Page:Fables by La Fontaine translated by Elizur Wright.djvu/141

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BOOK THREE.

Who through its varied course, from stage to stage,
Have stored the full experience of age;
What shall I do? 'T is time I chose profession.
You know my fortune, birth, and disposition.
Ought I to make the country my resort,
Or seek the army, or to rise at court?
There's nought but mixeth bitterness with charms;
War hath its pleasures, hymen its alarms.
'T were nothing hard to take my natural bent,—
But I've a world of people to content.'
'Content a world!' old Malherbe cries; 'who can, sir?
Why, let me tell a story ere I answer.
'A miller and his son, I've somewhere read,
The first in years, the other but a lad,—
A fine, smart boy, however, I should say,—
To sell their ass went to a fair one day.
In order there to get the highest price,
They needs must keep their donkey fresh and nice;
So, tying fast his feet, they swung him clear,
And bore him hanging like a chandelier.
Alas! poor, simple-minded country fellows!
The first that sees their load, loud laughing, bellows,
"What farce is this to split good people's sides?
The most an ass is not the one that rides!"