A fox, which had been caught young, was kept as a pet. He was kept chained up in the yard and became very tame. The children played with him. The watch dog gamboled with him and the chickens and geese did not fear him but came up and pecked at his food without fear. The fox did not even growl at them. The mistress thought the fox was very pretty. She thought it was cruel to keep him chained up all the time. She thought it would be safe to let him loose. So she unbuckled the collar and let him go free. He was very glad to be unchained and frisked about. By and by the mistress heard a great noise and squalling among her geese and chickens. She ran out to see what was the matter. She saw the fox running away with her fattest pullet slung over his shoulder.
“You treacherous fox,” shouted the woman, “I thought you were so good.”
“Ah,” said the fox, “I was good while I was chained, but now I am free.”
Bad habits are like this fox. While we keep them chained and watch them, they give us no trouble. As soon as they are free they begin to rob us of our good qualities until we have a bad name. Beware of the little foxes, or bad habits.
The Boy and His Stomach
Once upon a time there was a little boy, who had a very fine stomach. He thought a great deal of his stomach. In fact, he was in love with it. The stomach was very greedy. The little boy gave his stomach many nice things, such as apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, nuts, cakes, figs, dates, and candy. He thought he was very kind to his stomach but he only spoiled it, because, after a while, it was never satisfied. It longed for something good all the time. The boy spent all his money for nice things for his stomach. His stomach kept on crying, “More, more,” and the boy asked his mamma to help get him things for it. It troubled him very much but he could not refuse it. He let it have everything. By and by it became his master and was very troublesome. It gave him no peace. He could not study or think, because his stomach bothered him so much. When the boy was at work, his stomach troubled him and he had to stop and feed it, and give it good things to make it keep still.
So you see it does not pay to spoil a stomach. A spoiled stomach is like a spoiled child, very troublesome and annoying all the time.
The Lark and the Young Ones
Alark had made her nest in a field of grain. She had young ones in the nest and the grain was almost ripe. The lark was fearful lest the owner would come and cut the grain before her birdlings were old enough to fly away. Every day when the lark went away to get food for her young ones, she strictly charged them to report to her what they might hear the farmer say about the grain. One morning the farmer and his son came to the field to look at the grain. The young larks heard the farmer say, “This grain is now ripe. Go to our friends and neighbors and tell them to come, help us reap it.” When the old lark returned, the young ones, in much fear, reported what they had heard. They begged their mother to remove them at once. But the lark replied, “Do not fear. The grain will not be reaped tomorrow, if the owner depends on his friends and neighbors.”
The next morning the farmer and his son came to the field but nobody came to help them. Then the father said to his son, “Our friends and neighbors have not come to help us. Now go to your uncles and cousins and tell them to come and help us reap our grain.” Then the little larks were much frightened indeed. They told the old lark what they had heard and begged her to remove them quickly. But again the mother quieted them and said, “If the owner depends on his kinsfolk and relations the grain will not be cut tomorrow.” She bade them be very careful what they heard the next time. The next morning the farmer and his son came to the field again but no one came to help them cut the grain. The man was disappointed. He said to his boy, “Get two good sickles and we will cut the grain ourselves tomorrow.”
Again the young larks reported to the old lark, who replied, “Now indeed, we must move for when a man decides to do his own work it will be done.” So the old lark moved her young ones to a place of safety and the farmer and his son cut down all the grain.
This story teaches us that we must not depend too much on others. It teaches us it is best to do our own work when we can. If we want to get rich we must work for ourselves. If we want wisdom we must study and think for ourselves.
The Grateful Dog
There was a little girl whose home was in Rome, Italy. She was about ten years old. She was a kind-hearted girl and always treated dumb animals kindly. Near her home, she often met a half-starved dog. This dog was not beautiful, nor was he clean, but the little girl pitied him because he had been treated unkindly and could not get enough to eat. She fed him crumbs from her lunch and caressed him. The dog seemed to appreciate her kindness.
One day the little girl was playing on a bridge which crossed the Tiber River. She was careless and fell from the bridge into the water. Many people saw her fall, but they could not help her. They ran about on the bridge. The policemen who saw her were afraid to go into the water to save the girl, and she would surely be drowned.
Suddenly a lean, yellow dog came barking to the river. He sprang into the water and swam out to the girl. He seized her dress and drew her to the shore. When he saw that she was safe he jumped about and barked loudly. He licked the girl’s face and hands and showed that he was very glad. It was the dog which the little girl had fed and treated kindly. He remembered her and saved her life. He was a grateful dog.
It always pays to treat animals kindly.
Boys and Monkeys
There was a man who owned a large orange plantation in the South.
When the oranges became ripe, he employed many small boys to pick them, wrap them in tissue paper, and pack them in boxes.
One day a gentleman came to the grove with a monkey. It was very funny. It watched the boys pick oranges for awhile, then it scampered up a tree very quickly, picked an orange, brought it down, wrapped it in paper and put it in a box and then grimaced at the boys. The owner of the orchard was amused. He thought monkeys might make good pickers and so he bought a dozen monkeys and taught them to pick oranges. For awhile they did very well but by and by they became very careless and lazy. They had to be watched all the time or they would play or quarrel among themselves. The overseer of the plantation did not watch the boys at work. They had good sense and knew what to do after being told. The monkeys were mischievous and foolish.
When the overseer’s back was turned, they would stop working. Sometimes they would throw oranges at each other and spoil the fruit, or they would chase one another up and down the trees and shake the oranges off and so bruise them. When the overseer held a stick in his hand and watched them, they would be very good but they could not be watched all the time. The longer that faithful boys remained in the orchard, the more useful they became for they learned all the time. When they grew up, some of them became orange growers themselves. But the longer the monkeys stayed, the more troublesome they became until at last, they were of no use and had to be sent away altogether. They learned nothing more than they knew at first.
Now some boys are like the monkeys. They learn a little but do not improve. They do not like to work and have to be watched and threatened like monkeys. They get into mischief and are quick to learn the foolish things they see other people do. In short, their minds do not grow and they soon become useless. Nobody wants to employ them and they are turned away and avoided. They are little better than chattering monkeys for they love to talk and talk about silly things all the time. A sensible boy likes to be busy and useful. He wants to learn useful things and improve his mind. His mind grows and he understands how to do things. He is not like the monkeys for he does better and better every day. Do not be a monkey, for it is only fit to be looked at and made fun of. Be a man.
The Miller and His Donkey
Once upon a time there was a miller. He lived long ago, but it does not matter where. He was not a very smart man but he was industrious and frugal. He worked hard in his mill and saved all he could. By and by he had saved enough to own a donkey. The animal was good and strong, and the miller thought he would sell it and get some money. There was a fair in the city some distance from the miller’s home. He concluded to take the donkey there and sell it. One bright morning he started to the fair with the animal and his son. They did not ride. The father and son walked along the road and the donkey walked between them. As they trudged along the dusty road they met a company of gay, young men. They were laughing and talking. They noticed the miller and his son walking and leading the donkey. They laughed and made fun of the miller because neither he nor his son rode. They asked him why one of them did not get on and ride. Then the son quickly sprang upon the beast and rode while his father walked by the side.
A little further on they met some old merchants. They reproved the son who was riding. They called him a lazy lout because he did not walk and let his poor old father ride. Then the miller made the boy get off and he himself mounted the donkey. They traveled thus a little piece further and met a bevy of young girls. “What a shame!” exclaimed they, “that such a big, strong man should ride and make his poor boy walk.” They asked the miller why he did not let his son ride. Then the miller thought he would please the girls and told the boy to get up behind him. So both rode the donkey and made a pretty heavy load for it.
Now they met many people on the road who noticed the two persons riding the little animal. They thought they were cruel and called them brutes. They said they ought to be ashamed of themselves. At last the miller and his son both got off. Then, thinking to please the people, they took up the donkey and carried it along on their shoulders. They thought the people would think they were kind. But now the people laughed and shouted. It was very funny to see the miller and his son carrying the donkey. They said the miller had a very funny pet. They wanted to know if he kept his pet in the parlor and if it was made of glass. The people asked many other funny questions. At last the miller and his son became angry and threw the donkey off their shoulders. The miller said he had tried to please everyone but could not. Now he would please himself and do as he thought proper. After that he got along very well and the people did not find fault with him any more.
This story teaches us that we cannot please everybody. We should do what is right and let people think as they please.
Two cunning kittens, Jim Crow and Raven, shared the cozy home of a maiden lady. They had the sweetest milk to lap and the softest bed to sleep in behind the stove where it was warm. They were allowed the freedom of the house and could play among the downy cushions in the parlor. They were comfortable and happy when they did not quarrel, but I am sorry to say they often quarreled. They were greedy little things and each wanted the lion’s share of everything.
It happened one cold, stormy day that Jim Crow had caught a nice fat mouse and Raven wanted a taste of it. Jim Crow would not give him any so they quarreled and spat at each other. Soon they unsheathed their sharp claws and began to scratch and fight. Their mistress saw the naughty kittens quarreling and with the broom swept them both out into the storm. The wind blew and the snow beat into their fur. Now they were glad to stop quarreling and huddle together in a corner of the porch. Soon they became very cold and mewed piteously. They thought of their cozy bed behind the stove. Perhaps they were sorry for having been so naughty. They mewed very loudly and scratched at the door. Their mistress heard them. She took pity on them and let them in. She thought they had been sufficiently punished for quarreling. Being cold and wet they crawled into their bed and lay close together like good friends. Soon they were fast asleep. They had forgotten all about the mouse which had caused all the trouble.
Boys and girls often quarrel and fight about little things and have to be punished to make them good again just like these kittens. It is best not to be covetous or angry.
An ash wagon was standing in the street near the curb. There were some old boxes and barrels in the wagon. The owner was nowhere in sight. By and by a fat tramp came along. He noticed the wagon. He was tired and sleepy so he went and climbed upon the end of the wagon and sat down. He leaned back against the barrels and let his feet hang down outside. It was a comfortable seat and soon he went to sleep.
Two mischievous boys saw the tramp sleeping there. They also noticed that the wagon stood near a fireplug. They soon decided to have some fun. They procured a piece of strong rope and stole up to the wagon. One of them tied one end of the rope around the tramp’s ankle while the other boy tied the other end around the fireplug. Then they ran and hid behind a house to see what would happen.
Pretty soon the owner of the wagon came back. He climbed into his seat, cracked his whip, and started his team. The tramp’s leg being tied to the fireplug, he was dragged from the wagon. He fell on his back on the hard pavement and his dreams were rudely interrupted. When the naughty boys saw this, they danced with delight and ran away. They thought they had played a good joke on the tramp, but I think it was not very kind. The tramp learned that it is not safe to go to sleep in the public street.
Once there was a crow which lived with a company of other birds. Her feathers were plain and black. Her voice was harsh and coarse. She was awkward, but she was vain. She thought she had a fine head. The other birds did not like the crow very well. She thought it was because her feathers were so plain. She asked the other birds to lend her some feathers. The peacock gave her some long feathers for her tail. The goose gave her some white down for her neck. The hen gave her some for her wings. The turtledove gave her plumage for her back and the jay gave her one or two out of her crest for her head.
The silly crow stuck her borrowed feathers all over her body. Then she thought she was beautiful. She wanted all the other birds to see her, so she strutted about the yard. The other birds were very polite. They told her she was very pretty, but when her back was turned they made fun of her. They thought she was very silly. The crow sat upon a stump and tried to sing. Then all the other birds flapped their wings and ran away.
Now, some people are like this silly crow. They are not satisfied with their own clothes. They are vain and try to make other people think they are rich and pretty. They borrow their friends’ things. Sometimes they borrow a hat, sometimes a coat, sometimes shoes, sometimes all they can get. Then they visit about and try to be smart. They simper and strut. Their friends laugh at them on account of their “borrowed plumes.”
It is best to be contented with one’s own things. If we act well we will be thought beautiful, and if we act silly we will be considered ugly, even if we have no fine clothes. “Handsome is what handsome does.”
The Gentleman and the Banana Peel
A gentleman was walking along the street with a friend. All at once the latter stepped on a banana peel on the pavement. He slipped and fell down. His leg was badly broken. After this accident the gentleman could not bear the sight of a fruit peel on the sidewalk. He was afraid somebody would slip and be hurt like his friend. When he saw a peel on the pavement he always stopped and removed it. However busy he might be he never passed a fruit peel without sweeping it into the gutter. This had been his practice for many years. One day, not long since, he was walking along a crowded street. He saw a child in its mother’s arms, drop a banana peel on the pavement. The gentleman dodged about among the people, seized the peel, and deposited it in the gutter. The people understood why he did it and were pleased with this act of thoughtfulness for the safety of others. They nodded approvingly. One lady wished to show her appreciation. She fumbled in her purse and took out a nickel. She pressed it into the gentleman’s hand and said, “You did a kind act, sir, and should be rewarded.” The gentleman was astonished and offended. He did not want to be paid for doing such things. He looked at the retreating lady and then at the coin. Then he pitched it into the street. The “street arabs” scrambled for it. Then they followed the gentleman along the street. They thought he was crazy and would throw more money away. They were disappointed, however. The gentleman had no more money to throw to them. It is right, though, to remove fruit peels from the sidewalks. It may save somebody much pain and suffering.
Once there was a noted artist. He could paint beautiful pictures and he loved his art. Whenever he found a nice smooth surface anywhere he liked to draw and paint pictures on it. One day his wife was sick and her back pained her very much. The doctor visited her and prescribed for her. He told her husband, the artist, to put iodine on her back with a brush. When the doctor was gone the artist got the iodine and a brush and proceeded to do as the doctor had directed. His wife’s back was smooth and white. The artist imagined that it was a nice smooth canvas and began to paint a picture on it. He painted trees and flowers and other things. By and by his wife became impatient and asked him what he was doing so long. Then the artist came to himself and saw that he had painted a picture on his wife’s back while he was dreaming. He told his wife what he had done by mistake and they both laughed heartily.
I think the laugh did his wife as much good as the iodine.