THE MILKMAID AND HER PAIL
A farmer’s daughter had been out to milk the cows, and was returning to the dairy carrying her pail of milk upon her head. As she walked along, she started thinking: “The milk in this pail will provide me with cream, which I will make into butter and take to market to sell. With the money I will buy a number of eggs, and these, when hatched, will produce chickens, and by and by I shall have quite a large poultry-yard. Then I shall sell some of my fowls, and with the money which they will bring in I will buy myself a new gown, which I shall wear when I go to the fair; and all the young fellows will admire it, but I shall toss my head and have nothing to say to them.” Forgetting all about the pail, and suiting the action to the word, she tossed her head. Down went the pail, all the milk was spilled, and all her fine castles in the air vanished in a moment!
MORAL: Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.
THE CROW AND THE PITCHER
A thirsty Crow found a Pitcher with some water in it, but so little was there that, try as she might, she could not reach it with her beak, and it seemed as though she would die of thirst within sight of the remedy. At last she hit upon a clever plan. She began dropping pebbles into the Pitcher, and with each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last it reached the brim, and the knowing bird was enabled to quench her thirst.
MORAL: Necessity is the mother of invention.
THE FOX AND THE STORK
A Fox invited a Stork to dinner, at which the only fare provided was a large flat dish of soup. The Fox lapped it up with great relish, but the Stork with her long bill tried in vain to partake of the savory broth. Her evident distress caused the sly Fox much amusement. But not long after the Stork invited him in turn, and set before him a pitcher with a long and narrow neck, into which she could get her bill with ease. Thus, while she enjoyed her dinner, the Fox sat by hungry and helpless, for it was impossible for him to reach the tempting contents of the vessel.
THE WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
A Wolf resolved to disguise himself in order that he might prey upon a flock of sheep without fear of detection. So he clothed himself in a sheepskin, and slipped among the sheep when they were out at pasture. He completely deceived the shepherd, and when the flock was penned for the night he was shut in with the rest. But that very night as it happened, the shepherd, requiring a supply of mutton for the table, laid hands on the Wolf in mistake for a Sheep, and killed him with his knife on the spot.
THE FROGS ASKING FOR A KING
Time was when the Frogs were discontented because they had no one to rule over them: so they sent a deputation to Jupiter to ask him to give them a King. Jupiter, despising the folly of their request, cast a log into the pool where they lived, and said that that should be their King. The Frogs were terrified at first by the splash, and scuttled away into the deepest parts of the pool; but by and by, when they saw that the log remained motionless, one by one they ventured to the surface again, and before long, growing bolder, they began to feel such contempt for it that they even took to sitting upon it. Thinking that a King of that sort was an insult to their dignity, they sent to Jupiter a second time, and begged him to take away the sluggish King he had given them, and to give them another and a better one. Jupiter, annoyed at being pestered in this way, sent a Stork to rule over them, who no sooner arrived among them than he began to catch and eat the Frogs as fast as he could.
Moral: Better no rule than cruel rule.
THE VAIN JACKDAW
Jupiter announced that he intended to appoint a king over the birds, and named a day on which they were to appear before his throne, when he would select the most beautiful of them all to be their ruler. Wishing to look their best on the occasion they repaired to the banks of a stream, where they busied themselves in washing and preening their feathers. The Jackdaw was there along with the rest, and realized that, with his ugly plumage, he would have no chance of being chosen as he was: so he waited till they were all gone, and then picked up the most gaudy of the feathers they had dropped, and fastened them about his own body, with the result that he looked gayer than any of them. When the appointed day came, the birds assembled before Jupiter’s throne; and, after passing them in review, he was about to make the Jackdaw king, when all the rest set upon the king-elect, stripped him of his borrowed plumes, and exposed him for the Jackdaw that he was.
THE FOX AND THE LION
A Fox who had never seen a Lion one day met one, and was so terrified at the sight of him that he was ready to die with fear. After a time he met him again, and was still rather frightened, but not nearly so much as he had been when he met him first. But when he saw him for the third time he was so far from being afraid that he went up to him and began to talk to him as if he had known him all his life.
THE OX AND THE FROG
Two little Frogs were playing about at the edge of a pool when an Ox came down to the water to drink, and by accident trod on one of them and crushed the life out of him. When the old Frog missed him, she asked his brother where he was. “He is dead, mother,” said the little Frog; “an enormous big creature with four legs came to our pool this morning and trampled him down in the mud.” “Enormous, was he? Was he as big as this?” said the Frog, puffing herself out to look as big as possible. “Oh! yes, much bigger,” was the answer. The Frog puffed herself out still more. “Was he as big as this?” said she. “Oh! yes, yes, mother, MUCH bigger,” said the little Frog. And yet again she puffed and puffed herself out till she was almost as round as a ball. “As big as…?” she began—but then she burst.
THE DOG AND THE SHADOW
A Dog was crossing a plank bridge over a stream with a piece of meat in his mouth, when he happened to see his own reflection in the water. He thought it was another dog with a piece of meat twice as big; so he let go his own, and flew at the other dog to get the larger piece. But, of course, all that happened was that he got neither; for one was only a shadow, and the other was carried away by the current.