A painting of a milkmaid milking a cow.

The Milkmaid & Her Pail (Aesop’s Fables)

The Milkmaid and her Pail is one of Aesop’s most timeless fables. Aesop lived some 2,600 years ago, and yet it’s more relevant now than ever. Juan Artola Miranda wrote this version.

Slashes made by an enraged barbarian fabulist.

Once upon a time, in a small village nestled between rolling hills, there lived a young milkmaid named Xanthe. Every morning, she would rise with the sun, fetch her wooden pail, and go to the barn to milk the cows. One morning, after milking the cows, Xanthe filled her pail to the brim with the day’s fresh milk.

As Xanthe began her walk to the market, she balanced the pail on her head and started to daydream. “This milk will fetch a good price at the market,” she thought. “With the money, I could buy a dozen eggs. Those eggs will feed my tired muscles, allowing me to carry two pails of milk to the market, doubling my profit.”

Her mind began to wander further. “With that money, I could buy a new dress, the one I saw at the market last week. Everyone in the village will admire it, and the miller’s son might even notice me. Will he find me comely with my burgeoning muscles?”

Lost in her dreams, Xanthe began to strut and toss her head, imagining herself in her new dress, catching the eye of the miller’s son. But as she tossed her head, the pail of milk toppled from it, spilling all the milk onto the ground.

This reminds me of another story, a fable of a thirsty crow who finds a pitcher full of water.

Juan Artola Miranda

I am Juan Artola Miranda, a fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. My friends know me by the name of my father's father, but that name grew into something bigger, my writing reaching tens of millions of readers. It was too strong for me to control. Artola Miranda is the name of my mother's mother. It's a better name for a fabulist.

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