Ancient Neapolitan fables: "the man who wanted to die"

by Federico Quagliuolo

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The man who wanted to die

Once upon a time there was a man who, desperate for losing his job, his wife and his house, decided to kill himself.
While he was going to the Mandracchio to jump into the water, he met a friend who said to him: “Didn't you even go to confession? At least find a priest and make peace with your soul ”.
"Right, I'll go to confession."

He visited a first church and met Jesus inside, who invited him to confess with him, to be forgiven.
The man, however, exclaimed: “If you really are Jesus, why do you decide that some people must be lucky and others must have misfortunes? And why don't you punish those who blaspheme? You are not fair! ".

He walked towards a second church, where he met St. Peter who said to him: “I'm here to give you a second chance: confess to me and you will be forgiven”.
The man, furious, said “And you, Saint Peter, have the keys to heaven, let only whoever you want in! You don't do right things either, go away ".

In a third church, man met death.
"You are right! Take away the King and the poor fellow, don't look anyone in the face, I'll choose you to confess ”.
After he confessed, death proposed to him: “You must not die! Follow my advice, I will make you very rich ".
The man, fascinated by the promise, put aside the idea of suicide and listened to death.
"Go back to town and tell everyone you are a doctor"
"But I'm good for nothing, how can I cure people?"
“Do this: when a patient arrives, if you see me nearby, it means that he will soon die. If you don't see me, give me a glass of water and that person will recover as if by a miracle ”.

The man followed the suggestion of death and thus became the richest doctor in Naples in a few months. He bought houses, land and villas, until one day he was called by the King who had a daughter with an incurable disease.
Under the Royal Palace, met death.
"Did you have to introduce yourself right now?"
Death remained silent and the man entered the Palace.
The King said “if this water that heals all your patients is truly miraculous, then it will cure my daughter too. Otherwise, if you are a charlatan, you will have to die ”.
The man gave the girl water and told the King to wait a few days.
Leaving the palace, he shouted to Death: “Go away! They'll kill me if the girl doesn't get well! "
Death replied: "Come to my house, I'll show you something."
Arriving at the house of death, the man found himself in front of thousands of oil lamps, each with the name of a person.
"These are the lives of all people"
"And where is mine?"
“It's that lamp with that dim light”.
“My company, dearest death, why don't we pour a little oil into the lamp? It's about to go out! "

"Oh no, my friend, you said so: I always do the right things!"
And it ended.

-Federico Quagliuolo

Taken from:
Tales of sea and land, Ugo Vuoso, Imagaenaria Editore

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