Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Jean de La Fontaine - 1668

Translated into English
  by Frederick Colin Tilney - 1913

Original title (French):
Le Curé et le Mort

Country of origin: France


English - aligned

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The Priest and the Corpse

Jean de La Fontaine / Frederick Colin Tilney

There was a funeral. The dead body was progressing sadly
towards its last resting place; and following rather gladly, was the
priest who meant to bury it as soon as possible.

The dead man, in a leaden coffin, was borne in a coach, and was properly
shrouded in that robe the dead always wear be it summer or winter. As
for the priest, he sat near it, intoning as hard as he could all sorts
of orisons, psalms, lessons, verses, and responses, in the hope that the
more he gave the more would be paid for. "Leave it to me, Mr. Deadman,"
his actions seemed to say. "I'll give you a nice selection; a little of
everything. It's only a matter of fees, you know." And the Rev. John
Crow kept his eye on his silent charge as if he expected some one would
make off with it. "Mr. Deadman," his looks proclaimed, "by you I shall
receive so and so much in money, so and so much in wax candles, and,
possibly, a little more in incidental profits.

On the strength of these calculations he promised himself a quarter-cask
of the best wine the neighbourhood could offer. Beyond that he settled
that a certain very attractive niece of his, as well as his housekeeper
Paquette, should both have new dresses.

Whilst these pleasant and generous thoughts were running in his mind
there came a terrific shock. The car overturned. The Rev. John Crow's
head was broken by the coffin which fell upon him. Alas for the poor
priest! he went to heaven with the parishioner he thought only to bury.

In reality, life over and over again is nothing but the fate of the Rev.
John Crow who counted on his dead, and of Perrette who counted on her