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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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THE HEN-PECKED DEVIL

SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS AGO THE MAYOR OF HAMBURG, GERMANY,
CONTRACTED TO HAVE A BRIDGE BUILT OVER THE ELBE. THE CONTRACTOR
PROMISED TO HAVE THE JOB COMPLETED BY A CERTAIN DATE, BUT,
BECAUSE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER, HE WAS HOPELESSLY BEHIND SCHEDULE.
SINCE THE BUILDER KNEW THAT THE MAYOR WOULD NOT FULFILL HIS END
OF THE CONTRACT UNLESS THE BRIDGE WAS COMPLETED IN TIME FOR THE
SPRING FESTIVALS, HE MADE A PACT WITH THE DEVIL FOR ITS COMPLE-
TION. THE DEVIL WOULD COMPLETE CONSTRUCTION IN RETURN FOR THE
SOUL OF THE FIRST PERSON TO CROSS THE BRIDGE.
WHEN THE BRIDGE WAS COMPLETED AND TO BE DEDICATED, THE MAYOR AND
BUILDER ARGUED WITH ONE ANOTHER ABOUT WHO SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO
WALK ACROSS THE SPAN. THE MAYOR, SUSPECTING SOMETHING WAS AMISS
BECAUSE OF THE JOB'S RAPID COMPLETION, INSISTED THAT THE BUILDER
PROCEED FIRST. IN ANTICIPATION OF THIS, THE BUILDER HAD TUCKED
A HEN UNDER HIS COAT. WHEN HE APPROACHED THE MIDWAY MARK OF THE
BRIDGE WHERE THE DEVIL WAS LURKING BEHIND A COLUMN, HE THREW THE
HEN OUT TO HIM. THE DEVIL SEIZED THE BIRD, BUT WHEN HE SAW THAT
HIS CATCH WAS ONLY A HEN, HE THREW IT DOWN IN DISGUST. THE
DEVIL'S ANGER WAS SUCH THAT THE HEN WENT CLEAN THROUGH THE BRIDGE,
AND TO THIS DAY THERE IS A HOLD IN THE BRIDGE WHICH WILL NOT BE
FILLED.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD TALE FROM A GERMAN PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR AT
GANNON COLLEGE, ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; ERIE ; GANNON COLLEGE

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Devil Demon
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Bird
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Bridge

Date learned: 10-23-1965

View just this record

THE HEN-PECKED DEVIL

SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS AGO THE MAYOR OF HAMBURG, GERMANY,
CONTRACTED TO HAVE A BRIDGE BUILT OVER THE ELBE. THE CONTRACTOR
PROMISED TO HAVE THE JOB COMPLETED BY A CERTAIN DATE, BUT,
BECAUSE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER, HE WAS HOPELESSLY BEHIND SCHEDULE.
SINCE THE BUILDER KNEW THAT THE MAYOR WOULD NOT FULFILL HIS END
OF THE CONTRACT UNLESS THE BRIDGE WAS COMPLETED IN TIME FOR THE
SPRING FESTIVALS, HE MADE A PACT WITH THE DEVIL FOR ITS COMPLE-
TION. THE DEVIL WOULD COMPLETE CONSTRUCTION IN RETURN FOR THE
SOUL OF THE FIRST PERSON TO CROSS THE BRIDGE.
WHEN THE BRIDGE WAS COMPLETED AND TO BE DEDICATED, THE MAYOR AND
BUILDER ARGUED WITH ONE ANOTHER ABOUT WHO SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO
WALK ACROSS THE SPAN. THE MAYOR, SUSPECTING SOMETHING WAS AMISS
BECAUSE OF THE JOB'S RAPID COMPLETION, INSISTED THAT THE BUILDER
PROCEED FIRST. IN ANTICIPATION OF THIS, THE BUILDER HAD TUCKED
A HEN UNDER HIS COAT. WHEN HE APPROACHED THE MIDWAY MARK OF THE
BRIDGE WHERE THE DEVIL WAS LURKING BEHIND A COLUMN, HE THREW THE
HEN OUT TO HIM. THE DEVIL SEIZED THE BIRD, BUT WHEN HE SAW THAT
HIS CATCH WAS ONLY A HEN, HE THREW IT DOWN IN DISGUST. THE
DEVIL'S ANGER WAS SUCH THAT THE HEN WENT CLEAN THROUGH THE BRIDGE,
AND TO THIS DAY THERE IS A HOLD IN THE BRIDGE WHICH WILL NOT BE
FILLED.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD TALE FROM A GERMAN PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR AT
GANNON COLLEGE, ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; ERIE ; GANNON COLLEGE

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Devil Demon
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Bird
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Bridge

Date learned: 10-23-1965

View just this record

THE HEN-PECKED DEVIL

SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS AGO THE MAYOR OF HAMBURG, GERMANY,
CONTRACTED TO HAVE A BRIDGE BUILT OVER THE ELBE. THE CONTRACTOR
PROMISED TO HAVE THE JOB COMPLETED BY A CERTAIN DATE, BUT,
BECAUSE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER, HE WAS HOPELESSLY BEHIND SCHEDULE.
SINCE THE BUILDER KNEW THAT THE MAYOR WOULD NOT FULFILL HIS END
OF THE CONTRACT UNLESS THE BRIDGE WAS COMPLETED IN TIME FOR THE
SPRING FESTIVALS, HE MADE A PACT WITH THE DEVIL FOR ITS COMPLE-
TION. THE DEVIL WOULD COMPLETE CONSTRUCTION IN RETURN FOR THE
SOUL OF THE FIRST PERSON TO CROSS THE BRIDGE.
WHEN THE BRIDGE WAS COMPLETED AND TO BE DEDICATED, THE MAYOR AND
BUILDER ARGUED WITH ONE ANOTHER ABOUT WHO SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO
WALK ACROSS THE SPAN. THE MAYOR, SUSPECTING SOMETHING WAS AMISS
BECAUSE OF THE JOB'S RAPID COMPLETION, INSISTED THAT THE BUILDER
PROCEED FIRST. IN ANTICIPATION OF THIS, THE BUILDER HAD TUCKED
A HEN UNDER HIS COAT. WHEN HE APPROACHED THE MIDWAY MARK OF THE
BRIDGE WHERE THE DEVIL WAS LURKING BEHIND A COLUMN, HE THREW THE
HEN OUT TO HIM. THE DEVIL SEIZED THE BIRD, BUT WHEN HE SAW THAT
HIS CATCH WAS ONLY A HEN, HE THREW IT DOWN IN DISGUST. THE
DEVIL'S ANGER WAS SUCH THAT THE HEN WENT CLEAN THROUGH THE BRIDGE,
AND TO THIS DAY THERE IS A HOLD IN THE BRIDGE WHICH WILL NOT BE
FILLED.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD TALE FROM A GERMAN PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR AT
GANNON COLLEGE, ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; ERIE ; GANNON COLLEGE

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Devil Demon
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Bird
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Bridge

Date learned: 10-23-1965

View just this record

showing 3 items

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