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Aesop's Fables Translated by George Fyler Townsend

Fables 61-90

 

The Boy and the Nettles

A BOY was stung by a Nettle. He ran home and told his Mother, saying, “Although it hurts me very much, I only touched it gently.” “That was just why it stung you,” said his Mother. “The next time you touch a Nettle, grasp it boldly, and it will be soft as silk to your hand, and not in the least hurt you.”

Whatever you do, do with all your might.

 

The Man and His Two Sweethearts

A MIDDLE-AGED MAN, whose hair had begun to turn gray, courted two women at the same time. One of them was young, and the other well advanced in years. The elder woman, ashamed to be courted by a man younger than herself, made a point, whenever her admirer visited her, to pull out some portion of his black hairs. The younger, on the contrary, not wishing to become the wife of an old man, was equally zealous in removing every gray hair she could find. Thus it came to pass that between them both he very soon found that he had not a hair left on his head.

Those who seek to please everybody please nobody.

 

The Astronomer

AN ASTRONOMER used to go out at night to observe the stars. One evening, as he wandered through the suburbs with his whole attention fixed on the sky, he fell accidentally into a deep well. While he lamented and bewailed his sores and bruises, and cried loudly for help, a neighbor ran to the well, and learning what had happened said: “Hark ye, old fellow, why, in striving to pry into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see what is on earth?’

 

The Wolves and the Sheep

“ WHY SHOULD there always be this fear and slaughter between us?” said the Wolves to the Sheep. “Those evil-disposed Dogs have much to answer for. They always bark whenever we approach you and attack us before we have done any harm. If you would only dismiss them from your heels, there might soon be treaties of peace and reconciliation between us.” The Sheep, poor silly creatures, were easily beguiled and dismissed the Dogs, whereupon the Wolves destroyed the unguarded flock at their own pleasure.

 

The Old Woman and the Physician

AN OLD WOMAN having lost the use of her eyes, called in a Physician to heal them, and made this bargain with him in the presence of witnesses: that if he should cure her blindness, he should receive from her a sum of money; but if her infirmity remained, she should give him nothing. This agreement being made, the Physician, time after time, applied his salve to her eyes, and on every visit took something away, stealing all her property little by little. And when he had got all she had, he healed her and demanded the promised payment. The Old Woman, when she recovered her sight and saw none of her goods in her house, would give him nothing. The Physician insisted on his claim, and. as she still refused, summoned her before the Judge.  The Old Woman, standing up in the Court, argued: “This man here speaks the truth in what he says; for I did promise to give him a sum of money if I should recover my sight: but if I continued blind, I was to give him nothing. Now he declares that I am healed. I on the contrary affirm that I am still blind; for when I lost the use of my eyes, I saw in my house various chattels and valuable goods: but now, though he swears I am cured of my blindness, I am not able to see a single thing in it.”

 

The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle

TWO GAME COCKS were fiercely fighting for the mastery of the farmyard. One at last put the other to flight. The vanquished Cock skulked away and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the conqueror, flying up to a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed exultingly with all his might. An Eagle sailing through the air pounced upon him and carried him off in his talons. The vanquished Cock immediately came out of his corner, and ruled henceforth with undisputed mastery.

Pride goes before destruction.

 

The Charger and the Miller

A CHARGER, feeling the infirmities of age, was sent to work in a mill instead of going out to battle. But when he was compelled to grind instead of serving in the wars, he bewailed his change of fortune and called to mind his former state, saying, “Ah!  Miller, I had indeed to go campaigning before, but I was barbed from counter to tail, and a man went along to groom me; and now I cannot understand what ailed me to prefer the mill before the battle.” “Forbear,” said the Miller to him, “harping on what was of yore, for it is the common lot of mortals to sustain the ups and downs of fortune.”

 

The Fox and the Monkey

A MONKEY once danced in an assembly of the Beasts, and so pleased them all by his performance that they elected him their King. A Fox, envying him the honor, discovered a piece of meat lying in a trap, and leading the Monkey to the place where it was, said that she had found a store, but had not used it, she had kept it for him as treasure trove of his kingdom, and counseled him to lay hold of it. The Monkey approached carelessly and was caught in the trap; and on his accusing the Fox of purposely leading him into the snare, she replied, “O Monkey, and are you, with such a mind as yours, going to be King over the Beasts?”

 

The Horse and His Rider

A HORSE SOLDIER took the utmost pains with his charger. As long as the war lasted, he looked upon him as his fellow-helper in all emergencies and fed him carefully with hay and corn. But when the war was over, he only allowed him chaff to eat and made him carry heavy loads of wood, subjecting him to much slavish drudgery and ill-treatment. War was again proclaimed, however, and when the trumpet summoned him to his standard, the Soldier put on his charger its military trappings, and mounted, being clad in his heavy coat of mail. The Horse fell down straightway under the weight, no longer equal to the burden, and said to his master, “You must now go to the war on foot, for you have transformed me from a Horse into an Ass; and how can you expect that I can again turn in a moment from an Ass to a Horse?’

 

The Belly and the Members

THE MEMBERS of the Body rebelled against the Belly, and said, “ Why should we be perpetually engaged in administering to your wants, while you do nothing but take your rest, and enjoy yourself in luxury and self-indulgence?’ The Members carried out their resolve and refused their assistance to the Belly. The whole Body quickly became debilitated, and the hands, feet, mouth, and eyes, when too late, repented of their folly.

 

The Vine and the Goat

A VINE was luxuriant in the time of vintage with leaves and grapes. A Goat, passing by, nibbled its young tendrils and its leaves. The Vine addressed him and said: “Why do you thus injure me without a cause, and crop my leaves? Is there no young grass left? But I shall not have to wait long for my just revenge; for if you now should crop my leaves, and cut me down to my root, I shall provide the wine to pour over you when you are led as a victim to the sacrifice.”

 

Jupiter and the Monkey

JUPITER ISSUED a proclamation to all the beasts of the forest and promised a royal reward to the one whose offspring should be deemed the handsomest. The Monkey came with the rest and presented, with all a mother’s tenderness, a flat-nosed, hairless, ill-featured young Monkey as a candidate for the promised reward. A general laugh saluted her on the presentation of her son. She resolutely said, “I know not whether Jupiter will allot the prize to my son, but this I do know, that he is at least in the eyes of me his mother, the dearest, handsomest, and most beautiful of all.”

 

The Widow and Her Little Maidens

A WIDOW who was fond of cleaning had two little maidens to wait on her. She was in the habit of waking them early in the morning, at cockcrow. The maidens, aggravated by such excessive labor, resolved to kill the cock who roused their mistress so early. When they had done this, they found that they had only prepared for themselves greater troubles, for their mistress, no longer hearing the hour from the cock, woke them up to their work in the middle of the night.

 

The Shepherd’s Boy and the Wolf

A SHEPHERD-BOY, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, “ Wolf! Wolf!” and when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at them for their pains. The Wolf, however, did truly come at last.  The Shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror: “Pray, do come and help me; the Wolf is killing the sheep”; but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor rendered any assistance. The Wolf, having no cause of fear, at his leisure lacerated or destroyed the whole flock.

There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.

 

The Cat and the Birds

A CAT, hearing that the Birds in a certain aviary were ailing dressed himself up as a physician, and, taking his cane and a bag of instruments becoming his profession, went to call on them. He knocked at the door and inquired of the inmates how they all did, saying that if they were ill, he would be happy to prescribe for them and cure them. They replied, “We are all very well, and shall continue so, if you will only be good enough to go away, and leave us as we are.”

 

The Kid and the Wolf

A KID standing on the roof of a house, out of harm’s way, saw a Wolf passing by and immediately began to taunt and revile him.  The Wolf, looking up, said, “Sirrah! I hear thee: yet it is not thou who mockest me, but the roof on which thou art standing.”

Time and place often give the advantage to the weak over the strong.

 

The Ox and the Frog

AN OX drinking at a pool trod on a brood of young frogs and crushed one of them to death. The Mother coming up, and missing one of her sons, inquired of his brothers what had become of him.  “ He is dead, dear Mother; for just now a very huge beast with four great feet came to the pool and crushed him to death with his cloven heel.” The Frog, puffing herself out, inquired, “if the beast was as big as that in size.” “Cease, Mother, to puff yourself out,” said her son, “and do not be angry; for you would, I assure you, sooner burst than successfully imitate the hugeness of that monster.”

 

The Shepherd and the Wolf

A SHEPHERD once found the whelp of a Wolf and brought it up, and after a while taught it to steal lambs from the neighboring flocks. The Wolf, having shown himself an apt pupil, said to the Shepherd, “Since you have taught me to steal, you must keep a sharp lookout, or you will lose some of your own flock.”

 

The Father and His Two Daughters

A MAN had two daughters, the one married to a gardener, and the other to a tile-maker. After a time he went to the daughter who had married the gardener, and inquired how she was and how all things went with her. She said, “All things are prospering with me, and I have only one wish, that there may be a heavy fall of rain, in order that the plants may be well watered.” Not long after, he went to the daughter who had married the tilemaker, and likewise inquired of her how she fared; she replied, “I want for nothing, and have only one wish, that the dry weather may continue, and the sun shine hot and bright, so that the bricks might be dried.” He said to her, “If your sister wishes for rain, and you for dry weather, with which of the two am I to join my wishes?’

 

The Farmer and His Sons

A FATHER, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given it. He called them to his bedside and said, “My sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards.” The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.

 

The Crab and Its Mother

A CRAB said to her son, “Why do you walk so one-sided, my child?  It is far more becoming to go straight forward.” The young Crab replied: “Quite true, dear Mother; and if you will show me the straight way, I will promise to walk in it.” The Mother tried in vain, and submitted without remonstrance to the reproof of her child.

Example is more powerful than precept.

 

The Heifer and the Ox

A HEIFER saw an Ox hard at work harnessed to a plow, and tormented him with reflections on his unhappy fate in being compelled to labor. Shortly afterwards, at the harvest festival, the owner released the Ox from his yoke, but bound the Heifer with cords and led him away to the altar to be slain in honor of the occasion. The Ox saw what was being done, and said with a smile to the Heifer: “For this you were allowed to live in idleness, because you were presently to be sacrificed.”

 

The Swallow, the Serpent, and the Court of Justice

A SWALLOW, returning from abroad and especially fond of dwelling with men, built herself a nest in the wall of a Court of Justice and there hatched seven young birds. A Serpent gliding past the nest from its hole in the wall ate up the young unfledged nestlings. The Swallow, finding her nest empty, lamented greatly and exclaimed: “Woe to me a stranger! that in this place where all others’ rights are protected, I alone should suffer wrong.”

 

The Thief and His Mother

A BOY stole a lesson-book from one of his schoolfellows and took it home to his Mother. She not only abstained from beating him, but encouraged him. He next time stole a cloak and brought it to her, and she again commended him. The Youth, advanced to adulthood, proceeded to steal things of still greater value. At last he was caught in the very act, and having his hands bound behind him, was led away to the place of public execution. His Mother followed in the crowd and violently beat her breast in sorrow, whereupon the young man said, “I wish to say something to my Mother in her ear.” She came close to him, and he quickly seized her ear with his teeth and bit it off. The Mother upbraided him as an unnatural child, whereon he replied, “Ah! if you had beaten me when I first stole and brought to you that lesson-book, I should not have come to this, nor have been thus led to a disgraceful death.”

 

The Old Man and Death

AN OLD MAN was employed in cutting wood in the forest, and, in carrying the faggots to the city for sale one day, became very wearied with his long journey. He sat down by the wayside, and throwing down his load, besought “Death” to come. “Death” immediately appeared in answer to his summons and asked for what reason he had called him. The Old Man hurriedly replied, “That, lifting up the load, you may place it again upon my shoulders.”

 

The Fir-Tree and the Bramble

A FIR-TREE said boastingly to the Bramble, “You are useful for nothing at all; while I am everywhere used for roofs and houses.” The Bramble answered: ‘You poor creature, if you would only call to mind the axes and saws which are about to hew you down, you would have reason to wish that you had grown up a Bramble, not a Fir-Tree.”

Better poverty without care, than riches with.

 

The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk

A MOUSE who always lived on the land, by an unlucky chance formed an intimate acquaintance with a Frog, who lived for the most part in the water. The Frog, one day intent on mischief, bound the foot of the Mouse tightly to his own. Thus joined together, the Frog first of all led his friend the Mouse to the meadow where they were accustomed to find their food. After this, he gradually led him towards the pool in which he lived, until reaching the very brink, he suddenly jumped in, dragging the Mouse with him. The Frog enjoyed the water amazingly, and swam croaking about, as if he had done a good deed. The unhappy Mouse was soon suffocated by the water, and his dead body floated about on the surface, tied to the foot of the Frog. A Hawk observed it, and, pouncing upon it with his talons, carried it aloft. The Frog, being still fastened to the leg of the Mouse, was also carried off a prisoner, and was eaten by the Hawk.

Harm hatch, harm catch.

 

The Man Bitten by a Dog

A MAN who had been bitten by a Dog went about in quest of someone who might heal him. A friend, meeting him and learning what he wanted, said, “If you would be cured, take a piece of bread, and dip it in the blood from your wound, and go and give it to the Dog that bit you.” The Man who had been bitten laughed at this advice and said, “Why? If I should do so, it would be as if I should beg every Dog in the town to bite me.”

Benefits bestowed upon the evil-disposed increase their means of injuring you.

 

The Two Pots

A RIVER carried down in its stream two Pots, one made of earthenware and the other of brass. The Earthen Pot said to the Brass Pot, “Pray keep at a distance and do not come near me, for if you touch me ever so slightly, I shall be broken in pieces, and besides, I by no means wish to come near you.”

Equals make the best friends.

 

The Wolf and the Sheep

A WOLF, sorely wounded and bitten by dogs, lay sick and maimed in his lair. Being in want of food, he called to a Sheep who was passing, and asked him to fetch some water from a stream flowing close beside him. “For,” he said, “if you will bring me drink, I will find means to provide myself with meat.” “Yes,” said the Sheep, “if I should bring you the draught, you would doubtless make me provide the meat also.”

Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through.

 

 
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