SERKIS was a simple farmer who prayed every morning before he went to the fields, and every evening after he came from his work. One day his wife said to him:
"Husband, why do you not mention in your prayer that God may preserve you from the tricks of a woman?"
"Tricks of a woman?" exclaimed the man. "I am not such a coward as to be afraid of a woman or her tricks."
"Is that your opinion of a woman?" asked his wife.
"Yes, that is my opinion of a woman," answered Serkis sternly, as he shouldered his farming utensils.
The woman decided to give her husband proof of a woman's power, so she bought some fish, and putting them in her apron, took them to the farm at noon, when she carried her husband's dinner. The farmer went to the bank of a neighboring brook to eat his dinner, when his wife, taking advantage of his absence, buried the fish here and there in the field, and went home. Soon Serkis returned to his ploughing, and as the earth was turned, lo! fish came out of the ground. He picked them up, and in the evening, bringing them home to his wife, told her that he had taken them from the farm and that he believed the Creator had created them in that very place. He then ordered his wife to cook them, and on the following day bring them to the farm for his dinner. On the morrow, the woman cooked the fish, ate them herself, and took to her husband a bowl of pea soup for his dinner.
"Where are the fish?" asked Serkis.
"Fish! what fish?" exclaimed the woman, feigning surprise.
"Why, the fish which I picked from the farm yesterday," said the farmer.
"Are you crazy, husband?" said she, "you have not brought home any fish that I know of."
"What!" exclaimed Serkis, taking hold of the whip, "you have eaten my fish, and do you call me crazy?" and he threatened to beat her.
"Help!" exclaimed the woman, and ran to a neighbor's farm.
Thereupon the ploughmen of the neighborhood came to the rescue of the woman and took hold of Serkis.
"Nay, let me beat her to death," said Serkis; "she has eaten my fish, and now she calls me crazy."
The ploughmen asked the woman what fish he meant.
"Nay, I beseech you," exclaimed the woman, "take hold of him, don't let him go; he will kill me. Woe upon me! he is certainly crazy, he is a lunatic. Ask him where he found the fish he talks of."
"Why, I caught them just here," said Serkis. "I dug them from the ground."
"Alas!" exclaimed the ploughmen; "the woman is right, he has really lost his mind."
And as they bound him with ropes some of the farmers said:
"He of late has been giving signs of this."
"It is a hereditary disease," said some others, "many members of his family have been crazy."
So, treating the poor man as a lunatic, they brought him to his home and bound him to a pillar after whipping him. At night, when everybody else had gone, the woman approached her husband, saying:
"How now, husband? Are you afraid of a woman's tricks or not? This was the least of all."
"For Heaven's sake, wife, untie me," said Serkis in a pitiful voice. "Be sure my first prayer hereafter shall be to be preserved from a woman's tricks."
She released him and thereafter he was wise as respects women.