How Apuleius was made a common Asse to fetch home wood, and how he was handled by a boy.
After that I was thus handled by horses, I was brought home againe to the Mill, but behold fortune (insatiable of my torments) had devised a new paine for me. I was appointed to bring home wood every day from a high hill, and who should drive me thither and home again, but a boy that was the veriest hangman in all the world, who was not contented with the great travell that I tooke in climbing up the hill, neither pleased when he saw my hoofe torne and worne away by sharpe flintes, but he beat me cruelly with a great staffe, insomuch that the marrow of my bones did ake for woe, for he would strike me continually on the right hip, and still in one place, whereby he tore my skinne and made of my wide sore a great hole or trench, or rather a window to looke out at, and although it runne downe of blood, yet would he not cease beating me in that place: moreover he laded me with such great burthens of wood that you would thinke they had been rather prepared for Elephants then for me, and when he perceived that my wood hanged more on one side then another, (when he should rather take away the heavy sides, and so ease me, or else lift them up to make them equall with the other) he laid great stones upon the weaker side to remedy the matter, yet could be not be contented with this my great misery and immoderate burthens of wood, but when hee came to any river (as there were many by the way) he to save his feete from water, would leape upon my loynes likewise, which was no small loade upon loade. And if by adversity I had fell downe in any dirty or myrie place, when he should have pulled me out either with ropes, or lifted me up by the taile, he would never helpe me, but lay me on from top to toe with a mighty staffe, till he had left no haire on all my body, no not so much as on mine eares, whereby I was compelled by force of blowes to stand up. The same hangman boy did invent another torment for me: he gathered a great many sharp thornes as sharp as needles and bound them together like a fagot, and tyed them at my tayle to pricke me, then was I afflicted on every side, for if I had indeavoured to runne away, the thornes would have pricked me, if I had stood still, the boy would have beaten mee, and yet the boy beate mee to make me runne, whereby I perceived that the hangman did devise nothing else save only to kill me by some manner of meanes, and he would sweare and threaten to do me worse harme, and because hee might have some occasion to execute his malicious minde, upon a day (after that I had endeavoured too much by my patience) I lifted up my heeles and spurned him welfavouredly. Then he invented this vengeance against me, after that he had well laded me with shrubs and rubble, and trussed it round upon my backe, hee brought me out into the way: then hee stole a burning coale out of a mans house of the next village, and put it into the middle of the rubbell; the rubbell and shrubs being very dry, did fall on a light fire and burned me on every side. I could see no remedy how I might save my selfe, and in such a case it was not best for me to stand still but fortune was favourable towards me, perhaps to reserve me for more dangers, for I espyed a great hole full of raine water that fell the day before, thither I ranne hastily and plunged my selfe therein, in such sort that I quenched the fire, and was delivered from that present perill, but the vile boy to excuse himselfe declared to all the neighbours and shepheards about, that I willingly tumbled in the fire as I passed through the village. Then he laughed upon me saying: How long shall we nourish and keepe this fiery Asse in vaine?
THE TWENTY-NINTH CHAPTER
How Apuleius was accused of Lechery by the boy.
A few dayes after, the boy invented another mischiefe: For when he had sold all the wood which I bare, to certaine men dwelling in a village by, he lead me homeward unladen: And then he cryed that he was not able to rule me, and that hee would not drive mee any longer to the hill for wood, saying: Doe you not see this slow and dulle Asse, who besides all the mischiefes that he hath wrought already, inventeth daily more and more. For he espyeth any woman passing by the way, whether she be old or marryed, or if it be a young child, hee will throw his burthen from his backe, and runneth fiercely upon them. And after that he hath thrown them downe, he will stride over them to commit his buggery and beastly pleasure, moreover hee will faine as though hee would kisse them, but he will bite their faces cruelly, which thing may worke us great displeasure, or rather to be imputed unto us as a crime: and even now when he espyed an honest maiden passing by die high way, he by and by threw downe his wood and runne after her: And when he had throwne her down upon the ground, he would have ravished her before the face of all the world, had it not beene that by reason of her crying out, she was succored and pulled from his heeles, and so delivered. And if it had so come to passe that this fearefull maid had beene slaine by him, what danger had we beene in? By these and like lies, he provoked the shepheards earnestly against me, which grieved mee (God wot) full sore that said nothing. Then one of the shepheards said: Why doe we not make sacrifice of this common adulterous Asse? My sonne (quoth he) let us kill him and throw his guts to the dogges, and reserve his flesh for the labourers supper. Then let us cast dust upon his skinne, and carry it home to our master, and say that the Woolves have devoured him. The boy that was my evill accuser made no delay, but prepared himselfe to execute the sentence of the shepheard, rejoycing at my present danger, but O how greatly did I then repent that the stripe which I gave him with my heele had not killed him. Then he drew out his sword and made it sharp upon the whetstone to slay me, but another of the shepheards gan say, Verely it is a great offence to kill so faire an Asse, and so (by accusation of luxurie and lascivious wantonnesse) to lack so necessarie his labour and service, where otherwise if ye would cut off his stones, he might not onely be deprived of his courage but also become gentle, that we should be delivered from all feare and danger. Moreover he would be thereby more fat and better in flesh. For I know my selfe as well many Asses, as also most fierce horses, that by reason of their wantonnesse have beene most mad and terrible, but (when they were gelded and cut) they have become gentle and tame, and tractable to all use. Wherefore I would counsell you to geld him. And if you consent thereto, I will by and by, when I go to the next market fetch mine irons and tooles for the purpose: And I ensure you after that I have gelded and cut off his stones, I will deliver him unto you as tame as a lambe. When I did perceive that I was delivered from death, and reserved to be gelded, I was greatly sorrie, insomuch that I thought all the hinder part of my body and my stones did ake for woe, but I sought about to kill my selfe by some manner of meanes, to the end if I should die, I would die with unperished members.
THE THIRTIETH CHAPTER
How the boy that lead Apuleius to the field, was slaine in the wood.
While I devised with my selfe in what manner I might end my life, the roperipe boy on the next morrow lead me to the same hill againe, and tied me to a bow of a great Oke, and in the meane season he tooke his hatchet and cut wood to load me withall, but behold there crept out of a cave by, a marvailous great Beare, holding out his mighty head, whom when I saw, I was sodainly stroken in feare, and (throwing all the strength of my body into my hinder heeles) lifted up my strained head and brake the halter, wherewith I was tied. Then there was no need to bid me runne away, for I scoured not only on foot, but tumbled over the stones and rocks with my body till I came into the open fields, to the intent I would escape from the terrible Beare, but especially from the boy that was worse than the Beare. Then a certaine stranger that passed by the way (espying me alone as a stray Asse) tooke me up and roade upon my backe, beating me with a staffe (which he bare in his hand) through a wide and unknowne lane, whereat I was nothing displeased, but willingly went forward to avoid the cruell paine of gelding, which the shepherds had ordained for me, but as for the stripes I was nothing moved, since I was accustomed to be beaten so every day. But evill fortune would not suffer me to continue in so good estate long: For the shepheards looking about for a Cow that they had lost (after they had sought in divers places) fortuned to come upon us unwares, who when they espied and knew me, they would have taken me by the halter, but he that rode upon my backe resisted them saying, O Lord masters, what intend you to do? Will you rob me? Then said the shepheards, What? thinkest thou we handle thee otherwise then thou deservest, which hast stollen away our Asse? Why dost thou not rather tell us where thou hast hidden the boy whom thou hast slaine? And therewithall they pulled him downe to the ground, beating him with their fists, and spurning him with their feete. Then he answered unto them saying, titathat he saw no manner of boy, but onely found the Asse loose and straying abroad, which he tooke up to the intent to have some reward for the finding of him and to restore him againe to his Master. And I would to God (quoth he) that this Asse (which verely was never seene) could speake as a man to give witnesse of mine innocency: Then would you be ashamed of the injury which you have done to me. Thus (reasoning for Himselfe) he nothing prevailed, for they tied the halter about my necke, and (maugre his face) pulled me quite away, and lead me backe againe through the woods of the hill to the place where the boy accustomed to resort. And after they could find him in no place, at length they found his body rent and torne in peeces, and his members dispersed in sundry places, which I well knew was done by the cruell Beare: and verely I would have told it if I might have spoken, but (which I could onely do) I greatly rejoiced at his death, although it came too late. Then they gathered together the peeces of his body and buried them. By and by they laid the fault to my new Master, that tooke me up by the way, and (bringing him home fast bound to their houses) purposed on the next morrow to accuse him of murther, and to lead him before the Justices to have judgement of death.