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The Frogs Asking for a King
The Olive-Tree and the Fig-Tree
The Lion and the Boar
The Walnut Tree
The Man and the Lion
The Tortoise and the Eagle
The Kid on the Housetop
The Fox Without A Tail
The Vain Jackdaw
The Traveller and His Dog
The Shipwrecked Man and the Sea
The Wild Boar and The Fox
Mercury and The Sculptor
The Fawn and His Mother
The Fox and The Lion
The Eagle and His Captor
The Blacksmith and His Dog
The Stag at the Pool
The Dog and the Shadow
Mercury and The Tradesmen
The Mice and the Weasels
The Peacock and Juno
The Bear and the Fox
The Ass and the Old Peasant
The Ox and The Frog

■THE FROGS ASKING FOR A KING



Time was / when the Frogs were / discontented / because they had no one / to rule over them: so they sent a deputation / to Jupiter / to ask him / to give them a King. Jupiter, despising the folly / of their request, cast a log / into the pool / where they lived, and said that / that should be their King. The Frogs were terrified / at first / by the splash, and scuttled away / into the deepest parts / of the pool; but by and by, when they saw that / the log remained motionless, one by one / they ventured / to the surface again, and before long, growing bolder, they began to feel / such contempt for it / that they even took to / sitting upon it. Thinking / that a King of that sort / was an insult / to their dignity, they sent to Jupiter / a second time, and begged him / to take away the sluggish King / he had given them, and to give them another / and a better one. Jupiter, annoyed at being pestered / in this way, sent a Stork / to rule over them, who no sooner arrived among them / than he began / to catch and eat the Frogs / as fast as he could.

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■THE OLIVE-TREE AND THE FIG-TREE



An Olive-tree / taunted a Fig-tree / with the loss of her leaves / at a certain season of the year. "You," she said, "lose your leaves / every autumn, and are bare / till the spring: whereas I, as you see, remain green / and flourishing / all the year round." Soon afterwards / there came a heavy fall / of snow, which settled on the leaves of the Olive / so that she bent / and broke / under the weight; but the flakes fell harmlessly / through the bare branches / of the Fig, which survived / to bear many another crop.

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■ THE LION AND THE BOAR



One hot / and thirsty day / in the height of summer / a Lion and a Boar / came down / to a little spring / at the same moment / to drink. In a trice / they were quarrelling as to / who should drink first. The quarrel / soon became a fight / and they attacked / one another / with the utmost fury. Presently, stopping for a moment / to take breath, they saw / some vultures seated / on a rock above / evidently waiting for / one of them / to be killed, when they would fly down / and feed upon the carcase. The sight sobered them / at once, and they made up / their quarrel, saying, "We had much better / be friends / than fight / and be eaten / by vultures."

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■ THE WALNUT-TREE



A Walnut-tree, which grew by the roadside, bore / every year / a plentiful crop of nuts. Every one / who passed by / pelted its branches / with sticks and stones, in order to / bring down the fruit, and the tree / suffered severely. "It is hard," it cried, "that the very persons / who enjoy my fruit / should thus reward me / with insults / and blows."

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■ THE MAN AND THE LION


A Man and a Lion / were companions / on a journey, and in the course of conversation / they began to boast about their prowess, and each claimed to be superior to the other / in strength and courage. They were still arguing / with some heat / when they came to a cross-road / where there was a statue of a Man / strangling a Lion. "There!" said the Man triumphantly, "look at that! Doesn't that prove to you that we are stronger than you?" "Not so fast, my friend," said the Lion: "that is only your view / of the case. If we Lions / could make statues, you may be sure / that in most of them / you would see the Man underneath." There are two sides / to every question.

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■ THE TORTOISE AND THE EAGLE


A Tortoise, discontented with his lowly life, and envious of the birds / he saw disporting themselves / in the air, begged an Eagle / to teach him to fly. The Eagle protested / that it was idle / for him to try, as nature had not provided him / with wings; but the Tortoise / pressed him with entreaties / and promises of treasure, insisting / that it could only be a question of learning the craft of the air. So at length / the Eagle consented to do the best he could for him, and picked him up / in his talons. Soaring with him / to a great height / in the sky / he then let him go, and the wretched Tortoise fell / headlong / and was dashed to pieces / on a rock.

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■ THE KID ON THE HOUSETOP


A Kid climbed up / on to the roof / of an outhouse, attracted by the grass / and other things / that grew in the thatch; and as he stood there / browsing away, he caught sight / of a Wolf passing below, and jeered at him / because he couldn't reach him. The Wolf only looked up / and said, "I hear you, my young friend; but it is not you / who mock me, but the roof / on which you are standing."

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■ THE FOX WITHOUT A TAIL


A fox once fell into a trap, and after a struggle / managed to get free, but with the loss of his brush. He was then so much ashamed of his appearance / that he thought life was not worth living / unless he could persuade / the other Foxes to part with their tails also, and thus divert attention / from his own loss. So he called a meeting / of all the Foxes, and advised them / to cut off their tails: "They're ugly things anyhow," he said, "and besides they're heavy, and it's tiresome / to be always carrying them about with you." But one of the other Foxes said, "My friend, if you hadn't lost your own tail, you wouldn't be so keen / on getting us / to cut off ours."

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■ THE VAIN JACKDAW


Jupiter announced that / he intended to appoint a king / over the birds, and named a day / on which they were to appear / before his throne, when he would select / the most beautiful of them all / to be their ruler. Wishing to look their best on the occasion / they repaired to the banks of a stream, where they busied themselves / in washing and preening / their feathers. The Jackdaw was there along / with the rest, and realised that, with his ugly plumage, he would have no chance / of being chosen as he was: so he waited till they were / all gone, and then picked up / the most gaudy of the feathers / they had dropped, and fastened them / about his own body, with the result / that he looked gayer than / any of them. When the appointed day came, the birds assembled before Jupiter's throne; and, after passing them / in review, he was about to make the Jackdaw king, when all the rest / set upon the king-elect, stripped him / of his borrowed plumes, and exposed him / for the Jackdaw / that he was.

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■ THE TRAVELLER AND HIS DOG


A Traveller was about / to start on a journey, and said to his Dog, who was stretching himself / by the door, "Come, what are you yawning for? Hurry up / and get ready: I mean you / to go with me." But the Dog merely wagged his tail / and said quietly, "I'm ready, master: it's you / I'm waiting for."

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■ THE SHIPWRECKED MAN AND THE SEA


A Shipwrecked Man / cast up on the beach / fell asleep / after his struggle / with the waves. When he woke up, he bitterly reproached the Sea / for its treachery / in enticing men / with its smooth / and smiling surface, and then, when they were / well embarked, turning in fury upon them / and sending both ship and sailors / to destruction. The Sea arose / in the form of a woman, and replied, "Lay not the blame on me, O sailor, but on the Winds. By nature / I am as calm and safe / as the land itself: but the Winds fall upon me / with their gusts and gales, and lash me / into a fury / that is not natural to me."

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■ THE WILD BOAR AND THE FOX


A Wild Boar was engaged in / whetting his tusks / upon the trunk of a tree / in the forest / when a Fox came by and, seeing / what he was at, said to him, "Why are you doing that, pray? The huntsmen are not / out to-day, and there are no other dangers at / hand that I can see." "True, my friend," replied the Boar, "but the instant my life is in danger / I shall need to use my tusks. There'll be no time / to sharpen them then."

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■ MERCURY AND THE SCULPTOR


Mercury was very anxious to know / in what estimation / he was held / by mankind; so he disguised himself / as a man / and walked into a Sculptor's studio, where there were / a number of statues finished / and ready for sale. Seeing a statue of / Jupiter among the rest, he inquired / the price of it. "A crown," said the Sculptor. "Is that all?" said he, laughing; "and" (pointing to / one of Juno) "how much is that one?" "That," was the reply, "is half a crown." "And how much might you be wanting for that one over there, now?" he continued, pointing to a statue of himself. "That one?" said the Sculptor; "Oh, I'll throw him in for nothing / if you'll buy the other two."

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■ THE FAWN AND HIS MOTHER


A Hind said to her Fawn, who was now well grown and strong, "My son, Nature has given you a powerful body / and a stout pair of horns, and I can't think / why you are such a coward / as to run away from the hounds." Just then / they both heard / the sound of a pack in full cry, but at a considerable distance. "You stay where you are," said the Hind; "never mind me": and with that / she ran off / as fast as her legs / could carry her.

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■ THE FOX AND THE LION


A Fox / who had never seen a Lion / one day met one, and was so terrified / at the sight of him / that he was ready to die / with fear. After a time / he met him again, and was still / rather frightened, but not nearly so much / as he had been / when he met him first. But when he saw him for the third time / he was so far from being afraid / that he went up to him / and began to talk to him / as if he had known him / all his life.

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■ THE EAGLE AND HIS CAPTOR


A Man once caught an Eagle, and after clipping his wings / turned him loose / among the fowls / in his hen-house, where he moped in a corner, looking very dejected and forlorn. After a while / his Captor was glad enough to sell him / to a neighbour, who took him home / and let his wings grow again. As soon as he had recovered the use of them, the Eagle flew out / and caught a hare, which he brought home / and presented to his benefactor. A fox observed this, and said to the Eagle, "Don't waste your gifts on him! Go and give them / to the man / who first caught you; make him your friend, and then perhaps / he won't catch you / and clip your wings a second time."

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■ THE BLACKSMITH AND HIS DOG


A Blacksmith had a little Dog, which used to sleep / when his master was at work, but was very wide awake indeed / when it was time for meals. One day / his master pretended to be disgusted at this, and when he had thrown him a bone / as usual, he said, "What on earth is the good of a lazy cur like you? When I am hammering away / at my anvil, you just curl up / and go to sleep: but no sooner do I stop / for a mouthful of food / than you wake up / and wag your tail / to be fed." Those who will not work / deserve to starve.

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■ THE STAG AT THE POOL


A thirsty Stag / went down / to a pool / to drink. As he bent over the surface / he saw his own reflection / in the water, and was struck with admiration / for his fine spreading antlers, but at the same time / he felt nothing but disgust / for the weakness and slenderness / of his legs. While he stood there / looking at himself, he was seen and attacked by a Lion; but in the chase which ensued, he soon drew away from his pursuer, and kept his lead as long as the ground over which he ran was open and free of trees. But coming presently to a wood, he was caught by his antlers in the branches, and fell a victim to the teeth and claws of his enemy. "Woe is me!" he cried with his last breath; "I despised my legs, which might have saved my life: but I gloried in my horns, and they have proved my ruin." What is worth most is often / valued least.

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■ THE DOG AND THE SHADOW


A Dog was crossing a plank bridge / over a stream / with a piece of meat / in his mouth, when he happened to / see his own reflection / in the water. He thought it / was another dog / with a piece of meat / twice as big; so he let go his own, and flew at / the other dog / to get the larger piece. But, of course, all that happened / was that he got neither; for one was only a shadow, and the other / was carried away / by the current.

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■ MERCURY AND THE TRADESMEN


When Jupiter was creating man, he told Mercury / to make an infusion of lies, and to add a little of it / to the other ingredients / which went to the making of the Tradesmen. Mercury did so, and introduced an equal amount / into each in turn the tallow-chandler, and the greengrocer, and the haberdasher, and all, till he came to the horse-dealer, who was last on the list, when, finding that / he had a quantity of the infusion still left, he put it all into him. This is why all Tradesmen lie more or less, but they none of them lie like a horse-dealer.

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■ THE MICE AND THE WEASELS


There was war / between the Mice and the Weasels, in which the Mice always got the worst of it, numbers of them / being killed / and eaten / by the Weasels. So they called / a council of war, in which an old Mouse got up and said, "It's no wonder / we are always beaten, for we have no generals to plan our battles / and direct our movements in the field." Acting on his advice, they chose the biggest Mice / to be their leaders, and these, in order to be distinguished / from the rank and file, provided themselves / with helmets bearing large plumes of straw. They then led out the Mice to battle, confident of victory: but they were defeated / as usual, and were soon scampering as fast as they could to their holes. All made their way / to safety / without difficulty / except the leaders, who were so hampered / by the badges of their rank / that they could not get into their holes, and fell easy victims / to their pursuers. Greatness carries / its own penalties.

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■ THE PEACOCK AND JUNO


The Peacock was greatly discontented / because he had not / a beautiful voice / like the nightingale, and he went / and complained / to Juno / about it. "The nightingale's song," said he, "is the envy / of all the birds; but whenever I utter a sound / I become a laughing-stock." The goddess / tried to console him / by saying, "You have not, it is true, the power of song, but then you far excel / all the rest / in beauty: your neck flashes / like the emerald / and your splendid tail / is a marvel / of gorgeous colour." But the Peacock / was not appeased. "What is the use," said he, "of being beautiful, with a voice like mine?" Then Juno replied, with a shade of sternness / in her tones, "Fate / has allotted to all / their destined gifts: to yourself beauty, to the eagle strength, to the nightingale song, and so on / to all the rest / in their degree; but you alone are dissatisfied / with your portion. Make, then, no more complaints. For, if your present / wish were granted, you would quickly / find cause / for fresh discontent."

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■ THE BEAR AND THE FOX


A Bear was once bragging / about his generous feelings, and saying / how refined / he was compared / with other animals. (There is, in fact, a tradition that / a Bear will never touch / a dead body.) A Fox, who heard him talking / in this strain, smiled and said, "My friend, when you are hungry, I only wish you / would confine your attention to the dead / and leave the living alone." A hypocrite deceives / no one / but himself.

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■ THE ASS AND THE OLD PEASANT


An old Peasant / was sitting / in a meadow / watching his Ass, which was grazing / close by, when all of a sudden / he caught sight / of armed men / stealthily approaching. He jumped up / in a moment, and begged the Ass / to fly with him / as fast as he could, "Or else," said he, "we shall both / be captured / by the enemy." But the Ass just looked round lazily / and said, "And if so, do you think they'll make me / carry heavier loads / than I have to now?" "No," said his master. "Oh, well, then," said the Ass, "I don't mind / if they do take me, for I shan't be / any worse off."

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■ THE OX AND THE FROG


Two little Frogs / were playing about / at the edge of a pool / when an Ox came down / to the water / to drink, and by accident / trod on one of them / and crushed the life out of him. When the old Frog / missed him, she asked his brother / where he was. "He is dead, mother," said the little Frog; "an enormous big creature / with four legs / came to our pool this morning / and trampled him down / in the mud." "Enormous, was he? Was he as big as this?" said the Frog, puffing herself out / to look as big as possible. "Oh! yes, much bigger," was the answer. The Frog puffed herself out / still more. "Was he as big as this?" said she. "Oh! yes, yes, mother, MUCH bigger," said the little Frog. And yet again / she puffed and puffed herself out till / she was almost / as round as a ball. "As big as...?" she began / but then / she burst.

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