Jupiter And The Passenger.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine

[1]

How danger would the gods enrich,
If we the vows remember'd which
It drives us to! But, danger past,
Kind Providence is paid the last.
No earthly debt is treated so.
'Now, Jove,' the wretch exclaims, 'will wait;
He sends no sheriff to one's gate,
Like creditors below;'
But, let me ask the dolt,
What means the thunderbolt?

A passenger, endanger'd by the sea,
Had vow'd a hundred oxen good
To him who quell'd old Terra's brood.
He had not one: as well might he
Have vow'd a hundred elephants.
Arrived on shore, his good intents
Were dwindled to the smoke which rose
An offering merely for the nose,
From half a dozen beefless bones.
'Great Jove,' said he, 'behold my vow!
The fumes of beef thou breathest now
Are all thy godship ever owns:
From debt I therefore stand acquitted.'
With seeming smile, the god submitted,
But not long after caught him well,
By sending him a dream, to tell
Of treasure hid. Off ran the liar,
As if to quench a house on fire,
And on a band of robbers fell.
As but a crown he had that day,
He promised them of sterling gold
A hundred talents truly told;
Directing where conceal'd they lay,
In such a village on their way.
The rogues so much the tale suspected,
Said one, 'If we should suffer you to,
You'd cheaply get us all detected;
Go, then, and bear your gold to Pluto.'

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