Two Friends, in want, resolved to sell
A Bear-skin, though the Bear was well,
And still alive. The Furrier paid
Them willingly; the bargain′s made.
It was the King of Bears, they said:
They′d kill him in an hour or two,
And what more could they hope to do?
"The merchant has not such a skin,
A guarantee through thick and thin,
To fence from e′en the keenest cold
With warm, soft, pliant fold on fold:
Better to make two cloaks than one."
The bargain′s made, the business done,
The Bear, in two days, was to die
That they agreed on, presently.
They found the Bear, who, at full trot,
Came down upon them, raging hot.
The men were thunder-struck; soon done
With bargain-making, how they run!
Life against money: they are mute.
One climbs a tree, to shun the brute;
The other, cold as marble, lies
Upon his stomach—shuts his eyes;
For he has heard that Bears, instead
Of eating fear to touch the dead.
The trap deceives the foolish Bear:
He sees the body lying there,
Suspects a trick, turns, smells, and sniffs,
With many nuzzling cautious whiffs.
"He′s dead," said he, "and rather high;"
Then seeks the forest that′s hard by.
The merchant, from the tree descending
Quickly, to his companion′s lending
The aid he needs. "A wondrous sight,
To think you′ve only had a fright.
But where′s his skin?—and did he say
Aught in your ear, as there you lay?
For he came, as I plainly saw,
And turned you over with his paw."
"He said, ′Another time, at least,
Before you sell, first kill the beast."