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The Hazel-Branch

One afternoon the Christ-child had laid himself in his cradle-bed and had fallen asleep. Then his mother came to him, looked at him full of gladness, and said, have you laid yourself down to sleep, my child. Sleep sweetly, and in the meantime, I will go into the wood, and fetch you a handful of strawberries, for I know that you will be pleased with them when you awake. In the wood outside, she found a spot with the most beautiful strawberries, but as she was stooping to gather one, an adder sprang up out of the grass. She was alarmed, left the strawberries where they were, and hastened away. The adder darted after her, but our lady, as you can readily understand, knew what it was best to do. She hid herself behind a hazel-bush, and stood there until the adder had crept away again. Then she gathered the strawberries, and as she set out on her way home she said, as the hazel-bush has been my protection this time, it shall in future protect others also. Therefore, from the most remote times, a green hazel-branch has been the safest protection against adders, snakes, and everything else which creeps on the earth.

--The End--

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