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The Fox, the Wolf, and the Horse

(Recueil 3, Livre 12, Fable 17)

 

 

A fox, though young, by no means raw,

Had seen a horse, the first he ever saw:

"Ho! neighbour wolf," said he to one quite green,

"A creature in our meadow I have seen,

Sleek, grand! I seem to see him yet,

The finest beast I ever met."

"Is he a stouter one than we?"

The wolf demanded, eagerly;

"Some picture of him let me see."

"If I could paint," said fox, "I should delight

T" anticipate your pleasure at the sight;

But come; who knows? perhaps it is a prey

By fortune offered in our way."

They went. The horse, turned loose to graze,

Not liking much their looks or ways,

Was just about to gallop off.

"Sir," said the fox, "your humble servants, we

Make bold to ask you what your name may be."

The horse, an animal with brains enough,

Replied, "Sirs, you yourselves may read my name;

My shoer round my heel has writ the same."

The fox excused himself for want of knowledge:

"Me, sir, my parents did not educate,

So poor, a hole was their entire estate.

My friend, the wolf, however, taught at college,

Could read it were it even Greek."

The wolf, to flattery weak,

Approached to verify the boast;

For which four teeth he lost.

The high raised hoof came down with such a blow,

As laid him bleeding on the ground full low.

"My brother," said the fox, "this shows how just

What once was taught me by a fox of wit,

Which on your jaws this animal has writ,

"All unknown things the wise mistrust."

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 12, Fable 17

 

 

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