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From Myths and Legends of all nations
Start of Story
by Logan Marshall
Age Rating 8 Plus.
Toward the close of the eighteenth century there was pointed out to
visitors in the old town of Krakau the house of the magician
Twardowski, who quite properly was called the Faust of Poland, because
of his dealings with the Evil One.
In his youth Twardowski had followed the study of medicine, and with
such industry, such eagerness and such a clear mind did he practice
his profession that it was not long before he was the most celebrated
doctor in all Poland. But Twardowski was not satisfied with this. He
craved greater and still greater power.
At last one day, as he was reading, he found in an old book of magic
that for which he had long been seeking--the formula for summoning the
devil. When night came a storm had risen, but caring not for that he
hurried away to the lonely mountain Kremenki. There, in a rudely
constructed hut, he began his incantations.
Before long there was an earthquake; great rocks were loosened, the
ground opened at Twardowski's feet and flames leaped out; and in the
flames appeared the Evil One himself, in the form of a man, clad in a
red cloak with the well-known pointed red cap.
"What do you wish?" the devil asked.
"The power of your most secret wisdom," was the answer.
"And how is this to be done?"
"You shall make me the most celebrated of all the learned men of the
century, and shall besides give me such happiness as no man has ever
enjoyed upon this earth before."
"So be it," said the devil. "But on condition that at the end of
seven years I gain possession of your soul."
"You may take me," answered Twardowski, "but only in Rome may you have
power over me. Thither, at the end of seven years, will I go."
The devil hesitated over this clause, but thinking of the fun he could
have in the holy city, finally agreed. Leaning against the wall of
stone he wrote the compact, which Twardowski, making a slight wound in
his arm, signed with his own blood.
When Twardowski descended from the mountain and made his way, book
under arm, through the valley, he heard the bells in all the towers of
the city ringing out clearly and solemnly on the still night air. He
listened, wondering at the unaccustomed noise, then hurried into the
town, inquiring from every one he met what the occasion was. But no
one seemed to have heard the sound.
Then a deep feeling of sadness came over him as he realized the
meaning of the bells. They were the funeral knell of his own soul.
When morning came, however, doubts were forgotten, and Twardowski was
glad to have the devil at his command. The first thing that he
demanded was to have all the silver of Poland gathered together in one
place and covered over with great mounds of sand.
Similar requests followed, and it was not long before the devil
repented of his bargain. One day it would please Twardowski to fly
without wings through the air; on another, to the delight of the
crowd, to gallop backward on a cock; on another to float in a boat
without a rudder or sail, accompanied by some maiden who for the
moment had inflamed his heart. One day, by the use of his magic
mirror, he set fire to the castle of an enemy a mile away. This last
feat made him greatly feared by people far and wide.
At last the seven years were up. The devil appeared to Twardowski and
"Twardowski, the time of our pact is over, and I command you to
fulfill your promise and go to Rome."
"What shall I do there?"
"Give me your immortal soul," was the answer.
"Do you think I am a fool?" asked Twardowski.
"You gave me your promise to go to Rome after seven years."
"That I have already done," said Twardowski, "and I did not promise to
stay in Rome."
"Noble deceiver!" exclaimed the Evil One.
"Stupid devil!" cried Twardowski.
Then after a struggle the devil vanished and Twardowski returned home.
For over a year he pored incessantly over his books of magic, until at
last he found a formula for warding off death. Then he called his
disciple Famulus to him and explained that he was going to test the
"You have always obliged me without question," said Twardowski, "and I
expect you to now. Take this knife and thrust it into my heart."
"God forbid!" cried Famulus.
"Why are you frightened? I know what I am doing. Take the knife and
kill me, as the parchment directs."
"You must," insisted Twardowski.
"It is impossible!"
"No more exclamations. Do as I tell you."
"Oh, oh, oh!" wailed Famulus.
"Strike!" thundered Twardowski, "or I will kill you this instant."
Then Famulus did as he was bid and forced the blade into his master's
Twardowski uttered a low cry, fell, and was soon dead.
Famulus dropped trembling into a chair and covered his face with his
hands. Then he remembered that he must read the remainder of the
parchment in order to find out what he must do to restore the body to