Miles Kington: There are worse fates than becoming food for worms

'Woe is me, that I should come to this,' said the big red apple. 'I was meant to be eaten by a king!'
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The Independent Online

Today, three new fables for our times.

The Dog and the Sheep

One day a dog approached a sheep, and at the sight of him the sheep backed off.

"Get away from me, O dog!" he said. "All dogs are wicked and they have evil in their hearts!"

"Not at all," said the dog. "Why should I mean you harm?"

"Because you will chase me and kill me and eat me up!" said the sheep.

"What rubbish!" said the dog. "My master gives me lovely bones to eat. Why should I bother with an ugly, scrawny, maggoty, lanolin-flavoured creature like you?"

"I am not ugly!" said the sheep. "I am made in the image of the Almighty, the Supreme Sheep, who has created everything."

"I have news for you," said the dog. "There is no Supreme Sheep. We owe everything to the Divine Dog, in whose image I am made, and who has given me the teeth and the speed to destroy you if I wish."

"If that is true," said the sheep," then not only is my belief system flawed, but I am in even worse physical danger than I thought. Oh dear..."

Moral: There is more than one way for a dog to worry a sheep.

The Big Red Apple

Once upon a time there was an apple on a tree, which was so much bigger and redder and juicier than all the other fruit on the tree, that it became quite arrogant.

"Look at me!" he said to the other apples. "Am I not the fattest and juiciest apple you ever did see? When they come to pick us, will they not say, 'There hangs the best apple of all! Let us take him to the king for his supper!'"

"Well, not necessarily," said one of the other apples. "I mean, maybe the king does not like apples. Maybe there is no king. Maybe this is one of those new-fangled republics..."

But the big red apple was so proud he did not listen to them, being consumed with his own beauty. Alas, one day there was a big wind and the lovely apple was blown down, and while he was lying in the rough grass the little worms came to eat him up.

"Woe is me, that I should come to this!" said the big red apple. "I was meant to be eaten by a king and now I am being eaten by worms! What an ignoble end!"

"Not at all," said the biggest worm. "This is how an apple should end. If you land up in a king's fruit dish, your pips will be useless. But here, on the ground, mouldering away in the autumn, your pips will surely germinate next year and make more apple trees! There will be trees producing apples just like you! Better to be a useful apple than a celebrity apple."

"Hmm," said the apple, or what was left of it. "You may be right. You talk sense. Who are you?"

"I am the king of the worms," said the worm.

"Then I can die happy, having been eaten by a king after all," said the apple.

And he did, though in fact there are no kings among the worms and the worm was just an ordinary worm who had taken pity on the big red apple.

Moral: Pride goeth before a fall, and afterwards as well.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

All summer long the ant worked hard storing food for the winter, but the grasshopper did nothing but sing. Every day a crowd would gather to hear her sing, and applaud, and throw money down for her, till the grasshopper was very rich. And when the first hard days of autumn came, a flood washed away all the ant's food store and he humbly begged the grasshopper to lend him some money to tide him through.

"Gladly," said the grass hopper. "But let this be a lesson to you. Remember this. Sing and the world sings with you. Save and you save alone. Oh, and another thing..."

Moral: The advice of the rich is often hard to bear.