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“The Devil’s Pretty Daughter” from “Stiff as a Poker” by Vance Randolph. Told by Mrs. Marie Wilbur, Pineville, MO., June 1930. She had it from Mrs. Lucinda Mosier, also of Pineville, who heard the story from her elders in the late 1870’s.

One time there was a man lived in a fine house, and he owned a big scope of land. Some folks thought he was the Devil, and they used to call him that behind his back. But all the young fellows for miles around wanted to get a job on his place, because he had a pretty daughter named Ruthie-ma-Toothy. The old Devil hired everybody that come along and worked ‘em till they was nothing but skin and bones.  But nary one of them boys ever got next to Ruthie. She just laughed and never paid no mind to what they said at all.

There was one fellow named Alf Knight worked there seven years and he bantered Ruthie-ma-Toothy to run off with him. She says he better shut up, because the big black rooster can talk and tell the Devil everything that is going on. So Alf kept out of the rooster’s way after that. But he went right on a bantering her to run off with him. Finally Ruthie saddled two horses, and then she give the big black rooster a bushel of corn. “Let’s hit the mountain right now.” she says. “Soon as the rooster eats all the corn, he’ll tell Pap we’re gone.”

Devil's Daughter

Alf and Ruthie rode fast as they could, but pretty soon they looked back, and there come the old Devil on his big black horse. He was smelling their track just like a tree dog follers possums. It looked like the old Devil was going to catch them sure, but Ruthie-ma-Toothy pulled some bramble-briars out of her pocket. “Throw them down in the road behind us,” she says, and Alf done it. The bramble-briars took root and growed a mile a minute; they kept on growing till the valley was plumb full, and it looked like a high level prairie. The old Devil had to ride a thousand miles out of his way to get around that briar patch.

Alf and Ruthie kept on a-riding, and after while they looked back, and there come the old Devil still follering the trail. It looked like he was going to catch them sure, but Ruthie-ma-Toothy pulled three little gravels out of her pocket. “Throw them down in the road behind us,” she says, and Alf done it. The little gravels took root and growed a mile a minute; the whole country was covered with loose gravels and quicksand fifty foot deep. There was long chat-piles everywhere, like what they got up around Joplin, only bigger. The old Devil had to ride two thousand miles out of his way to get around that gravelbar.

Alf figured they had the old Devil beat this time, but Ruthie nowed better. So they kept on a riding, and after while they looked back and sure enough there come the old Devil. It looked like he was going to catch them after all, but Ruthie-ma-Toothy pulled out a bottle of water, “Pour it down in the road behind us,” she says, and Alf done it. The water took root and growed a mile a minute; the creek busted out of its banks and run all over the country. There was big barns a-floating off down stream, and haystacks with chickens a-riding on ‘em. The old Devil cain’t cross running water, and he had to ride three thousand miles out of his way to get around that flood.

Alf and Ruthie kept on a-riding, but along the next evening they looked back, and there come the old Devil. He was a-moving pretty slow now, but he was still follering the trail. It looked like he was going to catch ‘em soon or late, no matter what happened. Ruthie-ma-Toothy pulled a little Bible out of her pocket. “Throw it down in the road behind us,” she says, and Alf done it. The little Bible took root and growed a mile a minute; the whole country was full of paper with holy words on it, and everybody knows the old Devil cain’t stand Bibles. He couldn’t get through and he couldn’t go round, so finally he just give up and went back home.

AIf and Ruthie kept on a-riding, and pretty soon they come to the place where his folks lived. So they went in for dinner, and everybody liked Ruthie-ma-Toothy fine. Next day there was a preacher come along, so her and Alf got married without no more foolishness. She took up piecing quilts and making soap and having babies, and never mixed in no devilment. Everybody for miles around thought Ruthie was wonderful. Alf he thought so too, and him and her lived happy ever after.