Select the desired text size
From Myths and Legends of all nations
Start of Story
by Logan Marshall
Age Rating 8 Plus.
Then he set about the task, severed the limbs of the dead body, and
worked and brewed and distilled until the elixir described in the
parchment was prepared.
With the elixir he rubbed the members of the master's body, put them
together, and laid the corpse in a coffin. This he buried on the
following night, explaining to Twardowski's friends that such had been
the master's wish.
Now the parchment stated that the body must remain in the grave seven
years, seven months, seven days and seven hours; so Famulus could do
nothing but wait. At last the time had expired, and on a snowy, cold
December night he found his way to the grave. He dug out the coffin,
brushed off the snow and earth, opened the casket and found--not the
body of Twardowski, but that of a child who lay sleeping in a bed of
"The child is like Twardowski," Famulus thought, and he gathered him
up under his cloak and carried him home. The next morning the child
was the size of a twelve-year old; and after seven weeks he was a
Twardowski, who now seemed quite himself, only younger, and stronger,
thanked Famulus and resumed again his study of magic. He desired,
above all things, to be freed forever from his compact with the devil.
This, he read in one of the books, he might do if he would brave the
terrors of the underworld.
So Twardowski determined to enter the gates of hell. At his magic
speech the ground opened and he began the path of descent. Blue flames
lighted the way. Deeper and deeper he went through dark and winding
passages. At last he reached the underworld itself, and many awful
sights did he behold.
And the farther he went the more frightened did he become. He could
not help feeling that the devil had plotted something against him.
Finally he found himself in a small room, and cast a hasty glance
around, looking for a means of escape.
Seeing a child in a cradle in one corner of the room he seized it
hastily, threw his cloak around it, and was about to leave when the
door opened and the Evil One entered.
He made a respectful bow and said, "Will you be good enough to go with
"Why so?" asked Twardowski, obstinately.
"Because of our agreement."
"But," said the magician, "only in Rome have you power over me."
"Yes," replied the devil, "and Rome is the name of this house."
"You think to trick me by a pun; but you cannot. I carry this talisman
of innocence," and throwing aside his cloak, he disclosed the sleeping
Anger showed in the face of the devil; but he stepped nearer to
Twardowski and said softly:
"What are you thinking of, Twardowski? Have you forgotten your
promise? The nobleman's word is sacred to him."
Pride awoke in the breast of the magician.
"I must keep my word," he said, laying the child back in the crib, and
On the shoulders of the devil two wings appeared, like the wings of a
bat. He seized Twardowski and flew away with him, mounting higher and
higher into the night. The magician was so terrified and suffered
such anguish in the clutches of the Evil One that in a few moments he
was changed into an old man, but he did not lose consciousness. At
last so high were they that cities appeared like flies and Krakau with
its mighty turrets like two spiders. Deeply moved, Twardowski looked
down upon the scene of all his struggles and all his joys.
But higher and higher they went--higher than any eagle has ever
flown--and more lonely and more fearful did it seem to Twardowski.
Only occasionally bright stars passed by them, or fiery meteors,
leaving a long streak of light behind.
At last they came to the moon, which stared at them with dead eyes.
Then a song that Twardowski had read in his mother's hymn book rose to
his lips. And as he repeated mechanically the prayer his mother had
taught him an angel suddenly appeared and said:
"Satan, let Twardowski go; and you, Twardowski, hang you there between
heaven and earth, to atone for your sin until the Last Judgment. Then
will you be reunited with your mother in heaven. The prayer which you
remembered in your hour of need has saved you."
And so, according to the story, Twardowski is suspended in the vault
of heaven to this very day.