The Violet Fairy Book
Once upon a time what happened did happen, and if it had not happened this story would
never have been told.
On the outskirts of a village just where the oxen were turned out to pasture, and the pigs
roamed about burrowing with their noses among the roots of the trees, there stood a small
house. In the house lived a man who had a wife, and the wife was sad all day long.
'Dear wife, what is wrong with you that you hang your head like a drooping rosebud?'
asked her husband one morning. 'You have everything you want; why cannot you be
merry like other women?'
'Leave me alone, and do not seek to know the reason,' replied she, bursting into tears, and
the man thought that it was no time to question her, and went away to his work.
He could not, however, forget all about it, and a few days after he inquired again the
reason of her sadness, but only got the same reply. At length he felt he could bear it no
longer, and tried a third time, and then his wife turned and answered him.
'Good gracious!' cried she, 'why cannot you let things be as they are? If I were to tell you,
you would become just as wretched as myself. If you would only believe, it is far better
for you to know nothing.'
But no man yet was ever content with such an answer. The more you beg him not to
inquire, the greater is his curiosity to learn the whole.
'Well, if you MUST know,' said the wife at last, 'I will tell you. There is no luck in this
house--no luck at all!'
'Is not your cow the best milker in all the village? Are not your trees as full of fruit as
your hives are full of bees? Has anyone cornfields like ours? Really you talk nonsense
when you say things like that!'
'Yes, all that you say is true, but we have no children.'
Then Stan understood, and when a man once understands and has his eyes opened it is no
longer well with him. From that day the little house in the outskirts contained an unhappy
man as well as an unhappy woman. And at the sight of her husband's misery the woman
became more wretched than ever.
And so matters went on for some time.
Some weeks had passed, and Stan thought he would consult a wise man who lived a day's
journey from his own house. The wise man was sitting before his door when he came up,
and Stan fell on his knees before him. 'Give me children, my lord, give me children.'
'Take care what you are asking,' replied the wise man. 'Will not children be a burden to
you? Are you rich enough to feed and clothe them?'