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The Gloddaeth Ghost


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

The following tale was told the Rev. Owen Jones, Pentrevoelas, by Thomas
Davies, Tycoch, Rhyl, the hero in the story.

I may say that Gloddaeth Wood is a remnant of the primaeval forest that
is mentioned by Sir John Wynn, in his History of the Gwydir Family, as
extending over a large tract of the country. This wood, being
undisturbed and in its original wild condition, was the home of foxes and
other vermin, for whose destruction the surrounding parishes willingly
paid half-a-crown per head. This reward was an inducement to men who had
leisure, to trap and hunt these obnoxious animals. Thomas Davies was
engaged in this work, and, taking a walk through the wood one day for the
purpose of discovering traces of foxes, he came upon a fox's den, and
from the marks about the burrow he ascertained that there were young
foxes in the hole. This was to him a grand discovery, for, in
anticipation, cubs and vixen were already his. Looking about him, he
noticed that there was opposite the fox's den a large oak tree with
forked branches, and this sight settled his plan of operation. He saw
that he could place himself in this tree in such a position that he could
see the vixen leave, and return to her den, and, from his knowledge of
the habits of the animal, he knew she would commence foraging when
darkness and stillness prevailed. He therefore determined to commence
the campaign forthwith, and so he went home to make his preparations.

I should say that the sea was close to the wood, and that small craft
often came to grief on the coast. I will now proceed with the story.

Davies had taken his seat on a bough opposite the fox's den, when he
heard a horrible scream in the direction of the sea, which apparently was
that of a man in distress, and the sound uttered was Oh, Oh. Thus
Davies's attention was divided between the dismal, Oh, and his fox.
But, as the sound was a far way off, he felt disinclined to heed it, for
he did not think it incumbent on him to ascertain the cause of that
distressing utterance, nor did he think it his duty to go to the relief
of a suffering fellow creature. He therefore did not leave his seat on
the tree. But the cry of anguish, every now and again, reached his ears,
and evidently, it was approaching the tree on which Davies sat. He now
listened the more to the awful sounds, which at intervals reverberated
through the wood, and he could no longer be mistaken--they were coming in
his direction. Nearer and nearer came the dismal Oh! Oh! and with its
approach, the night became pitch dark, and now the Oh! Oh! Oh! was
only a few yards off, but nothing could be seen in consequence of the
deep darkness. The sounds however ceased, but a horrible sight was
presented to the frightened man's view. There, he saw before him, a nude
being with eyes burning like fire, and these glittering balls were
directed towards him. The awful being was only a dozen yards or so off.
And now it crouched, and now it stood erect, but it never for a single
instant withdrew its terrible eyes from the miserable man in the tree,
who would have fallen to the ground were it not for the protecting
boughs. Many times Davies thought that his last moment had come, for it
seemed that the owner of those fiery eyes was about to spring upon him.
As he did not do so, Davies somewhat regained his self possession, and
thought of firing at the horrible being; but his courage failed, and
there he sat motionless, not knowing what the end might be. He closed
his eyes to avoid that gaze, which seemed to burn into him, but this was
a short relief, for he felt constrained to look into those burning orbs,
still it was a relief even to close his eyes: and so again and again he
closed them, only, however, to open them on those balls of fire. About 4
o'clock in the morning, he heard a cock crow at Penbryn farm, and at the
moment his eyes were closed, but at the welcome sound he opened them, and
looked for those balls of fire, but, oh! what pleasure, they were no
longer before him, for, at the crowing of the cock, they, and the being
to whom they belonged, had disappeared.

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