I. A. Krylov, “Ryb’ji pliaski”)
King lion with an iron hand
Ruled all the beasts who live on land
From deep ravines up to the mountain-peaks
And also those in rivers, lakes and creeks.
One day the king had called the pillars of the state
To sit in council and debate
And find a candidate auspicious
To serve as judge over the fishes.
There was some argument; at last
The votes were cast:
The fox was raised to this judicial seat.
The lion did not fail this action to confirm.
And so the fox began his first juridical term.
He gained some weight from having more to eat;
He had a friend, a common man,
Together they devised a plan:
And while the fox a case was handling,
His friend was angling
And gave him him appointed share.
Thus for some time the ill-matched pair
Was robbing the community
And did it with impunity.
One can deceive for just so long –
The king suspected something wrong
Was going on inside his courts
(He head some rumors and reports)
And, having leisure on his hands,
He set out to inspect his lands.
The king approached when our good man
Had finished angling and began
To fry the fish and to prepare
A meal, to be the judge’s fare.
Destined to be the fox’s meal
Poor creatures suffered a great deal,
Jumped up and down inside the pan
And looked, mouths open, at the man.
And now the fox was in a fix:
He could not use his simpler tricks,
But had to summon all his art.
(We know, of course, the fox is smart!) –
“My lord, may I, with your consent,
Become so bold as to present
My secretary, a good man,
For he is famous, if you please,
For his integrity; and these” –
And here he gestured at the pan
Which was becoming ever hotter.
“Are perch, all denizens of water.
They heard about your visitation
And came up, as a deputation
To welcome you and to present...” –
“Are all my subjects here content
Do they complain in any wise?” –
“My lord, their life is paradise,
As long as you’re alive and well”,
Replied the judge. – “But can you tell
Why do these fish so wildly flail
Each one of them, its head and tail?”
The king inquired with a glance.
The fox replied: “Your subjects dance
From utter joy.” The lie was such
That it was finally too much.
The lion said: “A wond’rous thing!
They dance, but there’s no one to sing!”
And so, to make his subjects merry,
The lion took the secretary
And the interpreter of the laws