Page:An argosy of fables.djvu/218

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166
CLASSICAL FABLES

THE MICE IN COUNCIL

ONCE upon a time the Mice being sadly distressed by the persecution of the Cat, resolved to call a meeting, to decide upon the best means of getting rid of this continual annoyance. Many plans were discussed and rejected; at last a young Mouse got up and proposed that a Bell should be hung round the Cat's neck, that they might for the future always have notice of her coming, and so be able to escape. This proposition was hailed with the greatest applause, and was agreed to at once unanimously. Upon which an old Mouse, who had sat silent all the while, got up and said that he considered the contrivance most ingenious, and that it would, no doubt, be quite successful; but he had only one short question to put, namely, which of them it was who would Bell the Cat?

It is one thing to propose, another to execute.

(Abstemius, Fable 195. Thomas James' translation.)


THE ABBOT AND THE FLEA

AN Abbot, having caught a Flea, said to him, "At last I have caught you. Many a time have you bitten me; now that I have you I will never let you go, but shall put you to death." "Holy Father," said the Flea, "since you are going to kill me, place me in the palm of your hand, so that I may freely confess my sins to you."

The Abbot, moved by pious pity, placed the Flea in the middle of his palm. The Flea at once made a great jump, and by his jump, escaped. The Abbot called loudly to him to return and confess his sins, but the Flea would not return.