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THE GOUT AND THE SPIDER. Jean de La Fontaine

THE GOUT AND THE SPIDER. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE GOUT AND THE SPIDER. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

When Mischief made the Spider and the Gout,
"My daughters," said she, "you may clearly vaunt
That nowhere in a human haunt
Are there two plagues more staunch and stout;
Come, choose your dwellings where you would abide:
Here are the hovels—narrow, dark, and poor,
And there the palaces all gilt with pride,
You have your choice—now, what can I say more?
Here is the lottery prescribed by law,
Come, daughters, draw."
"The hovel′s not my place," the Spider says;
Her sister hates the palace, for the Gout
Sees men called doctors creeping in and out,
They would not leave her half an hour at ease:
She crawls and rests upon a poor man′s toe,
Just so,
And says, "I shall now do whate′er I please.
No struggles longer with Hippocrates!
No call to pack and march, no one can displace me."
The Spider camps upon a ceiling high,
As if she had a life-long lease, you see,
And spins her web continually,
Ready for any fly.
A servant soon, to clean the room,
Sweeps down the product of her loom.
With each tissue the girl′s at issue:
Spiders, busy maids will swish you!
The wretched creature every day
Was driven from her home away;
At last, quite wearied, she gave out,
And went to seek her sister Gout,
Who in the country mourned her wretched fate:
A thousand times more hopeless her estate;
Even more miseries betide her
Than the misfortunes of the Spider.
Her host has made her dig and hoe,
And rake and chop, and plough and mow,
Until he′s all but well.
"I can′t resist him. Ah! ma belle:
Let us change places." Gladly heard.
The Spider took her at her word.
In the dark hovel she can spin:
No broom comes there with bustling din.
The Gout, on her part, pleased to trudge,
Goes straightway—wise as any judge—
Unto a bishop, and with whims
So fetters his tormented limbs,
That he from bed can never budge.
Heaven knows, the doctors make the curse
Steal steadily from bad to worse.
Both sisters gloried in the change,
And never after wished to range.

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