A Grimm Fairy tail
Once upon a time there was an old man who already had twelve children, and when the thirteenth was born he did not know where to turn for help. In desperation he went into the woods. There the Good Lord happened upon him and said to him, “I feel sorry for you, poor man. I will lift your child from his baptism and take care of him. He will be happy on earth.”
The man answered, “I do not want you as a godfather. You give to the rich and let the poor starve.” With that he left him standing there and continued on his way.
Soon thereafter Death happened upon him and also said to him, “I will be godfather for you and pick up your child. And if he has me as a friend, he will lack nothing. I will make a doctor of him.”
The man said, “I am satisfied with that, for without distinction you take the rich as well as the poor. Tomorrow is Sunday, when the child will be baptized. Be on time.”
The next day Death arrived and held the child for his baptism. After he had grown up, Death came again and took his godchild into the woods, and said to him, “Now you are to become a doctor. You must only pay attention when you are called to a sick person and see if I am standing at his head. If so, without further ado let him smell from this flask, then anoint his feet with its contents, and he soon will regain his health. But if I am standing at his feet, then he is finished, for I will soon take him. Do not attempt to begin a cure.”
With that Death gave him the flask, and he became a renowned doctor. He only needed to see a patient, and he could immediately predict whether he would regain his health or die.
Once he was summoned to the king, who was suffering from a serious illness. When the doctor approached him, he saw Death standing at the king’s feet, and his flask would be of no use. But it occurred to him that he might deceive Death. Thus he took hold of the king and turned him around, so that Death was now standing at his head. It succeeded, and the king regained his health.
After the doctor returned home, Death came to him, made angry and grim faces at him, and said, “If you ever again attempt to deceive me, I shall wring your neck.”
Soon afterward the king’s beautiful daughter took ill. No one on earth could help her. The king wept day and night, until finally he proclaimed that whoever could cure her could have her as a reward. The doctor came and saw Death standing at her feet. Astonished at her beauty, he forgot the warning, turned her around, let her smell from the healing flask, and anointed the soles of her feet with its contents.
He had scarcely returned home when Death with his terrifying face appeared before him, seized him, and carried him to an underground cavern where many thousand lights were burning.
“Look!” said Death. “These are all the living. And here is a light that will burn only a little longer, and then go out. This is your life! Take heed!”