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BellaOnline's Folklore and Mythology Editor

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The Tale of Stingy Jack

Guest Author - Deanna Joseph

There once lived a wicked, tight fisted man named Stingy Jack. Stingy Jack was not only deceitful, but also a liar and a thief.

One night, Stingy Jack passed out from too much drink, and as his soul floated free, the Devil came to claim it. Stingy Jack, who considered himself a good deal more tricksy than even the Devil himself, was agreeable, but said to the Devil, “I’ll give you my soul, but first let us share one last drink.”

Now even the Devil enjoys a drink now and again, so who was he to refuse Jack’s final request. They went to Jack’s favorite pub, however Jack had no money to pay for the drink (normally he would stiff the bartender!). So Jack said to the Devil, “why don’t you turn yourself into a sixpence to pay for the drink. Later, when you’ve disappeared, the good Christian people of this town will be fighting over where the sixpence disappeared to.”

Now the Devil especially liked the idea of setting good Christians to fighting over nothing, so he agreeably turned himself into a sixpence, which Jack immediately pocketed next to his cross. This trapped (and infuriated) the Devil. Jack knew there was no escaping for the Devil, so he decided to strike a bargain. He would free the Devil if the Devil would agree to leave him alone for 10 years. The Devil, having no choice, of course agreed.

Ten years later the Devil showed up to claim Jack’s soul. Jack, who still considered himself much more tricksy than the Devil could ever hope to be, agreed. “But first, I would wonder if you wouldn’t mind climbing up that apple tree to get an old man one last apple.” The Devil, who himself like to enjoy an apple once in a while, agreed, and climbed the tree. But once he was up the tree, Jack surrounded the tree with crosses, and the Devil was trapped (again). Jack told the Devil he would only release him if he agreed to forever leave him alone. The Devil, who had had about enough of this cantankerous old trickster, agreed.

Several years later Stingy Jack finally died. He went to the gates of heaven, but he was refused for his life of wickedness and thievery. Jack, not knowing where else to go, went to the gates of hell. The Devil, remembering his earlier encounters with Jack, refused him admittance to hell. Jack was now doomed to walk the earth for eternity, but the Devil took pity on him and gave him a single ember from hell to light his way. Jack put the ember inside a hollowed out turnip, which he always carried with him as it was his favorite food.

So the moral of the story
Is that it’s time to mend your ways.
Be generous and giving
For the remainder of your days,
For if the Devil doesn’t want you,
and Heaven turns you away
You’re doomed to wander in darkness
With only a turnip to light your way.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Deanna Joseph. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Deanna Joseph. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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