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THE LEAGUE OF THE RATS. Jean de La Fontaine

A Mouse, in very deadly fear
Of an old Cat, that kept too near
A certain passage, being wise
And shrewd, went straight, without disguise,
To ask a neighbour Rat, whose house
Was close to that of Mister Mouse.
The Rat′s domains, so fair and snug,
Were under a large mansion dug.
This Rat a hundred times had sworn
He feared no Cat that yet was born;
Both tooth and paw he held in scorn.

"Dame Mouse," the lying boaster cried,
"Ma foi! how can I, ma′am, decide
Alone? I cannot chase the Cat,
But call and gather every Rat
That′s living near. I have a trick;—
In fact, at nothing I will stick."
The Mouse, she curtsied humbly; then
The Rat ran off to call his men,
Unto the office, pantry named,
Where many rats (not to be blamed)
Were feasting at their host′s expense,
With very great magnificence.
He enters, troubled—out of breath.
"What have you done?—you′re pale as death,"
Says one. "Pray, speak." Says he, "Alas!
Friend Mouse is in a pretty pass,
And needs immediate help from you.
Raminagrobis, in my view,
Spreads dreadful carnage everywhere.
This Cat, this hideous monstrous Cat,
If Mice are wanting, calls for Rat."
They all cry out, "′Tis true! to arms!"
And some, they say, ′mid war′s alarms,
Shed tears; but no one stops behind:
They all are of the self-same mind.
They pack up cheese in scrip and bag;
No single nibbler dares to lag.
With mind content, and spirit gay,
It is to them a holiday.
The Cat, meanwhile, quite free from dread,
Has gripped the Mouse by its wee head.
At charging pace the Rats, at last,
Come; but the Cat still holds it fast,
And, growling, faces the whole band.
At this grim sound the Rats, off hand,
With prudence, make a swift retreat,
Fearing their destiny to meet.
Each hurries to his humble hole,
Nor seeks again the warrior′s goal.

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