A wolf who, fall’n on needy days,
In sharp look-out for means and ways,
Espied a horse turn’d out to graze.
His joy the reader may opine.
“Once got,” said he, “this game were fine;
But if a sheep, ’twere sooner mine.
I can’t proceed my usual way;
Some trick must now be put in play.”
He came with measured tread,
And told the horse, with learned verbs,
He knew the power of roots and herbs, –
Whatever grew about those borders, –
He soon could cure of all disorders.
If he, Sir Horse, would not conceal
The symptoms of his case,
He, Doctor Wolf, would gratis heal;
For that to feed in such a place,
And run about untied,
Was proof itself of some disease,
As all the books decide.
“I have, good Doctor, if you please,”
Replied the horse, “as I presume,
Beneath my foot, an aposthume.”
“My son,” replied the learned leech,
“That part, as all our authors teach,
Is strikingly susceptible
Of ills which make acceptable
What you may also have from me –
The aid of skilful surgery.”
The fellow, with this talk sublime,
Watch’d for a snap the fitting time.
Meanwhile, suspicious of some trick,
The weary patient nearer draws,
And gives his doctor such a kick,
As makes a chowder of his jaws.
Exclaim’d the Wolf, in sorry plight,
“I own those heels have served me right.
I err’d to quit my trade, as I will not in future;
Me Nature surely made for nothing but a butcher.”
The Horse and the Wolf – Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables – Book 5