The Devil's Wife
by Sarah Bracey White
The first sound Lucifer heard from beautiful, red-headed Leatrice was a peal of laughter that echoed across the hillside near her father's vineyard where she played. That innocent laughter so bewitched the archenemy of light that he vowed to capture it by making the young girl his bride.
Sixteen year old Leatrice was the sole child of doting parents who gave her all she desired. Mostly, she desired to read stories and play games amidst the flowers and butterflies on a knoll sheltered in the valley beside a great mountain. Sometimes she played the lyre and sang sweet songs.
On several occasions, Lucifer assumed the shape of a handsome young lad and attempted to seduce Leatrice. Time and again, she refused his advances. Finally, he appeared in his true form. Frightened by his dark, smoldering appearance, Leatrice whimpered and tried to escape him. He pursued her and soon cornered her against a small olive tree that grew on the hillside. "How dare you treat me as if I were some foolish lad begging for your affection," he said. "Do you not know that I am the Prince of Darkness? I can move mountains!" He pointed to the mountain above them and it began to rumble and belch smoke. Clouds darkened the valley. "Come into my arms, or I will rain that mountain's innards down onto the house where your mother waits, and through yonder field where your father toils."
Horrified, Leatrice cried, "Please, I pray you, do not harm them. They have done naught to you. Spare them. My father will give you all that he has."
Lucifer smiled and brought his face close to Leatrice. His dry, hot breath soiled the air she breathed. "The only thing your father has that I want is you," he said as he reached out and stroked Leatrice's arm. She cringed, and pulled away. A smudge remained where his hand had touched her. Tears flowed down her cheeks.
Lucifer laughed loudly. "No need to cry, my dear. You should be flattered. I can have any woman on earth, but I have chosen you to be my bride."
Leatrice glanced at her distant home, then again dashed toward its safety.
"If you will not be my bride, then I will destroy all you love," Lucifer called after her. Suddenly, the earth under her feet shook. Boulders and rocks raced past her down the hill, toward the house.
Leatrice turned back to Lucifer. "Stop it, stop it, I beg you."
"The choice is yours, my dear, all you need do is say 'yes,' and no harm will come to those old fools. But, if you don't?" The mountain again began to rumble, this time spewing a fiery plume of lava.
"I'll do whatever you want, but please, spare them," she said, then broke into loud sobs that rolled across the meadow like thunder.
"Stop crying," Lucifer ordered. "Being my wife is not punishment. It brings great power. You will become immortal. You will be worshiped by all who honor me."
"How can I be assured you will not hurt my parents?"
"I give you my word, and I am a man of my word. You can ask any of my angels." Lucifer waved his hand and a gleaming silver chariot pulled by two black steeds appeared at his side. He stepped into the chariot, then turned to Leatrice, "Are you coming?"
A sobbing Leatrice picked up her lyre and boarded the chariot. "Hold tightly, my dear. I don't want you to fall off," Lucifer said as he snapped his whip at the steeds.
Leatrice clutched the lyre with one hand and the cold rim of the chariot with the other. Through tears, she watched her home grow smaller and smaller as the chariot sped off across the afternoon sky. When she no longer could discern her home or the familiar valley around it, she closed her eyes and sobbed.
Lucifer's hot touch on her hand intruded on Leatrice's misery and she opened her eyes. "We have arrived, my dear, beloved Leatrice. Welcome to your new home."
She looked around and found herself in a vast cavern illuminated by a thousand torches. "These are your subjects," Lucifer continued, as he spread his arms to encompass the sea of men and women of all ages who stood before him. A dry heat pervaded everything, and their rosy faces were shiny with perspiration. Peals of laughter, the tinkle of bells, the clanging of far-away doors all combined to make the scene surreal. The faint odor of sulfur and a constant, ocean-like roar in the background made Leatrice know she had descended into Hell.
From the crowd, a voice cried out, "Hail to our new queen Leatrice!" It was followed by a loud chorus of "Hail, Queen Leatrice."
"Match, show our new queen to my chambers," Lucifer said to a young man who stood beside him. He then turned back to Leatrice. "Follow him and rest a bit, while I prepare for our wedding tonight."
"Tonight?" she said. "But?"
"Tonight," he repeated as he rubbed his hands together. "Tonight, you will be mine for eternity."
Her eyes filled with tears, and her chest began to heave.
"And I will not have your tears mar the festivities," Lucifer boomed. "So stop crying, or I will awaken the volcano!"
Leatrice lowered her head and blinked rapidly to stem her tears.
"Now, that's much better," he said. "The happier I am, the more apt I am to leave your precious parents alone."
"But you said that if I came with you, you would not harm them."
"Granted. But as you can see, I am Lord and Master over many who would bring harm to anyone, just to see me smile." Lucifer threw his head back and laughed, showing his sharp pointy teeth and his blood-red tongue and gums. Leatrice cringed. "It would please me greatly," he said, "if you would laugh, or play your lyre. It would also make me feel more kindly toward those old parents of yours."
"I can't laugh, I'm too afraid," she said softly. "I want to go home, I want to see my parents."
"You have no need to fear, my dear. I will not harm you. But rest assured, you will never go home." He paused and smiled wickedly. "If I let you see your parents, will you play your lyre again?"
"Oh, yes. Please," she begged, "Please let me see them!"
"Match, take your Queen to the Pool of Reflection and let her gaze upon the source of her life. But make sure she does not linger too long. I want her well rested for our nuptials. The celebration will last far into the night."
Match led Leatrice from the huge cavern through a series of long corridors that seemed endless. "May I carry that for you?" he said, pointing to her lyre.
"No," she said, clutching it to her bosom. "It is all I have of my past."
"There is no need to hold on to the past here. We all live in the present. It is easier."
"Did he bring you here against your will, too?"
"My deeds brought me here," Match answered. "And I have nowhere else to go. I am happy here."
"I could never be happy here, never," she replied.
"And you will never leave here. So, that means you will be eternally unhappy."
"Soon I will die of a broken heart," she said.
Match laughed. "No one here ever dies, though they often wish for death." By this time, they had approached the edge of a pool as inky black as liquid coal. Match removed a torch from a nearby wall and bent forward, raising the torch high over the pool.
On the pool's dark surface, the torch's glow created a sunny diorama of the world Leatrice had so recently left. She could see her beloved mother and father standing on her sheltered knoll, clinging to each other. They wailed as they clutched the books she had left behind. Around them, everything was as peaceful as it had been before Lucifer intruded upon their world. The only difference was she was not there, and would never again be there. When her mother called out her name, Leatrice threw the lyre into the dark pool, covered her ears and sobbed.
During the wedding celebration, Lucifer and Beelzebub fell into conversation. "You are full of surprises, Lucifer. I never thought I'd see you take a wife. Not with all these willing women in the world. This one hardly seems worthy of you, if you'll pardon my saying so. She seems too innocent."
"They all start out innocent, my friend. Then something or other happens and they sell their souls for some small wish. I wanted to save this one from getting bruised."
"Well, she doesn't seem pleased to be the beneficiary of your saving grace."
"She'll come around," Lucifer said. "As soon as she gets a taste of the power of being my wife, she'll be laughing and happy, like she was when I first saw her."
However, Leatrice had no desire for power, and none of the tasty morsels, exotic gifts, or wondrous music that Lucifer manifested could make her smile or laugh as she had done when she played on the knoll near her father's vineyards. Instead, she frequented the Pool of Reflection and cried often, filling Hades with the mournful dirge of her sadness.
One day, Match said to Lucifer. "Have you noticed that whenever Leatrice cries, though the sky may be sunny, the clouds turn dark? As if in sympathy? And it begins to rain?"
"You are quite right, Match. Maybe my bringing her here wasn't a mistake after all."
Thereafter, Lucifer smiled whenever he saw Leatrice steal off toward the Pool of Reflection for he knew that soon the sunny skies would turn dark, the way he preferred them, and rob the world of sunlight. This gave Lucifer greater pleasure than he had once taken in hearing her laughter; soon, he ceased to care whether she ever laughed again.
As soon as Leatrice realized the effect of her tears, she willed herself to stop crying. This defiance so angered Lucifer that he struck her until she cried out in anguish. As her tears flowed, the sky was again robbed of its light. Thus, they say that whenever it rains while the sun shines, the Devil is beating his wife in an attempt to darken the sky.