Moultonborough Historical Society

Town Folklore

The Devil and the General

from Winnipesaukee Whoppers, by Elizabeth Crawford Wilkin, Copyright 1949

This gentleman had the village of Moultonborough named for him; then he went broke and sent for the Devil, for he had made up his mind to sell his soul for gold.

Late one evening while he was drowsing over his final nightcap, he was aroused by a curious sound. He glanced toward the huge chimneypiece and there on a corner bench sat the Devil. He was dressed in his Saturday night best, black velvet and all, with an orchid stuck through his buttonhole.

Who the devil are you? asked General Moulton.

For answer the visitor reached for the bowl of rum, tossed into it a live coal and, as the flames leapt upward, he threw back his handsome head and drained the searing liquor to the last drop.

My flaming onions! exclaimed the general in evident awe and admiration.

My favorite drink, explained the Devil. A Salamander.

Then he ran his transparent hands through his wig, and to the floor clattered and clinked a great pile of golden guineas.

Well, Ill be jiggered! breathed General Moulton as he clamped and unclamped his new store teeth in avaricious astonishment, but just then one of the rolling coins came to rest against his boot and scorched his foot.

My flaming bunions! shouted the general.

Ill cool them off, apologized the Devil as he picked them up, one by one, and laid them on the table.

I can use them all and more, sighed the New Hampshireman forgetting about his foot.

Sign here, said the Devil and pushed toward him a black parchment document inscribed in crimson ink. On the last night of each month, he instructed the general, you must leave your boots at the chimneys side, and before morning they will be filled with gold. Your soul for my money!

You�re getting the thin end of the deal, chuckled the New Hampshireman, and scrawled his name on the black parchment.

The next day the general went to the village store and bought the biggest pair of boots he could find.

Ill fool the old buzzard! he muttered gleefully.

When he got home he cut away a good portion of the sole of each, and then nailed the boots to the floor, after which he knocked a hole through them into the cellar; then he pretended to go to bed. Actually, of course, he went down into the cellar.

Well, the Devil arrived and started to pour his gold into the boots, but there seemed no end to his greed. He poured and poured until he got his black velvet suit into a frightful mess, and the orchid broke off and fell from his buttonhole.

Then a thought struck him.

He ran up to the generals bedroom, and as he was not there he knew he must be in the cellar. Quickly he dashed back to the boots, and through them poured such quantities of gold that presently he heard puling sounds from beneath.

Enough! Stop-stop! Leave off! and other such protestations arose from the cavern below. 

But the Devil gave no quarter, and went right on filling the cellar until there was only room left between his gold and the ceiling of the basement for the generals head.

Then the Devil mixed and drank a Salamander, and with its flaming dregs he set the house afire. The next morning nothing was left of the general, the gold nor the house save a molten mass of brass into which the Devil had changed his gold before departing, and on top of the heap lay General Moultons new store teeth where his head had been.