While talking to his mule as they plowed along, the farmer said. “Well Lightning. you’re just a mule and I’m just a man, made in the image of God, but here we work, hitched up together year after year, and I often wonder if you work for me or if I work for you. Maybe it’s a partnership.
Anyway, I work as hard as you do, plowing or cultivating. We cover the same distance, but I do it with two legs and you do it on four, so I harvest the corn. I give one third to the landlord and one third to you, the balance is mine. You eat all of yours but the cob; I have to divide mine with my wife and 7 children, 6 hogs, 60 hens, 2 ducks and a bantam rooster. If you and I both need shoes, you get ’em. Yes sir, Lightning, you’re getting the best of me. I ask you now, is it fair for a mule, the son of a jackass to swindle a man, the lord of creation, the most intelligent of all animals? You help me plow and cultivate, yet I must cut, shuck and husk the corn while you heehaw at me over the pasture fence. All year the family has to help, from grandma down to the baby to scratch enough money together to pay taxes, the interest on the mortgage on you, and . . . what do you care about mortgages? You ornery old critter. I even have to worry about the mortgage on your tough ungrateful hide! About the only time I’ve got anything on you is on election day—I can vote and you can’t. But after election day I realize right away I’ve been as big a jackass as ever your papa was. And I begin to wonder if politics was made for men or for the jackass—or just to make jackasses out of men. Honest now Lighting, when you know all these things how can you keep a straight face and look so dumb and innocent?”
Thomas LaMance is a freelance writer who worked as a cowboy since he was 13, and served as a federal live-stock inspector for 12 years.