The Merchant’s Ugly Wife

Death and Snake, Betsy James

Listening at the Gate, as Kat and Nall race toward Downshore, she tells him this story. She requires that he help her with the sound effects.

There was a merchant, and he had an ugly wife,
and she died.

At first he was glad. But after a while he got tired of getting his own breakfast. “I want her back,” he said. “I’ll go get her!”

So he went to the graveyard and dug her up.

Oooogghhh!, her hair was all matted with slime. Aaallllccchhh!, her eyeballs were drooling out. Bluuuccchhh!, her belly was rotting.

“Get up, woman!” he said. “You were ugly before, now you’re just a little uglier. Bring me my breakfast!”

“No, sir,” said the ugly wife. “I’m resting.”

“Resting!” said the merchant. “You’re still my wife—get up and bring me my breakfast!”

“I’m Death’s wife now,” she said, “and I’m resting.”

“What? Unfaithful to me?” said the merchant. “Where’s that scoundrel Death? I’ll kill him!” He called for his paidmen and his money bags.

Death came. He was bigger than the sea, and colder. When the paidmen saw him they stole the merchant’s money bags and ran away.


“Sir,” said the merchant, “I was telling her to jump up quick and bring you your breakfast.”

“SHE HAS!” said Death, and ate him up.

And Death’s wife kept on resting.



All material on this site, both text and graphics, is ©Betsy James, and may not be used commercially without her permission.

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Betsy James on Writing, Art, and Walking in the Desert

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