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Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)

111. LARGE PROMISES (Perry 28)

There was a poor sick Man, that according to the Course of the World, when Physicians had given him over, betook himself to his Prayers, and vow'd a Sacrifice of a thousand Oxen ready down upon the Nail, to either Apollo, or Aesculapius, which of the two would deliver him from his Disease. Ah my dear! (says his Wife) Have a care what you promise; for where would you have these Oxen if you should recover? Sweet heart (says he) thou talk'st like a Fool: Have the Gods nothing else to do, dost think, than to leave their Business, and come down to sue me in an Action of Debt? They restor'd him however for that bout, to make Tryal of his Honesty and good Faith. He was no sooner up, but for want of living Oxen, he made out his number upon Paste, and offer'd them up in Form upon an Altar. For this Mockery, divine Vengeance pursu'd him, and he had an Apparition come to him in a Dream, that bad him go and search in such a Place near the Coast, and he should find a considerable Treasure. Away he went, and as he was looking for the Money fell into the Hands of Pyrates. He begg'd hard for his Liberty, and offer'd a thousand Talents of Gold for his Ransome; but they would not trust him, and so he was carried away, and sold afterwards as a Slave for as many Groats.
THE MORAL. The Dev'l was sick, the Dev'l a Monk would be; / The Dev'l was well, the Dev'l a Monk was he.

L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir Roger L'Estrange. Aesop - Fables which is available at amazon.com.