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Young Folks' Treasury: Myths and Legendary Heroes

The Old Man And The Devils
beings. Some were red, and dressed in green
clothes; others were black, and dressed in red clothes; some had only one eye; others had
no mouth; indeed, it is quite impossible to describe their varied and strange looks. They
kindled a fire, so that it became as light as day. They sat down in two cross-rows, and
began to drink wine and make merry just like human beings. They passed the wine cup
around so often that many of them soon drank too much. One of the young devils got up
and began to sing a merry song and to dance; so also many others; some danced well,
others badly. One said: "We have had uncommon fun to-night, but I would like to see
something new."
Then the old man, losing all fear, thought he would like to dance, and saying, "Let come
what will, if I die for it, I will have a dance, too," crept out of the hollow tree and, with
his cap slipped over his nose and his ax sticking in his belt, began to dance. The devils in
great surprise jumped up, saying, "Who is this?" but the old man advancing and receding,
swaying to and fro, and posturing this way and that way, the whole crowd laughed and
enjoyed the fun, saying: "How well the old man dances! You must always come and join
us in our sport; but, for fear you might not come, you must give us a pledge that you
will." So the devils consulted together, and, agreeing that the lump on his face, which was
a token of wealth, was what he valued most highly, demanded that it should be taken.
The old man replied: "I have had this lump many years, and would not without good
reason part with it; but you may have it, or an eye, or my nose either if you wish." So the
devils laid hold of it, twisting and pulling, and took it off without giving him any pain,
and put it away as a pledge that he would come back. Just then the day began to dawn,
and the birds to sing, so the devils hurried away.
The old man felt his face and found it quite smooth, and not a trace of the lump left. He
forgot all about cutting wood, and hastened home. His wife, seeing him, exclaimed in
great surprise, "What has happened to you?" So he told her all that had befallen him.
[pg 139]
Now, among the neighbors there was another old man who had a big lump on the left side
of his face. Hearing all about how the first old man had got rid of his misfortune, he
determined that he would also try the same plan. So he went and crept into the hollow
tree, and waited for the devils to come. Sure enough, they came just as he was told, and
they sat down, drank wine, and made merry just as they did before. The second old man,
afraid and trembling, crept out of the hollow tree. The devils welcomed him, saying: "The
old man has come; now let us see him dance." This old fellow was awkward, and did not
A long time ago there was an old man who had a big lump on the right side of his face.
One day he went into the mountain to cut wood, when the rain began to pour and the
wind to blow so very hard that, finding it impossible to return home, and filled with fear,
he took refuge in the hollow of an old tree. While sitting there doubled up and unable to
sleep, he heard the confused sound of many voices in the distance gradually approaching
to where he was. He said to himself: "How strange! I thought I was all alone in the
mountain, but I hear the voices of many people." So, taking courage, he peeped out, and
saw a great crowd of strange-looking [pg
138]
 
 
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