The Death and the very old woman
A Hungarian folk tale, translated, adapted by Julie Kertesz
my first Advanced manual Story, given yesterday at my Toastmaster Club
Once upon a time, far away from here, over the sea and the mountains, lived alone, a very old woman. She was old, but she was always doing something, never stopping all day long. She didn't even had the time to think of Death.
But finally, one cold winter evening, after she had drinken her hot milk with honey, as she was preparing to warm herself under her feathered duvet, someone knocked at her door.
"Who can it be? No one comes any more to visit me."
The door opened, the Death entered in her house.
"Well, old woman, you lived enough, pack up and come with me !"
"Oh, Death, dear good Death, I am just not ready yet, let me wait until I finish this quilt!"
"Impossible, what to wait? I'll take you now!
"Oh, give me ten years... five years more... at least, one year !
"Impossible! I wrote you already in my BOOK, and once I write down something..."
"Give me at least one more day, only one more."
"Just a few more more hours then, let me remain here at least until tomorrow, so I can finish my work and prepare to be ready to go!"
What he could do?
The old woman had pleaded so much, she spoke so well, she was so persuasive that finally, the Death said to himself, well, he can give her a bit more time to prepare herself to come with him.
"See you tomorrow, then"
"Oh, Dear Death, thank you, but my memory is no more so good, my eyes see less well then before, please write on my door with huge letters: I will return Tomorrow!"
The Death took out a chalk and wrote on her black door in large letters "I will return Tomorrow", exactly as the old woman asked him to do, and then, finally, he left.
The old woman went to bed and lay down under her duvet a bit more relaxed.
But too soon the next day arrived and in the morning, the Death was back, again.
"So, old woman, I am here to take you! But now not a word! Come!"
"Oh, dear Death, just look at that door! There it is written, by you, is it not? There, in your own handwriting: l will return tomorrow! Tomorrow."
The Death looks at the door, and indeed it was there in his own handwriting I will return tomorrow.
So, he went away and come back.
Day after day, each time, the old women pointed to the door, and the Death went away to return the next day, as it was written by his own handwriting.
Finally, after seven month and seven days, he had enough.
The cold snow begun fall on his neck as she arrived to the door and he got so angry that with the humid sleave of his cloak, he erased the words from the door.
"Now, you come with me!"
"Oh, give me at least one more hour!
"Well, if you have lived so far, I can give you another hour to live. But I will be back after an hour, and I will take you! And not one word more, you will not open your mouth, ever again!"
The Death went away and the old woman begun to shake like a leaf. Her bones rattled, her remaining teeth too, her hands shook.
"How to get out of that, now? What to do? I have to hide!"
To hide, where?
She remembered the barrel of honey in her pantry, and fast, almost without thinking more, she slipped inside it.
But she could not put all her head in the honey, she needed to breath, her nose and eyes remained outside the barrel. "That's not good. If I could see out, he will see me too, the Death will find me here."
So the old woman climbed out of the honey barrel, dripping from honney, looking around for another place, until she decided to hide inside her quilt.
She tore her feather duvet's cover and hid inside it.
Her hair, her body, her face, everything become fluffy, (flàfi) the light chicken feather of the duvet clinging to the honney. She could barely respire!
Will that be good enough?
The Death arrived. He looked all around the house.
"Where are you, old woman?" He did not see her anywhere.
But alas, the old woman could not breath any more, the feathers clinging to the honey and her nose, so she rose out of the bed, all covered with feather on her body, her face, her hair, everywhere.
When the Death noticed the feathered Monster rising from the bed before his eyes growing bigger and bigger, that Monster who probably had eaten the old woman and could harm him too, that Monster coming towards him, he was so frightened, that he ran out, ran away, ran as fast as he could.
He ran and ran, far, and farther, he ran accross the mountains and the ocean, and never again dared to return to take that old woman. She perhaps lives even today in her little house in the middle of the hills, far away from here, still working day by day joyfully, as no one ever heard of her any more.
I had to tell the tale, to understand the point of it: DO NOT GIVE UP in face of strong adversity, tells the Hungarian peasant wisdom.