The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

The Devil and Tom Walker book cover
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Why does the woodsman score the trees?

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During Tom Walker's first interaction with Old Scratch, he notices that each of the trees encompassing the woodsman's domain is scored with the name of a prominent community member. The first name scored onto a tree that Tom sees is Deacon Peabody. The reader also learns that Deacon Peabody became a wealthy man by "driving shrewd bargains with Indians." Tom also notices that a downed tree has the name Crowninshield scored on its side. The narrator mentions that Absalom Crowninshield had made his wealth through immoral buccaneering. Essentially, Old Scratch scores the names of men who have sold him their souls onto the trees in the forest. The prominent men, whose names are scored onto the trees, sold...

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