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Augustus buys a bird

The Roman Emperor Augustus often spent princely sums on birds which had been specially trained to deliver compliments. A destitute cobbler once acquired a raven, hoping to train and sell it for a tidy profit. Much to the cobbler's chagrin, however, the animal soon proved extremely dim-witted. "Nothing to show for all the trouble and expense," he would complain...

One day, the raven finally began to repeat certain phrases, but when Augustus was shown the bird, he declined to buy it, explaining that he received "enough of such compliments at home." At this critical moment, the bird fortuitously uttered the cobbler's daily refrain -- "Nothing to show for all the trouble and expense!" -- and Augustus, greatly amused, purchased the bird on the spot.

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