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thee? And Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant."
THE HOG AND OTHER ANIMALS.
A debate once arose among the animals in a farm-yard, which of them was most valued by their master. After the horse, the ox, the cow, the sheep, and the dog had each stated their views, the hog took up the discourse as follows:
"It is plain," said he, "that the greatest value must be set upon that animal which is kept most for his own sake, without expecting from him any return of use or service. Now which of you can boast so much in that respect as I can ?
"As for you, horse, though you are very well fed and lodged, and have servants to attend upon you, and make you sleek and clean, yet all this is for the sake of your labour. Do not I see you taken out early every morning, put in chains, or fastened to the shafts of a heavy cart, and not brought back till evening?
For you, cow, who are so dainty over your hay and chaff, you are thought worth keeping only for your milk, which is drained from you twice a day, to the last drop; while your poor young ones are taken from you, and sent far away, or given to the butcher to kill for meat.
"You, poor innocent sheep, who are turned out to shift for yourselves upon the bare hills, you pay
dearly enough for your keep by giving up your warm coat every year, for want of which you are liable to be starved to death in some of the cold nights before summer.
"As for the dog, who prides himself so much on being admitted to our master's table, he is obliged to do all the work of a household servant by day, and to keep watch during the night while we are quietly asleep.
"In short, you are all of you creatures kept for use-some to draw burdens, some to be fleeced of your coats, some to give milk to your masters, and others to guard his property from the thieves at night. I, on the contrary, have a warm stye, and plenty of good things to eat without paying anything. I have nothing to do but to grow fat, and amuse myself: and my master is best pleased when he sees me lying at ease in the sun, or filling my belly."
Thus argued the hog, and put the rest of the animals to silence. It was not long, however, before winter set in, and it happened to be a very scarce season for fodder of all kind. The farmer began to consider how he was to keep all his live stock till the spring. "I shall not be able," thought he, "to keep them all; I must, therefore, part with those I can best spare. As for my horses, I shall have work enough to do to keep them employed; they must be kept, cost what it will. My cows will not give me much milk in the winter, but will calve in the spring, and be ready for the new grass. I must not lose the profits of
my dairy. The sheep, poor things, will take care of themselves as long as there is a bite on the hills; and if deep snow comes we must do with them as well as we can by the help of a few turnips and some hay; for I must have their wool at shearing-time to pay my rent with. But my hogs will eat me out of house and home, without doing me any good. They must be sent to the butcher, that's certain; and those that are fat shall go at once, before they cost me any more money in feeding them!"
So saying he singled out the pig who had spoken, as one of the very fattest, and sent him to the butcher the very next day.
Those evening bells! those evening bells!
THE FABLE OF THE ASS, THE OX, AND THE LABOURER.
A very rich merchant had several houses in the country, where he bred a considerable number of cattle of various descriptions. He understood the language of beasts, and so became acquainted with the following narrative:
He had put by chance an ox and an ass into the same stall; and being one day seated near them, he heard the ox say to the ass, "How happy do I think your lot, when I consider the repose you enjoy, and the little labour you are required to perform. A servant looks after you with great care, cleans you, feeds you with fine sifted barley, and gives you fresh and clean water. Your greatest task is to carry the merchant, our master, when he has occasion to take a short journey; but for that your whole life would be passed in idleness.
"How different now is the manner in which they treat me: my condition is as unhappy as yours is pleasant. Early in the morning they yoke me to a plough, with which they make me turn up the ground the whole day; while the labourer, who is constantly behind, continually urges me on with a goad. The weight and force of the plough, too, rubs all the skin from my neck, When I have worked from morning till night, they give me unwholesome, dirty beans, or even something worse; and to complete my misery, after having been obliged to satisfy my hunger on
such food, I am compelled to pass the night in a dirty stall. Have I not then reason to envy your
The ass suffered the ox to say what he pleased, and when he had finished, addressed him in these words: "In truth they are not far wrong when they call you an idiot, since you pass your life just as they please, and take no thought on your own behalf. What benefit, pray, do you derive from all your misfortunes? You even destroy yourself for the ease, pleasure, and profit of those who do not thank you for it.
"They would not treat you thus, believe me, if you possessed as much courage as strength. When they come to tie you to the manger, what resistance, pray, do you ever make? Do you ever put them in mind of your horns? Do you ever show your anger by stamping on the ground with your feet? Why don't you terrify them with your bellowing? Nature has given you the means of making yourself respected, and yet you neglect to use them. They bring you bad beans and chaff; well, do not eat them, smell at them only, and leave them. Thus, if you follow my plans you will soon perceive a change, which you will thank me for."
The ox took the advice of the ass very kindly, and declared himself much obliged to him. "My dear companion," added he, "I will not fail to do as you bid me, and you shall see how I acquit myself." After this conversation, of which the merchant heard every word, they were silent.