A Russian Folk Tale
Our final illustration of the Skazkas which satirize women is the
story of the _Golovikha_. It is all the more valuable, inasmuch as it
is one of the few folk-tales which throw any light on the working of
Russian communal institutions. The word _Golovikha_ means, in its
strict sense, the wife of a _Golova_, or elected chief [_Golova_ =
head] of a _Volost_, or association of village communities; but here
it is used for a "female _Golova_," a species of "mayoress."
A certain woman was very bumptious. Her husband came
from a village council one day, and she asked him:
"What have you been deciding over there?"
"What have we been deciding? why choosing a Golova."
"Whom have you chosen?"
"No one as yet."
"Choose me," says the woman.
So as soon as her husband went back to the council (she was
a bad sort; he wanted to give her a lesson) he told the elders
what she had said. They immediately chose her as Golova.
Well the woman got along, settled all questions, took bribes,
and drank spirits at the peasant's expense. But the time came
to collect the poll-tax. The Golova couldn't do it, wasn't able
to collect it in time. There came a Cossack, and asked for the
Golova; but the woman had hidden herself. As soon as she
learnt that the Cossack had come, off she ran home.
"Where, oh where can I hide myself?" she cries to her
husband. "Husband dear! tie me up in a bag, and put me out
there where the corn-sacks are."
Now there were five sacks of seed-corn outside, so her husband
tied up the Golova, and set her in the midst of them. Up
came the Cossack and said:
"Ho! so the Golova's in hiding."
Then he took to slashing at the sacks one after another with
his whip, and the woman to howling at the pitch of her voice:
"Oh, my father! I won't be a Golova, I won't be a Golova."
At last the Cossack left off beating the sacks, and rode away.
But the woman had had enough of Golova-ing; from that time
forward she took to obeying her husband.
Before passing on to another subject, it may be advisable to quote one
of the stories in which the value of a good and wise wife is fully
acknowledged. I have chosen for that purpose one of the variants of a
tale from which, in all probability, our own story of "Whittington and
his Cat" has been derived. With respect to its origin, there can be
very little doubt, such a feature as that of the incense-burning
pointing directly to a Buddhist source. It is called--