The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vol. XIV: RussianScandinavianMiscellaneous
Popular Latvian Tales
Retold by Andrejanoff
THERE was once a peasant who had a beautiful but stupid wife called Liz. One day, when he was away from home, a stranger came by and asked for something to eat. The woman gave him some cabbage soup, and complained that the cabbage was not very good. She meant the cabbage-plants, and the stranger thought she meant the soup. So he said, You must put plenty of bacon in it. When he was gone, the woman ran to the storeroom, got a great side of bacon, cut it into little pieces, and placed these on the cabbages in her vegetable garden. The neighbors watch-dog smelling the bacon, he jumped over the fence, and began to devour the savory morsels. Then the woman grew angry, tied the dog to the plug of a beer-barrel, and beat him. Of course, the dog tugged and tugged, till the plug came out, and then he ran away with rope and plug.
What was to be done? The foolish woman ran after the dog, and at last wrested the plug from him. When she returned the beer had all run out of the barrel, and the floor was drenched. Then she remembered that there was a bushel of fine wheat flour in her cupboard. She took this out and strewed the ground with it in order to dry it. And so, when her husband came home, bacon and beer and flour were all gone.
But once his wifes stupidity helped the peasant out of a tight place. It happened that he found a treasure on a field belonging to the lord of the land. Although he commanded his wife to be discreet, she talked about it, and it came to the ears of the lord of the land, who summoned the peasant before him, and required the treasure to be given up. The peasant said that he knew nothing of any treasure, but the lord of the land cried, Do not lie, for your wife spread the news! Come to-morrow, and bring her with you.
Sadly the peasant went home, trying to think how he could best get out of the situation. At home he said to his wife, A great war is coming over the land. To-day the enemy will be upon us, and so we had better hide. Ill conceal myself in the woods, but do you creep into the big hole in the earth behind our house. As soon as the enemy is gone Ill come for you.
The woman climbed down; the peasant covered the opening with a cowhide, on which he strewed plentiful oats, so that ducks and geese and chickens flocked thither from all sides. They scraped and ran on the cowhide, and screamed Ga! Ga!
Late in the evening the peasant came, and poured warm water on the cowhide, which sickered through some holes in it. When the woman felt this she said, Thank Heaven that it rains; the drought has lasted long.