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The Fox, the Raven, and the Dove



A Fox, who was half-starved with hunger, stretched himself all along upon the ground, and lay as if he were dead, that he might entice the harmless birds to come within his reach, and then leap of a sudden upon them, and make them his prey; but it happened that a Raven, who was hovering near him, observed that he fetched his breath; and, by consequence, found it to be only a trick in him to catch the birds. She, therefore, instantly gave them notice of it; and forewarned them, as they valued their own lives, not to come within reach of the Fox, who only feigned himself to be dead.

The Fox, finding his plot to be discovered, was obliged to go away hungry; but soon bethought himself of another invention: which was, to go and kennel himself in a hollow tree, upon which a Dove had her nest, and was breeding up her young ones. Having done this, he called to her, that, unless she would throw down to him sometimes one of her eggs, and sometimes one of her young ones, he would climb up the tree, take away all her eggs, kill both her and her young, and break her nest to pieces.

The harmless Dove, thinking of two ills to choose the least, did as the Fox required her; and threw him down now one of her eggs, and then one of her young ones. Having done so, for some time, with a great deal of grief and sorrow, and the Fox continuing still to demand it of her, she, at last, made her complaint to the Raven, who chanced to come and perch herself on the same tree; grievously bemoaning her fate, that she, like a good mother, to provide for her children, was at last obliged to make them a sacrifice to such a villain. But the Raven, who was not so timorous as she, advised her, whenever the Fox threatened her again, that he would kill both her and her young, if she would not throw one of them down to him, to answer him roundly,—"If you could have flown or climbed up the tree, you would not have been so often contented with one of my eggs, or of my young; but would, long since, according to your ravenous and blood-thirsty nature, have devoured both me and them." In short, the next time the Fox came, and threatened her as before, she replied as the Raven had instructed her.

The Fox, hearing her answer, and knowing very well that she was not so wise and cunning of herself, resolved to find out the truth of the matter; and, at length, came to understand that it was the Raven who had been her counsellor. He, therefore, vowed to be revenged on her, who had now, the second time, hindered him from getting his prey. Not long after, he espied her sitting on a high thorn-tree; and, going to her, began to praise her at a mighty rate,—magnifying her good fortune above that of all beasts, who could neither fly like her, nor tread the ground with so majestical a gait: adding, withal, that it would be a great pleasure to him to see her lordly walk; that he might from thence, be certain whether she were indeed so divine and prophetic a bird as men had always held her to be.

The Raven, transported to hear herself thus praised to the skies, flew down; and, pitching upon the ground, walked to and fro, in mighty pomp and state. The Fox seemed highly delighted; and said, that he extremely wondered how the Raven could keep upon the ground, when the wind blew her feathers over her eyes, and hindered her sight; but chiefly when it blew before, behind, and on all sides of her. "I can very well provide against that," said the Raven; "for then I hide my head under my left wing." "How!" cried the Fox; "hide your head under your left wing! So wonderful a thing I can never believe, till I see it." Immediately the Raven put her head under her left wing, and held it there so long that the Fox caught hold of her and killed her for his prey.


So must they fare who give good advice to others, but have not discretion enough to follow it themselves.

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