The Bear and the Two Friends book cover

The Bear and the Two Friends

"The Bear and the Two Friends" is a fable by Jean de La Fontaine that explores themes of friendship and loyalty. The narrative revolves around two friends who bump into a bear while walking in the forest. When one friend selfishly leaves the other alone to confront the bear, a unique fable unfolds, illustrating a valuable lesson about true friendship versus fair-weather companions.

Genre: Fable

Submitted by davidb on September 28, 2023

Two Friends, in want, resolved to sell A Bear-skin, though the Bear was well, And still alive. The Furrier paid Them willingly; the bargain's made. It was the King of Bears, they said: They'd kill him in an hour or two, And what more could they hope to do? "The merchant has not such a skin, A guarantee through thick and thin, To fence from e'en the keenest cold With warm, soft, pliant fold on fold: Better to make two cloaks than one." The bargain's made, the business done, The Bear, in two days, was to die That they agreed on, presently. They found the Bear, who, at full trot, Came down upon them, raging hot. The men were thunder-struck; soon done With bargain-making, how they run! Life against money: they are mute. One climbs a tree, to shun the brute; The other, cold as marble, lies Upon his stomach--shuts his eyes; For he has heard that Bears, instead Of eating fear to touch the dead. The trap deceives the foolish Bear: He sees the body lying there, Suspects a trick, turns, smells, and sniffs, With many nuzzling cautious whiffs. "He's dead," said he, "and rather high;" Then seeks the forest that's hard by. The merchant, from the tree descending Quickly, to his companion's lending The aid he needs. "A wondrous sight, To think you've only had a fright. But where's his skin?--and did he say Aught in your ear, as there you lay? For he came, as I plainly saw, And turned you over with his paw." "He said, 'Another time, at least, Before you sell, first kill the beast."
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Jean de La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine was a renowned French fabulist and one of the most famous poets during the French classical period. He was born on July 8, 1621, and died on April 13, 1695. Known for his literary style, he is best known for his "Fables", which are considered classics of French literature. His works were marked by his sophisticated style and moral substance, and his fables provided a scathing critique of French society during his time. more…

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