DEATH AND THE OLD WOMAN
Collected by Richard Chase
NOTE: This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folklore he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. Typographical errors in the original have not been corrected, except for some obvious errors in spacing.
This tale has some similarity to "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife," an old ballad in which the nagging wife is taken by the Devil, but she is so abusive in hell that the little devils persuade the Devil to send her back to earth (also known as "The Farmer's Curst Wife," British Child ballad 278).
Grand-daddy used to tell us about an old woman who got to complainin' about everything and naggin' at her old man. Ever' time she'd get riled up about somethin' she 'uld say she jest wished she was dead. Said it so much that finally her old man decided he'd fix her good.
So about hog-killin' time he caught an old rooster and plucked him clean and smeared him all over with hog blood, and turned him loose in the front yard, and then the old man went on in the house and set down by the fire.
His old woman was sweepin' the house and that naked rooster come up on the porch with all that blood on him and looked in the door.
The old woman got sight of it and dropped her broom and just hollered. The old man looked up and she asked him what in the world that thing was there in the door.
He told her says,
"Why, old lady, that's death. You been wantin' to die, so I reckon he's done come for ye."
The old lady hollered, says,
"Take the old man! Take the old man! I don't want to go jest now! Take the old man!"
And she run out the back door and tuk out across the fields just as hard as she could go. And she never did complain no more about wantin' to die.
Replaced Copy Made by the Blue Ridge
Institute to Replace Unstable Original
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