Slavonic Fairy Tales/How to Choose a Wife
HOW TO CHOOSE A WIFE.
(from the servian.)
There was once an unmarried man whom some of his friends desired to marry to a maid, some to a widow, and others again to a woman who was divorced from her husband. For his part he knew not which to choose, for all the three were good and handsome. He went therefore to a certain old man, to ask his advice as to whether it would be best to marry the maid, the widow, or the divorced woman. The old man answered him,—
"My son, I can tell you nothing about it. But go to the Allwise (Solomon); he will be able to tell you what is best. Then come back and tell me what he advises you to do."
Away went the man to the court of Solomon, where the servants asked him what he wanted; and he answered them,—
"I wish to see the Allwise."
Then one of the servants took him and led him in; and pointing with his hand to a child who was riding about the court on a stick, said,—
"There is the Allwise."
The man said wonderingly to himself, "What can this child tell me? But since I am here, I will hear what he has to say."
Then he approached Solomon, and when he came near to him the child stood still on his horse-stick, and asked him what he wanted. The man told him all the story.
The Allwise answered him thus,—
"When you take a maid to wife, you know; when you take a widow, she knows; but when you take a divorced woman—beware of my horse."
The child turned round, struck the man gently with the stick across the feet, and then began again to ride about the court on his stick. Then thought the man to himself:—
"What a fool I am! A grown man, I come to a child to ask him how I shall marry!"
He at once set out to return to the old man to lay before him what had passed with the person to whom he had sent him for advice. When he came to the old man he related in a tone of anger all the circumstances of his visit to the Allwise; upon which the old man said,—
"Ah, my son, the Allwise has not spoken in vain: when you take a maiden to wife, you know; that means that she will believe you understand everything better than she does, and will follow and obey you. If you take a widow, she knows; that is to say, she has been already once married, and thinks she is more experienced than you; and will not only not follow, but will try to command you. If you take a divorced woman—beware of my horse! And then he smote you across the feet with his stick. By that you will understand: take care that she does not scold you as she scolded her first husband.