The Donkey (Maupassant)

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The Donkey
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two men killed a donkey for fun, then tricked a wine dealer into buying its corpse, making him believe it was a valuable animal.

Two men, Labouise and Maillochon, were known for their dubious and undefined profession of junk-gatherers along the shore. They would often navigate the river, hunting for any prey, dead or alive.

Labouise (Chicot) — short, red-faced man; cunning, mischievous, and opportunistic; one eye always closed.
Maillochon (Mailloche) — tall, thin man with a restless eye; partner in crime with Labouise; resourceful and unscrupulous.

One day, they came across a woman struggling to drag her donkey along the road. Labouise offered to buy the donkey for five francs, intending to have some fun with it.

I’ll give you five francs and your errand’s done! How’s that?

The two men took turns shooting at the donkey, eventually killing it. They then hid the animal's body and went to a wine shop owned by old man Jules. After selling two rabbits to Jules, Labouise mentioned that they had found something big in the bushes near Éperon, but did not reveal what it was. Intrigued, Jules agreed to pay twenty francs for the mysterious find.

It isn’t a buck. I don’t know what it is! but it’s there. I’ll give you back your money if you find nothing!

Labouise and Maillochon took the money and left, assuring Jules that the unknown creature was indeed there. As they disappeared into the darkness, they laughed at their clever trick, having successfully sold the dead donkey to the unsuspecting Jules.