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Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)

91. A HUNTED BEVER (Perry 118)

The Bever is a kind of amphibious Creature, but he lives mostly in the Water. His Stones, they say, are medicinal; and it is principally for their Sake, he knows, that People seek his Life; and therefore when he finds himself hard pinch'd, he bites 'em off, and by leaving them to his Pursuers, he saves himself.
THE MORAL. When a greater Interest is at stake, 'tis a warrantable Point of Honour and Discretion, to compound the Hazard, by parting with the less; provided, that while we quit the one, we may save the other.

L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir Roger L'Estrange. Aesop - Fables which is available at amazon.com.