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The Talkative Wife

There was once a wife who was an awful talker. No matter how important it was to keep a matter quiet, if she got to know about it, she just had to talk about it. She was always running to the neighbours and exclaiming, "Oh, my dear, have you heard so and so?"

Her husband was an industrious fellow. He set nets in the river, he snared birds in the forest, and he worked at any odd jobs that came along. It happened one day while he was out in the forest that he found a buried treasure. "Ah!" he thought to himself, "now I can buy a little farm that will keep me and my wife comfortable the rest of our days!"

He started home at once to tell his wife the good fortune that had befallen them. He had almost reached home when he stopped, suddenly realizing that the first thing his wife would do would be to spread the news throughout the village. Then the government would get wind of his find and officers of the law would come and take hold of all the treasure.

"That would never do," he told himself. "I must think out some plan so that I can my wife know about the treasure without risking to lose it."

He thought about the matter for a long time and at last hit upon something that he thought would be successful.

In his nets that day he had caught a pike and in one of his snares he had found a grouse. He went back now to the river and put the bird in the fishnet, and then he went to the woods and put the fish in the snare. When this was done he went home and at once told his wife about the buried treasure that was going to make their old age comfortable.

She flew at once into great excitement. "La! La! A buried treasure! Whoever heard of such luck! Oh, I can hardly wait to tell all our neighbours!"

"But they must not hear!" her husband told her. "You don't want the officers of the law coming and taking it all from us, do you?"

"What?" his wife cried. "What! Come and take our treasure that you found yourself in the forest?"

"Yes, my dear, that's exactly what they will do if they should hear about it."

"Well, dear husband, not a soul will hear about it from me!" She said this many times while she shook her head vigorously, and then tried to slip out of the house, for she needed to borrow a cup of meal from a neighbour, she said.

But the man insisted on her staying beside him all evening. She kept remembering little errands that would take her to the houses of various neighbours, but each time she attempted to leave, her husband called her back. At last he got her safely to bed.

Early next morning, before she had been able to talk to anyone, he said, "Now, my dear, come with me to the forest and help me carry home the treasure. On the way we'd better see if we've got anything in the nets and the snares."

They went first to the river and when the man had lifted his nets they found a grouse which he made his wife reach over and get. Then in the woods he let her make the discovery of a pike in one of the snares.

She was all the while so excited about the treasure that she hadn't mind enough left to be surprised that a bird should be caught in a fishnet and a fish in a bird snare.

Well, they found the precious treasure and they stowed it away in two sacks which they carried home on their backs. On the way home his wife could scarcely refrain from calling out to every passerby some hint of their good fortune. As they passed the house of Helmi, her dearest crony, she said to her husband, "My dear, won't you just wait here a moment while I run in and get a drink of water?"

"You mustn't go in just now," her husband said. "Don't you hear what's going on?"

There was the sound of two dogs fighting and yelping in the kitchen.

"Helmi is getting a beating from her husband," the man said. "Can't you hear her crying? This is no time for an outsider to appear."

All that day and all that night he kept so close to his wife that the poor woman wasn't able to exchange a word with another human being, but early next morning she escaped him and ran as fast as her legs could carry her to Helmi's house.

"My dear," she began all out of breath, "such a wonderful treasure as we've found, but I've sworn never to whisper a word about it for fear the government should hear of it! I should have stopped and told you yesterday but your husband was beating you – "

"What's that?" cried Helmi's husband who came in just then and caught the last words.

"It's the treasure we've found!"

"The treasure? What are you talking about? Begin at the beginning."

"Well, my husband and me I started out yesterday morning and first we went to the river to see if there was anything in the nets. We found a grouse – "

"A grouse?"

"Yes, we found a grouse in the nets. Then we went to the forest and looked in the snares and in one we found a pike."

"A pike!"

"Yes. Then we went and dug up the treasure and put it in two sacks and you could have seen us yourself carrying it home on our backs but you were too busy beating poor Helmi."

"I beating poor Helmi! Ho! Ho! Ho! That is a good one! I was busy beating my wife while you were getting birds out of fishnets and fish out of snares! Ho! Ho! Ho!"

"That's how it is!" his wife cried. "It is so! You were so beating Helmi! And you sounded just like two dogs fighting! And we carried home the treasure!"

But Helmi's husband only laughed the harder. That afternoon when he went to the inn he was still laughing and when the men there asked him what was so funny he told them the story and soon the whole village was laughing at the woman who found birds in fishnets and fish in snares and who thought that two yelping dogs were Helmi and her husband fighting.

As for the treasure, that wasn't taken any more seriously than the grouse and the pike. "It must have been two sacks of turnips they carried home on their backs!" the village people decided.

The husband said nothing when his wife tried to explain and people did not take her seriously. "Alas, it is for our own future good," he mumbled to himself, for he felt uneasy about how he had fooled her when he witnessed the results of it.



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