Page:An argosy of fables.djvu/413

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347
FRENCH FABLES


 The Basket and the Cage.
The Sparrow often would provoke the Cat:
The one employed his beak; the other played
 At fighting with his paws,
Giving at most a half correcting pat,
 And taking care in that
To sheathe the malice of his steely claws.
The Sparrow, less restrained and circumspect,
 His playmate sharply pecked.
 Sir Cat, wise person and discreet,
With much forbearance these attacks would meet:
'Twixt Friends there's no occasion to give way
 To spitefulness or temper's sway.
Used to each other from the dawn of life,
 Long habit served but to increase
 Between these two the bonds of peace;
Mock battle never turned to real strife;
 When lo, there came upon the scene
A Sparrow of the neighbourhood, who tried
 To make a third
In this fraternity of Cat and Bird.
A furious quarrel now arose between
The feathered Rivals. "What!" Sir Raton cried,
"This Upstart with my Comrade play the Turk?
This stranger Sparrow come to eat up ours?
Not so. Of him at least I'll make short work."
With that, the rash intruder he devours.
"Now, really," says the Cat, "I never guessed