A lion and a lizard kept the halls where once a prince had slept. The prince had died, as even princes do, and his palace had fallen to rats and ruin.
The lion destroyed the rats, but he could never find the lizard, who lived in a crevice in the wall. There was royal food in the ruined kitchen, and royal wine in the ruined cellar, but the lion got it all, for the lizard was afraid to emerge from his hiding place.
So the lion got fatter and fatter, and drunker and drunker, and the lizard grew thinner and thinner, and soberer and soberer. Weeks went by, and the weeds grew and the walls crumbled, as the lion ate six meals a day, washing them down with a total of eighteen different wines.
One night, as the tawny master of the palace was topping off his sixth meal of the day with a tankard of brandy, he fell asleep on his golden chair at the head of the ornate[Pg 145] table.
The lizard, with his remaining strength, which wasn’t much, crawled up on the table and tried to nibble a crumb, but he was too weak to eat.
The lion, awakened by a tiny tinkle of spoons, tried to crush the unwelcome guest with one blow of his mighty paw, but he was sated and obese, and his paw was no longer mighty.
He passed away in his golden chair, spilling the last of the brandy, as the lizard gave up the ghost among the crumbs and silver.
MORAL: He who dies of a surfeit is as dead as he who starves.