Page:Fables by La Fontaine translated by Elizur Wright.djvu/142

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The miller, much enlightened by this talk,
Untied his precious beast, and made him walk.
The ass, who liked the other mode of travel,
Brayed some complaint at trudging on the gravel;
Whereat, not understanding well the beast,
The miller caused his hopeful son to ride,
And walked behind, without a spark of pride.
Three merchants passed, and, mightily displeased,
The eldest of these gentlemen cried out.
"Ho, there! dismount, for shame, you lubber lout!
Nor make a footboy of your grey-beard sire;
Change places, as the rights of age require."
"To please you, sirs," the miller said, "I ought."
So down the young and up the old man got.
Three girls next passing, "What a shame!" says one,
"That boy should be obliged on foot to run,
While that old chap, upon his ass astride,
Should play the calf and like a bishop ride!"
"Please save your wit," the miller made reply;
"Tough veal, my girls, the calf as old as I."
But joke on joke repeated changed his mind;
So up he took, at last, his son behind.
Not thirty yards ahead, another set
Found fault. "The biggest fools I ever met,"
Says one of them, "such burdens to impose.
The ass is faint, and dying with their blows.