Gateway to the Classics: The Book of Fables and Folk Stories by Horace E. Scudder
The Book of Fables and Folk Stories by  Horace E. Scudder

The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass

A Miller and his Son were driving their Ass to the fair to sell him. They had not gone far, when they met 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 Miller, when he heard this, bade his Son get up on the Ass, and walked along merrily by his side. Soon they came to a group of old men talking gravely.

"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 father has to walk? Get down, lazy boy, and let the old man get on!"

The Son got down from the Ass, and the Miller took his place. They had not gone far when they met a company of women and children.

"Why you lazy old fellow!" cried several at once. "How can you ride upon the beast, when that poor little lad can hardly keep up with you?"

So the good-natured Miller took his Son up behind him. They had now almost reached the town.

"Pray, my friend," said a townsman, "is that Ass your own?"

"Yes," said the Miller.

"I should not have thought so," said the other, "by the way you load him. Why, you two are better able to carry the poor beast than he to carry you."

"Anything to please you," said the Miller. So he and his Son got down from the Ass. They tied his legs together, and, taking a stout pole, tried to carry him on their shoulders over a bridge that led to the town.

This was so odd a sight that crowds of people ran out to see it, and to laugh at it. The Ass, not liking to be tied, kicked the cords away, and tumbled off the pole into the water. At this the Miller and his Son hung down their heads. They made their way home again, having learned that by trying to please everybody, they had pleased nobody, and lost the Ass into the bargain.

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