The Story of Master Jack and
History Behind the Jack-o'-lantern
Long ago, there was a blacksmith named Jack who made an
agreement with the Devil: he would give up his soul in return
for seven years of absolute mastery of his trade. Outside his
shop, he hung a sign in which he boldly proclaimed, "Here
lies the Master of all Masters."
One day, Saint Peter and Christ himself paid a visit, disturbed
by the obvious boasting of the sign. To instill some humility in
Master Jack, Christ worked a few miracles, but to no avail.
Saint Peter then offered to grant him three wishes. Jack's
wishes were rather strange: first he wished that whenever he
told someone to climb a nearby pear tree that person would have
to stay in the tree until Jack allowed them to come down. He
made the same wishes regarding his arm-chair and his purse: one
must stay in them until Jack allowed him to go.
"You have wished very foolishly," said Saint Peter. "You should
have wished for ever lasting peace in Heaven."
Nevertheless, Jack used the three wishes to trick the Devil when
he came to take his soul. Each time the Devil came, Jack tricked
him into climbing the tree, sitting in the chair, and finally,
shrinking himself and entering his purse. Each time, the Devil
gave Jack seven more years of mastery of his trade in return for
his freedom, and finally the Devil fled in terror.
But Jack's time finally came. Jack went first to the Pearly
Gates, where Saint Peter reminded him that he had once had an
opportunity to gain everlasting happiness but spurned it. Now it
was too late - he could not be allowed into heaven.
To Hell he went, only to find that the Devil wanted
nothing more to do with him. "I've had enough of this one
already. You'll not torment me here."
Then the Devil ordered all nine locks of Hell bolted. Before he
was shut out entirely, Jack scooped up a burning coal from the
fires of Hell in the turnip he was eating, and to this day he
uses the "lantern" to light his way as he wanders the earth
until Judgment Day.
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