Javascript Menu by Deluxe-Menu.com The Fox who had lost his tail, the old Trot and two Servants, the Satyr and Traveller, the Horse and Wolf
portrait de Jean de La Fontaine le corbeau de la fable jardin de la maison natale actuellement le perron de l'entrée de la maison
Fables, Jean de La Fontaine 
Book V, fables 5, 6, 7, 8
 

THE FOX WHO HAD LOST HIS TAlL (V, 5)

An aged fox, no fool, a fox of skill,
Pullets and rabbits gobbling up at will,
Smelling of fox at least a league around,
Caught in a trap, escape by some means found ;
Not altogether free, for as a bail
He, much ashamed, behind him left his tail.
Wishing to bring his brethren to his mode,
Himself where foxes held their board he showed.
“ What means,” he cried, “ this dangling useless load,
For ever sweeping through the dirt or mire ?
Let's cut it off—'tis my sincere desire ;
If I'm esteemed, to this you'll all agree.”
“ Your counsel's good,” said one, “ but let us see ;
Before we answer, just turn round your tail.”
On this they rose to laughter and to rail.
          Our bob-tail tried in vain to speak ;
          His arguments were now too weak ;
The long-tailed fashion did, in fine, prevail.

 

THE OLD TROT AND TWO SERVANTS (V, 6)

An aged dame employed two spinsters rare,
They far surpassed the spinning Sisters Three,
Who with our maids compared would bunglers be.
This same old lady had no greater care
Than tasking them, and giving each her share.
When golden Phoebus Tethys left at dawn,
The wheel went rapid, to the distaff drawn ;
            On either side the work she pressed,
            Nor relaxation gave, nor rest.
Soon then, I say, as bright Aurora rose,
A wretched cock still ended their repose ;
When our more wretched beldam raised her head,
And huddled on her filthy ragged clothes,
Lit up her lamp, and hastened to the bed,
Where the poor servants stretched their weary length,
Sleeping with all their appetite and strength.
One raised an arm, the other oped an eye,
Both ill at ease, between their teeth did cry,
            “ That cursed cock shah surely die. ”
They kept their word and cut the poor beast's throat ;
Improvement from their lot was yet remote ;
For scarce our couple had felt slumber's power,
When the old trot, fearing she might pass the hour;
Like any goblin ran from room to room.

                   Thus we too oft presume,
            Thinking to shun some present ill
            And plunge into it farther still :
            Witness this couple and their doom.
The beldam put her trust no more in cocks.
They from Charybdis fell on .Scylla's rocks.

the old trot and two servants
The old trot and two servants (by François Chauveau)


THE SATYR AND TRAVELLER (V, 7)

Down in a den, a wild repair,
A satyr lived and reared his young,
Who messed and licked their dishes there,
With appetites for ever strong.

Upon their floor of mossy green,
For carpets they nor covers know,
Himself and wife were often seen,
And children round him not a few.

A traveller to escape the rain
Comes shivering in, for wet was he ;
Their meagre soup they set amain
Before him, bidding him make free.

Nor second summons he attends,
For he is almost starved to death ;
But first he warms his fingers' ends
By blowing on them with his breath.

Then on the hot delicious food
He blows, of being burnt afraid;
The satyr now astonied stood
“ What do you mean by that ? ” he said.

“ To warm my hands at first I blew,
And now to cool my soup, I've need.”
The cavage cried, “ You may renew
Your journey with your utmost speed.

Forbid it I should sleep with thee,
Or that one roof should us enfold,
Afar let me for ever be
From mouths that thus blow hot and cold ! ”

 

THE HORSE AND WOLF (V, 8)
          A certain wolf, about the time
Warm zephyrs to the fields restore their prime,
When animals all quit their wintry home,
And o'er the valleys for their pasture roam ;
A wolf, I say, who'd seen the winter pass,
Came forth and spied a horse just sent to grass.
His joy the reader fairly may opine.
“ Fine game to see thee in my claws, I say.
Ah ! wert thou but a sheep, thou shouldst be mine ;
But shifting is required for such a prey :
          Let's shift it then. ” Advancing slow,
He said, “ As pupil of Hippocrates,
I know the virtues, if your worship please,
Of all the simples that in these meads grow.
          Yes, without flattering, I can cure
          The greatest ills that beasts endure.
          Would great Don Courser own he's ill,
          I'd cure him gratis by my skill ;
          For to behold him as I see,
          Grazing so wantonly and free,
Proves illness,—so say all the faculty.”
“ I'm ill,” replied the horse, “ with pain I trot ;
’Tis an impostume ander foot I've got.”
“ My son,” the doctor said, “ there is no part
           Susceptible of so much smart.
I serve our lords the horses when they’re ill,
And, as a surgeon, have some little skill.”
Our rogue but waited for the purposed crime,
To catch his patient in the nick of time.
                   The other guessed the trick,
                   And lent him such a kick,
           That to a mummy beat his jaws,
           And useless made his teeth and claws.
“ I'm rightly served,” Wolf muttered in his mind,
“ Each one should follow his own trade, I find ;
I've played the Herbalist, and rue it sore,
Who never but a Butcher was before.”

Other fables