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Tom and his wife fight constantly; sometimes verbally, sometimes physically. They never seem to be able to agree on very much, and are at a point where they do contrary things simply to spite each other. Tom, upon meeting Old Scratch and bargaining for and old pirate treasure, becomes inclined to pass up the opportunity for no other reason than to anger his wife, who wants the bargain sealed and the treasure secured.
Getting frustrated, Tom's wife attempts to make the bargain herself. The first time she goes into the swamp, Scratch sends her back. The second time, she leaves with an apron full of expensive silverware, as an offering.
The text makes clear that the fate of Tom's wife is uncertain, besides that she was never seen again after departing the home this second time.
However, there are several rumors, such as that she ran away to another county, or that she got lost and sank in the swamp. The rumor which the story gives the greatest credence, and the greatest detail, is that Tom goes looking for her (and the silverware), discovers evidence of a fight, and then fights a heart and liver tied up in his wife's apron, suggesting that Scratch killed and dismembered her.
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