The Golden Ass

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Chapter 7

How Apuleius was found by his shadow.

As wee passed by the way wee met with a tall souldier (for so his habite and countenance declared) who with proud and arrogant words spake to my master in this sort:

Quorsum vacuum ducis Asinum?

My master somewhat astonied at the strange sights which he saw before, and ignorant of the Latine tongue, roade on and spake never a word: The souldier unable to refraine his insolence, and offended at his silence, strake him on the shoulders as he sate on my backe; then my master gently made answer that he understood not what he said, whereat the souldier angerly demanded againe, whither he roade with his Asse? Marry (quoth he) to the next City: But I (quoth the souldier) have need of his helpe, to carry the trusses of our Captaine from yonder Castle, and therewithall he tooke me by the halter and would violently have taken me away: but my master wiping away the blood of the blow which he received of the souldier, desired him gently and civilly to take some pitty upon him, and to let him depart with his owne, swearing and affirming that his slow Asse, welnigh dead with sicknesse, could scarce carry a few handfuls of hearbs to the next towne, much lesse he was able to beare any greater trusses: but when he saw the souldier would in no wise be intreated, but ready with his staffe to cleave my masters head, my master fell down at his feete, under colour to move him to some pitty, but when he saw his time, he tooke the souldier by the legs and cast him upon the ground: Then he buffetted him, thumped him, bit him, and tooke a stone and beat his face and his sides, that he could not turne and defend himselfe, but onely threaten that if ever he rose, he would choppe him in pieces. The Gardener when he heard him say so, drew out his javelin which hee had by his side, and when he had throwne it away, he knockt and beate him more cruelly then he did before, insomuch that the souldier could not tell by what meanes to save himselfe, but by feining that he was dead, Then my master tooke the javelin and mounted upon my backe, riding in all hast to the next village, having no regard to goe to his Garden, and when he came thither, he turned into one of his friends house and declared all the whole matter, desiring him to save his life and to hide himselfe and his Asse in some secret place, untill such time as all danger were past. Then his friends not forgetting the ancient amity betweene them, entertained him willingly and drew me up a paire of staires into a chamber, my master crept into a chest, and lay there with the cover closed fast: The souldier (as I afterwards learned) rose up as one awaked from a drunken sleepe, but he could scarce goe by reason of his wounds: howbeit at length by little and little through ayd of his staffe he came to the towne, but hee would not declare the matter to any person nor complaine to any justice, lest he should be accused of cowardise or dastardnesse, yet in the end he told some of his companions of all the matter that happened: then they tooke him and caused him to be closed in some secret place, thinking that beside the injury which he had received, he should be accused of the breach of his faith, by reason of the losse of his speare, and when they had learned the signes of my master, they went to search him out: at last there was an unfaithfull neighbour that told them where he was, then incontinently the souldiers went to the Justice declaring that they had lost by the way a silver goblet of their Captaines, and that a Gardener had found it, who refusing to deliver the goblet, was hidden in one of his friends houses: by and by the Magistrates understanding the losse of the Captaine, came to the doores where we were, commanded our host to deliver my master upon paine of death: howbeit these threatnings could not enforce him to confesse that he was within his doores, but by reason of his faithfull promise and for the safeguard of his friend, he said, that hee saw not the Gardener a great while, neither knew where he was: the souldiers said contrary, whereby to know the verity of the matter, the Magistrates commanded their Seargants and ministers to search every corner of the house, but when they could find neither Gardener nor Asse, there was a great contention betweene the souldiers and our Host, for they sayd we were within the house: and he said no, but I that was very curious to know the matter, when I heard so great a noyse, put my head out of the window to learne what the stirre and tumult did signifie. It fortuned that one of the souldiers perceived my shadow, whereupon he began to cry, saying: that hee had certainly seene me; then they were all glad and came up into the chamber, and pulled me downe like a prisoner. When they had found mee, they doubted nothing of the Gardener, but seeking about more narrowly, at length they found him couched in a chest. And so they brought out the poore gardener to the Justices, who was committed immediately to prison, but they could never forbeare laughing from the time they found me by my shadow, wherefore is risen a common Proverbe: 'The shadow of the Asse.'

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