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Satan Appearing In Many Forms To A Man Who Travelled On Sunday


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

I received the following tale from my deceased friend, the Rev. J. L.
Davies, late Rector of Llangynog, near Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire, and
he obtained it from William Davies, the man who figures in the story.

As a preface to the tale, it should be stated that it was usual, some
years ago, for Welsh labourers to proceed to the harvest in England,
which was earlier there than in Wales, and after that was finished, they
hastened homewards to be in time for their own harvest. These migratory
Welsh harvestmen are not altogether extinct in our days, but about forty
years ago they were much more common than they are at present. Then
respectable farmers' sons with sickles on their backs, and well filled
wallets over their shoulders, went in companies to the early English
Lowlands to hire themselves as harvest labourers. My tale now

William Davies, Penrhiw, near Aberystwyth, went to England for the
harvest, and after having worked there about three weeks, he returned
home alone, with all possible haste, as he knew that his father-in-law's
fields were by this time ripe for the sickle. He, however, failed to
accomplish the journey before Sunday; but he determined to travel on
Sunday, and thus reach home on Sunday night to be ready to commence
reaping on Monday morning. His conscience, though, would not allow him
to be at rest, but he endeavoured to silence its twittings by saying to
himself that he had with him no clothes to go to a place of worship. He
stealthily, therefore, walked on, feeling very guilty every step he took,
and dreading to meet anyone going to chapel or church. By Sunday evening
he had reached the hill overlooking Llanfihangel Creuddyn, where he was
known, so he determined not to enter the village until after the people
had gone to their respective places of worship; he therefore sat down on
the hill side and contemplated the scene below. He saw the people leave
their houses for the house of God, he heard their songs of praise, and
now he thinks he could venture to descend and pass through the village
unobserved. Luckily no one saw him going through the village, and now he
has entered a barley field, and although still uneasy in mind, he feels
somewhat reassured, and steps on quickly. He had not proceeded far in
the barley field before he found himself surrounded by a large number of
small pigs. He was not much struck by this, though he thought it strange
that so many pigs should be allowed to wander about on the Sabbath day.
The pigs, however, came up to him, stared at him, grunted, and scampered
away. Before he had traversed the barley field he saw approaching him an
innumerable number of mice, and these, too, surrounded him, only,
however, to stare at him, and then to disappear. By this Davies began to
be frightened, and he was almost sorry that he had broken the Sabbath day
by travelling with his pack on his back instead of keeping the day holy.
He was not now very far from home, and this thought gave him courage and
on he went. He had not proceeded any great distance from the spot where
the mice had appeared when he saw a large greyhound walking before him on
the pathway. He anxiously watched the dog, but suddenly it vanished out
of his sight. By this the poor man was thoroughly frightened, and many
and truly sincere were his regrets that he had broken the Sabbath; but on
he went. He passed through the village of Llanilar without any further
fright. He had now gone about three miles from Llanfihangel along the
road that goes to Aberystwyth, and he had begun to dispel the fear that
had seized him, but to his horror he saw something approach him that made
his hair stand on end. He could not at first make it out, but he soon
clearly saw that it was a horse that was madly dashing towards him. He
had only just time to step on to the ditch, when, horrible to relate, a
headless white horse rushed past him. His limbs shook and the
perspiration stood out like beads on his forehead. This terrible spectre
he saw when close to Tan'rallt, but he dared not turn into the house, as
he was travelling on Sunday, so on he went again, and heartily did he
wish himself at home. In fear and dread he proceeded on his journey
towards Penrhiw. The most direct way from Tan'rallt to Penrhiw was a
pathway through the fields, and Davies took this pathway, and now he was
in sight of his home, and he hastened towards the boundary fence between
Tan'rallt and Penrhiw. He knew that there was a gap in the hedge that he
could get through, and for this gap he aimed; he reached it, but further
progress was impossible, for in the gap was a lady lying at full length,
and immovable, and stopping up the gap entirely. Poor Davies was now
more thoroughly terrified than ever. He sprang aside, he screamed, and
then he fainted right away. As soon as he recovered consciousness, he,
on his knees, and in a loud supplicating voice, prayed for pardon. His
mother and father-in-law heard him, and the mother knew the voice and
said, It is my Will; some mishap has overtaken him. They went to him
and found he was so weak that he could not move, and they were obliged to
carry him home, where he recounted to them his marvellous experience.

My clerical friend, who was intimately acquainted with William Davies,
had many conversations with him about his Sunday journey, and he argued
the matter with him, and tried to persuade him that he had seen nothing,
but that it was his imagination working on a nervous temperament that had
created all his fantasies. He however failed to convince him, for Davies
affirmed that it was no hallucination, but that what he had seen that
Sunday was a punishment for his having broken the Fourth Commandment. It
need hardly be added that Davies ever afterwards was a strict observer of
the Day of Rest.

The following tale, taken from A Relation of Apparitions, etc., by the
Rev. Edmund Jones, inculcates the same lesson as that taught by the
previous tales. I will give the tale a title.

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