THE HORSE SEEKING VENGEANCE
ON THE STAG (IV, 13)
Of old, when sober acorns fed mankind,
Horses for them were not designed :
Ass, horse, and mule then ranged the forest free ;
Then was not seen, what now-a-days we see,
So many packs and saddles light,
Such pomp and trappings for the fight,
So many gigs and carriages;
Nor in those days were offered to the sight
So many feasts and marriages.
There was a quarrel ’twixt a certain horse
And a fast stag, that almost flew at will ;
He could not catch him in his rapid course,
And had recourse to man, implored his skill.
Man bridled him, and to his back he rose,
Nor gave the steed a moment of repose
Until the stag lay lifeless on the plain.
The horse then to his benefactor said :
“ I thank ye, master, for such powerful aid.
Adieu! I go to haunt my wilds again.”
“ Gently,” replied the man; “we’ve better fare ;
I see the use of gifts like thine so rare :
Remain with me, and nothing fear,
And live in clover all the year.”
Alas ! what signifies good cheer
If liberty must be the price ?
The horse perceived his folly in a trice,
Too late ; already in his stall he lies,
And such his wretched lot—in harness dies.
That stag's small wrong to pardon had been wise.
Revenge is sweet, but better left unsought
Than with our ruin thus too dearly bought.
THE FOX AND BUST (IV, 14)
The great in general mask it on life's stage;
Their pomp strikes awe in every vulgar age.
The Ass sees this no farther than his nose,
But Master Fox right to the bottom goes,
Pries through them well, observes above, below,
And when he finds 'tis an but empty show,
He cites to them a proverb somewhat dry,
A hero's bust had taught him to apply
A hollow bust, above the common size.
The fox exclaimed, praising the sculptor's pains :
“ A lovely head, but void of any brains ! ”
Many great lords are busts in their disguise
|Illustr. J.J. Grandville
THE WOLF, GOAT, AND KID (IV, 15)
A Goat set off her dangling dugs to fill,
And graze the herbage round the hill ;
Her wicket latched with tender care,
And to her kid said : “ Now beware,
Keep your door shut the lifelong day ;
Don't open it, unless they say,
For sign and watchword, do you mind !
Fie on the wolf, and all his kind ! ’ ”
Just as she spoke her tender care,
A wolf by chance was passing there ;
He heard the watchword as he passed,
And in his memory held it fast.
The glutton saw her unperceived,
As may be easily believed.
No sooner he beheld her gone,
Than he assumed his softest tone,
And piped, “ Fie on the wolf—and ope the door ! ”
He thought his entrance quite secure.
But first the kid peeped through a crack unseen,
Having some doubt :
“ Show a white paw,” she cried, “ or stay without.-”
But paws of wolves are seldom white or clean.
Surprised to hear such words, and in despair,
The wolf returned as he came there.
Happy the kid who doubted thus, and feared
The watchword, which the wolf had overheard.
Double security is not too strong,
For too much caution seldom leads us wrong.
THE WOLF, MOTHER, AND CHILD (IV, 16)
This wolf just brings another to my mind ;
One of his friends, but better tricked, we find,
Who lest his life ; but to the tale :—
A peasant lived retired within a vale,
Sir Wolf for pot-luck to his village came ;
He saw there great variety of game,
Young calves, and sheep, and many a lamb,
With troops of turkeys, food to be desired.
The rogue began, however, to get tired.
Just then he heard a child set up a cry,
The mother, in a threatening voice, said “I
Will give ye to the wolf, I will !
Ye little vixen ! if ye don’t lie still.”
The wolf now kept upon the watch,
Thanking the gods for such a catch.
The infant howled, the mother said to still him :
“ Hush, hush, my lamb ! if Wolfie comes we’ll kill him”
“ What do I hear ? ” the sheep-devourer cried ;
“ My hopes were raised, but now my fears preside !
What ! do they make my race their tool ?
Or do they take me for a fool ?
But let this darling, on some future day,
To gather nuts among our forests stray ! ”
Just as he'spoke, the family came out ;
A house-dog seized him by the snout,
While pitchforks hemmed him in on every side.
“ Pray, what's your business here ? ” they cried.
He told his errand there and then—
“ -Why ! bless me ! Eat him ! Did I make that boy,
That he one day your appetite might cloy ! ”
They laid the poor brute sprawling dead ;
A clown chopped off right foot and head.
The village lord exposed them o'er his gate,
With this descriptive motto of his fate
“ Good wolves, begone, nor heed at all
What mothers say when bantlings squall.”