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THE THREE WISHES

HERE was once a man, not very rich, who had a pretty woman to his wife. One winter’s evening, as he sat by the fire, they talked of the happiness of their neighbours, who were richer than they. Said the wife, If it were in my power to have what I wish, I should soon be happier than all of them.’ — ‘So should I too,’ said the husband, ‘I wish we had fairies mow, and that one of them was kind enough to grant me what I should ask.’ At that instant they saw a very beautiful lady in their room, who told them, ‘I am a fairy; and I promise to grant you the three first wishes you shall wish; but, take care: after having wished for three things, I will not grant one wish further.’ The fairy disappeared; and the man and his wife were much perplexed. ‘For my own part,’ said the wife, ‘if it is left to my choice, I know very Well what I shall wish for: I do not wish yet, but I think nothing is so good as to be handsome, rich, and to be of great quality.’ But the husband . answered, ‘With all these things one may be sick, fretful, and one may die young: it would be much wiser to wish for health, cheerfulness, and a. long life.’ — ‘But to what purpose is a long life with poverty?’ said the wife: ‘it would only prolong our misery. In truth, the fairy should have promised us a dozen of gifts, for there is at least a dozen of things which I want.’ — ‘That’s true,’ said the husband, ‘but let us take time; let us consider, from this time till morning, the three things which are most necessary for us, and then wish.’ — ‘I’ll think all night,’ said the wife; ‘meanwhile let us warm ourselves, for it is very cold.’ At the same time the wife took the tongs to mend the fire; and seeing there were a great many coals thoroughly lighted, she said, without thinking on it, Here’s a nice fire, I wish we had a yard of black pudding for our supper, we could dress it easily.’ She had hardly said these words, when down the chimney came tumbling a yard of black pudding. ‘O, you silly woman,’ said her husband; ‘here’s a fine wish indeed! Now we have only two left; for my part, I am so vexed, that I wish the black pudding fast to the tip of your nose.’ The man soon perceived that he was sillier than his wife; for, at this second wish up starts the black pudding, and sticks so fast to the tip of his poor wife’s nose, there was no means to take it off. ‘Wretch that I am!’ cried she, ‘you are a wicked man for wishing the pudding fast to my nose.’ — ‘My dear,’ answered the husband, ‘I did not think of it; but what shall we do? I am about wishing for vast riches, and propose to make a golden case to hide the pudding;’ — ‘Not at all,’ answered the wife, ‘for I should kill myself, were I to live with this pudding dangling at my nose: be persuaded, we have still a wish to make; leave it to me, or I shall instantly throw myself out of the window.’ With this she ran and opened the window; but her husband, who loved his wife, called out, ‘Hold, my dear wife, I give you leave to wish for what you will.’ — Well,’ said the wife, ‘my wish is, that this pudding may drop off.’ At that instant the pudding dropped off; and the wife, who did not want wit, said to her husband, ‘The fairy has imposed upon us: she was in the right possibly we should have been more unhappy with riches, than we are at present. Believe me, friend, let us wish for nothing, and take things as it shall please God to send them: in the meantime, let us sup upon our pudding, since that’s all that remains to us of our wishes.’ The husband thought his wife judged right; they supped merrily, and never gave themselves farther trouble about the things which they had designed to wish for.


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