The Frog And The Rat.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine

[1]

They to bamboozle are inclined,
Saith Merlin,[2] who bamboozled are.
The word, though rather unrefined,
Has yet an energy we ill can spare;
So by its aid I introduce my tale.
A well-fed rat, rotund and hale,
Not knowing either Fast or Lent,
Disporting round a frog-pond went.
A frog approach'd, and, with a friendly greeting,
Invited him to see her at her home,
And pledged a dinner worth his eating, -
To which the rat was nothing loath to come.
Of words persuasive there was little need:
She spoke, however, of a grateful bath;
Of sports and curious wonders on their path;
Of rarities of flower, and rush, and reed:
One day he would recount with glee
To his assembled progeny
The various beauties of these places,
The customs of the various races,
And laws that sway the realms aquatic,
(She did not mean the hydrostatic!)
One thing alone the rat perplex'd, -
He was but moderate as a swimmer.
The frog this matter nicely fix'd
By kindly lending him her
Long paw, which with a rush she tied
To his; and off they started, side by side.
Arrived upon the lakelet's brink,
There was but little time to think.
The frog leap'd in, and almost brought her
Bound guest to land beneath the water.
Perfidious breach of law and right!
She meant to have a supper warm
Out of his sleek and dainty form.
Already did her appetite
Dwell on the morsel with delight.
The gods, in anguish, he invokes;
His faithless hostess rudely mocks;
He struggles up, she struggles down.
A kite, that hovers in the air,
Inspecting everything with care,
Now spies the rat belike to drown,
And, with a rapid wing,
Upbears the wretched thing,
The frog, too, dangling by the string!
The joy of such a double haul
Was to the hungry kite not small.
It gave him all that he could wish -
A double meal of flesh and fish.

The best contrived deceit
Can hurt its own contriver,
And perfidy doth often cheat
Its author's purse of every stiver.

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