Once upon a time there was a young man that lived in the city. He
had read in the newspaper that people were striking it rich in the
gold fields situated a thousand miles from where he lived. So he
purchased an ACNE do-it-yourself manual on how to prospect and set off for the gold
The first half of the trip went without mishap and each
night by the fire the fledgling prospector would read his do-it-yourself
ACNE manual. Many a night he would gaze up at the stars and dream
about being rich and what all he would be able to buy and do.
The prospector was a very happy person and would sing as he traveled
across the plains, mountains, and rivers. One day a wild mule heard
the prospector singing and became enchanted with what she heard and
began to follow him. Each day you could see the fledgling prospector
singing while he journeyed and the wild mule happily following.
One night sitting beside the fire the fledgling prospector was
reading his ACNE do-it-yourself manual and discovered that on page
149 that mule's make good pack animals. The fledgling prospector
was esstatic, right before his very eyes was a mule. He decided
he would catch the mule, and have it carry his equipment and supplies.
No longer would he be a fledgling prospector, but a complete one.
The prospector by singing softly and placing some sugar in his
hand enticed the mule over to him. The mule not knowing what was
in store for her readily approached the fledging prospector and
began to eat the sugar. The prospector was quick to put a rope around
the mule's neck and tethered her to a tree for the night. The mule
was no longer a wild and free range animal, but a caught one. In
the morning the prospector packed all his equipment and gear on
the back of the mule and led her off by the rope. In that moment
the mule became a beast of burden for the prospector. Each time
the mule wanted to stop for a rest or she moved to slowly the prospector
would give the rope a good jerk.
Every time they passed through a town the prospector would buy
more supplies and equipment and pile it on top of the back of the
mule. The load became heavier and heavier for the mule and she really
had to struggle to keep up with the fast pace of the prospector.
As they got closer and closer to the gold fields the more excited
the prospector became. He became very impatient with the slowness
of the mule and began to yell at her and would often smack her with a stick to speed her up. Often the mule would cry out in pain or
in sadness, but the prospector was insensitive to this and just
Just before they reached the gold fields they came upon a wide
river. The map indicated that there was a bridge 20 miles upstream,
but the prospector wanted to get to the gold fields as quickly as
possible and decided that they would swim across the river. He led
the mule carrying the heavy load into the river and they began to
swim across it. Half way across they began to experience some difficulty,
for the current was moving more rapidly than what the prospector
had anticipated. The mule with the heavy pack went under and in
a frantic effort came to the surface and cried out for help. But
the prospector in fear of drowning himself let go of the rope and
quickly swam to shore, saving himself. The mule went under again
and sank to the bottom of the river, whereby the undertow of the
current began to roll her over and over along the bottom river bed.
Luckily for the mule the heavy pack broke free. In a gallant effort
the mule fought her way back to the surface, gasping for the badly
She swam for shore and climbed up on the rocks. Low and behold
who do you think was standing directly across from her on the other
side of the river: the prospector. The prospector yelled out in
a fit of rage, "You ass, you've lost all my equipment and supplies!"
That was the last straw for the mule and in her new found freedom
and not wanting to experience any more of the prospector she turned
and walked away. The uncaring prospecter went in search of another mule. Off to town he went to buy more sugar.
In time the she-mule met a he-mule.The she-mule will never forget the day when the he-mule had come up to her, and asked if she would like to go for a walk with him.
Timothy E. Stevenson 1994 c