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Main > Czechoslovak folktale > Fairy tale "The Blacksmith's Stool: The Story of a Man Who Found that Death was Necessary"

The Blacksmith's Stool: The Story of a Man Who Found that Death was Necessary

The hams he would hang in the chimney to smoke.

But when he tried to slaughter the animal, the blow of his axe had no effect. He struck the hog on the head and, to be sure, it rolled over on the ground. But when he stopped to cut the throat, the creature jumped up and with a grunt went scampering off. Before the blacksmith could recover from his surprise, the hog had disappeared.

Next he tried to kill a goose. He had a fat one which he had been stuffing for the village fair.

"Since those sausages have escaped me," he said. "I'll have to be satisfied with roast goose."

But when he tried to cut the goose's throat, the knife drew no blood. In his surprise he loosened his hold and the goose slipped from his hands and went cackling off after the hog.

"What's come over things today?" the blacksmith asked himself. "It seems I'm not to have sausage or roast goose. I suppose I'll have to be satisfied with a pair of pigeons."

He went out to the pigeon-house and caught two pigeons. He put them on the chopping-block and with one mighty blow of his ax cut off both their heads.

"There!" he cried in triumph. "I've got you!"

But even as he spoke the little severed heads returned to their bodies, the heads and bodies grew together as if nothing had happened, and cooing happily the two pigeons flew away.

Then at last the truth flashed upon the blacksmith's mind. So long as he kept Death fastened to that stool, nothing could die! Of course not! So no more spicy sausages, no more smoked hams, no more roast goose—not even a broiled pigeon! The prospect was not a pleasing one, for the blacksmith loved good things to eat. But what could he do? Release Death? Never that! He would be her first victim! Well then, if he could have no fresh meat, he would have to be content to live on peas and porridge and wheaten cakes.

This actually was what he had to do and what every one else had to do when their old provisions were exhausted.

Summer passed and winter followed. Then spring came bringing new and unforeseen miseries.

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