ONCE upon a time, when Jesus Christ was going with His disciples to Jerusalem, He met an old man, and asked alms of him. The old man said to Him:
"I am an old soldier, and they sent me away from the army with only two sous, because I was no longer good for anything. I have already given away one sou on the road; I have only one left, and I give that to you."
Then our Lord says to him, "Which would you prefer, a sack of gold or Paradise?"
St. Peter gently nudges the old man in the ribs, "Say Paradise."
"What! Paradise!" says the old soldier. "Afterwards we shall have Paradise as well. I prefer a sack of gold."
And our Lord gives him the sack of gold, and He said as He gave it to him:
"When this sack is empty it will be sufficient to say, 'Artchila murtchila! go into my sack,' and everything you wish for will go into the sack."
Our man takes the sack and goes on his road. When he had gone a little way he passed before the door of an inn, and sees a fine leg of mutton on the table. He was hungry, and, opening his sack, he said:
"Artchila murtchila! fine leg of mutton, come into my
sack!" and in an instant it was in it; and in the same way he had everything he wished for.
One day the devil came to tempt this old man, but, as soon as he heard him, he opened his sack and said:
"Artchila murtchila! go into my sack!"
And the devil himself entered into the sack. He takes the sack with the devil in it to a blacksmith, and for a long time and very vigorously he pounded it with his sledgehammer.
When the old soldier died he went to Paradise. When he arrived there St. Peter appears, and says to him:
"Why are you standing there? And what are you asking for?"
"What! Paradise!! Did not you prefer to have a sack of gold when God gave you the choice? Be off from here. Be off to hell. There are the gates, there."
Our old man, in deepest sadness, goes to the door of hell, and knocks; but as soon as the door was opened the devil recognised his soldier, and began to cry out:
"Don't let him come in! Don't let him come in! He will cause us too much trouble, and too many misfortunes. He is so very vicious!"
And he will not receive him; so he returns again to Paradise, and God commanded St. Peter to let this man enter who had been such a foe to the devil.