There is a similar story in the Brothers Karamazov Book 7 chapter 3:
(Constance Garnett translation).
Once upon a time there was a peasant woman and a very wicked woman she was. And she died and did not leave a single good deed behind. The devils caught her and plunged her into the lake of fire. So her guardian angel stood and wondered what good deed of hers he could remember to tell to God; `She once pulled up an onion in her garden,' said he, `and gave it to a beggar woman.' And God answered: `You take that onion then, hold it out to her in the lake, and let her take hold and be pulled out. And if you can pull her out of the lake, let her come to Paradise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.' The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her. `Come,' said he, `catch hold and I'll pull you out.' And he began cautiously pulling her out. He had just pulled her right out, when the other sinners in the lake,
seeing how she was being drawn out, began catching hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. But she was a very wicked woman and she began kicking them. `I'm to be pulled out, not you. It's my onion, not yours.' As soon as she said that, the onion broke. And the woman fell into the lake and she is burning there to this day. So the angel wept and went away.
--- In email@example.com
, Edith Crowe <correspondence@...> wrote:
> A query all the way from Australia. If anyone can help her, please send to
> her email (below).
> I first read something of her in The Tin Drum (Gunter Grass) but have not
> been able to track her down since. From memory she was a mythical peasant
> figure who had a plethora of dependants clinging to ribbons hanging from
> her skirts. when she finally got sick of them, she cut them off one by one
> until only one remained and when this person had gone she was consigned to
> Do you have any records of this story and where I might find it and its
> origins ?
> With thanks,
> K. Thomas 02 43 90 3387
> Edith Crowe, Corresponding Secretary
> The Mythopoeic Society
> http://www.mythsoc.org/ | correspondence@...