158 THE CUNNING SHOEMAKER
at last he consented to take forty gold pieces for the guitar.
Then they all returned to their cave in the forest, delighted with their new purchase, and longing for a chance of trying its powers. But the captain declared that the first trial belonged to him, and after that the others might have their turn.
That evening he called to his wife and said, ' What have you got for supper?'
' Macaroni,' answered she.
'Why have you not boiled a fish?' he cried, and stabbed her in the neck so that she fell dead. The captain, who was not in the least angry, seized the guitar and began to play; but, let him play as loud as he would, the dead woman never stirred. ' Oh, lying shoemaker! Oh, abominable knave! Twice has he got the better of me. But I will pay him out! '
So he raged and swore, but it did him no good. The fact remained that he had killed his wife and could not bring her back again.
The next morning came one of the robbers to fetch the guitar, and to hear what had happened.
' Well, how have you got on?'
' Oh, splendidly ! I stabbed my wife, and then began to play, and now she is as well as ever.'
'Did you really? Then this evening I will try for myself.'
Of course the same thing happened over again, till all the wives had been killed secretly, and when there were no more left they whispered to each other the dreadful tale, and swore to be avenged on the shoemaker.
The band lost no time in setting out for his house, and, as before, the shoemaker saw them coming from afar. He called to his wife, who was washing in the kitchen : ' Listen, Aita: when the robbers come and ask for me say I have gone to the vineyard. Then tell the dog to call me, and chase him from the house.'