The Thieves and the Cockerel


By AESOP

Two thieves were prowling around the streets late one night, looking for a house to break into. They were tired and hungry. They weren’t very good at their jobs; they usually made far too much noise, so that they would wake up either the house owner, one of the servants, or worse still, a guard dog.

They came across a house that looked dark and empty. “Let’s try this one”, they said. They crept around the corner, and they were in luck. One of the windows in the back was open, and they climbed inside. They went around the house carefully, in the dark, but they could not find anything. Then one of them stumbled over something, he bent over, and found a cockerel sleeping there. He picked up the bird and quickly put it in his bag. They made their way out of the house and rushed back to their den. “At least we’ll be able to fill our stomachs tonight”, they said.

One of the thieves started a fire, while the other got the cockerel out of the bag. The bird had woken up in the meantime, and seeing the fire, immediately guessed what was happening. “Please gentlemen”, said the cockerel, “please don’t kill me. I can be very useful. I crow every morning to wake up the honest folk so they can get to their work bright and early!”

“Exactly!” said the thief who was stoking up the fire. “The likes of you make it impossible for us poor thieves to go about our business and make a living. Into the pot you go!”