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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Goddesses and Little Red Riding Hood

Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com
(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)


A coterie of fairy tale goddesses presides over the feast days of December, the time of the winter solstice. Frau Holle, Frau Bertha, Perahta, Frau Lutz and the Dirneweible all appear at the end of the year in the month of December. Their importance, though impossible to completely reconstruct today, was linked to the season with the longest amount of darkness and shortest amount of light. The winter solstice was celebrated as the turning point back to light and illumination. The goddesses connected to this tradition were celebrated with processions, lighted candles, singing and feasting. According to The Oxford Book of Days*, by the third century A.D. the Sun was considered to be the one true God by vast segments of the population. The Roman emperor Aurelian made December 25th the official birthday of the sun and proclaimed the day as Natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the unconquerable sun). When vast segments of Europe became Christianized, the traditions associated with these goddesses were also transformed. In parts of Bohemia and Scandinavia, Frau Berta became St. Lucy and her feast day was set on December 13th. It was at this time of year that Frau Holle and Frau Bertha reputedly made their 12-day procession, marking the time between Christmas and New Year. The procession itself was probably a dramatic reenactment of the natural cycle of the earth, turning from darkness and returning to light.

Nordic countries still celebrate Saint Lucy with a December festival or Luciatag. The day is commemorated with singing and parades marking the twelve days preceding Christmas. Saint Lucy was revered as the patroness of weavers, spinners and the harvest. Consequently, all weaving, spinning and threshing had to be completed by her feast day. Participants in her festival wore white and sang songs in her honor with typically one child being selected to represent Saint Lucy. This maid wore a white dress, a crown of lighted candles and a red sash to set her apart from the other participants, who were also clothed in white but wore silver crowns and sashes. The name Lucy itself suggests light and lucidity. According to Christian tradition, Lucy refused to marry the suitor her parents had selected for her. As punishment for her disobedience, her eyes were pulled out. A gory fate, we might think, but only a minor setback for a spunky saint. Miraculously Lucy was able to reinsert her eyeballs. Thereafter she was associated with persons suffering from eye ailments and was soon known as the patron saint of the blind. According to another tradition popular since the Middle Ages, Lucy was so filled with the Holy Spirit she became quite heavy. A whole group of men and team of oxen could not budge the saint from where she stood. Such weightiness might be the ultimate horror for girls her age and a most terrifying fate. But Lucy used her supernatural torpor to her advantage. Nothing could dislodge her and so she was able to continue arguing her innocence before the proconsul. (In summary the attributes of Saint Lucy: 12-day procession in December; patroness of harvest, weavers and spinners; red sash; name meaning light and lucidity; bringer of luck and prosperity; connection to eyesight, vision and seeing; supernatural weightiness resulting in immobility).

Perchta, Berchta, Perahta (old high German Perahta) or Berta (English) are various names for a Southern Germanic Goddess who was also prominent at the end of the year. These names mean the illuminated or shining one. Frau Holle, revered in areas where Berta left off, was also said to make shining white snow when she shook out her feather bed. According to pagan tradition, maidens were responsible for filling their spindles with neatly spun flax by the end of the year. If this was not accomplished, the goddess would cut open the girl’s stomach while she lay sleeping and fill it with hay and stones. In other traditions, the goddess demanded that a fast be kept and if the typical food prescribed for such fasts was not eaten, the goddess would exact her revenge in a similar manner. Instead of using a needle to sew up the disobedient girl’s stomach, a particularly irked goddess would use a ploughshare bone and instead of thread, an iron chain was used. Apparently the sleeping the maiden never woke up during the ordeal and only noticed something amiss upon waking when she was unable to move under the weight of the stones in her stomach. Like Saint Lucy, Perchta also had an eye connection. She had the power to blow out a person’s eyes and thus, she was a force to be reckoned with. (In summary the attributes of Frau Berta, Perchta or Frau Holle: 12 day procession in December; patroness of weavers and spinners; white garment, name meaning light and the shining one; connection to eyesight, vision and seeing; supernatural weightiness resulting in immobility).

These December goddesses are associated with the life-giving forces of the sun, which wane in December but then dramatically begin to ascend. In Nordic mythology the sun represents life and eternity. The ability to see the sun was equated with being alive; by contrast the dead could no longer see the light of day. The color red, the only color that can be traced back to an Indo-European root, represented the dawn, or the color of the rising sun. This might be why red is a frequent marker and associated with the gods. The gods themselves are concerned with maintaining their health and longevity. To prevent aging, they ate apples tended by the goddess Idunn. In Ossettic mythology, apples are life-giving, bestowing immortality and protecting against disease.

A lesser goddess among the powerful personages of December was the Dirneweibl. She appeared at a specific bush in the woods, often referred to as the Christmas bush, and seemed to be more like a nymph of the forest than a full-fledged goddess. She wore a bright red cloak and offered mortals red apples from the basket she carried. Anyone accepting such a gift was rewarded with health and prosperity. But should the person not accept her offering, she retreated further and further into the forest crying pitifully. She is a mysterious figure, both luring the unsuspecting passerby deeper and deeper into the woods but also offering health and happiness in the form of her apples. She is simultaneously dangerous yet beneficent. It is only fitting that her cloak be red, symbolizing all those emotions associated with arousal, including anger, passion, love and even death. Thus, red is tied to those things that are fundamental to our very survival, security and prosperity. A signifier of what is both basic and essential. (In summary, the attributes of the Dirneweibl: her connection to light is only through the red garment she wears and the red apples she offers; she is a potential bringer of health and prosperity but is misunderstood by mortals; appears in the forest or near a specific shrub or tree.)

Little Red Riding Hood is perhaps most like the Dirneweibl. In fact, in the opening line of the fairytale she is referred to as eine kleine suesse Dirne. The word Dirne reflects the dual attributes of her character, she is both a temptress yet seemingly innocent. Like the color red, she symbolizes strong emotions, including lust and passion. Dirne is an antiquated word for Maedchen and in its modern-day usage it designates both a girl and a prostitute. Like the goddess Idunn, Red Riding Hood brings her grandmother life-giving food and nourishment. The passage in the narrative about seeing the sun beams flicker through the trees might be considered only a weak marker tying her to other December goddess associated with the winter solstice. But her fate as ballast in the wolf’s stomach and then later, the supernatural torpor, immobility and subsequent death of the wolf induced by large stones placed in his belly are clearly reminiscent of this pre-Christian tradition.




Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 26 Little Red Riding Hood (Little Red Cap)

Little Red Cap; 
Food and the Fairy Tale; 
Into the Dark, Deep Woods

Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com
(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)


There once lived a sweet, young lass. Everyone who put eyes on her loved her but her grandmother loved her most of all and she showered her with gifts. Once she gave her a present, a little hat made of red velvet. Because she looked so pretty in it and the girl didn’t want to wear anything else, she was now called Little Red Riding Hood (or Little Red Cap).

One day her mother said to her: “Come Red Riding Hood. Here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine. Take this to grandmother. She is ill and weak and will gain strength from it. Be on your way now before it get’s too hot. But while you are walking be especially good and do not stray from the path. If you do, you shall break the glass and grandmother shall have nothing at all. And when you arrive in her chamber, don’t forget to say “Good Morning” and don’t let your eyes wander around looking in every nook and cranny.”

“I’ll be good,” Red Riding Hood said to her mother and gave her hand in promise. Now grandmother lived deep in the forest, a half hour’s walk from the village. When Red Riding Hood entered the forest she encountered a wolf. But Red Riding Hood did not know what an evil creature it was and was not frightened.
“Good Day, Red Riding Hood,” the wolf said.
“And good day to you, wolf,” was her reply.
“Where are you going so early in the morning, Red Riding Hood?”
“To grandmother’s.”
“What are you carrying under your apron?”
“Cake and wine. We baked yesterday and now our sick and weak grandmother shall refresh herself and regain her strength.”
“Red Riding Hood, where does your grandmother live?”
“Still a quarter hour’s walk in the forest, under three large oak trees. Her house stands by the hazel hedge row, certainly you know that,” Red Riding Hood replied.

The wolf was thoughtful “This young, sweet thing will be a tasty morsel. She will taste better than the old woman. But I must be cunning so I get both.”

He walked a while beside Red Riding Hood, then he said: “Red Riding Hood, look at the pretty little flowers at the side of the path. Why don’t you take a look around?” I believe you don’t even hear how sweetly the little birds are singing? You walk along so soberly as if you were going to school and it is so merry to be in the forest.”

Red Riding Hood opened her eyes and when she saw how the sun beams filtered through the trees, dancing and flickering back and forth and how the woods were full of beautiful flowers, she thought “If I bring grandmother a fresh bouquet she shall also be happy. It is so early in the day that I shall still arrive in time.” She ran from the path into the woods and looked for flowers. And when she had broken off one stem, she thought a much prettier flower lay ahead. And so she ran and ran and went deeper and deeper into the forest.

But the wolf went straight to the house of the grandmother and knocked on the door. “Who is there?”
“Red Riding Hood who is bringing you cake and wine, open up!”
“Press on the latch,” the grandmother called, “I am too weak and cannot get up.”
The wolf pressed on the latch and the door fell open. Without saying a word, he went straight to the grandmother’s bed and devoured her. Then he put on her clothes, put on her bonnet and lay down in her bed, pulling the curtains all around.

But Red Riding Hood had been picking flowers and when she had so many that she couldn’t carry any more, she remembered her grandmother and continued on her way. She was surprised to see the door open and when she entered the chamber it seemed so strange that she thought “Good gracious, how frightened I am, when usually I enjoy visiting grandmother.” She called out “Good morning,” but heard no reply. She approached the bed and pulled back the curtains. There lay the grandmother, who had pulled her bonnet so deeply over her face, she looked quite odd.


“Grandmother, what big ears you have!”
“The better to hear you with.”
“Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”
“The better to see you with.”
“Grandmother, what big hands you have!”
“The better to grab you with.”
“But grandmother, you have such a horribly large snout!”
“The better to eat you with!”
The wolf had hardly spoken these words when he lunged from bed and devoured poor Red Riding Hood.

When the wolf had stilled his cravings, he lay back down in bed and began to snore loudly. A huntsman was just passing the house and thought to himself
“How loudly the old woman is snoring! Go see if something is the matter.”
He entered the chamber and when he got to the bed he saw the wolf lying there.
“So here I find you, you old sinner,” the huntsman said. “I have searched for you a very long time.”
He wanted to use his rifle but he thought the wolf could have eaten the grandmother and she might still be saved. He didn’t shoot but took scissors and began to cut open the belly of the sleeping wolf. When he had made a few cuts, he saw the bright red cap gleaming; He made a few more cuts and the girl jumped out and called “How frightened I was in the dark belly of the wolf!”
Then the grandmother emerged still alive but could hardly breathe. Little Red Riding Hood immediately brought large stones and they filled the wolf’s belly. When he awoke and wanted to jump away, the stones were so heavy that he immediately sank down and fell over dead.

All three were gay; the huntsman skinned the wolf and went home. The grandmother ate the cake and drank the wine that Red Riding Hood had brought and soon recovered. But Red Riding Hood thought “For as long as I live I shall not stray from the path and go into the forest when mother has forbidden it.”




For further reading:

Wolf mythology and the Christmas wolf: 
http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/12/christmas-wolf.html

http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2009/06/fairy-tales-to-read-under-full-moon.html

An analysis of mythological themes in Little Red Riding Hood:
http://www.fairytalechannel.com/2008/11/christmas-goddesses-and-little-red.html

Click on link for more fairy tales:

Translation Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Clever Gretel's Turkey Feast


Bechlboschen or Christmas Bush, Feast Days, the Color Red and Christmas Goddesses
Copyright FairyTaleChannel.org
(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)

In Salzburg Land, the Bechlboschen is a Christmas bush. The special significance of this bush or why it was tied to Christmas is unclear but it is probably based on a long forgotten pagan belief. A Christmas bush is also traditional in Bavaria in a region near Guenzburg. It was said the bush marked the spot frequented by the dirneweibl (female child) dressed in a bright red cloak, who carried pretty red apples in a basket. She always offered these as gifts to the unsuspecting passerby (probably in the winter season around Christmas time?). Should the person accept her gift, it turned into pure gold. But if the person did not follow her, the dirneweibl retreated into the forest, crying pitifully. The color red for her cloak is significant and marks her as one of the many forgotten pagan goddesses of German mythology. One of the most famous fairytale figures of all is dressed in similar garb and likewise retreats into the forest: Little Red Riding Hood.
In the tale of Clever Gretel (full text below), the protagonist wears shoes with red heels, a similar marker. But Gretel is not the typical Christmas Goddess of times past. Red shoes mark a strong-willed, socially deviant person in fairy tales, who could signal trouble. Still, her cooking is sublime.


It is easy to imagine that Gretel would have liked to cook even bigger birds than mere chickens, given her lusty appetite. Here follows a recipe for an American feast: the Thanksgiving Roast Turkey.
To cut down on roasting time, buy a small turkey (12 – 14 pounds). Butterflying the bird will also reduce the cooking time. That said, you must still begin preparations one day in advance:

One day in advance:
Mix 5 cloves of minced garlic, minced parsley, oregano, rosemary, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ cup minced shallots together. Cut the bird along its backbone and split it open, pressing it down to lie as flat as possible. Season with salt and pepper. Rub bird with garlic mixture. Push some of the mixture under the skin and the remaining over the entire surface of the bird. Let it sit in a plastic bag in your refrigerator over night.

Next day:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (or 190 degrees C). Use a pan with a rack. Position turkey in rack with breast side up. Baste with melted butter (1-4 tablespoons melted). Roast until skin is crisp and the thickest part of the thigh away from bone registers 175°F (or 80°C). This should take 2 ¼ to 2/3/4 hours for a 12 – 14 pound bird. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before eating it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Feast Days of Fall: Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 77: Clever Gretel

It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it.
(Lillian Hellman)

Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.com
(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)

There was once a cook named Gretel and she wore shoes with red heels. Whenever she went out, she swayed back and forth before the mirror, was exceedingly gay and thought to herself “You are indeed a very pretty maid.” And when she came home she was so merry, that she took a gulp of wine. And because the wine made her hungry, she tried some of the best victuals she had cooked that day. She ate until she was satisfied and always said “The cook must know how the food tastes!”

It happened that the gentleman of the house came to her and said “Gretel, this evening a guest shall visit. Prepare two splendid chickens.” “That I shall do, sir,” Gretel replied. She slaughtered the chickens, boiled them, plucked them and skewered them. And toward evening she placed them over the fire so they could roast. The chickens began to brown and would soon be done, but the guest had not yet arrived. Gretel called to the master, “If the guest does not come, I must take the chickens off the fire. But what a shame if they are not eaten immediately when they are in full juice and so succulent.” The master spoke “I shall run out and fetch the guest myself.” As soon as the master had turned his back, Gretel put aside the spit with the chickens and thought to herself “Standing so close to the fire all day makes one sweaty and thirsty. Who knows, when they will get here! While I wait, I’ll go down to the cellar and take a little nip.” She ran down the stairs, picked up a jug and took a gulp. “Good wine should be enjoyed,” she said and continued “it’s not good to stop in mid-gulp.” And so, she took another full swallow. Then she went and placed the chickens over the fire again, brushed them with butter and happily turned the spit. The roasted meat smelled so delicious that Gretel thought to herself “No one shall notice if a small bit is missing. I must of course try it!” She poked and pulled off a bit with her finger and said “Ah, what delicious chickens indeed. It’s a crying shame if they aren’t eaten immediately! She ran to the window to see if the master was returning with the guest, but saw no one. Turning back to the chickens, she gazed upon the plump birds. “Better that I should eat this little wing before it burns.” And so she cut off the wing and ate it. It tasted good and when she was done she thought, “The other wing must now come off, otherwise the master shall notice that the first one is missing.” When the two wings had been eaten she returned to the window and looked for the master. He was no where to be seen. “Who knows,” she thought, they might not even come and have probably already turned back.” She thought to herself “Gretel, be happy, you’ve started eating the one chicken, go get a fresh drink and eat up the rest. When it’s all gone you shall have your peace. Why should God’s gifts be wasted? And so she ran down into the cellar, took an honorable gulp and then ate the chicken in complete contentment. When the chicken was gone and the master still was not home, Gretel gazed on the other bird and said “Where the first chicken has gone the second must follow! The two belong together. What’s right for the one is only fitting for the other. And if I should take another sip of that wine, it surely won’t hurt me.” And so, she took another hearty gulp and the second chicken joined the first.
And as it often happens with the best of dinners, the master of the house finally returned home and called out “Hurry, Gretel, our guest shall arrive promptly.” “Yes, sir, I’ll get things ready,” Gretel replied. The gentleman looked to see whether the table was laid, took out the big knife to cut the chickens and sharpened it in the hallway. When the guest arrived, he knocked politely on the door. Gretel ran and looked to see who it was. Seeing the guest she laid a finger on her mouth and said “Quiet, quiet!, go quickly while you can. If my master catches you, you shall be sad indeed. He did invite you to supper but he intends to cut off both your ears. Listen to how he is sharpening the knives.” The guest listened to the sharpening sound coming from the hallway and retreated down the stairs as fast as he could. Gretel was not a lazy maid. She ran screaming to her master and called out “That’s quite the guest you invited!” “Why is that, Gretel? What do you mean?”
“He took both chickens from the platter, which I was just about to place on the table, and ran off with them!” “That’s a fine way to act!” the master cried. And he felt badly about losing two delicious chickens. “If he had at least left me with one, I would have something to eat.” He called after the man imploring him to stay. But the guest pretended he didn’t hear. The master ran after him with the knife still in his hand and cried “Only one, only one!” He meant the guest should leave only one of the chickens and not take both. But the guest understood he was to relinquish only one of his ears and so he ran as if a fire were raging behind him. And so, he arrived safely home with both of his ears.


Gay Gretel’s Chicken Feast:This country roasted chicken is delicious with side courses of butternut squash (served with brown butter and sage) and parmesan green beans.
In the spirit of Clever Gretel, a hearty wine should also be served.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Ingredients:
2 plump free-range chickens
2 small shallot onions
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
Virgin olive oil
2 lemons
4 tablespoons butter

Wash chickens inside and out. Pat with paper towl.
Salt and pepper inside cavities. Place lemon wedges inside chickens.
Heat oil and minced onions in bakeable skillet or roasting pan. Place chickens on top.
Brush outside with melted butter. Add salt and pepper.
Roast for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Feeds 4 - 6

The Gretel Test:
Ascertain whether the juices run clear by gently slicing between wing and breast.
(or thigh and breast). When the chicken is in full juice, it is time to eat!

The Gretel Watch and Wait:
Cover with foil and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before eating. Use this time to assemble your guests round the table.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 176: A Lifetime

“Ach, God,” the ass replied, “that is a long time. Just think of my laborious existence!


We complete our mini-series on life and immortality in fairy tales with the following humerous story, straight from the donkey's mouth so-to-speak,
Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 176: A Lifetime.
Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.org
(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)

When God created the world, he decided it would be fitting to set the life span of every creature. He called the ass, who asked “God, how long shall I live?”
“Thirty years,” God replied, “how does that suit you?”
“Ach, God,” the ass replied, “that is a long time. Just think of my laborious existence: I carry heavy burdens from dawn to dusk, drag sacks of corn to the mill so that others have bread to eat, for encouragement and refreshment I get nothing but kicks and beatings! Release me from a portion of this long time.”
God had pity and gave him eighteen years. Comforted, the ass departed and the dog appeared.
“How long do you want to live?” God asked him. “The ass thought thirty years would be too long, but surely you will be satisfied with that.”
The dog replied, “God, is that really your will? Just think how I must run. It’s unbearable for my feet! When I have lost my voice and can no longer bark and my teeth and can no longer bite, what else is left for me but to run from one corner to the next and growl?”
God agreed and gave him twelve years. Then the monkey approached. “Surely you want to live thirty years?” God said to him, “You don’t need to work like the ass and the dog but instead, are always happy-go-lucky.”
“Ach, God,” the monkey replied, “it would seem that way, but in fact it’s not. When it’s raining millet I never have a spoon! I’m supposed to always perform happy tricks and make faces so that other people laugh. But when people give me an apple and I bite into it, it is always sour. How often does sadness really hide behind humor! I could never endure thirty years.” So God in his mercy decided to give him ten years.
Finally man appeared. He was happy, healthy and hearty. He asked God to set his lifetime. “You shall live thirty years.” God said, “Is that enough?”
“What a short time!” the man cried, “When I have finally completed building my house and a fire is burning happily on the hearth, when I have planted trees that are finally blooming and bearing fruit and when I can finally be happy about life, then I shall die! O God, extend my lifetime.” “I will add the eighteen years deducted from the ass’s life,” God said. “That is not enough,” replied the man. “You shall also have the twelve years of the dog.” “Still not enough.” “Well and good, I will give you the ten years of the monkey, but more you shall not get.” Man left but he was still not satisfied..
And so, man lives seventy years. The first thirty are his human years, they pass quickly. He is happy and content. He enjoys his work and is pleased with his existence. Eighteen years of the ass follow, he must bear the many burdens that load him down. He must carry the corn that nourishes others and endure beatings and kicks that are the only reward for his faithful service. Twelve years of the dog follow. He must lie in a corner, growl and has no teeth to chew. And when this time is over, the ten years of the monkey make up the final years of his existence. Man is dimwitted, crazy, does every manner of foolish thing and becomes the laughing stock of his children.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grimm's Fairy Tale No. 177: Messenger Death

A well-worn country road.
Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.org
(Please read, enjoy, link to or pass this story on to friends. Please do not plagiarize, copy or pilfer. Thanks!)

In ancient times a giant roamed the earth. One day he was walking down a well-worn country road when an unknown man suddenly jumped up before him and cried out “Stop, not one step more!” “What is this?” the giant exclaimed. “You are only a little dwarf that I can squash between my fingers. You want to block my path? Who are you, that you speak so boldly?” “I am Death,” the stranger replied. “No one can resist me. You, too, must listen to my commands.” But the giant refused to obey and instead, began wrestling with Death. It was a long and fierce fight, but in the end the giant gained the upper hand and beat down Death with his fist, so that he collapsed next to a stone on the road. The giant went his way and Death lay there defeated. He was so powerless that he could not get up again. “What shall happen to me?” he asked, “If I must lie here in the corner and can’t even get up? No one will ever die in the world again and it will become so filled with humankind that there won’t be enough room for people to stand side by side.” As he was thinking this, a young man came strolling down the lane. He was healthy and hearty, sang a song and glanced back and forth. When he saw the semi-conscious creature lying there lifelessly, he approached in pity. Helping him sit up, he poured a strong drink from his bottle to help him regain his strength. “Do you know,” the stranger asked as he sat up, “who I am and who you have helped get back up on his feet?” “No, the young man replied, “I don’t know you at all.” “I am Death,” he said. “I spare no one and can make no exception with you either. But you should understand that I am grateful. I promise you that I will not overtake you suddenly and without warning. Instead I shall send my messenger before I come and get you.” The youth replied, “That’s something. At least I shall know you are coming and can safely escape ahead of you.” He continued on his way, was happy and in good spirits and lived each day to the fullest. But youth and health do not last for long, soon illness and pain came. They tormented him by day and robbed him of his sleep by night. “But die I won’t,” he said, “for Death shall first send his messenger. I only wish the bad days of illness to be over.” Soon he felt healthy and once more began to live in joy. One day, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and saw Death standing behind him. He said “Follow me, the hour of your departure from the world has now come.” “What!” the man replied. “Shall you break your promise? Did you not promise that you would send your messenger to me before you came yourself? I haven’t seen anyone.”“Silence,” Death replied. “Have I not sent you messengers in excess? Were you not visited by Fever, who seized you violently so that you trembled and shook before he threw you down! Did not Dizziness cloud your mind? Did not Gout settle in your joints? Did you not hear buzzing in your ears? And didn’t your teeth make your gums ache? Weren’t there times you saw only black before your eyes? And above all, did not my dear Brother Sleep remind you of me every night? Weren’t your slumbers as if you had already died?” The man did not know what to say. And so he accepted his fate and went off with Death.