Sunday, July 6, 2014

Welsh: Billy Duffy and the Devil

This story is part of the Welsh (Emerson) unit. Story source: Welsh Fairy-Tales and Other Stories by Peter H. Emerson (1894).

Billy Duffy and the Devil
Billy Duffy was an Irishman, a blacksmith, and a drunkard. He had the Celtic aversion from steady work and stuck to his forge only long enough to get money for drink; when that was spent, he returned to work.

Billy was coming home one day after one of these drinking-bouts, soberer than usual, when he exclaimed to himself, for the thirst was upon him, "By God! I would sell myself to the devil if I could get some more drink."

At that moment a tall gentleman in black stepped up to him and said, "What did you say?"

"I said I would sell myself to the devil if I could get a drink."

"Well, how much do you want for seven years, and the devil to get you then?"

"Well, I can't tell exactly, when it comes to the push."

"Will £700 do you?"

"Yes, I'd take £700."

"And the devil to get you then?"

"Oh, yes; I don't care about that."

When Billy got home he found the money in his smithy. He at once shut the smithy and began squandering the money, keeping open house.

Amongst the people who flocked to get what they could out of Billy came an old hermit who said, "I am very hungry and nearly starved. Will you give me something to eat and drink?"

"Oh, yes; come in and get what you like."

The hermit disappeared after eating and drinking, and did not reappear for several months, when he received the same kindly welcome, again disappearing. A few months afterwards he again appeared.

"Come in, come in!" said Billy.

After he had eaten and drunk his full, the hermit said to Billy: "Well, three times have you been good and kind to me. I'll give you three wishes, and whatever you wish will be sure to come true."

"I must have time to consider," said Billy.

"Oh, you shall have plenty of time to consider, and mind they are good wishes."

Next morning Billy told the hermit he was ready.

"Well, go on; be sure they're good wishes," said the hermit.

"Well, I've got a big sledge-hammer in the smithy, and I wish whoever gets hold of that hammer shall go on striking the anvil, and never break it, till I tell him to stop."

"Oh, that's a bad wish, Billy."

"Oh, no; you'll see it's good. Next thing I wish for is a purse so that no one can take out whatever I put into it."

"Oh, Billy, Billy! That's a bad wish. Be careful now about the third wish," said the hermit.

"Well, I have got an armchair upstairs, and I wish that whoever may sit in that armchair will never be able to get up till I let them."

"Well, well, indeed; they are not very good wishes."

"Oh, yes; I've got my senses about me. I think I'll make them good wishes after all."

The seven years, all but three days, had passed, and Billy was back working at his forge, for all his money was gone, when the dark gentleman stepped in and said: "Now, Billy, during these last three days you may have as much money as you like," and he disappeared.

On the last day of his seven years Billy was penniless, and he went to the taproom of his favourite inn, which was full.

"Well, boys," said Billy, "we must have some money tonight. I'll treat you, and give you a pound each," and rising, he placed his tumbler in the middle of the table, and wished for twenty pounds. No sooner had he wished than a ball of fire came through the ceiling, and the twenty sovereigns fell into the tumbler.

Everyone was taken aback, and there was a noise as if a bomb had burst and the fireball disappeared and rolled down the garden path, the landlord following it. After this, they each drank what they liked, and Billy gave them a sovereign apiece before he went home.

The next morning he was in his smithy making a pair of horseshoes, when the devil came in and said: "Well, Billy, I'll want you this morning."

"Yes, all right. Take hold of this sledge-hammer, and give me a few hammers till I finish this job before I go."

So the devil seized the hammer and began striking the anvil, but he couldn't stop.

So Billy laughed, and locked him in, and was away three days. During this time the people collected round the smithy, and peeped through the cracks in the shutter, for they could hear the hammer going night and day.


(700 words)





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