“You are a Mouse,” he said, “and I am a sworn enemy of Mice. Every Mouse I catch, I am going to eat!” “But I am not a Mouse!” cried the Bat. “Look at my wings. Can Mice fly? Why, I am only a Bird! Please let me go.” The Weasel had to admit that the Bat was not a Mouse, so he let him go. But a few days later, the foolish Bat went blindly into the nest of another Weasel.
This Weasel happened to be a bitter enemy of Birds and he soon had the Bat under his claws, ready to eat him. “You are a Bird,” he said, “and I am going to eat you.” “What,” cried the Bat, “I, a Bird! Why, all Birds have feathers! I am nothing but a Mouse. ‘Down with all Cats,’ is my motto!” And so the Bat escaped with his life a second time. Set your sails with the wind.
2. The Fox without a Tail
A Fox that had been caught in a trap, succeeded at last, after much painful tugging, in getting away. But he had to leave his beautiful bushy tail behind him. For a long time he kept away from the other Foxes, for he knew well enough that they would all make fun of him and crack jokes and laugh behind his back. But it was hard for him to live alone and at last he thought of a plan that would perhaps help him out of his trouble. He called a meeting of all the Foxes, saying that he had something of great importance to tell the tribe. When they were all gathered together, the Fox without a tail got up and made a long speech about those Foxes who had come to harm because of their tails. He said he had been caught by hounds when his tail had become entangled in the hedge.
Besides, it was well known, he said, that men hunt Foxes simply for their tails, which they cut off as prizes of the hunt. With such proof of the danger and uselessness of having a tail, said Master Fox, he would advise every Fox to cut it off, if he valued life and safety. When he had finished talking, an old Fox arose and said, smiling: “Master Fox, kindly turn around for a moment, and you shall have your answer.” When the poor Fox without a tail turned around, there arose such a storm of jeers and hooting, that he saw how useless it was to try any longer to persuade the Foxes to part with their tails. Do not listen to the advice of him who seeks to lower you to his own level.
The Mischievous Dog
There was once a Dog who was so ill-natured and mischievous that his master had to fasten a heavy wooden clog about his neck to keep him from annoying visitors and neighbors. But the Dog seemed to be very proud of the clog and dragged it about noisily as if he wished to attract everybody’s attention. He was not able to impress anyone. “You would be wiser,” said an old acquaintance, “to keep quietly out of sight with that clog. Do you want everybody to know what a disgraceful and ill-natured Dog you are?” Notoriety is not fame.
4. The Cat and the Fox
Once a Cat and a Fox were travelling together. As they went along, picking up provisions on the way—a stray mouse here, a fat chicken there— they began an argument to while away the time between bites. And, as usually happens when comrades argue, the talk began to get personal. “You think you are extremely clever, don’t you?” said the Fox.
“Do you pretend to know more than I? Why, I know a whole sackful of tricks!” “Well,” retorted the Cat. “I admit I know one trick only, but that one, let me tell you, is worth a thousand of yours!” Just then, close by, they heard a hunter’s horn and the yelping of a pack of hounds. In an instant the Cat was up a tree, hiding among the leaves. “This is my trick,” he called to the Fox.
“Now let me see what yours are worth.” But the Fox had so many plans for escape he could not decide which one to try first. He dodged here and there with the hounds at his heels. He doubled on his tracks, he ran at top speed, he entered a dozen burrows,—but all in vain. The hounds caught him and soon put an end to the boaster and all his tricks. Common sense is always worth more than cunning.
Two Travelers and a Bear
Two Men were travelling in company through a forest, when, all at once, a huge Bear crashed out of the bush near them. One of the Men, thinking of his own safety, climbed a tree. The other, unable to fight the savage beast alone, threw himself on the ground and lay still, as if he were dead. He had heard that a Bear will not touch a dead body.
It must have been true, for the Bear snuffed at the Man’s head awhile, and then, seeming to be satisfied that he was dead, walked away. The Man in the tree climbed down. “It looked just as if that Bear whispered in your ear,” he said. “What did he tell you?” “He said,” answered the other, “that it was not at all wise to keep company with a fellow who would desert his friend in a moment of danger.” Misfortune is the test of true friendship.