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THE TWO FRIENDS. Jean de La Fontaine

THE TWO FRIENDS. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE TWO FRIENDS. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

Two steadfast Friends lived once in Monomtàpa;
They loved as if really they′d had the same pàpa:
What one earned the other earned. Ah! for that land;
It′s worth ten such countries as ours, understand.
One night, when a deep sleep had fallen on all,
And the sun had gone off in the dark, beyond call,
One of these worthy men, woke by a nightmare,
Ran to his friend, in a shiver, and quite bare.
The other at once takes his purse and his sword,
Accosts his companion, and says, "′Pon my word
You seldom are up when all other men snore;
You make better use of the night than to pore
Over books; but come, tell me, you′re ruined at play,
Or you have quarrelled with some one; now, speak out, I say.
Here′s my sword and my purse; or, if eager to rest
On a fond wife′s compassionate, fondling breast,
Take this slave: she is fair." "No, no," said the other,
"′Twas neither of these things that startled me, brother.
Thanks, thanks for your zeal; ′twas a dream that I had:
I saw you appear to me, looking so sad;
I feared you were ill, and ran to you to see:
′Twas that dream, so detestable, brought me to thee."

Which friend loved the most?—come, reader, speak out!
The question is hard, and leaves matter for doubt.
A true friend is choicest of treasures indeed;
In the depths of your heart he will see what you need:
He′ll spare you the pain to disclose woes yourself,
Indifferent to either his trouble or pelf:
A dream, when he loves, or a trifle—mere air—
Will strike him with terror, lest danger be there.

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