THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
"But, good heavens, it's nothing but a donkey!
"A donkey!" repeated Simon. "You don't mean to say so. If a single other person tells me that, I'll make him a present of the wretched animal."
With these words he continued his way and very soon met the third knave, who said to him:
"God bless you, sir. Are you by any chance coming from the market?"
"Yes, I am," replied Simon.
"And what bargain did you drive there?" asked the cunning fellow.
"I bought this mule on which I am riding."
"A mule! Are you speaking seriously or do you wish to make a fool of me?"
"I'm speaking in sober earnest," said Simon. "It wouldn't occur to me to make a joke of it."
"Oh, my poor friend," cried the rascal, "don't you see that is a donkey and not a mule? You have been taken in by some wretched cheats."
"You are the third person in the last two hours who has told me the same thing," said Simon, "but I couldn't believe it," and dismounting from the mule he spoke: "Keep the animal. I make you a present of it."
The rascal took the beast, thanked him kindly, and rode on to join his comrades, while Simon continued his journey on foot.
As soon as the old man got home he told his housekeeper that he had bought a beast under the belief that it was a mule, but that it had turned out to be a donkey—at least, so he had been assured by several people he had met on the road, and that in disgust he had at last given it away.
"Oh, you simpleton!" cried Nina. "Didn't you see that they were only playing you a trick? Keally, I thought you'd have had more gumption than that. They wouldn't have taken me in in that way."
"Never mind," replied Simon. "I'll play them one worth two of that; for depend upon it they won't be contented with having got the donkey out of me, but they'll try by some new dodge to get something more, or I'm much mistaken."
Now, there lived in the village not far from Simon's