March 02, 2015 23:06 UTC

Home

The Devil and Tom Walker

Washington Irving





 

Announcer:  Now, an American short story in Special English.
 
(MUSIC)

Our story today is, "The Devil and Tom Walker. " It was written by Washington Irving. Here is Shep O'Neal with our story.

(MUSIC)

Storyteller:  Before we begin our story, let us go back three hundred years to the late sixteen hundreds. In those years, one of the most famous men in the world was Captain William Kidd. Captain Kidd was a pirate. He sailed the seas, capturing any ships he found. He and his men took money from these ships. Captain Kidd hid this money in different places.
 
Captain Kidd was captured by the English in Boston, Massachusetts and executed in the year seventeen-oh-one.

From that time on, people all over the world searched in many places for Captain Kidd's stolen money.

The people who lived in Massachusetts in the seventeen hundreds believed Captain Kidd buried some of his treasure near Boston. Not far from Boston was a small river which ran into the Atlantic Ocean. An old story said that Captain Kidd had come up this river from the ocean. Then he buried his gold and silver and jewels under a big tree.

The story said that this treasure was protected by the devil himself, who was a good friend of Captain Kidd.

In the year seventeen twenty-seven, a man named Tom Walker lived near this place. Tom Walker was not a pleasant man. He loved only one thing -- money. There was only one person worse than Tom. That was his wife. She also loved money. These two were so hungry for money that they even stole things from each other.

One day, Tom Walker was returning home through a dark forest. He walked slowly and carefully, so that he would not fall into a pool of mud.

At last, he reached a piece of dry ground. Tom sat down on a tree that had fallen. As he rested, he dug into the earth with a stick. He knew the story that Indians had killed prisoners here as sacrifices to the Devil. But this did not trouble him. The only devil Tom was afraid of was his wife.

Tom's stick hit something hard. He dug it out of the earth. It was a human skull. In the skull was an Indian ax.

Suddenly, Tom Walker heard an angry voice: "Don't touch that skull!"

Tom looked up. He saw a giant sitting on a broken tree. Tom had never seen such a man. He wore the clothes of an Indian. His skin was almost black and covered with ashes. His eyes were big and red. His black hair stood up from his head. He carried a large ax.

The giant asked, "What are you doing on my land?" But Tom Walker was not afraid. He answered, "What do you mean? This land belongs to Mister Peabody."

The strange man laughed and pointed to the tall trees. Tom saw that one of the trees had been cut by an ax. He looked more closely and saw that the name Peabody had been cut into the tree. Mr. Peabody was a man who got rich by stealing from Indians.

Tom looked at the other trees. Every one had the name of some rich, important man from Massachusetts. Tom looked at the tree on which he was sitting. It also had a name cut into it -- the name of Absalom Crowninshield. Tom remembered that Mister Crowninshield was a very rich man. People said he got his money as Captain Kidd did -- by stealing ships.

Suddenly, the giant shouted: "Crowninshield is ready to be burned! I'm going to burn many trees this winter!"

Tom told the man that he had no right to cut Mister Peabody's trees. The stranger laughed and said, "I have every right to cut these trees. This land belonged to me a long time before Englishmen came to Massachusetts. The Indians were here. Then you Englishmen killed the Indians. Now I show Englishmen how to buy and sell slaves. And I teach their women how to be witches."
 
Tom Walker now knew that the giant was the Devil himself. But Tom Walker was still not afraid.

The giant said Captain Kidd had buried great treasures under the trees, but nobody could have them unless the giant permitted it. He said Tom could have these treasures. But Tom had to agree to give the giant what he demanded.

Tom Walker loved money as much as he loved life. But he asked for time to think.

Tom went home. He told his wife what had happened. She wanted Captain Kidd's treasure. She urged him to give the Devil what he wanted. Tom said no.

At last, Misses Walker decided to do what Tom refused to do. She put all her silver in a large piece of cloth and went to see the dark giant. Two days passed. She did not return home. She was never seen again.

People said later that Tom went to the place where he had met the giant. He saw his wife's cloth hanging in a tree. He was happy, because he wanted to get her silver. But when he opened the cloth, there was no silver in it -- only a human heart.

Tom was sorry he lost the silver, but not sorry he lost his wife. He wanted to thank the giant for this. And so, every day he looked for the giant. Tom finally decided that he would give the giant what he wanted in exchange for Captain Kidd's treasure.

One night, Tom Walker met the giant and offered his soul in exchange for Captain Kidd's treasure. The Devil now wanted more than that. He said that Tom would have to use the treasure to do the Devil's work. He wanted Tom to buy a ship and bring slaves to America.

As we have said, Tom Walker was a hard man who loved nothing but money. But even he could not agree to buy and sell human beings as slaves. He refused to do this.

The Devil then said that his second most important work was lending money. The men who did this work for the Devil forced poor people who borrowed money to pay back much more than they had received.

Tom said he would like this kind of work. So the Devil gave him Captain Kidd's treasure.

A few days later, Tom Walker was a lender of money in Boston. Everyone who needed help -- and there were many who did -- came to him. Tom Walker became the richest man in Boston. When people were not able to pay him, he took away their farms, their horses, and their houses.

As he got older and richer, Tom began to worry. What would happen when he died?  He had promised his soul to the Devil. Maybe. . .maybe. . . he could break that promise.

Tom then became very religious. He went to church every week. He thought that if he prayed enough, he could escape from the Devil.

One day, Tom took the land of a man who had borrowed money. The poor man asked for more time to pay. "Please do not destroy me!" he said. "You have already taken all my money!"

Tom got angry and started to shout, "Let the Devil take me if I have taken any money from you!"
 
That was the end of Tom Walker. For just then, he heard a noise. He opened the door. There was the black giant, holding a black horse. The giant said, "Tom, I have come for you." He picked up Tom and put him on the horse. Then he hit the horse, which ran off, carrying Tom.

Nobody ever saw Tom Walker again. A farmer said that he saw the black horse, with a man on it, running wildly into the forest.
 
After Tom Walker disappeared, the government decided to take Tom's property. But there was nothing to take. All the papers which showed that Tom owned land and houses were burned to ashes. His boxes of gold and silver had nothing in them but small pieces of wood. The wood came from newly cut trees. Tom's horses died, and his house suddenly burned to ashes.

(MUSIC)

Announcer: You have heard the story, "The Devil and Tom Walker." It was written by Washington Irving. Our storyteller was Shep O'Neal. Listen again next week at this same time for another AMERICAN STORY told in Special English on the Voice of America. This is Shirley Griffith.

(MUSIC)

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Audio Kerry Deplores Rights Violation in Eastern Ukraine

    Also, Kerry called for investigation in Nemtsov's death and defended Israel at the UN. Iraqi forces have launched an offensive against Islamic State fighters. And, North Korean has fired missiles into the sea in an apparent protest against joint U.S. and South Korean exercises. More

  • FILE - A man watches a TV news program showing a file picture of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea.

    Audio Can North Korea Build More Nuclear Weapons?

    A new report says North Korea could have as many as 100 nuclear weapons by 2020. That includes the 16 to 20 such weapons the report’s writer says the closed country already has. Not everyone agrees North Korea will be able to build that many more nuclear weapons in the next five years. More

  • Video Struggling in Europe, Muslims Look to US for Better Model

    Activists want to stop efforts by Islamist groups to find new members in Europe. But the activists say they are losing the battle for the continent’s young Muslims. Muslim communities in the United States have seen smaller numbers of young people being recruited than communities in Europe. More

  • Audio Experts Want Agriculture at Center of Climate Deal

    The Paris International Agricultural Show is the biggest farming event in France. The show has plenty of farm animals, growers and other people every year. This year some of those attending considered the effects of climate change on farm production. More

  • Charles H. Flowers High School

    Audio Financial Literacy Skills Last a Lifetime

    How to use math for planning a budget or managing money is not often in the curriculum. A school in the state of Maryland provides training in financial literacy. Skills include how to make a budget, how to balance a checkbook and how to deal with credit. More

Featured Stories

  • FILE - An embryologist works on a petri dish at a London fertility clinic.

    Audio 'Three-Person Babies' Debate Goes Beyond Science and Religion

    Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy uses the genetic material from three people to create babies. The stated purpose of the therapy is to help mothers avoid passing genetic mutations to their babies. Some say MRT will lead to 'designer babies.' Others say it is dangerous, immoral or just wrong. More

  • Steam and smoke is seen over the coal burning power plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009. Coal power plants are among the biggest producer of CO2, that is supposed to be responsible for climate change.

    Audio Capturing CO2 Is Costly and Difficult

    Most scientists agree that increasing amounts of carbon-dioxide gas in the atmosphere is partly to blame for climate change. Climate change can have a big effect on weather conditions around the world. Scientists are looking for the best and least costly methods for capturing the gas. More

  • Kerry and Declan Reichs (Courtesy Photo)

    Video Choosing to Be a Single Mother

    U.S. officials say birth rates for unmarried women over age 40 have been rising in recent years. In fact, the rate in 2012 was almost 30 percent higher than just five years earlier. There are single mothers by choice. They are generally older, successful, well-educated, and financially secure. More

  • Audio Young Writer’s Plays Explore Race, Identity in America

    Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' latest play 'An Octoroon,' is showing at a theater in New York City. It is based on a 19th Century work by Dion Boucicault. It tells about a white man who falls in love with a woman who is part black. At the time, mixed race marriage was banned in southern US states. More

  • Audio Understanding the Misunderstood Teenage Brain

    A common battle cry of teenagers to adults is, "You just don't understand me!" Well, they might be right. A brain scientist (neuroscientist) and mother to two teenagers says the teenage brain is quite different from the adult brain. She "debunks," or clears up three common myths about teenagers. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs