French Language Blog

Les Fables de La Fontaine: Les Deux Mulets Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today we’ll be exploring another of La Fontaine’s fables, this one entitled Les Deux Mulets (The Two Mules). Like the first two, Le Corbeau et le Renard (The Crow and the Fox) and La Cigale et la Fourmi (The Grasshopper and the Ant), this story centers on the (almost human) interaction between two animals.  C’est un peu triste (It’s a little sad), I must admit, but an interesting petite histoire (little story) nonetheless…

(The English translation is not a direct word-for-word translation of the French text, but rather an embellished version and, coincidentally, just as entertaining.)

Deux Mulets cheminaient; l’un d’avoine chargé:

L’autre portant l’argent de la Gabelle.

Celui-ci glorieux d’une charge si belle,

N’eût voulu pour beaucoup en être soulagé.

Il marchait d’un pas relevé,

Et faisait sonner sa sonnette:

Quand l’ennemi se présentant,

Comme il en voulait à l’argent,

Sur le Mulet du fisc une troupe se jette,

Le saisit au frein, et l’arrête.

Le Mulet en se défendant,

Se sent percer de coups, il gémit, il soupire.

Est-ce donc là, dit-il, ce qu’on m’avait promis?

Ce Mulet qui me suit, du danger se retire,

Et moi j’y tombe, et je péris.

Ami, lui dit son camarade,

Il n’est pas toujours bon d’avoir un haut Emploi.

Si tu n’avais servi qu’un Meunier, comme moi,

Tu ne serais pas si malade.


Two mules were bearing on their backs,

One, oats; the other, silver of the tax.

The latter glorying in his load,

March’d proudly forward on the road;

And, from the jingle of his bell,

’Twas plain he liked his burden well.

But in a wild-wood glen

A band of robber men

Rush’d forth upon the twain.

Well with the silver pleased,

They by the bridle seized

The treasure-mule so vain.

Poor mule! in struggling to repel

His ruthless foes, he fell

Stabb’d through; and with a bitter sighing,

He cried, ‘Is this the lot they promised me?

My humble friend from danger free,

While, weltering in my gore, I’m dying?’

‘My friend,’ his fellow-mule replied,

‘It is not well to have one’s work too high.

If thou hadst been a miller’s drudge, as I,

Thou wouldst not thus have died.’

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