THE MILLER AND HIS WIFE

There was a miller, who had an ass to turn his mill; and he was married to a wicked wife, whom he loved; but she hated him and loved a neighbour of hers, who liked her not and held aloof from her. One night, the miller saw, in his sleep, one who said to him, 'Dig in such a spot of the ass's circuit in the mill, and thou shalt find a treasure.' When he awoke, he told his wife the dream and charged her keep it secret; but she told her neighbour, thinking to win his favour, and he appointed with her to come to her by night. So he came and they dug in the mill and found the treasure and took it forth. Then said he to her, 'How shall we do with this?' 'We will share it equally between us,' answered she; 'and do thou leave thy wife and I will cast about to rid me of my husband. Then shalt thou marry me, and when we are united, we will add the two halves of the treasure, one to the other, and it will be [all] in our hands.' Quoth he, 'I fear lest Satan seduce thee and thou take some man other than myself; for gold in the house is like the sun in the world. Meseems, therefore, it were better that the money be all in my hands, so thou mayst study to win free of thy husband and come to me.' 'I fear the like of thee,' rejoined she, 'and I will not yield up my part to thee; for it was I directed thee to it.' When he heard this, covetise prompted him to kill her; so he killed her and threw her body into the empty hole; but the day overtook him and hindered him from covering it up; so he took the treasure and went away.

Presently, the miller awoke and missing his wife, went into the mill, where he fastened the ass to the beam and shouted to it. It went on a little, then stopped; whereupon he beat it grievously; but the more he beat it, the more it drew back; for it was affrighted at the dead woman and could not go on. So he took out a knife and goaded it again and again, but still it would not budge. Then he was wroth with it, knowing not the cause of its obstinacy, and drove the knife into its flanks, and it fell down dead. When the sun rose, he saw his wife lying dead, in the place of the treasure, and great was his rage and sore his chagrin for the loss of the treasure and the death of his wife and his ass. All this came of his letting his wife into his secret and not keeping it to himself.




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