The Fox

Kriloff’s Original Fables
One frosty winter morning, near A village, early to an icehole came A Fox to drink. Meanwhile, though ’tis not clear
If fate or carelessness had caused the same, The Fox’s tail got wetted at the tip, And frozen to the ice. No great harm done, not difficult to slip
With one good tug safe off, and in a trice
A tuft of hair or two, ’tis true, would out, But then,
He’d get back to the wood ere men
Were yet about,
But could he spoil his tail ? A tail of bushy fold,
Outspread, and all bedecked with gold !
No, better wait : see, all the village sleeps
A thaw may come, and then the ice, that keeps
His tail fast, melts, and he is free. He waits and hopes—his tail is only faster frozen. Day breaks, a bright day he’d have chosen : He hears men’s voices, can their movements see. The poor beast writhes, and twists, and strains,
But can’t wrench off for all his pains ; He must sit there beside his hole. But ah ! what luck ! A wolf runs by.
“Thou best of friends ! Thou kindly soul
Help, save me ! ” cries the Fox, ” I die Without thee here ! ”
His friend has stopped,
And on the ice-block, to assist him, dropped.
His plan was simple, could not fail
Just at the root to gnaw right off the tail. Without a tail ran home our Noodle, glad
That still upon his back a skin he had. Methinks, this fable’s easily explained
Had not a few hairs, swept
From off his tail, our grudging Fox so pained

He might the whole of it have kept.
[The old story, in the ” Roman de Renard,” of the Fox
teaching the Wolf to catch fish with his tail in an icehole, was doubtless known to Kriloff, and very similar ones are
to be found in the Russian folk-lore. As usual, whether
so far borrowed or not, Kriloff has put his own interpretation upon the incident.]

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