THE COCKEREL, CAT,
AND YOUNG MOUSE (VI, 4)
A youthful mouse, that nothing yet had seen,
Was nearly taken unawares, and green.
Thus he the story to his mother told :
“ I'd passed the hills that bound our dwelling here,
And trotted like a ratling bold,
Who runs about in brick career ;
When lo, two creatures met my sight ;
The one was mild and pleasant to behold ;
The other, loud and restless quite,
Had a harsh voice of piercing sound ;
A bit of flesh upon his head did rise,
Something like arms that raised him from the ground,
As if he meant to take to flight,
And plumy tail ho spread before my eyes.”
It was a cockerel the mouse had seen,
And such a portrait to his mother drew,
As if it in America had been.
“ Mother, he flapped his sides with his two arms,
And raised such clamour and alarms,
That I with trembling from his presence flew,
Thankful that I had courage to depart.
I cursed the creature from my heart ;
For I, but for his form so wild,
Had scraped acquaintance with that beast so mild,
Whose skin, like ours, is velvet sleek,
And speckled, with long tail, and face so meek,
With modest look, and yet so brilliant eyes,
He seemed to me just formed to sympathise
With timid mice : for ho has got an ear,
The very shape of ours, or very near.
I went to hail him, when with voice so wild
That other creature frightened your poor child ! ”
“ Son,” cried the mouse, “ it is a cat you've seen,
A hypocrite who with a gentle mien
Conceals a most malignant will,
Our race to persecute and kill.
Whereas the creature that caused your alarm,
So far from wishing us the smallest harm,
May yield us food some day—such is his lot —
While for the cat we daily go to pot.
“ Beware then, son, through life’s precarious race,
To judge of people by their face.”
THE FOX, MONKEY, AND OTHER ANIMALS
The beasts assembled when they found
The Lion dead, prince of the plains around.
To choose a king to rule them in his stead,
The crown was taken from its case,
Which by the guardian dragon had been hid.
It did not fit the suitors for the place ;
It was too large for every big-shaped head.
A few had horns, and some had heads too small.
The monkey grinning tried to please them all,
Put on the crown with pleasant face,
’Midst many an antic and grimace.
And then, with many an apish stoop,
Passed through the crown as through a hoop.
The beasts, quite pleased with the whole thing,
Did homage to him as their king.
Alone the fox deplored his vote that day,
Yet nathless he his thoughts did not betray.
He paid his little compliment and said :
“ Sire, I know where some hidden treasure's laid—
A treasure, Sire, to all but me unknown,
Which, Prince, by royal right is now your own.”
The King, who gaped for gold, the tale, believed,
Ran to the spot lest he should be deceived,
But found a snare, and thus was caught.
“What ! said the fox, “who would have thought
That you would claim o’er us to rule,
You cannot guide yourself, vain fool ? ”
He was dethroned ; the beasts with one accord
Agreed that few were fit to be their lord.
THE MULE BOASTING OF HIS GENEALOGY
A Prelate’s mule of noble birth was proud,
Spoke ever of his mother mare, aloud,
Proclaimed her prowess with a lordly air,
She had done this, she had been there,
For which he thought the historic page
Should sound his fame from age to age.
His pride disdained the name of hack ;
He would have thrown a doctor from his back.
When old they sent him to the mill to grind,
Which brought the Ass his father to his mind.
Although mishap had no pretence
Save to conduct some fools to sense,
It would be right to call it friend
In that it answers this good end.
THE OLD MAN AND ASS (VI, 8)
And that's plain English, do you hear ? ”
A man on ass-back passed a flowery mead,
And turned loose Jackey there to take his feed.
With eager haste the hungry ass
Skipped o'er the young and tender grass,
Rolling, pawing, rubbing, laying,
Sporting, browsing, kicking, braying,
While many a spot his teeth laid bare.
At last the enemy came there.
The old man said : “ Now, let's be off, good hack.”
“ And wherefore, master ?” asked our rustic Jack ;
“ Will they put double panniers on my back ? ”
“ No, ” cried the man, who first began to flee.—
“ What motter thon, ” said Jack, “ whose ass I be ?
Off, save your bones, and leave this mead to me.
The name of master's all I have to fear,