Tales : Nasruddin and the dividend

It happened once upon a time that Mullah Nasruddin realised he need flour, and so he would have to go to the mill. Accordingly, he loaded his donkey with a sack of grain, and prepared to set off. But when his neighbours realised what he was planning to do, one after another came to him, also with a donkey carrying some grain. “Mullah… you are going to the mill, could you please also take this for me?” “Mullah, please do us a favour…” “Mullah, it won’t be any trouble for you, will it?” And before he knew what was happening, Nasruddin was leading a whole string of laden donkeys.

As he left the village, seated on his own donkey, the Mullah looked at the string behind him and thought, “I must be careful not to lose any of these animals. Imagine how they would scold me if one of them went missing!” And so he counted the plodding donkeys. “…seven, eight, nine. There are nine,” he told himself firmly.

And when he came in sight of the mill, he counted them again. “Yes, nine,” he confirmed. “They have all arrived safely.”

At the mill, he and the miller unloaded the donkeys, and the miller set to work. Meanwhile, the Mullah sat down with his back against the mill to wait. To pass the time, he absent-mindedly counted the donkeys again, and then gave a start – there were not nine but ten donkeys quietly browsing the grass! He counted again, and then again, but each time, he found ten donkeys.

After the miller had finished his work, and Nasruddin was heading home again, he looked behind himself, and once more counted the donkeys, but instead of the ten he expected, he again found only nine.

When he arrived back in the village, therefore, the Mullah made the following announcement to his neighbours: “There has been an inexplicable miracle, and at the mill the Almighty saw fit to multiply the grain of this village, perhaps out of consideration for my turban. Therefore, you all owe me one tenth of your flour as a dividend.”

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