THE MILLER, HIS SON, AND THEIR ASS
A Miller, accompanied by his young Son, was driving his Ass to
market in hopes of finding a purchaser for him. On the road they
met a troop of girls, laughing and talking, who exclaimed, "Did you
ever see such a pair of fools? To be trudging along the dusty road
when they might be riding!" The Miller thought there was sense in
what they said;
so he made his Son mount the Ass, and himself walked at the side.
Presently they met some of his old cronies, who greeted them and
said, "You'll spoil that Son of yours, letting him ride while you
toil along on foot!
Make him walk, young lazybones! It'll do him all the good in the
world." The Miller followed their advice, and took his Son's place
on the back of the Ass while the boy trudged along behind. They had
not gone far when they overtook a party of women and children, and
the Miller heard them say, "What a selfish old man!
He himself rides in comfort, but lets his poor little boy follow as
best he can on his own legs!" So he made his Son get up behind him.
Further along the road they met some travellers, who asked the
Miller whether the Ass he was riding was his own property, or a
beast hired for the occasion.
He replied that it was his own, and that he was taking it to market
to sell. "Good heavens!" said they, "with a load like that the poor
beast will be so exhausted by the time he gets there that no one
will look at him. Why, you'd do better to carry him!" "Anything to
please you," said the old man, "we can but try." So they got off,
tied the Ass's legs together with a rope and slung him on a pole,
and at last reached the town, carrying him between them. This was
so absurd a sight that the people ran out in crowds to laugh at it,
and chaffed the Father and Son unmercifully, some even calling them
They had then got to a bridge over the river, where the Ass,
frightened by the noise and his unusual situation, kicked and
struggled till he broke the ropes that bound him, and fell into the
water and was drowned. Whereupon the unfortunate Miller, vexed and
ashamed, made the best of his way home again, convinced that in
trying to please all he had pleased none, and had lost his Ass into