The Wolf, The Mother, And Her Child.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine

[1]

This wolf another brings to mind,
Who found dame Fortune more unkind,
In that the greedy, pirate sinner,
Was balk'd of life as well as dinner.
As saith our tale, a villager
Dwelt in a by, unguarded place;
There, hungry, watch'd our pillager
For luck and chance to mend his case.
For there his thievish eyes had seen
All sorts of game go out and in -
Nice sucking calves, and lambs and sheep;
And turkeys by the regiment,
With steps so proud, and necks so bent,
They'd make a daintier glutton weep.
The thief at length began to tire
Of being gnaw'd by vain desire.
Just then a child set up a cry:
'Be still,' the mother said, 'or I
Will throw you to the wolf, you brat!'
'Ha, ha!' thought he, 'what talk is that!
The gods be thank'd for luck so good!'
And ready at the door he stood,
When soothingly the mother said,
'Now cry no more, my little dear;
That naughty wolf, if he comes here,
Your dear papa shall kill him dead.'
'Humph!' cried the veteran mutton-eater.
'Now this, now that! Now hot, now cool!
Is this the way they change their metre?
And do they take me for a fool?
Some day, a nutting in the wood,
That young one yet shall be my food.'
But little time has he to dote
On such a feast; the dogs rush out
And seize the caitiff by the throat;
And country ditchers, thick and stout,
With rustic spears and forks of iron,
The hapless animal environ.
'What brought you here, old head?' cried one.
He told it all, as I have done.
'Why, bless my soul!' the frantic mother said, -
'You, villain, eat my little son!
And did I nurse the darling boy,
Your fiendish appetite to cloy?'
With that they knock'd him on the head.
His feet and scalp they bore to town,
To grace the seigneur's hall,
Where, pinn'd against the wall,
This verse completed his renown: -
"Ye honest wolves, believe not all
That mothers say, when children squall!"

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