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Group Four

31 A man argues

32 The deer misjudges

33 The dying farmer

34 The baby goat

35 The pigeons choose

36 The big trees

37 A mean dog

38 The selfish horse

39 A boy cries wolf

40 The fox outwits the crow

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36. Big Trees Betray the Little Tree

Have you a handle for my ax?
        A woodsman asked the trees,
It's not a lot to ask, said he:
         Which one of you agrees?

The tallest trees decided there
        Was no cause for alarm:
Cut down a lowly ash, they said,
         In that there's little harm.

He did and with the handle fixed,
        He started slashing trees:
Tall oaks, great cedars, maples, birch,
        As many as he'd please.

Too late, the leaders cried in grief,
        Remorseful and perplexed,
Like FOOLS we sacrificed the weak,
        Forgetting we'd be next.

MORAL: In the betrayal of the weak lies the downfall of tyrants.


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

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