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THE Esthonian version of “Bluebeard” (the Wife-Murderer) is very similar to the usual story. A p. 2 rich lord, reported to have vast treasure-vaults under his castle, lost his wives very fast, and married, as his twelfth wife, the youngest of the three daughters of a reduced gentleman in the neighbourhood. An orphan boy had been brought up in the household, and had served first as a gooseherd, and then as page; but he was always known as “Goose-Tony.” He was nearly of the same age as the young lady, who had been his playmate, and he declared that the rich suitor was a murderer; his heart told him so, and his presentiments had never yet deceived him. The boy was scolded and threatened, but his warnings made so much impression that he was allowed to accompany the bride to her new home.
Three weeks afterwards, the husband set out on a journey, leaving his keys with his wife, among which was the gold key of the forbidden chamber. He warned her that if she even looked in, he would be forced to behead her with his own hand. She begged him in vain to take charge of it himself; but he refused, and left it with her.
Next morning one of the lady’s sisters came to stay with her; but a day or two afterwards the page gave her another warning, after which he p. 3 suddenly disappeared, and no trace of him could be found. The two sisters looked over the house, and at last encouraged each other to enter the secret chamber. In the middle stood an oaken block with a broad axe upon it, and the floor was splashed with blood. In the background against the wall stood a table, with the bloody heads of the squire’s former wives ranged upon it. The lady dropped the key in her horror, and on picking it up found it covered with blood-stains, which nothing could remove, while the door stood a handbreadth open, as if an invisible wedge had fallen between the door and the door-post.
The squire was not expected to return for a week, but he came back next morning, and rushed upstairs in a frenzied rage, dragged his wife to the block by her hair, and was just lifting the axe, when he was struck down by Goose-Tony with a heavy cudgel, and bound. He was brought to justice, and sentenced to death, and his property was adjudged to his widow, who shortly after married the page who had saved her life.