Friday, 27 February 2009

Duffy and the Devil

Squire Lovell was returning from hunting one winter’s day when he passed by a cottage where a young lass called Duffy was having an furious row with her step mother and a right lot of swearing was going on too! 

The Squire, feeling sorry for Duffy, invited her to live at his manor where she would spin and knit for him, little knowing that Duffy was in fact very lazy and hopeless at spinning! 

In a short time Duffy was installed at the manor and put to work carding and spinning a pile of wool up in the loft. One day a devil suddenly appeared right before her, a bucca boo who had lusted after the pretty young maid for quite a while! He smelt of burnt clothes and charcoal and said,

“Here I am at your call young lady, ready to do any work you ask of me, if you’ll agree to go with me at the end of three years to my realm...unless by chance you can tell me my name.”

Duffy, seeing three years at least of an easy life, agreed to the devil’s deal and the rest of the household on hearing the rumble of the spinning wheel in the loft, thought Duffy to be hard at work, when in fact it was the devil. Each day she in fact sneaked off to the mill where the women gathered to grind grain and gossip. 

The devil meanwhile kept to his word and produced the finest stockings that ever were spun which the Squire wore to church each Sunday. They were much admired by the congregation; young and old alike desired to feel his legs and the silkiness of those superb stockings that survived all the furze, brambles and bogs when the Squire went hunting.

He never again had scratched legs and was so delighted by her work, on returning from hunting one evening, he grabbed her and proposed marriage to the pretty young lass, little knowing she had had to stuff an admirer who had come to court her into the oven to hide him!

So, the Squire and Duffy were married and the years went by and the Squire came to be dressed head to toe in the devil’s handiwork. Duffy continued to go to the mill where she told Betty, a cunning witch, the deal she’d struck with the devil as three years were nearly up and she was no nearer knowing the devil’s name. Betty thought on it a while and hatched a plan, telling Duffy to make sure the Squire went hunting the next day.

Well, the Squire took quite a bit of persuading but eventually he went out hunting. When he returned at midnight he was singing snatches of a song and was laughing like a madman.

Finally calming down he told her about how he’d been chasing a hare that led him to a grove and there he saw a devil dancing with witches around a fire, and Betty of the mill was amongst them! The devil sang,

”I did knit and I did spin
For three years to the day
Tomorrow she shall ride with me
Over land and over sea
Far away, far away,
For she can never know
My name is Tarraway.”

And the witches sang the chorus,

“By night and day
We dance and play
With noble Captain Tarraway.”

The Squire was so excited by the song and the sight of witches flying over the fire on broomsticks he shouted out, “Hurrah!” and in an instant a blast of wind swept away the fire and all was dark and silent! The Squire drank another flagon of cider and rolled dead drunk on the floor so Duffy covered him with a blanket and crept to bed. 

The next night the Squire went hunting to try and find once more the witch’s gathering and Duffy was left on her own. Of a sudden the bucca boo was stood in the doorway dressed in his devilish finery, come to take Duffy to his sizzling underworld realm. A very anxious Duffy insisted she’d much rather stay at the manor but the devil was adamant she tell him his name otherwise she’d have no choice but to leave with him. Said Duffy,

“Mr Devil, aren’t ee lord Beelzebub?”
“No young lass, how could you confuse me with such a one! For the second time I demand of you my name!”
“Well, it must be Prince Lucifer.”
“Don’t be so ignorant! For the third time I ask you my name!”
“Well I reckon it is Tarraway!”
“Aggghh, I’m too proud of my name to deny it, you are right, I’m fair beaten.”

Taraway disappeared in an instant with a flash of lightening, thick smoke and the stench of brimstone.

Duffy’s life had been saved by the cunning of Betty the witch who had made the devil reveal his name. From that day onwards though still terrible at knitting, she did the best she could, and the Squire once more had to get used to the scratches of thorns whilst out hunting.

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