The Fox and the Wolf
So when I heard thy profession of repentance, and what thou vowedst to do if God delivered thee, I felt constrained to save thee from thy present predicament. I therefore hung down my tail that thou mightest catch hold of it and make thine escape. But thou wouldst not relinquish thy habit of severity and violence, nor desire escape and safety for thyself by gentleness. On the contrary, thou didst pull me in such a way that I thought my soul had departed, so I became a companion with thee of the abode of destruction and death; and nothing will effect the escape of myself and thee but one plan. If thou approve of this plan that I have to propose, we shall both save ourselves; and after that, it will be incumbent on thee to fulfil that which thou hast vowed to do, and I will be thy companion.” So the wolf said, “And what is thy proposal that I am to accept?” The fox answered, “That thou raise thyself upright; then I will place myself upon thy head, that I may approach the surface of the earth, and when I am upon its surface I will go forth and bring thee something of which to take hold, and after that thou wilt deliver thyself.” But the wolf replied, “I put no confidence in thy words; for the sages have said, ‘He who confideth when he should hate is in error’; and it hath been said, ‘He who confideth in the faithless is deceived, and he who maketh trial of the trier will repent.’ How excellent also is the saying of the poet—
“‘Let not your opinion be otherwise than evil; for ill opinion is among the strongest of intellectual qualities. Nothing casteth a man into a place of danger like the practice of good, and a fair opinion!’
“And the saying of another—
“‘Always hold an evil opinion, and so be safe. Whoso liveth vigilantly, his calamities will be few. Meet the enemy with a smiling and an open face; but raise for him an army in the heart to combat him.’
“And that of another—
“‘The most bitter of thine enemies is the nearest whom thou trustest in: beware then of men, and associate with them wilily.