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The Old Man and Death



A poor, feeble old Man, who had crawled out into a neighbouring wood to gather a few sticks, had made up his bundle, [109]and, laying it over his shoulders, was trudging homeward with it; but what with age, and the length of the way, and the weight of his burden, he grew so faint and weak that he sunk under it, and, as he sat on the ground, called upon Death to come and ease him of his troubles. Death no sooner heard him than he came and demanded of him what he wanted. The poor old creature, who little thought Death had been so near, and frightened almost out of his senses with his terrible aspect, answered him, trembling, That, having by chance let his bundle of sticks fall, and being too infirm to get it up himself, he had made bold to call upon him to help him; that, indeed, this was all he wanted at present, and that he hoped his worship was not offended with him for the liberty he had taken in so doing.


Men lightly speak of Death when they think he is far away; but let him appear near, and the very sense of his approach almost drives the life away. Men then resume the burden of cares which they had thrown down as insupportable, being content to bear the ills they have than fly to others that they know not of.

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