Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories | Annotated Tale

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Why is the wolf ferocious?

The Story of God, St. Peter and the Devil.

ONCE upon a time God was walking with St. Peter. On the way they met a dog who came close to them and frolicked round them, and God stroked the animal. St. Peter looked at God questioningly, and God said, "I know what is in thy mind, but since thou art he who keeps the key of heaven it is meet that thou shouldst know everything, and I will therefore tell thee the story of the dog and the wolf, for thou must know whom to let into heaven and whom to shut out. Thou seest, Peter, what that brother of mine--"

               "You mean the devil?" interposed St. Peter.

               "Yes," said God, "I mean him. You see what he has done to me with Adam and Eve, and how he made me drive them out of Paradise. What was I to do? When the poor man was starving I had to help him, so I gave him the sheep to feed him and to clothe him. But dost thou think the devil will give them peace?--no, not he!"

               "Yes," said Peter, "all very well, but what about the dog? I know all that about Adam and Eve."

               "Do not be in such a hurry," replied God, "I will tell thee everything; bide thy time."

               "Now, where was I? It was when I made the sheep, and the devil then must again try and do something to hurt Adam, so he is now making the wolf, who will destroy the sheep and bring Adam and Eve to grief. For that reason I have made the dog, and he will drive the wolf away and protect the flocks of sheep, and will be friendly to man, whose property he will guard with faithfulness."

               St. Peter said, "I know that in thy goodness thou art going again to help the devil, as thou hast done aforetime."

               The devil had made many things aforetime, but could not give them life or movement, and it was always God who helped and completed the work. Thus the devil made a car, but built it inside the house, and did not know how to take it out and use it until God widened the door and took it out, and as the devil was pulling away at it he broke the hind wheels, so God took the first part of the car and put it in the heavens, and it forms the constellation known as the Great Bear (in Rumanian, the Great Car).

               Then the devil made the mill, but he could not start it, so God did. Then he made a house, but put no light into it, so God had to make the windows. Then the devil made a fire, but did not know how to kindle it.

               He was now working away at moulding the wolf from clay. He worked so hard that the perspiration ran down his face. Scratching his head, he pulled out three hairs, but would not throw anything away--they were much too precious--so he stuck them in the head of the wolf between the eyes.

               When he thought he had finished, he turned to God and said, "See what I have done."

               "Yes," replied God, "I see, but what is it?"

               "Thou shalt know more about it soon," replied the devil; and, turning to the wolf, which lay there lifeless, he said, "Up, wolf, and go for him." But the wolf never stirred.

               Then God turned to St. Peter and said, "Just wait and see how I will pay him out," and, waving his hand over the wolf, he said, "Up, wolf, and go for the devil."

               The devil can run fast, but never ran faster than on that day when the wolf jumped up and ran after him. In running he jumped into the lake. He dipped under the waters and saved himself from the fangs of the wolf. And ever since that time, the wolf has power over the devil: when he catches him, he eats him up. All the year round the devils are hiding in pools and bogs, but, from the night of St. Basil (1st January) until the Feast of Epiphany, the waters are holy, being sanctified through the Baptism. The devil can no longer stay in the water, and he must get on to the land, where the wolf lies in wait for him, and woe unto the devils who get too near the wolf.

               When God and St. Peter saw the flight of the devil, they laughed until the tears ran down their cheeks. Then God turned to St. Peter and said to him, "I give these wolves now into thy care." Poor St. Peter trembled from head to foot when he heard the charge that was given to him, but God reassured him and said, "Never fear, Peter, they will not harm thee; on the contrary, they will follow thee and listen to thy command, as if they were friendly dogs." And so it has remained. Once every year, on the day of the Feast of St. Peter, in the winter-time, all the wolves come together to an appointed place to meet St. Peter. Thither he comes with a huge book in his hand, in which are written the names of all the persons who had given themselves over to the devil, and he tells the wolves whom they are to eat.

               The three hairs which the devil had put on the wolf are of a green colour, and make the wolf look ferocious, for they are the devil's hairs, and it is from them that the devil's fire got into the wolves' eyes, which are lit up by it.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Why is the wolf ferocious?
Tale Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Book Title: Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Book Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1915
Country of Origin: Romania
Classification: unclassified

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