Pedws Ffoulk was a native of Henllan, and despised by the people of the village as a vicious and malevolent old witch. Whereas many witches were capable of great cruelty, this was usually as a consequence of some slight they felt they had received. However, Pedws Ffoulk was considered cruel for the sake of it, and people would avoid her for fear of upsetting her in some way. She was said to have had green, cat like eyes that if caught by the eyes of another would bring bad luck to those brave enough to hold her baleful stare.
The Bewitched Horse
One day, Pedws was walking through a field in which a farmer and his hands were hard at work. As she reached the spot by which a huge carthorse was standing, the poor beast collapsed to the ground. All was fright and commotion, as the farm hands and the farmer raced to the aid of the beast, whose effort were much needed in the field. No reason for the collapse could be found, but on looking up, the farmer realised that the only person unaffected by the horse’s plight was old Pedws Ffoulk. Her reputation more mischief was much known and the suspicion of the farmer was raised immediately. Indeed, several of the farm hands began to cross themselves and mutter prayers.
The farmer, believing now that his carthorse had been bewitched for some reason unknown to him, ran over to the old woman and stood before her, preventing her from making her way. She did not face him, but instead looked down at her feet and refused to meet his eye. The farmer, proudly mistaking this for fear, was thus emboldened.
‘You have bewitched my horse, Pedws Ffoulk! You’d better break that curse, or so help me-'
The old woman looked up suddenly, and her bright green eyes flashed fire, ‘Aye, farmer, help you’ll need if you wish to frighten me with your threats.’
The farmer blanched at her gaze. She was an old woman, warty and gap toothed, but he was frightened. He would have let the beast die in the field at that moment, had not he seen his hired help walking up to view the confrontation. The farmer was a proud man, a little haughty some said, and he was more fearful of the mockery of those beneath him than the old woman and her spells.
Finding some strength, he reached out and grasped the old woman’s thin stringy arm and, despite her spat curses and threats, he dragged her to the carthorse, whose breathing had become much laboured.
‘Break this curse, and give me back my horse. It has work to do, and I shall not be out of pocket for the curses of you, Pedws Ffoulk.’ In truth, the farmer had become quite spirited, since a number of his hired hands had picked up rough cudgels and he seemed braver for it.
‘I’ll do no such thing,’ spat the hag, ‘and you’ll regret the asking.’
‘Break this curse or I’ll break your head!’ snapped the farmer, shaking the woman violently.
‘Very well,’ snapped Pedws Ffoulk, ‘I’ll end the curse.’
Standing over the beast she snapped, ‘Duw arno fo’, and immediately, the animal began to struggle to its legs, breathing hard, but otherwise unscathed. Pedws Ffoulk was allowed to go on her way, though she muttered curses under her breath as she did.
Sion the Shoemaker
Sion the Shoemaker was known for his excellent work, and when the villagers of Henllan brought him their shoes to be mended, he would, for fair payment do an excellent job. Pedws Ffoulk however, was not one to pay, and turned up at Sion’s shop demanding he mend her shoes for free. Sion refused, brave perhaps, or simply fed up of mending the old witch’s shoes for free. Pedws left the shop without a word, a little to Sion’s surprise, who had expected threats and insults.
That evening, after a day of hard work, Sion retired to his home and sat down in his favourite armchair for a well-deserved rest. However, as his wife came into the room, he tried to stamd but found that he could not. Whatever he tried, he could not detatch himself from the chair. Alarmed, Sion began to bounce about, but his efforts left him exhausted.
‘Pedws Ffoulk has magiked me!’ he screamed, ‘I should have mended her shoes for nothing, even if they’d been on her grubby, filthy feet.’
His wife roused the neighbours and Sion told them of how he had slighted the old witch. The neighbours were sympathetic. Many had suffered the curses of the old witch, but few had found the courage to confront her. Feeling that Sion’s predicament was a chance perhaps to end the old hag’s reign of fear over the village, they gathered together outside Pedws Ffoulk’s hovel and called for her to come to the door.
‘Pedws Ffoulk, came to the door, we would speak with you.’
The door to the shack was opened and out shot a black cat, snarling and snapping as it ran through the mob.
‘What do you want?’ came the cackle from within.
‘We’d have the curse on Sion the Shoemaker ended. Spiteful it was, and undeserving,’ they called.
‘Undeserving, was it?’ cackled Pedws, coming to the door, old and haggard but grinning through a gap toothed mouth. ‘My feet hurt so, and that fool told me no. He can sit in his chair till it falls apart, and perhaps he’ll find some charity in his heart.’
With that a brave young soul pushed forward from the throng, holding a small bag of salt. ‘You’ll break the curse or I’ll pour this salt over your head, old woman, and that’ll be the end of your mischief.’
The old woman’s grin faltered then, and she seemed a little more conciliatory of a sudden. With a curse she pushed through the mob and made her way to the shoemaker’s house. Entering the house without a knock or a call, she found Sion stuck in his chair, sweating and weeping. Pedws Ffoulk began to laugh and it took her some time to calm herself.
‘This time, and only this time, I’ll release you from this spell, but cross me again shoemaker, and you will suffer more than a chair stuck to your backside.’
With that, she released the shoemaker from the spell and left, but from that day on, Pedws Ffoulk would constantly humiliate the shoemaker by making him mend her shoes while they were on her dirty, filthy feet.