Spellbound

Fantasy Stories

Diana Wynne Jones

Kingfisher

Chapter One
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THE PEASANT AND THE DEVIL
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THE BROTHERS GRIMM
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THERE WAS ONCE upon a time a peasant who had been working in his
field, and as twilight had set in, he was getting ready for the journey home,
when he saw a heap of burning coals in the middle of his field, and when, full
of astonishment, he went up to it, a little black devil was sitting on the live
coals.
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"Do you sit upon a treasure?" inquired the peasant.
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"Yes, in trust," replied the Devil, "on a treasure that contains more gold and
silver than you have ever seen in your life!"
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"The treasure lies in my field and belongs to me," said the peasant.
"It is yours," answered the Devil, "if you will for two years give me half of
everything that your field produces. Money I have enough of, but I have a
desire for the fruit of the earth."
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The peasant agreed to the bargain.
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"In order, however, that no dispute may arise about the division," said
he, "everything that is below ground shall belong to you and what is above the
earth to me."
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The Devil was quite satisfied with that, but the cunning peasant had sowed
turnips. Now when the time for the harvest came, the Devil appeared and
wanted to take away his crop; but he found nothing but the yellow withered
leaves, while the peasant, quite pleased, was digging up his turnips.
"You have had the best of it for once," said the Devil, "but the next time that
won't do. What grows aboveground shall be yours, and what is under it,
mine."
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"I am willing," replied the peasant.
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When, however, the time came to sow, the peasant did not again sow
turnips, but wheat.
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The grain became ripe, and the peasant went into the field and cut the full
stalks down to the ground. When the Devil came, he found nothing but the
stubble,and went away in a fury down into a cleft in the rocks.
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"That is the way to cheat the Devil," said the peasant, and he went and
fetched away the treasure.