The Golden Ass

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Chapter 2

How Apuleius was lead away by the Horsekeeper: and what danger he was in.

By and by the Horsekeeper, to whom the charge of me was committed, brought forth all his substance, and laded me and other Horses withall, and so departed thence: we bare women, children, pullets, sparrowes, kiddes, whelpes, and other things which were not able to keepe pace with us, and that which I bare upon my backe, although it was a mighty burthen, yet seemed it very light because I was driven away from him that most terribly had appointed to kill me. When we had passed over a great mountaine full of trees, and were come againe into the open fields, behold we approached nigh to a faire and rich Castell, where it was told unto us that we were not able to passe in our journey that night, by reason of the great number of terrible Wolves which were in the Country about, so fierce and cruell that they put every man in feare, in such sort that they would invade and set upon such which passed by like theeves, and devoure both them and their beasts. Moreover, we were advertised that there lay in the way where we should passe, many dead bodies eaten and torne with wolves. Wherefore we were willed to stay there all night, and on the next morning, to goe close and round together, whereby we might passe and escape all dangers. But (notwithstanding this good counsell) our caitife drivers were so covetous to goe forward, and so fearefull of pursuite, that they never stayed till the morning: But being welnigh midnight, they made us trudge in our way apace. Then I fearing the great danger which might happen, ran amongst the middle of the other Horses, to the end I might defend and save my poore buttocks from the Wolves, whereat every man much marvelled to see, that I scowred away swifter then the other Horses. But such was my agility, not to get me any prayse, but rather for feare: at that time I remembered with my selfe, that the valiant Horse Pegasus did fly in the ayre more to avoyd the danger of dreadful Chimera, then for any thing else. The shepheards which drave us before them were well armed like warriours: one had a speare, another had a sheepehooke, some had darts, some clubbes, some gathered up great stones, some held up their sharp Javelings, and some feared away the Woolves with light firebrands. Finally wee lacked nothing to make up an Army, but onely Drummes and Trumpets. But when we had passed these dangers, not without small feare, wee fortuned to fall into worse, for the Woolves came not upon us, either because of the great multitude of our company, or else because [of] our firebrands, or peradventure they were gone to some other place, for wee could see none, but the Inhabitants of the next villages (supposing that wee were Theeves by reason of the great multitude) for the defence of their owne substance, and for the feare that they were in, set great and mighty masties upon us, which they had kept and nourished for the safety of their houses, who compassing us round about leaped on every side, tearing us with their teeth, in such sort that they pulled many of us to the ground: verily it was a pittifull sight to see so many Dogs, some following such as flyed, some invading such as stood still, some tearing those which lay prostrate, but generally there were none which escaped cleare: Behold upon this another danger ensued, the Inhabitants of the Towne stood in their garrets and windowes, throwing great stones upon our heads, that wee could not tell whether it were best for us to avoyd the gaping mouthes of the Dogges at hand or the perill of the stones afarre, amongst whome there was one that hurled a great flint upon a woman, which sate upon my backe, who cryed out pitiously, desiring her husband to helpe her. Then he (comming to succour and ayd his wife) beganne to speake in this sort: Alas masters, what mean you to trouble us poore labouring men so cruelly? What meane you to revenge your selves upon us, that doe you no harme? What thinke you to gaine by us? You dwell not in Caves or Dennes: you are no people barbarous, that you should delight in effusion of humane blood. At these words the tempest of stones did cease, and the storme of the Dogges vanished away. Then one (standing on the toppe of a great Cypresse tree) spake unto us saying: Thinke you not masters that we doe this to the intent to rifle or take away any of your goods, but for the safeguard of our selves and family: now a Gods name you may depart away. So we went forward, some wounded with stones, some bitten with Dogs, but generally there was none which escaped free.

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