Sacred-Texts Legends & Sagas Index Previous Next


ONE of the most fantastic stories of this series is “The Devil’s Visit” (Jannsen: Veckenstedt), which, notwithstanding its subject, has an absurd p. 39 resemblance in some of its details to “Little Red Riding-Hood.”

 Two men and their wives lived together in a cottage; one couple had three children, the others were childless. One day, both husbands were absent, and the Devil and his son knocked at the door in their semblance, and sat down to supper. But the eldest child said secretly, “Mother, mother, father’s got long claws!” The second said, “Mother, mother, he’s got a tail too!” And the youngest added, “Mother, mother, he’s got iron teeth in his mouth.” The woman comforted the children, and while the childless woman went with one of the devils, the mother put the children to bed on the stove, laid juniper twigs in front, and made the sign of the cross over them.

 She then gave the Devil the end of her girdle to hold, by which to draw her to him, but she fastened the other end to a log of wood, and climbed on the roof for safety, taking with her a three-pronged fork. As soon as the devils began to devour the supposed women,1 the elder discovered that he had p. 40 been deceived; and his son advised him to devour the children; but he could not get at them. Then his son advised him to look for the mother; and he tried to climb on the roof, but the woman struck him back with the fork, and he called to his son for help. The son immediately rushed out of the cottage to get his share of the prey, when a red cock crew, and the Devil cried out, “He’s my half-brother,” and tried again to get on the roof. Then crowed a white cock, and the Devil cried out, “He’s my godfather,” and scrambled on the corner of the gable. Then crowed a black cock, when the Devil cried out, “He’s my murderer!” and both devils vanished, as if they had sunk into the ground.



p. 39

1 It must be said, to the credit of the Esthonian devils, that they only appear occasionally in the light of ogres. In many tales they are harmless, and sometimes amiable.