The Horned Servant

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A story from a collection of fairy tales compiled by the famous storyteller Pavol Dobšinský.

This is a story about a devil who steals the last piece of bread from a woodcutter. When Lucifer finds it out, he punishes the devil, making him serve the woodcutter the whole year.

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The Horned Servant
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In a land far, far away, where cunning devils as red as hot coal roamed the earth, a poor woodcutter lived with his family. Each penny he had he earned by hard work, waking up at dawn and cutting down trees until dusk every day. With this money he could support his family.

One day, leaving for the mountains, the woodcutter stopped in the pantry to pack some food for the day. At home, they had almost run out of food, so all he packed was a small slice of bread. With his meager lunch safely in his bag, he swung an axe over his shoulder and set off into the woods.

A familiar clearing wasn’t too far off. Having reached it, he hung his bag on a nearby branch and began to chop down a tree. The noise of his heavy axe hacking at the giant tree echoed through the whole forest. Birds quickly flew out of the nearby trees toward quiet and safety, and squirrels poked their heads out of the branches to see what was happening.

But the racket also attracted a curious little devil.

“Ooh, who do we have here in the woods?” he asked, gleefully. “A woodcutter, you say? Well, I must admit that he chops swiftly. Lord knows I would never work that hard! Ooh-hoo! But what is that hanging over there? A bag! And full of tasty goodies, I’m sure!” The devil excitedly hopped toward the bag, his tail swinging behind him and his horns twitching eagerly.

Sneakily he skittered over to the woodcutter’s bag, snatched it up in a wink, and vanished as if he’d fallen straight to hell itself.

The woodcutter didn’t notice a thing, he was so buried in his work. Far off, in the depths of the devil’s…

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