Vernon Jones (1912)
37. THE BEAR AND THE TRAVELLERS
Two Travellers were on the road together, when a Bear suddenly appeared on the scene. Before he observed them, one made for a tree at the side of the road, and climbed up into the branches and hid there. The other was not so nimble as his companion; and, as he could not escape, he threw himself on the ground and pretended to be dead. The Bear came up and sniffed all round him, but he kept perfectly still and held his breath: for they say that a bear will not touch a dead body. The Bear took him for a corpse, and went away. When the coast was clear, the Traveller in the tree came down, and asked the other what it was the Bear had whispered to him when he put his mouth to his ear. The other replied, "He told me never again to travel with a friend who deserts you at the first sign of danger."
Misfortune tests the sincerity of friendship.
Aesop's Fables: A New Translation by V.S. Vernon Jones with illustrations by Arthur Rackham (1912). This book is available online at Project Gutenberg.