The Lamb

Kriloff’s Original Fables
How often people have I heard to reason thus : ” Of me let others say whate’er they will, Provided that my conscience clear be still ! ” No ; something more is wanting unto us.
If we would keep ourselves in men’s esteem,
Not merely honest folks to be, but honest seem. Above all else, Fair Women, should ye know,
That your good fame’s your chiefest ornament,
That by it to you charms are lent Sweeter than all the flowers in spring that grow. How often, heart and conscience free from guile,
A look too much, a word, a single heedless act,
Gives poisonous tongues the chance to fasten on a fact, And your good name is slurred the while. Are we not once to look ? To smile are we forbidden ?
I say not that, but only that every step you take Should be so well thought o’er, for honour’s sake,
That calumny itself can find no pretext hidden.
Annie, my little friend ! For thy companions and thyself, attend To what I shall relate. While still a child thou art,
This»fable learn of mine ; it well may profit thee,
If not just now, when thou shalt older be.
So, take the story of the Lamb to heart
Thy doll put in the corner by,
My tale is not so long to make thee sigh.
A Lamb, that foolish was and young,
Once o’er her back a wolfs skin hung,
And went, dressed out, among the flock to walk. The Lamb thought all of her were sure to talk
The dogs, who saw her garment gray, Thinking a wolf was from the woods astray, Jumped up, rushed to her, got her on the ground,
And, long before her wits came round,
Had almost torn her into pieces.
By luck the Shepherd hears, and her releases,
But take from dogs a bone no joke is at the best
The poor thing from the scuffle so doth stagger,
That hardly to the fold her legs will drag her ; And there she droops from day to day, pains in her chest,
With one continual plaint to all within her hearing.
But, if the Lamb had wiser been,
A danger in the thought she’d seen Of ever like a wolf appearing. — —
[This fable was written for Anna Alekseevna, the youngest sister of Kriloff’s intimate friend Olenin.]

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