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Main > Russia folktales > Fairy tale "The Mild Man and his Cantankerous Wife"

The Mild Man and his Cantankerous Wife

There lived once upon a time, in great poverty, a countryman and his wife: he was mild as a calf, and she as cunning as a serpent. She abused and drubbed her husband for every trifle. One day she begged some corn of a neighbour to make a loaf of bread, and she sent her husband with it to the mill to have it ground. The miller ground the corn, but charged them nothing on account of their poverty; and the countryman set out on his return home with his pan full of flour. But on a sudden there arose such a strong wind that in the twinkle of an eye all the flour was blown out of the pan, which he carried on his head. So he went home and told his wife; and when she heard it she fell to scolding and beating him without mercy; and she threatened him on and on, until at length she grew tired; then she ordered him to go to the wind which had blown away the flour and get paid for it, either in money or in as much flour as there had been in the pan.

The poor countryman, whose bones ached with the blows he had received from his wife, went out of the house weeping and wringing his hands; but whither to turn his steps he knew not. And at last he came to a large and dark forest, in which he wandered here and there. At last an old woman met him and said: “My good man, where are you going, and how are you going to find your way? What has brought you into this country, where rarely a bird flies, and rarely does a beast run?”

“Good Mother,” replied the man, “force has driven me hither. I went to the mill with some corn, and when it was ground I shook the flour into a pan and went my way home; but suddenly a wind arose and carried off the flour out of the pan; and when I came without it to the house and told my wife, she beat me, and has sent me to seek the Wind, and ask him either to give me back the meal or to pay me for it in money. So now I go here and there to look for the Wind, and know not where to find it.”

“Follow me,” said the old woman: “I am the mother of the Winds, and have four sons; the first son is the East Wind, the second is the South Wind, the third is the West Wind, and the fourth the North Wind.

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