THE MERRY WIVES
coffin, when the smith's wife came rushing in to her husband.
'Gracious, man,' said she, 'you are lying there yet? You are sleeping too long. You know you are going to the funeral.'
The smith was quite confused; he knew nothing about any funeral.
' It's our neighbour the carpenter,' said his wife, ' who is to be buried to-day. They are already half-way to church with him.'
' All right,' said the smith, 'make haste to help me on with my black clothes.'
' What nonsense! ' said his wife, ' you have them on already. Be off with you now.'
The smith looked down at his person and saw that he was a good deal blacker than he usually was, so he caught up his hat and ran out after the funeral. This was already close to the church, and the smith wanted to take part in carrying the coffin, like a good neighbour. So he ran with all his might, and shouted after them, ' Hey! wait a little; let me get a hold of him ! '
The people turned round and saw the black figure coming, and thought it was the devil himself, who wranted to get hold of the carpenter, so they threw down the coffin and took to their heels.
The lid sprang off the coffin with the shock, and the carpenter woke up and looked out. He remembered the whole affair; he knew that he was dead and was going to be buried, and recognising the smith, he said to him, in a low voice, ' My good neighbour, if I had n't been dead already, I should have laughed myself to death now to see you coming like this to my funeral.'
From that time forth the carpenter's wife drank free of expense every Sunday, for the others had to admit that she had fooled her husband the best.