Martin Carthy - The Devil And The Feathery Wife
Now there was an old farmer lived over the hill and a poor old fellow they say He was plagued by a scolding wife, the worst misfortune that day And as he cut wood in the forest one day between dark mood and despair The Devil himself, he jumped out of the bushes and stood before his mare "What's the matter," the Devil, he cried, "You look so discontent Haven't you got any money to buy your food or to pay your landlord rent? "What would you give me," the Devil, he cried, if I were to end your debate And I gave you money and gear enough so you'd never more want for meat" "But I've nothing to give you," the old man cried, "I've nothing right here to my hand But if you would do what you say for me I'll be at your command" "Right and I'll make you a bargain," the Devil, he cried, a bargain you just couldn't miss You bring me a beast at seven years end I'll try to say what it is "But if that beast I name aright you mark what I do tell You've got to toddle along with me to view the ovens of Hell" So the old man prospered and prospered well, it was all gained and spent Till he came to the end of seven long years sorely he did lament "Oh, what is the matter?" his wife, she cried, "You look so discontent Sure you've gotten some silly young girl with child making you sore lament" "No, I've made a bargain with the Devil," he cried, "It was a bargain I just couldn't miss I've got to bring him a beast at seven years end, he's got to say what it is "But if that beast he names aright you mark what I do tell I've got to toddle along with him to view the ovens of Hell" "Oh, never you worry," his wife, she cried, "Be it happens, you'll pay for your deed For the wit of a woman, it comes in handy at times in an hour of need "Go and fetch me the droppings from all of our chickens and spread them all over the floor Stark naked I will strip myself and I'll roll all over the floor "And fetch me the barrel of feathers," she said, of the beasts we had for our tea And I'll roll and I'll roll all over in them until never an inch be free" So she rolled and she rolled in feathers and droppings from her head right down to her navel By Christ, what a terrible sight she looked far worse than the Devil Then the Devil himself came in, he began to steam and to hiss "By Christ," he said, "What an awful sight, I'll be damned if I know what it is" He started to shake and he started to quail, saying, "Have you got any more of these at home?" "Oh yes," he said, "I've got seven more that in my forest do roam" "Well if you've got seven more of these beasts that in your forest do dwell I'll be as good as my bargain and I'll be gone, she's worse than the demons in Hell"