A long time ago, before there were cross-channel ferries, a little boat was sailing from Singapore to Jakarta. On board was a man who played a barrel-organ, and with him was the monkey that sat on his shoulder while he played.
A big storm arose, and the boat began to sink. Everybody tried to rescue themselves, but the monkey couldn't swim. Luckily for him, a porpoise that was swimming under the boat took pity on him. It put the monkey on its back and began to swim towards Jakarta. "Do you know Jakarta?" it asked the monkey. "Oh, yes, very well," said the monkey. He didn't know what Jakarta was, but he tried to sound important. "Very good," answered the porpoise.
"And do you like Singapore?" The monkey had no idea that Singapore was a big town, so he said "Oh, Singapore is one of my very best friends." "Whoosh!" went the porpoise, blowing a stream of water out of its blow-hole. "What an idiot." And it dived deep down, leaving the monkey to splash about as best it could.
A man set out on a long journey, taking his best horse and his donkey. He loaded onto the donkey's back everything he needed for the trip – sacks of food, pots and pans, and blankets to sleep on. The poor donkey could scarcely move. "Please help me carry this load," he whispered to the horse. "I don't think I can manage it all alone." But the horse was very proud and though the donkey inferior. "My dear fellow," he replied. "You were made to be a beast of burden. The only thing I carry is my master." The donkey struggled on as best he could until one day he gave a little sigh and fell dead on the road. "Most unfortunate," said the man, turning to the horse. "Now you must carry the load. You'll have to carry the donkey's body as well until we find a place to bury it." Too late the horse was sorry for his selfishness.
There was once a farmer who bought a new rooster. For the first weeks, everything went well. At dawn, the rooster flew up to the roof above its master's bedroom and crowed as loudly as it could. The farmer started work on time and he was very pleased. But when his birthday came round, he invited lots of people to his house. They enjoyed themselves so much that it was nearly dawn before they went to bed. Hardly had they gone to sleep than the rooster woke them all up with ear-splitting cries. The farmer seized the bird by the neck. "If you can't tell the difference between a master who wants to get up and one who wants his friends to sleep late, you're not much good to me," he cried. And that was the end of the rooster.
"I'm as good as any old eagle," boasted the jackdaw, when he saw an eagle flying off with a lamb. "Just watch this." He swooped own on a lamb and tried to carry it off in his claws, as he'd seen the eagles do. But the poor old jackdaw just got his claws tangled up in the lamb's wool, and there he was – stuck fast! "Help, help" he squawked. The shepherd came to see what all the noise was. "He'll make a good pet for the children," he thought. He clipped the jackdaw's wings so he couldn't fly away. He spent the rest of his life hopping around the shepherd's cottage, wishing he hadn't tried to be an eagle.
All horses once lived in the wild, running freely wherever they wanted. Then they were caught by men and kept in captivity. How did it happen? They say that once upon a time horses shared the land with wild boars. Just like little boys, the boars loved to make a mess. If they found a spot where they could make mud pies and roll about in the dirt they were very happy. This made the horses cross, because it ruined the best places where the grass was fresh and tasty.
In the end, they went to the people of the nearby village and asked for help. "Yes," they said, "we will get rid of the boars for you, but in return you must live with us and let us ride you whenever we want." The men made saddles and, taking their spears, rode on the horses to chase the boars away. And so horses became the servants of men.
One day a lion, who was feeling in a kindly mood, suggested to a donkey that they go hunting together. The donkey was very flattered. Usually he ran away from lions so it was a great honour to be asked to join in. They went off together, and found a cave in the mountain-side where a lot of wild goats lived.
"I'll wait outside," said the lion, "while you go in and drive them out. Then I'll kill as many as I can and we can have a big feast." The donkey went in and barged around, kicking out his back legs and yelling "hee-haw" at the top of his voice. The goats rushed out and the lion, true to his word, killed many of them. "Didn't I do well," said the donkey, as they enjoyed the big feast afterwards. "Oh yes," laughed the lion. "If I didn't know what an ass you are I might have been frightened myself!"
Hanna the Hen loved hatching eggs. They were smooth and round to sit on, and after a few weeks lovely little chicks popped out. One day, when she had no eggs of her own to sit on, she was at the edge of the farmyard when she saw some eggs on a hole in the ground. "Wonderful," she thought. "These eggs look a little different from mine, but I'll hatch them all the same."
She had only been sitting on them two or three days when her friend Hortense came by and gave a little scream. "What are you doing Hanna?" she said. "Those are viper's eggs. If you hatch them all you'll get is a bite in the bottom!"
Bruiser and Buster were two big roosters in the farmyard. They spent most of the time boasting to each other about which of them was strongest. At last they became so angry they began a furious fight. In the end Buster admitted defeat, and crawled into the back of the barn to hide in shame. Bruiser flew onto the roof of the barn, and crowded loudly so all the hens would know he had won. But a passing eagle heard him, swooped down and carried him off, so Buster had the last laugh.