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The Wolf, the Goat, and the Kid

(Recueil 1, Livre 4, Fable 15)

 

 

As went the goat her pendent dugs to fill,

And browse the herbage of a distant hill,

She latched her door, and bid,

With matron care, her kid;—

"My daughter, as you live,

This portal don't undo

To any creature who

This watchword does not give:

"Deuce take the wolf and all his race!""

The wolf was passing near the place

By chance, and heard the words with pleasure,

And laid them up as useful treasure;

And hardly need we mention,

Escaped the goat's attention.

No sooner did he see

The matron off, than he,

With hypocritic tone and face,

Cried out before the place,

"Deuce take the wolf and all his race!"

Not doubting thus to gain admission.

The kid, not void of all suspicion,

Peered through a crack, and cried,

"Show me white paw before

You ask me to undo the door."

The wolf could not, if he had died,

For wolves have no connexion

With paws of that complexion.

So, much surprised, our gormandiser

Retired to fast till he was wiser.

How would the kid have been undone

Had she but trusted to the word

The wolf by chance had overheard!

Two sureties better are than one;

And caution's worth its cost,

Though sometimes seeming lost.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 4, Fable 15

 

 

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