The Shepherd Turned Merchant

187. THE SHEPHERD TURNED MERCHANT. A shepherd, that kept his sheep near the sea, one clear summer's day drove them close to the shore and sat down upon a piece of rock to enjoy the cool breeze that came from the water. The green element appeared calm and smooth; and Thetis, with her train of smiling beautiful nymphs, seemed to dance upon the floating surface of the deep. The shepherd's heart thrilled with secret pleasure, and he began to wish for the life of a merchant. “O how happy,” says he, “should I be to plough this liquid plain, in a pretty tight vessel of my own! And to visit the remote parts of the world, instead of sitting idle here, looking upon a parcel of senseless sheep, while they are grazing! Then what ample returns should I make in the way of traffic and what a short and certain path would this be to riches and honour!”
In short, this thought was improved into a resolution; away he posted with all expedition, sold his flock and all that he had; then he bought a bark, and fitted it out for a voyage: he loaded it with a cargo of dates, and set sail for a mart that was held upon the coast of Asia, five hundred leagues off.
He had not long been at sea, before the wind began to blow tempestuously, and the waves to rage and swell: the violence of the weather increased upon him, his ship was in danger of sinking, and he was obliged to lighten her, by throwing all his dates overboard: after this his vessel was driven upon a rock near the shore, and split to pieces; he himself hardly escaping with life.
Poor and destitute of subsistence, he applied himself to the man who had bought his flock, and was admitted to tend it as an hireling. He sat in the same place as before, and the ocean again looked calm and smooth. “Ah!” says he, “deceitful, tempting element, in vain you try to engage me a second time; my misfortunes have left me too poor to be again deluded the same way; and experience has made me so wise as to resolve, whatever my condition may be, never to trust to thy faithless bosom more.” [more info]

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