The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps)/The Squirrel, the Dog, and the Fox
THE SQUIRREL, THE DOG, AND THE FOX.
A dog and squirrel hand in hand,
Where one time trav'ling through the land,
When they were caught as night came down,
In a large forest far from town.
No friendly inn was there t'afford
Its hospitable bed and board.
So in an old and hollow tree,
The dog for shelter search'd,
While his good friend, the squirrel, he
Among the branches perch'd.
Towards midnight, at that solemn hour
When to their crimes sly murd'rers creep,
When somnolence asserts its power,
And our two friends were sunk in sleep,
Lo! an old fox athirst for blood,
Came prowling through the silent wood.
He saw the squirrel on a limb,
And thus accosted him:—
"My friend, I pray you pardon me,
I would not so intrusive be
As to disturb your sweet repose,
But that I'm dying to disclose
My true heart-felt felicity
To find that you and I
In blood relationship are nigh:
We're cousins of the first degree!
For your good mother, I've heard said,
Was sister to my worthy sire,
Who bade me, on his dying bed,
For you, his nephew, to inquire,
And give you half the legacy
He left for me.
So haste, my friend, come down I pray,
And have your portion right away.
I burn to meet you face to face,
More fully to explain the case.
If I, like you, could climb a tree,
Indeed, you well may credit me,
I had been with you long ere this,
To show how great my pleasure is."
Now squirrels though not bred in schools.
Are not by any means all fools;
And ours was shrewd enough to see
Quite through the fox's knavery.
So he replied in tones most kind:—
"I am delighted, friend, to find
That we so near related are.
Your happiness I fully share;
And I shall hurry to descend.
But ere I come I have a friend
That I would introduce to you.
He is a near relation too:
One who is all in all to me,
Whom you'll be glad, perhaps, to see;
He's sleeping in that hole below;
Knock at the door and call him out:
He'll warmly welcome you, I know,
On learning what you've come about."
Old Reynard hurries to the door,
Hoping to get one squirrel more;
But on the instant that he knocks,
The dog, awak'd from slumbers sound,
Springs out, and at a single bound,
Upon the spot kills Mister Fox.
The offices of a true friend
May not alone our life defend;
No greater blessing can there be,
Than solace from his sympathy.