THERE was a gentleman and lady who were very poor. This man used to sit sadly at a cross-roads. There came to him a gentleman, who asked: "Why are you so sad?"
"Because I have not wherewith to live."
He said to him, "I will give you as much money as you like, if at such a time you tell the age of the devil."
Our man goes off happy. He leads a merry life with his wife, for they wanted for nothing. They lived at a great rate. But time went on, and, the time was approaching. This man recollected that he had not busied himself at all about the devil's age. He became pensive. His wife asked him what was the matter with him then? why is he not happy? that they wanted for nothing; why is he so sad? He tells her how it is that he got rich, and what compact he had made with a gentleman. His wife said to him:
"If you have nothing but that, it is nothing at all.
[paragraph continues] Get into a barrel of honey, and when you come out of it get into another barrel of feathers, and dressed like that go to the cross-roads and wait for the devil there. You will put yourself on all fours, and walk backwards and forwards, and go between his legs, and walk all round him."
The man does as his wife had told him. The devil comes, and draws back (when he sees him); and our man goes up quite close to the devil. The devil being frightened said to him:
"I am so many years old, and I have never seen any animal like that, and such a frightful one." 1
Our man had heard enough. He went off home at full speed, and told his wife that they would want for nothing, that he had done as she had told him, just as if she had been a witch, and that he was no longer afraid of the devil. They lived rich and happily, and if they lived well, they died well too.
59:1 Cf. "The Brewery of Egg-shells," in Croker's "Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland," pp. 32-36.