The Three Men Who Met Death
A young man, a middle-aged man, and an elderly man sat in a dreary tavern mourning the death of a friend with repeated drafts of ale and an equally dismal attitude. As they became more and more drunk, one of them stood up and shouted that they should find and kill death for taking their friend from them. So they left the tavern and stumbled down the road angrily in search of death.
An hour’s walk away, they met a very old man with long, thin strands of white hair and deep creases in his face sitting by the side of the road.
“Where is death,” they snarled.
The old man looked up at them and quietly pointed toward a large tree behind him. At the base of the tree was a sack full of solid gold coins.
“What amazing luck!” they thought.
The three men suddenly forgot about their plan to kill death and decided to celebrate their good fortune.
“My God! This is a king’s ransom!” The eldest of them declared. “We should live in palaces with servants and plenty of wine and ale.”
The other two agreed, and the youngest of them was sent to a nearby inn to buy strong spirits to continue the celebration.
But when the young man was gone, the other two men began to question their decision.
“We’ve both lived long and suffered more hardships,” they grumbled. “Why should we share the gold with someone who hasn’t lived nearly so long as us? He hasn’t earned it.”
So when the young man returned from the inn with two bottles of stout ale, they strangled him in hope of keeping all the gold for themselves.
Then the two companions drank deeply from the bottles of ale as they considered how best to transport their prize back to town.
But there was a slight problem.
The youngest of them was not a total fool. He had traveled with these men long enough to know he couldn’t trust them completely and he didn’t believe that two old men who’d already lived most of their lives could enjoy the gold as much as he could. So he stopped at the apothecary’s shop and poisoned the ale, vainly hoping that the men would drink first and think later.
In no time at all, the two older men fell dead and no one lived to spend a cent.
Meanwhile, the ancient man they’d met on the side of the road closed his eyes as the corners of his mouth shifted ever so slightly at the cruel joke they’d played on one another.
All three of them had met death, but none of them could kill him.