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Group Three

21 The tortoise

22 A thin reed survives

23 The lion and the mouse

24 The goat and the lion

25 The mother lion

26 The donkey's shadow

27 The dove and the ant

28 The greedy boy's hand

29 The greedy woman

30 The tricky donkey

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25. The Mother Lion Settles an Argument

The Animals were arguing
        Which one was most fertile,
I win, said dog, I've thirteen pups!
        I triple that,
said turtle.

Then rabbit bragged that nothing matched
        Her rapid reproduction,
But pigs felt sure that they could win
        If they had more instruction.

Next, Algae screamed: We multiply
        By geometric fission!
Wait! We'll ask Lioness,
said All--
         And go by her decision.

How many whelps have you, they asked,
         Assuming you are tryin'?
I have but one,
was her reply,
         But that one is a LION.

MORAL: Quantity is no substitute for quality.

from the book Prayers and Fables and the forthcoming book Aesop's Best: 80 Fables in Verse by William Cleary



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