Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
336. THE STAG AMONG THE CATTLE
Perry 492 (Phaedrus
A stag had been hiding in the woods when he was discovered by some hunters.
Hoping to escape certain death at their hands, he ran blindly in terror
towards the nearest farmhouse and concealed himself in a convenient stall
where the oxen were kept. One of the oxen said to the fugitive, 'You wretched
creature, what on earth are you trying to do? You have sealed your own
death warrant by trusting your life to the protection of a human house!'
But the stag implored the oxen, 'Have mercy, I beg you! At the first opportunity,
I'll run back out again.' The passing hours of the day gave way to night.
A cowherd brought some leafy boughs into the stall but saw nothing amiss.
The various farm workers came and went, but no one noticed a thing; the
bailiff also passed through but even he didn't observe anything out of
the ordinary. The stag was delighted and began thanking the oxen who had
kept quiet on his behalf and had extended such welcome hospitality in
a moment of need. One of the oxen said to the stag, 'We do indeed wish
you all the best, but if the man of a hundred eyes should come, your life
will hang in the balance.' Meanwhile, after dinner, the master himself
came to inspect the manger since he had noticed that the oxen had been
looking rather sickly. 'Why is there so little fodder here?' he shouted.
'And look, not enough bedding! And how much trouble would it be to get
rid of these spider webs?' As the master examined each and every thing,
he also noticed the stag's tall horns. He called his servants and ordered
them to kill the stag and to carry his carcass away.
The fable shows that the master has better insight than anyone else
when it comes to his own business.
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.