When Wheat Worked Woe
But the angry woman would listen to no one. She stayed on the ship, urging on the sailors, with their shovels, until every kernel was cast overboard.
"Never again will I try to please you," said her husband. "The hungry will curse you, and you may yet suffer for food, because of this wilful waste, which will make woful want. Even you will suffer."
She listened at first in silence, and then put her fingers in her ears to hear no more. Proud of her riches, with her voice in a high key, she shouted, "I ever want? What folly to say so! I am too rich." Then, to show her contempt for such words, she slipped off a ring from her finger and threw it into the waters of the harbor. Her husband almost died of grief and shame, when he saw that it was her wedding ring, which she had cast overboard.
"Hear you all! When that ring comes back to me, I shall be hungry and not before," said she, loud enough to be heard on ship, wharf, and street. Gathering up her skirts, she stepped upon the gangway, tripping to the shore, and past the poor people, who looked at her in mingled hate and fear. Then haughtily, she strode to her costly mansion.
Now to celebrate the expected new triumph and to show off her wealth and luxury, with the numerous curiosities brought her from many lands, the proud lady had already invited a score of guests. When they were all seated, the first course of soup was served in silver dishes, which every one admired. As the fish was about to be brought in, to be eaten off golden plates, the butler begged the lady's permission to bring in first, from the chief cook, something rare and wonderful, that he had found in the mouth of the fish, which was waiting, already garnished, on the big dish. Not dreaming what it might be, the hostess clapped her hands in glee, saying to those at the table:
"Perhaps now, at last, I shall get what I have long waited for—the best thing in the world."
"We shall all hope so," the guests responded in chorus.
But when the chief cook came into the banquet hall, and, bowing low, held before his mistress a golden salver, with a finger ring on it, the proud lady turned pale.