Sunday, October 30, 2011
The Assembly of the Dead, Grimm's Saga No. 342
Fairy Tale for Halloween: The Assembly of the Dead
The queen had died. She lay in her castle in a splendid bed in the mourning hall that had been draped in black. At night the great room was illuminated with wax candles and the guards sat outside in the smaller antechamber. The watchmen included a captain and forty-nine other men. Toward midnight the captain heard a carriage, pulled by six horses, rushing toward the castle. He then saw how a woman, dressed in the manner of a mourner with noble and decent countenance, descended from the coach. She immediately asked to be given an audience with the deceased lady. But the captain replied he did not have the power to grant this wish. She insisted, mentioning her own famous name and arguing that as the Lord Chamberlain’s wife she had the right to see the deceased one last time. The captain hesitated, but the woman needled him so until he could no longer disagree. After granting the woman access, he closed the door to the chamber and walked back and forth outside, listening carefully and peering through the key-hole. There he saw how the dead queen suddenly sat upright and appeared to be speaking softly to the woman, but with closed eyes and with no sign of life in her demeanor (except for her lips moving slightly). Whispering to his men, he invited one after another to look through the key-hole and each man saw the same thing. Finally, he took his turn at the key-hole once more and saw how the dead woman slowly lay down again on the fine bed. At once the woman opened the door and was led to her carriage by the captain, who could feel that her hand was ice-cold. The wagon hastened away as quickly as it had come and the captain saw in the distance how her horses exhaled sparks of fire. The next morning news came that the Lord Chamberlain’s wife, who lived several hours away at her country estate, had died precisely in the hour she visited the dead woman.