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The Stag in the Ox-Stall



A Stag, roused from his thick covert in the midst of the forest, and driven hard by the hounds, made towards a farm-house, and, seeing the door of an ox-stall open, entered therein, and hid himself under a heap of straw. One of the oxen, turning his head about, asked him what he meant by venturing himself in such a place, where he was sure to meet his doom. "Ah!" said the Stag, "if you will but be so good as to favour me with your concealment, I hope I shall do well enough; I intend to make off again the first opportunity."

Well, he stayed there till towards night; in came the ox-man with a bundle of fodder, and never saw him. In short, all the servants of the farm came and went, and not one of them suspected anything of the matter. Nay, the bailiff himself came, according to form, and looked in, but walked away, no wiser than the rest. Upon this the Stag, ready to jump out of his skin for joy, began to return thanks to the good-natured Oxen, protesting that they were the most obliging people he had ever met with in his life.

After he had done his compliments, one of them answered him, gravely, "Indeed, we desire nothing more than to have it in our power to contribute to your escape, but there is a certain person you little think of who has a hundred eyes; if he should happen to come, I would not give this straw for your life."

In the meanwhile, home comes the master himself from a neighbour's, where he had been invited to dinner; and, because he had observed the cattle not look well of late, he went up to the rack, and asked why they did not give them more fodder; then, casting his eyes downward, "Heydey!" says he, "why so sparing of your litter? pray scatter a little more here. And these cobwebs—But I have spoken so often that, unless I do it myself—" Thus, as he went on, prying into everything, he chanced to look where the Stag's horns lay sticking out of the straw; upon which he raised a hue and cry, called his people about him, killed the Stag, and made a prize of him.


For a work to be done thoroughly, it ought to be done by oneself; the eye of a master is keener than that of a servant.

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