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The Merchant and the donkey

A poor merchant pushed his wagon through the market sweating as he hefted the cart and manoeuvred through the narrow streets. Stopping to wipe his brow and stretch his aching back he noticed a well dressed man loading a donkey with a variety of items and giving the donkey a gentle pat on its rear sending it on its way down the street. He then moved on to another donkey and proceeded to do the same thing. Curious enough to overcome his shyness he approached the man and asked him what he was doing.

The man stopped what he was doing offered the merchant a seat and a drink and proceeded to explain that the donkeys he sent off had been trained to deliver merchandise to different areas of town. While they are delivering he had more time to go about meeting buyers and attending to business. The merchant was astounded. “If only I had a donkey like that” he thought “then I could make something of my business”.

Emboldened by the idea he immediately began to negotiate a price for one of the donkeys and having secured the deal walked the donkey home with a smile.

The next morning he loaded the donkey with merchandise and sent it on its way with a note to his largest customer across town. He then went about his business and even took the time for a leisurely lunch as he waited for the donkey to return.

The next day he decided that if he were to add a bit more merchandise to the Donkey’s load he could cover all his deliveries in one load and would be able to go out of town for the day and see if he could sell some merchandise in the neighbouring towns. The donkey didn’t seem to mind the extra weight and everything went according to plan. He now had time to visit more customers and the orders began pouring in. He was now having some trouble fulfilling orders. He began loading a little more onto the donkey each day in an effort to speed things up and it didn’t seem to affect the donkey.

A few days later however the donkey didn’t simply go on its way but a well placed hit on its rear with his hand solved the problem and the donkey went. The same thing happened the following day and he reasoned that the donkey had reached its limit it needed a little more coaxing than before but that was nothing he couldn’t handle. When the donkey didn’t immediately go on its way a few well aimed hits with the palm of his hand normally sorted it out, and on the odd day that it was particularly stubborn he would find a stick, not only did it improve the donkeys motivation but it prevented the sting he would have felt on his hand.

In time the donkey grew more and more stubborn and he began to lighten its load in order to get it going, but still found himself reverting to the stick more and more to get it started on its way. Until one day when the donkey stubbornly refused to move. He hit it, pulled its reigns, shouted and ultimately removed half its load but still it refused to budge. Finally he tied a rope to the reigns and began pulling it along. He made his way through the market cursing and shouting and bemoaning his fate to all within earshot.

“Look at the luck I have this stubborn beast worked for years for someone else with no trouble but no sooner do I buy it and it stops working. This is why I’ll never be a rich man.”