On a farm there was once a Ram who was being fattened for slaughter, and so he lived well, and grew big and fat from eating all that was good. The dairymaid always came and gave him more. "Go ahead and eat, Ram," she said, "for you won't be here much longer. Tomorrow we are going to kill you!" There's an old saying that no one should ever scorn an old woman's advice, for wise counsel and strong drink are given for everything except death itself.
"But maybe there's a way out of that too," thought the Ram to himself. So he filled his belly until he could eat no more, butted out the door and dashed over to the neighboring farm and into the pigsty to a Pig, whom he had got to know very well in the field, and since then they had always been friends and good terms. "How do you do, and well met again," said the Ram to the Pig. "How do you do, yourself," replied the Pig. "Do you know why you're so well off, and why they fatten and take such care of you?" said the Ram "No, I don't said the Pig. "Many thirsty throats soon empty a barrel," said the Ram. "They want to kill you and eat you." "Is that so?" said the Pig. "I hope they won't forget to say grace before they eat." « If you would like to do as I would, we can run away to the woods, and build a house and live by ourselves. There's nothing like having your own home, you know," said the Ram. "The Pig agreed and said, " There is happiness in good company." And so off they went together, and, after they had traveled a while, they met a Goose.
«Hello, good folks. Well met again," said the Goose. "Where are you going in such a hurry?" "How do you do, and well met yourself," said the Ram. "We were much too well off at home, so now we are going to the woods to live by ourselves; in his own home each man is master." "Well. I'm pretty well off where I live, myself," said the Goose. «But could I join you?" Friendship and play shorten the day, you know." "With chat and quack one builds neither house nor shack," said the Pig. "So what could you do?" "Good advice and skill will help a lame man up a hill," said the Goose. "I can pluck moss and stuff the cracks in the walls so that the house would be both warm and snug." So the Goose was allowed to come along, for the Pig wanted it to be warm and snug. When they had gone a bit farther they met a Hare who came hopping out from the woods.
«Hello, good folks. Well met again," said the Hare. "How far are you traveling today?" "Good day, and well met yourself," said the Ram. "At home we were much too well off, but now we are going into the woods to build a home for ourselves. When the temptation is gone, home is best!" "Well, I have my home under every bush in the woods," said the Hare. "But when winter comes, I often say to myself that if I live until next summer, I shall build a real house for myself. So I would almost like to come along and build one at last". "If we were molested on our way, you could not keep the hounds at bay!" said the Pig. "Besides you wouldn't be of much use to us in building a house." "For everyone living is taking and giving." Said the Hare. "I have sharp teeth to shape wooden pegs with. And with my paws I can hammer them into the wall, so I will always be a good carpenter, for it takes good tools to do good work, as the man said when he skinned his mare with an auger." So the Hare, too, was allowed to come along, and they all went on together.
When they had trudged along for a while, they met a Cock. "Good day!" Good day, good folks, and well met again!" said the Cock. "And where are you bound for today?" "Good day to you, too, and well met yourself," said the Ram. "At home we were much too well off. So now we are going into the woods to build a house and live by ourselves. For the one, who goes out to bake, loses both coal and cake," he said. "Well, I am pretty well off where I am," said the Cock. "But better to build your own place anywhere, than sit on anther's perch and gape and stare. A cock should always be his own master. So, if I could join such fine company, I would like to come along and build a house!" "All your cackling and crowing will help to keep the ax going, but your morning laughter won't help raise the rafter. SO you can't help us build a house," they said. "A place without a dog or a cock is like a house without a clock," said the Pig, who was a terrible sleepyhead. " Sleep is a great thief; he will always steal half the time."
So they all strudged along to the woods, one after the other, and built the house. The Pig hewed the timber, and the Ram carried it home. The Hare was the carpenter, gnawing pegs and hammering them into walls and crowed and took care that no one overslept in the morning. When the house was finished and the roof covered with bark and turf, they all lived happily by themselves and fared good and well.
But a little farther over in the woods was a lair in which two Wolves were living. When they saw that a new house had sprung up in their neighborhood, they wanted to find out what kind of folks their neighbors might be, for a good neighbor is better than a brother in a far off land, and it is better to live in a friendly neighborhood than to be widely known.
So one of them feigned and errand, and went in and wanted to borrow a light for his pipe. But as son as he came in through the door, the Ram butted him so hard that he fell heading into the fireplace. The Pig started beating and biting, the Goose started hissing and nipping, the Cock started crowing and yelling at the top of his lungs, but the Hare was so scared out of his wits that he ran high and low and tramped and trod in every corner.
At last the Wolf came out again. "I suppose you found that good neighbors make good friends," said the Wolf who had waited outside. "You must have found it a Paradise on earth since you stayed so long. But how did it go with the light? Why, you have neither smoke nor pipe!" he said.
"Well, that was a strange light and a strange company," said the Wolf who had been inside. "Such folks and such manners I have never seen before; but as one chooses his company so is one rewarded, and unexpected guests might not always be welcome," said he. "When I came inside into the smithy; there sat two smiths blowing their bellows, and they tore bits of flesh from my body with red-hot tongs and pincers! The hunter ran about like a madman looking for his gun, and it was just luck that he did not find it, and a fellow who sat perched high under the ceiling flapped and shouted: "Put the hook in him and drag him here!" Drag him here! But if he had caught me, I never would have come out alive!"
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