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Why does the saw-fly live in stables?

The Story of St. Mary and the Miserly Farmer.
Another legend of a totally different character is also told of this little beetle.

WHEN the Holy Mother gave birth to Jesus, she had not enough milk in her breasts to suckle the child. Next to her on the right lived a very rich farmer who had a large number of cows. So the mother Mary sent to him, and asked him to give her a little milk, as much as was necessary to feed her little baby. But rich farmers are, as a rule, very stingy. So he replied, "I am not going to give my good milk to a witch to bewitch my cows and take away their gift."

               The Holy Mother, on hearing his words, got very angry, especially when she heard that he had called her a witch. But she kept her counsel, and went to the neighbour on the left, who had only one cow. He was a kind-hearted man, and gave her at once a bowl full of milk. When she left, she blessed him and said: "On the morrow thou shalt not know what to do with the milk," i.e. he would have so much milk that he would not know how to handle it. And so it happened. When, on the next morning, he entered the stables he found them full of beautiful fat kine, from which the milk was running, so rich were they.

               But the stingy neighbour the Holy Mother cursed, and said: "On the morrow thy stable shall be empty, and in lieu of cows, beetles shall be there." And so also it happened. When he entered the stables the next morning, he found them empty, and instead of the cows, which were no longer there, the stables were full of little red flies with black spots on their backs, crawling up the walls and filling the manger. And that is why they are called the cows and oxen of the Lord.


To obtain abundance of milk peasant women in the Bukovina go on a Tuesday evening to a place where there are a number of these insects. The next morning, before sunrise, they go there again and, taking a number of them, bring them home, chop them up with their choppers and, mixing them with the food, give them to the cows to eat. The cows will then yield much milk.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Why does the saw-fly live in stables?
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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