The Fables of Aesop the Slave
The Wind and the Sun
The North Wind and the Sun were having an argument as to which was the stronger, and they agreed to try their strength on a traveller. The one that got the traveller’s cloak off first was to be the winner.
The North Wind began, and blew a strong, cold blast, accompanied by a sharp, driving shower of rain. But instead of blowing the man’s cloak off it only made him hold it round his body more closely.
The Sun’s turn came next, and he began to shine as hotly as possible upon the head of the poor weatherbeaten traveller. The man grew faint with the heat, and, unable to bear it any longer, he threw off his heavy cloak and took shelter in a neighbouring wood.
Persuasion often succeeds where force fails.
Belling the Cat
Some mice lived in a house where there was a fierce cat.
Even in the dark night they could not stir from their holes without being pounced upon, and it was difficult for them to get anything to eat. One day they all met together to find a way of escape.
“I will tell you what to do,” said a young mouse. “It is quite easy. Tie a bell round the cat’s neck. As the cat walks the bell will ring, and we shall know where he is.”
At this speech the mice squeaked for joy, until an old mouse asked: “But who will bell the cat?” None dared!
Some things are easier said than done.
The Dog in the Manger
One day a dog jumped into a manger full of hay, and lay down to sleep. Presently an ox came up and wanted to eat the hay.
As soon as the dog heard him it sprang up and barked furiously. The ox again tried to get at the hay, but the dog threatened to bite him if he came near.
The ox then said: “Why will you not let me eat my hay? It is of no use to you, for you cannot eat it yourself.”
“That doesn’t matter,” snarled the dog. “If I can’t eat it myself, nobody else shall have it.”
Selfishness is one of the ugliest faults we can have.
The Fox and the Crow
A hungry fox saw a crow one day sitting on a tree with a piece of cheese in her beak.
“You are the prettiest crow I ever saw,” said the fox. “I wish you would sing a song. A bird with lovely feathers always has a sweet voice, and it is a very long time since I heard any fine music.”
The silly crow was so proud at being asked to sing that she opened her mouth to caw, and let the piece of cheese fall to the ground. The cunning fox snapped it up, and said to himself as he trotted away:
“I said that she was beautiful, but I did not say that she was wise.”
If we are vain and love to be flattered, we shall become foolish.
The Hare and the Tortoise
A hare jeered at a tortoise for the slowness of his pace. But the tortoise only laughed good-naturedly and said that he would run against her any day she liked to name.
“Come on,” said the hare; “you shall soon see what my feet are like.”
So it was agreed that they should start at once. The tortoise went off, jogging along without stopping for a moment, at his usual steady pace. The hare, treating the whole matter very lightly, said she thought she might as well first take a little nap, and that she would soon overtake the tortoise afterwards.
Meanwhile the tortoise plodded on, and when the hare awoke it was only to see that the tortoise had won.
Slow and steady wins the race.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
There was once a shepherd’s boy who minded a flock of sheep in the fields.
By way of a joke he would often shout: “Wolf! Wolf!”
This caused the men working in the neighbouring fields to run to the rescue, but after being deceived two or three times they decided to take no notice of the boy’s shouts.
Soon after a wolf really came, and the shepherd’s boy cried out in earnest. But no one took any notice of his shouts, and so his sheep were killed.
If we tell untruths no one will believe us when we speak the truth.
The Dog and the Shadow
A dog was once walking along a plank over a stream, carrying a piece of meat in his mouth. Looking down, he saw his own shadow reflected in the clear water. Thinking it was another dog carrying another piece of meat, he was so greedy that he snatched at it. This caused him to open his mouth, and the meat fell out and sank to the bottom of the stream.
People who try to get what belongs to others often lose more than they gain.
The Sour Grapes
A hungry fox went into a vineyard where there were fine ripe grapes. Unfortunately for him, the grapes were growing on a trellis so high up that he was not able to reach them.
“Oh, well, never mind!” said the fox. “Anyone can have them for all I care. They are sure to be sour.”
People often pretend to dislike things they are not able to get.
The Town and Country Mouse
A country mouse received a visit from another mouse who lived in the town, and who had been his playfellow when quite young.
He did his best to provide the town mouse with nice food, but the town mouse said: “How can you put up with this little hole in a farmyard when you might come to town and live in a fine house?”
He persuaded the country mouse, and the two set out to return to town, and safely arrived at the house where the town mouse lived. Here the country mouse found everything very comfortable. He sat on a rich carpet and ate scraps of all manner of things that had been served for supper. He was enjoying himself very much when suddenly the noise of someone opening the door and the barking of two or three dogs that came running in nearly frightened the country mouse out of his wits, and he was only just able to escape.
When he recovered his breath he exclaimed: “If this is town life it will not do for me. I would rather have my poor hole in the farmyard, where I can live in peace and safety.”
We should not envy rich people, for they often have more trouble than the poor.