The Miser and his Wife

Once there was a man who was old. The old man used to marry, but no woman would stay more than a month with him before asking for a divorce.


There was a girl who asked the former wives: “Why did you get a divorce? Your former husband is a merchant, and a rich man. Why didn"t you stay with him?”


They answered: “He made us go hungry. Every day he would give us only a piece of bread no bigger than your hand, with a piece of cheese on it. We almost died of hunger. May Allah curse him and curse his wealth! We don"t want such a rich man. We can"t live with him.”
The girl went to her mother and said, “Perhaps the rich merchant will come and ask for my hand in marriage. If he does, you must agree to the marriage.”

“What!” said her mother, “That man takes wives and divorces wives. No one can live with him because he is such a miser. Don"t be fooled by his wealth. He is a stingy man.”


“Well, Mother,” answered the girl, “I want to marry him. I"ll know how to live with him and not suffer.”


“What are you saying!”


The mother went to the father and reported to him what the girl said.


“Let her marry him”, he said. “She"s a clever girl.”

Well, do you know, the old miser came and asked her hand and the parents gave her away.
The daughter said to her mother, “Mother, you allowed me to marry, but don"t trouble yourself with my marriage. Whatever clothes I want, give them to me just as if I were still your daughter living at home. Bring me food, too, until I see my way clear with the miser.”
“All right”, agreed the mother.


The miser used to come to the house every day with one loaf of bread for himself and his wife and her servant. Sometimes he would bring a few greens or a little cheese to eat with it.


His wife said to him, “my Husband, why do you go to all this trouble? My people will bring lunch and supper from my house for me and my servant and for you, too.”


And every day, servants from her father’s house would come and would bring a tray and knock at the door. Knock,knock.
“Who"s there?”


“It is I, and here is your supper.”


Every time they would bring stew and rice and fruit and drinks. The miser was pleased. He thought Allah was bestowing those blessings. He was happy as long as he didn"t have to take money out of his pocket to pay for what he received.


One day the bride pretended to be a little under the weather and she slept all day. She was awake during the night and she saw the miser get up - she saw him get up very quietly and go downstairs, walking softly. When she got up and looked over the railing she saw that he had reached the top of the cellar steps. She tiptoed down after him She saw him light a candle, take out a big purse full of gold and begin to drop the gold pieces one by one into a drain hole in the floor. When he was about to finish she rushed back upstairs and got into bed. Her husband came up and went to sleep.

The next day she went to the cellar and spread out a reed mat and got a long stick. She put a little soft tar on the end of it and lighted a candle. She heated the tar over the candle and then thrust the stick into the drain. She pressed it down into the drain and drew out a golden coin. She worked all day long, bringing up one gold coin after the other. Now she had plenty of money. She gave some to her family so that they could continue to cook and bring her food. She would go to the bath and pay for a servant, and she would be ask for an excellent lunch with all kinds of fruit to eat at the bath.


The other women who had been married and divorced from her husband said, “I wonder what she did to him to make him spend so much on her. She has golden ornaments, dresses well, she spends much. She sits all day or goes out vis¬iting. It must be her good luck.”
They didn"t know about her clever¬ness.

One day her husband came and told her that he had invited fifteen people to lunch the next day. “What will you prepare?”


His wife answered, “Bring us a kilo of meat.”


“Fifteen people and only one kilo of meat?”


“We"ll cook meat hash, and spinach stew, and meat with nut and pomegranate sauce. Bring us some walnuts, some spinach. Bring a chicken also to go with the nut and pomegranate sauce.”


“But how can one chicken be enough for fifteen people?” he asked.


“Oh. I"ll open the upstairs windows and spread some seeds and catch some sparrows and cook them also with the nut and pomegranate sauce.”

However. the man had some sense and said, “No, I"d better bring three chickens so there is enough.”


“As you like”, she answered.


The miser returned at noon and saw, extending out into the preparations for staging the lunch. Each saucepan was as huge. The spinach was black with the amount of oil used in its preparation. The nut and pomegranate sauce was boiling and bubbling with whole chickens simmering in it. The meat was deliciously seasoned with saffron and cardamom with an aroma that spread over the neighborhood. The pot of rice was covered with saffron, almonds … but there was half a sparrow hanging in the doorway of the kitchen.
The miser came in with his walking stick and saw the sparrow. He leaned on his stick and his beard began to tremble. “Woman”, he said to his wife, “there are seven pots boiling with sauce and meat and chicken, and you couldn’t find a place for this half a sparrow?” Suddenly he began to understand what was going on. Trembling against his walking stick, his wife took him by the hand and pulled him into the nearest room where he took one deep breath, ha-a-a-a, and died.


His wife said to the servants, “Don’t talk about this in front of our guests.” She called her father and she called her mother and they took care of all the guests who had plenty to eat. The servants car¬ried the food upstairs to the dining room. When the guests had finished eating, the wife began to cry, Boo hoo hoo!


The guests said, “What is the matter? And why haven"t we seen the haji, your husband?”


She said, “We didn"t want to spoil your good time, but just now the haji passed away. You were eating and the haji was having a hard time of it. He was not at all well, and just as you finished eat¬ing, the haji gave up the ghost. He is dead.”


What a shock! So the guests became the mourners for the haji and followed him to the grave. His wife had killed him by the shock he had sustained when he suddenly realized what was going on and that she had found a way of getting his money and spending it. He saw it all at the moment that he saw half of a sparrow hanging in the kitchen doorway. Half a sparrow. Half a sparrow. Hang it in the kitchen doorway and save it as something special for another time?


The old man was buried and his inheritance had to be settled. The wife agreed to accept the house as her share of the inheritance. She counted out the money, and, no matter how much you guess that she had, she had still more. Of course no one knew about what was in the cellar drain. She opened up the drain and found that the drain had been lined with tar and that it was almost full of gold pieces each worth a pound.


Later the clever woman married again. Her second husband was a man of very great importance. A very important man came along and married her and she began to have children. He was fortunate and she was fortunate and so they lived to the end of their lives in happiness.

The saying goes:

Wea1th finds wealth.


And lice find the saddle bag