A FOX after crossing a river got its tail entangled in a bush, and could not move. A number of Mosquitoes seeing its plight settled upon it and enjoyed a good meal undisturbed by its tail. A hedgehog strolling by took pity upon the Fox and went up to him: “You are in a bad way, neighbour,” said the hedgehog; “shall I relieve you by driving off those Mosquitoes who are sucking your blood?”
“Thank you, Master Hedgehog,” said the Fox, “but I would rather not.”
“Why, how is that?” asked the hedgehog.
“Well, you see,” was the answer, “these Mosquitoes have had their fill; if you drive these away, others will come with fresh appetite and bleed me to death.”
This is the only fable which can be traced with any plausibility to Æsop himself. At any rate, it is attributed to him on the high authority of Aristotle, Rhet. II. 20. The Roman Emperors seem to have had a special liking for this fable which they were wont to use to console provincials for the rapacity of proconsuls or procurators. Occurs in Plutarch, ed. Wittemb. IV 1. 144. Prose Æsop, 36 (from Aristotle). Gesta Romanorum, 51. Waldis, iv. 52. La Fontaine, xii. 13. L'Estrange, 254.
Fox and the Mosquitoes, The
Fables of Aesop, The
Aesop & Jacobs, Joseph
Macmillan & Co.
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