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

The Mild Man and his Cantankerous Wife

So he went and invited the nobleman to dinner. Meanwhile the good woman took all kinds of food and drink out of the basket, spread the table, and then sat down patiently at the window, laying her hands in her lap, awaiting the arrival of her husband and their guest. The nobleman was astonished at receiving such an invitation and laughed, and would not go home with the man; but instead, he ordered his servants who attended him to go with the countryman, to dinner, and bring him back word how he treated them. So the servants went with the countryman, and when they entered his cottage, they were greatly amazed: for, to judge by his hut, he must be very poor, but from the dishes upon the table he was evidently a person of some consequence. Then they sat down to dinner, and made merry; but they remarked that, whenever the good woman wanted anything, she asked the basket for it, and obtained all she required. So they did not leave the room at once, and sent one of their comrades home to make as quickly as possible just such another basket and bring it to them, without letting the countryman or his wife observe it.

Thereupon the man ran as fast as he could, and got a basket just like the other; and when he brought it to the cottage, the guests secretly took the countryman’s basket and put theirs in its place. Then they took leave of the man and his wife, and returned to their master and told him how daintily the countryman had treated them.

The countryman’s wife threw away all the food that was left, intending to cook fresh on the morrow. The next morning she went to her basket and began to ask it for what she wanted; and when she found that the basket gave her nothing, she called her husband and said: “Old Greybeard, what basket is this you have brought me? Likely enough it has served us once and for all; and what good is it now if it gives us nothing more? Go back to the Wind and beg him to give us back our flour, or I’ll beat you to death.”

So the poor man went back to the Winds.

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