The Original Fables of La Fontaine/The Rat and the Elephant

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(Book VIII.—No. 15)

An uncommonly small rat was watching an uncommonly big elephant and sneering at the slowness of his steps.

The enormous animal was heavily laden. On his back rose a three-storied howdah, wherein were accommodated a celebrated sultana, her dog, her cat, her monkey, her parrot, her old servant, and all her household. They were going upon a pilgrimage.

The rat wondered why all the people should express astonishment at seeing this enormous bulk—"As if the fact of occupying more or less space implied that one was the more or less important accordingly! What is it you admire in him, you men? If it is only the weight of his body which fills the children with terror, then we rats, small as we are, consider ourselves not one grain less than the elephant." He would have said more; but the cat, bounding out of her cage, let him see in an instant that a rat is not an elephant.