THE HORSE AND THE DONKEY
Once upon a time . . . an old carter kept a horse and a donkey in the same
stable. He was equally fond of both his animals, but as he used the horse to pull his trap, he gave it better food and more attention than he did the donkey. However, the donkey, knowing he was not so precious as his stablemate, ate straw instead of corn and hay, without complaining. Even when both animals carried sacks to market, the donkey's was the heavier load, for the carter did not want to overwork his noble horse, though he had no such feelings about the donkey. As time went by, the horse grew more handsome and robust, while the donkey became thin and weak. One day, on their way to market, the donkey was carrying his usual heavy load, while the horse had only two lightweight sacks tied to the saddle.
"I can't go much further!" moaned the donkey. "I'm much weaker today! I can
hardly stand and unless I can get rid of some of this weight, I won't be able to go on. Couldn't you take some of my load?"
When the horse heard this, he looked the donkey up and down in disdain, for
he considered himself much superior, and said: "Our master gave you the heavy load, because he knows that donkeys are beasts of burden. Their loads ought to be heavier than those of noble horses!"
So the wretched donkey stumbled on. But after a short distance, he stopped
again, bleary-eyed, his tongue hanging out.
"Please, please listen! If you don't help me, I'll never reach market
alive." But without even a glance, the horse haughtily replied: "Rubbish! Come on, you'll manage this time too!" But this time, after a few tottering steps, the donkey dropped dead to the ground. The donkey's master, who had lingered to pick mushrooms, ran up when he saw the animal fall.
"Poor thing!" he said. "He served me well for so many years. His load must
have been too heavy."
Then he turned to the horse: "Come here! You'll have to carry your
companion's load too now!" And he hoisted the donkey's sacks onto the horse's back.
"I'd have done better to help the donkey when he was alive," said the horse
to himself. "A little more weight wouldn't have done me any harm. Now, I'm frightened of collapsing myself under a double load!" But feeling sorry too late did nothing to lighten his load.