An Ape once took up his abode in a corner of the desert where there were many fig trees. He was a wise creature, and reasoned thus with himself:—
“I cannot live without food, and there is nothing here except fig trees. I must therefore eat sparingly of this fruit while it is ripe, and store away a quantity for my winter food.”
Accordingly, it was his custom every day to shake a fig tree, eat a few green figs, and then dry the rest. One morning when he was in the top of one of the trees, a wild Boar ran by. He had been chased by a hunter far from his home. When the Ape saw the Boar, he trembled with fear so that the whole tree shook. The Boar, however, bowed low to the Ape, and said,—
“Do you want a guest?”The Ape thereupon assumed a friendly air, and replied,—
“You are, indeed, most welcome. I regret only that I did not know beforehand of your coming. If I had, I would have prepared a feast in your honor. Now I have nothing to offer you but a few green figs.”
The Boar again bowed humbly. “I have come a long distance,” he replied, “and am hungry and weary. Anything, however simple it may be, that you will set before me, will taste as fine to me as a feast.”
Thereupon the Ape shook the fig tree until not a single fig was left upon it. The Boar ate the fruit eagerly and should have been content, for the Ape had given him a generous meal. But, being a greedy creature, he remarked as he ate the last fig on the ground: “My dear host, these figs are delicious, but I am still ravenous with hunger. I pray you to shake another tree.”
The Ape, who was still afraid of his guest, swung himself over into another tree and shook it. The Boar again fell to eating, nor was he satisfied when he had again swallowed the last fig.
“Make haste,” he cried rudely to the Ape, at last forgetting his manners, his greediness was so great, “and find another tree as good as this last one.”
But the Ape sat quietly where he was. You have already made way with more figs than I eat in a month,” he said. “If I give you any more, I myself must starve, for these figs are my only source of food.”
Then the Boar growled with rage. “To pay you for your stinginess, I will bring you down from that tree and eat you alive!” he shouted. He climbed into the tree, still growling, to bring down the Ape; but scarcely had he lodged in the first branch before it cracked beneath his weight and he fell to the ground, breaking his own neck.