How a Wise Man and a Corpse Reformed a Village

In a certain town there lived a woman who was unfaithful to her husband; and although her husband beat her, the woman still continued taking lovers. The husband went to as Wise Man and said:

“Help me stop my wife from taking lovers.”

“What will you give me if I do this?”

“I will give you three hampers of rice.”

The Wise Man agreed. He burned Teri, which is a kind of medicine made of palm oil, charcoal, salt and various magic things, and made two medicines; and was sweet, the other poisonous. and he told the husband what to do.

That night the husband rubbed sweet medicine on his belly.

“What are you doing?” asked his wife.

“I am using medicine to make me strong.” Then he lay down with his wife. In he morning he hid the sweet medicine and handed her the poison, saying:

“I am going on a journey. I shall not be back tonight. Keep my medicine in a secret place, and don’t let anyone use it.”

He went away. That night the faithless woman brought her lover to the house; and wishing that he should be strong she gave him medicine to rub upon his belly. But this was the poisonous medicine; and her lover quickly died. She began to wail and weep, not knowing what to do.

How, the Wise Man had hidden himself outside the house, knowing this would happen; and now he came and said to her:

“I see your lover died. What will you give me if I take the body from your home?”

“I will give you three hampers of corn,” the woman said.

“And will you swear on your mother’s grave to be a faithful wife?”

“I will swear on my mother’s grave.”

The Wise Man agreed to remove the body. In this town there was a thief accustomed to stealing kinjahs of rice at night. The Wise man placed the body in a kinjah and left it by the open door.

The thief, who prowled about at night, saw the kinjah and stole it. He took it to his home and gave it to his wife. She opened it, and found a body in it.

“Eeee! she cried in fright. “Fool, fool! How is this? I see the dead body of the chief’s first son! We will die for this. Aieee!”

She began softly wailing, and the thief sat down and wept. Just then the Wise Man walked in through the door.

“I see someone has killed the Chief’s first son,” he said. What will you give me if I take his body from your house?”

“I will give you three hampers of cassava,” said the thief.

“And will you swear on your mother’s grave to be an honest man?”

The thief agreed to do this. The wise man tied the body in the hamper and carried it outside. He went quietly to a tree in front of the old Chief’s house, and taking the body from the hamper he propped it against the tree. The Chief was a cruel and ill-tempered man, and had made a law that no one in his town was to sing. so now the Wise man hid behind the tree and he began to sing. It was a song of thieves and faithless wives whose bodies were cut up with knives.

The Chief heard the song and rose from his bed in rage, although it was quite a good song, and made the Thief and the adulteress tremble in their houses. He seized his bow and from his door he shot an arrow at the figure by the tree. The arrow pierced his dead son’s heart.

The Wise Man slipped away. The Chief discovered he had shot his favorite son, and on the Wise Man’s good advice he swore on his mother’s grave that he would henceforth let his people sing as and when they wished.

Thus it was that a Wise Man brought death to an adulterer, restored faith in a faithless wife, persuaded a thief to be honest, caused a cruel Chief to repent and filled a songless village with songs of villagers.