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THE MISER AND THE APE. Jean de La Fontaine

THE MISER AND THE APE. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE MISER AND THE APE. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

A Man was a Miser; every one knows
That his was a vice which grows and grows:
This was a man that filled jars and buckets,
Old stockings and coffers, with pistoles and ducats.
′Tis a maxim of mine that such things left unused,
I mean pistoles and ducats, are simply abused.
To secure all his wealth from the lovers of stealth,
My Miser had built him a home,
Surrounded by waves with their foam,
And there with a pleasure the which
To some seems but poor, to some rich,
He heaped up his wealth with delight,
And every day, and each night,
He counted the sum, and re-counted,
And gloated to see how it mounted;
But, somehow, count well as he might,
The gold pieces never came right.
And the source of this grievous disaster
Was this, that an Ape, than his master
More wise, to my mind, took a pleasure
In flinging to seaward his treasure.
The Miser secure,
With his double-locked door,
Was wont to leave silver and gold
All loose on his table, untold.
"Ah! ah!" said the Monkey, one day;
"I′ll fling this in the sea; ′twill be gay."
Now for me it were hard to decide
If the Master or Ape were the wiser,
′Twould be half for the Ape, half for Miser.
Well, as I′ve said, the Ape, one day,
Laying hands on Master′s gold,
Many a ducat flung away,
With sovereigns new and angels old.
With huge delight he tried his skill,
And ducks and drakes made with a will,
Of golden coins which mortals seem
To think of mortal goods the cream.
In fact, had not the Monkey heard
The key within the key-hole stirred,
And feared its Master, every coin
Had gone its comrades to rejoin,
And ′neath the waves with golden flecks
Had lit the gloomy floor of wrecks.
Now, blessings on each Miser′s head,
Both whilst he lives and when he′s dead.

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