Today, our story comes from Scandinavia. Scandinavia, Sweden, Norway and Denmark… How far away these countries are from Tunisia! Further than Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany or the Netherlands… Yet, tales have a tendency to be similar to one another. This tale, for instance, is very similar to the tales of Juha*.
Once upon a time, there was a farmer. One day, as he was plowing the ground in the orchard of his master, his plow struck a clay jar. He dug a little more to take it out. The jar was plastered on the top. He opened it and found it full of gold coins. He panicked and started looking left and right to see if there was anyone around. He put it back into the hole and covered it with soil and continued plowing as if nothing had happened.
When evening came, he dug it out again, placed it on his mule and went home.
Before he entered his house, he dug a hole under the wall and buried the jar. He decided not to tell anyone. This was a blessing from God, and the people to whom this treasure belonged were dead. But he feared someone might take the treasure from him if they knew about it, so he kept his mouth shut for the time being.
However, his wife was very dear to him, and he couldn’t keep it from her.
“We’ve become rich!” he told her. “I found a jar full of gold coins while I was plowing the ground at the orchard. But don’t tell a soul! In a few months we will go to another town where no one knows us.”
However, women love to gossip and cannot keep themselves from talking and sharing everything. The next morning, the farmer’s wife went to her neighbor and said:
“Haven’t you heard?”
“No! What is it?”
“My husband found a treasure in the orchard of his master. But, don’t tell anyone!”
One neighbor told the other until the gossip reached the master himself.
He rode his horse to the farmer’s cottage and found only his wife there.
The master asked her:
“What is it that I am hearing everywhere about this treasure?”
“My husband found a jar full of gold coins while he was plowing the ground at the orchard. He hid it and asked me not to tell anyone. Please don’t say anything.”
“Fine. Where did he hide it?”
“I do not know. He didn’t tell me.”
At night, the farmer came home from plowing.
His wife told him, “Your master came and asked me about the treasure. I couldn’t lie and told him that you found a jar of gold coins”
“Fine. What is done is done,” he said. He had dinner and went to bed.
But the farmer kept thinking all night long. He woke up at dawn, dug up the jar and put it on his cart. He woke up his wife up and said:
“We are now rich. We should go spend a day in the city.”
They rode their cart to the city. He left his wife in the cart and went to bury the jar in another place. But first, he took one coin out of it.
The farmer took his wife to a nice restaurant. He gave the waiter that coin and asked the him to bring them the best food they had.
They brought them food they had never heard of and wine of the best quality. The farmer’s wife ate and drank her fill, then he said to her, “Let’s go home now.”
Before they returned to the cart to go home, took a piece of bread from the table and placed it in a bag . They mounted the cart and started their way back home.
His wife started falling asleep to the gentle rocking of the cart. While she was asleep, the man tore that piece of bread into small pieces. She slept for about a quarter of an hour. Then, he started throwing those bits of bread on her face. She woke up, startled. She found pieces of bread on her face, but soon fell back to sleep. He threw another piece; she woke up and said:
“What was that?”
“It’s nothing, it’s raining bread. Go back to sleep.”
Soon they arrived at the master’s estate and passed by the stable. It was nighttime and they heard a donkey braying. The woman woke up again:
“What was that?”
“I didn’t want to tell you the other day. But my master borrowed money from Satan and hasn’t paid him back. So, Satan comes to him every night and beats him till he starts screaming.”
(The woman was dizzy due to her drowsiness and her drunken state, so she could not distinguish between the braying of a donkey and the screaming of a human being.)
Once they arrived at the master’s house, he asked his wife to go hide in the basement:
“What’s happening?” she asked.
“I didn’t want to tell you; I heard the news and didn’t want to scare you. The enemy’s troops are about to attack the town. You should go hide and lock the door. I will load the rifle and go up to the roof and see what I can do.”
She went away to hide, locked the door and fell asleep again. The farmer started firing the rifle into the air and throwing stones on the roof. All night long, he was bustling and rushing around on the roof.
At dawn, he knocked on her door and said:
“Hurrah! I killed about 200 of them, they gave up and ran away carrying their dead. We have survived and saved the town!”
“I couldn’t sleep,” she exclaimed. “The sound of the weapons never ceased!”
At sunrise, they heard the gallop of a horse. It was his master.
“Hello sir,” the farmer began. ”
His master interrupted him. “Before you say anything. Where is the treasure?”
“The one you found buried in my orchard.”
“I don’t know anything about any treasure.”
“You!” said the master to the farmer’s wife. “Didn’t you tell me that your husband found a jar full of gold coins?”
“Yes, my husband told me not to tell anyone, but I was afraid of you.”
“I have never heard of this matter before.” the farmer told his wife incredulously. “When did this happen?”
“It was the day before it rained bread.” she replied.
“What? It rained what?”
“Bread.” answered the woman candidly.
“When was that?” asked the master, dumbfounded.
“It was the night when the enemy troops attacked our town and my husband defeated them and killed about 200 of them.”
“What is this nonsense? When did the enemy troops attack the town?” said the master.
“Wasn’t it the same night when Satan came to beat you up and you started braying like a donkey?”
“Oh, dear God!” burst out the master in frustration.
“Are you taking what she says seriously?” asked the farmer. “Don’t you know that she is out of her mind?” said the farmer.
And so, the master went off to his house.
Two or three months later, the farmer packed his things, mounted the cart with his wife and set off for another town where no one knew them. There he proceeded to buy houses and shops and thus became the most prominent of merchants.
*Juha: Juha or Joha is the name of the most famous comic character in Arabic stories, especially for children. His full name is Nasr Al-Din Juha, and he is referred to by Abu Ghosn Dajin Al-Fizari, who was a man of the Umayyad Era. Source: Funny Short Stories and Jokes of Juha: thirty popular Arabic short stories (English Edition).