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N ass whose shallow head had become elated
from living in a beautiful green meadow for some weeks, with nothing to do, and who had not only grown very sleek and fat, but also very proud, began at last to
think there was no person so clever, so great, or so good as he, and quite forgot his ugly ears, which would show themselves, however he might try to hide them and to appear clever.
One day, when he had been thinking himself much greater than usual, and rolling over and over in the enjoyment of the idea, a lion, who was taking a quiet walk, crossed the meadow, and seeing Master Jack, he thought it very fortunate to have met with a person with whom he could hold a little conversation,
“ Good morning, Master Jack, said the lion, “I hope I see you in such good health and spirits as to fully enjoy this beautiful day.
* Thank you, Master Lion, I believe I am pretty well,
but as to the weather, I seldom trouble myself abqut that, being engaged in things of more importance; " saying which he endeavoured to look great and thoughtful and to fill the lion with the awe of his presence.
“ Indeed!” said the lion, not at all overawed by his manner, but, on the contrary, when he found him so conceited, promised himself some fun, "pray, what may your thoughts be engaged upon, then ? "
That is my business,” replied he, and, stretching his neck, he brayed very loudly; in order to prevent the lion's asking any more questions, for like most boastful persons, he feared his ability of answering them, and for that reason endeavoured to intimidate him.
“You need not be so pert or impudent,” replied the lion, "for, whatever your thoughts may be, that bray of your's does not promise much for their beauty.
• Bray, indeed !” said the jackass, “if you call that a bray, I should like to know what you would call a roar; and he began to wag his tail and to fancy that he looked very awful, for he was indeed very angry, and having lived only with his own fellows, who were not more sensible than he, had not met with his superior until that day, with whose nobility of thought and great strength he was unacquainted, and the lion, seeing his insignificance, was inclined to hide it for the present, in order to teach him a better lesson by and by.
“ Bray, I repeat, it is only a pray, and a very ugly noise it is. You must surely be trying to impose upon me, and be making that noise only in joke ; pray do oblige me with
I will frighten him now, thought the simple fellow, and planting himself firmly upon his legs and dilating his nostrils, he gave one of his loudest he-haws, and, after exhausting his breath, looked at the lion and asked what he thought of that.
“A most horrible and detestable bray, and very bad of its kind ; come now, a roar, long ears, let me hear a roar ?
Long ears ! I'll teach you to insult me,” screamed the donkey, “my long ears are as handsome as your long beard, at any rate.
“That may be, my simple friend," calmly replied the lion, “you commenced by pretending to roar, and I shall not be satisfied until you do; would you like to hear me
roar, if so I will do it with pleasure, but I must warn you not to be frightened. '
Frightened !” sneered the donkey, “you are a mighty fine fellow indeed to frighten me; why, you would not alarm a mouse, make what noise you could, and so poor Jack thought for he was deceived by the noble and placid bearing of the lion, and secretly resolved to give him a good kick the first time his back was turned.
“Will you have one trial more, before I begin, for I really should like to hear you roar ?” said the lion, tantalizingly.
“ And so you shall,” and, inflating his lungs well, he commenced he-haw, he-haw, he-hawing, with all his strength.
"Now will I punish him for his insolence, thought the lion, and throwing false fury into his eyes, he lashed bis tail with pretended rage,
such a fearful roar that the jackass ceased braying, and ran so fast and so blindly away, that he fell head foremost into a dirty ditch, where he lay trembling all day, in the fear that the lion would come to destroy him, rejoicing at his good fortune in falling where he did, although his coat was torn by the brambles, and he was covered with mud and dirty weeds, and the toads were croaking around him.
The moment the lion ceased roaring he could not help laughing at the defeat of the poor donkey, and as he continued his walk he thought of the many jackasses in the world who pretend to more than they understand, and who
pass off for tolerably clever fellowes until they try to roar, when their inability to do so is exposed, and they are left, like the poor fellow above, to the enjoyment of their bray in a dirty ditch with toads croaking around.