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THE ASS AND THE DOG. Jean de La Fontaine

THE ASS AND THE DOG. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE ASS AND THE DOG. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

We ought to help each other, wise men say:
An Ass forgot this motto, one fine day.
I know not how our beast ignored the rule,
For he′s an amiable, good-natured fool.
A trusty Dog so gravely paced along,
The master took his nap at even-song:
The Ass began to roam about and feed,
And found, at last, a rank and savoury mead.
There were no thistles,—that he must endure:
One must not be too much an epicure.
The feast was still not bad: while aught remains;
′Twould pass for once, the air′s fresh on these plains.
The Dog, half dead with hunger, said, at last,
"My dear companion, all this time I fast.
Stoop down a bit, and let the panniers fall;
I′ll take my dinner out." No word at all
The Ass vouchsafed, fearing to lose a bite;
At length he deigned to answer the poor wight:
"Friend, when your master rouses from his nap,
He′s sure at once to call you on his lap,
And give you a good meal." A Wolf, just then,
Ran forth, half famished, from his forest den.
The Ass called loudly to the Dog to aid;
The Dog stood still. "My friend," he quickly said,
"Fly till your master wakes—he′ll not be long;—
Run fast. If caught, avert the coming wrong
With a hard kick, and break the wretch′s jaw:
They′ve shod you lately, and you′re right in law.
Mind, stretch him flat." The Dog spoke wise and well.
But the Wolf choked the Ass, and down he fell.

Conclusion:—We should always help each other;
And every man help carry his lame brother.

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