HomeJean de La FontaineTHE BAT, THE BUSH, AND THE DUCK

THE BAT, THE BUSH, AND THE DUCK. Jean de La Fontaine

THE BAT, THE BUSH, AND THE DUCK. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE BAT, THE BUSH, AND THE DUCK. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

A Bat, a Bush, and Duck, one day,
Finding home business would not pay,
Resolved their purses to unite,
And risks of foreign trade invite.
Soon with factors, counters, agents,
And all the merchants′ usual pageants,
Ledgers, day-books, and all that,
Surrounded, they grew rich and fat.
All went on well, till, lucklessly,
A cargo, trusted to the sea,
And traversing a rock-bound strait,
Ill-piloted, endured the fate
Of all the other treasures which
King Neptune′s sea-roofed vaults enrich.
Great cries of grief the trio uttered,—
That is to say, they only muttered:
For every little merchant knows
That credit loves not traders′ woes.
But, spite of every cautious plan,
The tale through all the city ran;
And now Duck, Bush, and Bat were seen
Ready to wear the bonnet green,
Without or credit or resources,
For none would ope for them their purses.
All sorts of creditors daily arrived,
With bailiffs and writs; and the door scarce survived
The continual thrum
Of their creditors′ glum;
And, of course, the Bush, Bat, and the Duck were intent
To find means this importunate crowd to content.
The Bush, with his thorns, caught the men that went by,
And said, with a sort of a pitiful cry,
"Pray, sirs, can you tell in what part of the sea
The wealth of myself and my partners may be?"
Whilst that diver, the Duck, plunging down out of sight,
Went to find them, he said, if he possibly might.
But the Bat, followed daily by bailiffs and duns,
At noon all the haunts of the human race shuns;
And, stricken with shame, to keep quite out of sight,
Hides in ruins all day, and flies only by night.

Many a debtor have I known—
Neither Bush, nor Bat, nor Duck—
Who even had not such ill luck
As was upon this trio thrown,
But simple lords, who, shunning snares,
Sneaked always down by the back stairs.

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