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Fables for the Young by Sarsfield Young

THE LION AND THE FOX. The Lion and the Fox once traveled in company. Upon their coming to a public-house, it was agreed that the former should go in and get a dinner, while Master Reynard kept watch at the door. In stalked the Lion boldly, and ordered a haunch of venison and a blood-pudding. The servant-maid, instead of fainting away, bade him throw his mane over a chair and take his ease. Locking the door as she withdrew, she sent for a policeman, and before night King Lion was snugly back in the menagerie whence he and his companion had that morning escaped.

Master Reynard, scenting what was in the wind, took to the woods and was seen no more.

Moral: This fable teaches us to beware of that pretended friendship which is specious and hollow.

THE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS. The Gorilla, the Hippopotamus and the Snapping-Turtle were once upon a time partaking of a royal dinner at the table of an opulent old Oyster, when the conversation turned upon personal beauty. Each one of the guests present claimed for himself that he alone was the favorite among the ladies for his handsome form and features. As the wine had gone around freely, the discussion grew heated, and upon the suggestion of the Gorilla it was left to their host to decide between them.

In vain did Mr. Saddlerock (for that was the host's name) insist that the point was too delicate for so humble an individual as himself to presume to pass upon.

"Nay," said all three in concert, "tell us honestly what you think."

"But I may offend you," urged the bivalve.

"Oh, that were impossible," smiled the Turtle.

"Quite so," grunted the Hippopotamus.

"My dear friend," added the Gorilla with a leer, "as for myself, I am so confident of being considered an Apollo that I wish for nothing so much as your candid opinion."

"Well, gentlemen," replied Mr. Saddlerock, "since you all urge me to disclose my real sentiments, I will do so. So far from being good-looking, egad! it's hard telling which of you has the ugliest countenance! In fact, you'd better draw lots for it."

No sooner had this remark fallen from his lips than he saw his mistake. He ran to the window, jumped out and vainly attempted to climb a tall sycamore in the garden. The Gorilla, seizing him with a clutch like that of a vice, dragged him ignominiously back to the dining-hall. Here the unhappy Mr. Saddlerock was opened, and the wicked Gorilla swallowed his body in a twinkle, flinging thereafter a shell to each of the other competitors.

Moral: When the powerful quarrel, don't let yourself become mixed up with them or you may get hurt.

THE SANGUINARY DUEL. Two men fought a duel. Let us distinguish them by the names of A and B respectively. It was a real, bona-fide, powder-and-ball affair. A meant business: so did B.

It was a terrible encounter.

A had all the vocal part of his jaw shot off, and several useful portions of his epiglottis carried away. Totally unfitted for his business as auctioneer, he died some years after of dyspepsia of the brain.

B parted company with his left arm, so he was compelled to pass himself off as a disabled hero of the rebellion and accept a snug little office in the United States custom-house, where there was nothing whatever to do.

That is all.

The dispute grew out of something A had said about B. B said A said that B said something, and B said he hadn't said it.

Moral: Don't duel.

THE DOG AND THE SPARE-RIB. A mastiff crossing a bridge, and bearing in his mouth a piece of meat, suddenly swallowed the meat. He immediately observed that the shadow of the aforesaid meat in the water had disappeared.

Such is optics.

Moral: We learn from this fable that life is but a shadow.

THE ASS AND THE LOCOMOTIVE. A donkey one day was quietly munching thistles when he heard the screaming whistle of a locomotive. Pricking up his ears, he started into a gallop and raced across lots with his tail high in the air.

Moral: This fable teaches what an ass he was.

THE MOUSE AND THE CAT. A mouse once peeped from his hole and saw a cat. The cat was looking the other way, and happened not to see the mouse.

Nobody killed.

Moral: This little fable doesn't teach anything.