Page:An argosy of fables.djvu/309

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251
PERSIAN FABLES

from the trunk a number of good planks might be cut, and some of them could be made into beautiful doors.' If they have an axe or saw with them they cut off what boughs and limbs they please and carry them off. Such is the cruelty with which they repay the pleasure they have derived from you."

The Snake exclaimed, "There, you see, both witnesses have decided against you. Make ready, for I am about to sting you."

The Camel Driver rejoined, "Life is very precious, and so long as there is the faintest hope, it is hard for the heart to reconcile itself to fate. If only one other witness will give evidence in this matter, I will ungrudgingly surrender myself to your sting."

It chanced to happen that a Fox was standing nearby listening to the discussion with much interest. The Snake said, "Let us consult this Fox, and see what answer he will give."

No sooner had the Camel Driver asked this question, "What is the recompense for good?" than the Fox replied, "Surely you must know that the return for good is evil? What kindness have you done the Snake to make you deserving of punishment?"

The young man repeated the circumstances of the case. The Fox replied, "I took you to be a clever man. What do you expect to gain by telling a falsehood?"

The Snake interrupted, and said, "The man has spoken nothing but the truth. Look, there, tied to his saddle strap is the very bag with which he brought me out of the fire!"

The Fox expressed great astonishment that the Snake should expect him to believe such a story, since how could so large a Snake ever be contained in so small a bag?

The Snake exclaimed, "If you do not believe me I will crawl back