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The Enchanted Mule

There was once a very merry, but very poor hostler in Salamanca. He was so poor that he had to go about his business in rags; and one day when he was attending on the richly caparisoned mule belonging to the Archbishop of Toledo, he gave vent to his feelings in words.

“Ah,” said he, “my father was always called a donkey from the day of his marriage; but would to goodness I were the archbishop’s mule! Look at the rich livery he bears; look at his stout sides; see how he drinks up his wine and eats his maize bread! Oh, it would be a merry life, indeed! My father was, they say, an ass, so I would be a mule!”

And then he leant against the manger, and laughed so heartily that the archbishop’s mule stopped eating to look at him.

“What ho!” said the mule. “Remember that my reverend master, being a corpulent man, is somewhat heavy; but if thou wilt change conditions with me, thou need but take hold of both my ears, and, caramba, a mule thou shalt be, and that in the service of the Archbishop of Toledo!”

“And that will I,” answered Pablo the hostler; “for better be a well-fed mule than a starving hostler.” So saying, he seized the mule by the ears, and, looking at him in the face, he was immediately transformed; but, to his surprise, he saw that the quondam mule was changed into a monk. “How now!” cried he. “Wilt thou not bring me some more wine and maize bread, sir monk? Wilt thou not be my hostler?”

But the monk turned away and left the stable, and Pablo then saw that he had made a mistake. But he resolved that as soon as he was led out into the street he would run off to his old mother, and implore her to intercede on his behalf with the patron St. James of Compostella.

When the archbishop had rested, he called for his mule, which was brought out; and, in the absence of the hostler, whom they could not find, one of the attendants was about tightening the girths, when the mule Pablo, seizing the opportunity, bolted away as hard as he could down the road in the direction of his mother’s house.

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