Short Stories

The jammed wagoner

Once upon a time there was a charioteer carrying his cart full of firewood. All day long he had been gathering that wood for sale in the village. He was a good worker and the wagon was strong too!

  Those pulling the cart were two well-groomed mules, full of strength and without tricks. For this fable tells that the wagonman, who, as we have said, was a good man, went out there with his loaded wagon.

  In the middle of a field, what would happen to you ?! He saw that the path was all muddy from the rain of the night before!

  – This is it! he whined. – Why should I have come down this road ?! It was just to shorten the path, and after all it seems that I made it even longer !!!

  In fact, the earth was all soaked and the wagon wheels, stuck in the thick mud, did not move! The rider began hitting the mules so they could get the wagon out of the way and make their way, but as hard as they tried, they could only get off balance and, if the rider was watching, they would still fall themselves, or right there spill the whole load of firewood !!!

  Then the very afflicted wagonman raised his hands to heaven and exclaimed with all his faith:

  – O divine Providence, help me. Take advantage of me in my enormous difficulty! Only you, divine Providence can do everything !! Your arm holds the sky above, the earth below and the waters in their beds !!! I am a poor man and I can do nothing !!! O divine Providence, help me in this great affliction !!!

  He was in these mourning when he heard a voice saying to him:

  – Look, O lazy man, and if you worked to get rid of this affliction, wouldn’t it be better ?! First, see well what’s inside this mud, which won’t let your wagon move! Jump on the cart and grab a rake, which you have there and served to gather the wood !!! Keep the mud away with him! Get rocks in the quagmire so that the wagon wheels roll over you, and then get in front of the car and sting the mules! You will see how you get rid of this affliction!

  The cartman, hearing this, did everything as he had been told, and was greatly astonished when he saw that the cart overcame the quagmire and was already advancing along the dry road.

  – It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle! he exclaimed to himself, very pleased.

  And then he heard the same voice, now milder, saying to him:

  – It was no miracle! It was your effort, man! For only you had the means to get rid if you made use of them! There are many people who spend their lives calling Providence, when after all you need to get to work!

  Maria Alberta Menéres 100 Stories of All Time Porto, Ed. Wing, 2003

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