Thursday, August 2, 2012

Death. The Inevitable Appointment.


Death is speaking.

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture,  now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.  The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?  That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samara.

The road to Samaria by Somerset Maugham. 


In the earlier days of dueling, before the specific code duello was created with specific norms to follow, it was common to agree on all sorts of unusual conditions.  In one bizarre incident, an Englishman abroad was challenged to a duel by a wealthy resident of the particular area in which the Englishman was travelling.  Unable to avoid a duel, the Englishman agreed to a meeting with pistols in the challenger's baronial hall - but he specified that it be held in complete darkness.

He was determined not to hurt his opponent, so the Englishman waited till the challenger fired first, and then, slowly and carefully, he felt his way around the wall until he found the large fireplace that he had noted before the darkness.  Then he carefully discharged his pistol up the chimney.  To his horror the body of his overly cautious opponent dropped down to the hearth with a sickening thud.

From The Treasury of the Gun, by Harold l. Peterson


More popthems needed to illustrate further this unavoidable encounter with Death.

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