A Bear roaming the woods in search of berries happened on a fallen tree in which a swarm of Bees had stored their honey. The Bear began to nose around the log very carefully to find out if the Bees were at home. Just then one of the swarm came home from the clover field with a load of sweets. Guessing what the Bear was after, the Bee flew at him, stung him sharply and then disappeared into the hollow log.
The Bear lost his temper in an instant and sprang upon the log tooth and claw to destroy the nest. But this only brought out the whole swarm. The poor Bear had to take to his heels, and he was able to save himself only by diving into a pool of water.
It is wiser to bear a single injury in silence than to provoke a thousand by flying into a rage.
The Fox and the Leopard
A Fox and a Leopard, resting lazily after a generous dinner, amused themselves by disputing about their good looks. The Leopard was very proud of his glossy spotted coat and made disdainful remarks about the Fox, whose appearance he declared was quite ordinary.
The Fox prided himself on his fine bushy tail with its tip of white, but he was wise enough to see that he could not rival the Leopard in looks. Still he kept up a flow of sarcastic talk, just to exercise his wits and to have the fun of disputing. The Leopard was about to lose his temper when the Fox got up, yawning lazily.
"You may have a very smart coat," he said, "but you would be a great deal better off if you had a little more smartness inside your head and less on your ribs, the way I am. That's what I call real beauty."
A Heron was walking sedately along the bank of a stream, his eyes on the clear water, and his long neck and pointed bill ready to snap up a likely morsel for his breakfast. The clear water swarmed with fish, but Master Heron was hard to please that morning.
"No small fry for me," he said. "Such scanty fare is not fit for a Heron."
Now a fine young Perch swam near.
"No indeed," said the Heron. "I wouldn't even trouble to open my beak for anything like that!"
As the sun rose, the fish left the shallow water near the shore and swam below into the cool depths toward the middle. The Heron saw no more fish, and very glad was he at last to breakfast on a tiny Snail.
A hungry Wolf spied a Goat browsing at the top of a steep cliff where he could not possibly get at her.
"That is a very dangerous place for you," he called out, pretending to be very anxious about the Goat's safety. "What if you should fall! Please listen to me and come down! Here you can get all you want of the finest, tenderest grass in the country."
The Goat looked over the edge of the cliff.
"How very, very anxious you are about me," she said, "and how generous you are with your grass! But I know you! It's your own appetite you are thinking of, not mine!"
An invitation prompted by selfishness is not to be accepted.
The Ass and the Grasshoppers
One day as an Ass was walking in the pasture, he found some Grasshoppers chirping merrily in a grassy corner of the field.
He listened with a great deal of admiration to the song of the Grasshoppers. It was such a joyful song that his pleasure-loving heart was filled with a wish to sing as they did.
"What is it?" he asked very respectfully, "that has given you such beautiful voices? Is there any special food you eat, or is it some divine nectar that makes you sing so wonderfully?"
"Yes," said the Grasshoppers, who were very fond of a joke; "it is the dew we drink! Try some and see."
So thereafter the Ass would eat nothing and drink nothing but dew.
Naturally, the poor foolish Ass soon died.
The laws of nature are unchangeable.
A Mule had had a long rest and much good feeding. He was feeling very vigorous indeed, and pranced around loftily, holding his head high.
"My father certainly was a full-blooded racer," he said. "I can feel that distinctly."
Next day he was put into harness again and that evening he was very downhearted indeed.
"I was mistaken," he said. "My father was an Ass after all."
Be sure of your pedigree before you boast of it.
Next: Aesop (Winter): Page 12