A brief lie intended to illustrate some important truth. A statue of Eve and the Apple was accosted by a hippopotamus on a show-bill.
"Give me a bite of your apple," said the hippopotamous, "and see me smile."
"I would," said Eve, making a rough estimate of the probable dimensions of the smile, "but I have promised a bite to the Mammoth Cave, another to the crater of Vesuvius, and a third to the interval between the lowest anthropoid Methodist and the most highly organized wooden Indian. I must be just before I am generous."
This fable teaches that justice and generosity do not go hand in hand, the hand of generosity being commonly thrust in the pocket of Justice.
2010 Update: An allegory in which animals and insects are debased with human motives for the edification of children who only want sugar.
Once upon a time, a baby mouse left his home to seek the advice of a very wise sparrow. He eluded the cat, and braved the streets and darted from bush to bush avoiding wolves and foxes and finally reached the nest of the wise sparrow on a long thin bough of a tall, tall tree. The sparrow was not home, so the little mouse waited and waited patiently until a sudden gale pulled him from the bough and threw him over a cliff. Back at home his little mousie mother finally had time to study latin and prepare for her next litter.
Moral: Only a fool seeks wisdom without knowing what he'll find.
Bonus prophesy: I wasn't trying to be coy in comments. This blog now has more definitions than Bierce's original publication and much of the work is now finding one that hasn't been done already. In fact, that now takes more time than writing most posts. When The Reformation of Wolfshausen ends, theoretically on episode 95, presumably on November 6, I expect to close this site. After that, I intend to continue reading all of you and we can all still be in touch. I'll repeat this later, I'm sure, but I'm very appreciative of all of you for making this a fun project.