Tuesday, March 31

The peacock


The Peacock, they say, did not at first have the beautiful feathers in which he now takes so much pride.  

Juno, whose favorite he was, granted to him one day when he begged her for a train of feathers to distinguish him from the other birds. 

Then, decked in his finery, gleaming with emerald, gold, purple and azure, he strutted proudly among the birds. All regarded him with envy. Even the most beautiful pheasant could see that his beauty was surpassed.

The Peacock saw an Eagle soaring high up in the blue sky and felt a desire to fly, as he had been accustomed to do. 

Lifting his wings he tried to rise from the ground. But the weight of his magnificent train held him down. Instead of flying up to greet the first rays of the morning sun or to bathe in the rosy light among the floating clouds at sunset, he would have to walk the ground more encumbered and oppressed than any common barnyard fowl.


Do not sacrifice your freedom for the sake of display and show.

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Monday, March 30

The wolf and the shepherd


A Wolf, lurking near the Shepherd's hut, saw the Shepherd and his family feasting on a roasted lamb.

"Aha!" he muttered. "What a great shouting and running about there would have been, had they caught me at just the very thing they are doing with so much enjoyment!"

Men often condemn others for what they see no wrong in doing themselves.



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Tuesday, March 24

The heron

A Heron was walking sedately along the bank of a stream, his eyes on the clear water  and his long neck and pointed bill ready to snap up a likely morsel for his breakfast. The clear water swarmed with fish, but Master Heron was hard to please that morning.

"No small fry for me," he said. "Such scanty fare is not fit for a Heron." Now a fine young Perch swam near. "No indeed," said the Heron. "I wouldn't even trouble to open my beak for anything like that!"

As the sun rose, the fish left the shallow water near the shore and swam below into the cool depths toward the middle. The Heron saw no more fish  and very glad was he at last to breakfast on a tiny snail.

Do not be too hard to suit or you may have to be content with the worst or with nothing at all.

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Monday, March 23

The ants and the grasshoper


One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.

"What!" cried the Ants in surprise, "haven't you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?"

"I didn't have time to store up any food," whined the Grasshopper; "I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone."

The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.

"Making music, were you?" they cried. "Very well; now dance!" And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.

There's a time for work and a time for play.


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Sunday, March 22

The fox and the grapes

 A Fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice and the Fox's mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.

The bunch hung from a high branch, and the Fox had to jump for it. The first time he jumped he missed it by a long way. So he walked off a short distance and took a running leap at it only to fall short once more. Again and again he tried but in vain. Now he sat down and looked at the grapes in disgust.

"What a fool I am," he said. "Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for." And off he walked very, very scornfully.

There are many who pretend to despise and belittle that which is beyond their reach.

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Friday, March 20

The town mouse and the country mouse


A Town Mouse once visited a relative who lived in the country. For lunch the Country Mouse served wheat stalks, roots and acorns, with a dash of cold water for drink. The Town Mouse ate very sparingly, nibbling a little of this and a little of that, and by her manner making it very plain that she ate the simple food only to be polite.

After the meal the friends had a long talk,  the Town Mouse talked about her life in the city while the Country Mouse listened. They then went to bed in a cozy nest in the hedgerow and slept in quiet and comfort until morning. In her sleep the Country Mouse dreamed she was a Town Mouse with all the luxuries and delights of city life that her friend had described for her. 


So the next day when the Town Mouse asked the Country Mouse to go home with her to the city, she gladly said yes.

When they reached the mansion in which the Town Mouse lived, they found on the table in the dining room the leavings of a very fine banquet. There were sweetmeats and jellies, pastries, delicious cheeses, indeed, the most tempting foods that a Mouse can imagine. 

But just as the Country Mouse was about to nibble a dainty bit of pastry, she heard a Cat mew loudly and scratch at the door. In great fear the Mice scurried to a hiding place, where they lay quite still for a long time, hardly daring to breathe. 

When at last they ventured back to the feast, the door opened suddenly and in came the servants to clear the table, followed by the House Dog.

The Country Mouse stopped in the Town Mouse's den only long enough to pick up her carpet bag and umbrella.

"You may have luxuries and dainties that I have not," she said as she hurried away, "but I prefer my plain food and simple life in the country with the peace and security that go with it."

Poverty with security is better than plenty in the midst of fear and uncertainty.



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Wednesday, March 18

The milkmaid and her pail


A Milkmaid had been out to milk the cows and was returning from the field with the shining milk pail balanced nicely on her head. As she walked along, her pretty head was busy with plans for the days to come.

"This good, rich milk," she mused, "will give me plenty of cream to churn. The butter I make I will take to market, and with the money I get for it I will buy a lot of eggs for hatching. How nice it will be when they are all hatched and the yard is full of fine young chicks. Then when May day comes I will sell them, with the money I'll buy a lovely new dress to wear to the fair. 

As she thought of how she would settle that matter, she tossed her head scornfully and down fell the pail of milk to the ground. All the milk flowed out, with it vanished butter, eggs chicks and new dress and all the milkmaid's pride.


Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.



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Tuesday, March 17

The peacock and the crane

A Peacock, puffed up with vanity, met a Crane one day and to impress him spread his gorgeous tail in the Sun.

"Look," he said. "What have you to compare with this? I am dressed in all the glory of the rainbow, while your feathers are gray as dust!"

The Crane spread his broad wings and flew up toward the sun.

"Follow me if you can," he said. But the Peacock stood where he was among the birds of the barnyard, while the Crane soared in freedom far up into the blue sky.

The useful is of much more importance and value, than the ornamental.

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Monday, March 16

The sheep and the pig


One day a shepherd discovered a fat Pig in the meadow where his Sheep were pastured. 

He very quickly captured the pig, which squealed at the top of its voice the moment the Shepherd laid his hands on it. You would have thought, to hear the loud squealing, that the Pig was being cruelly hurt. But in spite of its squeals and struggles to escape, the Shepherd tucked his prize under his arm and started off to the butcher's in the market place.

The Sheep in the pasture were much astonished and amused at the Pig's behavior  and followed the Shepherd and his charge to the pasture gate.

"What makes you squeal like that?" asked one of the Sheep. "The Shepherd often catches and carries off one of us. But we should feel very much ashamed to make such a terrible fuss about it like you do."

"That is all very well," replied the Pig, with a squeal and a frantic kick. "When he catches you he is only after your wool. But he wants my bacon! 

It is easy to be brave when there is no danger.




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Friday, March 13

The oak and the reeds


A Giant Oak stood near a brook in which grew some slender Reeds. When the wind blew, the great Oak stood proudly upright with its hundred arms uplifted to the sky. But the Reeds bowed low in the wind and sang a sad and mournful song.

"You have reason to complain," said the Oak. "The slightest breeze that ruffles the surface of the water makes you bow your heads, while I, the mighty Oak, stand upright and firm before the howling tempest."

"Do not worry about us," replied the Reeds. "The winds do not harm us. We bow before them and so we do not break. You, in all your pride and strength, have so far resisted their blows. But the end is coming."

As the Reeds spoke a great hurricane rushed out of the north. The Oak stood proudly and fought against the storm, while the yielding Reeds bowed low. The wind redoubled in fury, and all at once the great tree fell, torn up by the roots, and lay among the pitying Reeds.


Better to yield when it is folly to resist, than to resist stubbornly and be destroyed.





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Wednesday, March 11

The fox and the pheasants


One moonlight evening as Master Fox was taking his usual stroll in the woods, he saw a number of Pheasants perched quite out of his reach on a limb of a tall old tree. 

The sly Fox soon found a bright patch of moonlight, where the Pheasants could see him clearly; there he raised himself up on his hind legs and began a wild dance. First he whirled 'round and 'round like a top, then he hopped up and down, cutting all sorts of strange capers. The Pheasants stared giddily. They hardly dared blink for fear of losing him out of their sight a single instant.

Now the Fox made as if to climb a tree, now he fell over and lay still, playing dead and the next instant he was hopping on all fours, his back in the air and his bushy tail shaking so that it seemed to throw out silver sparks in the moonlight.

By this time the poor birds' heads were in a whirl. And when the Fox began his performance all over again, so dazed did they become, that they lost their hold on the limb and fell down one by one to the Fox.


Too much attention to danger may cause us to fall victims to it.


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Monday, March 9

The animals and the plague


Once upon a time a severe plague raged among the animals. Many died and those who lived were so ill, that they cared for neither food nor drink and dragged themselves about listlessly. No longer could a fat young hen tempt Master Fox to dinner, nor a tender lamb rouse greedy Sir Wolf's appetite.

At last the Lion decided to call a council. When all the animals were gathered together he arose and said:

"Dear friends, I believe the gods have sent this plague upon us as a punishment for our sins. Therefore, the most guilty one of us must be offered in sacrifice. Perhaps we may thus obtain forgiveness and cure for all. I will confess all my sins first. I admit that I have been very greedy and have devoured many sheep. They had done me no harm. I have eaten goats and bulls and stags. To tell the truth, I even ate up a shepherd now and then.  Now, if I am the most guilty, I am ready to be sacrificed. But I think it best that each one confess his sins as I have done. Then we can decide in all justice who is the most guilty."

"Your majesty," said the Fox, "you are too good. Can it be a crime to eat sheep, such stupid mutton heads? No, no, your majesty. You have done them great honor by eating them up.
"And so far as shepherds are concerned, we all know they belong to that puny race that pretends to be our masters."

All the animals applauded the Fox loudly. Then, though the Tiger, the Bear, the Wolf and all the savage beasts recited the most wicked deeds, all were excused and made to appear very saint-like and innocent.

It was now the Ass's turn to confess.

"I remember," he said guiltily, "that one day as I was passing a field belonging to some priests, I was so tempted by the tender grass and my hunger, that I could not resist nibbling a bit of it. I had no right to do it, I admit."

A great uproar among the beasts interrupted him. Here was the culprit who had brought misfortune on all of them! What a horrible crime it was to eat grass that belonged to someone else! It was enough to hang anyone for, much more an Ass.

Immediately they all fell upon him, the Wolf in the lead, and soon had made an end to him, sacrificing him to the gods then and there and without the formality of an altar.

The weak are made to suffer for the misdeeds of the powerful.




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Saturday, March 7

The mother and the wolf


Early one morning a hungry Wolf was prowling around a cottage at the edge of a village, when he heard a child crying in the house. Then he heard the Mother's voice say:

"Hush, child, hush! Stop your crying, or I will give you to the Wolf!"

Surprised but delighted at the prospect of so delicious a meal, the Wolf settled down under an open window, expecting every moment to have the child handed out to him. But though the little one continued to fret, the Wolf waited all day in vain. Then, toward nightfall, he heard the Mother's voice again as she sat down near the window to sing and rock her baby to sleep.

"There, child, there! The Wolf shall not get you. No, no! Daddy is watching and Daddy will kill him if he should come near!"

Just then the Father came within sight of the home  and the Wolf was barely able to save himself from the Dogs by a clever bit of running.

Do not believe everything you hear.


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The lion and the mouse


A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion's nose. Roused from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her.

"Spare me!" begged the poor Mouse. "Please let me go and some day I will surely repay you." The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go.

Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was caught in the toils of a hunter's net. Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net. Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted, and soon the Lion was free.

"You laughed when I said I would repay you," said the Mouse. "Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion."

A kindness is never wasted.




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Friday, March 6

The hares and the frogs


Hares, as you know  are very timid. The least shadow  sends them scurrying in fright to a hiding place. Once they decided to die rather than live in such misery. 

But while they were debating how best to meet death, they thought they heard a noise and in a flash were scampering off to the warren. On the way they passed a pond where a family of Frogs was sitting among the reeds on the bank. In an instant the startled Frogs were seeking safety in the mud.

"Look," cried a Hare, "things are not so bad after all, for here are creatures who are even afraid of us!"

However unfortunate we may think we are there is always someone worse off than ourselves.


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Wednesday, March 4

The monkey and the camel


At a great celebration in honor of King Lion, the Monkey was asked to dance for the company. His dancing was very clever indeed, and the animals were all highly pleased with his grace and lightness.

The praise that was showered on the Monkey made the Camel envious. He was very sure that he could dance quite as well as the Monkey, if not better, so he pushed his way into the crowd that was gathered around the Monkey, and rising on his hind legs, began to dance. But the big hulking Camel made himself very ridiculous as he kicked out his knotty legs and twisted his long clumsy neck. Besides, the animals found it hard to keep their toes from under his heavy hoofs.

At last, when one of his huge feet came within an inch of King Lion's nose, the animals were so disgusted that they set upon the Camel in a rage and drove him out into the desert. Shortly afterward, refreshments consisting mostly of Camel's hump and ribs, were served to the company.

Do not try to ape your betters.




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Sunday, March 1

The mice and the weasels


The Weasels and the Mice were always up in arms against each other. In every battle the Weasels carried off the victory, as well as a large number of the Mice, which they ate for dinner next day. In despair the Mice called a council and there it was decided that the Mouse army was always beaten because it had no leaders. So a large number of generals and commanders were appointed from among the most eminent Mice.

To distinguish themselves from the soldiers in the ranks, the new leaders proudly bound on their heads lofty crests and ornaments of feathers or straw. Then after long preparation of the Mouse army in all the arts of war, they sent a challenge to the Weasels.

The Weasels accepted the challenge with eagerness, for they were always ready for a fight when a meal was in sight. They immediately attacked the Mouse army in large numbers. Soon the Mouse line gave way before the attack and the whole army fled for cover. 

The privates easily slipped into their holes, but the Mouse leaders could not squeeze through the narrow openings because of their head-dresses. Not one escaped the teeth of the hungry Weasels.

Greatness has its penalties.


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