Kriloff’s Original Fables
A quaint and worn-out wallet on his back,
From hour to hour a hapless beggar trudged,
Grumbling that he so much did lack
;
Astonished, while he grudged,
To those inhabiting the mansions that he saw, Their gold and all their comforts without flaw, That they, with pockets like to burst,
For pelf could thirst
!
And ev’n to such extent That, of all reason shent,
And but on adding to their wealth intent,
They lose the all they had possessed before,
Wishing for more.
As an example yonder late householder we’ll take,
Whose business was so long so firmly propped,
That capital he made ; and then he might have stopped,
And peacefully with time into his grave have dropped,
But ah, to leave such trade for others’ sake

Once more a venture with his ships he’ll try
;
He heaps of gold expects : his ships are lost, And all his treasures to the deep sea tost
;
There on its bed they lie, And his passed wealth a dream seems to his waking
eye.Another tried his hand at speculation,
And of a million he made sure
;
Too little ; double ’twill, if luck endure
;
All right ! —His ruin makes a short sensation
!
Thousands, in short, of cases such as these
;
And serve them right, whose greed can nothing please ! Here Fortune came up to the Beggar’s side, Saying to calm his fear
:
” Listen, I long to help thy need have tried : This gold within a hole I spied ; Hand up thy wallet here ;
I’ll fill it full, but take my terms thou must
:
That shall be gold that into it doth fall, But what upon the ground spills, that shall all Be changed to dust. Look out, I’ve warned thee thou must have a care : The terms I’m ordered to make strictly such ; Thy wallet’s old, put not in it too much,
So that the weight it still may bear.”
The breathless Beggar feels his head go round,
His feet no longer touch the ground !
Setting his wallet right, with hand that knew its power, He set to into it to pour a golden shower : The weight already on the wallet told, —”Enough?”—”Not yet.”—”I see a hole.”—”Be not
afraid !

—” See, thou a Croesus art ! “—” Give more, it more will hold:
A handful still and I am made.” —” Sufficient, man ! Look there, thy wallet is all frayed.” —” A pinch more still * * * ” But here the purse tore with the strain
;
The treasure strewed the ground, to dust in falling turned : Fortune had disappeared : the wallet left was spurned,
And on his way the beggar went begging alms again.
[The same idea, which Kriloff has here so happily and
humorously rendered, forms the subject of another fable, “The Poor Rich Man.” The latter has not been trans- lated, because, while very long, the style is didactic and
heavy.]

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