Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE PEASANT AND THE LABOURER”*

Posted by jlubans on November 25, 2016

“AN old Peasant and a Labourer were going home through
the forest to the village one evening, in the time of the hay-harvest, when they suddenly found themselves face to face with a bear. Scarcely had the Peasant time to utter a cry when the bear was upon him ; it threw him down, rolled him over, made his bones crack again, and began looking about for a soft spot at which to commence its meal. Death draws near to the old man.
‘Stefan, my kinsman, my dear friend, do not desert me!’ he cries, from under the bear, to the Labourer.
Then Stefan, putting forth all his strength like a new Hercules, splits the bear's head in two with his axe, and drives his pitchfork into its bowels. The bear howls, and falls dying. Our bear expires.
The danger having vanished, the Peasant gets up, and soundly scolds the Labourer. Our poor Stefan is astounded. ‘Pardon me, what have I done?’
‘What have you done, you blockhead ? I'd like to know
what you are so absurdly pleased about; why, you've gone and stuck the bear in such a manner that you've utterly ruined his fur!’"
More joke than fable, the story does help us understand that essential human element, humor. If incongruity is what makes us laugh, then this story is a perfect illustration. Instead of the Peasant falling on Stefan’s – the Bear Slayer - neck, kissing both cheeks and promising him a share of the harvest and his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage, he finds Fault with a capital F.
In the workplace, the Peasant is the never-satisfied Boss. For whatever reason, this Boss never gives you credit; indeed he is set against you and resents your bear-slaying successes. He’s made up his mind and if you have enough sense and opportunity you will spruce up the resume and start looking to escape to another organization. Don’t be like Stefan, a beleaguered serf, a slave, who cannot leave. You must flee – because you can - at the first opportunity.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869

© Copyright John Lubans 2016

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