Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Information

Author: Jean de La Fontaine - 1668

Translated into English
  by Frederick Colin Tilney - 1913

Original title (French):
Le Chien qui porte à son cou le dîné de son maître

Country of origin: France

Translations

English - aligned


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The Dog Who Carried his Master's Dinner

Jean de La Fontaine / Frederick Colin Tilney

Our hands are no more proof against gold than our eyes are
proof against beauty. There are but few who guard their treasures with
care enough.

A certain dog who had been taught to carry to his master the mid-day
meal was one day trotting along with the savoury burden slung around his
neck. He was tempted to take a taste himself; but knew that it would be
wrong to do so, and being a temperate, self-governed dog he refrained.
We of the human race allow ourselves to be tempted by covetable things
often enough; but, strange as it is, there seems to be more difficulty
in teaching mankind to resist temptation than there is in teaching dogs
to do so.

On this particular day the dog was met by a mastiff who at once wanted
the dinner, but did not find it so easy to capture as he thought; for
our dog put it down and stood guard over it. There was a mighty tussle.
Soon others arrived; curs that were used to knocks and kicks while
picking up a living in the streets. Seeing that he should be badly
over-matched, and that his master's dinner was in danger of being
devoured by the crowd, he bethought himself how he too might have his
share, if shared it must be. So he very wisely exclaimed, "No fighting,
gentlemen, my bit will suffice me. Do as you please with the rest." With
these words he snapped up a portion, upon which all the rest began to
pull and jostle to their utmost and feasted merrily.

In this I seem to see the picture of one of those unfortunate towns or
states which occasionally have suffered from the greed of their
ministers and officials. Each functionary has an eye to his own
advantage, and the smartest sets a pattern for the others. The way in
which the public funds disappear is amusing. If one sheriff or provost,
having a scruple of conscience, finds a trifling argument in defence of
the public interest the others show him that he is a fool if he utters
half a word. So, with a very little trouble, he gives way, and often
becomes the leading offender.