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

156. A LION, FOX, AND A WOLF (Perry 258)

The King of Beasts was now grown Old, and Sickly, and All his Subjects of the Forrest, (saving only the Fox) were to pay their Duties to him. The Wolf and the Fox, like a couple of Sly Knaves, were still putting Tricks One upon Another, and the Wolf took this Occasion to do the Fox a good Office: I can assure your Majesty, says the Wolf, that ‘tis nothing but Pride and Insolence that keeps the Fox from showing himself at Court as well as his Companions. Now the Fox had the good Luck to be within Hearing, and so presented himself before the Lion, and finding him extreamly Enrag’d, begs his Majesty’s Patience, and a little Time only for his Defence. Sir (says he) I must presume to Value my self upon my Respect and Loyalty to your Majesty, equal at least to any of your other Subjects; and I will be bold to say, that put them all together, they have not taken half the Pains for your Majesty’s Service now upon this very Occasion, that I have done. I have been Hunting up and down far and near, since your unhappy Indisposition, to find out a Remedy for ye, which with much ado I have now Compass’d at last, and it is that which I promised my self will prove an Infallible Cure. Tell me immediately (says the Lion) what is it then: Nothing in the World, says the Fox, but to Flay a Wolf alive, and Wrap your Body up in the Warm Skin. The Wolf was by all this while; and the Fox in a Snearing way advised him for the future, not to irritate a Prince against his Subjects, but rather to Sweeten him with Peaceable and Healing Councels.
THE MORAL. The Bus’ness of a Pickthank is the Basest of Offices, but yet Diverting enough sometimes, when One Rascal happens to be Encounter’d with Another.

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.