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PAGE 3

The Donkey
by [?]

The woman wiped her forehead on the back of her hand and hesitated, saying: “How do I know? Perhaps three francs, perhaps four.”

Chicot exclaimed: “I’ll give you five francs and your errand’s done! How’s that?”

The woman considered the matter for a second and then exclaimed: “Done!”

The two men landed. Labouise grasped the animal by the bridle. Maillochon asked in surprise:

“What do you expect to do with that carcass?”

Chicot this time opened his other eye in order to express his gaiety. His whole red face was grinning with joy. He chuckled: “Don’t worry, sister. I’ve got my idea.”

He gave five francs to the woman, who then sat down by the road to see what was going to happen. Then Labouise, in great humor, got the gun and held it out to Maillochon, saying: “Each one in turn; we’re going after big game, sister. Don’t get so near or you’ll kill it right away! You must make the pleasure last a little.”

He placed his companion about forty paces from the victim. The ass, feeling itself free, was trying to get a little of the tall grass, but it was so exhausted that it swayed on its legs as if it were about to fall.

Maillochon aimed slowly and said: “A little pepper for the ears; watch, Ghicot!” And he fired.

The tiny shot struck the donkey’s long ears and he began to shake them in order to get rid of the stinging sensation. The two men were doubled up with laughter and stamped their feet with joy. The woman, indignant, rushed forward; she did not want her donkey to be tortured, and she offered to return the five francs. Labouise threatened her with a thrashing and pretended to roll up his sleeves. He had paid, hadn’t he? Well, then, he would take a shot at her skirts, just to show that it didn’t hurt. She went away, threatening to call the police. They could hear her protesting indignantly and cursing as she went her way.

Maillochon held out the gun to his comrade, saying: “It’s your turn, Chicot.”

Labouise aimed and fired. The donkey received the charge in his thighs, but the shot was so small and came from such a distance that he thought he was being stung by flies, for he began to thrash himself with his tail.

Labouise sat down to laugh more comfortably, while Maillochon reloaded the weapon, so happy that he seemed to sneeze into the barrel. He stepped forward a few paces, and, aiming at the same place that his friend had shot at, he fired again. This time the beast started, tried to kick and turned its head. At last a little blood was running. It had been wounded and felt a sharp pain, for it tried to run away with a slow, limping, jerky gallop.

Both men darted after the beast, Maillochon with a long stride, Labouise with the short, breathless trot of a little man. But the donkey, tired out, had stopped, and, with a bewildered look, was watching his two murderers approach. Suddenly he stretched his neck and began to bray.

Labouise, out of breath, had taken the gun. This time he walked right up close, as he did not wish to begin the chase over again.

When the poor beast had finished its mournful cry, like a last call for help, the man called: “Hey, Mailloche! Come here, sister; I’m going to give him some medicine.” And while the other man was forcing the animal’s mouth open, Chicot stuck the barrel of his gun down its throat, as if he were trying to make it drink a potion. Then he said: “Look out, sister, here she goes!”

He pressed the trigger. The donkey stumbled back a few steps, fell down, tried to get up again and finally lay on its side and closed its eyes: The whole body was trembling, its legs were kicking as if it were, trying to run. A stream of blood was oozing through its teeth. Soon it stopped moving. It was dead.