The Fiend Persists But God Resists

: Fables For Children, Stories For Children, Natural Science Stori

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
laves 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


"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


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