D. L. Ashliman
The young crab replied, "Show me how, dear mother, and I'll follow your example."
The old crab tried, but tried in vain, and then saw how foolish she had been to find fault with her child.
Example is better than precept.
As soon as their father was dead, the sons took spade and fork and turned up the soil of the vineyard over and over again, in their search for the treasure which they supposed to lie buried there. They found none, however; but the vines, after so thorough a digging, produced a crop such as had never before been seen.
"There, my boys," said he, "united you will be more than a match for your enemies. But if you quarrel and separate, your weakness will put you at the mercy of those who attack you."
Union is strength.
"Oh, sir," cried the boy, "please help me first and scold me afterwards."
Give assistance, not advice, in a crisis.
"That's just why you got stung, my son," she said. "If you had grasped it firmly, it wouldn't have hurt you in the least."
A bystander, who saw where the trouble lay, said to him, "Come, my boy, don't be so greedy. Be content with half the amount, and you'll be able to get your hand out without difficulty."
Do not attempt too much at once.
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.
"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.
Thinking she really meant what she said, he waited there a long time in the expectation of satisfying his hunger. In the evening he heard the mother fondling her child and saying, "If the naughty Wolf comes, he shan't get my little one. Daddy will kill him."
The wolf got up in much disgust and walked away. "As for the people in that house," said he to himself, "you can't believe a word they say."
"My litter of cubs is a joy to see," said the fox; and then she added, rather maliciously, "But I notice you never have more than one."
"No," said the lioness grimly, "but that one's a lion."
Quality, not quantity.
The miller thought there was sense in what they said; so he made his son mount the ass, and himself walked at the side. Presently they met some of his old cronies, who greeted them and said, "You'll spoil that son of yours, letting him ride while you toil along on foot! Make him walk, young lazybones! It'll do him all the good in the world."
The miller followed their advice, and took his son's place on the back of the ass while the boy trudged along behind.
They had not gone far when they overtook a party of women and children, and the miller heard them say, "What a selfish old man! He himself rides in comfort, but lets his poor little boy follow as best he can on his own legs!"
So he made his son get up behind him. Further along the road they met some travelers, who asked the miller whether the ass he was riding was his own property, or a beast hired for the occasion. He replied that it was his own, and that he was taking it to market to sell. "Good heavens!" said they, "with a load like that the poor beast will be so exhausted by the time he gets there that no one will look at him. Why, you'd do better to carry him!"
"Anything to please you," said the old man, "we can but try."
So they got off, tied the ass's legs together with a rope and slung him on a pole, and at last reached the town, carrying him between them. This was so absurd a sight that the people ran out in crowds to laugh at it, and chaffed the father and son unmercifully, some even calling them lunatics. They had then got to a bridge over the river, where the ass, frightened by the noise and his unusual situation, kicked and struggled till he broke the ropes that bound him, and fell into the water and was drowned. Whereupon the unfortunate miller, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way home again, convinced that in trying to please all he had pleased none, and had lost his ass into the bargain.
He laughed and kissed them both, and said, "My children, learn from now onwards to make a good use of the glass. You, my boy, strive to be as good as it shows you to be handsome; and you, my girl, resolve to make up for the plainness of your features by the sweetness of your disposition."
A full-grown bull was struggling to force his huge bulk through the narrow entrance to a cow-house where his stall was, when a young calf came up and said to him, "If you'll step aside a moment, I'll show you the way to get through."
The bull turned upon him an amused look. "I knew that way," said he, "before you were born."
She replied that on the whole they were doing very well. "But," she continued, "I do wish we could have some good heavy rain. The garden wants it badly."
Then he went on to the potter's wife and made the same inquiries of her. She replied that she and her husband had nothing to complain of. "But," she went on, "I do wish we could have some nice dry weather, to dry the pottery."
Her father looked at her with a humorous expression on his face. "You want dry weather," he said, "and your sister wants rain. I was going to ask in my prayers that your wishes should be granted; but now it strikes me I had better not refer to the subject."
Source for the above fables: Aesop's Fables, translated by V. S. Vernon Jones, edited by D. L. Ashliman (New York: Barnes and Noble, 2003). This translation was first published in 1912.
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Revised October 5, 2011.