Fables of the Day
FABLES OF THE DAY.
By Bolton Hall.
There was a drop of water in the sea: The sea was stormy so it was a troubled little drop, for it could not tell what its wave might do.
It said to itself, "If I could but fly away and be at rest!
After long wandering in the currents, the drop was tossed upon the shore and the sun lifted it up to heaven.
Poor little drop!
Being Sought After.
The Princess asked for the wine bottle, and the bottle was glad, and the cup-bearer said, "See how lovely the bottle is and how desirable."
And the Princess held the bottle up to the light and warmed it in her hands.
When the wine was gone the bottle was thrown in the cellar. But afterward it was filled again with new wine, better than the first.
A little boy wanted to play with his doll—she was so sweet; but his father knew that the child should not sit all day with dolls and told him to play in the fresh air.
The child grieved and pined; he thought his father hard, and cruel, because he was not allowed to play with his beautiful doll. The father said, "The child next door is lonely, why not play with her?"
The child thought he was disgraced, because he had not his sweet doll, and the father explained in vain that in the world there are other sweets better than dolls.
But the boy would not believe, and ran into a dark closet to forget his grief, and in the silence he heard, and in the dark he saw that, neither there nor anywhere, could he escape the father's love and care.
Here is a little prairie dog feeding on the track. When the trans-continental express sweeps down on time, the creature stops an instant to get a better hold on the little one she carries out of danger, and the iron wheels roll by, leaving her with hind legs crushed, to drag out a month of agony before she starves to death in her hole among the bodies of her young.
The man said: "What could be more unreasonable, more pitiable—punished, vindictively punished, for its devotion to its young, chief of its virtues!"
But see, the fireman is killed in such a way, as he carries the baby out from the falling beams, and the soldier dies in agony as he spikes the last gun.
And the man says: "Sweet and pleasant it is to die for one's country!"
Housing The Poor.
A settler said to the ground-hogs that if they would make a dugout for him he would allow them to continue to live upon his earth. The ground-hogs thought he was a superior sort of land-hog, so of course they gladly assented.
After the settler's dugout was finished, however, "with advancing civilization the social pressure became intense," and there was little demand for ground-hog labor (for the land-hog owned so much land that he would not use). Some of them watched the settler's dugout, some gamboled to amuse him, but they had to work so hard in his service that they had no time to dig holes for themselves.
Accordingly the unemployed ground-hogs became a "social problem;" the settler having no use for any more dugouts, their labor was a drug on the market, and it became impossible for them to hire a part of the field in which they might employ themselves by getting food.
He established a salvation army to keep discontented ground-hogs from revolt, with the promise of golden and pearly dugouts in heaven. He made them dig jails also, and dispensaries.
Finally, the settler, being a benevolent man, solved the problem of the unemployed by organizing an association for providing holes for destitute ground-hogs. He gave them work at wages sufficient to keep them from starvation, making holes for other unemployed ground-hogs—for these holes he charged a rent sufficient only to pay his interest and to create a sinking fund. This was philanthropy and five per cent.
The only trouble was that the lower-class ground-hogs had nothing with which to pay the rent.
We caught sight of the other boat for a second on our starboard; she was almost standing on end and only two men remained clinging to the seats. I heard Mary's shriek above the wind, "He's dead, he's dead." We strained our eyes, but in an instant the boat was lost in the torrent of mist and spray.
We could see nothing, but we heard somewhere the long slow groan of breakers on a sandy shore—the wind drove, as near as we could make out, parallel to the line of breakers, and with oars and the bit of sail we hung off from it all day as well as we could; with every big wave we expected to be swamped, and strained at the oars, rather to put off, than to avoid our fate.
Toward evening the fog suddenly lifted and we saw a shelving beach not fifty yards away—we must have drifted toward the lea of the land, for, seeing that the rollers were smaller, though the wind kept up, we put out our remaining strength without consultation and almost without orders in an attempt to rush the boat up with a big wave and strand her on the beach. That is all I remember till I awoke in the sunshine, high up on a bank of the sand and with the quiet monotonous roll of the big breakers in my ears.
I found that all of our long boat's crew had been mercifully saved from the waves, and we set to work at once to help ourselves, by helping each other to make a shelter.
On that little boat load of twenty persons, we had our fourteen different kinds of trades and professions and several hundred kinds of capacities, and being united, we felt that we had the powers, not of twenty but of twenty times twenty —as our writer said, we were "the" four hundred.
We were working hard gathering planks and driftwood out of the sea, to make a raft by which we might reach the wreck, when we were overjoyed to see one of the men that we had seen in the boat. He was a passenger,—a man apparently of some importance. As he had always been most affable, we were surprised, especially on such a reunion, to observe that his manner was distinctly distant and cold, until he abruptly said, "We might as well start right at once. I arrived last night, the first on this island and took possession of it by right of discovery. What rent do you think you can afford to pay me for living on my land?"
There was a moment's silence until Bill Bow, the coxswain, broke into a roar of laughter, which I am sorry to say that the crew had so little respect for law and the rights of men, as to join.
Said Bill, "Why mate, if you let us live here, I don't see but in fairness we had ought to let you live here too."
In vain Mr. Autos stormed; in vain I pointed out to them that rights in land were the first steps to civilization, and that we sent missionaries to the heathen countries to teach them to give us their countries and thereby to rescue themselves from their state of supine ease. I could not make the fellows see.
Mr. Autos was justly sulky, but he assured us, and I think fairly, that when others arrived, all would have to submit to law.
Source: Mind, Volume 17, 1906, p. 14.