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Main > Czechoslovak folktale > Fairy tale "The Devil's Match: The Story of a Farmer Who Remembered What His Grandmother Told Him"

The Devil's Match: The Story of a Farmer Who Remembered What His Grandmother Told Him

If you bring me the gold within an hour I won't bind you with bast. But don't keep me waiting or I may change my mind."

The young devil—oh, you never saw a more stupid young fellow!—scurried off and, long before the hour was up, he came panting back with a great big bag of gold.

"Is that enough?" he asked.

The farmer who had really never seen so much money in all his life hemmed and hawed but finally said:

"Well, it isn't as much as I expected but I'll accept it."

The young devil, delighted with his bargain, hurried back to hell and told all his black comrades how grateful they ought to be to him for saving them from the farmer who was planning to bind them, hand and foot, with bast.

When the other devils heard the whole story, they laughed at him loud and long.

"You are certainly the stupidest devil in hell!" they said. "Why, that man has made a fool of you!"

They discussed the matter among themselves and decided that the devil would have to get back the bag of gold or the story would leak out and thereafter the people on earth would have no more respect for devils.

"Go back to the farmer," they said, "and dare him to a wrestling match. Tell him that whoever wins the match is to keep the gold."

So the young devil went back to earth and dared the farmer to a wrestling match. The farmer, who saw how things were, said:

"My dear young friend, if I were to wrestle with you I'm afraid I'd hurt you for I'm awfully strong. I tell you what I'll do: I'll let you wrestle with my old grandfather. He's ninety-nine years old but even so he's more nearly in your class."

The devil agreed to this and the farmer—oh, but that farmer was a sly one!—led him out into the forest to a cave where a big brown bear lay asleep.

"There's my grandfather," the farmer said. "Go wake him up and make him wrestle."

The devil shook the bear and said:

"Wake up, old man! Wake up! We're going to wrestle!"

The bear opened his little eyes, stood up on his hind legs, and taking the devil in his arms hugged him until the devil thought his bones would all be crushed.

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