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French Literature  -  Jean de la Fontaine Fables

THE TWO MULES.  -  Les Deux Mulets


France Facts > La Fontaine Fables > The Heifer, the Goat, and the Sheep in company with the Lion

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Two mules were bearing on their backs,
One, oats; the other, silver of the tax.*

The latter glorying in his load,
March'd proudly forward on the road;
And, from the jingle of his bell,
'Twas plain he liked his burden well.

But in a wild-wood glen
A band of robber men
Rush'd forth upon the twain.
Well with the silver pleased,
They by the bridle seized
The treasure-mule so vain.

Poor mule! in struggling to repel
His ruthless foes, he fell
Stabb'd through; and with a bitter sighing,
He cried, 'Is this the lot they promised me?

My humble friend from danger free,
While, weltering in my gore, I'm dying?'

'My friend,' his fellow-mule replied,
'It is not well to have one's work too high.
If thou hadst been a miller's drudge, as I,
Thou wouldst not thus have died.

ean de La Fontaine, Fable IV, Book I.

Deux mulets cheminaient, l'un d'avoine chargé,
L'autre portant l'argent de la gabelle

Celui-ci, glorieux d'une charge si belle,
N'eût voulu pour beaucoup en être soulagé.
Il marchait d'un pas relevé,
Et faisait sonner sa sonnette :

Quand, l'ennemi se présentant,
Comme il en voulait à l'argent,
Sur le mulet du fisc une troupe se jette,
Le saisit au frein et l'arrête.

Le mulet, en se défendant,
Se sent percé de coups; il gémit, il soupire.
Est-ce donc là, dit-il, ce qu'on m'avait promis ?

Ce mulet qui me suit du danger se retire;
Et moi j'y tombe et je péris !

- Ami, lui dit son camarade,
Il n'est pas toujours bon d'avoir un haut emploi :
Si tu n'avais servi qu'un meunier, comme moi,
Tu ne serais pas si malade.

Jean de La Fontaine, Fable IV, Livre I.

*The silver of the tax_.--An allusion to the French _gabelle_, or
old salt tax, which, like all taxes levied upon the mass of the
people, was a very productive one. Its collection caused several
peasants' insurrections.


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