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WHY IS THE SOLE OF MAN'S FOOT
(FROM THE SERVIAN.)
WHEN the evil angels rebelled against heaven and escaped to the earth, they took the sun with them. Their prince, the archfiend, stuck it on a lance, and carried it on his shoulder.
When, however, the earth complained to heaven that it would be quite burnt up by the sun, an archangel was sent down to see how he could take the sun away from the archfiend. The archangel descended to the earth, and made friends with the prince of the rebels, who, however, at once divined the object of the visit, and stood, accordingly, on his guard.
One day, as they walked together on the earth, they came to the sea, and agreed to bathe in it. The archfiend stuck the lance, with the sun on the top of it, in
ground. After a little while the archangel said, “Let us dive and see who will go down the deepest.”
“Good ; do you begin," said the arch fiend.
The archangel dived and brought up some sand between his teeth from the bottom of the sea.
It was now the other's turn to dive; but the archfiend was afraid that, during his absence, the archangel might fly away with the sun. Suddenly a thought struck him. He spat upon the ground, and a magpie arose out of it. This bird was to keep watch over the sun while the archfiend also made his plunge and brought up some sand from the bottom of the sea between his teeth.
As soon as the fiend had dived, the archangel made the sign of the cross with his hand, and the sea was immediately covered with ice nine ells thick. Then he seized the sun and flew away with it to heaven.
The magpie screamed with all her might. The archfiend, hearing her voice, guessed at once what had happened, and hastened back. When he came up, however, he found he could not make his way through, as the sea was frozen over. He therefore dived again to the bottom, brought up a large stone, broke the ice with it, and then rushed after the archangel.
The archangel fled through the air with the utmost speed, followed by the fiend. Just as the angel had one foot in heaven, the fiend overtook him, and with his claws, as he tried to stop him, tore off a large piece of flesh from the sole of the other foot.
The archangel, severely wounded, appeared with the sun in heaven, and weeping, said, “What shall I do, so mutilated as I am ?"
And it was said to him, “Cease from thy tears, and despair not. It shall happen that, henceforth, man also, like you, shall have a hollow in the sole of his foot.”
As it was said, so it came to pass. From that day there appeared a small hollow in the sole of man's foot, and thus it has remained unto this day.
(FROM THE RUSSIAN.)
In a certain village lived a peasant named Ivan, and his wife Mary. They were very fond of each other, and had lived happily together for many years, but unfortunately they had no children. The poor people were sad on that account. Their hearts, however, were gladdened at the sight of their neighbours' children. What could be done? It was evidently the will of Heaven ; and in this world, Heaven's will be done!
One day, in winter, after a great quantity of snow had fallen on the ground, the children of the village where Ivan and Mary lived ran into the fields to play. The old couple looked at them from the window. The children ran about, played all sorts of frolics together, and at last began to make a snow-man. Ivan and Mary sat down quietly watching them. Suddenly Ivan smiled and said,
“I say, wife, let us go out and make a snow-man too.” Mary was also in a merry mood.
“Yes,” she answered ; “let us go out and play, though we are old. But why should we make a snow-man? Better to make a snow-child, since Heaven will not grant us a live one.".
“Very good," said Ivan.
He put on his cap, and went with his wife into the garden.
They really set about making a baby of snow. They made the body; then arms and legs; then put on the top a ball of snow for a head.
“Heaven help you!” cried one who passed by. “Many thanks,” replied Ivan. “Heaven's help is always acceptable,” added Mary.
What are you doing?” continuued the stranger. “What you yourself see," answered Ivan.
“We are making a Snyegurka!” * cried Mary, laughing.
Then they made a little nose and a chin, two little holes for eyes, and as soon as Ivan had finished-oh, wonderful !-a sweet breath came out of its mouth ! Ivan lifted up his arms and stared. The little holes were no longer holes; in their place were two bright blue eyes, and the tiny lips smiled lovingly upon him.