The Chatterbox


Once upon a time there lived a young man and his young wife, Tatiana. The wife was a terrible gossip, and she couldn’t keep a thing to herself. As soon as she heard a piece of news the whole village knew about it at once.
One day the man went to the forest and began to dig out a wolves’ lair, and there he found a treasure. He thought to himself: “Now what shall I do? As soon as my wife knows about this, the whole district will ring with the news: they’ll hear about it in every house for miles. It will get to our master’s ears and then I can say goodbye to the treasure-it’ll have to go to him.”
He thought for a long time and finally he hit upon a plan. He buried the treasure in the earth, took careful note of the spot, and started off for home. When he came to the river, he examined the fishnet he had set there the day before and found a fine perch caught in it. He pulled it out and went on his way. Then he came to the trap he had set in the forest and there was a hare caught in it. He loosed the hare and put the perch in the trap; and he took the hare back to the river and pushed it into the net.
When he got home, he said to his wife:
”Well, Tatiana, heat the oven and bake as many pancakes as you can.”
”Have you gone mad?” said his wife. “Whoever heard of heating the oven at night? And who’ll want to eat pancakes so late?”
”Don’t argue, just do as you’re told,” said the man. “I’ve found a treasure in the forest and we must bring it home after dark.”
At this good news, Tatiana began to warm the oven and bake the pancakes.
”Eat, dearest husband, eat them while they’re hot.”
The man ate one pancake and slipped two or three into his sack. Then he ate another one and did the same thing again; his wife didn’t notice what he was doing.
”You seem to be very hungry today! I can’t make the pancakes fast enough,” she said to him.
”Well, it’s a long way to go and the treasure is heavy, so I must eat my fill.”
When he had filled up his sack with pancakes he said, “I’ve had enough. Now have some yourself, but hurry, for we must be on our way.” So she ate as many pancakes as she wanted, and then they set out together.
The night was dark. The man walked on a little ahead of his wife, and as he went he hung the pancakes he had slipped into his sack on to the branches of the trees.
His wife saw the pancakes on the trees.
”Look, look,” she cried, “there are pancakes growing on the trees!”
”Why not? There’s nothing odd in that! Didn’t you see the pancakes cloud that passed a minute ago?”
”No, I saw nothing, I was too busy watching my feet and finding my way among the roots.”
”Come along,” called the man, “there’s a trap here for a hare; let’s have a look at it.”
They got to the trap and the man pulled out the perch.
”Oh, husband dear, how could a fish get into a snare?”
”Did you not know that there are perches that can walk?” he said.
”Indeed I didn’t!” said Tatiana. “Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it!”
They came to the river and Tatiana said:
”Your net is here somewhere. I wonder if there are any fish in it?”
”We may as well look,” said he.
So they dragged out the net and there found the hare. Tatiana raised her hands to heaven.
”Oh, Lord!” she cried. “What’s the world coming to? A hare in a net!”
”You silly young thing, what’s so surprising in that? Haven’t you ever seen a water-hare?”
”That’s just the point,” she said. “I haven’t.”
By this time they had come to the spot where he had buried the treasure. The man dug out the treasure, filled his and his wife’s sack with gold, and they turned back towards home. Their path ran near the master’s house. As they came near the house they heard the bleating of sheep.
”Oh, how dreadful!” said Tatiana, who by now was frightened of her own shadow. “What is it?”
Her husband replied:
”Run! Run for your life! It’s the fiends if hell tormenting our master! Don’t let them see us!”
They ran home, panting. The man hid the gold, and they went to sleep.
”Now be careful, Tatiana, not a word to anyone about the treasure or harm will come to us.”
”Of course, dear husband,” she replied. “Be sure I will say nothing.”
Next day they got up late. The wife lit a good fire and when the blue smoke began to curl up the chimney she took her pails and went to fetch some water. At the well, the other women were also getting water and said to her:
”Your stove id lit very late today, Tatiana.”
”Oh, my dears,” she said, “I’ve been up all night; that’s why I slept so late.”
”What were you doing at night then?”
”My husband found a treasure and we went to fetch the gold after dark.”
That day the whole village rang with the tale of how Tatiana and her husband had found a treasure and carried home two sacks of gold.
Towards dusk the news reached the ears of their master. He ordered Tatiana’s husband to his house.
”How dare you hide from me this treasure you found on my land?” he said.
”I know nothing of any treasure,” replied the man.
”Don’t lie to me!” cried the master. “I know everything. It’s your own wife who has spread the news.”
”But, Honourable Master, she’s not right in the head!” Tatiana’s husband said. “She imagines things!”
”We’ll soon see about that!”
And the master summoned Tatiana.
”Did your husband find a treasure?”
”Yes, he did, sir, indeed he did.”
”And did you both go at night to fetch the gold?”
”We did, sir, yes we did.”
”Tell me all that happened.”
”First we went through the forest, and there were pancakes hanging on the trees…”
”Pancakes on the trees?”
”Why, yes, out of the pancakes cloud! Then we saw the hare’s trap and found a perch in it. We took the perch and went on towards the river and there we pulled out the net-and lo and behold it had caught a hare! We let him go. Not far from the river was the treasure. We filled our sacks with gold and went home. And just at that time, as we were passing near your house, we heard the fiends of hell tormenting your lordship.”
At this point the master could bear it no longer, and he stamped his foot.
”Get out of my sight, you stupid woman!”
”You see,” said the man, “you really can’t believe a word she says.”
”Yes, I see that very well. You can go.”
They went home and the two of them had enough to live on ever after, so clever had the young man been with his gossiping wife.


Copyright © 2006 Russian Fairy Tales