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Main > Czechoslovak folktale > Fairy tale "The Devil's Gifts: The Story of a Man Whom the Devil Befriended"

The Devil's Gifts: The Story of a Man Whom the Devil Befriended

There were once two men, a shoemaker and a farmer, who had been close friends in youth. The shoemaker married and had many children to whom the farmer stood godfather. For this reason the two men called each other "Godfather." When they met it was "Godfather, this," and "Godfather, that." The shoemaker was an industrious little man and yet with so many mouths to fill he remained poor. The farmer on the other hand soon grew rich for he had no children to eat into his savings.

Years went by and money and possessions began to change the farmer's disposition. The more he accumulated, the more he wanted, until people were whispering behind his back that he was miserly and avaricious. His wife was like him. She, too, saved and skimped although, as I have told you, they had neither chick nor child to provide for.

The richer the farmer grew, the less he cared for his poor friend and his poor friend's children. Now when they called him "Godfather," he frowned impatiently, and whenever he saw any of them he pretended to be very busy for fear they should ask him a favor.

One day when he had slaughtered beef, the poor shoemaker came to him and said:

"My dear Godfather, you have just made a killing. Won't you please give me a little piece of meat? My wife and children are hungry."

"No!" roared the rich man. "Why should I feed your family? You ought to save as I do and then you wouldn't have to ask favors of any one."

Humiliated by the refusal, the shoemaker went home and told his wife what his friend had said.

"Go back to him," his wife insisted, "and tell him again that his godchildren are hungry. I don't think he understood you."

So the poor little shoemaker returned to the rich man. He cleared his throat apologetically and stammered:

"Dear Godfather, you—you don't want your poor godchildren to go hungry, do you? Give me just one small piece of meat—that's all I ask."

In a rage, the rich man picked up a hunk of meat and threw it at his poor friend.

"There!" he shouted.

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