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Friday night folklore: Dumb and dumber

One upon a time two women were arguing as to which one had the dumber husband. Finally they decided to test the men to see if they were really as stupid as they seemed.

One, when her husband came home from his work in the fields, sat down with her wool combs and her spinning wheel and began to go through he motions of combing wool and spinning it into thread, but neither her husband not any other person could see any wool in her hands.

When her husband saw this he asked her if she had gone mad, to be scraping together the combs and turning the spinning wheel without any wool, and demanded to know what she was up to. She answered that it was no wonder that he couldn‘t see what she was spinning, as it was very fine linen that she meant to use to make clothes for him. He accepted this and began to express his wonder at his wife‘s talents, saying that he was very much looking forward to wearing these very fine and beautiful clothes.

Once the woman pretended to have spun enough thread, she went and set up her weaving loom and went through the motions of weaving. Her husband kept checking on her and admiring her talents. She was greatly amused and kept up the pretense until enough time had elapsed for her to have woven enough fabric to make clothes. Next she pretended to take down the fabric from the loom, wash it and felt it, and finally she began to cut and sew the pretend fabric.

Once she had done all this, she asked her husband to come and put on the clothes, but said she didn‘t dare let him put them on by himself and insisted on helping him. She then pretended to help him on with the clothes, and when she was done the poor man happily believed himself to be wearing very fine clothes, although he was in fact stark naked. 

As to the other woman, when her husband came home, she asked him why he was up and about. He thought the question odd and asked why.

She proceeded to tell him that he was very ill indeed and he would be best off in bed. He believed every word and hurried to get into bed. 

After some time she came and told him that it was time to dress him in his shroud. He asked why and to please not do that, but she said he had died that morning and they were getting the coffin ready for him. 

The poor man believed this and lay still in his bed until the coffining. The woman then decided on a burial day and found six coffin-bearers and asked the other couple to accompany her to the burial. 

The 'widow' had had a window made in one side of the coffin so her husband could see what was happening outside. When it was time to carry the coffin out of the house the naked man arrived, believing everyone would admire his fine new clothes. 

But although the coffin-bearers had serious business on their minds they could not help laughing when they saw him, and when the man in the coffin saw him he called out loudly: 

"Now I would laugh if I weren‘t dead!"

The burial was then cancelled and the man was released from the coffin. This was how the women's‘ tricks were discovered, and they were both brought to justice and caned at the next general assembly.

Copyright notice: The wording used to tell this folk-tale is under copyright. The story itself is not copyrighted. If you want to re-tell it, for a collection of folk-tales, incorporate it into fiction, use it in a school essay or any kind of publication, please tell it in your own words or give the proper attribution if you choose to use the wording unchanged.

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