Such is the way of the world. Whenever turmoil, discord, or misfortune arise, it is common to invoke the devil as a culprit, but the devil is far from the worst of life's concerns. You can readily identify Satan by his telltale features – horns, hooves, and a lengthy tail. However, recognizing a malicious human is a much trickier task. They approach with a friendly smile, warm greetings, and sweet words, akin to a seemingly harmless falcon.
Let me recount an incident concerning a patriarch who visited a widow. But to tell the story correctly, I must start from the beginning. This is an old tale, yet it lingers vividly in the memories of Lublin's residents. Two brothers, they were – one inherited their father's wealth, complete with a house in Lublin, shops, manors, and land, while the other received less but was by no means impoverished. He led a comfortable life with a young wife and children, but his life was cut short when he succumbed to a sudden illness after catching a cold.
His passing left his wife and children destitute. The widow had no aptitude for business or financial matters. At this juncture, the elder brother stepped forward, offering help with a soothing voice and an affectionate smile. "I'll handle your affairs, shoulder your burdens, and manage your business," he assured her.
The widow, trusting him, appointed him as her guardian, entrusting him with herself, her children, and all her property. The guardian swiftly took charge and dispatched three merchant ships laden with goods overseas. Tragedy struck when one ship foundered on rocks, losing all its cargo. Miraculously, it was the widow's ship that met this unfortunate fate. Consequently, she had to bear the cost of the lost ship, while the other two ships returned with abundant profits for the guardian. The situation worsened when a hailstorm ravaged the widow's vegetable fields and orchards, which were her sole source of income. The losses were shouldered by the widow, while the gains went to the guardian. The widow's wealth dwindled rapidly, and she found herself in increasing debt to her guardian, with interest accumulating daily. Matters escalated to the point where her brother-in-law began to evict her and her young children from their home.
The people of Lublin were well aware of the guardian's dark deeds, but despite the chatter, they could not offer assistance. Desperate, the widow turned to the court in search of justice and protection. As the legal battle progressed, her meager savings dwindled until she reached a point where she could not even afford bread. It was only through the kindness of others that her family avoided starvation.
Finally, judgment day arrived, and both the widow and the guardian appeared before the judge. The widow believed in the weight of truth in the courtroom and presented her case earnestly, highlighting her poverty and her children's tears. She wept while the guardian remained composed, wearing a triumphant smile and twirling his mustache. There was no trace of concern on his face, for he knew the art of courtroom manipulation, of flattery, and of corrupting with gifts like honey, wine, meat, and gold.
They adorned the judge's veil with generous offerings, making it evident whose side held greater importance. The court awarded all the property to the guardian. As the townspeople who sympathized with the widow left the courtroom, cursing the guardian, one respected elder dared to confront him, questioning his conscience. "Is there no trace of morality left in you? You might have won the case, but it's not a victory for justice. It's an injustice."
widow's debts and damages, and all the property shall be given to her children and herself. As we command, so it shall be."
Additional tar was poured over the skin, and the chief judge stamped his paw in lieu of a judicial seal. At that very moment, the Cracow city tower tolled midnight. The devils hastily departed, and the snow tornado swept through the streets once more before vanishing into the dark forest.
When the judge arrived in the morning, he found the black skin still affixed to the table, with large, fiery letters inscribed upon it that had burned throughout the night. The judges attempted to remove the fur, but it clung firmly, leaving their hands burnt and tar-stained. The townspeople, initially surprised, later mocked the judges and hurled curses their way.
Meanwhile, the scribes emerged from their hiding places and shared their night's experience with the crowd. Desperate to resolve the matter, they endeavored to pull the table free, but it remained stubbornly in place, as if the floor itself held it. Covering the table with another cloth did nothing, as the letters emerged from it and reduced it to ashes. The judges had no recourse but to retract their previous verdict in front of the gathered crowd, instead embracing the judgment as penned by the devils. The fiery letters disappeared, and the fur turned to ashes.
This is the tale that unfolded in the ancient city of Lublin, documented by the clerks in crimson ink on sealed official documents, which now remain tucked away in the judge's cabinet.
About the Creator
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Original narrative & well developed characters