I had been discharged from the army without a penny to my name, and I wandered into the forest. After I’d walked for a little while, I met a little man who asked me why I looked so sad. I told him I was hungry and I had no money. He said, “If you will hire yourself to me, and be my servant, you will have enough for the rest of your life. But one thing I must tell you. You must not wash, comb your hair, trim your beard, cut your hair and nails, or wipe the water from your eyes the whole time you are in my service. Are you prepared to do that?”

“Alright,” I said. What else could I do? I followed the little man exactly where I knew he was headed: straight down into hell.

Discharged and Penniless Soldier in The Devil’s Sooty Brother, Grimms. Picture by Hans Sebald Beham.

soldier devil