The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Tall, Tall Ferryman

By God, I work hard, here at the end of the world. I do the same thing every day. I take people on my shoulders and carry them over the lake to the other side. I don’t need a ferry boat, because I am a tall, tall man. But I’ve never been able to enjoy my own life because I’ve been so busy carrying people over to the other side.

One day, this fellow comes along who wants to get over to the other side to meet the Griffin, who is the Devil himself to the Christians. He’s such a candid fellow that we sit together and talk for some time. He tells me where he comes from and why he’s going to see the Griffin.

I really like this fellow, and I’m happy to carry him over. I’d like him to come back, too. Nobody has ever spoken to the Griffin, not for a long time, and certainly not a Christian, but if anybody can do it, he can.

The Griffin is the wisest creature in the world, so I say to the fellow, “When you get to the Griffin, will you ask him something for me?”

“Of course,” he says.

“Will you ask him why I am forced to carry everybody over the lake? Is there any way I can be relieved of this duty?”

“Certainly, I’ll do that!” says the fellow.

Then I take my good friend up on my shoulders and carry him across the lake.

Tall, Tall Ferryman in The Griffin, Grimms. Vintage picture, artist unknown.

Tall, Tall Ferryman