“Gentlemen, I must tell you a little story I read one day when I was minding a mudscow in one of the bayous near the Yazoo. A certain kind had a minister upon whose judgment he always depended, just as I do upon my friend here,’ pointed to me, said Seward, blushing.”
“Now it happened that one day the king took it into his head to go a hunting, and after summoning his nobles and making the necessary preparations, he summoned the minister and asked him if it would rain. The minister told him it would not, and he and his nobles departed.”
“While journeying along they met a countryman on a jackass. He advised them to return. ‘For,’ said he, ‘it will certainly rain.’ They smiled contemptuously upon him and passed on. Before they had gone many miles, however, they had reason to regret not having taken the rustic’s advice, as a heavy shower coming up, they were drenched to the skin.”
“When they had returned to the palace the king reprimanded the minister severely.”
“I met a countryman,” said he, “and he knows a great deal more than you, for he told me it would rain, whereas you told me it would not.”
“The king then gave him his walking papers, and sent for the countryman, who made his appearance.”
“Tell me, said the king, how you knew it would rain?”
“I didn’t know,” said the rustic, “my jackass told me.”
“And how, pray, did he tell you?’ asked the king.”
“By pricking up his ears, your majesty,” returned the rustic.
“The king sent the countryman away, and procuring the jackass of him, put him (the jackass) in the place the minister had filled.”
“And here,’ observed Mr. Lincoln, looking very wise, ‘is where the king made a great mistake.”
“How so?” inquired his auditors eagerly.
“Why, ever since that time,” said Mr. Lincoln, with a grin, “every jackass wants an office!”