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Main > Dutch folktales > Fairy tale "When Wheat Worked Woe"

When Wheat Worked Woe

It was the very ring which, in her anger, she had tossed overboard the day before. To add to her shame, she saw from the look of horror on their faces, that the guests had recognized the fact that it was her wedding token.

This was only the beginning of troubles. That night, her husband died of grief and vexation. The next day, the warehouses, stored with valuable merchandise of all sorts, were burned to the ground.

Before her husband had been decently buried, a great tempest blew down from the north, and news came that four of his ships had been wrecked. Their sailors hardly escaped with their lives, and both they and their families in Stavoren were now clamoring for bread.

Even when she put on her weeds of grief, these did not protect the widow from her late husband's creditors. She had to sell her house and all that was in it, to satisfy them and pay her debts. She had even to pawn her ring to the Lombards, the goldsmiths of the town, to buy money for bread.

Now that she was poor, none of the former rich folks, who had come to her grand dinners, would look at her. She had even to beg her bread on the streets; for who wanted to help the woman who wasted wheat? She was glad to go to the cow stalls, and eat what the cattle left. Before the year ended, she was found dead in a stable, in rags and starvation. Thus her miserable life ended. Without a funeral, but borne on a bier, by two men, she was buried at the expense of the city, in the potter's field.

But even this was not the end of the fruits of her wickedness, for the evil she did lived after her. It was found that, from some mysterious cause, a sand bar was forming in the river. This prevented the ships from coming up to the docks. With its trade stopped, the city grew poorer every day. What was the matter?

By and by, at low tide, some fishermen saw a green field under the surface of the harbor. It was not a garden of seaweed, for instead of leaves whirling with the tide, there were stalks that stood up high.

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