204 FORTUNE AND THE WOOD-CUTTER
themselves, took the path that led to their master's stable.
The wood-cutter's wife was looking out of the window when the mules drew up before the door, so heavily laden that they almost sank under their burdens. She lost no time in calling her husband, who was still lying in bed.
' Quick, quick ! get up as fast as you can. Our two mules have returned with sacks on their backs, so heavily laden with something or other that the poor beasts can hardly stand up.'
' Wife, I have told you a dozen times already that I am not going to get up. Why can't you leave me in peace ? '
As she found she could get no help from her husband the woman took a large knife and cut the cords which bound the sacks on to the animals' backs. They fell at once to the ground, and out poured a rain of gold pieces, till the little court-yard shone like the sun.
'A treasure!' gasped the woman, as soon as she could speak from surprise. ' A treasure !' And she ran off to tell her husband.
' Get up ! get up ! ' she cried. ' You were quite right not to go to the forest, and to await Fortune in your bed; she has come at last! Our mules have returned home laden with all the gold in the world, and it is now lying in the court. No one in the whole country can be as rich as we are ! '
In an instant the wood-cutter was on his feet, and running to the court, where he paused, dazzled by the glitter of the coins which lay around him.
' You see, my dear wife, that I was right,' he said at last. ' Fortune is so capricious, you can never count on her. Eun after her, and she is sure to fly from you; stay still, and she is sure to come.'
[Traditions Populaires de VAsie Mineure.]