Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Jean de La Fontaine - 1668

Translated into English
  by Frederick Colin Tilney - 1913

Original title (French):
Le Rat qui s'est retiré du monde

Country of origin: France


English - aligned

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The Rat Retired From the World

Jean de La Fontaine / Frederick Colin Tilney

The ancients had a legend which told of a certain rat who,
weary of the anxieties of this world, retired to a cheese, therein to
live in peace. Profound solitude reigned around the hermit. He worked so
hard with his feet and his teeth that in a few days he had a spacious
dwelling and food in plenty. What more could he desire? He thrived well,
growing large and fat. Blessings are showered upon those who are vowed
to simplicity and renunciation!

One day a deputation from Rat-land waited upon him, begging that out of
his abundance he would grant a slight dole towards fitting out a journey
to a strange country where the rats hoped to get succour in their great
war against the cat-tribe. Ratopolis was besieged, and owing to the
poverty of the beleaguered republic they were forced to start with empty
wallets. They asked but little, believing that in a few days help would
arrive. "My friends," said the hermit, "earthly affairs no longer
concern me. In what way could a poor recluse assist you? What could he
do but pray for the help you need! My best hopes and wishes you may be
assured of." With these words this latest among the saints shut his

Whom have I in mind, do you think, when I speak of this rat, so sparing
of his help? A monk?—Oh, no! A dervish rather, for a monk, I suppose,
is at all times charitable.