FORTUNE AND THE WOOD-CUTTER 203
' Well, I have had my fill of Fortune's tricks,' cried he. 'If she wants me she can find me here. But I have done with the wood for ever.'
' My dear husband, grief has driven you mad ! Do you think Fortune will come to anybody who does not go after her? Dress yourself, and saddle the mules, and begin your work. Do you know that there is not a morsel of bread in the house ? '
' I don't care if there isn't, and I am not going to the forest. It is no use your talking ; nothing will make me change my mind.'
The distracted wife begged and implored in vain ; her husband persisted in staying in bed, and at last, in despair, she left him and went back to her work.
An hour or two later a man from the nearest village knocked at the door, and when she opened it, he said to her : ' Good-morning, mother. I have got a job to do, and I want to know if your husband will lend me your mules, as I see he is not using them, and can lend me a hand himself ? '
' He is upstairs ; you had better ask him,' answered the woman. And the man went up, and repeated his request.
' I am sorry, neighbour, but I have sworn not to leave my bed, and nothing will make me break my vow.'
' Well, then, will you lend me your two mules ? I will pay you something for them.'
' Certainly, neighbour. Take them and welcome.'
So the man left the house, and leading the mules from the stable, placed two sacks on their back, and drove them to a field where he had found a hidden treasure. He filled the sacks with the money, though he knew perfectly well that it belonged to the sultan, and was driving them quietly home again, when he saw two soldiers coming along the road. Now the man was aware that if he was caught he would be condemned to death, so he fled back into the forest. The mules, left to