"You needn't fix anything for me," he would say, looking hungrily on as the others prepared to eat.
Of course they had to give him something.
"This has to stop," said the old man's son on a day when they had killed a chicken for a special feast. "If the old man comes today, we will hide the pot."
As expected, the old man knocked at the door just before mealtime. Hurriedly they hid the pot with the chicken, then acted as if they knew nothing of a forthcoming meal. The old man sniffed in the air, said something about the good smell, looked about, then seeing nothing to eat, he took leave and returned to his own house.
"Now we can eat!" said the man, bringing the pot from its hiding place and taking off the lid.
But to his terror, the chicken turned into a hideous toad before his very eyes. It jumped into his face, attaching itself firmly, and it did not come off as long as the man lived.
After he had been with a child for one week they would say to him, "Now you should go somewhere else and eat there for the same amount of time."
Once the father happened to come to a son who was just sitting down to eat a goose. On seeing his father, the son hid the goose under the table.
After the father left, the son wanted to pick up the goose, but it had turned into a toad. The toad jumped into the son's face and ate its way into his flesh until he could not free himself from it. It stuck fast to him and devoured everything that the son tried to eat until he starved to death.
This example shows how severely God punishes those who are thankless toward their parents.
Sometimes he would go to his son and knock on the door.
His son's wife would say, "Look, it's your father."
The son would answer, "What in the devil's name does he want? Let him in and give him a little bread and some watered wine like they give to children."
Thus it happened several times, and the old man patiently accepted this treatment.
One day the son bought a good capon. They prepared it and sat down at the table to eat while it was still warm.
The mean-spirited wife, prompted by the devil, said, "If only your father won't come by just now!"
The son said, "I hope that we can eat the capon without being disturbed."
Suddenly someone knocked on the door. The son looked out -- it was his father.
"Curses that just now I have to open the door for him!" said the son.
He quickly hid the capon in a chest. He gave the poor old man a little bread and cheese and a little wine, told him to eat quickly, and then sent him home.
The father had scarcely left when the son went to the chest to fetch the capon. He lifted the lid. A large, terrible toad jumped out and into the son's face. Neither physicians nor medications could free him from it. The toad ate away his entire face so that he no longer could show himself to anyone.
The mother sat for a while and then returned to her own home. She had scarcely left when the daughter and her husband carried the chicken back to their table. But when they looked beneath the cover, it was a turtle.
Thus the turtle, like the chicken between two platters, has a hard shell below and one above.
The mother sat for a while and then went away without being offered anything to eat. The daughter immediately fetched the chicken to continue eating it. But when she tried to pick up the top plate it had grown onto the roast. In an instant the chicken and the two plates had been transformed into a turtle.
Thus the turtle came into being.
After the son had taken possession of everything he got married, and his poor mother had to fend for herself.
One day he was seated at the table with his wife. Before them they had a roasted chicken. The mother knocked on the door.
He quickly called to his servant, "Hide the chicken in the chest until the old woman has left."
The servant did just that. The hungry old mother came in. When she asked for a scrap of bread he sent her on her away with curse words.
When she was gone he said to his servant, "Now go and bring the chicken back here."
The servant went to the chest, but instead of a chicken lying on the plate there was a large snake. You can well imagine how the frightened servant cried out loud.
The son did not want to believe that anything was wrong, so he sent the maid to the chest, but she too cried out and ran away.
Then he became angry and said, "If the devil himself is on that plate, I shall fetch him."
He went to the chest, opened it, and the snake jumped out and wrapped itself around his neck.
From that time onward it ate with him and drank with him. And if the son refused to give it food, or if he attempted to take it off his neck, the snake pressed against him until he thought he would suffocate. He had to manage with the snake around his neck wherever he went, and all because he had treated his mother so badly.
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Revised December 20, 2019.