Short Folktales from Italy - Adventures Of A Husband

Adventures Of A Husband

For many years, Gavrilo had lived happily with his wife in a pleasant little village in the far North of Italy. He worked hard as a road mender and was always pleased to reach his home after a day's work until his wife suddenly became the most bad-tempered person in the whole district. Why she had become bad-tempered, Gavrilo did not know. Perhaps some magic spell had made her so. She grew angry and cruel, shouting at him and scolding him every moment of the day. One morning the poor fellow lost all his patience. Picking up a stick, he was about to strike her, when she snatched the stick from him. Beating him furiously, she cried, "I wish you were a dog!" At once Gavrilo turned into a dog and to escape more blows from the stick he ran as far away into the woods as he could. He was feeling sad after roaming around here and there for some time, he decided to return home. The welcome he got was not a very good one. His wife threw a bucket of hot water over him and drove him away. Poor Gavrilo did not know what to do. He felt quite useless as a dog and sat down and howled miserably all through the night with only the moon for company. In the morning, a passing shepherd came along and when he saw Gavrilo, he looked at him for a few moments.

"This dog appears to be lost and lonely," he said to himself. "I have never seen a sadder animal, but at least it looks strong enough to work for me. I will take it with me to look after my flock of sheep." Gavrilo cheered up a little at the thought that somebody might find him useful and he followed the shepherd to where the flock of sheep grazed on the hillside. In return for food, which the shepherd gave him, he did his job of guarding the sheep very well. He sent a fierce wolf scurrying away and when eagles swooped down, intent upon snatching up a tiny lamb, he jumped at them with snapping jaws and drove them away, sometimes with fewer feathers than when they came. He had a job and good food, but Gavrilo was not happy. He was always thinking about his own home and his wife, for he was still very fond of her in spite of her bad temper. "It is no good. I will have to go back," he said. One day he left the flock of sheep and ran back to his home, hoping that his wife had changed.

She was, however, in an even more bad-tempered mood than ever. Seeing the dog bounding towards her, she shouted at it and picked up a stick. "Get away! Out of my sight, you annoying beast!" she cried. "Change yourself into a magpie and fly off!" At this, Gavrilo was changed into a magpie. Flying away, not caring where he was going, he flew straight into the net of a small boy, who had been trying to catch a wild bird for a long time. Jumping for joy, the little lad hurried home to his father and showed the magpie to him. His father was a magician and when he looked at the magpie, he said, "I see a bird with all the usual feathers, but I also see that it is really a different creature altogether." "What sort of creature, father?" asked the boy. "We will find out, should we?" smiled the father, and by waving his wand and saying a few magic words, he ordered the magpie to become its normal self. In a flash, the magpie vanished and Gavrilo himself stood before them, almost weeping with joy to find that he was a human being again. "Thank you, thank you," he gasped. Puzzled, the magician wanted to know the whole story and Gavrilo quickly told him everything. "So you have a wife who is cruel and bad-tempered," murmured the magician, when Gavrilo finished his tale. "Very well then, my friend, I will give you my magic wand. You may use it as you wish for your own good."

Thanking him again for his kindness, Gavrilo returned to his home. Boldly he went inside. His wife had her back to him, as she was putting wood on the fire. Before she could turn round, Gavrilo touched her with the magic wand and said the first thing he thought of, which was, "Turn yourself into a goat!" His wife changed at once into a goat, which Gavrilo took to a stable and locked inside. "Now you can stay there without food or anything to make you comfortable," said Gavrilo. "In the future, I will live my own life." He set about his road mending work again and looked after himself at home. For a time, he was quite happy, but he began to feel very lonely without a wife to talk to. "I wonder if by now she feels sorry for what she did to me?" he thought. Running to the stable, he unlocked the door and touched the goat with the magic wand. "You must not be an animal any longer," he said. "I would be very happy if you would once again be my wife." In a flash, his wife stood before him, but she was greatly changed. Her eyes were filled with a look of tenderness and, kneeling down at Gavrilo's feet, she begged him to forgive her.

"My dear husband, from now on I will be a pleasant woman," she said. "I do forgive you," Gavrilo exclaimed. Telling his wife to go into the house, Gavrilo ran and ran until he found the magician and breathlessly told him what had happened. "I cannot thank you enough," he gasped, handing back the magic wand. "You said that I could use this for my own good and I think I have done so. Thank you a thousand times for your help." With that, Gavrilo hurried back to his home, where he found his smiling wife preparing supper for them both. They sat down at the table together and ate in peace and from that day onwards there was never a cross word spoken between them. The strange adventure Gavrilo had come to a happy ending.

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