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  • In their ramshackle hut on the edge of the woods,

  • a husband and wife were in despair.

  • The woman had just given birth to their thirteenth child,

  • and the growing family was quickly running out of food and money.

  • The father walked into the woods to ponder their problem.

  • After hours spent wandering through the trees,

  • he encountered two shadowy silhouettes.

  • The first figure appeared to be the man’s God,

  • while the second resembled the Devil.

  • Both figures offered to lighten the man’s burden,

  • and act as Godfather to his most recent child.

  • But the man refused their offer

  • he wouldn’t entrust his son to those who passed judgment on human life.

  • He ventured deeper into the tangled thicket.

  • Here in the darkest part of the woods, the father made out a third figure.

  • Sunken eyes stared out of its gaunt face, which broke into a crooked smile.

  • This was Death himself, come to offer his services as Godfather.

  • He promised to return when the child came of age,

  • to bring him happiness and prosperity.

  • The fatherknowing that all people are equal in the eyes of Death

  • accepted his offer.

  • Years later, when the child had grown into an ambitious young man,

  • his skeletal Godfather came for his promised visit.

  • In his gnarled hand he held a flask containing the cure

  • for all human ailments.

  • Death had brought this flask for his Godson,

  • promising to make him a successful doctor.

  • But the powerful potion came with very strict rules.

  • If his Godson encountered a sick person

  • and Death was hovering at the top of their bed,

  • the doctor could heal them with just a waft of the antidote’s fumes.

  • But if Death lingered at the foot of the bed,

  • he’d already claimed the patient as his own

  • and the doctor could do nothing for them.

  • In time, the doctor’s potent potion and uncanny instincts

  • became known throughout the land.

  • He grew rich and famous, casting off the hardships of his early life.

  • When the king fell ill, he summoned the famous physician to treat him.

  • The doctor swept into the palace, ready to show off his skills.

  • But when he entered the king’s chamber,

  • he was dismayed to see Death settled at the foot of the bed.

  • The doctor desperately wanted the glory of saving the king

  • even if it meant deceiving his Godfather.

  • And so, he swiftly spun the bed around and reversed Death’s position,

  • leaving the doctor free to administer the antidote.

  • Death was livid.

  • He warned his arrogant Godson that if he ever cheated Death again,

  • he would pay for it with his life.

  • Death and the doctor continued their travels.

  • After some time, the king’s messengers came to collect the doctor yet again.

  • The princess was gravely ill,

  • and the king had promised incredible riches to anyone who could cure her.

  • The doctor approached the princesseschamber with gold in his eyes.

  • But upon seeing the sleeping princess, his greed fell away.

  • He was so struck by her grace,

  • that he failed to notice Death lurking by her feet.

  • He swiftly healed the princess,

  • but before she could even utter her thanks,

  • Death had dragged his lovesick Godson away.

  • In an instant, the palace dissolved around them.

  • The doctor found himself in an immense cave

  • lined with countless quivering candles, each representing the duration of a life.

  • As punishment for his Godson’s foolish attempt to master mortality,

  • Death whittled his candle down to its wick.

  • Seeing his own dwindling light,

  • the doctor felt the fear he’d often glimpsed in his patientseyes.

  • Desperately, he begged Death to transfer his dying light onto a new candle.

  • His Godfather considered the requestbut the doctor’s betrayal was too great.

  • He loosened his bony grip, and his Godson’s candle fell to the floor.

  • Death stood motionless,

  • his inscrutable face fixed on the sputtering flame

  • until all that was left of the doctor was a wisp of smoke.

In their ramshackle hut on the edge of the woods,

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B2 US TED-Ed doctor death godfather king candle

The tale of the doctor who defied Death - Iseult Gillespie

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    2487306808 posted on 2020/03/13
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