The Telltale Wife
Category: Part I.
Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas
Once upon a time a man was setting out in his best clothes to attend
a village meeting. As he was passing at the back of the house his
maid-servant happened to throw a basket of cowdung on the manure heap
and some of it accidentally splashed his clothes. He thought that he
would be laughed at if he went to the meeting in dirty clothes so he
went back to change them; and he put the dirty cloth he took off in
an earthen pot and covered the mouth with leaves and hung it to the
roof of the room in which he and his wife slept.
Two or three days later his wife began to question him as to what
was in the pot hanging from the roof. At first he refused to tell
her; but every time she set eyes on it she renewed her questioning;
for a time he refused to gratify her curiosity, saying that no woman
could keep a secret, but she protested that she would tell no one;
her husband's secrets were her own; at last he pretended that his
patience was worn out and having made her promise never to tell a soul,
he said "I have killed a man, and to prevent the murder being traced
I cut off his head and hid it in that pot; mind you do not say a word
or my life will be forfeit."
For a time nothing more was said, but one day husband and wife had
a quarrel; high words and blows passed between them and at last the
woman ran out of the house, crying: "You have struck me, I shall let
it be known that you are a murderer." She went to the village headman
and told him what was hidden in the pot; the villagers assembled and
bound the supposed murderer with ropes and took him to the police. The
police officer came and took down the pot and found in it nothing but
a stained cloth. So he fined the headman for troubling him with false
information and went away. Then the man addressed his fellow-villagers
in these words "Listen to me: never tell a secret to a woman and be
careful in your conversation with them; they are sure to let out a
secret and one day will turn your accusers."
From that time we have learnt the lesson that anything which you tell
to a woman will become known.
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