The Candle Stump

One evening I sat watching the embers of my campfire burn out and turn to ash. I hadn’t seen any travelers on the road for a good while and began to get a little lonesome. This was solved immediately when a man in a dark blue tunic trotted along on a bay horse. When he saw me he turned his horse off the road and said, “Hallo stranger!” I replied with a greeting of my own, and the man asked, “Would you like to know why I am the most clever man in all of the moors?” As the curious soul that I am I could not help myself, but invite the boastful stranger to have join me by the campfire and tell me a tale. His story went like this:

When I was a lad, I had two brothers. We were raised by our father on a modest farm, and although we did not have a lot of money our father was determined to send his sons to become educated folk, so that we could live a far more comfortable life than on the farm. So one day my father, while my brothers and I were out in the fields, called upon an evil spirit. He made a deal with the spirit that he would give his life so that his sons would get the funds to become educated. Years passed and we had no idea that this event had taken place. My brothers and I had gone and gotten our schooling in the royal academy and my brother who was trained to be a priest went back to the farm one day to see our father. As he approached the farm he looked upon the evil spirit about to take our fathers life because the deal had been completed and we all had an education. He rushed towards the spirit and prayed and begged at the feet of the spirit, and the spirit eventually gave in and told my brother that he would spare my father for a few more years. The spirit left, and my brothers and father tried to keep the thought of the spirit out of their minds. A few years later, my brother that was a doctor came to visit my father, and he saw the spirit coming to take my father’s life. He, just like my brother before him, begged with the spirit and my father was allowed to live for just a few more years. These years passed with the same foreboding feeling as the ones before, until one day I decided to go visit my father. As I approached the house the evil spirit appeared for a third time. I was educated to be a lawyer mind you, so my mind was much sharper than those of my brothers. I picked up a candle that had only mere minutes left until it burnt out from the sill of my fathers window. I begged the spirit to give my father time to live until the candle burnt down to nothing. The spirit thinking that I just wanted to say good bye to my dear father agreed. Both the spirit and my father were startled when I swiftly took hold of the candle, blew it out, and put it in my pocket. A look of hate spread across the face of the spirit, as he realized he had been outsmarted. My father was thrilled to have more time with his boys, and we have not seen the spirit since.”

Now, the stranger stood up and pulled a stump of wax out his pocket. “This is how I outsmarted a spirit of evil coming to take my father to death”. The stranger laughed and strode off as I thanked him for his story. I pondered the truth in his story as he donned his cloak over his tunic and got on his horse. The stranger spurred his horse and seemed to be off until his horse, almost at full gallop, tripped and fell. The stranger was thrown from the horse, and his neck snapped with a resounding crack. He never got up from his fall.

Now, dear reader you can take what you like from this story, but I do not think I will try outsmarting death anytime soon.


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