Bertrand and Raton—a Monkey and Cat—
Were messmates in mischief, with roguery fat;
There was nothing they feared, there was nothing they spared,
And whatever they plundered they usually shared.
If anything close by was stealable, they
Would never go foraging out of their way.
Bertrand stole everything Raton to please,
And Raton cared less for the mice than the cheese.
One day at the fire, when all clear was the coast,
The pair were both spying some chesnuts at roast:
To steal a good meal is its pleasure to double;
Besides, it would bring the cook′s man into trouble.
Says Bertrand to Raton, "My brother, you see,
Fate′s given a moment of glory to thee;
Get those chesnuts, and quickly, my brave one, I pray,
The gods have vouchsafed us a dinner to-day."
And so to snatch chesnuts poor Raton agreed,
And at once set to work on the dangerous deed.
With gingerly touch he the cinders withdrew,
And snatched the hot prizes, first one, and then two.
He has pilfered quite half, but has not eaten one;
The eating his comrade, Bertrand, has done.
A scullion comes—there′s adieu to the theft—
And Raton is empty and querulous left.
Your nobles are much in a similar case,
Who as flatterers dangerous service embrace;
And to gratify kings, fingers often will burn,
Then homeward, though wiser, still poorer return.