Abstemius's Fables (Sir Roger L'Estrange)
332. (Abstemius 80) A Widow and a Green Ass.
There was a Widow that had a Twittering toward a Second Husband, and she took a gossiping Companion of hers to her Assistance, how to manage the
Jobb. The Truth of it is, says she, I have a dear Mind to another Bedfellow: But the Devilish People would keep such a Snearing, and Pointing at me, they'd make me e'en weary of my Life. You are a Fine Widow i' faith, says T'other, to trouble your Head for the Talk of the People, Pray will ye mind what I say to ye now. You have an Ass here in your Grounds; go your Ways and get that Ass painted Green, and then let him be carry'd up and down the Country for a Show. Do this, I say, without any more Words; for talk does but Burn Day-Light. The Thing was done accordingly; and for the First Four or Five days, the Green Ass had the whole Country at his Heels; Man, Woman and Child, staring and hooting after him. In Four or Five Days more, the Humour was quite spent, and the Ass might travel from Morning to Night, and not one Creature to take Notice of him. Now, (says the friendly Adviser) a New-marry'd Widow is a kind of a Green Ass: Every Body's Mouth will be full on't for the First Four or Five Days, and in Four or Five more, the Story will e'en talk it self asleep.
Common Fame is as False and Impudent as a Common Strumpet. Let every Man live to his Confidence, and never trouble his Head with the Talk of the People.
Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists: Abstemius's Fables by Sir Roger L'Estrange. Available online at Google Books.