The Plague

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    When the Plague desolates the country, whole villages stand empty; the cocks become hoarse and cannot crow; even the dogs, our household guardians, no longer bark. They can, however, scent and see the Plague afar off. They, growl, and furiously try to attack it; for the Plague delights to tease and worry them.

    A peasant once was asleep on the top of a hay-rick; near him leant a ladder. The moon shone brightly, and the night was clear. Suddenly, borne on the wind a great noise was heard, in which the growling and howling of dogs rose distinctly above all other sounds.

    The peasant got up, and saw with terror a tall woman, clothed in white, with dishevelled hair, running straight towards him, pursued by dogs. In front of her stood a high fence. The tall woman sprang clear over it at a bound, and ran up the ladder. There, secure from the furious dogs, she put out her leg, and teasing them, cried,—

    “Na goga, noga! Na goga, noga!” (There is my leg, seize it.)

    The peasant at once recognised in her the terrible Plague itself. He softly approached the ladder, and pushed it off the rick with all his might. The Plague fell to the ground and the dogs seized her. She threatened the peasant with vengeance, and then suddenly disappeared.

    The peasant did not die of the plague, but he was never well afterwards; and he would often involuntarily lift up his leg and repeat the cry,—

    “Na goga noga! Na goga noga!”

    These were the only words he could utter.

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