THE BOY BATHING
A Boy was bathing in a river and got out of his depth, and was in great danger of being drowned. A man who was passing along a road heard his cries for help, and went to the riverside and began to scold him for being so careless as to get into deep water, but made no attempt to help him. “Oh, sir,” cried the Boy, “please help me first and scold me afterwards.”
MORAL: Give assistance, not advice, in a crisis.
THE QUACK FROG
Once upon a time a Frog came forth from his home in the marshes and proclaimed to all the world that he was a learned physician, skilled in drugs and able to cure all diseases. Among the crowd was a Fox, who called out, “You a doctor! Why, how can you set up to heal others when you cannot even cure your own lame legs and blotched and wrinkled skin?”
MORAL: Physician, heal thyself.
THE SWOLLEN FOX
A hungry Fox found in a hollow tree a quantity of bread and meat, which some shepherds had placed there against their return. Delighted with his find he slipped in through the narrow aperture and greedily devoured it all. But when he tried to get out again he found himself so swollen after his big meal that he could not squeeze through the hole, and fell to whining and groaning over his misfortune. Another Fox, happening to pass that way, came and asked him what the matter was; and, on learning the state of the case, said, “Well, my friend, I see nothing for it but for you to stay where you are till you shrink to your former size; you’ll get out then easily enough.”
THE MOUSE, THE FROG, AND THE HAWK
A Mouse and a Frog struck up a friendship; they were not well mated, for the Mouse lived entirely on land, while the Frog was equally at home on land or in the water. In order that they might never be separated, the Frog tied himself and the Mouse together by the leg with a piece of thread. As long as they kept on dry land all went fairly well; but, coming to the edge of a pool, the Frog jumped in, taking the Mouse with him, and began swimming about and croaking with pleasure. The unhappy Mouse, however, was soon drowned, and floated about on the surface in the wake of the Frog. There he was spied by a Hawk, who pounced down on him and seized him in his talons. The Frog was unable to loose the knot which bound him to the Mouse, and thus was carried off along with him and eaten by the Hawk.
THE BOY AND THE NETTLES
A Boy was gathering berries from a hedge when his hand was stung by a Nettle. Smarting with the pain, he ran to tell his mother, and said to her between his sobs, “I only touched it ever so lightly, mother.” “That’s just why you got stung, my son,” she said; “if you had grasped it firmly, it wouldn’t have hurt you in the least.”
THE PEASANT AND THE APPLE-TREE
A Peasant had an Apple-tree growing in his garden, which bore no fruit, but merely served to provide a shelter from the heat for the sparrows and grasshoppers which sat and chirped in its branches. Disappointed at its barrenness he determined to cut it down, and went and fetched his axe for the purpose. But when the sparrows and the grasshoppers saw what he was about to do, they begged him to spare it, and said to him, “If you destroy the tree we shall have to seek shelter elsewhere, and you will no longer have our merry chirping to enliven your work in the garden.” He, however, refused to listen to them, and set to work with a will to cut through the trunk. A few strokes showed that it was hollow inside and contained a swarm of bees and a large store of honey. Delighted with his find he threw down his axe, saying, “The old tree is worth keeping after all.”
MORAL: Utility is most men’s test of worth. (Note: Utility here means usefulness.)
THE JACKDAW AND THE PIGEONS
A Jackdaw, watching some Pigeons in a farmyard, was filled with envy when he saw how well they were fed, and determined to disguise himself as one of them, in order to secure a share of the good things they enjoyed. So he painted himself white from head to foot and joined the flock; and, so long as he was silent, they never suspected that he was not a pigeon like themselves. But one day he was unwise enough to start chattering, when they at once saw through his disguise and pecked him so unmercifully that he was glad to escape and join his own kind again. But the other jackdaws did not recognize him in his white dress, and would not let him feed with them, but drove him away: and so he became a homeless wanderer for his pains.
THE DOG IN THE MANGER
A Dog was lying in a Manger on the hay which had been put there for the cattle, and when they came and tried to eat, he growled and snapped at them and wouldn’t let them get at their food. “What a selfish beast,” said one of them to his companions; “he can’t eat himself and yet he won’t let those eat who can.”
THE TWO BAGS
Every man carries Two Bags about with him, one in front and one behind, and both are packed full of faults. The Bag in front contains his neighbours’ faults, the one behind his own. Hence it is that men do not see their own faults, but never fail to see those of others.