The Salt Merchant and His Ass

A Salt Merchant loaded an Ass who slipped in water. Load lightened, second time the Ass fell on purpose. Third time Merchant loaded sponges. Water is heavy.

You can fool someone only so many times.

A Merchant took his Ass to the shore to buy salt. On the way home the Ass tripped and fell into a stream. On rising, the load of the Ass was lightened because some of the salt had dissolved. The Merchant returned to the shore to replenish the salt and, on returning, this time the Ass fell into the stream on purpose to lighten the load. Again, the Merchant returned to the shore, but this time, knowing what the Ass would do, loaded the Ass down with sponges. On returning home the Ass again fell into the stream but this time the sponges filled with water and doubled his load.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children (The Ass and The Load of Salt)

Ass and Salt

Milo Winter (1919)

A Merchant, driving his Ass homeward from the seashore with a heavy load of salt, came to a river crossed by a shallow ford. They had crossed this river many times before without accident, but this time the Ass slipped and fell when halfway over. And when the Merchant at last got him to his feet, much of the salt had melted away. Delighted to find how much lighter his burden had become, the Ass finished the journey very gayly.

Next day the Merchant went for another load of salt. On the way home the Ass, remembering what had happened at the ford, purposely let himself fall into the water, and again got rid of most of his burden.

The angry Merchant immediately turned about and drove the Ass back to the seashore, where he loaded him with two great baskets of sponges. At the ford the Ass again tumbled over; but when he had scrambled to his feet, it was a very disconsolate Ass that dragged himself homeward under a load ten times heavier than before.


The same measures will not suit all circumstances.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection (The Ass Laden With Salt and With Sponge)

A Man drove his Ass to the sea-side, and having purchased there a load of Salt, proceeded on his way home. In crossing a stream the Ass stumbled and fell. It was some time before he regained his feet, and by that time the Salt had all melted away, and he was delighted to find that he had lost his burden. A little while after that, the Ass, when laden with Sponges, had occasion to cross the same stream. Remembering his former good-luck, he stumbled this time on purpose, and was surprised to find that his load, so far from disappearing, became many times heavier than before.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A Peddler drove his Ass to the seashore to buy salt. His road home lay across a stream into which his Ass, making a false step, fell by accident and rose up again with his load considerably lighter, as the water melted the sack. The Peddler retraced his steps and refilled his panniers with a larger quantity of salt than before. When he came again to the stream, the Ass fell down on purpose in the same spot, and, regaining his feet with the weight of his load much diminished, brayed triumphantly as if he had obtained what he desired. The Peddler saw through his trick and drove him for the third time to the coast, where he bought a cargo of sponges instead of salt. The Ass, again playing the fool, fell down on purpose when he reached the stream, but the sponges became swollen with water, greatly increasing his load. And thus his trick recoiled on him, for he now carried on his back a double burden.

1001Asini Spongiis et Sale Onusti

Asini duo forte una iter faciebant, onustus alter spongiis, alter sale. Cumque hic sub sarcina praegravante lapsus esset in transitu profluentis vadoso, sale aqua contacto et in tabem liquidam soluto, undis evasit ab omni onere liber, gestiens. Spongias alter ferens, hoc viso, ut ipse sarcina sua sese levaret, vado alto sponte procubuit; sed, spongiis aquam usque combibentibus depressus, imo flumine mersus haesit.


Non una agendi ratio cunctis congruit.

Perry #180