Page:Fables by La Fontaine translated by Elizur Wright.djvu/18

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X4i PREFACE TO THE PRESENT EDITION. To gain the one you '11 need a hook ; The other will but cost a look. But oh, of this, I pray, beware ! You who may choose the tempting share. Too eager fishing for the pitcher May ruin that which is far richer.* Out ran the boys, their gifts to draw; But eagerness was checked with awe. How could there be a richer prize Than solid gold beneath the skies ? Or, if there could, how could it dwell Within their own old mossy well ? — Were questions which excited wonder. And kept their headlong av'rice under. The golden cup each feared to choose^ Lest he the better gift should lose ; And so resolved our prudent pair, The gifts in common they would share. The well was open to the sky. As o'er its curb they keenly pry, It seems a tunnel piercing through. From sky to sky, from blue to blue ; And, at its nether mouth, each sees A brace of their antipodes. With earnest faces peering up, As if themselves might seek the cup.

  • Ha ! ' said the elder, with a laugh,
  • We need not share it by the hall

The mystery is clear to me : That richer gift to all is free.