The Fox and The Woodcutter

A Fox sought and was granted shelter in a home. Huntsmen asked about the Fox; the owner denied seeing one but pointed at the house. Fox lucky signal missed.

Conscience is as answerable for actions as words.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Fox and CountrymanA Fox having been hunted hard, and run a long chase, saw a Countryman at work in a wood, and begged him to help him to some hiding-place. The man said he might go into his cottage, which was close by. He was no sooner in, than the Huntsmen came up. “Have you seen a Fox pass this way?” said they. The Countryman said “No, but pointed at the same time towards the place where the Fox lay. The Huntsmen did not take the hint, however, and made off again at full speed. The Fox, who had seen all that took place through a chink in the wall, thereupon came out, and was walking away without a word. “Why, how now?” said the man; “haven’t you the manners to thank your host before you go?” “Yes, yes,” said the Fox; “if you had been as honest with your finger as you were with your tongue, I shouldn’t have gone without saying good-bye.”

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A fox, running before the hounds, came across a Woodcutter felling an oak and begged him to show him a safe hiding-place. The Woodcutter advised him to take shelter in his own hut, so the Fox crept in and hid himself in a corner. The huntsman soon came up with his hounds and inquired of the Woodcutter if he had seen the Fox. He declared that he had not seen him, and yet pointed, all the time he was speaking, to the hut where the Fox lay hidden. The huntsman took no notice of the signs, but believing his word, hastened forward in the chase. As soon as they were well away, the Fox departed without taking any notice of the Woodcutter: whereon he called to him and reproached him, saying, “You ungrateful fellow, you owe your life to me, and yet you leave me without a word of thanks.” The Fox replied, “Indeed, I should have thanked you fervently if your deeds had been as good as your words, and if your hands had not been traitors to your speech.”

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version (A Fox and Huntsmen)

A fox that had been hard-run, begg’d of a countryman that he saw at work in a wood, to help him to some hiding-place. The man directed him to his cottage, and thither he went. He was no sooner got in, but the huntsmen were presently at the heels of him, and asked the cottager if he did not see a fox that way? No truly, says he, I saw none; but pointed at the same time with his finger to the place where he lay. The huntsmen did not take the hint, but the fox spy’d him, it seems, through a peeping hole he had found out to see what news: so the foxhunters went their way, and then out steals the fox, without one word speaking. Why how now, says the man, han’t ye the manners to take leave of your host before you go? Yes, yes, says the fox; if you had been as honest of your fingers, as you were of your tongue, I should not have gone without bidding ye farewell.


A man may tell a lye by signs, as well as in words at length, and his conscience is as answerable for his fingers, as for his tongue.

1001Lupus Fugiens et Pastor

Cum venatorem instantem fugeret lupus, et pastor vidisset qua parte fugeret et quo se loco absconderet, ille, vehementer metuens, “Oro te, pastor,” inquit, “ne me prodas innocentem. Nihil umquam mali tibi feci.” Et pastor “Noli,” inquit, “timere; alteram venatori monstrabo partem.” Mox venator, cum advolasset, “Pastor, vidistine huc,” inquit, “lupum venientem?” Huic pastor, voce maxima, “Venit ille quidem, sed laeva fugit.” At simul, oculis clam dextram partem designat. Venator non intellexit nutum et, festinans, abiit. Tum lupum pastor interrogat, “Quam tu mihi habebis gratiam quod te celavi?” Tum ille “Maximas,” inquit, “linguae tuae gratias ago, at oculis tuis fallacibus,” secum murmurans subiecit, “talem gratiam referam, ut ex minore in dies ovium numero cognoscas – quam memor sim meriti tui!”

Perry #022