admiration."

" Gentlemen," said Drover, turning round, " allow
me to ask, if we have no sky, no earth, and no water
worth looking at, and you have such excellent ones
at home, what made you leave them ? and what
brought you here?"




THE WORTH OF OPINION. 143



THE WORTH OF OPINION.

" IS'NT this charming ? " said the ducks, one to an-
other, as they sailed about in the high flood that laid
the fields under water. " What a pity it isn't always
so ! " cried one. " I don't see why it shouldn't be ! "
said another : " I'm sure it's much prettier to look at,
and a great deal more convenient."

" Very fine for you !" said a disconsolate cock that
was strutting up and down a boundary-wall near;
"very fine for you who think only of yourselves,
while we are all penned up in the yard, and dare not
venture a foot out for fear of being drowned; but it's
always the way with selfish people."

" The beauty of a flood, my dear," said a blackbird
to his mate, " is, that the ground will be so tender,
and provision so abundant, we may count on a de-
lightful pic-nic as soon as the water is gone down."

"Alas!" trilled the skylark as it hovered over the
watery waste; "my home! my dear, my beautiful
home ! While I was caroling my joyous melody



144 ORIGINAL FABLES.

beyond the clouds, the cruel waters flowed out, and
I looked down in vain for my home!"

"Neighbor," said an old rook that was swinging
backward and forward on the elm-tree top, "how
can you account for all these different opinions ? and
what decision should you come to as to whether the
flood is good or bad ? "

" The flood is good for ducks and blackbirds, and
bad for poultry and skylarks," replied his sage neigh-
bor. " As to the difference of opinion, that is easily
accounted for : people approve or disapprove of
things not according to their merits, but as they affect
their own interests!"



"HOME, SWEET HOME!"

" How fair I am," said a golden wallflower, whose
broad, bright blossom rejoiced, in all the royalty of
freedom, on the gray wall of an ancient ruin. And
the wind sighed through the ivy-covered galleries,
and said, " You are very fair ! "



"HOME, SWEET HOME." 145

" Why am I here ? " said the wallflower, " the only
beautiful thing; why am I not in company with
those whose fragrance and whose charms mine equal
or excel ? "

"Alas!" sighed the wind, and the listening ivy-
leaves trembled around, " would you leave your na-
tive home, and the friends of your youth ? Here the
wild bees seek you, here the birds sing around you,
here you shine as a star in our somber solitude."

But the traveler had gathered a blossom, and car-
ried it away as a choice relic ; and the wallflower
was no longer satisfied with the homage of the bee,
the admiration of the birds, or the friendship of the
wind.

"Bear me!" she said, "bear me to another soil
worthy of my grace, and let me no longer pine
unseen in this mournful place ! "

And the traveler came again, and tore the wall-
flower from the wall, and carried it away, and planted
it in his own rich garden among flowers of rare cost
and culture ; and now she learned the truth.

"Who is this?" said one. "What is this?" said



146 ORIGINAL FABLES.

another. " Have the weeds of the field presumed to
enter our ranks ? "

In vain the poor wallflower opened wide her
blossoms, their gold was dimmed by the hues of her
proud companions ; and her perfume was lost in the
powerful scents exhaled by those around her.

" Ah ! my ruin, my home, my old gray wall ! "
she exclaimed. "Ah, gentle breeze! ah, joyful birds!
and ah, the voice of friendship ! what have I ex-
changed you for?" And so she mourned until she
withered, and was cast away.

But another grew up in her place on the old gray
wall; and, in the summer evenings, the wind would
whisper the sad story of her predecessor's fate, and
entreat her to be content to reign as a queen in the
ruin.




NOT THE FAULT OF THE TRUMPET. 147

BAD TILLAGE.

THE husbandman complained that the fields were
bare, the crops evil and scanty.

" Why is it thus ? " he asked. " The fields are as
they ever were, no worse, neither more sterile, cor-,
rupt, nor stony than of old time. The seed is as
good as the seed of other days : the same earth, the
same seed. Why not the same harvest?"

Then the laborers were silent, and the husband-
man was grieved and angry ; and he said, " It is the
tillage that is faulty. Look to it ! of you I require
it."



NOT THE FAULT OF THE TRUMPET.

"You are a poor, uncertain thing after all," said
the drum to the trumpet. " Sometimes you make a
fine sound, so that you can set an army in action,
and inspire them to victory ; at others you give forth
such faint and trembling notes, that, if the hearers
don't go to sleep, it's a wonder. Oh, you are a poor,
uncertain thing ! "



148 ORIGINAL FABLES.

" Blame me not," said the trumpet. " / am ever
the same. The music I can make is not always
called forth, indeed ; but the blame is on the mouth
that pretends to sound me, without having knowl-
edge, strength, or experience to do it."



A LIVING DOG BETTER THAN A DEAD LION.

THERE was a lion's image carved in stone, fierce
and terrible. It frowned and looked sternly as it
crouched before the palace gate.

" Is he not great, mighty, and awful ? " asked one
who stood by, of a poor low-bred dog that looked,
but unconcernedly, on the image.

" He represents what is great, indeed," answered
the dog, " and, if he were alive, I should be terribly \
afraid of him ; but as he is not alive, and I am, |
though I am but a poor contemptible dog, I consider
that I am more to be envied and respected of the
two ; for what is v a fine outside show, pray, if it's
ever so fine, without any life within ? "



BEWARE OF THE FOWLER. 149



BEWAEE OF THE FOWLER.

" WHITHER so fast?" said a dove to a. bird flying
swiftly onward. " Turn, I pray you, and rest on this
bough : your eyes are dull, your plumage is ruffled,
and your wings, I see, are weary."

" I dare not, I dare not ! " answered the fluttering
bird : " I go to my mate and my young ones, to my
friends and my neighbors, to warn them and save
them from what I have escaped."

" What will you warn them against ? What have
you escaped ? " asked the dove.

" I will warn them from the net of the fowler ; for
that have I but now escaped," said the trembling
bird.

" Oh, terrible ! And what was it like ? " asked the
dove.

" It was spread among flowers, and fair grain lay
on it ; and I thought it was a pleasant place, and that
I might revel in abundance: and I flew toward it,
and should have entered, had not a kite hovering
above alarmed me. I was angry with the kite, and



150 ORIGINAL FABLES.

bitterly I reproached him in my heart ; but, before I
had turned my wing, I saw the net drawn up and all
within it made captive."

" But now you are safe, the danger is far away :
why not rest by my side?"

" / am safe, but my mate and my young ones, my
friends and my neighbors, they must be warned : I
hasten to tell them."

' " I see not why so much speed is needful. I see
not why you should tremble now that the danger is
past ; why your heart should still beat fast, and your
foot can not rest until you have told your story."

" Ah, poor dove ! " cried the bird : " it is plain you
have never felt what I feel. You may indeed have
been near the net ; but you did not know it, nor fear
it. Remember me, and beware ! "

" Oh ! I am not going near danger, believe me,"
said the dove innocently.

" Alas ! we know not when that is near, nor where
the net is not spread. The toils are so artful, the
meshes so hidden, you would never suspect your
danger. Keep, I pray you, to the dovecote and the



BEWARE OF THE FOWLER. 151

food there provided, and not let your eye rove after
strange food, even if it is good, and lies among flow-
ers ! "

The dove looked after the bird as he hastened
away ; and though he had heard his words, and seen
his earnestness, he wondered at his determined flight.
But the bird, as he sped onward, had the terrible net
in his eye and on his heart, and rested not until he
had gained his home, and charged his mate and his
young ones, his friends and his neighbors, to beware
of the fowler.




152



ORIGINAL FABLES.




THE WILLOW-STUMP AND THE FINGER-POST.

" How wise I am ! " cried the finger-post to a wil-
low-stump by his side.

" Are you ? " said the willow.

"Am I?" indignantly retorted the post. "Do you

II



THE WILLOW-STUMP AND THE FINGER-POST. 153

see my arms ? Are not the name of the great town,
the road to it, and the distance from it, plainly writ-
ten there ? "

" Ah, yes ! " said the willow.

" Then you must acknowledge how superior I am
to you. Why ! I am a public teacher."

" True, indeed," answered the willow, " and learned
you are ; but, as to wisdom, I see little difference be-
tween you and me. You know the way to the city,
I believe, and are the means of enabling many to
find it ; but here you have stood these twenty years,
and I don't see that you have got a step farther on
the road than I have, who don't profess to under-
stand any thing about it."




154 ORIGINAL FABLES.

THE WAY TO CONQUER.

" I'LL master it," said the axe ; and his blows fell
heavily on the iron ; but every blow made his edge
more blunt, till he ceased to strike.

"Leave it to me," said the saw; and with his re-
lentless teeth he worked backwards and forwards on
its surface till they were all worn down or broken :
then he fell aside.

"Ha, ha!" said the hammer, "I knew you wouldn't
succeed: I'll show you the way;" but at his first
fierce stroke off flew his head, and the iron remained
as before.

Shall / try ? " asked the soft, small flame. They
all despised the flame ; but he curled gently round
the iron, and embraced it, and never left it till it
melted under his irresistible influence.

There are hearts hard enough to resist the force of
wrath, the malice of persecution, and the fury of
pride, so as to make their acts recoil on their adver-
saries; but there is a power stronger than any of
these, and hard indeed is that heart that can resist love.



BUTTERCUPS AND DAISIES. 155

BUTTERCUPS AND DAISIES.

" How stupid you look, always staring straight up
into the sky ! what can you see there ? " asked the
buttercups of the daisies.

" See ? oh ! we see the sun in his strength, and the
glories of day, and the soft summer clouds, and the
grand thunder-storms, and wonders and beauties be-
yond description," answered the daisies.

" But you are stiff-necked by it, and all the fields
laugh at you," said the buttercups.

" We don't mind about it," said the daisies.

"What poor, mean-looking things the cardamines
are ! Don't you think so ? " asked the buttercups.

" Are they ? " asked the daisies in reply.

" Shocking ! but it would be better to be like them
than those clumsy clover-blossoms, don't you think
so ? " asked the buttercups.

" Can't say, indeed," replied the daisies.

"As to those flaunting campions, well! they are
bold, standing so tall and holding their heads so
high ; wouldn't you be ashamed to be like them ? "



156 ORIGINAL FABLES.

"Friends," said the daisies, "be advised: it may
seein stupid to be always staring at the sky ; but it is
very plain, that if you would follow our example, and
do it, you would escape seeing much that disquiets
you now, an escape bought cheaply, even at the
cost of a stiff neck and a little contempt."



HOW CAN THE BLIND SEE?

A COMPANY of blind men sat talking together, seem-
ing well satisfied with their discourse.

" The world is square," said one.

" No doubt," said another.

" And grass, let me consider, grass is red"
said a third.

" Certainly," cried a fourth.

" And there is darkness always," said a fifth.

" There can be no question about that," chimed in
a sixth.

And so they went on, making wonderful mistakes,
and agreeing with one another most cordially.



HOW CAN THE BLIND SEE? 157

But suddenly one of them gained his sight, and he
saw that the world was round, the grass was green,
and that it was light wherever the sun shone. So
he ran to tell his friends.

" Oh, sirs, we were in a strange mistake when we
settled all those things, I assure you ! It arose from
our being blind. / can see now, and wish you to
profit by my experience."

" Do but hear him ! " said one.

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed another.

" Conceited knave ! " cried a third.

" Impudent impostor ! " said a fourth.

" Poor deluded fellow ! " said a fifth.

" All cant ! " said a sixth.

" Would you believe it ? " said the astonished man
to one who, like himself, could see.

"Believe it!" was the answer; "certainly: I ex-
pected no other. If you want them to believe you,
you must see about getting them eyes for them-
selves : they can't see out of yours. You forget
what you were when you were blind."



158 ORIGINAL FABLES.



WHERE TO BEG AND PROSPER.

Two beggars met one day, and thus they talked as
they rested on the road-side :

"Ours is but a poor trade: I am getting very tired
of it," said one.

" Are you ? Well, it is not so with me. I find it
a prosperous business, and like it better every day,"
said the other.

" Strange enough that ! " was the answer. " There
are so many things against us ! First of all, one dares
not to go to the same person too often."

"That's not my experience," said the other. "I
find that the oftener I go, the more readily I am
heard."

"You don't say so!" exclaimed his companion. "I
get turned away with ' saucy fellow ! ' or some such
name, and am told to take my tale elsewhere. As
to money or bread, I may knock pretty often before
I get a sight of it."

" Now, I can truly say," said his companion, "that



WHERE TO BEG AND PROSPER. 159

if I don't get what I ask for, I have something better
instead of it."

" A lucky fellow you are ; and in these times, too,
when people shake their heads, and declare they
have need to go begging themselves ! "

"Ah! that / am never told. I go where riches
abound, and where there is enough, and more than
enough, for all that ask."

"If I put on a doleful face, they call me hypocrite;
if I put on a merry air, they say I am not in want :
there is no knowing how to succeed with them."

"When I am in trouble, I get pity: when I am
full of praise and joy, I get a more abundant bless-
ing."

" Wonderful ! wonderful ! They grow tired of my
story, I find, before they have half heard it, and sus-
pect it is false without caring much for me even if it
were true."

" How contrary my case ! I can not tell my sor-
rows and wants too often: I am told to come with
every one of them ; and, strange to say, so deep is
the interest in my behalf, that what 1 have to tell is



160 ORIGINAL FABLES.



better known at the house where I beg than I know
it myself."

" Why, what house do you beg at ? " asked the as-
tonished beggar.

"At the gate of heaven," said hi. jmpanion.
" Where do you beg ? "

" Oh ! / beg of the world," said he.

"Then no wonder you are tired of your trade.
Come and try niy gate. If you make your stand at
that you will never be disappointed, never get an
angry or unkind word, and never, never be turned
empty away."







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