The Donkey and the Baskets of Salt

The donkey doesn’t like to carry the heavy baskets of salt. He gets a smart idea. Can he fool the merchant?

Once upon a time, there was a merchant and a donkey.

Every morning, the merchant took the donkey to the seaside and collected salt. He loaded salt into baskets and put them on the donkey’s back. Together, the walked back to the market in the city.

During their walk, they always crossed a shallow river. They usually cross the river without any accidents, but this time, the donkey slipped. He halfway fell over and the baskets touched the water.

The merchant helped the donkey stand up again.

Some of the salt melted in the water, and when the donkey realized it, he was very happy. Usually the baskets of salt were very heavy, but today, they were light.

The donkey finished the journey to the market, smiling and skipping happily.

The next day, the merchant and the donkey picked up more salt. On the way back to the market, the donkey remembered yesterday’s events. When they crossed the river, he fell again on purpose. Half of the salt melted away into the river.

The merchant was angry! The first time was an accident, but surely this time, the donkey did it on purpose.

Immediately, the merchant turned the donkey around, and they walked straight back to the seaside. He angrily started to fill up the donkey’s baskets again.

“Ok, Donkey. Let’s bring this salt to the market,” said the merchant. He wasn’t angry anymore. In fact, he was smiling strangely.

When the donkey and the merchant reached the river again, the merchant watched the donkey carefully. They started to cross the river.

Sure enough, the donkey fell again, and the baskets touched the water.

“Ah ha,” thought the donkey, “I fooled the merchant again.”

The merchant helped the donkey stand up and they continued to cross the river.

But, how strange! Before, the salt melted away and the baskets became lighter. Now, the baskets were heavier than ever before. The donkey wobbled and walked slowly. Why were the baskets so heavy?

“You thought you could fool me again,” said the merchant. “But instead, I fooled you. Your baskets aren’t filled with salt. They are filled with sponges.”

The donkey carried the heavy wet sponges all the way to the market.

That was the last time he decided to fall in the river.

About this story: This is a classic fairy tale. Judy Shinohara rewrote it for Level 2 readers.


Published by Judy Shinohara

Hello! I’m Judy, living in Osaka! I love teaching English to my students. In my free time, I enjoy simple gardening, reading and writing, art, and watching Netflix.

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