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

53. THE STAG AND THE OXEN (Perry 492)

A Stag that was hard set by Huntsmen, betook himself to a Stall for Sanctuary, and prevail’d with the Oxen to conceal him the best they could, so they cover’d him with Straw, and by and by in comes the Keeper to dress the Cattle and feed them; and when he had done his Work, he went his way without any Discovery. The Stag reckon’d himself by this time to be out of all danger; but one of the Oxen that had more Brains than his Fellows, advis’d him not to be too confident neither: for the Servant, says he, is a puzzling Fool that heeds nothing; but when my Master comes, he’ll have an eye here, and there, and every where, and will most certainly find ye out. Upon the very speaking of the Word, in comes the Master, and he spies out twenty Faults, I warrant ye; this was not well, and that was not well; till at last, as he was prying and groping up and down, he felt the Horns of the Stag under the Straw, and so made Prize of him.
THE MORAL OF THE TWO FABLES ABOVE. He that would be sure to have his Business well done, must either do it himself, or see the doing of it; beside that many a good Servant is spoil’d by a careless Master.

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.