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The Frog and the Rat

(Recueil 1, Livre 4, Fable 11)

 

 

They to bamboozle are inclined,

Says Merlin, who bamboozled are.

The word, though rather unrefined,

Has yet an energy we ill can spare;

So by its aid I introduce my tale.

A well-fed rat, rotund and hale,

Not knowing either Fast or Lent,

Disporting round a frog-pond went.

A frog approached, and, with a friendly greeting,

Invited him to see her at her home,

And pledged a dinner worth his eating,

To which the rat was nothing loath to come.

Of words persuasive there was little need:

She spoke, however, of a grateful bath;

Of sports and curious wonders on their path;

Of rarities of flower, and rush, and reed:

One day he would recount with glee

To his assembled progeny

The various beauties of these places,

The customs of the various races,

And laws that sway the realms aquatic,

(She did not mean the hydrostatic!)

One thing alone the rat perplexed,

He was but moderate as a swimmer.

The frog this matter nicely fixed

By kindly lending him her

Long paw, which with a rush she tied

To his; and off they started, side by side.

Arrived on the lakelet's brink,

There was but little time to think.

The frog leaped in, and almost brought her

Bound guest to land beneath the water.

Perfidious breach of law and right!

She meant to have a supper warm

Out of his sleek and dainty form.

Already did her appetite

Dwell on the morsel with delight.

The gods, in anguish, he invokes;

His faithless hostess rudely mocks;

He struggles up, she struggles down.

A kite, that hovers in the air,

Inspecting everything with care,

Now spies the rat belike to drown,

And, with a rapid wing,

Upbears the wretched thing,

The frog, too, dangling by the string!

The joy of such a double haul

Was to the hungry kite not small.

It gave him all that he could wish

A double meal of flesh and fish.

The best contrived deceit

Can hurt its own contriver,

And perfidy does often cheat

Its author's purse of every stiver.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 4, Fable 11

 

 

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