An old Kentucky folktale begins, “There was an old man who lived in a little house on the side of a hill.” He had a pretty daughter and an unattractive wife, at least the more polite neighbors said she was not at all good looking. The guys down at the store were not as nice. They said she was ugly and talked too much. People often wondered how that man and woman could produce such a lovely daughter.
The old man was not the smartest person you ever might meet, but he kept trying to provide for his family by farming. This Spring, it finally dried up enough for him to start planting his corn. He had a large field and needed all his big animals to pull the plow and break up the sod. He hitched up his cow, mule, and Billy goat, and started down the first long row. When they got to the end, his lines and harness were so tangled up he didn’t know how to turn everything around.
As he stood there scratching his head, there came a frightful sound. It was the Devil flying over going clickety-clack. (In those days, Devils flew around regularly looking for helpers in Hell.) “Oh golly, by golly,” he said, “He’s comin’ for my daughter!” He ran for the house.
The Devil knew what the man was thinking and said, “Slow down old man. I don’t want your fair daughter. She’s not our type. I’m coming for that old scolding woman of yours. The one who has lost all her hair.”
The old man couldn’t believe his ears. It was his lucky day. He said, “Take her, take her, from the bottom of my heart. I hope you two love birds never part.” You don’t argue when the Devil comes calling. He’s in charge. He slung the woman up on his back and off they flew all clackety-click.
It like to wore the old Devil out, him having to carry a passenger. He made it down to the gates of Hell with his prize. The Devil flopped down on his couch. The old woman jumped off his back, ready for action. A big devil tended the red, hot fire. She grabbed up his poker and smashed in his head. The Devil called for reinforcements. Seven more devils came rattlin their chains. She didn’t scare. She up with the axe and split out their brains. All the other devils ran for safety. They screamed, “Take her back, Daddy. She’ll murder us all!” The tired old guy hitched her up on his back, and away he struggled all clickety-clack.
The liberated husband relaxed on the porch until he heard that dreadful sound, clackety-click. He said, “By golly, I thought I was rid of her. She didn’t last long in Hell. I better go hide.”
The Devil dumped her and scooted off. In the house, she found her old man hiding in bed and playing sick. She had had enough. She beat him on the head with her butter board. Up she went to the top of the hill to decide what to do. She said to the little Bluebird, “What can I say? If the Devil won’t have me, I wonder who will? I ain’t fit for Heaven and I’m too mean for Hell. It’s time for me to fly, little birdie.” She took off whistling down the road, no regrets and no looking back.
The moral of this story is, “There’s one advantage women have over men, they can go to Hell and come back again.”
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