ONCE upon a time there was a certain woman who had no children, but who so longed for a son that, finding Heaven did not respond to her prayers, she promised the Evil One that if he would only procure her a child, upon the boy’s attaining his fourteenth year he should be given up to him. After some time her wishes were fulfilled, and she obtained a son.
At first the woman was very delighted with her child; but as he grew older, and began to approach fourteen, she became more and more disquieted and melancholy. One day, seeing his mother weep, the boy asked the cause of her affliction, when she told him. When he had heard the reason, the lad exclaimed:—
“Since there is no help for it,—for if you did not keep your promise the Evil One would come for you,—I must go to him.”
The poor boy set off; but he did not know the way. He met some muleteers, and asked them if they could direct him.
“Heaven forbid!” responded they. “But the path below leads to a cavern wherein we have seen a monster, who may be able to tell you.”
Following the path, the lad arrived at the cavern, where he saw the monster, who was a most frightful and deformed man. When he learned the boy’s errand he felt pity for him; and besides pointing out to him the way he should take, he also gave him a letter for the Evil One’s daughter.
“She will not want to receive it,” said he; “but tell her that it is from her godfather, and that if she does not take it I will not direct any one else to her dwelling.”
When the boy arrived at his destination, he delivered the letter and the message to the Evil One’s daughter. She was very angry, yet could not but act as her godfather’s letter had advised.
“You are innocent,” she said to the boy; “and before my father can possess himself of you, he must make you commit sin. Presently he will take you to a garden of flowers, beautiful in appearance, but really filled with poison; therefore, do not gather or smell any, but tell him that they do not please you.”
And- so it came to pass. When the Evil One took the boy to a most beautiful garden full of the loveliest flowers, the lad would neither pick nor smell any of them, notwithstanding all that he urged. Then the Evil One thought to himself, “I will take care that you do not escape me to-morrow!”
The following day, the Evil One’s daughter, who knew her father’s thoughts, said to the lad:—
“To-day my father will tell you to go past a cave from which a hideous bear will come forth to devour you; when you see it coming, you must say three times, ‘Lord, help me,’ and instead of hurting you, it will run away.”
And so it came to pass. The Evil One roared, and said to himself, “To-morrow you shall not escape me, for I will go in person to kill you.”
Then the Evil One’s daughter said to the lad:—
“To-morrow my father will come in person to kill you. Hide behind the door of your cell, and when he comes give him two blows with these sticks, which you must put into the form of the Cross, and he will fall to the ground with his face to the earth, as if dead. Then you must run away and not stop running until you come to a church!” And the lad did so, and was freed from the snares of the Evil One.