The Two Thieves and The Bear

Thieves wanted to steal a Calf in an Ox stall. One went in but was held fast. As dawn came one thief left and the other was caught – being held by a Bear.

Be prepared for the unexpected.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Two Thieves and Bear

Ernest Griset (1874)

A couple of Thieves, knowing of a Calf that was kept in an Ox’s stall, had determined to steal it away in the dark, and accordingly appointed the hour of midnight for meeting at the place to accomplish their evil design. One of them, it was agreed, was to keep watch on the outside, whilst the other was to go into the stall and lift the Calf out of the window. On the night proposed, they accordingly went to the place, and one of them entered the window of the Ox’s stall, whilst he that remained on watch, not without much fear of detection, desired his companion to make as much haste as possible; but he that was within answered that the animal was so heavy and unmanageable that he could not lift him from the ground, much less to the window. The other’s impatience now increasing by the delay, he began to swear at his comrade for his clumsy awkwardness, and at last told him to give the business up if he could not accomplish it quickly, and make the best of his way out of the stall; for if they remained in this manner till daylight, they would certainly be discovered. The other, with many oaths, replied that he believed it was the devil himself they had to deal with, for, said he, “I cannot now even get out myself, he has got such fast hold of me.” The companion, being no longer able to stay with safety, ran off, and left him to his fate. The fact was this: the Calf had been removed from the stall soon after the Thieves had seen it there, to make room for a Bear that had been brought into the town as a show; and it was this great beast that the Thief had the misfortune to encounter, and who kept hugging him till the morning, when he was discovered by the master of the Bear and taken to prison.


[Note: The Northcote fable is the same fable as in the JBR Collection above. Only the illustrations and Application associated with the fable in the Northcote book are displayed here.]


The innumerable dangers which attend the wicked, are such as make an honest man shudder at the thought. There are not only those from the law and the enmity of mankind towards them, but dangers surround them on every side, from the perilous situations in which they are perpetually placed.

Strange! that men should give up safety, tranquillity, and a good name, for danger, trouble, and infamy; preferring idleness and dissipation for a short period, accompanied with shame and disease—to that wholesome labour which brings with it opulence, health, and most commonly long life. A knave may gain more than an honest man for a day, but the honest man will gain more than the knave in a year. J. N.

JN Fable 074

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: H. White (1828)

JN Fable 074a

Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: Eliza Thompson (1828)