Page images

* Begone contemptible wretch, said a lion one day to a gad-fly who was buzzing around him. He thought it beneath the majesty of his character to suffer himself to be disturbed by such a pitiful insect.

Do you despise me, said the gad-fly, highly incensed at the insulting tone and language of the lion ? I will teach you to think twice another time, before you determine, whom you will despiseI declare war against you.

The lion laid down with great composure at the mouth of his den, without deigning to take the least notice of what the gad-dly said. The insect began his hum or drone, the signal that he was about to commence his attack; then taking a cir. cuit in the air, darted upon the lion's neck, and stung him. With another sweep he fastened upon his cheek, which he stung so severely, as to draw blood. The lion roared most terribly. The strongest beasts ran to their hiding-places; and all the inhabitants of the forest trembled. The whole was the work of a fly.

The assailant was not yet content. He stung the lion behind his ears; he entered his nostrils, and there wounded him severely.

This was the worst of all. The lion could do nothing to the fly. He lashed his sides with his tail; he gnashed his teeth, and tossed the foam from his lips. At last, quite exhausted, he fell upon the ground, and bit the dust with agony,

Was not this an ill-natured little insect, to tease and torment so noble a creature as a lion, that had never done him any harm ? I hope you will never torment a poor lame or blind man, or a wild beast, confined in a cage, merely because he


nas not power to injure you. Such conduct is a certain proof of a bad disposition, and a coward.

The fly 'was greatly puffed up with his victory. See, with what ease I have vanquished the king of beasts ! I challenge the whole world. Where is the fool-hardy creature, that dares contend with me!

A spider from her hole heard the vain boasting fly, and laughed at her folly. There is none so great, but there is a greater. The fly, having sung the song of victory, was flying off in proud triumph, when she struck full tilt upon a spider's web, and was entangled in the flimsiest and most slender net in the world. The spider leaped from her hole, seized the conqueror of the world, and put him to death in a moment.

There is no creature too small to be despised, nor too great to be conquered.



The Cock and the Fox. The Fox, you know, is one of the most cunning and subtle of all animals. There is no deception or hypocrisy, to which he will not stoop, in order to effect his wicked purposes.

A hungry fox, one day, saw a cock perched upon a tree, just where the branches divide themselves from the stem. He wished to make a meal of him ; but the difficulty was, how to get at him. The cock was quite high, out of his reach, and the fox had no wings to enable him to fly to him. A stratagem must be thought of.

The fox looked up and around, licked his chops, and set down upon his hind feet, quite at a loss what to do. At length he says to the cock, Have you heard the news to-day


[ocr errors]

The news? what news, answered red crest I have heard of nothing, but what daily occurs; rob beries, thefts, murders, piracies, all which are the natural fruits of fraud and hypocrisy ;.and so long as cunning passes for wisdom, and successful kna very and fraud for prudent foresight, we need ex pect nothing better.

You moralize, said the fox; this is beneath : person of your exaltation. Affairs of states and nations better become your dignity. The new: I have to relate is of this kind: A treaty of peace among all animals has just been concluded.

This is great news indeed, said the cock; pray let us hear how it was. : Why, there was a general council, and some one of all animals was there: they agreed how i should be. The lion is no longer to tear the kid nor is the wolf to touch the lamb; the fly is no longer to suck the blood of living animals, nor the spider to spread her net for the fly.

Excellent news indeed, said the cock.

Now, continued the fox, all animals may travel as safely by night as by day. There will be no more tricks upon travellers. The cat is no longer to lie in ambush to leap unawares upon


prey. nor the serpent in the grass to bite the foot of the traveller. The weakest animal, that lives, may wander alone without a protector. Everything is holy-day and rejoicing. I, who am famous for fire-brands, am to make a bonfire, and the glow worm is to conduct the illuminations. Come down, my friend, and let us shake hands in congratulation of each other on this joyful occasion before I go.

I will come in a moment, said the cock, who

scarcely knew what to make of it. The fox told the story so plausibly, that he could not well think it all a fib; but he thought it very extraordi

Dary indeed.

Just at that moment, the cock heard a noise at a distance, and stretched out his neck to see what was the matter.

What do you see, said the fox, who is always upon the alert, and was more afraid than ever just now, when he had been telling a' wilful lie.

It is nothing answered the cock, but a pair of hounds, coming this way, as fast as they can run. I dare say, they are going to tell their friends afar off the news of the treaty you just mentioned.

The fox knew, that his news was all a lie, and, as soon as he heard the word hounds, he took to his heels and ran for dear life, so that the cock, by speaking truth, saved the life of the fox, and the hounds by accident, saved the life of the cock. There was no one killed, though the fox had done his best to kill the honest fowl, and while he was endeavouring to deceive and kill the cock had nearly been killed himself.

« PreviousContinue »