Monday, 8 September 2008

The Devil Cheated

A variation on an old Sussex tale.

A long time ago when churches were being built all over the place, the devil decided to do something about it. He came over the red hills full of iron and scrubby brush at night intending to dig up the mountains and flood the valley of Redston where all the churches were. He began to dig and dig each night. At first, nobody noticed, then there was a large hollow in the rock and still nobody noticed.

Now one night, the devil set to with his pickaxe breaking up the red rock of the mountain. It was hard work but he kept at it. Now a little way off to the east was a small cottage where an old woman lived. She'd been away for a while so she had not heard the ringing of the devil's pickaxe on the rock. But she knew something was up when she got in and found everything in a right mess. The devil's work had set shivers through the rock and all her crockery was in fragments on the floor. Her furniture had bounced all over the cottage until it was about ready to break. Plants on the windowsill had crashed to the floor and the pots had broken. Her poor cat was hiding under the kitchen dresser and was in a terrified state.

Fortunately the old woman knew lots of kind people who rallied around and soon helped right everything and get her new crockery and plant pots and everything. The farmer even brought some meat and fresh milk for the cat as well as for the old woman. Well by the time all was fixed up and done, evening was coming on and everyone bid the old woman good night and went home. The old woman thanking them all as they went for she was ever so grateful.

She settled with the cat asleep on her lap in her rocking chair and soon began to doze. Well, while she was snoozing, the devil arrived with his pickaxe and saw what remained. He'd made a large dent in the rock but still had quite some work to do. He trotted around on his cloven hooves looking at where he might continue and then he began. First he used a few little taps on the rock and the village remained quiet in the valley. As he went on, midnight came and went. Now he realised that he must work faster and taking a firm grip on the pickaxe he swung it down on the rock.

At the first blow, the old woman's cottage shook and the old woman woke up. The cat leapt to the floor and hid under the dresser in terror. The old woman opened the window and saw the devil with his pickaxe raised. Before he could take another swing, she lit a candle and put a large metal dish behind it to strengthen the light. The devil suddenly saw the light and fearing the sun was about to rise, he dropped his pickaxe all the way down to hell and leapt away.

When he landed on the coast, his hoof made a large dent in the ground and a fragment of rock got stuck in the cleft of his hoof. He leapt again and clicked his feet together. The rock fell from his foot and landed in the sea off the coast making the Isle of Birds. The devil's enemy was so amused that He laughed and the devil was so embarrassed that he never went back to Redston.

Or so my grandmother told me.

1 comment:

madameshawshank said...

'cloven hooves' so devilishy looking those words!

there be much power in light..from candles or otherwise! I think of the difference in living in light..enlightened I guess..'n the other..that deep dark stuff!

'n the photo?

Sieg and I walked around the awe! And to think it goes deep deep deep down..almost like a mighty snake..powerful essence of time...I can well imagine the making of explain..can you even begin to imagine this in rain! Just look at the blue against the sandstone!

Don't forget to keep those candles never ever know :-)