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The Wolf and the Lean Dog

(Recueil 2, Livre 9, Fable 10)



A troutling, some time since,

Endeavoured vainly to convince

A hungry fisherman

Of his unfitness for the frying-pan.

That controversy made it plain

That letting go a good secure,

In hope of future gain,

Is but imprudence pure.

The fisherman had reason good

The troutling did the best he could

Both argued for their lives.

Now, if my present purpose thrives,

I'll prop my former proposition

By building on a small addition.

A certain wolf, in point of wit

The prudent fisher's opposite,

A dog once finding far astray,

Prepared to take him as his prey.

The dog his leanness pled;

"Your lordship, sure," he said,

"Cannot be very eager

To eat a dog so meagre.

To wait a little do not grudge:

The wedding of my master's only daughter

Will cause of fatted calves and fowls a slaughter;

And then, as you yourself can judge,

I cannot help becoming fatter."

The wolf, believing, waived the matter,

And so, some days therefrom,

Returned with sole design to see

If fat enough his dog might be.

The rogue was now at home:

He saw the hunter through the fence.

"My friend," said he, "please wait;

I'll be with you a moment from now,

And fetch our porter of the gate."

This porter was a dog immense,

That left to wolves no future tense.

Suspicion gave our wolf a jog,

It might not be so safely tampered.

"My service to your porter dog,"

Was his reply, as off he scampered.

His legs proved better than his head,

And saved him life to learn his trade.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 9, Fable 10



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