Bedtime Stories in English - Deal With Devil

 Deal With Devil

In my Grandmother's time there lived in the southern part of Ireland a blacksmith named William. He was a loose-living fellow, given to gambling and drinking, and extravagant with his money. He was heavily in debt, with no way of getting out of the mess. So he called on the Devil to help him, and sure enough, the Devil answered his call. William struck a bargain with the Devil which seemed to satisfy both parties. William was to receive as much gold as he could spend, but, in return, he was to sell his soul to the Devil, who was to come for him in seven years' time. After William had signed the bond with his blood, the Devil disappeared in a flash of blue flame. William went from bad to worse, squandering his money in all manner of foolishness and wild living. All the same, he was not a mean or stingy man, and he was always ready to help a poor friend or neighbor.

Many were the blessings he received from complete strangers whom he had helped, and many were the prayers offered for his deliverance from such misguided ways. But it all seemed of no avail. One day, on the road, he met an old woman who asked him for help. Without any hesitation, he put his hand in his pocket and drew out a bright gold guinea, which was a lot of money in those days. "I hope it will do you more good than it will for me." The old woman thanked him and said, "Now, William, since you have been so kind to a poor old woman, I will grant you any three wishes you ask for." You see, the old woman was a fairy, one of the good folk, and she had the power of granting wishes, provided it did not harm anyone. William took her at her word and said, "First of all, I wish that anyone who lifts my sledgehammer to strike with it, must keep on striking till I take it from him." "That wish is granted," said the fairy. "Next, I wish that anyone who sits down in my armchair will never get up out of it till I release him." "That wish is also granted," said the fairy. "And now, for the last one, I wish for a purse. No one but myself can take out of that purse what I put in it." The fairy immediately drew a purse from her clothes and gave it to William, saying, "Granted." And then she disappeared. Sometime after this, as William was working away at his forge and whistling to himself, who should walk in the door but the Devil himself. 

"Ha! William," he says, "I've come for you at last. Time's up, my boy." "All right," says William, not in the least alarmed. "I'm ready to go, but you'll have to wait until I finish these plough irons for a neighbor. I promised him I'd do them today, and I wouldn't like to go down below without keeping my promise." "All right," says the Devil. "I'll wait." "Take the sledgehammer, then, and give me a hand," says William, "and I'll finish all the quicker." So the Devil took the hammer and began to strike. Well, he struck and struck and struck away till he was sick and tired, and there stood William laughing at him. When the Devil was almost ready to drop, he cried out: "Will, Will, my friend, if you will only take this off me, I'll not bother you for five years to come, and let you have all the money you want till I come again!" "It's a bargain," said William, and he took the hammer away, and the Devil disappeared. After this, William was worse than ever. He wouldn't do any work until his time was nearly up. Then he pulled himself together a little. One day he was ploughing a small patch of ground belonging to him when the old Devil came for him again. "I want you this time," says the Devil. "All right, old boy," says Will. "Come to the house with me while I put on a clean shirt. I don't like to go into a company unless I look decent." The Devil agreed to this, and they went back to the house together. "Take a chair," says William, pushing over his armchair, and the Devil sat down in it, only to discover that he couldn't get up again. He was well stuck. Will put on a clean shirt and went off to the market town, where there was a fair going on. He didn't come home till late at night, and there sat the Devil, blue in the face with his struggles to get out of the chair. "Oh, Will!" he cried, "Let me out of this and I won't come near you for another five years." So Will let him go, but he hadn't noticed that the Devil promised him no money this time. Will soon found that what money he had didn't last long, and people would give him no work because of his bad habits.

So Will found himself begging from door to door. When the time came around again, and the Devil reappeared, poor Will said, "I am glad you've come, for I'm sick and tired of living. I'm not thinking of playing any more tricks on you." And off they marched together. After a while, they passed an inn, and William said, "Many's the time I had a good meal there, and I'd like to have one parting meal before leaving this world, but I haven't a farthing. I have often heard," he said to the Devil, "that you can change yourself into any shape you like. If you can, just change yourself into  a sovereign, and I can go in and get a meal, and then I'll be ready to go anywhere you take me." "All right," said the Devil. "I'll oblige you now, as it's the last time, and I know you can't get away from me." So he changed himself into the coin and Will put it in this purse. Then he went into the inn and throwing his purse on the counter, called for a number of dishes. After he had eaten as much as he could, the innkeeper asked for his money, and Will told him to take it from the purse, but of course, the innkeeper couldn't take it out.

Will said, "I've offered you the money and you won't take it, so I'll keep it for myself." He put the purse back in his pocket. After they had bundled him out of the inn, he returned to his house. He went to his forge and put the purse on the anvil. Lifting his hammer he began to strike it, till the Devil inside it begged for mercy, crying out: "Will, if you let me out of this, I'll never come near you again, and I'll give you enough money to last your lifetime!" "Agreed," says William, and he released him, and the Devil flew off, yelling from the beating he had received. After this Will lived very comfortably and gave away a great deal in charity. At last, however, he had to die, like all of us. He marched to the gate of heaven and asked to be let in, but when he told them his name, they said he'd had dealings with the Devil and couldn't be allowed in. So off he marched till he got to the door of the other place, and asked to be allowed in. They asked him his name, and he said, William. "No, no, don't let him in!" cried the Devil. "He'll get the better of all of us here. He got the better of me when he was on earth, and if we let him in, he'll make hell unbearable for us. Send him away, we don't want him here!" So they threw him a lighted wisp, and from that day to this, he has been wandering around the world with his lighted wisp, trying to find someplace to rest. We call him Will O' the-wisp.

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