The Bear and the Two Companions

La Fontaine January 17, 2015
French
Easy
2 min read
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    Two fellows, needing funds, and bold,
    A bearskin to a furrier sold,
    Of which the bear was living still,
    But which they presently would kill—
    At least they said they would,
    And vow’d their word was good.
    The bargain struck upon the skin,
    Two days at most must bring it in.
    Forth went the two. More easy found than got,
    The bear came growling at them on the trot.
    Behold our dealers both confounded,
    As if by thunderbolt astounded!
    Their bargain vanish’d suddenly in air;
    For who could plead his interest with a bear?
    One of the friends sprung up a tree;
    The other, cold as ice could be,
    Fell on his face, feign’d death,
    And closely held his breath,—
    He having somewhere heard it said
    The bear ne’er preys upon the dead.
    Sir Bear, sad blockhead, was deceived—
    The prostrate man a corpse believed;
    But, half suspecting some deceit,
    He feels and snuffs from head to feet,
    And in the nostrils blows.
    The body’s surely dead, he thinks.
    “I’ll leave it,” says he, “for it stinks;”
    And off into the woods he goes.
    The other dealer, from his tree
    Descending cautiously, to see
    His comrade lying in the dirt,
    Consoling, says, “It is a wonder
    That, by the monster forced asunder,
    We’re, after all, more scared than hurt.
    But,” addeth he, “what of the creature’s skin?
    He held his muzzle very near;
    What did he whisper in your ear?”
    “He gave this caution,—’Never dare
    Again to sell the skin of bear
    Its owner has not ceased to wear.'”

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