—The muleteer was a son of Adam, I need not say a word more. He gave the mules, each of ’em, a sound lash, and looking in the abbess’s and Margarita’s faces (as he did it)—as much as to say ’here I am’—he gave a second good crack—as much as to say to his mules, ’get on’—so slinking behind, he enter’d the little inn at the foot of the hill.

The muleteer, as I told you, was a little, joyous, chirping fellow, who thought not of to-morrow, nor of what had gone before, or what was to follow it, provided he got but his scantling of Burgundy, and a little chit-chat along with it; so entering into a long conversation, as how he was chief gardener to the convent of Andouillets, &c. &c. and out of friendship for the abbess and Mademoiselle Margarita, who was only in her noviciate, he had come along with them from the confines of Savoy, &c. &c.- -and as how she had got a white swelling by her devotions—and what a nation of herbs he had procured to mollify her humours, &c. &c. and that if the waters of Bourbon did not mend that leg—she might as well be lame of both—&c. &c. &c.—He so contrived his story, as absolutely to forget the heroine of it—and with her the little novice, and what was a more ticklish point to be forgot than both—the two mules; who being creatures that take advantage of the world, inasmuch as their parents took it of them—and they not being in a condition to return the obligation downwards (as men and women and beasts are)—they do it side-ways, and long-ways, and back-ways— and up hill, and down hill, and which way they can.—Philosophers, with all their ethicks, have never considered this rightly—how should the poor muleteer, then in his cups, consider it at all? he did not in the least— ’tis time we do; let us leave him then in the vortex of his element, the happiest and most thoughtless of mortal men—and for a moment let us look after the mules, the abbess, and Margarita.

By virtue of the muleteer’s two last strokes the mules had gone quietly on, following their own consciences up the hill, till they had conquer’d about one half of it; when the elder of them, a shrewd crafty old devil, at the turn of an angle, giving a side glance, and no muleteer behind them,—

By my fig! said she, swearing, I’ll go no further—And if I do, replied the other, they shall make a drum of my hide.—

And so with one consent they stopp’d thus—

  By PanEris using Melati.

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