The motif Funeral is a part of: Ritual
See also Grave
Death, ceremony, earth
He was a living newspaper, but a harmless one, and knew everything about engagements, weddings, and funerals, book talk and town talk. Yes, and he even gave out mysterious hints regarding matters no one else knew anything about. This mysterious information came from the gate key.
From that night on, the gate key held a unique and great importance, not only when it was taken out in the evening, but also when remaining at home, for in either case the Councilor would show how clever he was by making the key answer questions. He would think of the most likely answer and then pretend to let the key give it. Finally, he himself came to believe in the power of the key.
That was not so of the Pharmacist, however, a young man closely related to the Councilor's wife. The Pharmacist had a good head, a critical mind; he had, as mere schoolboy, sent in critical articles on books and the theater, but without his signature, which is always important. He was what one calls a bel esprit, but he by no means believed in spirits, and, least of all, key spirits.
"Yes, I believe, I believe," he said, "blessed Mr. Councilor, I believe in gate keys and all key spirits as firmly as I believe in that new science which is beginning to become known the table dance and the spirits in old and new furniture. Have you heard about that? I have! I have doubted – you know I am a skeptic – but I have been converted by reading, in a quite reliable foreign paper, a dreadful story. Councilor, can you imagine! I will give you the story as I read it. Two clever children had seen their parents raise the spirits in a large dining-room table. The little ones were alone, and decided they would try, in the same manner, to rub life into an old chest of drawers. Life came, for a spirit was awakened; but it did not tolerate the commands of mere children; it arose, and the chest of drawers creaked; it then shot out the drawers, and with its wooden legs put each of the children in a separate drawer. The chest of drawers then ran off with them, out the open door, down the stairs, into the street, and over to the canal, where it jumped out into the water and drowned both the children. Their little bodies were given Christian burial, but the chest of drawers was taken to the town hall, tried for murder, and burned alive in the market place! I have read this," said the Pharmacist, "in a foreign paper; it is not something I have invented myself. This is the truth, and may the key take me if it isn't! I swear to it – on my oath!"
He and the Pharmacist never saw each other again – except once, and that was at the funeral of the Councilor's wife.
She was the first to die. There were sorrow an emptiness in the house. Even the slips of cherry which had thrown out fresh roots and flowers seemed to mourn and fade away; they stood forgotten, for she was not there to tend them.
The Councilor and the Pharmacist walked behind her coffin, side by side, as the two nearest relations of the departed. This was not the time, nor were they in the mood, for quarreling.