Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/The Life of Æsop/Chapter X

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Cap. IX.

Æsop's Answer to a Magistrate.

IT happened some few days after the Last Passage above, that Xanthus, having some Business at the Publick Hall, sent Æsop to see if there were any Great Throng of Men there; A Magistrate meets him Upon the Way, and Asks him whether he was going? Why truly, says Æsop, I am going I know not whither. The Magistrate took it that he Banter'd him, and bad an Officer take him into Custody and Carry him to Prison. Well, says Æsop, to the Magistrate; Is it not true Now, that I did not know Whither I was going? Can you Imagine, that when I came out of the house this Morning, I had any thoughts of going to Prison? The Magistrate was well enough pleased at the fancy, and Discharg'd him Upon it, and so he went forward to the Hall; Where among a world of People, he law one Man arrest another upon an Action of Debt. The Debtor Pleaded Poverty; but if he would Compound for halfe, it should go hard but he'd make a Shift to Pick it up, he said. Well with all my Heart, says the Creditor, Lay down the Mony upon the Nail, and the Business is done: for a man had better Content himself with Halfe, then Lose All, And I reckon that Mony as good as lost, that a Man must go to Law for; Æsop upon this, went back and told his Master, that he had been at the Hall, and saw but one Man there; This was a Riddle to Xanthus; Insomuch that he went himselfe to Learn the Truth of the Matter. When he came to the Place, he found the Court extremely Thronged, and turning short upon Æsop, in great Indignation, Sirrah, says he, are All these People come since you told me there was but one Man here? 'Tis very true, says Æsop, There was a Huge Crowd, and yet but one Man that I could see in That vast Multitude. This seems to be taken out of the Life of Diogenes.