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The Cock and the Fox

(Recueil 1, Livre 2, Fable 15)



On a tree there mounted guard

A veteran cock, adroit and cunning;

When to the roots a fox up running,

Spoke thus, in tones of kind regard:

"Our quarrel, brother, is at an end;

Henceforth I hope to live your friend;

For peace now reigns

Throughout the animal domains.

I bear the news: come down, I pray,

And give me the embrace fraternal;

And please, my brother, don't delay.

So much the tidings do concern all,

That I must spread them far today.

Now you and yours can take your walks

Without a fear or thought of hawks.

And should you clash with them or others,

In us you'll find the best of brothers;—

For which you may, this joyful night,

Your merry bonfires light.

But, first, let's seal the bliss

With one fraternal kiss."

"Good friend," the cock replied, "on my word,

A better thing I never heard;

And doubly I rejoice

To hear it from your voice;

And, really there must be something in it,

For yonder come two greyhounds, which I flatter

Myself are couriers on this very matter.

They come so fast, they'll be here in a minute.

I'll down, and all of us will seal the blessing

With general kissing and caressing."

"Adieu," said fox; "my errand's pressing;

I'll hurry on my way,

And we'll rejoice some other day."

So off the fellow scampered, quick and light,

To gain the fox-holes of a neighbouring height,

Less happy in his stratagem than flight.

The cock laughed sweetly in his sleeve;

It's doubly sweet deceiver to deceive.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 2, Fable 15



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