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Horace Elisha Scudder

The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass

A Miller and his Son were driving their Ass to a neighboring fair to sell him. They had not gone far when they met with a troop of girls, returning from the town, talking and laughing. "Look there!" cried one of them, "did you ever see such fools, to be trudging along on foot when they might be riding?" The old man, hearing this, bade his Son get on the Ass, and walked along merrily by the side of him. Presently they came to a group of old men in earnest debate. "There!" said one of them, "that proves what I was saying. What respect is shown to old age in these days? do you see that idle young rogue riding, while his old father has to walk? get down, you scape-grace, and let the old man get on!" Upon this, the Miller made his Son dismount, and got up himself. They had not gone far, when they met a company of women and children. "Why, you lazy old fellow!" cried several tongues at once, "how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad there can hardly keep pace by the side of you?" The good-natured Miller thereupon took up his Son behind him. They had now almost reached the town. "Pray, honest friend," said a townsman, "is that Ass your own?" "Yes," said the old man. "Oh! one would not have thought so," said the other, "by the way you load him. Why, you two poor fellows are better able to carry the poor beast, than he you!" "Anything to please you," said the old man. "We can but try." So, alighting with his Son, they tied the Assís legs together, and by the help of a pole endeavored to carry him on their shoulders over a bridge that led to the town. This was so entertaining a sight, that the people ran out in crowds to laught at it; till the Ass, not liking the noise or his situation, kicked the cords away, and tumbled off the pole into the river. Upon this, the old man, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way home again, having learned that by trying to please everybody he had pleased nobody, and lost his Ass into the bargain.