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Old Harry

by Micha F. Lindemans
An Northern tale in which the Devil noticed a man moulding buttons. He asked what he may be doing and the man answered that he is moulding eyes. The Devil then asks him to furnish him with a new pair. The workman agrees, but instead of furnishing new eyes, or "Issi" as he terms them, he pours a stream of molten lead into the Devil's eye sockets. Frenzied, the Devil rushes aways, all the while exclaiming "Issi did it, Issi did it!".

The word "Issi" being ambiguous, meaning also "himself", the onrushers, in stead of sympathising with the outwitted Devil, jeeringly bid him lie on the bed he has "himself" made.

The story bears a remarkable resemblance to the legend of Odysseus and Polyphemus. Odysseus and his friends had, when locked in Polyphemus' cave, heated the end of a stake and had buried it deeply into the giant's solitary eye. The monstrous bellowing of the giant caused the neighbouring Cyclopes to flock from their surrounding caves and they inquired what had transpired. Polyphemus replied: "O friends I die, and Noman give me the blow." Thinking that no man was responsible they told him to bear the pain and they left. The clever Odysseus had, when asked his name by Polyphemus, introduced himself as Noman.


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