The Stag and the Oxen

The Fables of Phædrus
A Stag, aroused from his woodland lair, to avoid impending death threatened by huntsmen, repaired with blind fear to the nearest farm-house, and hid himself in an ox-stall close at hand. Upon this, an Ox said to him, as he concealed himself: “Why, what do you mean, unhappy one, in thus rushing of your own accord upon destruction, and trusting your life to the abode of man?” To this he suppliantly replied: “Do you only spare me; the moment an opportunity is given I will again rush forth.” Night in her turn takes the place of day; the Neat-herd brings fodder, but yet sees him not. All the farm servants pass and repass every now and then; no one perceives him; even the Steward passes by, nor does he observe anything. Upon this, the stag, in his joy, began to return thanks to the Oxen who had kept so still, because they had afforded him hospitality in the hour of adversity. One of them made answer: “We really do wish you well; but if he, who has a hundred eyes, should come, your life will be placed in great peril.” In the meanwhile the Master himself comes back from dinner; and having lately seen the Oxen in bad condition, comes up to the rack: “Why,” says he, “is there so little fodder? Is litter scarce? What great trouble is it to remove those spiders’ webs?” While he is prying into every corner, he perceives too the branching horns of the Stag, and having summoned the household, he orders him to be killed, and carries off the prize.
This Fable signifies that the master sees better than any one else in his own affairs.

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