A Lion, sickly, weak, and full of years,
Desired a remedy against old age
(Impossible′s a word no monarch hears
Without directly flying in a rage).
He sent for doctors—men of draughts and pills;
From far and near, obedient to the call,
Came makers-up of recipes and pills:
The Fox alone declined to come at all.
At court the Wolf malignantly referred
To Reynard′s absence, whereupon the King—
Whose anger was aroused at what he heard—-
Decided on a rather cruel thing.
He sent a force to smoke sly Reynard out,
And bring him, willy nilly. When he came,
The Fox could scarcely entertain a doubt
As to whose tongue had put him thus to shame.
"I greatly fear, your Majesty," said he,
"You think me rude; you wrong me, if you do:
For I was on a pilgrimage, you see,
And went to offer up my vows for you.
I scarcely need inform you I have met
Expert physicians whilst I was away,
And hope to cure you of your sickness yet,
Which comes from coldness of the blood, they say
You must, sire, skin a Wolf, and wrap the skin
About you close, to get the body warmed;
And when the heat has kindled up within
The fires of life again, the cure′s performed.
Our friend, I′m sure, will take immense delight
In lending you his coat; so, take it, sire."
The Lion supped upon the Wolf that night,
And made the skin a part of his attire.
Courtiers, discretion is your safest plan:
Malice is sure to find its source again;
And, while you do yourself what good you can,
Reflect that slandering others is in vain.