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The Cockerel, the Cat, and the Young Mouse

(Recueil 1, Livre 6, Fable 5)



A youthful mouse, not up to trap,

Had almost met a sad mishap.

The story hear him thus relate,

With great importance, to his mother:

"I passed the mountain bounds of this estate,

And off was trotting on another,

Like some young rat with nothing to do

But see things wonderful and new,

When two strange creatures came in view.

The one was mild, benign, and gracious;

The other, turbulent, rapacious,

With voice terrific, shrill, and rough,

And on his head a bit of stuff

That looked like raw and bloody meat,

Raised up a sort of arms, and beat

The air, as if he meant to fly,

And bore his plumy tail on high."

A cock, that just began to crow,

As if some nondescript,

From far New Holland shipped,

Was what our mousling pictured so.

"He beat his arms," said he, "and raised his voice,

And made so terrible a noise,

That I, who, thanks to Heaven, may justly boast

Myself as bold as any mouse,

Scud off, (his voice would even scare a ghost!)

And cursed himself and all his house;

For, but for him, I should have staid,

And doubtless an acquaintance made

With her who seemed so mild and good.

Like us, in velvet cloak and hood,

She wears a tail that's full of grace,

A very sweet and humble face,

No mouse more kindness could desire,

And yet her eye is full of fire.

I do believe the lovely creature

A friend of rats and mice by nature.

Her ears, though, like herself, they're bigger,

Are just like ours in form and figure.

To her I was approaching, when,

Aloft on what appeared his den,

The other screamed, and off I fled."

"My son," his cautious mother said,

"That sweet one was the cat,

The mortal foe of mouse and rat,

Who seeks by smooth deceit,

Her appetite to treat.

So far the other is from that,

We yet may eat

His dainty meat;

Whereas the cruel cat,

Whenever she can, devours

No other meat than ours."

Remember while you live,

It is by looks that men deceive.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 6, Fable 5



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