A crow has cheese a fox wants. The fox asks the crow to sing. It does and drops the cheese.
Do not trust flatterers.
Aesop For Children
One bright morning as the Fox was following his sharp nose through the wood in search of a bite to eat, he saw a Crow on the limb of a tree overhead. This was by no means the first Crow the Fox had ever seen. What caught his attention this time and made him stop for a second look, was that the lucky Crow held a bit of cheese in her beak.
“No need to search any farther,” thought sly Master Fox. “Here is a dainty bite for my breakfast.”
Up he trotted to the foot of the tree in which the Crow was sitting, and looking up admiringly, he cried, “Good-morning, beautiful creature!”
The Crow, her head cocked on one side, watched the Fox suspiciously. But she kept her beak tightly closed on the cheese and did not return his greeting.
“What a charming creature she is!” said the Fox. “How her feathers shine! What a beautiful form and what splendid wings! Such a wonderful Bird should have a very lovely voice, since everything else about her is so perfect. Could she sing just one song, I know I should hail her Queen of Birds.”
Listening to these flattering words, the Crow forgot all her suspicion, and also her breakfast. She wanted very much to be called Queen of Birds.
So she opened her beak wide to utter her loudest caw, and down fell the cheese straight into the Fox’s open mouth.
“Thank you,” said Master Fox sweetly, as he walked off. “Though it is cracked, you have a voice sure enough. But where are your wits?”
The flatterer lives at the expense of those who will listen to him.
A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. “That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree.
“Good-day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking to-day: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.”
The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox. “That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future: “Do not trust flatterers.”
Then away darted she, to the shade of a tree,
To deposit the booty within her;
But it never occur’d to the mind of the bird
That a fox was to have it for dinner.
“How many a slip, ‘twixt the cup and the lip!”
(Excuse me, I pray, the digression.)
Said a fox to himself, “I can share in the pelf,
If I act with my usual discretion.”
So said he, “Is’t you? pray, ma’am, how do you do,
I have long wish’d to pay you a visit;
For a twelvemonth has pass’d since I heard of you last,
Which is not very neighbourly, is it?
“But, dear madam,” said he, “you are dining, I see,
On that subject I’d ask your advice:
Pray, ma’am, now can you tell, where provisions they sell,
That are not an extravagant price.
—”Bread and meat are so dear, and have been for a year,
That poor people can scarcely endure it;
And then cheese is so high, that such beggars as I,
Till it falls, cannot hope to procure it.”
But the ill-behaved bird did not utter a word,
Still intent on retaining her plunder;
Thought the fox, “it should seem this is not a good scheme,
What else can I think of, I wonder?”
So said Reynard, once more, “I ne’er knew it before,
But your feathers are whiter than snow is!”
But thought he, when he’d said it, “she’ll ne’er give it credit,
For what bird is so black as a crow is.”
“But I’m told that your voice is a horrible noise,
Which they say of all sounds is the oddest;
But then this is absurd, for it never is heard,
Since you are so excessively modest.”
“If that’s all,” thought the crow, “I will soon let you know,
That all doubt on that score may be ended;”
Then most laughably piped, this poor silly biped,
When quickly her dinner descended!
If this biped had not been so vain and conceited,
She would not by the fox quite so soon have been cheated;
But perhaps the term biped to some may be new:
‘Tis a two-legged creature—perchance it is you.
A Crow stole a piece of cheese and alighted with it on a tree. A Fox watched her, and wishing to get hold of the cheese stood underneath and began to make compliments upon her size and beauty; he went so far as to say that she had the best of claims to be made Queen of the Birds, and doubtless it would have been done if she had only had a voice. The Crow, anxious to prove to him that she did possess a voice, began to caw vigorously, of course dropping the cheese. The Fox pounced upon it and carried it off, remarking as he went away, “My good friend Crow, you have every good quality: now try to get some common sense.”
A Crow having stolen a piece of cheese from a cottage window, flew with it to a tree that was some way off. A Fox, drawn by the smell of the cheese, came and sat at the foot of the tree, and tried to find some way of making it his. “Good morning, clear Miss Crow,” said he. “How well you are looking to-day! What handsome feathers yours are, to be sure! Perhaps, too, your voice is as sweet as your feathers are fine. If so, you are really the Queen of Birds.” The Crow, quite beside herself to hear such praise, at once opened a wide beak to let the Fox judge of her voice, and so let fall the cheese. The Fox snapped it up, and exclaimed, “Ah! ah! my good soul, learn that all who flatter have their own ends in view. That lesson will well repay you for a bit of cheese.”
A crow having stolen a bit of meat, perched in a tree and held it in her beak. A Fox, seeing this, longed to possess the meat himself, and by a wily stratagem succeeded. “How handsome is the Crow,” he exclaimed, in the beauty of her shape and in the fairness of her complexion! Oh, if her voice were only equal to her beauty, she would deservedly be considered the Queen of Birds!” This he said deceitfully; but the Crow, anxious to refute the reflection cast upon her voice, set up a loud caw and dropped the flesh. The Fox quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the Crow: “My good Crow, your voice is right enough, but your wit is wanting.”
L’Estrange version (A Fox and A Raven)
A certain fox spy’d out a raven upon a tree with a morsel in his mouth, that set his chops a watering; but how to come at it was the question. Ah thou blessed bird! (says he) the delight of gods, and of men! and so he lays himself forth upon the gracefulness of the ravens person, and the beauty of his plumes; his admirable gift of augury, &c. And now, says the fox, if thou hadst but a voice answerable to the rest of thy excellett qualities the sun in the firmament could not shew the world such another creature. This nauseous flattery sets the raven immediately a gaping as wide as ever he could stretch, to give the fox a taste of his pipe; but upon the opening of his mouth, he drops his breakfast, which the fox presently chopt up and then bad him remember, that whatever he had said of his beauty, he had spoken nothing yet of his brains.
There’s hardly any man living that may not be wrought upon more or less by flattery: for we do all of us naturally overween in our own favour: but when it comes to be apply’d once to a vain fool, it makes him forty times an arranter sot than he was before.
Crane Poetry Visual
Said sly Fox to the Crow with the cheese,
“Let me hear your sweet voice, now, do please!”
And this Crow being weak,
Cawed the bit from her beak.
“Music charms,” said the Fox, “and here’s cheese!”
Beware of flatterers.
Corvus et Vulpes Adulatrix
Corvus alicunde caseum rapuerat et cum illo in altam arborem subvolarat. Vulpecula, illum caseum appetens, corvum blandis verbis adoritur, cumque primum formam eius pennarumque nitorem laudasset, “Pol,” inquit, “te avium regem esse dicerem, si cantus pulchritudini tuae responderet.” Tum ille, laudibus vulpis inflatus, etiam cantu se valere demonstrare voluit. Ita vero e rostro aperto caseus delapsus est, quem vulpes arreptum devoravit.
Haec fabula docet vitandas esse adulatorum voces, qui blanditiis suis nobis insidiantur.