A fox, still young, though rather sly,
Saw, first time in his life, a horse.
Just then a stupid wolf passed by,
And Reynard saw a game, of course.
"Come, see this thing that's feeding near;
He's grand. I view him with delight!
Is he more strong than us, my dear?
Think you with of us he'd fight?"
Replied the wolf, with laughter, "Now
Draw me his portrait, then I'll tell."
The fox said, "Could I write, or show
On canvas all his beauties well,
Your pleasure would be great indeed.
But come -- what say you? He may be
Some easy prey, on whom we'll feed,
By fortune sent to you and me."
The horse, still feeding on the plain,
Scarce curious to see the pair,
Planned flying with his might and main,
For wolves have sticks that are unfair.
The sly fox said, "Your servants, sir;
We wish to know your name." The horse
Had brains, so said, "My shoemaker
Has put it round my shoe, of course.
Read, if you can. There is my name."
The fox had store of craft in need:
He cried, "My parents were to blame;
They taught me not to write or read.
'Tis only mighty wolves who learn
To read; they read things in a breath!"
Our flattered wolf here made a turn;
But vanity cost him his teeth!
The clever horse, as he drew near,
Held high his hoof; his plan he saw.
It cost the reading wolf most dear, --
Down came the hoof upon his jaw.
With broken bones, and bloody coat,
Upon the ground the poor wolf lay.
"Brother," the fox said, "Only note
The truth that we've heard people say.
With wisdom, what had been your case?
No pain would need to be discussed.
This horse has stamped upon your face
That 'unknown things wise men mistrust.'"
The fox, going through a wood, happened upon a mule, and it had never seen a mule before.
The fox was greatly afraid, and fled and fleeing, happened upon a wolf. The fox said she had discovered a very strange beast, and did not know its name.
The wolf said, "Let us go and see it."
And they came to it. To the wolf it appeared very strange. The fox asked it its name.
The mule replied, "To tell the truth, I cannot remember very well, but if you can read, you will find it written on my back right hoof."
The fox replied, "Never mind. I cannot read, much as I should like to."
The wolf took up, "Leave it to me, for I can read very well indeed."
The mule then showed his right hoof, the cleaving whereof seemed like letters.
The wolf said, "I cannot see them very well."
The mule answered, "Come a little closer, for the letters are very small."
The wolf came nearer and looked closely. The mule then gave him a kick which killed him.
The fox went off saying, "Not everyone who can read is wise."
Two foxes came to a smith's house, and there was a horse tied at the door, and he had a golden shoe, and there was a name on it. "I will go and read what is written on that shoe," said the big fox, and went. But the horse lifted his foot, and struck a kick on him, and drove his brains out.