The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Buried Soldier-King

Themes: Crossroads | Death | Love

There is nothing I can do. I have been buried in a vault with my dead wife. Seated on the floor, I lean against her coffin. There are four candles burning on the table beside her, four loaves of bread, and four bottles of wine. When the provisions run out, I will die.

I have always known what to do. I knew what to do in the midst of battle when the men were dying around me and our leader succumbed. They had started to run, and I cried, “We will not let our fatherland be ruined!” We pressed on and overcame the enemy.

Now there is no enemy to overcome. There is just my beautiful wife. She had made a strange vow to take no one as her husband who would not promise to let himself be buried alive with her if she died first. “If he loves me with all his heart, of what use will life be to him afterwards?” she said. On her side she would do the same, and go to the grave with her husband if he died first. With this oath, she had frightened away all her other wooers but me.

Now I have a decision to make. How will I die? Slowly, by eating a bit of bread every day? Or quickly, by eating and drinking everything, all at once…?

The Buried Soldier-King in The Three Snake-Leaves, Grimms. Illustration by H.J. Ford.

Buried Soldier-King