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THE DRONES AND THE BEES. Jean de La Fontaine

THE DRONES AND THE BEES. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE DRONES AND THE BEES. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

A Workman by his work you always know.
Some cells of honey had been left unclaimed.
The Drones were first to go
The Bees, to try and show
That they to take the mastership were not ashamed.
Before a Wasp the cause at last they bring;
It is not easy to decide the thing.
The witnesses deposed that round the hive
They long had seen wing′d, buzzing creatures fly,
Brown, and like bees. "Yes, true; but, man alive,
The Drones are also brown; so do not try
To prove it so." The Wasp, on justice bent,
Made new investigations
(Laws of all nations).
To throw more light upon the case,
Searched every place,
Heard a whole ants′ nest argue face to face,
Still it grew only darker; that′s a fact
(Lease or contract?)
"Oh, goodness gracious! where′s the use, my son?"
Cried a wise Bee;
"Why, only see,
For six months now the cause is dragging on,
And we′re no further than we were at first;
But what is worst,
The honey′s spoiling, and the hive is burst.
′Tis time the judge made haste,
The matter′s simmered long enough to waste,
Without rebutters or fi, fa,
Without rejoinders or ca, sa,
John Doe,
Or Richard Roe.
Let′s go to work, the wasps and us,
We′ll see who best can build and store
The sweetest juice." It′s settled thus.
The Drones do badly, as they′ve done of yore;
The art′s beyond their knowledge, quite beyond.
The Wasp adjudges that the honey goes
Unto the Bees: would those of law so fond
Could thus decide the cases justice tries.
Good common sense, instead of Coke and code,
(The Turks in this are really very wise,)
Would save how many a debtor′s heavy load.
Law grinds our lives away
With sorrow and delay.
In vain we groan, and grudge
The money given to our long-gowned tutors.
Always at last the oyster′s for the judge,
The shells for the poor suitors.

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