In “The Devil in America,” by Kai Ashante Wilson, the Devil demands an incredible price from Easter to save her father and Senor, and to fix the tobacco field:

“How much extra?” she said at last.

The man’s expression went flat and mean.

Triple,” he said. “And triple that again, and might as well take that whole thing there, and triple it about ten more times.”

“The Devil in America”

By my count, this is 312 times the original cost of her father’s life and that of Senor, or the equivalent of about 1 million lives.

He says that he’ll come to claim the cost when she’s twelve—and indeed, six years later, he seems to keep this promise when white rioters come and kill what seems to be her entire town.

Something seems off a bit here, though. First, the Devil said that he’ll change the currency, and that she won’t have to pay “in blood, in life.” Second, I can’t imagine that the Devil isn’t precise with numbers, and the price he quotes is much higher than even the massive number of deaths he takes in six years.

Was the death of Easter, her brother, and their town the only price that the Devil exacted? Or did he somehow exact a higher price, or a different price altogether?

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