Sunday, May 25, 2014

Aesop (Winter): Page 10

The first fable on this page provide the origin of the phrase "cat's paw," meaning someone who is just a tool being used by someone else. You can find out more about this famous phrase at Wikipedia: Cat's Paw. Like several of the fables in this book, the story of "The Monkey and the Cat" is not an ancient Greek or Roman fable; instead, it is best known from the fables in version of the French poet La Fontaine. You can find out more in the La Fontaine unit for this class.

[Notes by LKG]

These stories are part of the Aesop (Winter) unit. Story source: The Aesop for Children, with illustrations by Milo Winter (1919).



The Monkey and the Cat



Once upon a time a Cat and a Monkey lived as pets in the same house. They were great friends and were constantly in all sorts of mischief together. What they seemed to think of more than anything else was to get something to eat, and it did not matter much to them how they got it.

One day they were sitting by the fire, watching some chestnuts roasting on the hearth. How to get them was the question.

"I would gladly get them," said the cunning Monkey, "but you are much more skillful at such things than I am. Pull them out and I'll divide them between us."

Pussy stretched out her paw very carefully, pushed aside some of the cinders, and drew back her paw very quickly. Then she tried it again, this time pulling a chestnut half out of the fire. A third time and she drew out the chestnut. This performance she went through several times, each time singeing her paw severely. As fast as she pulled the chestnuts out of the fire, the Monkey ate them up.

Now the master came in, and away scampered the rascals, Mistress Cat with a burnt paw and no chestnuts. From that time on, they say, she contented herself with mice and rats and had little to do with Sir Monkey.

The flatterer seeks some benefit at your expense.


The Dogs and the Fox

Some Dogs found the skin of a Lion and furiously began to tear it with their teeth. A Fox chanced to see them and laughed scornfully.

"If that Lion had been alive," he said, "it would have been a very different story. He would have made you feel how much sharper his claws are than your teeth."

It is easy and also contemptible to kick a man that is down.


The Dogs and the Hides

Some hungry Dogs saw a number of hides at the bottom of a stream where the Tanner had put them to soak. A fine hide makes an excellent meal for a hungry Dog, but the water was deep and the Dogs could not reach the hides from the bank. So they held a council and decided that the very best thing to do was to drink up the river.

All fell to lapping up the water as fast as they could. But though they drank and drank until, one after another, all of them had burst with drinking, still, for all their effort, the water in the river remained as high as ever.

Do not try to do impossible things.





The Rabbit, the Weasel, and the Cat

A Rabbit left his home one day for a dinner of clover. But he forgot to latch the door of his house and while he was gone a Weasel walked in and calmly made himself at home. When the Rabbit returned, there was the Weasel's nose sticking out of the Rabbit's own doorway, sniffing the fine air.

The Rabbit was quite angry—for a Rabbit— and requested the Weasel to move out. But the Weasel was perfectly content. He was settled down for good.

A wise old Cat heard the dispute and offered to settle it.

"Come close to me," said the Cat, "I am very deaf. Put your mouths close to my ears while you tell me the facts."

The unsuspecting pair did as they were told and in an instant the Cat had them both under her claws. No one could deny that the dispute had been definitely settled.

The strong are apt to settle questions to their own advantage.




(600 words)






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