Keep your secrets

A certain girl was given by her parents to a young man in marriage. She did not care for the youth, so she refused and said she would choose a man for herself. Shortly after there came into the village a fine young man of great strength and beauty. The girl fell in love with him at first sight and told her parents that she had found the man she wished to marry, and as the man was not unwilling, the marriage soon took place.
Now it happened that the young man was not a man at all, but a hyena, for though as a rule women turn into hyenas and men into hawks, the hyena can change itself into man or woman as it pleases.

During the first night the two newly married ones were sleeping together, the husband said: “Supposing when we go to my town we chance to quarrel on my road, what would you do?” The wife answered that she would change herself into a tree. The man said he would be able to catch her even then. She said that if this were the case she would change into a pool of water. “Oh, that should not trouble me,” said the young man, “I should catch you even then.”

“Why, then I should turn into a stone” replied his spouse. “Still I would catch you,” remarked the man.

Just at that moment the girl’s mother shouted from her room, for she had hear the conversation: “Keep quiet, my daughter, for it is thus that a woman tells all her secrets to her man.” So the girl said no more.

Next morning, when the day was breaking, the husband told his wife to rise up as he was returning to his home. He bade her make ready to accompany him a short way down the road to see him off. She did as he told her, and as soon as the couple were out of the village, the husband turned into a hyena and tried to catch the girl. She turned into a tree, then into a pool of water, then into a stone, but the hyena almost tore the tree down, nearly drank all the water, and half swallowed the stone.

Then the girl transformed herself into that thing which the night before her mother had managed to stop her from betraying. The hyena looked and looked everywhere, and at last, fearing the villagers would come and kill him, made off.

At once the girl turned into her proper form and ran back to the village.

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