From Dr. Boli’s Fables for Children Who Are Too Old to Believe in Fables.
A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG woman was taking a walk in the garden. She had just had a letter from her most ardent admirer, so she was more than usually conscious of her own beauty. It was very pleasant to stroll among the flowers, enjoying the soft breeze and turning over in her mind the many praises and endearments she had just read.
In a while she came down the steps to the pond, and there at the edge two graceful white swans floated, hardly rippling the water as they moved. She admired the beauty of the swans, but even more she admired her own beauty reflected in the still water.
“Indeed it is true,” she said to herself: “the comparison Montague made was a just one.” (Montague was the name of her most ardent admirer.) “For see, my complexion, how perfectly white it is! How like the plumage of the swan, the whitest of all birds! And the delicate grace of my carriage, how like the grace of these noble creatures!”
The swans looked back at her, almost as if they could understand what she was saying, and would add their praises to her own if they were but gifted with speech.
“And my neck,” she continued, touching her neck with her fingertips—“my neck, how slender like the swan’s, and how gracefully formed! Oh, Montague, what an artist you are, and what an accurate observer of nature!”
Still the swans gazed back at her; but the young woman had tired of this recreation and walked on toward the summer-house.
As she walked off, the male swan turned to the female.
“Did you ever see such a clumsy biped in your life?” he asked her.
“Indeed!” she agreed. “And that horrible mottled pink skin! It looks as though she’s been attacked by a fungus.”
“I’ll tell you one thing,” the male concluded. “If I had a stumpy fat neck like that, I’d cut my own throat.”
MORAL: Comparisons are odious, at least to one side of the equation.