The Ass in the Lion’s Skin

Ancient India

Sanskrit is the classical language of the Hindus of ancient India. Practically the whole of that extraordinary literature which began with the Vedas and culminated some time before the close of the Middle Ages, was written in Sanskrit.

Our knowledge of the earliest period is vague. The Vedas were composed perhaps before the days of Homer. Beginning perhaps about 500 B.C. and extending to about the time of Christ, is the period of the epics, during which the Mahabharata and Ramayana were probably written. Both these monumental poems are full of episodes containing at least the material for short stories.

But for the purpose of this volume, the outstanding contribution of the ancient Hindus were the fables and tales, most of which are found in large collections. The earliest of these is doubtless the Jataka, or Buddhist “birth-stories,” which were in existence at least as early as the Fourth Century B.C. The Panchatantra may be as old

The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse

Jesop (6th Century, B.C.?)

Jesop was “not a poet,” says Gilbert Murray, “but the legendary author of a particular type of story.” This type is known as the Beast Fable, a brief incident related in order to point a simple moral. According to tradition Jesop was a foreign slave of the Sixth Century B.C. Whether the fables of ancient India, such as those in the Hitopadesa, influenced the ancient Greeks and Romans is a question still debated by scholars. At any rate there is a striking similarity, both in treatment and subject-matter, between the Fables of Jesop, Phaedrus and Avianus, and those which delighted the Indians.

The present translation was made by James and published first in 1848.

The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse

Once upon a time a Country Mouse who had a friend in town invited him, for old acquaintance’ sake, to pay him a visit in the country. The invitation being accepted in due form, the Country Mouse, though plain

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

The Fury part 11

She took his hand, that was not able to prevent her, and unbound the linen. When she saw the swelling, she shuddered, and gave a cry: “Jesus Maria!” “It is a little swollen,” he said; “it will be over in four and twenty hours.” “She shook her head. “It will certainly be a week before…Read More

The Fury part 10

It is only this confounded ready blood of mine, that always makes a thing look worse than it is.”

“Let me come and bind it up, comparello. Stop one moment; I will go and fetch the herbs, and come to you directly.”

“Never trouble yourself, compare. It has been dressed already; tomorrow morning it will be all over and forgotten. I have a healthy skin, that heals directly.”

“Addio!” said Laurella, turning to the path that goes winding up the cliffs. “Goodnight!” he answered, without looking at her; and then taking his oars and baskets from the boat, and climbing up the small stone stairs, he went into his own hut.

He was alone in his two little rooms, and began to pace them up and down. Cooler than upon the dead calm sea, the breeze blew fresh through the small unglazed windows, which could only be closed with wooden shutters. The solitude was soothing to him. He stooped before the little image of the Virgin, devoutly gazing upo

The Fury part 9

She could not repress a start, but her eyes flashed bravely on him. “You may kill me if you dare,” she said slowly.

“I do nothing by halves,” he said, and his voice sounded choked and hoarse. “There is room for us both in the sea. I cannot help thee, child”—he spoke the last words dreamily, almost pitifully—“but we must both go down together—both at once—and now!” he shouted, and snatched her in his arms. But at the same moment he drew back his right hand; the blood gushed out; she had bitten him fiercely.

“Ha! can I be made to do your bidding?” she cried, and thrust him from her, with one sudden movement. “Am I here in your power?” and she leaped into the sea, and sank.

She rose again directly; her scanty skirts clung close; her long hair, loosened by the waves, hung heavy about her neck. She struck out valiantly, and, without uttering a sound, she began to swim steadily from the boat toward the shore.

With sen

The Fury part 8

And now they sat together in this boat, like two most deadly enemies, while their hearts were beating fit to kill them. Antonio’s usually so good humored face was heated to scarlet; he struck the oars so sharply that the foam flew over to where Laurella sat, while his lips moved as if muttering angry words.

She pretended not to notice, wearing her most unconscious look, bending over the edge of the boat, and letting I lie cool water pass between her fingers. Then she threw off” her handkerchief again, and began to smooth her hair, as though she had been alone. Only her eyebrows twitched, and she held up her wet hands in vain attempts to cool her burning cheeks.

Now they were well out in the open sea. The island was far behind, mid the coast before them lay yet distant in the hot haze. Not a sail was within sight, far or near—not even a passing gull to break the stillness. Antonio looked all round, evidently ripening some hasty resolution. The color fade

The Fury part 7

She had seated herself at the end of the boat, half turning her back to him, so that he could only see her profile. She wore a sterner look than ever; the low, straight brow was shaded by her hair; the rounded lips were firmly closed; only the delicate nostril occasionally gave a wilful quiver. After they had gone on a while in silence, she began to feel the scorching of the sun; and, unloosening her bundle, she threw the handkerchief over her head, and began to make her dinner of the bread; for in Capri she had eaten nothing.

Fetched out a Couple

Antonio did not stand this long; he fetched out a couple of the oranges with which the baskets had been filled in the morning. “Here is something to eat to your bread, Laurella,” he said. “Don’t think I kept them for you; they had rolled out of the basket, and I only found them when I brought the baskets back to the boat.”

“Eat them yourself; bread is enough for me.”

“They are refre

The Fury part 6

“Not enough to give me macaroni twice a week, if I had had nothing but the boat—only a letter now and then to take to Naples, or a gentleman to row out into the open sea, that he might fish. But you know I have an uncle who is rich; he owns more than one fine orange garden; and, ‘Tonino,’ says he to me, ‘while I live you shall not suffer want; and when I am gone you will find that I have taken care of you.’ And so, with God’s help, I got through the winter.”

“Has he children, this uncle who is rich?”

Long in Foreign Parts

“No, he never married; he was long in foreign parts, and many a good piaster he has laid together. He is going to set up a great fishing business, and set me over it, to see the rights of it.”

“Why, then you are a made man, Tonino!”

The young boatman shrugged his shoulders. “Every man has his own burden,” said he, starting up again to have another look at the weather, turning his ey

The Fury part 5

When, after two hours’ rowing, they reached the little bay of Capri, Antonio took the padre in his arms, and carried him through the last few ripples of shallow water, to set him reverently down upon his legs on dry land. But Laurella did not wait for him to wade back and fetch her.

Gathering up her little petticoat, holding in one hand her wooden shoes and in the other her little bundle, with one splashing step or two she had reached the shore. “I have some time to stay at Capri,” said the priest. “You need not wait—I may not perhaps return before tomorrow. When you get home, Laurella, remember me to your mother, I will come and see her within the week. You mean to go back before it gets dark?”

“If I find an opportunity,” answered the girl, turning all her attention to her skirts.

“I must return, you know,” said Antonio, in a tone which he believed to be one of great indifference. “I shall wait here till the Ave Maria. If you shou