A farmer built around his crop A wall, and crowned his labors By placing glass upon the top To lacerate his neighbors, Provided they at any time Should feel disposed the wall to climb. He also drove some iron pegs Securely in the coping, To tear the bare, defenceless legs Of brats who, upward groping, Might steal, despite the risk of fall, The grapes that grew upon the wall. One day a fox, on thieving bent, A crafty and an old one, Most shrewdly tracked the pungent scent That eloquently told one That grapes were ripe and grapes were good And likewise in the neighborhood. He threw some stones of divers shapes The luscious fruit to jar off: It made him ill to see the grapes So near and yet so far off. His throws were strong, his aim was fine, But "Never touched me!" said the vine. The farmer shouted, "Drat the boys!" And, mounting on a ladder, He sought the cause of all the noise; No farmer could be madder, Which was not hard to understand Because the glass had cut his hand. His passion he could not restrain, But shouted out, "You're thievish!" The fox replied, with fine disdain, "Come, country, don't be peevish." (Now "country" is an epithet One can't forgive, nor yet forget.) The farmer rudely answered back With compliments unvarnished, And downward hurled the bric-à-brac With which the wall was garnished, In view of which demeanor strange, The fox retreated out of range. "I will not try the grapes to-day," He said. "My appetite is Fastidious, and, anyway, I fear appendicitis." (The fox was one of the élite Who call it site instead of seet.) The moral is that if your host Throws glass around his entry You know it isn't done by most Who claim to be the gentry, While if he hits you in the head You may be sure he's underbred.
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