TEE STORY OF THREE WONDERFUL
There once lived a merchant whose name was Mark, and whom people called ' Mark the Rich.' He was a very hard-hearted man, for he could not bear poor people, and if he caught sight of a beggar anywhere near his house, he would order the servants to drive him away, or would set the dogs at him.
One day three very poor old men came begging to the door, and just as he was going to let the fierce dogs loose on them, his little daughter, Anastasia, crept close up to him and said:
' Dear daddy, let the poor old men sleep here to-night, do — to please me.'
Her father could not bear to refuse her, and the three beggars were allowed to sleep in a loft, and at night, when everyone in the house was fast asleep, little Anastasia got up, climbed up to the loft, and peeped in.
The three old men stood in the middle of the loft, leaning on their sticks, with their long grey beards flowing down over their hands, and were talking together in low voices.
' What news is there? ' asked the eldest.
' In the next village the peasant Ivan has just had his seventh son. What shall we name him, and what fortune shall we give him?' said the second.
The third whispered, 'Call him Vassili, and give him all the property of the hard-hearted man in whose