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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

It was as much as the devil could do to escape with his life.

"Oh, my poor ribs! My poor ribs!" he gasped when he was safely back in hell. "He's a terrible man—that farmer! Why, even his old grandfather is so strong that I thought he'd squeeze me to death!"

But when he had told his full story the other devils laughed at him louder than before and told him that the farmer had again fooled him.

"You've got to try another match with him," they said. "This time dare him to a foot race and mind you don't let him fool you."

So in a day or two when the soreness was gone from his bones the devil went back to earth and dared the farmer to run a foot race with him.

"Certainly," the farmer said, "but it's hardly fair to let you run against me because I go like the wind. I tell you what I'll do: I'll let you race with my small son. He's only a year old and perhaps you can beat him."

The devil—I never knew a more stupid fellow in my life!—agreed to this and the farmer took him out to a meadow. Under some bushes he showed him a rabbit's hole.

"My little boy's asleep in there," he said. "Call him out."

"Little boy!" the devil called. "Come out and run a race with me!"

Instantly a rabbit jumped out of the hole and went hoppetylop across the meadow. The devil tried hard to overtake him but couldn't. He ran on and on. They came at last to a deep ravine. The rabbit leaped across but the devil, when he tried to do the same, slipped and fell and went rolling down over stones and brambles, down, down, down, into a brook. When he had dragged himself out of the water, bruised and scratched, the rabbit had disappeared.

"I've had enough of that farmer," the devil said when he got back to hell. "Why, do you know, he has a small boy just one year old and I tell you there isn't one of you can beat that boy running!"

But the devils when they heard the rest of the story only laughed and jeered and told their comrade that the farmer had again tricked him.

"You've got to go back to him another time," they said.

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