The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps)/The Three Fortune Seekers

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The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps) by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian, translated by John Wolcott Phelps
The Three Fortune Seekers
Fables of Florian28.jpg

FABLE XLV.
THREE FORTUNE-SEEKERS.

An ermine, beaver, and young boar,
Who had no fortune 'neath the sun,
But who had hopes of getting one,
Set out the country to explore.
At last, their many trials o'er,
They reach'd a most delightful land,

Where beauties shone on ev'ry hand,
In wealth of meadows, orchards, woods,
And all the treasures of the floods.
Our pilgrims seeing scenes so fair,
Were in a perfect ecstasy,
As Æneas and his Trojans were,
With their first view of Italy.
But all this happy land, alas!
Lay circled by a black morass.
Where frightful lizards, snakes, and toads
Were wont to make their foul abodes.
Brought to a stop, they take a view,
And ponder what they're next to do.
The ermine trying with her paw,
Decides at once that she'll withdraw.
"My friends," said she, "take my advice,
This land is not so very nice.
To reach it we must cross the slough,
And that my coat would ruin so,
       That I should die.
Some other country let us try."
"Have patience, dear," the beaver said;
"These things require a little head.
We need not always get a stain,
In coming at the point we'd gain.
As I'm a mason, I can throw,
In fifteen days o'er this foul slough
A bridge by which we can pass o'er,
And harmless reach the farther shore."
"In fifteen days!" exclaim'd the boar;

"The thing much sooner can be done;
I'll show you how in less than one."
Then in he leaps into the slime,
Amidst the lizards, toads, and snakes;
Most lustily his way he makes,
And flounders over in short time.
Arriv'd upon the other side,
He shook the mud off from his hide,
And then with pompous, proud display,
Back to his friends this scorn he hurl'd:—
"If you would prosper in this world,
You must, as I've done, push your way."