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Devil and Feathery Wife

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Devil and Feathery Wife

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Devil and Feathery Wife

Now there was an old farmer lived over the hill
  and a poor old fellow they say
He was plagued by a scolding wife
  the worst misfortune that day

And as he cut wood in the forest one day
  between dark mood and despair
The Devil himself, he jumped out of the bushes
  and stood before his mare

"What's the matter," the Devil, he cried,
  "You look so discontent
Haven't you got any money to buy your food
  Or to pay your landlord rent?

"What would you give me," the Devil, he cried,
  If I were to end your debate
And I gave you money and gear enough
  So you'd never more want for meat"

"But I've nothing to give you," the old man cried,
  "I've nothing right here to my hand
But if you would do what you say for me
  I'll be at your command"

"Right and I'll make you a bargain," the Devil, he cried,
  "A bargain you just couldn't miss
You bring me a beast at seven years end
  I'll try to say what it is

"But if that beast I name aright
  You mark what I do tell
You've got to toddle along with me
  To view the ovens of Hell"

So the old man prospered and prospered well
  It was all gained and spent
Till he came to the end of seven long years
  Sorely he did lament

"Oh, what is the matter?" his wife, she cried,
  "You look so discontent
Sure you've gotten some silly young girl with child
  Making you sore lament"

"No, I've made a bargain with the Devil," he cried
  "It was a bargain I just couldn't miss
I've got to bring him a beast at seven years end
  He's got to say what it is

"But if that beast he names aright
  You mark what I do tell
I've got to toddle along with him
  To view the ovens of Hell"

"Oh, never you worry," his wife, she cried,
  "Be it happens, you'll pay for your deed
For the wit of a woman, it comes in handy
  At times in an hour of need

"Go and fetch me the droppings from all of our chickens
  And spread them all over the floor
Stark naked I will strip myself
  And I'll roll all over the floor

"And fetch me the barrel of feathers," she said
  Of the beasts we had for our tea
And I'll roll and I'll roll all over in them
  Till never an inch be free"

So she rolled and she rolled in feathers and droppings
  from her head right down to her navel
By Christ, he said, what a terrible sight
  She looked far worse than the Devil

Then the Devil himself came in
  He began to steam and to hiss
"By Christ," he said, "What an awful sight
  I'll be damned if I know what it is"

He started to shake and he started to quail
  Saying, "Have you got any more of these at home?"
"Oh yes," he said, "I've got seven more
  That in my forest do roam"

"Well if you've got seven more of these beasts
  That in your forest do dwell
I'll be as good as my bargain and I'll be gone
  She's worse than the demons in Hell"

recorded by Martin Carthy
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