Easton Wood Devil
In her ‘Nummits and Crummits’ (1900), Sarah Hewett gives the following account. ‘An old man living in South Devon, once told me that as he was one night returning from Starcross to a farm about two miles off, as he passed Easton Wood he had ” zeed the devil hiszel azitting pon tap o’ a gaet-pawst. Th’ eyes aw’n was like two gert glazing tay sassers, and I urned fit to break my neck till I got purty vur from he,” he said.
A day or two after this, I met the old man’s son of whom I enquired for his father.
“Aw’ mum,” said he, “‘e idden vitty ‘et, a’n’t agot awver th’ fright he got tuther night. He zeth ‘e zeed th’ evil wan, up in Easton Wood, wi eyes blazing like a bull’s-eye- lantern. He hissed and tissed to ‘n. There was hundreds of little devils dancing all about in th’ blue hell-flames. Poor old father was that scared that ‘e cant tell a ‘awk from a ‘andsaw (heronshaw). Poor old father, ‘e es in a brave fizz‘et.”
“Yes,” I replied, “don’t you think if you could persuade him to pass by ‘The Ship,’ at Cockwood, instead of going in, he would see less of the old one?”
“Ess ‘m, mayhap ‘e widden zee th’dowl again if he stapped gwaine there.”
One sees by this, how very different the son’s tale was from the father’s. The whole thing was wonderfully elaborated, and there is no doubt as it journeyed through the taprooms of Cockwood, Starcross, and Dawlish, it still farther grew in hideousness of detail.