The King of Beasts was sick to death,
And, almost with his latest breath,
Made known to all his vassals he
Needed their deepest sympathy.
As in his cave he lay, he stated,
For friendly visitors he waited.
With every guarantee insured,
The deputies went, quite secured;
Upon the Lion′s passport writ,
In fair round hand, each word of it—
A promise good, in eyes of law,
Whether against tooth or claw.
The Prince′s will to execute
Goes every class of beast and brute.
The Foxes only kept at home;
One gave the reason he′d not come:
"The footprints of the courtiers, see,
Are all one way, that′s plain to me:
But none point homeward. It is just
If I feel somewhat of distrust.
Our sick King′s courtiers may dispense
With passports, for they′re full of sense.
Granted, no doubt; and yet I crave
They′ll show me how to leave the cave.—
I clearly see they enter. Well!
But how they leave it who can tell?"