As Goodman Brown and his fellow-traveller traverse the path to the forest primeval, the older man who carries a staff bears an uncanny resemblance to Goodman himself yet he has the air of "one who knew the world," and would be comfortable in the company of the governor or in King William's court. As Goodman talks with the stranger, the elder tells Goodman that he has been well acquainted with the Brown family as well as many of the Puritans:
I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem; and it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village....They were my good friends, both....
In addition to these, the traveller says that he has known many a deacon who has "drunk communion wine with me," implying that they have in attendance at the black mass with him. Ironically, when Goodman Brown runs off lest Goody Cloyse see him with the elder man and ask who he is, it is Goody who recognizes the traveller and greets him, "The devil!"
Of course, it is the traveller/devil who is at the black mass where Deacon Gookin, Goody Cloyse and the others attend. So, in effect, the traveller with the staff (the devil) has great influence upon many.