The Two Wise Goats

by W. H. G. Kingston

On the crumbling walls of the romantic ruins of Caernarvon Castle, some years ago, two agile goats were seen,—now leaping over a rugged gap, now climbing some lofty pinnacle, now browsing on the herbage overhanging the perilous paths. Presently they approached each other from opposite ends of one of the narrow intersecting walls. When they met, finding that there was no room to pass, they surveyed each other face to face for some minutes in perfect stillness. Each had barely standing ground for his own feet. However, they tossed their heads with menacing looks, often making slight feints of butting or pushing forward; but they took care not to come into actual contact, knowing well that the slightest force might precipitate one or both from their perilous position. Neither could they attempt to walk backward or turn round on so narrow a spot. Thus they again stood quite still for above an hour, occasionally uttering low sounds, but neither of them moving.

At length they appeared to have settled the difficult point as to which of the two should give way. The one which appeared the youngest lay quietly down, while the other walked calmly over him, and pursued his path contentedly.

Their example might well be followed by human beings in many of the affairs of life, where a contest must prove destructive to both. Many a bloody war might be averted, did nations imitate the example of these two animals. Not, however, by bowing the neck to the yoke of a conqueror, but by amicably settling differences. How many law-suits might also be avoided by the same means.

And you, my young friends, understand that there is far more true magnanimity and courage exhibited in giving way to others than in battling for doubtful rights and privileges.