"a quality of enchantment like that of the Devil’s wages"
Accepting the devil's gold
Public DomainAccepting the devil's gold - Credit: Arthur Rackham

Tales abound in folklore of hapless individuals who bargain with the devil for a sack of gold, only to find when they open it later that their riches have magically transmogrified into coal, dead leaves, scorpions, animals' paws, dung or ashes. Hawthorne’s mentor — and now his inevitable companion in any anthology of American Romantic literature — Washington Irving revived this age-old motif in ‘The Devil and Tom Walker’ (1824). Listen to a recording below.