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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 187 (Babrius 122)

A donkey had gone lame after stepping on a sharp thorn. Then he noticed a wolf nearby. Plainly afraid that the wolf might kill him, the donkey said, 'O wolf, I am dying; I'm about to draw my last breath. But I am glad to have run into you; I would prefer to have you feast on my flesh rather than a vulture or a raven. So please do me a little favour, a trifle really, and remove this prickly thorn from my hoof so that my spirit can go down to Hades free from pain.' The wolf said, 'That is a favour I can't begrudge you.' So he pulled out the burning thorn with the sharp edge of his teeth. Freed from all his pain and suffering, the donkey ran away, kicking with his heels at the tawny wolf who stood with his mouth hanging open. As the donkey's hooves crushed the wolf's head and nose and jaws, the wolf exclaimed, 'Alas, it serves me right! Why did I take up the doctor's trade, healing the lame at a moment like this, when the only profession I ever learned was how to be a butcher!'

Note: For the proverbial 'wolf with his mouth hanging open,' see Fable 282. This same story was also told about a lion and a horse; see Fable 313 (following).

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.