When the lion reached a ripe old age, he became weak and could no longer hunt for his prey. All he could do was to lie in his den, where he breathed with great difficulty. Soon he made it known that he was indeed very ill, and the news was spread among the beasts, who lamented his sick condition. One after the other they came to see him, and one after the other they fell into the lion’s trap in his den, where he made an easy prey of them and grew fat on this diet. The fox suspected that there was some foul play and decided to visit the lion and inquire about his health. Standing at some distance, he asked his majesty how he was.
“Ah, my dearest friend,” said the lion, “is it you? Why are you standing so far away from me? Come sweet friend, and whisper a word of consolation in the poor lion’s ear, who has but a short time to live.”
“Bless you,” said the fox, “but you’ll excuse me if I cannot stay. To tell you the truth, I feel quite uneasy when I look at the marks left by the footsteps that I see here. They all point toward your den, and none reveal that they have ever left.”
Old Learning: Never venture into an affair unless you know that there is a way out.
The interesting but unsaid fact is how the sick lion made it known to others that he was very ill. Rumours are not to be believed.