Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Jean de La Fontaine - 1668

Translated into English
  by Frederick Colin Tilney - 1913

Original title (French):
L'Ecolier, le Pédant, et le Maître d'un jardin

Country of origin: France


English - aligned

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The Schoolboy, the Pedant, and the Owner of a Garden

Jean de La Fontaine / Frederick Colin Tilney

A youngster, who was doubly foolish and doubly a rogue—in
which perhaps he savoured of the school he went to—was given, they say,
to robbing a neighbour's garden of its fruit and flowers. This may have
been because he was too young to know better, and perhaps because
teachers do not always mould the minds of young people in the right way.

The owner of the garden boasted in each season the very best of what was
due. In spring he could show the most delightful blossoms and in autumn
the very pick of all the apples.

One day he espied this schoolboy carelessly climbing a fruit tree and
knocking off the buds, those sweet and fragile forerunners of promised
fruit in abundance. The urchin even broke off a bough, and did so much
other damage that the owner sent a message of complaint to the boy's
schoolmaster. This worthy soon appeared, and behind him a tribe of the
scholars, who swarmed into the orchard and began behaving worse than the
first one. The schoolmaster's plan in thus aggravating the injury was
really to make an opportunity for delivering them all a good lesson,
which they should remember all their lives. He quoted Virgil and
Cicero; he made many scientific allusions and ran his discourse to such
a length that the little wretches were able to get all over the garden
and despoil it in a hundred places.

I hate pompous and pedantic speeches that are out of place and
never-ending; and I do not know a worse fool in the world than a naughty
schoolboy—unless indeed it be the schoolmaster of such a boy. The
better of them would never suit me as a neighbour.