Sunday, May 25, 2014

Aesop (Winter): Page 17

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




The Fox and the Monkey



At a great meeting of the Animals, who had gathered to elect a new ruler, the Monkey was asked to dance. This he did so well, with a thousand funny capers and grimaces, that the Animals were carried entirely off their feet with enthusiasm and, then and there, elected him their king.

The Fox did not vote for the Monkey and was much disgusted with the Animals for electing so unworthy a ruler.

One day he found a trap with a bit of meat in it. Hurrying to King Monkey, he told him he had found a rich treasure, which he had not touched because it belonged by right to his majesty the Monkey.

The greedy Monkey followed the Fox to the trap. As soon as he saw the meat he grasped eagerly for it, only to find himself held fast in the trap. The Fox stood off and laughed.

"You pretend to be our king," he said, "and cannot even take care of yourself!"

Shortly after that, another election among the Animals was held.

The true leader proves himself by his qualities.


The Flies and the Honey

A jar of honey was upset and the sticky sweetness flowed out on the table. The sweet smell of the honey soon brought a large number of Flies buzzing around. They did not wait for an invitation. No, indeed; they settled right down, feet and all, to gorge themselves.

The Flies were quickly smeared from head to foot with honey. Their wings stuck together. They could not pull their feet out of the sticky mass. And so they died, giving their lives for the sake of a taste of sweetness.

Be not greedy for a little passing pleasure. It may destroy you.


The Eagle and the Kite

An Eagle sat high in the branches of a great Oak. She seemed very sad and drooping for an Eagle. A Kite saw her.

"Why do you look so woebegone?" asked the Kite.

"I want to get married," replied the Eagle, "and I can't find a mate who can provide for me as I should like."

"Take me," said the Kite; "I am very strong, stronger even than you!"

"Do you really think you can provide for me?" asked the Eagle eagerly.

"Why, of course," replied the Kite. "That would be a very simple matter. I am so strong I can carry away an Ostrich in my talons as if it were a feather!"

The Eagle accepted the Kite immediately. But after the wedding, when the Kite flew away to find something to eat for his bride, all he had when he returned, was a tiny Mouse.

"Is that the Ostrich you talked about?" said the Eagle in disgust.

"To win you I would have said and promised anything," replied the Kite.

Everything is fair in love.



The Stag, the Sheep, and the Wolf




One day a Stag came to a Sheep and asked her to lend him a measure of wheat. The Sheep knew him for a very swift runner, who could easily take himself out of reach, were he so inclined. So she asked him if he knew someone who would answer for him.

"Yes, yes," answered the Stag confidently, "the Wolf has promised to be my surety."

"The Wolf!" exclaimed the Sheep indignantly. "Do you think I would trust you on such security? I know the Wolf! He takes what he wants and runs off with it without paying. As for you, you can use your legs so well that I should have little chance of collecting the debt if I had to catch you for it!"

Two blacks do not make a white.


The Animals and the Plague



Once upon a time a severe plague raged among the animals. Many died, and those who lived were so ill, that they cared for neither food nor drink, and dragged themselves about listlessly. No longer could a fat young hen tempt Master Fox to dinner, nor a tender lamb rouse greedy Sir Wolf's appetite.

At last the Lion decided to call a council. When all the animals were gathered together he arose and said: "Dear friends, I believe the gods have sent this plague upon us as a punishment for our sins. Therefore, the most guilty one of us must be offered in sacrifice. Perhaps we may thus obtain forgiveness and cure for all. I will confess all my sins first. I admit that I have been very greedy and have devoured many sheep. They had done me no harm. I have eaten goats and bulls and stags. To tell the truth, I even ate up a shepherd now and then. Now, if I am the most guilty, I am ready to be sacrificed. But I think it best that each one confess his sins as I have done. Then we can decide in all justice who is the most guilty."

"Your Majesty," said the Fox, "you are too good. Can it be a crime to eat sheep, such stupid mutton heads? No, no, Your Majesty. You have done them great honor by eating them up. And so far as shepherds are concerned, we all know they belong to that puny race that pretends to be our masters."

All the animals applauded the Fox loudly. Then, though the Tiger, the Bear, the Wolf, and all the savage beasts recited the most wicked deeds, all were excused and made to appear very saint-like and innocent.

It was now the Ass's turn to confess.

"I remember," he said guiltily, "that one day as I was passing a field belonging to some priests, I was so tempted by the tender grass and my hunger, that I could not resist nibbling a bit of it. I had no right to do it, I admit—"

A great uproar among the beasts interrupted him. Here was the culprit who had brought misfortune on all of them! What a horrible crime it was to eat grass that belonged to someone else! It was enough to hang anyone for, much more an Ass.

Immediately they all fell upon him, the Wolf in the lead, and soon had made an end to him, sacrificing him to the gods then and there, and without the formality of an altar.

The weak are made to suffer for the misdeeds of the powerful.


The Shepherd and the Lion

A Shepherd, counting his Sheep one day, discovered that a number of them were missing.

Much irritated, he very loudly and boastfully declared that he would catch the thief and punish him as he deserved. The Shepherd suspected a Wolf of the deed and so set out toward a rocky region among the hills, where there were caves infested by Wolves. But before starting out he made a vow to Jupiter that if he would help him find the thief he would offer a fat Calf as a sacrifice.

The Shepherd searched a long time without finding any Wolves, but just as he was passing near a large cave on the mountain side, a huge Lion stalked out, carrying a Sheep. In great terror the Shepherd fell on his knees.

"Alas, O Jupiter, man does not know what he asks! To find the thief I offered to sacrifice a fat Calf. Now I promise you a full-grown Bull, if you but make the thief go away!"

We are often not so eager for what we seek, after we have found it.

Do not foolishly ask for things that would bring ruin if they were granted.









(1200 words)








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