Arx Publishing, LLC
P.O. Box 1333
Merchantville NJ 08109, USA
2015 Young Writer's Contest Winner
Bearer of a Thousand Wounds
by Jessica Andress
Cornelius woke with a start. A gruff and altogether loud snore
erupted from Yokin the ox in the stall beside him. Disturbed
from his peaceful slumber, the young donkey stretched out his
legs and inhaled the morning air. Surveying the barn, he was
pleased to find his food and water supply replenished, the
ground adequately swept, and Adaios resting quietly in his own
stall, which was just in front of him.
Exceptionally beautiful rays of sunshine
filtered in through the cracks of the barn doors that fine
morning. Lovely smells hovered in the air, and the song of a
mother lark brought cheer to the donkey. In the midst of this
tranquility, a melodious voice rang from outside:
Hey Hie Hoe,
To the pastures you go!
Out to the golden land
Where the grass is green and grand!
The familiar chant of his master at the break
of every dawn captured the attention of Cornelius and awakened
the repose of Adaios, his respected but aloof and haughty
“Come now my younglings, to the outside world
you go! We have much to do today.”
As the two donkeys were led to the pasture,
Adaios bid Cornelius a gruff good morning. “I do detest hard
work at daybreak,” he grumbled with an unsatisfied bray and a
swish of his tail. “The damp grass soaks my fetlocks, and the
mud clouds my shiny hoofs. True, there are no flies at this
time, but oh, how soggy this muck is!”
A striking donkey in appearance, Adaios was
the type of creature that cared greatly about his looks. He far
exceeded Cornelius in beauty and poise. Lustrous was his glossy
body and flowing was his mane. Erect was his posture and smooth
was his gait. With these gifts, it was not a wonder that he was
the favorite of the master.
“I think your hoofs look stunning with or
without mud on them,” answered Cornelius politely, knowing how
fond Adaios was of a compliment.
“Hmph,” he scoffed in return, turning up his
nose. “That shows what you know of beauty. One is not appealing
with mud and grass on his fetlocks in the morning. In fact, it
is considered undignified. A creature with such beauty as mine
ought to address the morning with tidy hoofs. But how would you
know that when you never bother with your looks?”
These were the usual remarks Cornelius
received from the prideful Adaios.
With that said the two
animals were turned into the pasture. As was custom, Adaios
pranced around in a most fashionable way and exclaimed whenever
he came within earshot of Cornelius, “Observe my commanding
presence will you, Cornelius. My! How my mane flows today. What
good this fresh air does for my lungs!”
Majestically, he paraded towards the much
humbler donkey and began gloating as he was inclined to do when
he felt particularly handsome.
“Don’t you wish you had a body as grand as
mine, or a tail as stunning as this?” Here he swished it
deliberately into Cornelius’ downcast face.
Respectfully holding his tongue until he felt
certain the arrogant donkey had run out of breath, Cornelius
replied, “I am quite content with my own body which the Creator
has given me. Is it not enough to be thankful for the gift of
life? I need nothing else.”
“Ah, but don’t you wish He had given you more
beauty with which to flaunt before lesser animals like the goats
in the other pasture?”
“No, for He gave me this form and therefore I
am content with it. Do I not have eyes and ears and a nose with
which to see, hear, and smell? Do I not have good health and a
strong body? With these things I have enough to be satisfied.”
“Oh please, your lecturing bores me.” Adaios
yawned and stretched his legs. “What is the use of a body like
ours if it is not stupendous? Such pleasure it is to draw so
much attention to one’s self.”
Off he went into a brisk trot, braying at the
top of his lungs in ecstasy till all the farm animals and birds
stopped their work to stare and admire him.
With their morning meal soon finished, Adaios
was summoned by his master, bridled, and led off for his day’s
work. He was a steed and nothing more. Every morning he was tied
to a post in front of the farmhouse where he was saddled and
ridden into town. There he spent most of the morning enjoying
the pleasant sights of the city while his master went about his
For Cornelius, his occupation was long hours
in the fields doing nothing but consuming the spindly weeds that
threatened to strangle the vegetables of his master. This,
although relaxing and not altogether difficult, was relatively
dull and a bit lonesome, since he was the only one out in the
wide, grassy land.
Having watched his master and Adaios retreat
down the road in high spirits, Cornelius stood mournfully alone,
small tears of loneliness and despair trickling down his cheeks.
“How I wish someone would ride me!” he moaned quietly. Never in
all his years had Cornelius carried a human upon his back. That
was his one desire: to have someone ride him.
“I wish,” he continued, ignoring the pleasant
chirping of three young blue jays, “that I could carry someone;
it would not matter how great or small. What an honor I would
With no hope of his wish being granted, he
sighed and began nibbling the ugly weeds again, careful to never
squash the precious fruits or vegetables, which were valued
dearly by his master.
Later that day Adaios returned with a
particularly smirking expression playing across his face.
“Tut, tut,” he clucked when he caught a quick
glimpse of Cornelius, whose eyes were quite sad and ears
terribly droopy. “What a face! Goodness only knows why you look
so dreadful. Did you eat the wrong weed again? I remember that
time when you ate poison ivy and your tongue swelled to three
times its size. Ha! It looked absolutely revolting!”
Irritated by these words, Cornelius rose on
powerful legs and began to trot away, wishing he were hundreds
of miles from Adaios. “I haven’t eaten the wrong weed, nor have
I consumed more than what is good for me. I simply feel
desolate,” mumbled he in a most dejected state.
Chasing after him, Adaios rebuked Cornelius
saying, “However could you feel sad in my presence? Just
look at my gorgeous ears and eyes! Surely they are striking
enough to make you forget about your troubles. If not, observe
the powerful muscles in my legs! Watch how the sun reflects off
my dazzling coat!”
As he cried out these things with profound
passion, he began once more to frolic around. As it so happened,
the ground in that general area was not particularly smooth or
level. Adaios, with eyes lifted upwards, forgot to watch where
he was going. Suddenly his hoof tripped upon a snag. Adaios gave
an appalling shriek! Uncontrollably he tumbled forwards. Down he
“I am dead!” he screeched in agony as he lay
all in a heap upon the ground. Twisted was his front left hoof,
and his coat had been tarnished with mud. “Doom! Doom and
despair! Oh, what treachery! How could such a thing happen to
Here he launched into the most lamenting
chant any creature in that pasture had ever heard, though
Cornelius could only make out the first stanza. It went
something like this:
Upon the ground I lie in shame
For my gorgeous hoof is twisted in pain;
And though the grass is green and gold,
The hurt I feel is too great to hold!
“Come now,” said Cornelius as he tried to
compose the other donkey. “Stop writhing around like that; you
will only make it worse. Let me help you up and I shall call for
“Leave me alone!” grieved the fallen donkey,
the tears now flowing like torrents down his cheeks. “I am
hideous. Just look at my coat! Woe is me! What humiliation!”
“It is not as bad as you think,” sympathized
Cornelius in an effort to cheer up the wretched donkey.
“I am a mule, a mule!” wept Adaios bitterly,
feeling the pain increase, now that he had come to the end of
his lament and could think of nothing more to say.
“You should not have bragged like you did or
gone trotting around as if the king himself had come to inspect
you. Besides, you know the turf here is uneven and rather
spongy—especially after it rains.”
“Shame is upon my face now. Oh, I can never
show it in public again for fear of others discovering the
disgrace that is written upon it. But who now shall Master ride
into town this evening? I undoubtedly cannot take him.”
Profound silence suddenly seized them both.
Rigid became Adaios as the thought occurred to him that
Cornelius would have to suffice for the job! Bliss filled the
other donkey’s heart as he too contemplated this predicament.
A low, shrill whistle pierced their sensitive
ears. Alarmed, Adaios glanced at the sky and realized it was
evening. His master was calling for him. Ears dropping, tail
inactive, Adaios cast his good hoof over his eyes and moaned.
“The end of the world,” he whined.
The events that transpired within the next
few minutes were incomprehensible for Cornelius. Adaios was
evaluated as having a sprained ankle and was assisted to the
barn, where it was bandaged with tender care. As for Cornelius,
he was tied to the post in front of the house. Assuming he was
to take Adaios’ place, the bewildered yet eager donkey
“So I am to be ridden at last!” he
exclaimed, as he patiently abided by the post. He began to
envision the small house they would travel to where an old, sick
woman lived; a poor soul who had no family to care for her but
an old, fat cat by the name of Bartholomew. This animal was a
dear friend of Adaios, though Cornelius could never understand
why. He was overly pampered by his mistress and never let
outside. The dinners brought to him by Cornelius’ master were
huge in quantity, and as he felt obliged to finish the whole
thing every time, he was, as a consequence, six pounds heavier
than what he ought to have been. How Bartholomew wished there
was a mouse to chase!
The sound of voices broke Cornelius’
thoughts. Glancing around for the origin of the sounds, he
observed two men ambling up the path to the house. Pointing
unexpectedly in his direction, they hastened towards him.
“This must be the one he spoke of, for I see
no other about,” said the taller of the two as he scanned the
premises while the other began to untie the bewildered donkey.
At that moment Cornelius’ master came out of
the barn leading the pathetic-looking Adaios, who seemed to limp
with great fervor as he wanted everyone to be fully aware of his
“Why are you untying him?” demanded his
master with a friendly yet skeptical expression.
“The Lord has need of it,” articulated the
“We are His followers and shall return him as
soon as we may,” added the second, fidgeting with the lead rope
in his hand.
Three days ago, word had spread in the
village that a man by the name of Jesus was approaching the city
of Jerusalem. Since many in the town thought he could the
messiah, the Son of God, the master, not wanting to cause an
uproar by refusing this command, consented to their request.
“I would give you this other one for he is
more beautiful,” he said in apology, “but his leg is lame and
cannot take weight.”
“This one shall do well enough,” answered the
first apostle and began leading Cornelius away.
For a moment Cornelius’ shocked eyes met
those of Adaios. In them he could discern great jealousy and
disbelief over what he had just heard. Both of them knew who
Jesus was, for the birds in that region often reported what news
they gathered from other lands, and a cardinal had claimed this
man to be the Son of God just a fortnight ago.
As he started down the road, Cornelius could
just make out the fuming words of Adaios as he rambled on about
injustice and thievery. “It would have been me,” he sobbed.
“Why, oh why, did I ever attempt that foolish dance out in the
field? Such absurdity! What was that saying of King Solomon’s in
Proverbs 16:18? Pride comes before the fall? Oh, if only I had
heeded those words!”
“Poor Adaios,” empathized Cornelius, although
within he was bursting with joy at the honor which was about to
be bestowed on him. Further down the road he glimpsed the gates
of Jerusalem. He saw a large crowd. There were eleven men. One
appeared especially radiant.
Eagerly Cornelius trotted forwards to meet
the man. Jesus, whose eyes were as blue as an ocean and face as
luminous as the morning sun, stretched out his hand to stroke
the soft velvety muzzle of the donkey. As his fingers went
on to trace the outline of a cross upon his back, a tingle of
pure ecstasy coursed through him.
“My friend,” whispered Jesus in his ear,
“today thy troubles and sorrows shalt be washed away, for thou
shalt bear me into the holy city of Jerusalem. Upon thy back I
place this sign so that thou shalt always remember this day; the
day thou bore the Son of God. May thou find peace in thy heart
after this and be content.”
Cloaks from the men around Cornelius were
draped upon his back before Jesus mounted him. Oh, what joy he
felt when he did so! Such pleasure; such pride!
The gates of the grand city were flung open,
and before him cheered a crowd of hundreds who placed palm
branches reverently upon the dirt road and hailed Jesus singing,
“Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the
name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”
Thus Cornelius, the humble donkey from a town
near Bethphage, who had borne thousands of ill remarks and
scornful laughs that had etched such painful wounds in his
heart, set foot into that sacred city with the most important
person he could have ever imagined carrying: Jesus, the son of
Jessica Andress is 15 years old and resides in South