The Works of Leo Tolstoi. One Volume Edition. Roslyn, NY: Black's
Readers Service Co., 1928, pages 4-18.
 CHAPTER X: A WOMAN'S SOUL
The woman went away with the girls. Michael rose from the bench, put down
his work, and took off his apron. Then, bowing low to Simon and his
wife, he said: "Farewell, masters. God has forgiven me. I ask your forgiveness,
too, for anything done amiss."
And they saw that a light shone from Michael. And Simon rose, bowed
down to Michael, and said: "I see, Michael, that you are no common man,
and I can neither keep you nor question you. Only tell me this: how is
it that when I found you and brought you home, you were gloomy, and when
my wife gave you food you smiled at her and became brighter? Then when
the gentleman came to order the boots, you smiled again and became brighter
still? And now, when this woman brought the little girls, you smiled a
third time, and have become as bright as day? Tell me, Michael, why does
your face shine so, and why did you smile those three times?"
And Michael answered: "Light shines from me because I have been punished,
but now God has pardoned me. And I smiled three times, because God sent
me to learn three truths, and I have learnt them. One I learnt when your
wife pitied me, and that is why I smiled the first time. The second I learnt
when the rich man ordered the boots, and then I smiled again. And now,
when I saw those little girls, I learnt  the third and last truth,
and I smiled the third time."
And Simon said, "Tell me, Michael, what did God punish you for? and
what were the three truths that I, too, may know them?"
And Michael answered: "God punished me for disobeying Him. I was an
angel in heaven and disobeyed God. God sent me to fetch a woman's soul.
I flew to earth, and saw a sick woman lying alone, who bad just given birth
to twin girls. They moved feebly at their mother's side, but she could
not lift them to her breast. When she saw me, she understood that God had
sent me for her soul, and she wept and said: 'Angel of God! My husband
has just been buried, killed by a falling tree. I have neither sister,
nor aunt, nor mother: no one to care for my orphans. Do not take my soul!
Let me nurse my babes, feed them, and set them on their feet before I die.
Children cannot live without father or mother.' And I hearkened to her.
I placed one child at her breast and gave the other into her arms, and
returned to the Lord in heaven. I flew to the Lord, and said: 'I could
not take the soul of the mother. Her husband was killed by a tree; the
woman has twins, and prays that her soul may not be taken. She says: "Let
me nurse and feed my children, and set them on their feet. Children cannot
live without father or mother." I have not taken her soul.' And God said:
"Go--take the mother's soul, and learn three truths: Learn What dwells
in man, What is not given to man, and What men live by. When thou hast
learnt these things, thou shalt return to heaven." So I.flew again to earth
and took the mother's soul. The babes dropped from her breasts. Her body
rolled over on the bed and crushed one babe, twisting its leg. I rose above
the village, wishing to take her soul to God; but a wind seized me, and
my wings drooped and dropped off. Her soul rose alone to God, while I fell
to earth by the roadside."