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Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce

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The Statesman and the Horse

A STATESMAN who had saved his country was returning from Washington
on foot, when he met a Race Horse going at full speed, and stopped

"Turn about and travel the other way," said the Statesman, "and I
will keep you company as far as my home. The advantages of
travelling together are obvious."

"I cannot do that," said the Race Horse; "I am following my master
to Washington. I did not go fast enough to suit him, and he has
gone on ahead."

"Who is your master?" inquired the Statesman.

"He is the Statesman who saved his country," answered the Race

"There appears to be some mistake," the other said. "Why did he
wish to travel so fast?"

"So as to be there in time to get the country that he saved."

"I guess he got it," said the other, and limped along, sighing.

An AErophobe

A CELEBRATED Divine having affirmed the fallibility of the Bible,
was asked why, then, he preached the religion founded upon it.

"If it is fallible," he replied, "there is the greater reason that
I explain it, lest it mislead."

"Then am I to infer," said his Questioner, "that YOU are not

"You are to infer that I am not pneumophagous."

The Thrift of Strength

A WEAK Man going down-hill met a Strong Man going up, and said:

"I take this direction because it requires less exertion, not from
choice. I pray you, sir, assist me to regain the summit."

"Gladly," said the Strong Man, his face illuminated with the glory
of his thought. "I have always considered my strength a sacred
gift in trust for my fellow-men. I will take you along with me.
Just get behind me and push."

The Good Government

"WHAT a happy land you are!" said a Republican Form of Government
to a Sovereign State. "Be good enough to lie still while I walk
upon you, singing the praises of universal suffrage and descanting
upon the blessings of civil and religious liberty. In the meantime
you can relieve your feelings by cursing the one-man power and the
effete monarchies of Europe."

"My public servants have been fools and rogues from the date of
your accession to power," replied the State; "my legislative
bodies, both State and municipal, are bands of thieves; my taxes
are insupportable; my courts are corrupt; my cities are a disgrace
to civilisation; my corporations have their hands at the throats of
every private interest - all my affairs are in disorder and
criminal confusion."

"That is all very true," said the Republican Form of Government,
putting on its hobnail shoes; "but consider how I thrill you every
Fourth of July."

The Life Saver

AN Ancient Maiden, standing on the edge of a wharf near a Modern
Swain, was overheard rehearsing the words:

"Noble preserver! The life that you have saved is yours!"

Having repeated them several times with various intonations, she
sprang into the water, where she was suffered to drown.

"I am a noble preserver," said the Modern Swain, thoughtfully
moving away; "the life that I have saved is indeed mine."

The Man and the Bird

A MAN with a Shotgun said to a Bird:

"It is all nonsense, you know, about shooting being a cruel sport.
I put my skill against your cunning-that is all there is of it. It
is a fair game."

"True," said the Bird, "but I don't wish to play."

"Why not?" inquired the Man with a Shotgun.

"The game," the Bird replied, "is fair as you say; the chances are
about even; but consider the stake. I am in it for you, but what
is there in it for me?"

Not being prepared with an answer to the question, the Man with a
Shotgun sagaciously removed the propounder.

From the Minutes

AN Orator afflicted with atrophy of the organ of common-sense rose
in his place in the halls of legislation and pointed with pride to
his Unblotted Escutcheon. Seeing what it supposed to be the finger
of scorn pointed at it, the Unblotted Escutcheon turned black with
rage. Seeing the Unblotted Escutcheon turning black with what he
supposed to be the record of his own misdeeds showing through the
whitewash, the Orator fell dead of mortification. Seeing the
Orator fall dead of what they supposed to be atrophy of the organ
of common-sense, his colleagues resolved that whenever they should
adjourn because they were tired, it should be out of respect to the
memory of him who had so frequently made them so.

Three of a Kind

A LAWYER in whom an instinct of justice had survived the wreck of
his ignorance of law was retained for the defence of a burglar whom
the police had taken after a desperate struggle with someone not in
custody. In consultation with his client the Lawyer asked, "Have
you accomplices?"

"Yes, sir," replied the Burglar. "I have two, but neither has been
taken. I hired one to defend me against capture, you to defend me
against conviction."

This answer deeply impressed the Lawyer, and having ascertained
that the Burglar had accumulated no money in his profession he
threw up the case.

The Fabulist and the Animals

A WISE and illustrious Writer of Fables was visiting a travelling
menagerie with a view to collecting literary materials. As he was
passing near the Elephant, that animal said:

"How sad that so justly famous a satirist should mar his work by
ridicule of people with long noses - who are the salt of the

The Kangaroo said:

"I do so enjoy that great man's censure of the ridiculous -
particularly his attacks on the Proboscidae; but, alas! he has no
reverence for the Marsupials, and laughs at our way of carrying our
young in a pouch."

The Camel said:

"If he would only respect the sacred Hump, he would be faultless.
As it is, I cannot permit his fables to be read in the presence of
my family."

The Ostrich, seeing his approach, thrust her head in the straw,

"If I do not conceal myself, he may be reminded to write something
disagreeable about my lack of a crest or my appetite for scrap-
iron; and although he is inexpressibly brilliant when he devotes
himself to censure of folly and greed, his dulness is matchless
when he transcends the limits of legitimate comment."

"That,' said the Buzzard to his mate, "is the distinguished author
of that glorious fable, 'The Ostrich and the Keg of Raw Nails.' I
regret to add, that he wrote, also, 'The Buzzard's Feast,' in which
a carrion diet is contumeliously disparaged. A carrion diet is the
foundation of sound health. If nothing else but corpses were
eaten, death would be unknown."

Seeing an attendant approaching, the wise and illustrious Writer of
Fables passed out of the tent and mingled with the crowd. It was
afterward discovered that he had crept in under the canvas without

A Revivalist Revived

A REVIVALIST who had fallen dead in the pulpit from too violent
religious exercise was astonished to wake up in Hades. He promptly
sent for the Adversary of Souls and demanded his freedom,
explaining that he was entirely orthodox, and had always led a
pious and holy life.

"That is all very true," said the Adversary, "but you taught by
example that a verb should not agree with its subject in person and
number, whereas the Good Book says that contention is worse than a
dinner of herbs. You also tried to release the objective case from
its thraldom to the preposition, and it is written that servants
should obey their masters. You stay right here."

The Debaters

A HURLED-BACK Allegation, which, after a brief rest, had again
started forth upon its mission of mischief, met an Ink-stand in

"How did the Honourable Member whom you represent know that I was
coming again?" inquired the Hurled-back Allegation.

"He did not," the Inkstand replied; "he isn't at all forehanded at

"Why, then, do you come, things being even when he had hurled me

"He wanted to be a little ahead."

Two of the Pious

A CHRISTIAN and a Heathen in His Blindness were disputing, when the
Christian, with that charming consideration which serves to
distinguish the truly pious from the wolves that perish, exclaimed:

"If I could have my way, I'd blow up all your gods with dynamite."

"And if I could have mine," retorted the Heathen in His Blindness,
bitterly malevolent but oleaginuously suave, "I'd fan all yours out
of the universe."

The Desperate Object

A DISHONEST Gain was driving in its luxurious carriage through its
private park, when it saw something which frantically and
repeatedly ran against a stone wall, endeavouring to butt out its

"Hold! Hold! thou desperate Object," cried the Dishonest Gain;
"these beautiful private grounds are no place for such work as

"True," said the Object, pausing; "I have other and better grounds
for it."

"Then thou art a happy man," said the Dishonest Gain, "and thy
bleeding head is but mere dissembling. Who art thou, great actor?"

"I am known," said the Object, dashing itself again at the wall,
"as the Consciousness of Duty Well Performed."

The Appropriate Memorial

A HIGH Public Functionary having died, the citizens of his town
held a meeting to consider how to honour his memory, and an Other
High Public Functionary rose and addressed the meeting.

"Mr. Chairman and Gintlemen," said the Other, "it sames to me, and
I'm hopin' yez wull approve the suggistion, that an appropriet way
to honour the mimory of the decaised would be to erect an emolument
sootably inscribed wid his vartues."

The soul of the great man looked down from Heaven and wept.

A Needless Labour

AFTER waiting many a weary day to revenge himself upon a Lion for
some unconsidered manifestation of contempt, a Skunk finally saw
him coming, and posting himself in the path ahead uttered the
inaudible discord of his race. Observing that the Lion gave no
attention to the matter, the Skunk, keeping carefully out of reach,

"Sir, I beg leave to point out that I have set on foot an
implacable odour."

"My dear fellow," the Lion replied, "you have taken a needless
trouble; I already knew that you were a Skunk."

A Flourishing Industry

"ARE the industries of this country in a flourishing condition?"
asked a Traveller from a Foreign Land of the first man he met in

"Splendid!" said the Man. "I have more orders than I can fill."

"What is your business?" the Traveller from a Foreign Land

The Man replied, "I make boxing-gloves for the tongues of

The Self-Made Monkey

A MAN of humble birth and no breading, who held a high political
office, was passing through a forest, when he met a Monkey.

"I take it you are one of my constituents," the Man said.

"No," replied the Monkey; "but I will support you if you can urge a
valid claim to my approval."

"I am a self-made man," said the other, proudly.

"That is nothing," the Monkey said. And going to a bigger pine, he
rose by his own unaided exertions to the top branch, where he sat,
all bedaubed with the pitch which that vegetable exudes. "Now," he
added, "I am a self-made Monkey."

The Patriot and the Banker

A PATRIOT who had taken office poor and retired rich was introduced
at a bank where he desired to open an account.

"With pleasure," said the Honest Banker; "we shall be glad to do
business with you; but first you must make yourself an honest man
by restoring what you stole from the Government."

"Good heavens!" cried the Patriot; "if I do that, I shall have
nothing to deposit with you."

"I don't see that," the Honest Banker replied. "We are not the
whole American people."

"Ah, I understand," said the Patriot, musing. "At what sum do you
estimate this bank's proportion of the country's loss by me?"

"About a dollar," answered the Honest Banker.

And with a proud consciousness of serving his country wisely and
well he charged that sum to the account.

The Mourning Brothers

OBSERVING that he was about to die, an Old Man called his two Sons
to his bedside and expounded the situation.

"My children," said he, "you have not shown me many marks of
respect during my life, but you will attest your sorrow for my
death. To him who the longer wears a weed upon his hat in memory
of me shall go my entire fortune. I have made a will to that

So when the Old Man was dead each of the youths put a weed upon his
hat and wore it until he was himself old, when, seeing that neither
would give in, they agreed that the younger should leave off his
weeds and the elder give him half of the estate. But when the
elder applied for the property he found that there had been an

Thus were hypocrisy and obstinacy fitly punished.

The Disinterested Arbiter

TWO Dogs who had been fighting for a bone, without advantage to
either, referred their dispute to a Sheep. The Sheep patiently
heard their statements, then flung the bone into a pond.

"Why did you do that?" said the Dogs.

"Because," replied the Sheep, "I am a vegetarian."

The Thief and the Honest Man

A THIEF who had brought a suit against his accomplices to recover
his share of the plunder taken from an Honest Man, demanded the
Honest Man's attendance at the trial to testify to his loss. But
the Honest Man explained that as he was merely the agent of a
company of other honest men it was none of his affair; and when the
officers came to serve him with a subpoena he hid himself behind
his back and wiled away the dragging hours of retirement and
inaction by picking his own pockets.

The Dutiful Son

A MILLIONAIRE who had gone to an almshouse to visit his father met
a Neighbour there, who was greatly surprised.

"What!" said the Neighbour, "you do sometimes visit your father?"

"If our situations were reversed," said the Millionaire, "I am sure
he would visit me. The old man has always been rather proud of me.
Besides," he added, softly, "I had to have his signature; I am
insuring his life."


The Cat and the Youth

A CAT fell in love with a handsome Young Man, and entreated Venus
to change her into a woman.

"I should think," said Venus, "you might make so trifling a change
without bothering me. However, be a woman."

Afterward, wishing to see if the change were complete, Venus caused
a mouse to approach, whereupon the woman shrieked and made such a
show of herself that the Young Man would not marry her.

The Farmer and His Sons

A FARMER being about to die, and knowing that during his illness
his Sons had permitted the vineyard to become overgrown with weeds
while they improved the shining hour by gambling with the doctor,
said to them:

"My boys, there is a great treasure buried in the vineyard. You
dig in the ground until you find it."

So the Sons dug up all the weeds, and all the vines too, and even
neglected to bury the old man.

Jupiter and the Baby Show

JUPITER held a baby show, open to all animals, and a Monkey entered
her hideous cub for a prize, but Jupiter only laughed at her.

"It is all very well," said the Monkey, "to laugh at my offspring,
but you go into any gallery of antique sculpture and look at the
statues and busts of the fellows that you begot yourself."

"'Sh! don't expose me," said Jupiter, and awarded her the first

The Man and the Dog

A MAN who had been bitten by a Dog was told that the wound would
heal if he would dip a piece of bread in the blood and give it to
the Dog. He did so.

"No," said the Dog; "if I were to accept that, it might be thought
that in biting you I was actuated by improper motives."

"And by what motives were you actuated?" asked the Man.

"I desired," replied the Dog, "merely to harmonise myself with the
Divine Scheme of Things. I'm a child of Nature."

The Cat and the Birds

HEARING that the Birds in an aviary were ill, a Cat went to them
and said that he was a physician, and would cure them if they would
let him in.

"To what school of medicine do you belong?" asked the Birds.

"I am a Miaulopathist," said the Cat.

"Did you ever practise Gohomoeopathy?" the Birds inquired, winking

The Cat took the hint and his leave.

Mercury and the Woodchopper

A WOODCHOPPER, who had dropped his axe into a deep pool, besought
Mercury to recover it for him. That thoughtless deity immediately
plunged into the pool, which became so salivated that the trees
about its margin all came loose and dropped out.

The Fox and the Grapes

A FOX, seeing some sour grapes hanging within an inch of his nose,
and being unwilling to admit that there was anything he would not
eat, solemnly declared that they were out of his reach.

The Penitent Thief

A BOY who had been taught by his Mother to steal grew to be a man
and was a professional public official. One day he was taken in
the act and condemned to die. While going to the place of
execution he passed his Mother and said to her:

"Behold your work! If you had not taught me to steal, I should not
have come to this."

"Indeed!" said the Mother. "And who, pray, taught you to be

The Archer and the Eagle

AN Eagle mortally wounded by an Archer was greatly comforted to
observe that the arrow was feathered with one of his own quills.

"I should have felt bad, indeed," he said, "to think that any other
eagle had a hand in this."

Truth and the Traveller

A MAN travelling in a desert met a Woman.

"Who art thou?" asked the Man, "and why dost thou dwell in this
dreadful place?"

"My name," replied the Woman, "is Truth; and I live in the desert
in order to be near my worshippers when they are driven from among
their fellows. They all come, sooner or later."

"Well," said the Man, looking about, "the country doesn't seem to
be very thickly settled here."

The Wolf and the Lamb

A LAMB, pursued by a Wolf, fled into the temple.

"The priest will catch you and sacrifice you," said the Wolf, "if
you remain there."

"It is just as well to be sacrificed by the priest as to be eaten
by you," said the Lamb.

"My friend," said the Wolf, "it pains me to see you considering so
great a question from a purely selfish point of view. It is not
just as well for me."

The Lion and the Boar

A LION and a Boar, who were fighting for water at a pool, saw some
vultures hovering significantly above them. "Let us make up our
quarrel," said the Boar, "or these fellows will get one of us,

"I should not so much mind that," replied the Lion, "if they would
get the right one. However, I am willing to stop fighting, and
then perhaps I can grab a vulture. I like chicken better than
pork, anyhow."

The Grasshopper and the Ant

ONE day in winter a hungry Grasshopper applied to an Ant for some
of the food which they had stored.

"Why," said the Ant, "did you not store up some food for yourself,
instead of singing all the time?"

"So I did," said the Grasshopper; "so I did; but you fellows broke
in and carried it all away."

The Fisher and the Fished

A FISHERMAN who had caught a very small Fish was putting it in his
basket when it said:

"I pray you put me back into the stream, for I can be of no use to
you; the gods do not eat fish."

"But I am no god," said the Fisherman.

"True," said the Fish, "but as soon as Jupiter has heard of your
exploit, he will elevate you to the deitage. You are the only man
that ever caught a small fish."

The Farmer and the Fox

A FARMER who had a deadly and implacable hatred against a certain
Fox, caught him and tied some tow to his tail; then carrying him to
the centre of his own grain-field, set the tow on fire and let the
animal go.

"Alas!" said the Farmer, seeing the result; "if that grain had not
been heavily insured, I might have had to dissemble my hatred of
the Fox."

Dame Fortune and the Traveller

A WEARY Traveller who had lain down and fallen asleep on the brink
of a deep well was discovered by Dame Fortune.

"If this fool," she said, "should have an uneasy dream and roll
into the well men would say that I did it. It is painful to me to
be unjustly accused, and I shall see that I am not."

So saying she rolled the man into the well.

The Victor and the Victim

TWO Game Cocks, having fought a battle, the defeated one skulked
away and hid, but the victor mounted a wall and crowed lustily.
This attracted the attention of a hawk, who said:

"Behold! how pride goeth before a fall."

So he swooped down upon the boasting bird and was about to destroy
him, when the vanquished Cock came out of his hiding-place, and
between the two the Hawk was calamitously defeated.

The Wolf and the Shepherds

A WOLF passing a Shepherd's hut looked in and saw the shepherds

"Come in," said one of them, ironically, "and partake of your
favourite dish, a haunch of mutton."

"Thank you," said the Wolf, moving away, "but you must excuse me; I
have just had a saddle of shepherd."

The Goose and the Swan

A CERTAIN rich man reared a Goose and a Swan, the one for his
table, the other because she was reputed a good singer. One night
when the Cook went to kill the Goose he got hold of the Swan
instead. Thereupon the Swan, to induce him to spare her life,
began to sing; but she saved him nothing but the trouble of killing
her, for she died of the song.

The Lion, the Cock, and the Ass

A LION was about to attack a braying Ass, when a Cock near by
crowed shrilly, and the Lion ran away. "What frightened him?" the
Ass asked.

"Lions have a superstitious terror of my voice," answered the Cock,

"Well, well, well," said the Ass, shaking his head; "I should think
that any animal that is afraid of your voice and doesn't mind mine
must have an uncommon kind of ear."

The Snake and the Swallow

A SWALLOW who had built her nest in a court of justice reared a
fine family of young birds. One day a Snake came out of a chink in
the wall and was about to eat them. The Just Judge at once issued
an injunction, and making an order for their removal to his own
house, ate them himself.

The Wolves and the Dogs

"WHY should there be strife between us?" said the Wolves to the
Sheep. "It is all owing to those quarrelsome dogs. Dismiss them,
and we shall have peace."

"You seem to think," replied the Sheep, "that it is an easy thing
to dismiss dogs. Have you always found it so?"

The Hen and the Vipers

A HEN who had patiently hatched out a brood of vipers, was accosted
by a Swallow, who said: "What a fool you are to give life to
creatures who will reward you by destroying you."

"I am a little bit on the destroy myself," said the Hen, tranquilly
swallowing one of the little reptiles; "and it is not an act of
folly to provide oneself with the delicacies of the season."

A Seasonable Joke

A SPENDTHRIFT, seeing a single swallow, pawned his cloak, thinking
that Summer was at hand. It was.

The Lion and the Thorn

A LION roaming through the forest, got a thorn in his foot, and,
meeting a Shepherd, asked him to remove it. The Shepherd did so,
and the Lion, having just surfeited himself on another shepherd,
went away without harming him. Some time afterward the Shepherd
was condemned on a false accusation to be cast to the lions in the
amphitheatre. When they were about to devour him, one of them

"This is the man who removed the thorn from my foot."

Hearing this, the others honourably abstained, and the claimant ate
the Shepherd all himself.

The Fawn and the Buck

A FAWN said to its father: "You are larger, stronger, and more
active than a dog, and you have sharp horns. Why do you run away
when you hear one barking?"

"Because, my child," replied the Buck, "my temper is so uncertain
that if I permit one of those noisy creatures to come into my
presence I am likely to forget myself and do him an injury."

The Kite, the Pigeons, and the Hawk

SOME Pigeons exposed to the attacks of a Kite asked a Hawk to
defend them. He consented, and being admitted into the cote waited
for the Kite, whom he fell upon and devoured. When he was so
surfeited that he could scarcely move, the grateful Pigeons
scratched out his eyes.

The Wolf and the Babe

A FAMISHING Wolf, passing the door of a cottage in the forest,
heard a Mother say to her babe:

"Be quiet, or I will throw you out of the window, and the wolves
will get you."

So he waited all day below the window, growing more hungry all the
time. But at night the Old Man, having returned from the village
club, threw out both Mother and Child.

The Wolf and the Ostrich

A WOLF, who in devouring a man had choked himself with a bunch of
keys, asked an ostrich to put her head down his throat and pull
them out, which she did.

"I suppose," said the Wolf, "you expect payment for that service."

"A kind act," replied the Ostrich, "is its own reward; I have eaten
the keys."

The Herdsman and the Lion

A HERDSMAN who had lost a bullock entreated the gods to bring him
the thief, and vowed he would sacrifice a goat to them. Just then
a Lion, his jaws dripping with bullock's blood, approached the

"I thank you, good deities," said the Herdsman, continuing his
prayer, "for showing me the thief. And now if you will take him
away, I will stand another goat."

The Man and the Viper

A MAN finding a frozen Viper put it into his bosom.

"The coldness of the human heart," he said, with a grin, "will keep
the creature in his present condition until I can reach home and
revive him on the coals."

But the pleasures of hope so fired his heart that the Viper thawed,
and sliding to the ground thanked the Man civilly for his
hospitality and glided away.

The Man and the Eagle

AN Eagle was once captured by a Man, who clipped his wings and put
him in the poultry yard, along with the chickens. The Eagle was
much depressed in spirits by the change.

"Why should you not rather rejoice?" said the Man. "You were only
an ordinary fellow as an eagle; but as an old rooster you are a
fowl of incomparable distinction.

The War-horse and the Miller

HAVING heard that the State was about to be invaded by a hostile
army, a War-horse belonging to a Colonel of the Militia offered his
services to a passing Miller.

"No," said the patriotic Miller, "I will employ no one who deserts
his position in the hour of danger. It is sweet to die for one's

Something in the sentiment sounded familiar, and, looking at the
Miller more closely the War-horse recognised his master in

The Dog and the Reflection

A DOG passing over a stream on a plank saw his reflection in the

"You ugly brute!" he cried; "how dare you look at me in that
insolent way."

He made a grab in the water, and, getting hold of what he supposed
was the other dog's lip, lifted out a fine piece of meat which a
butcher's boy had dropped into the stream.

The Man and the Fish-horn

A TRUTHFUL Man, finding a musical instrument in the road, asked the
name of it, and was told that it was a fish-horn. The next time he
went fishing he set his nets and blew the fish-horn all day to
charm the fish into them; but at nightfall there were not only no
fish in his nets, but none along that part of the coast. Meeting a
friend while on his way home he was asked what luck he had had.

"Well," said the Truthful Man, "the weather is not right for
fishing, but it's a red-letter day for music."

The Hare and the Tortoise

A HARE having ridiculed the slow movements of a Tortoise, was
challenged by the latter to run a race, a Fox to go to the goal and
be the judge. They got off well together, the hare at the top of
her speed, the Tortoise, who had no other intention than making his
antagonist exert herself, going very leisurely. After sauntering
along for some time he discovered the Hare by the wayside,
apparently asleep, and seeing a chance to win pushed on as fast as
he could, arriving at the goal hours afterward, suffering from
extreme fatigue and claiming the victory.

"Not so," said the Fox; "the Hare was here long ago, and went back
to cheer you on your way."

Hercules and the Carter

A CARTER was driving a waggon loaded with a merchant's goods, when
the wheels stuck in a rut. Thereupon he began to pray to Hercules,
without other exertion.

"Indolent fellow!" said Hercules; "you ask me to help you, but will
not help yourself."

So the Carter helped himself to so many of the most valuable goods
that the horses easily ran away with the remainder.

The Lion and the Bull

A LION wishing to lure a Bull to a place where it would be safe to
attack him, said: "My friend, I have killed a fine sheep; will you
come with me and partake of the mutton?"

"With pleasure," said the Bull, "as soon as you have refreshed
yourself a little for the journey. Pray have some grass."

The Man and his Goose

"SEE these valuable golden eggs," said a Man that owned a Goose.
"Surely a Goose which can lay such eggs as those must have a gold
mine inside her."

So he killed the Goose and cut her open, but found that she was
just like any other goose. Moreover, on examining the eggs that
she had laid he found they were just like any other eggs.

The Wolf and the Feeding Goat

A WOLF saw a Goat feeding at the summit of a rock, where he could
not get at her.

"Why do you stay up there in that sterile place and go hungry?"
said the Wolf. "Down here where I am the broken-bottle vine cometh
up as a flower, the celluloid collar blossoms as the rose, and the
tin-can tree brings forth after its kind."

"That is true, no doubt," said the Goat, "but how about the circus-
poster crop? I hear that it failed this year down there."

The Wolf, perceiving that he was being chaffed, went away and
resumed his duties at the doors of the poor.

Jupiter and the Birds

JUPITER commanded all the birds to appear before him, so that he
might choose the most beautiful to be their king. The ugly
jackdaw, collecting all the fine feathers which had fallen from the
other birds, attached them to his own body and appeared at the
examination, looking very gay. The other birds, recognising their
own borrowed plumage, indignantly protested, and began to strip

"Hold!" said Jupiter; "this self-made bird has more sense than any
of you. He is your king."

The Lion and the Mouse

A LION who had caught a Mouse was about to kill him, when the Mouse

"If you will spare my life, I will do as much for you some day."

The Lion, good-naturedly let him go. It happened shortly
afterwards that the Lion was caught by some hunters and bound with
cords. The Mouse, passing that way, and seeing that his benefactor
was helpless, gnawed off his tail.

The Old Man and His Sons

AN Old Man, afflicted with a family of contentious Sons, brought in
a bundle of sticks and asked the young men to break it. After
repeated efforts they confessed that it could not be done.
"Behold," said the Old Man, "the advantage of unity; as long as
these sticks are in alliance they are invincible, but observe how
feeble they are individually."

Pulling a single stick from the bundle, he broke it easily upon the
head of the eldest Son, and this he repeated until all had been

The Crab and His Son

A LOGICAL Crab said to his Son, "Why do you not walk straight
forward? Your sidelong gait is singularly ungraceful."

"Why don't you walk straight forward yourself," said the Son.

"Erring youth," replied the Logical Crab, "you are introducing new
and irrelevant matter."

The North Wind and the Sun

THE Sun and the North Wind disputed which was the more powerful,
and agreed that he should be declared victor who could the sooner
strip a traveller of his clothes. So they waited until a traveller
came by. But the traveller had been indiscreet enough to stay over
night at a summer hotel, and had no clothes.

The Mountain and the Mouse

A MOUNTAIN was in labour, and the people of seven cities had
assembled to watch its movements and hear its groans. While they
waited in breathless expectancy out came a Mouse.

"Oh, what a baby!" they cried in derision.

"I may be a baby," said the Mouse, gravely, as he passed outward
through the forest of shins, "but I know tolerably well how to
diagnose a volcano."

The Bellamy and the Members

THE Members of a body of Socialists rose in insurrection against
their Bellamy.

"Why," said they, "should we be all the time tucking you out with
food when you do nothing to tuck us out?"

So, resolving to take no further action, they went away, and
looking backward had the satisfaction to see the Bellamy compelled
to sell his own book.


The Wolf and the Crane

A RICH Man wanted to tell a certain lie, but the lie was of such
monstrous size that it stuck in his throat; so he employed an
Editor to write it out and publish it in his paper as an editorial.
But when the Editor presented his bill, the Rich Man said:

"Be content - is it nothing that I refrained from advising you
about investments?"

The Lion and the Mouse

A JUDGE was awakened by the noise of a lawyer prosecuting a Thief.
Rising in wrath he was about to sentence the Thief to life
imprisonment when the latter said:

"I beg that you will set me free, and I will some day requite your

Pleased and flattered to be bribed, although by nothing but an
empty promise, the Judge let him go. Soon afterward he found that
it was more than an empty promise, for, having become a Thief, he
was himself set free by the other, who had become a Judge.

The Hares and the Frogs

THE Members of a Legislature, being told that they were the meanest
thieves in the world, resolved to commit suicide. So they bought
shrouds, and laying them in a convenient place prepared to cut
their throats. While they were grinding their razors some Tramps
passing that way stole the shrouds.

"Let us live, my friends," said one of the Legislators to the
others; "the world is better than we thought. It contains meaner
thieves than we."

The Belly and the Members

SOME Workingmen employed in a shoe factory went on a strike,
saying: "Why should we continue to work to feed and clothe our
employer when we have none too much to eat and wear ourselves?"

The Manufacturer, seeing that he could get no labour for a long
time and finding the times pretty hard anyhow, burned down his shoe
factory for the insurance, and when the strikers wanted to resume
work there was no work to resume. So they boycotted a tanner.

The Piping Fisherman

AN Editor who was always vaunting the purity, enterprise, and
fearlessness of his paper was pained to observe that he got no
subscribers. One day it occurred to him to stop saying that his
paper was pure and enterprising and fearless, and make it so. "If
these are not good qualities," he reasoned, "it is folly to claim

Under the new policy he got so many subscribers that his rivals
endeavoured to discover the secret of his prosperity, but he kept
it, and when he died it died with him.

The Ants and the Grasshopper

SOME Members of a Legislature were making schedules of their wealth
at the end of the session, when an Honest Miner came along and
asked them to divide with him. The members of the Legislature

"Why did you not acquire property of your own?"

"Because," replied the Honest Miner, "I was so busy digging out
gold that I had no leisure to lay up something worth while."

Then the Members of the Legislature derided him, saying:

"If you waste your time in profitless amusement, you cannot, of
course, expect to share the rewards of industry."

The Dog and His Reflection

A STATE Official carrying off the Dome of the Capitol met the Ghost
of his predecessor, who had come out of his political grave to warn
him that God saw him. As the place of meeting was lonely and the
time midnight, the State Official set down the Dome of the Capitol,
and commanded the supposed traveller to throw up his hands. The
Ghost replied that he had not eaten them, and while he was
explaining the situation another State Official silently added the
dome to his own collection.

The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox

Two Thieves having stolen a Piano and being unable to divide it
fairly without a remainder went to law about it and continued the
contest as long as either one could steal a dollar to bribe the
judge. When they could give no more an Honest Man came along and
by a single small payment obtained a judgment and took the Piano
home, where his daughter used it to develop her biceps muscles,
becoming a famous pugiliste.

The Ass and the Lion's Skin

A MEMBER of the State Militia stood at a street corner, scowling
stormily, and the people passing that way went a long way around
him, thinking of the horrors of war. But presently, in order to
terrify them still more, he strode toward them, when, his sword
entangling his legs, he fell upon the field of glory, and the
people passed over him singing their sweetest songs.

The Ass and the Grasshoppers

A STATESMAN heard some Labourers singing at their work, and wishing
to be happy too, asked them what made them so.

"Honesty," replied the Labourers.

So the Statesman resolved that he too would be honest, and the
result was that he died of want.

The Wolf and the Lion

AN Indian who had been driven out of a fertile valley by a White
Settler, said:

"Now that you have robbed me of my land, there is nothing for me to
do but issue invitations to a war-dance."

"I don't so much mind your dancing," said the White Settler,
putting a fresh cartridge into his rifle, "but if you attempt to
make me dance you will become a good Indian lamented by all who
didn't know you. How did YOU get this land, anyhow?"

The Indian's claim was compromised for a plug hat and a tin horn.

The Hare and the Tortoise

OF two Writers one was brilliant but indolent; the other though
dull, industrious. They set out for the goal of fame with equal
opportunities. Before they died the brilliant one was detected in
seventy languages as the author of but two or three books of
fiction and poetry, while the other was honoured in the Bureau of
Statistics of his native land as the compiler of sixteen volumes of
tabulated information relating to the domestic hog.

The Milkmaid and Her Bucket

A SENATOR fell to musing as follows: "With the money which I shall
get for my vote in favour of the bill to subsidise cat-ranches, I
can buy a kit of burglar's tools and open a bank. The profit of
that enterprise will enable me to obtain a long, low, black
schooner, raise a death's-head flag and engage in commerce on the
high seas. From my gains in that business I can pay for the
Presidency, which at $50,000 a year will give me in four years - "
but it took him so long to make the calculation that the bill to
subsidise cat-ranches passed without his vote, and he was compelled
to return to his constituents an honest man, tormented with a clean

King Log and King Stork

THE People being dissatisfied with a Democratic Legislature, which
stole no more than they had, elected a Republican one, which not
only stole all they had but exacted a promissory note for the
balance due, secured by a mortgage upon their hope of death.

The Wolf Who Would Be a Lion

A FOOLISH Fellow who had been told that he was a great man believed
it, and got himself appointed a Commissioner to the Interasylum
Exposition of Preserved Idiots. At the first meeting of the Board
he was mistaken for one of the exhibits, and the janitor was
ordered to remove him to his appropriate glass case.

"Alas!" he exclaimed as he was carried out, "why was I not content
to remain where the cut of my forehead is so common as to be known
as the Pacific Slope?"

The Monkey and the Nuts

A CERTAIN City desiring to purchase a site for a public Deformatory
procured an appropriation from the Government of the country.
Deeming this insufficient for purchase of the site and payment of
reasonable commissions to themselves, the men in charge of the
matter asked for a larger sum, which was readily given. Believing
that the fountain could not be dipped dry, they applied for still
more and more yet. Wearied at last by their importunities, the
Government said it would be damned if it gave anything. So it gave
nothing and was damned all the harder.

The Boys and the Frogs

SOME editors of newspapers were engaged in diffusing general
intelligence and elevating the moral sentiment of the public. They
had been doing this for some time, when an Eminent Statesman stuck
his head out of the pool of politics, and, speaking for the members
of his profession, said:

"My friends, I beg you will desist. I know you make a great deal
of money by this kind of thing, but consider the damage you inflict
upon the business of others!"

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