www.tellatale.eu | Richard Martin Storyteller

The Wife's Letter


See it told here

The skeleton of the tale

    Woman, clever, can read.
    Husband isn't, can't.
    But lover is more interesting.

    She wants to spend whole night with lover. Dresses him up like a woman - grass skirt, white blouse.
    "Husband, this is one of my sisters from the country come to spend the night with us. You must sleep elsewhere."

    Trick works - all night long!

    Next morning, wife takes basket, goes to market.
    Lover, exhausted, goes back to lie on bed.

    Husband walks through bedroom, sees lover asleep with grass skirt exposing all.
    Runs off to market to beat his wife.
    She sees him coming. Before he can speak, pulls out a piece of paper from basket.

    "Husband, I can't believe this letter, can you? Read it."
    "Er, well, what does it say?"
    "It says, as you can see here, that all of my sisters in the country have been turned into men. Can you believe that?"

    Well, yes, I can - 'cause that sister who came last night, she's been turned into a man, too!"


I met this tale in Angela Carter's invaluable collection, The Second Virago Book of Fairytales (ISBN 1-85381-616-7). There it is called The Letter Trick and is given as a tale from Surinam.

The story was recorded in April 2011 at seitenweise bookshop, Dormagen, Germany, in a performance arranged with the vhs Dormagen.

Unfortunately I did not notice that the camera was placed close to a spotlight which hummed - causing a slight background noise.
The tale can also be downloaded here.

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