How a junior devil was fooled by a husbandman of Pope-Figland.
In the middle of July the devil came to the place aforesaid with all his crew at his heels, a whole choir of the younger fry of hell; and having met the farmer, said to him, Well, clodpate, how hast thou done since I went? Thou and I must share the concern. Ay, master devil, quoth the clown; it is but reason we should. Then he and his men began to cut and reap the corn; and, on the other side, the devil’s imps fell to work, grubbing up and pulling out the stubble by the root.
The countryman had his corn thrashed, winnowed it, put in into sacks, and went with it to market. The same did the devil’s servants, and sat them down there by the man to sell their straw. The countryman sold off his corn at a good rate, and with the money filled an old kind of a demi-buskin which was fastened to his girdle. But the devil a sou the devils took; far from taking handsel, they were flouted and jeered by the country louts.
Market being over, quoth the devil to the farmer, Well, clown, thou hast choused me once, it is thy fault; chouse me twice, ’twill be mine. Nay, good sir devil, replied the farmer; how can I be said to have choused you, since it was your worship that chose first? The truth is, that by this trick you thought to cheat me, hoping that nothing would spring out of the earth for my share, and that you should find whole underground the corn which I had sowed, and with it tempt the poor and needy, the close hypocrite, or the covetous griper; thus making them fall into your snares. But troth, you must e’en go to school yet; you are no conjurer, for aught I see; for the corn that was sow’d is dead and rotten, its corruption having caused the generation of that which you saw me sell. So you chose the worst, and therefore are cursed in the gospel. Well, talk no more of it, quoth the devil; what canst thou sow our field with for next