Once upon a time, there lived a man who had a foolish wife. He beat her and chastized her in every way, but could do nothing with her. One time he said to himself, "Let me test her! Perhaps she will become more sensible." He had some deadfalls in the woods, and some fish nets in the water. He said to her, "Let us go and have a look at them!" They set off. The man examined a deadfall, and found in it a hare; then he found in a fish net a large barbot. He put the barbot into the deadfall, and the hare into the fish net. That done, he called his wife. They came to the deadfall, and she saw the barbot. "Oh, oh!" said the woman, "how is it now? Barbots are caught in deadfalls!"--"So they are," answered the man. They came to the fish net, and the hare was caught in its meshes. "And how is this?" said the woman. "Hares are caught in fish nets!"--"So they are," answered the man.
They went back to the village, and passed the chief officer's house. Some cows in the stable were lowing loudly. "Who is that crying?" asked the woman. "It is the chief officer," said the man. "His women flog him most mercilessly."--"Poor thing!" said the woman, "he cries so vehemently,"--"Why, he feels pain, therefore he is crying."
They came home and found a treasure of silver money. "Mind," said the man, "do not tell any one about it, lest it should be taken from us." After a while, they had a quarrel. The woman grew angry. She went to the chief officer and told him everything. The chief officer gave immediate orders to bring the man. "Why, you scoundrel! you found a treasure and told me nothing of it."--"What treasure?" said the man. "I swear, I found nothing!"--"You did, you did!" said the woman. "You are crazy," said the man. "When did I find the treasure."--"Ah, when? Just at the time when we caught a barbot in a deadfall and a hare in a net."--"What did you say?" asked the chief officer, much astonished. "Yes, yes!" repeated the woman, "at that very time, when the women flogged
you in the stable. You cried most vehemently." The chief officer grew angry and turned her out of the house. Her husband gave her a severe thrashing.
However, she was in no way down-hearted. She ill-used the man worse than ever. "It is because you buy no good clothes for me," repeated the woman, "therefore the people set little value by me, and even turn me out of their houses; and when I pass on the street, no man greets me with as much as a bow."--"Why, you thrice fool!" said the man, but she would not stop at all. "Tomorrow is a holiday," said she, "buy me a new dress, or I will give you no rest or quiet."--"All right!" said the man, "I will buy you a new dress, very costly. You may put it on and go to church."--"What dress, what dress?" insisted the woman. "Be quiet!" said the man. "It is too late now. Go to sleep. Early in the morning I shall bring you that precious dress." She went to sleep. The man went to the stable and slaughtered a young bull. He took off the skin in one piece, horns and hoofs, muzzle and tail, and everything withal. This he carried home for his wife. Early in the morning the bells tolled for morning service. The woman jumped up and nudged her husband. "Get up, will you! Where is my new dress?"--"I will bring it presently," said the man. "Ah, here it is! The woman wanted to strike a fire. "O don't!" said the man, "listen to the bells! You must hurry! Come here! I will help you dress." So he helped her into the bull skin, and then sewed it up. He put the horns' and the tail in their proper places. "Now you look quite well," said he. "Be off to church!" She hurried on, like a cow walking on her hind legs. Whoever met her fell down with fright. "Ah," said the woman, "see how they bow to me this time!" She came to the church, and pushed aside all the people with those heavy hoofs. She gored all the ladies,--the wife of the priest, and the daughters of the chief officer,--and took her place in front of all, close to the priest. All the people looked at her and were much frightened. Women ceased saying their prayers, and clerks and chanters stopped singing. The priest came out and said to them. "What is the matter with you? Why did you stop singing?" Then he saw the woman. "Oh, oh! is it the Devil. Who is there with horns and tail?" The people meanwhile one by one backed out of the church. The priest took the censer and tried to expel the Devil. He put plenty of incense into the censer and filled the whole church with dense smoke. The woman sneezed violently, and muttered, "Too much honor, too much honor!" Then she left the church and went home. "Ah!" said she, "this time it was just as I wanted it. The people gave me the best place, in front of all; the children on the street fell down before me; and the priest in the church never ceased bowing before me, and he filled the whole church with clouds of incense in
my special honor." The husband said, "You are not my wife, you are a cow. Your talk is like the lowing of a cow." He put a halter on her neck and led her into the stable. There he tied her to a post, took the heavy horsewhip that he used on the old bulls and stallions and flogged her with all his might. He cut the bull hide into strips, so severely did he flog her. He chastized her so long that she swooned; then he let up and poured cold water over her head. After that he flogged her again, so that she swooned a second time. At last the whole bullskin fell from her body in mere shreds. "Now you are again a woman!" said the man, and he led her back into the house. 1
Told by John Sukhomyasoff, a Russian creole, the clerk of the church in the village of Nishne-Kolymsk, the Kolyma country, summer of 1896.
108:1 See Bolte und Polívka, l. c., vol. 1, 527--F. B.