Russian Folk-Tales/A Cure for Story-Telling

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A CURE FOR STORY-TELLING


There was once a porter in the world: he had a wife who was passionately fond of stories, and she would only let people come and visit her who could tell stories. Well, as you may understand, this was rather costly to the husband. So he began to think, "How can I cure her of this undesirable habit?"

Well, one day in the winter, late at night, an old man came in frozen to atoms, and he asked to be allowed to stop the night. So the husband ran out to him and said, "Can you tell tales?"

Then the peasant saw that there was no help for it, as he was simply freezing with cold, and said, "I have an idea: will you tell stories for a long time?"

"Yes, all night long."

"Capital: come in!"

So he led the guest in.

Then the husband said, "Now, my wife, here is a peasant who has promised to tell stories all night long, on the condition that you are not to make any remarks or interruptions."

"Yes," said the guest; "no remarks, or else I shall not open my mouth."

So they had supper and lay down to sleep, and the peasant began—


"There was an owl flying across a garden, and it sat over a well and sipped the water.

"There was an owl flying across a garden, and it sat over a well and sipped the water.

"There was an owl flying across a garden, and it sat over a well and sipped the water.

"There was an owl flying across a garden, and it sat over a well and sipped the water."


And he went on telling the same thing over and over again—


"There was an owl flying across a garden, and it sat over a well and sipped the water."


So the mistress went on listening, and at last interrupted: "What sort of a tale is this? Why, it is a mere repetition."

"Why do you interrupt me? I told you you must not make any exclamations: this is the preface of the tale, and there comes another after it."

Then the man, after hearing this, could not help leaping up from the bench and whipping his wife.

"You were told not to make any interruptions, and you will not let him end his story."

So he set on beating, beating, whipping, slippering, basting her, until the wife at the end hated stories, and was in despair ever afterwards at the sound of them.


This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.