An Ass and An Ungrateful Master

A long-serving Ass finally tripped and fell. His Master beat him unmercifully. Too bad for the Ass to have such an uncaring Master.

Rewards do not always accompany a lifetime of good work.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Ass and MasterA diligent Ass, daily loaded beyond his strength by a severe Master, whom he had long served, and who fed him very sparingly, happened one day in his old age to be oppressed with a more than ordinary burden of earthenware. His strength being much impaired, and the road deep and uneven, he unfortunately made a trip, and, unable to recover himself, fell down and broke all the vessels to pieces. His Master, transported with rage, began to beat him unmercifully, against which the poor Ass, lifting up his head as he lay on the ground, thus strongly remonstrated: “Unfeeling wretch! to thine own avaricious cruelty, in first pinching me of food, and then loading me beyond my strength, thou owest the misfortune which thou so unjustly imputest to me.”

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

A poor asse, that what with age, labour, and hard burdens, was now worn out to the stumps in the service of an unmerciful master, had the ill hap one day to make a false step, and to fall down under his load. His driver runs up to him immediately, and beats him almost to death for’t. This (says the asse to himself) is according to the course of the ungrateful world. One casual slip is enough to weigh down the faithful and affectionate services of long life.

Moral

The reward of affection and fidelity must be the work of another world: not but that the conscience of well-doing is a comfort that may pass for a recompense even in this; in despite of ingratitude and injustice.

[Note: This fable, while having different characters, is basically the same as An Old Dog and His Master.]