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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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38. The Selfish Horse Gets an Extra Load

There once was a farm where a donkey and horse
        Had stalls in the barn side by side,
Now the donkey's was dingy and tiny and dark
        But the horse's was sunny and wide.

One day on the road when poor Donkey was ill
        And was feeling already half dead,
He gently asked Horse to take some of his load
         Or this burden will kill me, he said.

O, bunk, said Horse, I'm a racer supreme,
        And you donkeys are born with strong backs!
So he pranced up ahead where the master could see,
        But poor Donkey fell dead in his tracks.

So the master removed the poor Donkey's load
        And put it on Horse that day,
Then added the corpse of the Donkey to boot
        Before quickly resuming their way.

And the Horse staggered on but he groaned in his heart
         What a fool I have been! What a jerk!
By refusing to offer to help with the task
        I end up with TWICE as much work.

MORAL: Do your part generously, and you'll avoid worse burdens.


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

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