THE LION, THE FOX AND THE MONKEY SERVING DINNER
There was a lion who strove to emulate the best sort of life lived in human
society. He made his home inside a spacious den and tried to show genuine kindness
to all those whom he recognized as the elite beasts of the mountain. His den
often hosted a large crowd of such animals, who gathered together in a company
and treated one another with civility. The lion would befriend and entertain
them according to the rules of hospitality, placing before each of his guests
their favourite dish, made with ingredients that the lion knew would give them
pleasure. There was a fox who lived with the lion as his friend and companion,
and the two of them were very happy together. Meanwhile, an elderly monkey served
as the carver at the feasts, distributing the portions of meat to the lion's
guests at dinner. Whenever there was a guest who was not one of the regular
party, the monkey would set before him the same portion which he offered his
master, namely, the quarry that the lion had seized in his latest hunting expedition.
On these occasions, the fox received leftovers from the day before, and less
than her usual portion. One day the lion happened to notice that the fox was
pointedly refusing to speak and that she refrained from the meat served at dinner.
The lion asked her what was the matter. 'My wise fox,' said the lion, 'speak
to me as you used to do! Cheer up and take part in the banquet, my dear.' But
the fox said, 'O lion, best among all the species of beasts, I am sick at heart
and deeply worried. It is not only the present situation that distresses me;
I am also saddened by things which I see are yet to come. If some new guest
arrives with every passing day, one after the other, this will become a matter
of custom and soon I will not even have leftover meat for my dinner.' The lion
was amused and smiled a lion's smile. 'Blame the monkey for all that,' he said.
'It is his fault, not mine.'