The Ass and The Wolf

An Ass pretended to be lame when he saw a Wolf coming. Wolf asked the problem and Ass said he had a thorn. The Wolf agreed to remove it; got kicked trying.

Keep to your trade.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Wolf and Ass

Milo Winter (1919)

An Ass was feeding in a pasture near a wood when he saw a Wolf lurking in the shadows along the hedge. He easily guessed what the Wolf had in mind, and thought of a plan to save himself. So he pretended he was lame, and began to hobble painfully.

When the Wolf came up, he asked the Ass what had made him lame, and the Ass replied that he had stepped on a sharp thorn.

“Please pull it out,” he pleaded, groaning as if in pain. “If you do not, it might stick in your throat when you eat me.”

The Wolf saw the wisdom of the advice, for he wanted to enjoy his meal without any danger of choking. So the Ass lifted up his foot and the Wolf began to search very closely and carefully for the thorn.

Just then the Ass kicked out with all his might, tumbling the Wolf a dozen paces away. And while the Wolf was getting very slowly and painfully to his feet, the Ass galloped away in safety.

“Serves me right,” growled the Wolf as he crept into the bushes. “I’m a butcher by trade, not a doctor.”


Stick to your trade.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

An ass feeding in a meadow saw a Wolf approaching to seize him, and immediately pretended to be lame. The Wolf, coming up, inquired the cause of his lameness. The Ass replied that passing through a hedge he had trod with his foot upon a sharp thorn. He requested that the Wolf pull it out, lest when he ate him it should injure his throat. The Wolf consented and lifted up the foot, and was giving his whole mind to the discovery of the thorn, when the Ass, with his heels, kicked his teeth into his mouth and galloped away. The Wolf, being thus fearfully mauled, said, “I am rightly served, for why did I attempt the art of healing, when my father only taught me the trade of a butcher?’

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

An asse had got a thorn in’s foot, and for want of a better surgeon, who but a wolf at last, to draw it out with his teeth! The asse was no sooner eas’d, but he gave his operator such a lick under the ear with his sound foot for his pains, that he stunn’d him, and so went his way.


Harm watch, harm catch, is but according to the common rule of equity and retaliation, and a very warrantable way of deceiving the deceiver.

[Note: In the Perry index this fable is matched with A Horse and A Lion.]

Perry #187