THE NINE DONKEYS OF THE HODJA
Nasreddin Hodja was going to the mill the next day in order to have his wheat ground. His nearest neighbors asked him if he would be kind enough to take their wheat along as well, as that would save them the trouble of going to the mill themselves. The Hodja kindly assented.
Next morning he started off with nine loaded donkeys. On the way to the mill, he was worried lest some of the animals should stray away, so he decided to keep a strict check on them. The Hodja, no longer in the prime of youth, a little later decided he had had enough exercise and mounted his own donkey, whose burden was not as heavy as that of the rest of the animals.
He had gone only a little way when he decided to count his charges. To his dismay, only eight of them were in sight. He counted for the second time, but there was no change in the number of the beasts. He got down from his donkey and had a look around to see if he could find the fugitive. No luck!
Returning from his search, he was all the time thinking of what to say to his neighbors, who would accuse him of carelessness. When he got back, there were all his nine charges, peacefully munching grass! The amazed Hodja remounted his donkey and once again started on his way, his mind at rest for the moment.
Nevertheless, he still felt suspicious and did not wait long before he counted the donkeys again. There were only eight of them, no matter how many times he counted! He was so deep in thought that he did not see a friend of his approaching. He was a godsend for the Hodja's peace of mind.
Being told of Nasreddin Hodja's perplexity, he nearly laughed his head off, and then solved the riddle by pointing to the ninth donkey, which the Hodja was riding and which he had failed to include in the count...