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THE OLD WOMAN AND HER SERVANTS. Jean de La Fontaine

A Beldam kept two maids, whose spinning
Outdid the Fates. No care had she
But setting tasks that, still beginning,
Went on to all infinity.
Phœbus had scarcely shaken out
His golden locks, ere wheels were winding,
And spindles whirled and danced about,
The spools of thread these captives binding:
Whiz—whiz; no resting; work and work!
Soon as Aurora showed her face,
A crowing Cock aroused the Turk,
Who, scrambling on her gown apace,
Lit up the lamp, and sought the bed
Where, with good will and appetite,
Each wretched servant′s weary head
Had rested for the blessed night.
One opened half an eye; the other stretched
A weary arm; both, under breath,
Vowed (poor worn-out and weary wretches!)
To squeeze that Chanticleer to death.
The deed was done: they trapped the bird.
And yet it wrought them little good;
For now, ere well asleep, they heard
The old crone, fearing lest they should
O′ersleep themselves, their watchful warner gone;
She never left them less alone.

And so it is, that often men
Who think they′re getting to the shore,
Are sucked back by the sea once more.
This couple are a proof again
How near Charybdis Scylla′s whirlpools roar.

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