An ignorant man had a clever wife. Not only was she clever she knew the secrets of the jungle and could understand the language of birds and beasts. One day he followed her down to the river. There was a fox barking at a dead person in the water. The fox barked an agreement with the woman that if she helped him to eat the dead corpse then the fox would give her the piece of gold in its mouth. But of course the husband couldn’t understand this and when he saw her undo the cloth around the body with her teeth he thought, ‘Æsj, how terrible, she must be a witch, she is going to eat a dead body!’
So he went to his dad and told him and said ‘Take her back to her village, I don’t want her’. There had also been talk in the village about her being uppity or whatever, so he had listened to that too.
So Sasur ( the faher-in-law) and the wife went. On their way they past through a city with a bazar where noone offered water or a place to sit and she said ‘The city is like the jungle and the jungle is like the city.’ ‘What do you mean?’ said Sasur. She explained that even in the jungle there might be a Sadhu (wandering Holy man) who would offer water or a place to sit in the shade, whereas here no one offered them anything at all.
Then they came to a stream and Sasur put down her clothes and rested a bit in the shade of a tree. As he was resting he heard her speaking to someone. In fact she was speaking to a small crested bird sitting on a branch of the tree who told her that under the tree a snake was guarding a treasure, and if she frightened the snake the treasure would be hers. However Sasur didn’t know who she spoke to and thought she was planning to do witchcraft. But she saw the fear in his eyes, and explained, and frightened the snake, and found the treasure and showed the gold from the dead mans mouth in proof, which was in her pocket. So he was suitably impressed, saw his mistake and took her back because he said she was worthwhile.
But the husband disagreed and stormed off with 500 rupees to make his way in the world. Met an armless man who said ‘Your father took my arm, give it back or at least give me 100 rupees!’ so he did. Then he met a legless man who said ‘Your father took my leg, give it back or give me 100 rupees!’, so he did. The same thing happened with an eyeless and an earless and a hairless man so now he had given away all his money. In the end he had to work for a man in his fields and got paid two roti at the end of the day.
The wife followed after him, dressed in mans clothes, and said to the first man, ‘Hey you, give me your old arm and I’ll replace it’, and he got so scared he gave her back the 100 rs, and she did the same to the legless eyeless earless and hairless man and in the end she had all the money back. Then she found her husband who by now was in a terrible state so she cleaned him up and kept the nails and hair that she had cut off him tied in a handkerchief.
When they got back the son tried to pretend he had all been fine, and not lost the money or gone to pieces. But she told her story and she showed the handkercheif with the horrid old bits of beard and nails in to her father in law as proof of the state she found him in and so they decided to keep her on.