DonkeyA long time ago, I heard a sermon, and the preacher told this story:
Once there was a little donkey who was owned by a Trader-Man. The two of them moved across the countryside, farm to farm, tiny town to tiny town. She carried all the goods he had for trading on her back. Seed corn and horse shoes, iron pots and bolts of cloth. It was all bundled into a mountainous pack stacked so high the top of it rose up taller than the Trader-Man’s tall hat.
One day, she meets a saddle horse at a crossroads. The horse eyes all those sacks and bags and boxes, the heavy tools hanging and clanking down her sides.
The horse says, “Ugh, poor thing! How can you carry all that weight, every day?”
And the donkey says, “What weight?”
That is how I remember it, so it isn’t exact. Maybe the donkey belongs to a miner and has to carry heavy ore? Maybe it is two donkeys and one pulls a cart and one has a load? That’s the best I can reconstruct it.
I do not think the preacher made this story up. He heard it somewhere or read it somewhere. I have endlessly Googled around trying to find it, using search terms in any variation I can think of, like, maybe it was a MULE, maybe it was TWO HORSES.
I want the narrator of the new book to know this story, but I really need the provenance so she can reference it properly.
Have you ever heard or read this before? Is it familiar? Is it a folk tale? A piece of a novel or a children’s book? Is it from a book of sermon anecdotes? The closest thing Google can find is that Aesop’s fable, and it is not that Aesop’s fable about the horse and the mule, which has an entirely different moral.
Help me out?
I’m worried this is another one of those SHAKESPEARE OR THE BIBLE situations, remember when I humiliatingly botched THIS “literary” reference?
I can’t have another one of those happen, where I think the Donkey story is from Fordice’s Sermons, and one of you will be, all, DUH dummy, that’s an Adam Sandler song. The next verse is about boinking.
I know if we get enough heads in on this, we will find the story’s origin. No matter how obscure, SOMEONE KNOWS.
Example—we recently went to one of my FAVORITE big celebration restaurants in the world. Cakes and Ale.
They brought us the new dessert menu. Across the top of the desserts, in a kicky little font, it said:
You like it. It likes you.
Scott and I kinda FREAKED. This is a line from a Stephen King novella about a terrible, horrifying serial raping skull crushing lady-murderer. We heard the novella on Audio, read PERFECTLY by—I want to say Mare Winningham?
Anyway, the way she SAYS that line— You like it. It likes you.
UGH UGH! SO CREEEEEPY! Now, whenever Scott and I see something really WRONGFUL, like, a person comes into the gas station that we think is about to go all ROBBER GUN SPREE MURDER on it, or ANY sitch that makes us hinky or creeped out—a too dark alley walk to the car— or if we are worried that a situation is about to go bad, we whisper to each other, ”You like it. It likes you.”
That sentence has become our personal CODE for the idea of bad wrongful wonkiness about to go SUPER sour, and if one of us says it, we evac. Immediately.
And there it was on our dessert menu.
I called over William, a friend who works there, and was all, like, “Don’t you think this dessert menu is a little too rapey/murdery? A literary quote that invokes stacks of violated female corpses doesn’t PAIR well with artisanal vanilla bean shortbread crisps in a fluff of raspberry sorbet.”
No one at the restaurant thought anyone would recognize the quote. They just thought it made the desserts sound friendly. Who wouldn’t like a dessert that likes you back?
Note: We split a WONDERFUL Hazelnut cake with ganache, vanilla sauce, and nougatine, and OMG we DID like it, and clearly it DID like us back because it was so kindly and delightfully gracious to our taste buds. But my point is, you may think your quote is all obscure, but SOMEONE will remember the provenance. Words stick. King’s words STUCK because the story is so deeply terrifying, but even words from, say, ELF stick, if they are compelling. “What weight?” in that context is compelling.
If we spread this request around enough, SOMEONE will know where that donkey story originated. Help?