Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Jean de La Fontaine - 1668

Translated into English
  by Robert Thomson - 1806

Original title (French):
Le Chat et le Renard

Country of origin: France

Story type: The fox and the cat (ATU 105)


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The Cat and the Fox

Jean de La Fontaine / Robert Thomson

The cat and fox, each like a little saint,
On pious pilgrimage together went;
Two real Tartufes, two Patelins, birds of prey,
Soft-footed rogues, who paid or cleared the way,
Picking the bones of poultry, stealing cheese,
Rivalling each other. They the road to ease,
For it was tedious and long,
Oft shortened by contentions sharp and strong.
Dispute's a very happy source;
Without it restless souls would sleep of course.

Our pilgrims with it made each other hoarse,
Quarrelled their fill, then dirt on neighbours cast.

Reynard said to the cat at last:
"Pretender, are you bettor skilled than I,
Who could with tricks a hundred cats supply?"

"No," said the cat, "I only boast of one,
But that's worth any thousand known."

Ready again their quarrel to begin,
With "Yes" and "No," through thick and thin,
The pack alarmed them, silencing their din.

"Friend," cried the cat, "now search your cunning brain,
Examine all your tricks, and search again
For some sure plan -- mine's ready, do you see?"
He said, and quick sprang up a lofty tree.

Sly Reynard played a hundred pranks in vain,
Entered a hundred holes -- escaped assault,
Put Finder and his brothers in default;
He sought asylum all around,
But he nowhere asylum found.

They watched the burrow where he hid so sly,
And smoked him out -- two terriers were nigh,
Who worried him as he went bounding by.

Avoid too many schemes; there ruin lies;
For while we choose, the happy moment flies.

Have but one plan, and let that plan be wise.