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  1. Two in a Sack

Two in a Sack

Fairy tale A poor man had a wife who used to scold him and call him names each and every day. Sometimes she would also take the broom from behind the stove and beat him. He had no peace or comfort at all.

One day, when he had been beaten black and blue, he strolled slowly into the far fields and spread out his bird nets. He caught a crane, and the crane said, "Let me go free, and I'll be grateful."

The man answered, 'No."

Said the crane: "You had better come with me to my house. "So they went to the crane's house.

When they got there, the crane took down a sack and said:

"Two out of a sack!"

At once two pretty lads sprang out of the sack. They brought in oak tables that they spread with silken covers. Then they placed all sorts of delicious dishes and refreshing drinks on them. The man was delighted. The crane said to him, "Now take this sack to your difficult wife."

The man thanked him warmly, took the sack, and set out.

His home was a good long way off. As it was growing dark and he was feeling tired, he stopped to rest at his cousin's house by the way.

The cousin had three daughters, who laid out a tempting supper, but the man would eat nothing, and said to his cousin, "Your supper is bad."

"Oh, make the best of it," said she, but the man only said: "Clear away!" and taking out his sack he cried, as the crane had taught him:

"Two out of the sack!"

And out came the two pretty boys, who quickly brought in the oak tables, spread the silken covers, and laid out all sorts of delicious dishes and refreshing drinks.

Never in their lives had the cousin and her daughters seen such a supper: they were delighted and astonished at it. But the cousin quietly made up her mind to steal the sack, so she called to her daughters: "Go quickly and heat the bathroom: I'm sure our dear guest would like to have a bath before he goes to bed."

When the man was safe in the bathroom she told her daughters to make a sack exactly like his, as quickly as possible. Then she changed the two sacks, and hid the man's sack away.

The man enjoyed his bath, slept soundly, and set off early next morning, taking what he believed to be the sack the crane had given him.

All the way home he felt in such good spirits that he sang and whistled as he walked through the wood. As soon as he saw his house he began to shout from a distance, "Hallo! old woman! Come out and meet me!"

His wife screamed back: "You come here, and I'll give you a good thrashing with the poker!"

The man walked into the house, hung his sack on a nail, and said, as the crane had taught him:

"Two out of the sack!"

But not a soul came out of the sack.

Then he said again, exactly as the crane had taught him:

"Two out of the sack!"

His wife took up her wet broom and swept the ground all about him. The man took flight and rushed oft into the field. There he found the crane marching proudly about, and told him what had happened.

"Come back to my house," said the crane. They went to the crane's house, and the crane took a sack down from the wall, showed the man that it worked like the first one, and said to the man:"Take this sack. Use it like the other."

The man thanked heartily, took the sack, and went. He had a long way to walk. When he got hungry, he said to the sack:

"Two out of the sack!"

At once two rough men with thick sticks crept out of the bag and began to beat him while they cried to him, "Don't boast to your cousins of what you have got"

The man panted out: "Two into the sack."

The words were hardly out of his mouth, when the two crept back into the sack.

Then the man shouldered the sack, and went off straight to his cousin's house. He hung the sack up on a nail, and said: "Please have the bathroom heated, cousin."

The cousin heated the bathroom, and the man went into it, but he neither washed nor rubbed himself, he just sat there and waited.

Meantime his cousin felt hungry, so she called her daughters, and all four sat down to table. Then the mother said:

"Two out of the sack."

Instantly two rough men crept out of the sack, and began to beat the cousin as they cried:

"Greedy pack! Thievish pack!
Give the peasant back his sack!"

They went on beating till the woman called to her eldest daughter: "Go and fetch your cousin from the bathroom." After a while the man left the bathroom and cried:

"Two into the sack."

The two crept back at once into the sack, and the man took both sacks and went home. When he was near the house he shouted:

"Hallo, old woman, come and meet me!"

He went into the cottage, hung his sack on a nail, and said, as the crane had taught him:

"Two out of the sack."

The two pretty lads sprang out of the sack, brought in oak tables, laid silken covers on them, and spread them with all sorts of delicious dishes and refreshing drinks.

The woman ate and drank, and praised her husband.

"Well, now, old man, I won't beat you any more," said she.

Soon, when her husband was in the yard, she wanted to try the other sack too. As soon as she said, "Two out of the sack", two rogues with their big sticks came out of the sack and did their work as they sang: "We'll beat you too - black and blue!

The woman screamed out: "Help!"

Her husband only said:

"They'll beat you well,
as you often did to me, I can tell."

Meanwhile the two from the sack thumped away and sang again:

"Blows will hurt, we mean you well.
Sticks hurt, you now can tell."

Her husband at last took pity on her, and called two into the sack. From this time the man did not get any more blows. Not his wife either.

(Retold Russian tale. In The Violet Fairy Book 1906, 153-59.


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