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Satan Outwitted


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

In the preceding tales the Evil One is depicted as an agent in the
destruction of his own kingdom. He thus shows his obtuseness, or his
subordination to a higher power. In the story that follows, he is
outwitted by a Welshman. Many variants of this tale are found in many
countries. It is evident from this and like stories, that it was
believed the Spirit of Evil could easily be circumvented by an
intelligent human being.

The tale is taken from Y Brython, vol. v., p. 192. I when a lad often
heard the story related, and the scene is laid in Trefeglwys,
Montgomeryshire, a parish only a few miles distant from the place where I
spent my childhood. The writer in Y Brython, speaking of Ffinant,
says that this farm is about a mile from Trefeglwys, on the north side of
the road leading to Newtown. He then proceeds as follows:--

Mae hen draddodiad tra anhygoel yn perthyn i'r lie hwn. Dywedir fod hen
ysgubor yn sefyll yn yr ochr ddeheuol i'r brif-ffordd. Un boreu Sul, pan
ydoedd y meistr yn cychwyn i'r Eglwys, dywedodd wrth un o'i weision am
gadw y brain oddi ar y maes lle yr oedd gwenith wedi ei hau, yn yr hwn y
safai yr hen ysgubor. Y gwas, trwy ryw foddion, a gasglodd y brain oll
iddi, a chauodd arnynt; yna dilynodd ei feistr i'r Eglwys; yntau, wrth ei
weled yno, a ddechreuodd ei geryddu yn llym. Y meistr, wedi clywed y
fath newydd, a hwyliodd ei gamrau tua'i gartref; ac efe a'u cafodd, er ei
syndod, fel y crybwyllwyd; ac fe ddywedir fod yr ysgubor yn orlawn o
honynt. Gelwir y maes hwn yn Crow-barn, neu Ysgubor y brain, hyd
heddyw. Dywedir mai enw y gwas oedd Dafydd Hiraddug, ac iddo werthu ei
hun i'r diafol, ac oherwydd hyny, ei fod yn alluog i gyflawni
gweithredoedd anhygoel yn yr oes hon. Pa fodd bynag, dywedir i Dafydd
fod yn gyfrwysach na'r hen sarff y tro hwn, yn ol y cytundeb fu
rhyngddynt. Yr ammod oedd, fod i'r diafol gael meddiant hollol o
Ddafydd, os dygid ei gorff dros erchwyn gwely, neu trwy ddrws, neu os
cleddid ef mewn mynwent, neu mewn Eglwys. Yr oedd Dafydd wedi gorchymyn,
pan y byddai farw, am gymmeryd yr afu a'r ysgyfaint o'i gorff, a'i taflu
i ben tomen, a dal sylw pa un ai cigfran ai colomen fyddai yn ennill
buddugoliaeth am danynt; os cigfran, am gymmeryd ei gorff allan trwy
waelod ac nid dros erchwyn y gwely; a thrwy bared ac nid trwy ddrws, a'i
gladdu, nid mewn mynwent na llan, ond o dan fur yr Eglwys; ac i'r diafol
pan ddeallodd hyn lefaru, gan ddywedyd:--

Dafydd Hiraddug ei ryw,
Ffals yn farw, ffals yn fyw.

The tale in English is as follows:--

There is an incredible tradition connected with this place Ffinant,
Trefeglwys. It is said that an old barn stands on the right hand side of
the highway. One Sunday morning, as the master was starting to church,
he told one of the servants to keep the crows from a field that had been
sown with wheat, in which field the old barn stood. The servant, through
some means, collected all the crows into the barn, and shut the door on
them. He then followed his master to the Church, who, when he saw the
servant there, began to reprove him sharply. But the master, when he
heard the strange news, turned his steps homewards, and found to his
amazement that the tale was true, and it is said that the barn was filled
with crows. This barn, ever afterwards was called Crow-barn, a name it
still retains.

It is said that the servant's name was Dafydd Hiraddug, and that he had
sold himself to the devil, and that consequently, he was able to perform
feats, which in this age are considered incredible. However, it is said
that Dafydd was on this occasion more subtle than the old serpent, even
according to the agreement which was between them. The contract was,
that the devil was to have complete possession of Dafydd if his corpse
were taken over the side of the bed, or through a door, or if buried in a
churchyard, or inside a church. Dafydd had commanded, that on his death,
the liver and lights were to be taken out of his body and thrown on the
dunghill, and notice was to be taken whether a raven or a dove got
possession of them; if a raven, then his body was to be taken away by the
foot, and not by the side of the bed, and through the wall, and not
through the door, and he was to be buried, not in the churchyard nor in
the Church, but under the Church walls. And the devil, when he saw that
by these arrangements he had been duped cried, saying:--

Dafydd Hiraddug, badly bred,

False when living, and false when dead.

Such is the tale. I now come to another series of Folk-Lore stories,
which seem to imply that in ancient days rival religions savagely
contended for the supremacy, and in these tales also Satan occupies a
prominent position.

Next: Satan And Churches

Previous: The Evil Spirit Appearing To A Man Who Frequented Alehouses On Sunday

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