THERE was once a man whose wife was an awful talker. Her name was Susanna. No matter how important it was to keep a matter quiet, if Susanna knew about it, she just had to talk. She was always running to the neighbors and exclaiming:
"Oh, my dear, have you heard so and so?"
Her husband was an industrious fellow. He set nets in the river, he snared birds in the forest, and he worked at any odd jobs that came along.
It happened one day while he was out in the forest that he found a buried treasure.
"Ah!" he thought to himself, "now I can buy a little farm that will keep me and Susanna comfortable the rest of our days!"
He started home at once to tell his wife the good fortune that had befallen them. He had almost reached home when he stopped, suddenly realizing that the first thing Susanna would do would be to spread the news broadcast throughout the village. Then of course the government would get wind of his find and presently officers of the law would come and confiscate the entire treasure.
"That would never do," he told himself. "I must think out some plan whereby I can let Susanna know about the treasure without risking the loss of it."
He puzzled over the matter for a long time and at last hit upon something that he thought might prove successful.
In his nets that day he had caught a pike and in one of his snares he had found a grouse. He went back now to the river and put the bird in the fishnet, and then he went to the woods and put the fish in the snare. This done he went home and at once told Susanna about the buried treasure which was going to be the means of making their old age comfortable.
She flew at once into great excitement.
"La! La! A buried treasure! Whoever heard of such luck! Oh, how all the neighbors will envy us when they hear about it! I can hardly wait to tell them!"
"But they mustn't hear!" her husband told her. "You don't want the officers of the law coming and taking it all from us, do you?"
"That would be a nice how-do-you-do!" Susanna cried. "What! Come and take our treasure that you found yourself in the forest?"
"Yes, my dear, that's exactly what they'd do if once they heard about it."
"Well, you can depend upon it, my dear husband, not a soul will hear about it from me!"
She shook her head vigorously and repeated this many times and then tried to slip out of the house on some such excuse as needing to borrow a cup of meal from a neighbor.
But the man insisted on her staying beside him all evening. She kept remembering little errands that would take her to the houses of various neighbors but each time she attempted to leave her husband called her back. At last he got her safely to bed.
Early next morning, before she had been able to talk to any one, he said:
"Now, my dear, come with me to the forest and help me to carry home the treasure. On the way we'd better see if we've got anything in the nets and the snares."
They went first to the river and when the man had lifted his nets they found a grouse which he made Susanna reach over and get. Then in the woods he let her make the discovery of a pike in one of the snares. She was all the while so excited about the treasure that she hadn't mind enough left to be surprised that a bird should be caught in a fishnet and a fish in a birdsnare.
Well, they found the precious treasure and they stowed it away in two sacks which they carried home on their backs. On the way home Susanna could scarcely refrain from calling out to every passerby some hint of their good fortune. As they passed the house of Helmi, her dearest crony, she said to her husband:
"My dear, won't you just wait here a moment while I run in and get a drink of water?"
"You mustn't go in just now," her husband said. "Don't you hear what's going on?"
There was the sound of two dogs fighting and yelping in the kitchen.
"Helmi is getting a beating from her husband," the man said. "Can't you hear her crying? This is no time for an outsider to appear."
All that day and all that night he kept so close to Susanna that the poor woman wasn't able to exchange a word with another human being.
Early next morning she escaped him and ran as fast as her legs could carry her to Helmi's house.
"My dear," she began all out of breath, "such a wonderful treasure as we've found but I've sworn never to whisper a word about it for fear the government should hear of it! I should have stopped and told you yesterday but your husband was beating you--"
"What's that?" cried Helmi's husband who came in just then and caught the last words.
"It's the treasure we've found!"
"The treasure? What are you talking about? Begin at the beginning."
"Well, my old man and me we started out yesterday morning and first we went to the river to see if there was anything in the nets. We found a grouse--"
"Yes, we found a grouse in the nets. Then we went to the forest and looked in the snares and in one we found a pike."
"Yes. Then we went and dug up the treasure and put it in two sacks and you could have seen us yourself carrying it home on our backs but you were too busy beating poor Helmi."
"I beating poor Helmi! Ho! Ho! Ho! That is a good one! I was busy beating my wife while you were getting birds out of fishnets and fish out of snares! Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"It's so!" Susanna cried. "It is so! You were so beating Helmi! And you sounded just like two dogs fighting! And we did so carry home the treasure!"
But Helmi's husband only laughed the harder. That afternoon when he went to the Inn he was still laughing and when the men there asked him what was so funny he told them Susanna's story and soon the whole village was laughing at the foolish woman who found birds in fishnets and fish in snares and who thought that two yelping dogs were Helmi and her husband fighting.
As for the treasure that wasn't taken any more seriously than the grouse and the pike.
"It must have been two sacks of turnips they carried home on their backs!" the village people decided.
The husband of course said nothing and Susanna, too, was soon forced to keep quiet for now whenever she tried to explain people only laughed.