Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Bad Wife and the Demon
Myths and Folk-Lore of the Aryan Peoples
From Folk-Lore Record. Russian variant of an ancient Eastern story

A BAD wife lived on the worst of terms with her husband, and never paid any attention to what he said. If her husband told her to get up early, she would lie in bed three days at a stretch; if he wanted her to go to sleep, she couldn’t think of sleeping. When her husband asked her to make pancakes, she would say, “You thief, you don’t deserve a pancake!” If he said, “Don’t make any pancakes, wife, if I don’t deserve them,” she would cook a two-gallon pot full, and say, “Eat away, you thief, till they’re all gone!”  1
  One day, after having had his trouble and bother with her, he went into the forest to look for berries and distract his grief; and he came to where there was a currant-bush, and in the middle of that bush he saw a bottomless pit. He looked at it for some time and considered, “Why should I live in torment with a bad wife? Can’t I put her into that pit? Can’t I teach her a good lesson?”  2
  So when he came home he said:—  3
  “Wife, don’t go into the woods for berries.”  4
  “Yes, you bugbear, I shall go!”  5
  “I’ve found a currant-bush: don’t pick it.”  6
  “Yes, I will; I shall go and pick it clean: but I won’t give you a single currant!”  7
  The husband went out, his wife with him. He came to the currant-bush, and his wife jumped into the middle of it, and went flop into the bottomless pit.  8
  The husband returned home joyfully, and remained there three days; on the fourth day he went to see how things were going on. Taking a long cord, he let it down into the pit, and out from thence he pulled a little demon. Frightened out of his wits, he was going to throw the imp back again into the pit, but it shrieked aloud and earnestly entreated him, saying:—  9
  “Don’t send me back again, O peasant! Let me go out into the world! A bad wife has come and absolutely devoured us all, pinching us and biting us—we’re utterly worn out with it. I’ll do you a good turn if you will.”  10
  So the peasant let him go free—at large in Holy Russia.  11

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