The Devil's Touch
A Gypsey Legend From Hungary Adapted Amy Friedman, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
LONG AGO, when the only thing that existed was water, God decided to create a world. There was just one problem. God wasn't sure how to do this, and he had no friend or brother to teach him. He leaned his cane on the clouds and thought and thought, but he grew so frustrated that he tossed his cane into the waters below.
Well, when that cane fell into the water, it made a big splash. And when the waters cleared, God saw that a great tree had grown from the cane, and the Devil sat on one of the branches.
The Devil smiled at God, a big, wide smile such as nothing God had ever before seen. (Of course, there were no human beings yet, and so God had nothing to compare to Devil's face or to his smile.)
"Hello," the Devil said merrily. "I've come along to be your brother and your friend, for I can see that you have no one to help you."
"Oh, no," God said. "You cannot be my brother. No one can be my brother. But you can be my friend if you like."
And so God and the Devil began to spend time together, and all the while God fretted about just how he should make the world. Then one day, God looked over at the Devil and felt a chill run through him. He had a sudden feeling that the Devil was not really his friend at all.
The moment God discovered this, the Devil knew, for the Devil is very smart in some ways. The Devil knew at once that God did not trust him, and so he said, "Dear God, I can see that you do not think me your friend. I suggest you create a third creature so that there might be someone to stand between us."
"That's easy for you to say," God answered sorrowfully, "but it's not so simple to create another creature. If you think it's easy, you try."
"I can't create!" the Devil replied. "If I had my wish, I would make a great, big, beautiful world, but what use are my wishes? I don't know how to make things on my own."
"Well," God said thoughtfully, "I will create the world. I've thought it over, and I know just what I need. You dive under the water and bring me a handful of sand. When I have that sand, I'll simply speak my own name, and the Earth will be created. …