Danish Fairy and Folk Tales/The Deacon's Wife
THE DEACON'S WIFE
HERE was once a deacon who had the bad luck of being married to a very ill-natured woman. As he was famous for his singing, the church-members of his parish would often invite him to attend weddings and other festivities, which he did. The woman was, however, very seldom included in these invitations, and the deacon grudged, whenever he returned home, to tell her of the good company he enjoyed. At length he grew tired of her angry words and sullen demeanor, and one night, returning from a feast in one of the villages in the neighborhood, he invited two other deacons to step into his house before they went home, as he wished to see if his wife would preserve her disagreeable manners in the presence of strangers.
Upon entering the house the deacons pulled off their caps and greeted the lady civilly. Her husband gave her many good words, and asked her to wait upon their guests. But she seemed possessed of a mute spirit, and never opened her mouth to say a word. The deacon pleaded long in vain, but finally realizing that his guests would not receive from her anything to bite or to drink, he asked them to walk over to a tavern across the way; he would join them there.
When they had departed he once more talked kindly to the woman, reminding her of her duties as a housewife. But she remained mute, and did not even seem to hear what he said. Now the deacon became frightened and thought she had entirely lost her speech. He began to think, and recollected having once heard that cherry-wine was an excellent remedy for this sickness. Such wine was, however, too expensive to be thought of, and, besides, the drug-dealer lived far off. As the woman would not open her mouth, and something must be done ere long, he determined to try the effect of a few supple limbs of a cherry-tree which grew in the yard; but, as she could not swallow the branches, he was obliged to use them in another manner, and did so.
The result was indeed wonderful, for, lo and behold! she spoke at once, and raised her voice until every one in the neighborhood realized that she was talking! The mute spirit left her at once, and, better yet, never returned.
Thus the wonderful healing properties of the cherry-tree were first made known. He who told this story added that an ordinary cane or hazel bough would work the same wonder. Any one in want of a remedy against a woman's obstinacy may try their effect.