The Golden Ass

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Chapter 8

How Apuleius was cruelly beaten by the Mother of the boy that was slaine.

In the meane season, while the Parents of the boy did lament and weepe for the death of their sonne, the shepheard (according to his promise) came with his instruments and tooles to geld me. Then one of them said, Tush we little esteeme the mischiefe he did yesterday, but now we are contented that to morrow his stones shall not onely be cut off, but also his head. So was it brought to passe, that my death was delayed till the next morrow, but what thanks did I give to that good boy, who (being so slaine) was the cause of my pardon for one short day. Howbeit I had no time then to rest my selfe, for the Mother of the boy, weeping and lamenting for his death, attired in mourning vesture, tare her haire and beat her breast, and came presently into the stable, saying, Is it reason that this carelesse beast should do nothing all day but hold his head in the manger, filling and belling his guts with meat without compassion of my great miserie, or remembrance of the pittiful death of his slaine Master: and contemning my age and infirmity, thinketh that I am unable to revenge his mischiefs, moreover he would perswade me, that he were not culpable. Indeed, it is a convenient thing to looke and plead for safety, when as the conscience doeth confesse the offence, as theeves and malefactors accustome to do. But O good Lord, thou cursed beast, if thou couldest utter the contents of thine owne mind, whom (though it were the veriest foole in all the world) mightest thou perswade that this murther was voide or without thy fault, when as it lay in thy power, either to keepe off the theeves with thy heeles, or else to bite and teare them with thy teeth? Couldest not thou (that so often in his life time diddest spurne and kicke him) defend him now at the point of death by the like meane? Yet at least, thou shouldest have taken him upon thy backe, and so brought him from the cruell hands of the theeves: where contrary thou runnest away alone, forsaking thy good Master, thy pastor and conductor. Knowest thou not, that such as denie their wholsome help and aid to them which lie in danger of death, ought to be punished, because they have offended against good manners, and the law naturall? But I promise thee, thou shalt not long rejoyce at my harmes, thou shalt feele the smart of thy homicide and offence, I will see what I can doe. And therewithall she unclosed her apron, and bound all my feete together, to the end I might not help my selfe, then she tooke a great barre, which accustomed to bar the stable doore, and never ceased beating me till she was so weary that the bar fell out of her hands, whereupon she (complaining of the soone faintnesse of her armes) ran to her fire and brought a firebrand and thrust it under my taile, burning me continually, till such time as (having but one remedy) I arayed her face and eies with my durty dunge, whereby (what with the stinke thereof, and what with the filthinesse that fell in her eies) she was welnigh blinded: so I enforced the queane to leave off, otherwise I had died as Meleager did by the sticke, which his mad mother Althea cast into the fire.

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