GM3

The Priest’s Tale part 3

“Thirteen years have passed since then—it was about the middle of August. For several days it had been rumored that a wolf was prowling near the village. Old Mitros,.who had built his little cottage that same year close by ‘The Eyrie,’ told how he had been awakened one night by the barking of his dog, and opening his window had seen an enormous wolf outside his garden wall. He had snatched his gun and fired, but failed to kill the beast, and saw it reeling away in the moonlight with its tail down. He was too frightened to reload and fire a second time. The shepherds told of a similar encounter, so that the village was full of rumors that we had a dangerous wolf in the neighborhood, and the peasants slept with one eye open, always thinking of their flocks.

“The danger was even greater than they knew, for it was not a mere hungry wolf that they had to deal with, but a she-wolf—-and mad.

Monday Christos

“One afternoon—-it was a Monday—Christos was pasturing his father’s sheep near the pine I spoke of. He was sitting in the shade scouring an old milk basin, when suddenly he saw his sheep running in terror and crowding close together. He looked toward the graveyard, and there, only twenty paces off, he saw the wolf, bristling for the attack and showing her terrible teeth.

“He instantly jumped to his feet, and seized a stone. As a rule, wolves are afraid of men and run away; but Heaven keep you from a mad wolf!”

Father Seraphim took up his cap mechanically and put it on his head. “Let me give you a piece of advice, my friends, although I hope you may never stand in need of it. You are hardly likely to meet a mad wolf, but if you are ever attacked by a mad dog, and have no weapon or club stout enough to break its head, take care of your hands above everything else. If you use your hands against the beast, it will bite you. You, who wear the European dress, have your hats; I have my priest’s cap; the peasant has his fez: use anything—no matter what—to protect your hands.

“Christos had no chance to escape. Instead of running away when she saw him rise, the wolf rushed upon him, and before he had even time to throw his stone, her fore-paws pressed against his right side, and her teeth were fastened in his breast.

“The stone fell from his fingers, but his hands were free.

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