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Main > Czechoslovak folktale > Fairy tale "A Gullible World: The Story of a Man Who Didn't Beat His Wife"

A Gullible World: The Story of a Man Who Didn't Beat His Wife

There was once a poor farm laborer, so poor that all he owned in the world was a hen. He told his wife to take this hen to market and sell it.

"How much shall I ask for it?" the woman wanted to know.

"Ask as much as they'll pay, of course," the laborer said.

So the woman took the hen by the feet and set out. Near the village she met a farmer.

"Good day," the farmer said. "Where are you going with that hen?"

"I'm going to market to sell it for as much as they'll pay me."

The farmer weighed the hen in his hand, pursed his lips, thought a moment, and said:

"You better sell it to me. I'll pay you three pennies for it."

"Three pennies? Are you sure that's as much as you'll pay?"

"Yes," the farmer said, "three pennies is as much as I'll pay."

So the laborer's wife sold the hen for three pennies. She went on to the village and there she bought a pretty little paper bag with one of the pennies and a piece of ribbon with another penny. She put the third penny into the bag, tied the bag with the ribbon, slipped the ribbon on a stick, put the stick over her shoulder, and then, feeling that she had done a very good day's work, she tramped home to her husband.

When the laborer heard how stupidly his wife had acted, he flew into a great rage and at first threatened to give her a sound beating.

"Was there ever such a foolish woman in the world?" he shouted angrily.

The poor woman, who by this time was snuffling and weeping, whimpered out:

"I don't see why you find so much fault with me! I'm sure I'm not the only gullible person in the world."

"Well," the laborer said, "I don't know. Perhaps there are people in the world as gullible as you. I tell you what I'll do: I'll go out and see if I can find them. If I do, I won't beat you."

So the laborer went out into the world to see if he could find any one as gullible as his wife. He traveled several days until he reached a countryside where he was unknown. Here he came to a fine castle at the window of which stood the lady of the castle looking out.

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