The Devil (or Ogre) and the Gun

Folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther Type 1157
translated and/or edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2009


  1. How the Devil Played the Flute (Germany).

  2. The Origin of the Jack-o'-Lantern (Wales).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

How the Devil Played the Flute


Once the devil became bored in hell and wanted to take a pleasure trip to earth. Not wanting to be alone (for he does not like that at all; he loves company) he took his youngest son with him, a young black curious whippersnapper. They traveled out through a mountain cave, arriving in a forest. The little devil was delighted. He jumped about, climbed up the trees and hung by his tail, just like a monkey, doing all sorts of foolish things.

They came to a large oak tree where a man in a green jacket and with a green cap was lying asleep. A bag was hanging next to him from the tree, from which were protruding all kinds of game: hares, woodcocks, and wild ducks. Next to the bag there was a gun.

The little devil ran up and examined everything closely. Picking up the gun, he asked his father what it was. The old devil wrinkled his forehead and said, "That is a flute, my son. When people play on it, wild animals run up to them, and they only have to catch them."

"That I have to see," said the little devil. "You should play something for me on it."

"It takes two, my son. One to blow and one to finger."

"Then you can blow, and I will finger," said the whippersnapper.

So the old one had to put the barrel into his mouth, whether he wanted to or not, because he had spoiled the little fellow rotten. The old one blew, and the whippersnapper fingered and fingered, but not a single tone came out.

"You have to press down on the keys, you stupid boy," said the old one.

The little devil pushed against the hammer, then there came such a blow that the old one was struck to the ground, for the entire load of shot hit him in the throat. The young one ran away, terrified. The old one soon recovered and ran after his boy, for the sound of the gun had awakened the man.

"That was not a beautiful tone," said the whippersnapper.

"You pressed the wrong key," said the old one, "and the flute was dusty, so all the dust flew into my throat."

The Origin of the Jack-o'-Lantern


A popular legend giving the origin of the jack-o'-lantern in Wales deals with the idea of a stupid devil: A long time ago there lived on the hills of Arfon an old man of the name of Sion Dafydd, who used to converse much with one of the children of the bottomless pit.

One morning Sion was on his way to Llanfair-Fechan, carrying a flail on his shoulder, for he had corn there, when whom should he meet but his old friend from the pit, with a bag on his back, and in it two little devils like himself. After conversing for some time they began to quarrel, and presently were in the midst of a terrible fight. Sion fell to basting the devils with his flail, until the bag containing the two little ones went all to pieces, and the two tumbling out, fled for their lives to Rhiwgyfylchi, which village is considered to this day a very wicked place from this fact.

Sion then went his way rejoicing, and did not for a long time encounter his adversary. Eventually, however, they met, and this time Sion had his gun on his shoulder.

"What's that long thing you're carrying?" inquired the devil.

"That's my pipe," said Sion.

Then the devil asked, "Shall I have a whiff out of it?"

"You shall," was Sion's reply, and he placed the mouth of his gun in the devil's throat and drew the trigger. Well; that was the loudest report from a gun that was ever heard on this earth.

"Ach!-tw!-tw!" exclaimed the smoker, "your pipe is very foul," and he disappeared in a flame.

After a lapse of time, Sion met him again in the guise of a gentleman, but the Welshman knew it was the tempter. This time he made a bargain for which he was ever afterwards sorry, i.e., he sold himself to the devil for a sum down, but with the understanding that whenever he could cling to something the devil should not then control him.

One day when Sion was busily gardening, the evil one snatched him away into the air without warning, and Sion was about giving up all hopes of again returning to earth, when he thought to himself, "I'll ask the devil one last favor."

The stupid devil listened.

"All I want is an apple," said Sion, "to moisten my lips a bit down below; let me go to the top of my apple tree, and I'll pick one."

"Is that all?" quoth the diawl, and consented.

Of course Sion laid hold of the apple tree, and hung on. The devil had to leave him there. But the old reprobate was too wicked for heaven, and the devil having failed to take him to the other place, he was turned into a fairy, and is now the jack-o'- lantern.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised March 25, 2009.