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Two in a Sack
by [?]

What a life that poor man led with his wife, to be sure! Not a day passed without her scolding him and calling him names, and indeed sometimes she would take the broom from behind the stove and beat him with it. He had no peace or comfort at all, and really hardly knew how to bear it.

One day, when his wife had been particularly unkind and had beaten him black and blue, he strolled slowly into the fields, and as he could not endure to be idle he spread out his nets.

What kind of bird do you think he caught in his net? He caught a crane, and the crane said, ‘Let me go free, and I’ll show myself grateful.’

The man answered, ‘No, my dear fellow. I shall take you home, and then perhaps my wife won’t scold me so much.’

Said the crane: ‘You had better come with me to my house,’ and so they went to the crane’s house.

When they got there, what do you think the crane took from the wall? He took down a sack, and he said:

‘Two out of a sack!’

Instantly two pretty lads sprang out of the sack. They brought in oak tables, which they spread with silken covers, and placed all sorts of delicious dishes and refreshing drinks on them. The man had never seen anything so beautiful in his life, and he was delighted.

Then the crane said to him, ‘Now take this sack to your wife.’

The man thanked him warmly, took the sack, and set out.

His home was a good long way off, and as it was growing dark, and he was feeling tired, he stopped to rest at his cousin’s house by the way.

The cousin had three daughters, who laid out a tempting supper, but the man would eat nothing, and said to his cousin, ‘Your supper is bad.’

‘Oh, make the best of it,’ said she, but the man only said: ‘Clear away!’ and taking out his sack he cried, as the crane had taught him:

‘Two out of the sack!’

And out came the two pretty boys, who quickly brought in the oak tables, spread the silken covers, and laid out all sorts of delicious dishes and refreshing drinks.

Never in their lives had the cousin and her daughters seen such a supper, and they were delighted and astonished at it. But the cousin quietly made up her mind to steal the sack, so she called to her daughters: ‘Go quickly and heat the bathroom: I am sure our dear guest would like to have a bath before he goes to bed.’

When the man was safe in the bathroom she told her daughters to make a sack exactly like his, as quickly as possible. Then she changed the two sacks, and hid the man’s sack away.

The man enjoyed his bath, slept soundly, and set off early next morning, taking what he believed to be the sack the crane had given him.

All the way home he felt in such good spirits that he sang and whistled as he walked through the wood, and never noticed how the birds were twittering and laughing at him.

As soon as he saw his house he began to shout from a distance, ‘Hallo! old woman! Come out and meet me!’

His wife screamed back: ‘You come here, and I’ll give you a good thrashing with the poker!’

The man walked into the house, hung his sack on a nail, and said, as the crane had taught him:

‘Two out of the sack!’

But not a soul came out of the sack.

Then he said again, exactly as the crane had taught him:

‘Two out of the sack!’

His wife, hearing him chattering goodness knows what, took up her wet broom and swept the ground all about him.

The man took flight and rushed oft into the field, and there he found the crane marching proudly about, and to him he told his tale.