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PAGE 4

Ivan The Fool
by [?]

The little devil accordingly overflowed the meadow with muddy water, and, when Ivan went at dawn next morning with his scythe set and sharpened and tried to mow the grass, he found that it resisted all his efforts and would not yield to the implement as usual.

Many times Ivan tried to cut the grass, but always without success. At last, becoming weary of the effort, he decided to return home and have his scythe again sharpened, and also to procure a quantity of bread, saying: “I will come back here and will not leave until I have mown all the meadow, even if it should take a whole week.”

Hearing this, the little devil became thoughtful, saying: “That Ivan is a koolak [hard case], and I must think of some other way of conquering him.”

Ivan soon returned with his sharpened scythe and started to mow.

The small devil hid himself in the grass, and as the point of the scythe came down he buried it in the earth and made it almost impossible for Ivan to move the implement. He, however, succeeded in mowing all but one small spot in the swamp, where again the small devil hid himself, saying: “Even if he should cut my hands I will prevent him from accomplishing his work.”

When Ivan came to the swamp he found that the grass was not very thick. Still, the scythe would not work, which made him so angry that he worked with all his might, and one blow more powerful than the others cut off a portion of the small devil’s tail, who had hidden himself there.

Despite the little devil’s efforts he succeeded in finishing his work, when he returned home and ordered his sister to gather up the grass while he went to another field to cut rye. But the devil preceded him there, and fixed the rye in such a manner that it was almost impossible for Ivan to cut it; however, after continuous hard labor he succeeded, and when he was through with the rye he said to himself: “Now I will start to mow oats.”

On hearing this, the little devil thought to himself: “I could not prevent him from mowing the rye, but I will surely stop him from mowing the oats when the morning comes.”

Early next day, when the devil came to the field, he found that the oats had been already mowed. Ivan did it during the night, so as to avoid the loss that might have resulted from the grain being too ripe and dry. Seeing that Ivan again had escaped him, the little devil became greatly enraged, saying:

“He cut me all over and made me tired, that fool. I did not meet such misfortune even on the battle-field. He does not even sleep;” and the devil began to swear. “I cannot follow him,” he continued. “I will go now to the heaps and make everything rotten.”

Accordingly he went to a heap of the new-mown grain and began his fiendish work. After wetting it he built a fire and warmed himself, and soon was fast asleep.

Ivan harnessed his horse, and, with his sister, went to bring the rye home from the field.

After lifting a couple of sheaves from the first heap his pitchfork came into contact with the little devil’s back, which caused the latter to howl with pain and to jump around in every direction. Ivan exclaimed:

“See here! What nastiness! You again here?”

“I am another one!” said the little devil. “That was my brother. I am the one who was sent to your brother Simeon.”

“Well,” said Ivan, “it matters not who you are. I will fix you all the same.”

As Ivan was about to strike the first blow the devil pleaded: “Let me go and I will do you no more harm. I will do whatever you wish.”