The Bear and the Two Travelers
Two men were traveling together, when a Bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed quickly up into a tree and concealed himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he must be attacked. fell flat on the ground, and when the Bear came up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as he could. The Bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When he was quite gone, the other Traveler descended from the tree, and jocularly inquired of his friend what it was the Bear had whispered in his ear. "He gave me this advice," his companion replied. "Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of danger."
Message: Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.
Here is Eleanor's version:
The Leopard and the Two TravelersYou'll have to decide for yourself whether the moral has been altered.
Once there were two men journeying across the African savannah. One man was named Ivan, and the other Joey. Both were very tired. When these men came to a clearing in the tall grass they saw an enormous leopard, and he looked hungry! Ivan wasted no time in scuttling down an aardvark hole. Joey on the other hand climbed a nearby tree. The leopard went for Ivan. He caught Ivan by the leg just before the unfortunate man could pull it down the burrow! The leopard pulled Ivan out of the aardvark hole and shredded the poor man with those claws leopards have. The leopard carried Ivan, who was too weak to get away up the tree and turned to get Joey. Joey was terrified and tried to kick the leopard out of the tree. But this just made the leopard mad! With a flying leap the leopard lunged for Joey, and caught him with his teeth. Both leopard and man went flying out of the tree. They landed with a crash in the tall grass. Joey got up to try and escape, for the grass had cushioned his fall. But the leopard made quick work of him and carried him back up the tree.
Just before he died, Ivan said to Joey, “Did he say to you what he said to me?”
“Yes,” said Joey. “He said, ‘Do not trust those who desert you in fear of their own lives.’ Does that mean I should not trust you?”
“No,” said Ivan to Joey. “For in times like this I trust any man who is about to share the same fate as me.”
“But I’m not,” said Joey with a wicked smile. And with that he jumped out of the tree.
Ivan, too weak from blood loss to shout after him, gave up and said, “Well, after all, nobody should doubt a leopard’s word.” And with that he died. And the leopard ate him.