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from Fables For Children, Stories For Children, Natural Science Stori - WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO





In ancient times there lived a good master. He had plenty of everything,
and many slaves served him. And the slaves prided themselves on their
master. They said:

"There is not a better master under heaven. He feeds us and dresses us
well, and gives us work to do according to our strength, and never
offends us with a word, and bears no grudge against any one; he is not
like other masters who torture their slaves worse than cattle, and
punish them with cause and without cause, and never say a good word to
them. Our master wishes us good, and does us good, and speaks good words
to us. We do not want any better life."

Thus the slaves boasted of their master. And the devil was annoyed to
see the slaves living well and in love with their master. And the devil
took possession of one of the master's slaves, Aleb. He took possession
of him and commanded him to seduce other slaves. And when all the slaves
were resting and praising their master, Aleb raised his voice and said:

"Brothers, in vain do you pride yourselves on the goodness of your
master. Try to do the devil's bidding, and he, too, will be kind to you.
We serve our master well, and please him in everything. He needs only
to have a thing in mind, and we do it.--we guess his thoughts. Why,
then, should he not be good to us? Stop doing his bidding and do him
some wrong, and he will be like everybody else, and will repay evil with
evil, much worse than the worst of masters."

And the other slaves began to dispute with Aleb. They disputed and made
a wager. Aleb undertook to anger the good master. He undertook to do so
on condition that if he did not succeed in making him angry, he should
lose his holiday garment, but if he did, each should give him his own
holiday garment, and, besides, they promised to defend him against the
master and to free him if the master should put him in irons or throw
him into prison. They made this wager, and Aleb promised to anger the
master on the following morning.

Aleb was serving in the master's sheepfold and tended on costly
thoroughbred rams. And so, when the good master came the next morning
with his guests to the sheepfold to show them his favourite expensive
rams, the devil's labourer winked to his companions: "Watch me now! I am
going to anger the master." All the slaves gathered and looked through
the door and over the enclosure, and the devil climbed a tree and looked
from there into the yard, to see how his labourer was going to serve
him. The master walked through the yard, showing his guests the sheep
and lambs, and he wanted to show them his best ram.

"The other rams are nice, too, but the one with the twisted horns is
priceless, and I think more of him than of the pupil of my eye."

The sheep and the lambs were shying from the people in the yard, and the
guests could not get a good look at the expensive ram. The moment the
ram stopped, the labourer of the devil, as though by accident,
frightened the sheep, and they got all mixed. The guests could not make
out which was the expensive ram. The master got tired of it, so he said:

"Aleb, my dear friend, take the trouble carefully to catch the best ram
with the twisted horns and to hold him awhile."

The moment the master had said that, Aleb rushed forward, like a lion,
into the midst of the rams and caught the priceless ram by his fleece.
He got hold of the wool, and with one hand he seized the left hind leg
and raised it and in the eyes of the master jerked it in such a way that
it snapped like a linden post. Aleb had broken the ram's leg beneath the
knee. The ram began to bleat and fell down on his fore legs. Aleb
grasped the right leg while the left hung loose like a whip-cord. The
guests and all the slaves groaned, and the devil rejoiced, when he saw
how cleverly Aleb had done his work. The master looked blacker than
night. He frowned, lowered his head, and did not say a word. The guests
and the slaves were silent. They waited to see what would happen.

The master was silent, then shook himself, as though he wanted to throw
something off, and raised his head and lifted it to the sky. He looked
at it for a short time, and the wrinkles on his face disappeared, and he
smiled and lowered his eyes on Aleb. He looked at Aleb, and smiled, and
said:

"O Aleb, Aleb! Your master has commanded you to anger me. But my master
is stronger than yours: you have not angered me, but I will anger your
master. You were afraid that I would punish you, and you wanted to be
free, Aleb. Know, then, that you will receive no punishment from me,
and, since you wanted to be free, I free you in the presence of these my
guests. Go in all four directions and take your holiday garment with
you!"

And the good master went with his guests to the house. But the devil
ground his teeth and fell down from the tree and sank through the
earth.





Next: Little Girls Wiser Than Old People

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