God and the Devil

A. H. Wratislaw March 25, 2018
Russian
Intermediate
5 min read
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    Once upon a time there was nothing; there was only the heaven above, and water beneath. Then God journeyed [in a boat] upon the water and saw a vast, vast crust of hard foam, on which sat the devil. God asked him: ‘What art thou?’ ‘I will not converse with thee,’ replied the wicked one, ‘unless thou takest me into thy boat.’ God promised, and heard in reply: ‘I’m the devil.’

    They both journeyed on without conversing together at all, till the devil began: ‘How very nice and beautiful it would be, if there were firm land in the world l’ ‘There shall be,’ answered God; ‘go down into the depth of the sea and bring up a handful of sand; I will make the land from it. When thou descendest, and art about to take the sand, say these words: “I take thee in the name of God.”‘ The devil didn’t wait long, but was immediately under the water. On the bottom he reached after the sand with both hands with these words: ‘I take thee in my own name.’ When he came up to the top he looked with curiosity at his closed fists, and was astonished at seeing that they were empty. But God, observing what had happened to him, consoled him, and told him to go down to the bottom once more. He did so, and as soon as he began to grub into the sand in the deep, he said: ‘I take thee in his name.’ However, he brought up only as much sand, as could get under his nails; God took a little of the sand and firm land formed itself; but only as much as was required for a bed. When night came, God and the devil lay down side by side on the firm land to pass the night. As soon as our Lord God fell asleep, the devil pushed him towards the east, in order that he might fall into the water and perish. In the direction in which he pushed him, there did it become land for a long way. The devil tried pushing him towards the west, and on that side the land extended far. A similar circumstance helped to form land also on the other sides of the world.

    As soon as God had made the land, he ascended to heaven. The devil, not liking to stay without him, followed in his track. Now he heard how the angels praised God in hymns, and began to feel annoyed, that he had no one to rejoice at his arrival. He went up to God and whispered in his ear: ‘What must I do, that I may have such a multitude?’ God answered him: ‘Wash thy hands and face, and sprinkle the water behind thee.’

    He did so, and there came into existence such a multitude of devils that the angels and saints no more had sufficient room in heaven. God observed what an injury there was from this to his own. He summoned St. Ilya, and ordered him to let off a storm of thunder and lightning. Ilya was glad at this; he roared, thundered, and lightened with a tempest, and poured rain for forty days and nights, and along with the great rain the devils also fell from heaven on to the earth. At last there were no more wicked ones, and angels also began to fall. Then God ordered Ilya to stop, and wherever any devil struck the ground at the time that he fell, there he remained. From that time to this bright little fires have darted about in heaven, and only now fall upon the earth.

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