Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE LION, THE FOX, AND THE STORY-TELLER
A LION who was the king of a great forest
once said to his subjects, "I want some
one among you to tell me stories one after
another without ceasing. If you fail to
find somebody who can so amuse me, you
will all be put to death."
 In the East there is a proverb which
says, "The king kills when he wills." So
the animals were in great alarm.
The fox said, "Fear not; I shall save
you all. Tell the king the storyteller is
ready to come to court when ordered." So
the animals had orders to send the story-teller at once to the presence. The fox
bowed respectfully, and stood before the
king, who said, "So you are to tell us
stories without ceasing?"
"Yes, your majesty," said the fox.
"Then begin," said the lion.
"But before I do so," said the fox, "I
would like to know what your majesty
means by a story."
"Why," said the lion, "a narrative containing some interesting event or fact."
"Just so," said the fox, and began:
"There was a fisherman who went to sea
with a huge net, and spread it far and
wide. A great many fish got into it. Just
as the fisherman was about to draw the net
the coils snapped. A great opening was
 made. First one fish escaped." Here
the fox stopped.
"What then?" said the lion.
"Then two escaped," said the fox.
"What then?" said the impatient lion.
"Then three escaped," said the fox.
Thus, as often as the lion repeated his
query, the fox increased the number by
one, and said as many escaped. The lion
was vexed, and said, "Why, you are telling
me nothing new!"
"I wish your majesty will not forget
your royal word," said the fox. "Each
event occurred by itself, and each lot that
escaped was different from the rest."
"But wherein is the wonder?" said the
"Why, your majesty, what can be more
wonderful than for fish to escape in lots,
each exceeding the other by one?"
"I am bound by my word," said the
lion, "else I would see your carcass
stretched on the ground."
The fox said in a whisper, "If tyrants
 that desire things impossible are not at
least bound by their own word, their siibjects
can Jind nothing to bind them''