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egypt p .

♪1øø1~Ass, the Ox and the Labourer♪


The story of the Ass, the Ox and the Labourer

A very rich merchant had the gift of understanding the languages of beasts; but with this condition that, on pain of death, he should reveal to nobody what they said; and this hindened him from communicating to others the knowledge he thus acquired.

He had in the same stall an ox and an ass; and one day, as he sat near them, he heard the ox say to the ass; "Oh! How happy do i think you, when i consider the ease you enjoy and the little labour that is required of you? Your greatest business is to carry our master when he has a short journey to make; and were it not for that, you would be perfectly idle. I am treated in quite a diffrent manner, and my condition is as miserable as yours is plesant. It is scarce daylight when i am fastened to a plough, and labourer, who is allways behind me, beats me continually; and aftes having toiled from morning to night, when i am brought in, they give me nothing to eat but dry beans; and when i have satisfied my hunger with this trash, i am forced to lie all night upon filthy straw; so that you see, i have reason to envy your lot."

The ass answered: "they do not lie who call you a foolish beast. You kill yourself for the ease, profit and pleasure of those who give you no thanks for so doing, but they would not treat you so if you had as much courage as strength. When they come to fasten you to your stall, why do you not strike them with your horns? They bring you only sorry beans and bad straw; eat none of these, only smell and leave them. If you follow the advice i give to you, you will quickly find a change in your condition."

The ox took the ass's advice in very good part, and professed himself much obliged for the good counsel.

Next morning the labourer fastened the ox to the plough, and led him off to his usual work. The ox was very troublesome all the day; and in the evening, when the labourer brought him back to stall, the vicious beast ran at the labourer, aš if he would have pushed him with his horns. In a word, he did all that the ass advised him to do.

Next day the labourer, finding the manger still full of beans, and the ox lying on the ground with his legs stretched out, and panting in a strange manner, belived the beast was sick, and, pitying him, acquanted the merchant with the fact. The merchant, perceiving that the ox had followed the mischievous advice of the ass, ordered the labourer to go and put the ass in the ox's place, and to be sure to work him hard. The labourer did so; the ass was forced to draw the plough all that day; besides, he was so soundly beaten that he could scarcely stand when he came back.

Meanwhile the ox was very well satisfied. He ate upe all that was in his stall and rested the whole day; and did not fail to compliment the ass for his advice when he came back. The ass answered not one word, so angry was he at the treatment he had received; but he said within himself; "by my own imprudence i have brought this misfortune upon myself; and if i cannot contrive some way to get out of it, i am certainly undone;" and as he spoke this, his strength was so much exhausted, that he fell down in his stall, half dead.

The merchant was curious to know what had passed between the ass and the ox; therefore he went out and sat down by them, and his wife was with him. When he arrived, he heard the ass say to the ox: "comrade, tell me i pray you what you intend to do tomorrow when the labourer brings you meat"
"What shall i do!" said the ox. "I shall continue to do as you taught me."
"Beware of that" replied the ass, "it will ruin you; for i came home this evening, i heard the merchant our master, say to the laborer: 'since the ox does not eat, and is not able to work, i will have him killed tomorrow; therefore, do not fail to send for the butcher'. This is what i had to tell you," said the ass.
"The concern i have for your safety, and my friendship for you, obliged me to let you know it and to give you new advice. As soon as they bring you your bran and straw, rise up, and eat heartily. Our master will by this think you are cured, and, no doubt, will recall his orders. For killing you; whereas, if you do otherwise, you are certainly gone."

The discourse had the effect the ass designed. The merchant, who hat listened very attentively, burst into such fit of laughter, that his wife was surprised at it, and said, "Pray, husband, tell me what you laugh at so heartily, that i may laugh with you."
"Wife," said he, "only laugh at what our ass just now said to our ox. The matter is a secret which i am not allowed to reveal. If i tell it to you, it will cost me my life."
"If you do not tell me what the ox and the ass said to one another," cried his wife, "i swear by heaven that you and i shall never live together again."

Having spoken this, she went into the house in great anger, and sitting down in a corner, she cried there all night. Her husband finding next morning, thdt she continued in the same humour, told that she was very foolish woman to afflict herself in that manner.

"I shall never cease weeping," said she, "till you have satisfied my curiosity."
"But i tell you," replied he, "that it will cost me my life, if i yield to your indiscretion."
"Let what will happen," said she, "I insist upon knowing this matter."
"I perceive," sad the merchant, "that it is impossible to bring you the reason; and since i foresee that you will procure your own death by your obstinancy, i will call in your children, and they may see you before you die."
Accordingly, he called for them, and sent to her father and mother, and other relations. When they hear the reason of their being called for, they did all they could to convince her that she was in the wrong; but she told them that she would rather die than yield that poin to her husband. The merchant was like a man out of his senses, and almost ready to risk his own life to save that of his wife, whom he loved dearly.

Now this merchant had fifty sens an a *bleep* with a dog, that gave good heed to all that passed; and while the merchant was considering what should do, he saw his dog runs towards the *bleep*, who was crowing lustily, and heard him speak thus; "You, *bleep*, i am sure, will not be allowed allowed to live long; are you not ashamed to be so merry today?"
"And why," said the *bleep*, "should i not be marry today as well as on other days?"
"If you dont know," replied the dog, "then i will tell you, that this day our master is in a great affliction, his wife would have him reveal a secret, which is such a nature that its discovery will cost him his life."

The *bleep* answered the dog thus "what has our master little sense? He has but one wife and cannot govern her! And though i have fifty, i make them all do what i plese. Let him make use of his reason; he will speedily find a way to rid himself of his trouble."
"How?" asked the dog, "what would you have him do?"
"Let him go into the room where his wife is," replied the *bleep*, "lock the door and take a good stick and beat her well, and, i will answer for it, that will bring her to her senses, and make her forbear asking him any more to reveal what he ought not to tell her."
The merchan had no sooner heard what the *bleep* said, than he took up a good stick, went to his wife, what he found still crying, and shutting the door, belaboured her so soundly, that she cried out "it is enough, husband, it is enough! Let me alone and i will never ask the question more."

"Daughter," added the grand vizier, "you deserve to be treated as the merchant treated his wife."

"Father," replied Sheherazade, " i beg you will not take it ill that i persist in my opinion. I am in no way moved by the story of that woman."
In short, the father, overcome by the resolution of his daughter, yielded to her importunity; and though he was very much grieved that he could not divert her from her fatal resolution, he went that minute to inform the sultan that next night he would bring him Sheherazade.

The Sultan was much surprised at the sacrifice which the grand vizier proposed making. "How could you resolve," said he, "to bring me your own daughter?"
"Sir," answered the vizier, "it is her own offer."
"But do not decive yourself, vizier," said the Sultan.
"Tomorrow when i put Sheherazade into your hands, i expect you will take away her life, and if you fail, i swear that you shall die."

Sheherazade now set about preparing to apper before the Sultan, but before she went, she took her sister Dinarzade apart, and said to her, "my dear sister, i have need of your help i a matter of very great importance. As soon as i come to Sultan, will beg him to allow you to be in the bride chamber, that i may enjoy your company for the last time. If i obtain this favour, as i hope to do, remember to awaken me tomorrow an hour before day, and to adress me like these, 'my sister, if you be not asleep, i pray you that, till daybreak, you will relate one of deligtful stories of which you have read so many.' Immediately i will begin to tell you one and i hope, by this means, to deliver the city from the consterlation it is in." Dinarzade answered that she would fulfil her sister's wishes.

When the hour for retiring came, the grand vizier conducted Sheherazade to the palace, and took his leave. As soon as the Sultan was left alone with her, he ordered to uncover her face, and found it so beautiful, that he was charred with her, but perceiving her to be in tears, he asked the reason.
"Sir," answered Sheherazade, "i have a sister who loves me tenderly, and whom i love, and i could wish that she might be allowed to pass the night in this chamber, that i might see her, and bid her farewell. Will you be pleased to grant me the comfort of giving her this last testimony of my affection?"
Shahriar having consented, Dinarzade was sent for, and came with diligence. The Sultan passed the night with Sheherazade upon an elevated couch and Dinarzade slept on a mattress for her near the foot of the bed.

An hour before day, Dinarzade awoke an faild not to speak as her sister had ordered her.

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