Why did Tom go through the swampy forest in the first place (in Irving's "The Devil and Tom Walker")?
In Washington Irving's short story, "The Devil and Tom Walker," Tom comes to find himself in the swamp. Upon his way home, from a "distant part of the neighborhood," Tom decides to take a shortcut through the swamp.
This shortcut proves to be what shortcuts normally are: "an ill-chosen route." For Tom, the return home (by way of the swamp) proves to be a choice he will pay for with his life.
While the shortcut through the swap was shorter in distance, Tom's time with the Devil proved to be more consuming than going the long way home. Therefore, Tom's comes to go through the "swampy forest" by choice, in order to shorten the walk home.