Folktales With Morals - The Fabulous Donkey

 The Fabulous Donkey

There was a moneylender who was very unkind towards those who borrowed from him. He charged a high rate of interest and did not excuse a pie even to the poorest of his clients. His greed was boundless. He went on gathering money, but never enjoyed it. What was worse, he thought himself very clever and boasted of it every now and then. "I'm yet to see a man who can deceive or hoodwink me!" was his favorite exclamation. Four young men decided to take up the challenge. One of them went to his house riding a donkey. He tied the donkey to a pole of his verandah and saluted to him and said, "Sir, I want change for a few dirhams!" "Welcome, but I will keep my commission," said the moneylender. The young man agreed to it. The moneylender began counting the small coins for the dirhams. Soon the other three young men arrived there. With curiosity, they began to examine the donkey.

"At last we have got it. This is the one!" said one in a whisper. "Sure!" asked another, excitedly. "But I'm not so sure," said the third one. "Let us not waste time. This is the donkey. Ask its owner for its price," whispered the other two. They came closer to the owner of the donkey and asked him, "How much will you take for your donkey?" "What made you think that I am out to sell it?" asked the owner, feigning annoyance. "Please sell it to us. We will pay you a hundred dirhams!" said the three young men. The moneylender looked at them with astonishment. Even a donkey of the finest kind did not cost more than ten dirhams. Why were these fellows willing to pay a hundred dirhams? "Look here. We offer you a thousand dirhams!" the friends told the first young man again. The moneylender could not believe his ears. Very eagerly he said, "Gentleman, if you are in dire need of a donkey, I can sell you one or two, I mean for the same price!" The young men smiled at one another with ridicule for the moneylender and did not care to say a word to him. "Come on, two thousand. Surely, we are not being unfair to you!" the friends told the owner in coaxing voices. "If you are serious, pay ten thousand and take it. You know very well that you'll not be losers," said the owner gravely. "Look here, friend, we do not have so much money on us. Five thousand. That is our final bid," they said. "Not a farthing less than ten thousand." "Don't be so obstinate, friend." "Who are you to call me obstinate? Either you pay the price I quote for my donkey or get out!"

They exchanged some harsh words and the owner of the donkey said that he won't sell his donkey to them even if they were willing to pay him what he demanded. The three friends went away and sat down under a tree on the road. "Young man, nobody can dream of getting five thousand dirhams for a donkey. Why don't you sell it?" the moneylender asked the first young man. "Sir, what do you know of the mystery of this donkey? If they are not fools to offer me five thousand for it, I'm not going to be a fool to sell it for less than ten thousand. You don't know how gifted my donkey is, that if let loose at midnight it can lead one to spots where the money lies buried!" The young man then went out and sat in a nearby restaurant. Instantly the other three young men came back and said to the moneylender. "Sir, the fellow has got angry with us. He won't sell the donkey to us. Will you please buy it from him? Let him take ten thousand dirhams. We'll give you a hundred dirhams for your help." "Hundred won't do." "Then you'll have two hundred. Please buy it for us before the fellow goes away," the three friends said imploringly. The moneylender went to the restaurant and took his seat near the first young man and proposed to buy his donkey for ten thousand dirhams. The young man accepted the proposal. The moneylender brought the amount from his home and gave it to the young man and took hold of the donkey. The young man went away.

The moneylender wondered if it won't be clever on his part to keep the donkey to himself. In any case, he could bargain for a better price. "Come on young men, have the donkey, but not for a price less than twenty thousand dirhams!" he told the young men. "Otherwise I am going to keep it." "We have decided to go without the donkey, for it may not be the donkey we were looking for," said the three friends and then they began to walk away. "Stop!" shrieked out the moneylender, "Pay what I have paid for it plus the two hundred you promised me and take it away." "Did we not say that you can keep the donkey?" the three friends did not stop. "Listen all, ho!" shouted the moneylender. People gathered around him. "What's the matter?" they asked. "I bought the donkey for ten thousand dirhams upon these fellows assuring me that they will buy it from me. Now they refuse to do so!" complained the moneylender. "You paid ten thousand for a donkey? Are you that crazy?" asked someone and all had a hearty laugh. The three young men pretended not to understand anything. In the crowd some thought that the moneylender was bluffing, others thought that he had lost his sanity. "What he really lost was an amount of nine thousand nine hundred ninety-five dirhams, for the donkey he had got could be valued at five dirhams, after all!" some said jokingly.

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