How Apuleius after the Baker was hanged, was sold to a Gardener, and what dreadfull things happened.
There was a poore Gardener amongst the rest, which bought me for the summe of fifty pence, which seemed to him a great price, but he thought to gayne it againe by the continuall travell of my body. The matter requireth to tell likewise, how I was handled in his service. This Gardener accustomed to drive me, every morning laded with hearbes to the next Village, and when he had sold his hearbes, hee would mount upon my backe and returne to the Garden, and while he digged the ground and watered the hearbes, and went about other businesse, I did nothing but repose my selfe with great ease, but when Winter approached with sharpe haile, raine and frosts, and I standing under a hedge side, was welnigh killed up with cold, and my master was so poore that he had no lodging for himselfe, much lesse had he any littor or place to cover me withall, for he himselfe alwayes lay under a little roofe shadowed with boughes. In the morning when I arose, I found my hoofes shriveled together with cold, and unable to passe upon the sharpe ice, and frosty mire, neither could I fill my belly with meate, as I accustomed to doe, for my master and I supped together, and had both one fare: howbeit it was very slender since as wee had nothing else saving old and unsavoury sallets which were suffered to grow for seed, like long broomes, and that had lost all their sweet sappe and juice.
It fortuned on a day that an honest man of the next village was benighted and constrained by reason of the rain to lodge (very lagged and weary).in our Garden, where although he was but meanely received, yet it served well enough considering time and necessity. This honest man to recompence our entertainment, promised to give my master some corne, oyle, and two bottels of wine: wherefore my master not delaying the matter, laded me with sackes and bottels, and rode to the Towne which was seaven miles off.
When we came to the honest mans house, he entertained and feasted my master exceedingly. And it fortuned while they eate and dranke together as signe of great amity there chanced a strange and dreadfull case: for there was a Hen which ran kackling about the yard, as though she would have layed an Egge. The good man of the house perceiving her, said: O good and profitable pullet that feedest us every day with thy fruit, thou seemest as though thou wouldest give us some pittance for our dinner: Ho boy put the Pannier in the corner that the Hen may lay. Then the boy did as his master commanded, but the Hen forsaking the Pannier, came toward her master and laid at his feet not an Egge, which every man knoweth, but a Chickin with feathers, clawes, and eyes, which incontinently ran peeping after his damme. By and by happened a more strange thing, which would cause any man to abhorre: under the Table where they sate, the ground opened, and there appeared a great well and fountain of bloud, insomuch that the drops thereof sparckled about the Table. At the same time while they wondred at this dreadfull sight one of the Servants came running out of the Seller, and told that all the wine was boyled out of the vessels, as though there had beene some great fire under. By and by a Weasel was scene that drew into the house a dead Serpent, and out of the mouth of a Shepheards dog leaped a live frog, and immediately after one brought word that a Ram had strangled the same dog at one bit. All these things that happened, astonied the good man of the house, and the residue that were present, insomuch that they could not tell what to doe, or with what sacrifice to appease the anger of the gods. While every man was thus stroken in feare, behold, one brought word to the good man of the house, that his three sonnes who had been brought up in good literature, and endued with good manners were dead, for they three had great acquaintance and ancient amity with a poore man which was their neighbour, and dwelled hard by them: and next unto him dwelled another young man very rich both in lands and goods, but bending from the race of his progenies dissentions, and ruling himselfe in the towne according to his owne will. This young royster did mortally hate this poore man, insomuch that he would kill his sheepe, steale his oxen, and spoyle his corne and other fruits before the time of ripenesse, yet was he not contented with this, but he would encroch upon the poore mans ground, and clayme all the heritage as his owne. The poore man which was very simple and fearefull, seeing all his goods taken away by the avarice of the rich man, called together and assembled many of his friends to shew them all his land, to the end he might have but so much ground of his fathers heritage, as might bury him. Amongst whom, he found these three brethren, as friends to helpe and ayd him in his adversity and tribulation.
Howbeit, the presence of these honest Citizens, could in no wise perswade him to leave his extort power, no nor yet to cause any temperance of his tongue, but the more they went about with gentle words to tell him his faults, the more would he fret and likewise fume, swearing all the oathes under God, that he little regarded the presence of the whole City, whereupon incontinently he commanded his servants to take the poore man by the eares, and carry him out of his ground, which greatly offended all the standers by. Then one of the brethren spake unto him somewhat boldly, saying: It is but a folly to have such affiance in your riches, whereby you should use your tyranny against the poore, when as the law is common for all men, and a redresse may be had to suppresse your insolency. These words chafed him more then the burning oile, or flaming brimstone, or scourge of whipps, saying: that they should be hanged and their law too, before he would be subject unto any person: and therewithall he called out his bandogges and great masties, which accustomed to eate the carrion and carkases of dead beasts in the fields, and to set upon such as passed by the way: then he commanded they should be put upon all the assistance to teare them in peeces: who as soone as they heard the hisse of their master, ran fiercely upon them invading them on every side, insomuch that the more they flied to escape away, the more cruell and terrible were the dogges. It fortuned amongst all this fearefull company, that in running, the youngest of the three brethren stombled at a stone, and fell down to the ground: Then the dogs came upon him and tare him in peeces with their teeth, whereby he was compelled to cry for succour: His other two brethren hearing his lamentable voice ran towards him to helpe him, casting their cloakes about their left armes, tooke up stones to chase away the dogs, but all was in vaine, for they might see their brother dismembred in every part of his body: Who lying at the very point of death, desired his brethren to revenge his death against that cruell tyrant: And therewithall lie gave up the ghost. The other two brethren perceiving so great a murther, and neglecting their owne lives, like desperate persons dressed themselves against the tyrant, and threw a great number of stones at him, but the bloudy theefe exercised in such and like mischiefes, tooke a speare and thrust it cleane through the body: howbeit he fell not downe to the ground. For the speare that came out at his backe ran into the earth, and sustained him up. By and by carne one of these tyrants servants the most sturdiest of the rest to helpe his master, who at the first comming tooke up a stone and threw at the third brother, but by reason the stone ran along his arme it did not hurt him, which chanced otherwise then all mens expectation was: by and by the young man feigning that his arme was greatly wounded, spake these words unto the cruell bloud sucker: Now maist thou, thou wretch, triumph upon the destruction of all our family, now hast thou fed thy insatiable cruelty with the bloud of three brethren, now maist thou rejoyce at the fall of us Citizens, yet thinke not but that how farre thou dost remove and extend the bounds of thy land, thou shalt have some neighbor, but how greatly am I sorry in that I have lost mine arme wherewithall I minded to cut off thy head. When he had spoken these words, the furious theefe drew out his dagger, and running upon the young man thought verily to have slaine him, but it chanced otherwise: For the young man resisted him stoutly, and in buckling together by violence wrested the dagger out of his hand: which done, he killed the rich theefe with his owne weapon, and to the intent the young man would escape the hands of the servants which came running to assist their master, with the same dagger he cut his owne throat. These things were signified by the strange and dreadfull wondres which fortuned in the house of the good man, who after he had heard these sorrowfull tydings could in no wise weepe, so farre was he stroken with dolour, but presently taking his knife wherewith he cut his cheese and other meate before, he cut his owne throat likewise, in such sort that he fell upon the bord and imbraced the table with the streames of his blond, in most miserable manner. Hereby was my master the Gardener deprived of his hope, and paying for his dinner the watry teares of his eyes, mounted upon my backe and so we went homeward the same way as wee came.