The Demon At The Cradle

Once upon a time there was a noble knight who was married to a worthy and noble born wife who was very dear to him. It was not long after they were married that their first child was born, but tragedy struck when a week to the day after the child was born it was found in it’s cradle, it’s throat cut.

The tragedy was nearly overwhelming to the knight and his lady, but time heals, and a second child was born a year later. Great care was taken by the parents and servants, but horrifyingly the second child was found a week to the day after being born also murdered in the same fashion.

The knight was enraged and set about trying to discover who had perpetrated such a terrible crime. But the knight was unable to find the criminal and again, with time, he and his wife put this tragedy behind them.

A year later they awaited the arrival of their third child, careful and cautious, they carried out many fasts and gave generous alms to the church and to the poor, and they prayed every day and every night asking for mercy for their child.

When a baby boy was born the knight and other stalwart warriors placed fires and lamps all around and kept careful watch on the child every night for seven days and seven nights.

On the seventh day a stranger arrived at the home of the knight, weary from a long journey. Seeking the hospitality of the knight in God’s name the stranger was welcomed most heartily and joined them to keep watch over the child. That evening the stranger was the only one who remained awake at the stroke of midnight and therefore was the only one who saw an old woman bending over the cradle of the child, reaching in with a knife ready to cut the child’s throat.

Shouting, the stranger leapt forward and took hold of the old woman. When the others gathered around many of them recognized her as the noblest and most respectable woman in the city. But when the knight demanded she reveal herself the old woman refused to speak and confirm her name or to answer any of their questions.

The knight and all his warriors interpreted this as evidence of her shame, and pleaded for the stranger to release her to them that they might kill her themselves for the crimes which she had committed. But the stranger would not let her go and in fact declared to all assembled that she was not what she seemed but was, in fact, a demon.

Still holding her tight he called for a key from the nearby church and when it was delivered to him he took the key and branded her face with it as a sign of her evil. He then instructed them to go into the city and to fetch immediately the woman whom she resembled and whom they believed the demon to be.

The knight sent two of his warriors to the city and shortly they returned with the woman who so closely resembled her demonic doppelganger that she even bore the brand on her face.

At this the stranger said to the others who stood gaping with astonishment: “It is my opinion that the lady who has just arrived is both virtuous and beloved of God. By her good deeds she has provoked the envy of demons, and so this base monster, this dreadful instrument of their wrath has been molded in the likeness of the good woman so as to cast the disgrace of such wicked deeds upon her noble soul. But have faith for I know how best to deal with this beast.”

And at that the stranger took the key with which he had branded the demon and gently laid it upon the cheek of the true noble woman covering the brand she bore. The demon screamed in pain and the stranger let it go. With great wailing and weeping the demon fled into the darkness and never troubled the knight, his noble born wife or any of their children ever again.

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