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THE PACK ASS, THE WILD ASS, AND THE LION

THE PACK ASS, THE WILD ASS, AND THE LION

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202. THE ANT

Ants were once men and made their living by tilling the soil. But, not content with the results of their

own work, they were always casting longing eyes upon the crops and fruits of their neighbors, which

they stole, whenever they got the chance, and added to their own store. At last their covetousness

made Jupiter so angry that he changed them into ants. But, though their forms were changed, their

nature remained the same; and so, to this day, they go about among the cornfields and gather the fruits

of others’ labor, and store them up for their own use.



You may punish a thief, but his bent remains.



203. THE FROGS AND THE WELL

Two frogs lived together in a marsh. But one hot summer the marsh dried up, and they left it to look

for another place to live in, for frogs like damp places if they can get them. By and by they came to a

deep well, and one of them looked down into it and said to the other, “This looks a nice cool place.

Let us jump in and settle here.” But the other, who had a wiser head on his shoulders, replied, “Not so

fast, my friend. Supposing this well dried up like the marsh, how should we get out again?”



Think twice before you act.



204. THE CRAB AND THE FOX

A crab once left the seashore and went and settled in a meadow some way inland, which looked very

nice and green and seemed likely to be a good place to feed in. But a hungry fox came along and spied

the crab and caught him. Just as he was going to be eaten up, the crab said, “This is just what I

deserve, for I had no business to leave my natural home by the sea and settle here as though I

belonged to the land.”



Be content with your lot.



THE FROGS AND THE WELL



205. THE FOX AND THE GRASSHOPPER

A grasshopper sat chirping in the branches of a tree. A fox heard her, and, thinking what a dainty

morsel she would . make, he tried to get her down by a trick. Standing below in full view of her, he

praised her song in the most flattering terms, and begged her to descend, saying he would like to make

the acquaintance of the owner of so beautiful a voice. But she was not to be taken in, and replied,

“You are very much mistaken, my dear sir, if you imagine I am going to come down. I keep well out

of the way of you and your kind ever since the day when I saw numbers of grasshoppers’ wings

strewn about the entrance to a fox’s earth.”



206. THE FARMER, HIS BOY, AND THE ROOKS

A farmer had just sown a field of wheat, and was keeping a careful watch over it, for numbers of

rooks and starlings kept continually settling on it and eating up the grain. Along with him went his

boy, carrying a sling; and whenever the farmer asked for the sling the starlings understood what he

said and warned the rooks, and they were off in a moment. So the farmer hit on a trick. “My lad,” said

he, “we must get the better of these birds somehow. After this, when I want the sling, I won’t say

‘sling,’ but just ‘humph!’ and you must then hand me the sling quickly.”

Presently back came the whole flock. “Humph!” said the farmer; but the starlings took no notice,

and he had time to sling several stones among them, hitting one on the head, another in the legs, and

another in the wing, before they got out of range. As they made all haste away they met some cranes,

who asked them what the matter was. “Matter?” said one of the rooks. “It’s those rascals, men, that

are the matter. Don’t you go near them. They have a way of saying one thing and meaning another,

which has just been the death of several of our poor friends.”



207. THE ASS AND THE DOG

An ass and a dog were on their travels together, and, as they went along, they found a sealed packet

lying on the ground. The ass picked it up, broke the seal, and found it contained some writing, which

he proceeded to read out aloud to the dog. As he read on, it turned out to be all about grass and barley

and hay—in short, all the kinds of fodder that asses are fond of. The dog was a good deal bored with

listening to all this, till at last his impatience got the better of him, and he cried, “Just skip a few

pages, friend, and see if there isn’t something about meat and bones.” The ass glanced all through the

packet, but found nothing of the sort, and said so. Then the dog said in disgust, “Oh, throw it away,

do. What’s the good of a thing like that?”



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