Ii happened once upon a time that Mullah Nasruddin began to have doubts about his donkey. Although the creature had served him patiently for many years, the Mullah had begun to notice a growing reluctance on the part of the donkey to do anything at all except eat and sleep. Shouts, and even curses and blows all had no effect. Finally, at the end of his patience, Nasruddin decided it was time to sell the donkey and find another.
Accordingly, he dragged the animal to an auctioneer in the town, and said, “He’s not worth two copper coins, but sell him for whatever you can get. I’ll give you a quarter of the price.”
The auctioneer tied up the donkey, and began to invite passers-by to make a bid. “A fine animal,” he called. “Still has all four hooves and no stranger to hard work. Who will start the bidding?”
There was a moment of silence, and then a voice from the crowd called, “Five silver pieces!”
Nasruddin stared in astonishment.
“I am bid five,” called the auctioneer. “Five for this noble animal. Who will give me ten?”
A hand went up in the crowd. “Ten,” confirmed a voice.
“Ten, give me twenty,” said the auctioneer. “Who will give me twenty?”
“Twenty!” said another voice.
Nasruddin was stupefied.
“Twenty five,” someone called, and another voice said, “Thirty!” In a few moments, the price had climbed all the way to forty five silver pieces.
Unable to contain himself, Nasruddin shouted, “Fifty! Fifty silver pieces!”
“Sold!” barked the auctioneer.
And walking home again with his donkey, Nasruddin congratulated himself. Not only had he bought a very valuable animal, but, after paying the auctioneer his commission, he had a substantial quantity of cash in his pocket.