« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
the year, it afforded the dormouse'a constant protection.
“Not far from the hole of the dormouse, in a boggy place under the rock, lived a family of frogs, who, by their croaking during the darkness of the night, made themselves audible to all around, so that any one who passed by, could easily find them out, if he would take the trouble. Now it happened one moonlight evening, that a number of rude boys, who were returning from the fields to their cottages, accidentally heard the croaking of these frogs; on which they followed the sound to the place from whence it proceeded, and began to throw stones at them. This compelled the little animals to take to flight, as well as they were able; and one of them took refuge in the cell of the dormouse, where he placed himself behind the green door of the ivy, and begged permission to remain there until the danger was over. The dormouse, on being informed of the circumstances, made the frog very welcome, and told him, that though. her cell was very small, yet the half of it was at his service. The frog was very grateful for this kind offer, crept into the hole, squatted himself down on one side, in as small a space as possible, and waited very quietly until the noise made by the boys should cease. Otherwise, not a sound was heard in the forests, except the chirping of some crickets in the neighbourhood, and the splashing of a cool spring, which descended from the rocks above.
“ After his fears were over, the frog began, according to custom, to swell and puff himself out, and give vent to his ill-humour. 'Indeed, neighbour dormouse,' said he, you have a very convenient habitation, although it is scarcely large enough for us both; and yet I could spend the rest of my life here very happily.
“ Yes,' replied the dormouse, the dwelling is certainly very convenient, and has been long the property of our family.'
“Really,' continued the frog, 'I have only to wish that it was a little larger, for I fear you already begin to find that you have scarcely room enough in your corner.' With that he began to puff out his elastic skin in such a manner, that the little dormouse was pressed quite close to the wall; and as she perceived how fruitless it would be to enter into a discussion with such a hateful animal, she fled from her cell, travelled during a great part of the night, and arrived in safety, before the morning dawned, at the other end of the wood, where she took refuge in a convenient habitation, which belonged to her brother.
“ Meanwhile, the frog continued in the hole, and finding in one corner of it a store of provisions, which the dormouse had treasured up for the winter, he fed so heartily upon them, and became so fat and large, that he could no longer pass through the entrance of the hole. By degrees, pieces of earth and little stones, which fell down from the rock, completely closed up the entrance, and as the water which trickled over the rock had a petrifying quality, the frog was shut up in his hole, as it were in a grave, and obliged to remain there without air, until about thirty years ago, when some stone-cutters, who were breaking stones out of the rock, opened his grave: he breathed a few times, and then died.”
At that time, I did not understand the meaning of this fable, and merely took pleasure in the recital; but afterwards it often occurred to me, on seeing how wrong every thing may go with a man who has violently dispossessed another of his property, and taken possession of it himself; but particularly on observing the melancholy fate of the ungrateful. O poor man!—thought I then-thou hast never heard of the frog's unhappy fate!
In this manner I lived under happy auspices and in childish thoughtlessness, until my eleventh year, when the first painful occurrence took place. My father fell dangerously ill, and I was soon told, that there were no hopes of his recovery. I was inconsolable; for although he was severe, yet I loved him cordially, and could not bear to part with him. I often kneeled at his bed-side and wept. He was quite composed and resigned to his fate. “The dying hour of every one," said he, “is fixed, and no man can escape it. Mine is now come, and I do not dread it. I hope to enter paradise. Allah akbar!” (that is, God is great!) My father placed his dependence upon having been in Mecca ; and hence he believed he was sure of being saved. When I was afterwards made acquainted with the truths of the Christian religion, I was often much troubled concerning his fate in the eternal world, until God, in his great mercy, inwardly comforted me respecting it. My father died on the seventh day after the commencement of his illness. After the funeral, my brother undertook the management of the business and the household. Otherwise every thing continued as before. Guly visited me every day, and we spent most of the time together.
A year afterwards, a furious war broke out. A Turkish army marched to Vienna, and besieged that city for nine weeks, but were defeated, and compelled to retire by hasty marches back to Belgrade. Thousands of captive Christian slaves passed through the town, who, by their pitiable appearance, moved many a Turkish heart to compassion. But this was soon over; and for children of my age, it was more an amusing spectacle, than a subject of serious consideration. One day passed away like another in our little