The Monkey and the Fox


By Aesop

A monkey and a fox were travelling together. The monkey was carrying a rucksack containing some crockery and cutlery, and flints to make a fire, and after some time, he was getting rather weary carrying this weight. “You know,” he said to the fox, “I shouldn’t really be the one carrying this rucksack, you know.”

“Why would that be, pray tell, my good friend,” asked the fox.

“I am a very noble creature,” replied the monkey, “far away in the east, they tell stories of how we monkeys are descended from the Gods!”

“That may well be so,” said the fox, “but look at my fur and yours, look at the beautiful colour and the fullness of my tail, compared with that scrawny thing you’ve got dangling behind you, any impartial observer would judge me to be the more noble creature.”

“Ha!” cried the monkey, “Appearances! Everybody knows appearances deceive. Real nobility is inside one’s character, one’s bearing and one’s mind.”

The fox laughed. “Sure,” he said, “that’s why you chose to carry the rucksack when we started out this morning. You knew from my noble bearing that I was far too good to carry the rucksack around on my back!”

Just then they came to a great cemetery, where there were a great number of stone monuments marking the graves. The monkey stopped and looked around him, and then gave a great sigh. The fox too stopped, and sat down, waiting for monkey to speak again.

“All these monuments you see here,” monkey said at last, spreading his arms about, “were erected in the distant past to some of my ancestors, who were some of the most eminent men in their day, so that their memories be cherished by generations to come!”

Fox was greatly amused by this statement. “Well sir,” he said, “you have me there. You’ve been very clever in choosing these ancient corpses as your witnesses, because very conveniently for you, none of them is able to stand up and either confirm or deny your claim to nobility!”

Aesop