The Wolf and the Crane

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The Wolf and the Crane
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the wulf and of the crane

Who so euer doth ony good to the euyll man he synneth as esope saith / for of ony good which is don to the euils cometh no prouffit / whereof Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable / A wulf ete & deuoured a sheep of whos bones he had one in his throte which he coude not haue out & sore it greued hym Thenne went the wulf & praid the crane that she wold draw oute of his throte the bone / & the crane put her nek in to his throte & drewe out the bone wherby the wulf was hole / And the crane demauned of hym to be payd of her salary / And the wulf answerd to her / Thow arte well vnconnyng & no good connyng / remembryng the good that I haue done to the / for whan thou haddest thy neck within my throte / yf I had wold / I myght haue ete the / And thus it appiereth by the fable how no prouffite cometh of ony good which is done to the euyls And thus it appiereth by the fable how no prouffite cometh of ony good which is done to the euyls

L'Estrange's translation (1692)[edit]


A Wolf had got a Bone in’s Throat, and could think of no better Instrument to ease him of it, than the Bill of a Crane; so he went and treated with a Crane to help him out with it, upon condition of a very considerable Reward for his Pains. The Crane did him the good Office, and then claim’d his Promise. Why how now Impudence! (says t’other) Do you put your head into the Mouth of a Wolf, and then, when you’ve brought it out again safe and sound, do you talk of a Reward? Why Sirrah, you have your Head again, and is that not a sufficient Recompence.

THE MORAL One good Turn, they say, requires another: But yet he that has to do with wild Beasts (as some Men are no better) and comes off with a whole Skin, let him expect no other Reward.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Wolf and the Crane

A Wolf who had a bone stuck in his throat hired a Crane, for a large sum, to put her head into his mouth and draw out the bone. When the Crane had extracted the bone and demanded the promised payment, the Wolf, grinning and grinding his teeth, exclaimed: "Why, you have surely already had a sufficient recompense, in having been permitted to draw out your head in safety from the mouth and jaws of a wolf."

In serving the wicked, expect no reward, and be thankful if you escape injury for your pains.

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Wolf and the Crane

A Wolf had been gorging on an animal he had killed, when suddenly a small bone in the meat stuck in his throat and he could not swallow it. He soon felt terrible pain in his throat, and ran up and down groaning and groaning and seeking for something to relieve the pain. He tried to induce every one he met to remove the bone. "I would give anything," said he, "if you would take it out." At last the Crane agreed to try, and told the Wolf to lie on his side and open his jaws as wide as he could. Then the Crane put its long neck down the Wolf's throat, and with its beak loosened the bone, till at last it got it out.

"Will you kindly give me the reward you promised?" said the Crane.

The Wolf grinned and showed his teeth and said: "Be content. You have put your head inside a Wolf's mouth and taken it out again in safety; that ought to be reward enough for you."

Gratitude and greed go not together.