Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/478

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The Legend of Merlin.

twins were suckling at her breasts. The angel seeing it took pity upon them and returned without having carried out His command, not having taken the soul of the widow. This happening he was asked by the almighty power of God, why he had done so. He replied, 'For the sake of those two children I did not take the soul of their mother.' Then the Lord told him to plunge into the depths of the sea and to bring up a stone from the bottom. When he brought it up the Lord told him, 'Cleave it in twain.' And the Archangel cleft the stone and he found therein two little worms. 'Who feeds these worms inside the stone at the bottom of the sea? 'asked the Lord. And Gabriel replied, 'Thine abundant mercies, O Lord!' And the Lord said, 'If mine abundant mercies feed these worms inside the hard rock, how much more would I feed the children of men whom I have saved with my own blood!' Whereupon He sent another angel to take the soul of the widow; and the Archangel he condemned to serve for thirty years as servant to an Abbot and to take care of him, and at the end of the thirty years he was to receive the soul of that Abbot and carry it up to the throne on high. And thus the Archangel became the servant of the Abbot, and during all the time he was very humble and meek and obedient, so that the Abbot marvelled at him and all through those thirty years no one saw him laugh. One day the Abbot said to him, 'My son, go and buy me a pair of shoes which are to last one year.' He then laughed. The Abbot, who did not know that the serving brother was an angel, wondered at it, and he sent another brother with him to watch whether he would laugh again. So the other followed him and they came to a place where a poor man sat who cried, 'Give alms, have pity on me,' and the angel laughed again. They met afterwards a carriage. In it sat the bishop and the governor of the town with great pomp and pride and many people following after them. And the angel turned aside