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Horace Elisha Scudder

The Stag and the Lion

A Thirsty Stag came to a spring to drink; as he drank he saw his reflection in the water, and was very proud of his antlers when he saw how big and branching they were; but he looked grievously at his feet, and took it hard that they should be so thin and weak. Now, while he was pondering, a Lion suddenly appeared, and began to chase him, and he, turning to run, had the advantage, for the Stagís virtue is in his feet, the Lionís in his loins. As long as the chase was on the plain the Stag was not to be caught, but outstripped the Lion; but when they came to a wooded tract the Stagís horns became tangled in the branches of trees, and not being able to run, he was caught by the Lion. When he was about to be doomed, he exclaimed: "What a wretch am I, who was saved and made happy by the very things which I despised, but have come to my end by what I especially gloried in."

The fable teaches this, that in like manner, men often think they have something fine, and get caught by it unawares; or this, often when in danger those of our friends whom we suspect are really our saviors, while those we trust, turn out to be traitors.