Roma Story: Death the Sweetheart

I just added a new book to the Freebookapalooza blog, Gypsy Folk Tales by Francis Hindes Groome, and I wanted to share this marvelous story from that collection. Meanwhile, you can read more about the Romani people at Wikipedia.

For more examples of this type of story, see the entry for Death Takes a Holiday at TVTropes.

Gypsy with a Mandolin

Death the Sweetheart

There was once a pretty young girl with no husband, no father, no mother, no brothers, no kinsfolk; they were all dead and gone. She lived alone in a hut at the end of the village, and no one came near her, and she never went near any one.

One evening a goodly wanderer came to her, opened the door, and cried, "I am a wanderer and have been far in the world. Here will I rest; I can no further go."

The maiden said, "Stay here; I will give thee a mattress to sleep on and, if thou wilt, victuals and drink too."

The goodly wanderer soon lay down and said, "Now once again I sleep; it is long since I slept last."

"How long?" asked the girl.

And he answered, "Dear maid, I sleep but one week in a thousand years."

The girl laughed and said, "Thou jestest, surely? Thou art a roguish fellow." But the wanderer was sound asleep.

Early next morning he arose and said, "Thou art a pretty young girl. If thou wilt, I will tarry here a whole week longer." She gladly agreed, for already she loved the goodly wanderer.

So once they were sleeping, and she roused him and said, "Dear man, I dreamt such an evil dream. I dreamt thou hadst grown cold and white, and we drove in a beautiful carriage, drawn by six white birds. Thou didst blow on a mighty horn; then dead folk came up and went with us —thou wert their king."

Then answered the goodly wanderer, " That was an evil dream." Straightway he arose and said, "Beloved, I must go, for not a soul has died this long while in all the world. I must off, let me go."

But the girl wept and said, "Go not away; bide with me."

"I must go," he answered. "God keep thee."

But, as he reached her his hand, she said sobbing, "Tell me, dear man, who thou art then."

"Who knows that dies," said the wanderer. "Thou askest vainly; I tell thee not who I am."

Then the girl wept and said, "I will suffer everything, only do tell me who thou art."

"Good," said the man," "then thou comest with me. I am Death."

The girl shuddered and died.

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