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The Story of the Messenger from Heaven

Marie Kosch

Once a journeyman came to a peasant woman and asked her for a handout. She gave him something to eat and asked where he came from.

"From Paris," he answered, but the peasant woman, who was somewhat hard of hearing, understood "from paradise."

"Oh," she said, "if you come from paradise then for sure you must know my blessed first husband, who was released from purgatory long ago and by now must be in heaven."

The journeyman, who caught on very quickly, said, "Of course, I know him very well. But he is suffering from the severe cold, and he asked me when I go to earth to look up his wife and ask her if she wouldn't send him a pair of boots and some warm clothes."

So the peasant woman put together a bundle of clothes from her second husband: boots, jacket, trousers, vest, and hat. These she gave to journeyman so he could take them to her husband in paradise. And then the journeyman disappeared with the clothes.

When her husband came home, the woman told him that a little while ago a journeyman had been here, and that she had given him boots and clothes for her blessed deceased husband, for the journeyman had come directly from paradise.

The man cursed about her stupidity, and asked in which direction the journeyman had left, for he intended to pursue him and take the clothes away from him. In order to make better time, he chased after him on horseback.

The journeyman had gone a good way down the main road when he saw a rider in the distance. Seeing that it was a peasant, he immediately assumed that he was being pursued. Therefore he quickly threw the boots and the clothing over a garden fence, then sat down next to the road and placed his hat next to him in the grass.

When the peasant reached him, he asked him if he had seen a man carrying a bundle of clothes and a pair of boots.

"Yes," said the sitting man, "I met him a little while ago, and he told me where he was going. But you will never catch him, because he will see from afar that you are chasing after him. But, do you know what? If you will look after the bird that I have here under my hat, I will get on your horse and ride after him and bring the clothes back to you. He won't run away from me."

The peasant was very pleased with this, and he let the rascal mount his horse, while he sat down on the ground and watched the bird.

Hour after hour passed by, and the horse and rider did not return. Finally the peasant began to see the light. Cautiously he lifted up the hat to see what kind of rare bird was under it. O horror! He held his nose and quickly put the hat back over the "bird." Sadly he returned home.

He arrived home on foot and without his horse and without the clothes and boots. His wife asked him where he had left the horse, and where the clothes and boots were.

"Oh," said the man, "he really was a messenger from heaven. I let him keep the clothes and gave him the horse so he could return to heaven faster."

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