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THE SWAN AND THE COOK. Jean de La Fontaine

In a menagerie a Swan and Goose
Lived like sworn friends, in peace and amity.
This one was meant to please the master′s eye,
The other fitted for his palate′s use:
This for the garden, that one for the board.
The château′s fosse was their long corridor,
Where they could swim, in sight of their liege lord,
Splash, drink, and paddle, or fly o′er and o′er,
Unwearied of their pastime, down the moat.
One day the Cook, taking a cup too much,
Mistook the birds, and, seizing by the throat,
Was just about to kill—his blindness such—
The helpless Swan, and thrust him in the pot.
The bird began to sing his dying song:
The Cook, in great surprise,
Opened his sleepy eyes.
"What do I do?" he said; "I had forgot:
No, no, Jove willing! may my neck be strung,
Before I kill a bird that sings so well."

Thus, in the dangers that around us throng,
Soft words are often useful, as it here befell.

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