26 THE FABLES OF LA FONTAINE.
Wife, children, soldiers, landlords, public tax,
All wait the swinging of his old, worn axe,
And paint the veriest picture of a man unblest.
On Death he calls. Forthwith that monarch grim
Appears, and asks what he should do for him.
'Not much, indeed; a little help I lack,—
To put these fagots on my back.'
Death ready stands all ills to cure;
But let us not his cure invite.
Than die, 't is better to endure,—
Is both a manly maxim and a right.
THE MAN BETWEEN TWO AGES, AND
HIS TWO MISTRESSES.
A man of middle age, whose hair
Was bordering on the grey,
Began to turn his thoughts and care
The matrimonial way.
By virtue of his ready,
A store of choices had he
Of ladies bent to suit his taste;
On which account he made no haste.
To court well was no trifling art.
Two widows chiefly gained his heart: