A story that comes with a spoonfull of moral medicine doesn’t always go down nicely – unless, of course, it’s by Aesop. Aesop’s fables are loved pretty much everywhere. Perhaps it’s because animals with human foibles always strike a chord. In these four adaptations the animals themselves tell you about the lessons they’ve learned from life in their own voices. The four we’ve chosen this time are:
The Rat And the Elephant – Told by the Rat
The Grasshopper and the Ants – Told by the Grasshopper
Some people say that rats are ugly creatures. When they see a rat running along, they go ee-yuck ! Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that this was rather rude. Rats can have hurt feelings too you know ! In any case, when I catch sight of my reflection in a stream, I think I’m rather cute.
Just recently, I was trotting along the King’s Highway, in my sweet little way, when I heard a great commotion on the road up ahead. Who or what is causing all that fuss? I wondered.
When I got closer, I saw the king himself, riding along on top of a great fat lump of an elephant. The crowd of onlookers was ooo-ing and aah-ing full of admiration for that stupid beast with a nose that’s far too big for her face. She’s much uglier than me, I thought. And I so I started to spring up and down and say, hey every one, Why not look at me ! I’m such a cutie-pie! I could join the king’s household and be a Royal Rat, if only there was any justice in the world.
At first, nobody noticed me. They were all too busy oggling that stupid elephant. And little did I know, but riding behind the elephant in a carriage, was the princess, and she was holding a beastly cat in her arms. When he caught sight of me, the cat lept out of the carriage and started to chase me. I had to run for my life, and just popped down a hole in time before the cat could eat me up.
And so now I’ve changed my mind about wanting people to notice me and admire me. I’ve decided that sometimes, it’s far better not to draw attention to yourself, but just to get on quietly with your own business.
I’m an artist, and as everyone knows, artists are usually rather poor. But normally, I don’t mind about that. When the sun is shining, I sit on my favourite blade of grass and play music for everyone to listen too. I have lots of friends, and together we’ve formed an orchestra.
Everyone loves our music and says how cheerful it makes them feel. Well almost everyone. There’s a family of ants who never stop to listen. They take themselves far to seriously for music or enjoyment. All they do is work, work, work, even when the sun is shining.
“Hey You Ants” I said to them. “It’s a lovely summer’s day, Why don’t you rest your feet for a while, and listen to my sweet music?”.
“No time to stop,” one of them said, panting away. “We’re far too busy stocking up food for winter.”
The months went by, and the days got shorter and colder. I was shivering so much that I couldn’t even sing. A hard frost was on the ground, and there wasn’t a crumb to eat. I was so hungry ! So I went to see that busy family of ants and said, “Please Sirs, I’m a poor starving musician. Spare me a few crumbs from your store of food.”
But do you know what? Those ants just turned their noses up at me. They were so stingy that that they wouldn’t share any of their food. Oh Well, I’ll just have to go hungry this winter. In the New Year I’ll make a resolution. When the times are good, I’ll remember to save some food for a rainy day.
The Fox and the Crow
I bet you can’t guess what I like to eat best of all? Yes, I knew that you would say that foxes like to eat hens best, and stolen ones at that. And I don’t mind admitting that I wouldn’t ever say no to a nice fat chicken wing once in a while. But not many people know that what foxes appreciate even more than chicken, is a nice piece of cheese once in a while.
Well today I ate a wonderfully rich and creaming slice of cheddar for my breakfast. It was kindly given to me by a beautiful black-feathered bird whose voice is even more wonderful than her looks. No, I don’t mean a sky-lark, or a fancy bird of paradise. I’m talking about Miss Crow up in that tree.
It was a fine bright morning, and I was following my sharp nose through the woods in search of a bite to eat, when I caught a cheesy smell on the breeze. I looked up into the tree and there on the branch I saw Miss Crow, looking terribly pleased with herself, for in her beak she held a large piece of cheese. It was stolen, no doubt, from the farmer over the hill, but I’m not one to go around accusing people of this and that. And so I called up to my neighbour and said,
“Good Morning Miss Crow, You are looking very lovely today, If I may say so.” And Miss crow cocked her head on one side and looked at me with her beedy little eye, but she kept her beak firmly closed on the cheese.
“Such a charming creature,” I mused to myself, making sure nevertheless that she could overhear. “Such a fine sheen on those wonderous black feathers. What wings ! what Legs ! And the beak! Exquisite! ”
I could see that Miss crow was paying close attention to my words, even though she was pretending ever so hard not to hear.
So I gazed up at the tree with admiration and love in my eyes and said, “Ah, my heart is smitten by this wonderful bird. If only I could hear her voice. I’m sure that such a charming creature must sing most sweetly!” If I could but hear one line of her song, I would hail her as the Princess of The Forest !”
And now I could see my words had hit home. Swelling with pride, Miss crow puffed up her feathers and began to sing the most lovely music I have ever heard.
Well alright, I know that you are saying that Miss Crow’s voice is not exactly star quality, but to me that “cawww!” was just the sound that I’d been waiting for. Because as soon as she opened her beak, the cheese fell to the ground and I snappped up my breakfast.
Which only goes to show that
Flattery will get you everywhere.
The Little Mouse
“Mummy ! Mummy! Thank goodness it’s you! I’ve just escaped by a whisker from the most frightful scary monster that there ever was !”
“Just now, I was strolling along minding my own business when, as I turned into the farm yard, I saw two strange creatures. One of them looked very kind and fluffy, and had lovely whiskers, but the other was a scary, scary monster! Woww !
“On top of his head and in front of his neck hung pieces of red raw meat. He walked about this way and that, tearing up the ground with his toes, and beating his arms against his sides. The moment he caught sight of me he opened his pointed mouth as if to swallow me, and then he let out a cry that frightened me almost to death.”
“If it had not been for that terrible monster, I would have made friends with the pretty creature, who looked so good and gentle. He had thick, velvety fur, a soft face, and his eyes were bright and shining. As he looked at me he waved his fine long tail and smiled.
“I am sure he was just about to speak to me when the monster I have told you about let out a screaming yell, and I ran for my life.”
“My little mouse, that gentle creature you saw was none other than the Cat. Under his kindly appearance, he bears a grudge against every one of us. The other was nothing but the Corkrel, who wouldn’t harm you in the least. As for the Cat, he eats us. So be thankful, my child, that you escaped with your life, and, as long as you live, never judge people by their looks.