The Story of the Fallen Angel and the Maiden.
WHEN God had created the world, men multiplied. There were then towns and hamlets and gardens and fields. So one day a band of angels came to the Lord and said: "O Lord, let us see the world which we now see only from afar. Grant us in thy infinite mercy that we may go down and see it more closely."
And the Lord in his infinite love granted their request, although he who knows everything knew what would happen to them hereafter. And the angels came down and mixed with the men and women and rejoiced at everything they saw. After a time God Almighty came down to them and told them that the time for their return to heaven had come. The angels gathered together in a joyful band and went up to heaven. But there was one angel who did not share in their joy. He walked sadly and alone.
God asked every one of the angels what they had seen. And one told him of the flowers and their sweet smell, and another one told of the fruit and a third of the singing birds. Everyone had a pleasant tale to tell. When the turn came of that angel who was walking sadly in that joyful company, the Lord asked him whether he had anything to tell, and whether he would like to return to heaven as his companions did, to which he replied that he would prefer to remain on earth, for he would not like to go back to heaven. And the good God asked him why he was so sad and why he would prefer to remain in this world. The angel hesitated for a while, and then he said that he had looked too far into the eyes of a girl, eyes which were as the blue of heaven, and he could not bear to go away from her. And the Lord asked who she was, and the angel replied, "A shepherdess feeding her flock on a mountain." And the Lord asked him, "Hast thou spoken to her?" and he said, "I could not forbear doing so." And the Lord asked him, "What didst thou tell her?" and he replied, "I said I would forego my angelic station rather than leave her."
The Lord, who had up till then looked very young, suddenly turned very old and careworn, and, after looking at him for a long time, walked on slowly and silently with the band of angels. When they reached the Gates of Heaven the Lord stopped short and, turning to the angels, said:
"You can no longer enter the heavenly abode. You are bringing tidings of the ways of the world which must not be heard by the other angels. And as you liked the world, you shall continue to look at the soul's doings." Thereupon the Lord changed the angels and made them into stars, which he scattered all over the heavens, and from there they smile joyfully and kindly upon the earth.
But the angel who wished to return did not turn into a pleasant, twinkling little star. He turned into a fiery star that, always blazing and unsteady, looked angrily at the other stars. At last the Lord, fearing that there would be strife between them, cast the red star down to the earth, and it came down on the meadow where the shepherdess was; it came down as a shower over the whole field. But the sparks never died out. The glow-worms carry them still.