'The Eagle, the Cat and the Wild Sow', an illustration by John Vernon Lord in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989, page 127.
The Eagle, the Cat and the Wild Sow
AN Eagle had built her nest upon the top branches of an old oak. A wild Cat inhabited a hole in the middle; and in the hollow part at the bottom was a Sow, with a whole litter of pigs. A happy neighbourhood; and might long have continued so, had it not been for the wicked insinuations of the designing Cat. For, first of all, she crept to the Eagle; and, good neighbour, says she, we shall be all undone: That filthy Sow yonder does nothing but lie routing at the foot of the tree, and, as I suspect, intends to grub it up, that she may the more easily, come at our young ones. For my part I will take care of my own concerns; you may do as you please, but I will watch her motions, though I stay at home this month for it.
When she had said this, which could not fail the putting the Eagle into a great fright, down she went, and made a visit to the Sow at the bottom; and, putting on a sorrowful face, I hope, says she, you do not intend to go abroad today? Why not? says the Sow. Nay, replies the other, you may do as you please; but I overheard the Eagle tell her young ones, that she would treat them with a pig the first time she saw you go out; and I am not sure she may take up with a kitten in the meantime; so, good morrow to you; you will excuse me, I must go and take care of the little folks at home.
Away she went accordingly; and, by contriving to steal out softly at nights for her prey, and to stand watching and peeping all day at her hole, as under great concern, she made such an impression upon the Eagle and the Sow, that neither of them dared to venture abroad for fear of the other. The consequence of which was, that themselves, and their young ones, in a little time were all starved, and made prize of by the treacherous Cat and her kittens.
Moral: What a neighbour whispers should not always be believed, for such gossip may have underlying evil intentions
Text: Thomas Bewick (2/40, 1784).
Selected Parallels: Phaedrus 2/4. La Fontaine 3/6. L’Estrange 1/403. Perry 488. TMI K2131.1.