The Lantern with Two Wicks

Once there was a lady who had to travel through a tunnel. At the entrance there was a lantern. An old hermit came out of the woods and told her, in his raspy voice, that she should be careful in that tunnel and take care not to let both wicks in the lantern go out, or else. When she asked what he meant by “or else,” he told her to just go ahead. So she took the lantern with two wicks that he lit for her and it burned so brightly that she easily walked into the tunnel and felt like it was going to be no problem at all until there was a strange breeze that blew one wick out. The tunnel darkened considerably with the flicker of one flame. She walked slower and held the lantern with both hands as steadily as she could. She heard the sound of other footsteps behind her and she turned around so quickly that the other wick went out. In the darkness, her eyes could not adjust as the sound of steps got closer and the last thing she heard in that raspy voice was “I told you so.” She spun around and sprinted as fast her legs would with her arms outstretched. And when she saw the light at the end of the tunnel she could feel his breath on her neck. And his giggling made her scream.

When she got outside the tunnel, she grabbed a branch and beat the old hermit who was out of breath. She beat him like the dog that she thought he was. And when she stopped his appearance changed and she believed him when he whimpered that he was only trying to help but was an old fool in how he went about it. She apologized for beating such an old hermit with the branch and they both laughed about it until the lantern with two wicks lit up in the middle of the tunnel. And a voice was carried by that odd wind but they bothered not to listen for they had already set off running into the woods together.

The Rattling Carriage

Once there was a carriage that rattled so much that it struck fear into the passengers who rode in it.  And there was a man who believed that he feared nothing and so he sought out this carriage and took a ride in it.  

He watched the other passengers, one by one, slip into their fears as the carriage rattled them this way and that.  They pushed their bodies back into their seats and their hands gripped anything near and their knuckles whitened as much as their faces.  And they were speechless as they closed their eyes as hard as they could and waited for the torture to be over.

And the carriage swung around turns on a mountainous road but this did not frighten him at all.  And the carriage rattled harder as it outrun some thieves who had tried to ambush them on the road, but he did not fear them because he was well-armed.  And the carriage jolted one of the passengers, a little boy, off his seat and out the window, but the man caught the boy by the ankle without even a flinch of fear for the child.  

Then the rattling stopped.  And the quiet allowed the passengers to open their eyes and relax their grips.  Everyone felt weightless as their bodies slightly hovered over their seats and the passengers laughed at how good it felt compared to the heavy rattling before.  The man looked out the window but only saw the air and yelled at the laughing passengers and called them insane.  They laughed even more at the face the man made.  It was the face of someone who had never felt fear before and it looked really funny to them.

When the carriage rattled again, the man could not believe it so he looked out the window again and he saw that they had gone down a very steep path of sand.  And he begged them not to tell anyone about how – as he put it – he had merely lost his cool for a moment.  And the passengers smiled at him in a way that made him give that face again.