Two thieves stood in a busy street in the city. One of them looked at the
people and said, 'Look at those people! They're very stupid. I can take something from everybody.'
'You think you can do that,' said the other thief. 'You talk about it, but can you really do it? I don't think people are really stupid. Look at that man with the donkey over there. Can you take his donkey from him ?'
'Yes,' said the first thief.' With a little help from you, I can take his donkey from him and he will say " thank you " to me for it. Come with me and I'll show you.'
The two thieves followed the man down the street. The man pulled the donkey behind him. The first thief went behind the donkey and changed places with it. At the same time, the second thief took the donkey away.
So the man pulled a person, not his donkey, but he didn't know this. The thief walked behind the man for a little way but suddenly he stopped. The man pulled and pulled. The thief didn't move. So the man turned round. He was very surprised when he saw the thief.
'Who are you?' he cried. 'And where's my donkey?'
' Oh, sir, don't ask me,' answered the thief.' I was your donkey, but now I'm a man
again. Listen to my sad story.
' I lived with my mother, a good old woman. But I wasn't a good son. She wanted me to live a better life, but I didn't listen to her.
' One night I came home very late. My mother was angry with me. Then I got angry too and started to hit her. She shouted," Will you never change, my son ? You are as stupid as a donkey. Perhaps one day you'll really change into a donkey."
' Suddenly I began to feel different. My ears got longer and my arms changed into legs. When I tried to speak, I could only make donkey noises.'
' So you really changed into a donkey!' said the man.
'Yes. I ran outside into the street. The next morning, a man caught me. He took me into the town and sold me. He sold me to you, sir.
' Then a very bad time began for me. Sometimes you hit me and didn't give me much food. Sometimes you put very heavy things on my back.
' Then today, I walked down this street and I saw my old mother. When she saw me, she cried. She said,"You're a nice little donkey! I had a son, but he changed into a donkey. Perhaps one day he'll change into a man again." And suddenly I was a man again.'
When he heard this, the man said,' Oh, my dear brother, I'm very sorry. I know I was often unkind to you. But I didn't know you were really a man. I thought you were only a donkey. Here, take this money. Buy food and drink and go home again to your old mother.'
The thief took the money and went away. He was very happy with his morning's work. When the man arrived home, his wife asked, 'Where's your donkey ?'
' We have no donkey,' answered the man, and he told his wife the thief's story.
'You were right when you gave money to that man,' said the wife.' But you can't do
your work without a donkey. Tomorrow, go into the town and buy a new one.'
The next day, the man went into the town. He saw a donkey in the street. He went to it and looked at it carefully. Then he was very surprised.
' This is my old donkey,' he thought.
He spoke quietly into the donkey's ear and said,' So you hit your old mother again and she changed you back into a donkey. Well, I'll never buy you again!'
'That was a very funny story' said the sultan. 'But it's only the middle of the night. I
know you have a new story for me.' He was right. Sheherezade had another story.