The Peasant and the Labourer

Kriloff’s Original Fables
When by misfortune’s spite we’re overtaken,
How glad we are, upon our knees,
To beg the aid that gives us ease
But, when the evil’s from our shoulders shaken,
The man that saves us is repaid but ill : We seek some motive in his frank goodwill
And ’tis a wonder,
If in the end we don’t detect a blunder !
Once an old Peasant, after a day’s haymaking,
Just as the evening shadows fell, With a young Labourer his way was taking
Home to the village, through a wooded dell, When face to face a shaggy bear they met. The Peasant had not breathed a sound,
Before the bear had got him on the ground,
Hugging and bruising, rolling him over, yet
Waiting as if to find the fattest place to bite. Disabled quite,
The old man, on the point of death,
Cried to the Labourer, with weakening breath,
From underneath the bear : ” Good Stephen, save me ! Gentle Stephen, dare- The stalwart Labourer, collecting all his strength,
Gave with his axe one herculean stroke,
That half the bear’s skull cut off, then a poke
Which deep into its guts his pitchfork sent, And with a roar at length
The bear fell dying.
The Peasant rose, a new life to him lent, Looked at the bear, in its last struggle lying,
And set to work poor Stephen to abuse. The man was taken quite aback
” What for ? ” he asked, and sighed ” Alack !

—”What for, oaf? Ah ! art proud to use A pitchfork, and to drive it in ? Look there, fool, thou hast spoiled the skin !”

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