story 6 story 5 story 8 story 9 story 10 story 11 story 12 story 7 home story I story 2 story 3 story 4 St Anselm College
British Museum MS. Royal 15 A. xx. fo. 141 a, b; 142 a
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Story II takes place in North Yorkshire in the late 1300s.  In the story, a spirit appears to a tailor named Snowball several times, and asks Snowball to help him obtain absolution for his sins.  The tailor sets out to do this, talking to several priests and paying five shillings.  He then buries the absolution in the spirit’s tomb and conjures it.  The spirit tells him that the absolution was sufficient, and that his wandering would end.  He also tells Snowball about his own sins and what must be done to remedy them.  This story is the longest of all the Byland stories.

Story 2
[1] Concerning an extraordinary contest between a spirit and one living in the time of King Richard the
[2] Second.
[3] It is said that a certain tailor by the name [blank] Snowball by riding returned to
[4] his house in Ampleforth on a certain night from Gilling East, and in the road he heard a sound like
[5] ducks bathing themselves in a stream and a little while later he saw (something) like
[6] a raven flying around his face and sinking all the way down to the ground, with its wings
[7] striking the ground violently as if it ought to die.  Which tailor dismounted from his horse so that he might seize
[8] the raven and in the meantime he saw sparks of fire scattering down from the sides of the same raven.  Then
[9] he signed himself and warded it off on behalf of God that it not cause some harm to him at that time.  Who
[10] flew away with a great wailing as if through the space of a (thrown) stone.  Then a second time he mounted
[11] his horse and a little after the previously named raven met him in flying and struck him in
[12] the side and threw on the ground the tailor riding on his horse.  Who in such a way
[12-13] having been thrown down to the ground
[13] lay as if in amazement and dismayed, greatly fearing.  At length rising again and
[14] standing firm in faith he fought with it with his sword until he was exhausted, and it seemed
[15] to him as if it was striking the turf of the moor and he warded it off and repelled it on behalf of God,
[16] saying, “God forbid that you have the power of doing harm to me at this time, but let you withdraw.” Who again
[17] flew away with a horrible wailing as if through the space of a flying arrow.  In truth on the third time
[18] it appeared to the same tailor bearing the cross of his sword over his breast on account of fear and
[19] met him in the figure of a chained dog.  With which thing having been seen the tailor thought with himself courageous in faith,
[20] “What will happen concerning me?  I will conjure him in the name of the Holy Trinity and through the power of the blood of Jesus
[21] Christ from the five wounds that he speak with him and by no means injure himself but stand
[22] immovable and respond to the things asked and say to him his name and the reason for his punishment
[23] with a suitable remedy.  And he did thus.  Which conjured one breathing out terribly and groaning (said),
[24] “I did thus and thus and I was excommunicated on account of such a deed.  Let you go therefore to such a priest
[25] seeking absolution on my behalf.  And it is necessary that I complete on nine occasions twenty masses
[25-26] to be celebrated on my behalf.
[26] and out of two you may choose one.  Either let you return to me on such a night alone, bringing back
[27] the response from these about whom I spoke to you and I will show you in what way you will be healed, and may you not fear the appearance
[28] of material fire in the meantime.  Or your flesh will rot and your skin will shrivel and
[29] melt away from within you in a short (time).  Let you know therefore because today you did not hear Mass nor
[30] the Gospel of John certainly, “In the beginning” nor did you see the consecration of the body and
[31] of the blood of the Lord I met you at the present time, otherwise I would not hold fully the power
[31-32] of appearing to you.”
[32] And when he spoke with him he was as if fiery and he saw through his mouth his
[33] interior and he formed his words in (his) intestines and was not speaking with (his) tongue.
[33-34] Indeed the same tailor was begging permission from the aforementioned spirit that will he be able to have another companion with him in
[35] returning, who responded, “No.  But you may have above you the four Gospels of the Evangelists and
[36] the triumphal title evidently “Jesus Nazarene” on account of two other spirits
[36-37] remaining in this place,
[37] of whom one is not able to speak having been conjured and is in the appearance of fire or of a thorn bush and the other
[38] is in the shape of a hunter, and they are in meeting greatly dangerous.  Let you further make faith to this
[39] stone that you will not spread news of my bones except to the priests celebrating on my behalf, and to others to
[40] whom you will send on my behalf who are able to benefit me.”  Who made faith to the stone [40-41] about not revealing this secret exactly as was expressed above.  At length he conjured the same
[42] spirit that he should go all the way to Hodge Beck all the way to his return.  Who responded,
[43] “No.  No.  No.” with wailing.  To whom the tailor said, “Then let you go to Brink Hill.” And the joyful thing was brought about.
[44] In truth the said man was ill through several days, and immediately grew strong and went to York to
[45] the aforementioned presbyter, who formerly excommunicated him, seeking absolution.  Who
[46] refused to absolve him, calling to himself another chaplain himself for the purpose of consulting.  But he called
[47] to this place another, and another third whispering about the absolution of this (spirit).  To which first (presbyter) said
[48] the tailor, “Lord, you know the tokens which I suggested in your ears.”  Who responded, “Truly,
[49] child.”  At last after various treaties between the counsels the same tailor released five
[50] shillings and recovered the absolution written onto a certain small leaf of paper, it having been sworn that
[50-51] he would not slander the deceased (man) but would bury that (paper) in his tomb near his head secretly.  Which things
[52] having been accepted he went to a certain clergyman Richard from Pickering respected of confessions asking if
[53] the said absolution was sufficient and lawful.  Who responded that yes (it was).  Then the same tailor
[54] went over to all the orders of monks of York and made that nearly all the aforementioned Masses be celebrated
[55] through two or three days.  And returning home he dug the aforementioned absolution exactly as to him
[56] it had been ordered in the tomb.  In truth with all of these things completed religiously he came to his house, and
[57] a certain presumptuous neighbor of his hearing that it was necessary that he himself bring back to the same spirit
[58] the things which he bore into York on such a night, he swore to him saying, “God forbid that you go to the aforementioned
[59] spirit unless you forewarn me about your return and about the day and hour.”  Who in such a way having been contracted lest
[60] it be displeasing to God he forewarned [him] stirring him from sleep and he said, “I am going now.  If you wish
[61] to come with me, let us go, and I will give to you a part from my written things which I carry above me on account of
[62] nighttime fears.”  To which the other responded, “Do you wish that I should go with you?”  Who responded, “You
[63] will see.  I do not wish to order to you.”  Then the other finally said, “Let you go therefore in the name of the Lord
[64] and may God make you ready in all things.”  With which things having been said he came to the arranged place and made
[65] a large circle with a crucifix, and held above him the four Gospels and (the) other sacred words, and
[66] he stood in the middle of the circle placing four reliquaries in the form of a cross on the edges of the same
[67] circle, on which reliquaries were written healing words, certainly “Jesus Nazarene,”
[68] etc. and he awaited the approach of the same spirit.  Who at last came in the figure of a she-goat and thrice
[69] went around the aforementioned circle saying, “A! A! A!”  Which conjured thing sank falling on the ground and
[70] rose again in the figure of a man of great stature both fearful and lean
[70-71] depicted to the likeness of one dead king.
[71] and having inquired if his labor somehow had made progress, to him he responded,
[71-72] “Let God be praised,
[72] yes.  And I stood toward the back in the ninth hour when you buried my absolution in
[73] the tomb and you were afraid.  And (this is) not astonishing, because three devils were present in that very place who
[74] were punishing me with torments of all sorts after you conjured me on the first occasion continuously to
[75] my absolution, suspecting themselves about to have me in their custody in a very short time
[76] for the purpose of punishing.  Let you know therefore by the day about to happen of the nearest moon I with thirty other
[77] spirits will go into the everlasting joy.  You therefore should go to such a river and
[78] find a broad stone which you should lift up and under that stone you should take a sandy stone.  You should wash
[79] furthermore (your) whole body with water and rub it down with the stone and you will be restored to health within a few days.”  Who
[80] having been questioned about the names of the two spirits responded, “I am not able to mention to you
[81] the names of those (spirits).”  A second time having been searched concerning the position of the same (spirits) asserted that one of them was
[82] a pagan and warlike and was not from that country, and he killed a pregnant woman and
[82-83] he will not have
[83] salvation before the Day of Judgment and you will see him in the figure of a calf without a mouth and eyes
[84] and ears, and by no means although he may be conjured will he be able to speak.  And the other was devout in
[85] the figure of a hunter with the horn of a bull, and he will have salvation and he will be conjured through
[86] a certain little slave boy not yet having reached puberty with his master having arranged.”  Afterward he asked
[87] the same spirit about his own position.  Who responded to him, “You are keeping unjustly the hooded cloak and
[88] toga formerly of a friend and your companion in the war across the sea.  You must make amends therefore to him or else violently
[89] you must suffer.”  Who responded, “I do not know where he is.”  To whom the other responded, “In such a village he lives near
[90] the castle of Alnwick.”  Having been inquired further, “What is my
[90-91] greatest crime?”
[91] he responded, “Your greatest crime is on account of me.”  To whom the living (said), “In what way and in what manner (is) this?”  He said, “Because
[92] the people transgress concerning you, lying and offending the other dead and saying, “Either it is that dead one
[93] who was conjured or that one or that one.”  And he asked the same spirit, “What therefore
[94] must take place?  I will reveal therefore your name.”  Who responded, “No.  But if you abide in such a place you will be
[95] wealthy and in such a place you will be poor, and have some enemies.”  At last the spirit responded,
[96] “I am not able to stand at length and to speak to you.”  With which ones having gone away from one another the aforementioned
[97] deaf and dumb and blind calf went with the living one all the way to the village of Ampleforth,
[98] whom he conjured by every method about which he knew, but with no method was he able to respond.
[99] However the other spirit by means of himself having been aided advised him that he should place his best written things
[100] on his head while he slept and you should not mention more or indeed less than what I advise you, and
[101] you should look back at the ground and you should look back at the ground and lest you look back at material fire on that night at least.  Who going back
[102] to the house through several days was violently ill.