The Original Fables of La Fontaine/The Dairy-Woman and the Pail of Milk

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Original Fables of La Fontaine by Jean de La Fontaine, translated by F. C. Tilney
The Dairy-Woman and the Pail of Milk

X

THE DAIRY-WOMAN AND THE PAIL OF MILK

(Book VII.—No. 10)

A young country woman named Perrette set out one morning from her little dairy-farm with a pail of milk, which she cleverly balanced upon her head over a pad or cushion. She hurried with sprightly steps to the market town, and so that she might be the less encumbered, wore a kirtle that was short and light—in truth a simple petticoat—and shoes low and easy. As she went, her thoughts ran upon the price to be gained for her milk, and she schemed a way to lay out the sum in the purchase of one hundred eggs. She was sure that with care and diligence these would yield three broods. "It would be quite easy to me," she said, "to raise the chicks near the house. The fox would be clever who would not leave me enough to buy one pig. A pig would fatten at the cost of a little bran, and when he had grown a fair size I should make a bargain of him for a good round sum. And then, considering the price he will fetch, what is to prevent my putting into our stable a cow and a calf? I can fancy how the calf will frisk about among the sheep!" Thereupon Perrette herself frisked for joy, transported with the picture of her affluence. Over toppled the

Overtoppled the milk.

milk! Adieu to calf and cow and pig and broods! This lady of wealth had to leave, with tearful eyes, her dissipated fortunes, and go straight to her husband framing excuses to avoid a beating.

The farce became known to the whole countryside, and people called Perrette by the name of "Milkpail" ever after.


Who has never talked wildly? Who has never built castles in Spain? Wise men as well as milkmaids; sages and fools, all have waking dreams and find them sweet! Our senses are carried away by some flattering falsehood, and then wealth, honours, and beauty seem ours to command.

Alone with my thoughts I challenge the bravest. I dethrone monarchs and the people rejoicing crown me instead, showering diadems upon my head. Then lo! a little accident happens to bring me back to my senses, and I am Poor Jack as before.