WHICH WAS THE FOOLISHEST? 273
' Oh, bad ; very bad indeed,' answered he; ' I have not slept for a moment. Can you think of nothing to make me better ?'
' I will try everything that is possible,' said the wife, who did not in the least wish her husband to die, but was determined to show that he was more foolish than the other man. ' I will get some dried herbs and make you a drink, but I am very much afraid that it is too late. Why did you not tell me before ? '
' I thought perhaps the pain would go off in a day or two ; and, besides, I did not want to make you unhappy,' answered the man, who was by this time quite sure he had been suffering tortures, and had borne them like a hero. ' Of course, if I had had any idea how ill I really was, I should have spoken at once.'
' Well, well, I will see what can be done,' said the wife, ' but talking is not good for you. Lie still, and keep yourself warm.'
All that day the man lay in bed, and whenever his wife entered the room and asked him, with a shake of the head, how he felt, he always replied that he was getting worse. At last, in the evening, she burst into tears, and when he inquired what was the matter, she sobbed out:
' Oh, my poor, poor husband, are you really dead ? I must go to-morrow and order your coffin.'
Now, when the man heard this, a cold shiver ran through his body, and all at once he knew that he was as well as he had ever been in his life.
' Oh, no, no ! ' he cried, ' I feel quite recovered ! Indeed, I think I shall go out to work.'
You will do no such thing,' replied his wife. ' Just keep quite quiet, for before the sun rises you will be a dead man.'
The man was very frightened at her words, and lay absolutely still while the undertaker came and measured him for his coffin ; and his wife gave orders to the grave-digger about his grave. That evening the coffin was sent