the banquet carried on with joyousness; and when it was finished,
Matholch journeyed towards Ireland, and Branwen with him; and they
went from Aber Menei with thirteen ships, and came to Ireland. And
in Ireland was there great joy because of their coming. And not
one great man nor noble lady visited Branwen unto whom she gave
not either a clasp or a ring, or a royal jewel to keep, such as it
was honorable to be seen departing with. And in these things she
spent that year in much renown, and she passed her time
pleasantly, enjoying honor and friendship. And in due time a son
was born unto her, and the name that they gave him was Gwern, the
son of Matholch, and they put the boy out to be nursed in a place
where were the best men of Ireland.
And, behold, in the second year a tumult arose in Ireland, on
account of the insult which Matholch had received in Wales, and
the payment made him for his horses. And his foster-brothers, and
such as were nearest to him, blamed him openly for that matter.
And he might have no peace by reason of the tumult, until they
should revenge upon him this disgrace. And the vengeance which
they took was to drive away Branwen from the same chamber with
him, and to make her cook for the court; and they caused the
butcher, after he had cut up the meat, to come to her and give her
every day a blow on the ear; and such they made her punishment.
"Verily, lord," said his men to Matholch, "forbid now the ships
and the ferry-boats, and the coracles, that they go not into
Wales, and such as come over from Wales hither, imprison them,
that they go not back for this thing to be known there." And he
did so; and it was thus for no less than three years.
And Branwen reared a starling in the cover of the kneading-trough,
and she taught it to speak, and she taught the bird what manner of
man her brother was. And she wrote a letter of her woes, and the
despite with which she was treated, and she bound the letter to
the root of the bird's wing, and sent it toward Wales. And the
bird came to that island; and one day it found Bendigeid Vran at
Caer Seiont in Arvon, conferring there, and it alighted upon his
shoulder, and ruffled its feathers, so that the letter was seen,
and they knew that the bird had been reared in a domestic manner.
Then Bendigeid Vran took the letter and looked upon it. And when
he had read the letter, he grieved exceedingly at the tidings of
Branwen's woes. And immediately he began sending messengers to
summon the island together. And he caused seven-score and four of
his chief men to come unto him, and he complained to them of the
grief that his sister endured. So they took counsel. And in the
counsel they resolved to go to Ireland, and to leave seven men as
princes at home, and Caradoc, [Footnote: Caractacus.] the son of
Bran, as the chief of them.
Bendigeid Vran, with the host of which we spoke, sailed towards
Ireland; and it was not far across the sea, and he came to shoal
water. Now the swine-herds of Matholch were upon the sea-shore,
and they came to Matholch. "Lord," said they, "greeting be unto
thee." "Heaven protect you!" said he; "have you any news?" "Lord,"
said they, "we have marvellous news. A wood have we seen upon the
sea, in a place where we never yet saw a single tree." "This is
indeed a marvel," said he; "saw you aught else?" "We saw, lord,"
said they, "a vast mountain beside the wood, which moved, and
there was a lofty ridge on the top of the mountain, and a lake on
each side of the ridge. And the wood and the mountain, and all
these things, moved." "Verily," said he, "there is none who can
know aught concerning this unless it be Branwen."
Messengers then went unto Branwen. "Lady," said they, "what
thinkest thou that this is?" "The men of the Island of the Mighty,
who have come hither on hearing of my ill-treatment and of my
woes." "What is the forest that is seen upon the sea?" asked they.
"The yards and the masts of ships," she answered. "Alas!" said
they; "what is the mountain that is seen by the side of the
ships?" "Bendigeid Vran, my brother," she replied, "coming to
shoal water, and he is wading to the land." "What is the lofty
ridge, with the lake on each side thereof?" "On looking towards
this island he is wroth, and his two eyes on each side of his nose
are the two lakes on each side of the ridge."
The warriors and chief men of Ireland were brought together in
haste, and they took counsel. "Lord," said the neighbors unto
Matholch, "there is no other counsel than this alone. Thou shalt
give the kingdom to Gwern, the son of Branwen his sister, as a
compensation for the wrong and despite that have been done unto
Branwen. And he will make peace with thee." And in the council it
was resolved that this message should be sent to Bendigeid Vran,
lest the country should be destroyed. And this peace was made. And
Matholch caused a great house to be built for Bendigeid Vran, and
his host. Thereupon came the hosts into the house. The men of the
island of Ireland entered the house on the one side, and the men
of the Island of the Mighty on the other. And as soon as they had
sat down, there was concord between them; and the sovereignty was
conferred upon the boy. When the peace was concluded, Bendigeid
Vran called the boy unto him, and from Bendigeid Vran the boy went
unto Manawyddan; and he was beloved by all that beheld him. And
from Manawyddan the boy was called by Nissyen, the son of
Euroswydd, and the boy went unto him lovingly. "Wherefore," said
Evnissyen, "comes not my nephew, the son of my sister, unto me?
Though he were not king of Ireland, yet willingly would I fondle
the boy." "Cheerfully let him go to thee," said Bendigeid Vran;
and the boy went unto him cheerfully. "By my confession to
Heaven," said Evnissyen in his heart, "unthought of is the
slaughter that I will this instant commit."
Then he arose and took up the boy, and before any one in the house
could seize hold of him he thrust the boy headlong into the
blazing fire. And when Branwen saw her son burning in the fire,
she strove to leap into the fire also, from the place where she
sat between her two brothers. But Bendigeid Vran grasped her with
one hand, and his shield with the other. Then they all hurried
about the house, and never was there made so great a tumult by any
host in one house as was made by them, as each man armed himself.
And while they all sought their arms Bendigeid Vran supported
Branwen between his shield and his shoulder. And they fought.
Then the Irish kindled a fire under the caldron of renovation, and
they cast the dead bodies into the caldron until it was full; and
the next day they came forth fighting men, as good as before,
except that they were not able to speak. Then when Evnissyen saw
the dead bodies of the men of the Island of the Mighty nowhere
resuscitated, he said in his heart, "Alas! woe is me, that I
should have been the cause of bringing the men of the Island of
the Mighty into so great a strait. Evil betide me if I find not a
deliverance therefrom." And he cast himself among the dead bodies
of the Irish; and two unshod Irishmen came to him, and, taking him
to be one of the Irish, flung him into the caldron. And he
stretched himself out in the caldron, so that he rent the caldron
into four pieces, and burst his own heart also.
In consequence of this, the men of the Island of the Mighty
obtained such success as they had; but they were not victorious,
for only seven men of them all escaped, and Bendigeid Vran himself
was wounded in the foot with a poisoned dart. Now the men that
escaped were Pryderi, Manawyddan, Taliesin, and four others.
And Bendigeid Vran commanded them that they should cut off his
head. "And take you my head," said he, "and bear it even unto the
White Mount in London, and bury it there with the face towards
France. And so long as it lies there, no enemy shall ever land on
the island." So they cut off his head, and these seven went
forward therewith. And Branwen was the eighth with them. And they
came to land on Aber Alaw, and they sat down to rest. And Branwen
looked towards Ireland, and towards the Island of the Mighty, to
see if she could descry them. "Alas!" said she, "woe is me that I
was ever born; two islands have been destroyed because of me."
Then she uttered a groan, and there broke her heart. And they made
her a four-sided grave, and buried her upon the banks of the Alaw.
Then the seven men journeyed forward, bearing the head with them;
and as they went, behold there met them a multitude of men and
women. "Have you any tidings?" said Manawyddan. "We have none,"
said they, "save that Caswallawn, [Footnote: Cassivellaunus.] the
son of Beli, has conquered the Island of the Mighty, and is
crowned king in London." "What has become," said they, "of
Caradoc, the son of Bran, and the seven men who were left with him
in this island?" "Caswallawn came upon them, and slew six of the
men, and Caradoc's heart broke for grief thereof." And the seven
men journeyed on towards London, and they buried the head in the
White Mount, as Bendigeid Vran had directed them. [Footnote: There
is a Triad upon the story of the head buried under the White Tower
of London, as a charm against invasion. Arthur, it seems, proudly
disinterred the head, preferring to hold the island by his own
Pwyll and Rhiannon had a son, whom they named Pryderi. And when he
was grown up, Pwyll, his father, died. And Pryderi married Kicva,
the daughter of Gwynn Gloy.
Now Manawyddan returned from the war in Ireland, and he found that
his cousin had seized all his possessions, and much grief and
heaviness came upon him. "Alas! woe is me!" he exclaimed; "there
is none save myself without a home and a resting-place." "Lord,"
said Pryderi, "be not so sorrowful. Thy cousin is king of the
Island of the Mighty, and though he has done thee wrong, thou hast
never been a claimant of land or possessions." "Yea," answered he,
"but although this man is my cousin, it grieveth me to see any one
in the place of my brother, Bendigeid Vran; neither can I be happy
in the same dwelling with him." "Wilt thou follow the counsel of
another?" said Pryderi. "I stand in need of counsel," he answered,
"and what may that counsel be?" "Seven cantrevs belong unto me,"
said Pryderi, "wherein Rhiannon, my mother, dwells. I will bestow
her upon thee, and the seven cantrevs with her; and though thou
hadst no possessions but those cantrevs only, thou couldst not
have any fairer than they. Do thou and Rhiannon enjoy them, and if
thou desire any possessions thou wilt not despise these." "I do
not, chieftain," said he. "Heaven reward thee for the friendship!
I will go with thee to seek Rhiannon, and to look at thy
possessions." "Thou wilt do well," he answered; "and I believe
that thou didst never hear a lady discourse better than she, and
when she was in her prime, none was ever fairer. Even now her
aspect is not uncomely."
They set forth, and, however long the journey, they came at last
to Dyved; and a feast was prepared for them by Rhiannon and Kicva.
Then began Manawyddan and Rhiannon to sit and to talk together;
and his mind and his thoughts became warmed towards her, and he
thought in his heart he had never beheld any lady more fulfilled
of grace and beauty than she. "Pryderi," said he, "I will that it
be as thou didst say." "What saying was that?" asked Rhiannon.
"Lady," said Pryderi, "I did offer thee as a wife to Manawyddan,
the son of Llyr." "By that will I gladly abide," said Rhiannon.
"Right glad am I also," said Manawyddan, "may Heaven reward him
who hath shown unto me friendship so perfect as this!"
And before the feast was over she became his bride. Said Pryderi,
"Tarry ye here the rest of the feast, and I will go into England
to tender my homage unto Caswallawn, the son of Beli." "Lord,"
said Rhiannon, "Caswallawn is in Kent; thou mayest therefore tarry
at the feast, and wait until he shall be nearer." "We will wait,"
he answered. So they finished the feast. And they began to make
the circuit of Dyved, and to hunt, and to take their pleasure. And
as they went through the country, they had never seen lands more
pleasant to live in, nor better hunting grounds, nor greater
plenty of honey and fish. And such was the friendship between
these four, that they would not be parted from each other by night
nor by day.
And in the midst of all this he went to Caswallawn at Oxford, and
tendered his homage; and honorable was his reception there, and
highly was he praised for offering his homage.
And after his return Pryderi and Manawyddan feasted and took their
ease and pleasure. And they began a feast at Narberth, for it was
the chief palace. And when they had ended the first meal, while
those who served them ate, they arose and went forth, and
proceeded to the Gorsedd, that is, the Mount of Narberth, and
their retinue with them. And as they sat thus, behold a peal of
thunder, and with the violence of the thunder-storm, lo! there
came a fall of mist, so thick that not one of them could see the
other. And after the mist it became light all around. And when
they looked towards the place where they were wont to see the
cattle and herds and dwellings, they saw nothing now, neither
house, nor beast, nor smoke, nor fire, nor man, nor dwelling, but
the buildings of the court empty, and desert, and uninhabited,
without either man or beast within them. And truly all their
companions were lost to them, without their knowing aught of what
had befallen them, save those four only.
"In the name of Heaven," said Manawyddan, "where are they of the
court, and all my host beside? Let us go and see."
So they came to the castle, and saw no man, and into the hall, and
to the sleeping-place, and there was none; and in the mead-cellar
and in the kitchen there was naught but desolation. Then they
began to go through the land, and all the possessions that they
had; and they visited the houses and dwellings, and found nothing
but wild beasts. And when they had consumed their feast and all
their provisions, they fed upon the prey they killed in hunting,
and the honey of the wild swans.
And one morning Pryderi and Manawyddan rose up to hunt, and they
ranged their dogs and went forth. And some of the dogs ran before
them, and came to a bush which was near at hand; but as soon as
they were come to the bush, they hastily drew back, and returned
to the men, their hair bristling up greatly. "Let us go near to
the bush," said Pryderi, "and see what is in it." And as they came
near, behold, a wild boar of a pure white color rose up from the
bush. Then the dogs, being set on by the men, rushed towards him;
but he left the bush, and fell back a little way from the men, and
made a stand against the dogs, without retreating from them, until
the men had come near. And when the men came up, he fell back a
second time, and betook him to flight. Then they pursued the boar
until they beheld a vast and lofty castle, all newly built, in a
place where they had never before seen either stone or building.
And the boar ran swiftly into the castle, and the dogs after him.
Now when the boar and the dogs had gone into the castle, the men
began to wonder at finding a castle in a place where they had
never before seen any building whatsoever. And from the top of the
Gorsedd they looked and listened for the dogs. But so long as they
were there, they heard not one of the dogs, nor aught concerning
"Lord," said Pryderi, "I will go into the castle to get tidings of
the dogs." "Truly," he replied, "thou wouldst be unwise to go into
this castle, which thou hast never seen till now. If thou wouldst
follow my counsel, thou wouldst not enter therein. Whosoever has
cast a spell over this land, has caused this castle to be here."
"Of a truth," answered Pryderi, "I cannot thus give up my dogs."
And for all the counsel that Manawyddan gave him, yet to the
castle he went.
When he came within the castle, neither man nor beast, nor boar,
nor dogs, nor house, nor dwelling, saw he within it. But in the
centre of the castle-floor he beheld a fountain with marble-work
around it, and on the margin of the fountain a golden bowl upon a
marble slab, and chains hanging from the air, to which he saw no
And he was greatly pleased with the beauty of the gold, and with
the rich workmanship of the bowl; and he went up to the bowl, and
laid hold of it. And when he had taken hold of its his hands stuck
to the bowl, and his feet to the slab on which the bowl was
placed; and all his joyousness forsook him, so that he could not
utter a word. And thus he stood.
And Manawyddan waited for him till near the close of the day. And
late in the evening, being certain that he should have no tidings
of Pryderi or the dogs, he went back to the palace. And as he
entered, Rhiannon looked at him. "Where," said she, "are thy
companion and thy dogs?" "Behold," he answered, "the adventure
that has befallen me." And he related it all unto her. "An evil
companion hast thou been," said Rhiannon, "and a good companion
hast thou lost." And with that word she went out, and proceeded
towards the castle, according to the direction which he gave her.
The gate of the castle she found open. She was nothing daunted,
and she went in. And as she went in, she perceived Pryderi laying
hold of the bowl, and she went towards him. "O my lord," said she,
"what dost thou here?" And she took hold of the bowl with him; and
as she did so, her hands also became fast to the bowl, and her
feet to the slab, and she was not able to utter a word. And with
that, as it became night, lo! there came thunder upon them, and a
fall of mist; and thereupon the castle vanished, and they with it.
When Kicva, the daughter of Gwynn Gloy, saw that there was no one
in the palace but herself and Manawyddan, she sorrowed so that she
cared not whether she lived or died. And Manawyddan saw this.
"Thou art in the wrong," said he, "if through fear of me thou
grievest thus. I call Heaven to witness that thou hast never seen
friendship more pure than that which I will bear thee as long as
Heaven will that thou shouldst be thus. I declare to thee, that,
were I in the dawn of youth, I would keep my faith unto Pryderi,
and unto thee also will I keep it. Be there no fear upon thee,
therefore." "Heaven reward thee!" she said; "and that is what I
deemed of thee." And the damsel thereupon took courage, and was
"Truly, lady," said Manawyddan, "it is not fitting for us to stay
here; we have lost our dogs, and cannot get food. Let us go into
England; it is easiest for us to find support there." "Gladly,
lord," said she, "we will do so." And they set forth together to
"Lord," said she, "what craft wilt thou follow? Take up one that
is seemly." "None other will I take," answered he, "but that of
making shoes." "Lord," said she, "such a craft becomes not a man
so nobly born as thou." "By that however will I abide," said he.
"I know nothing thereof," said Kicva. "But I know," answered
Manawyddan, "and I will teach thee to stitch. We will not attempt
to dress the leather, but we will buy it ready dressed, and will
make the shoes from it."
So they went into England, and went as far as Hereford; and they
betook themselves to making shoes. And he began by buying the best
cordwain that could be had in the town, and none other would buy.
And he associated himself with the best goldsmith in the town, and
caused him to make clasps for the shoes, and to gild the clasps;
and he marked how it was done until he learned the method. And
therefore is he called one of the three makers of gold shoes. And
when they could be had from him, not a shoe nor hose was bought of
any of the cordwainers in the town. But when the cordwainers
perceived that their gains were failing (for as Manawyddan shaped
the work, so Kicva stitched it), they came together and took
counsel, and agreed that they would slay them. And he had warning
thereof, and it was told him how the cordwainers had agreed
together to slay him.
"Lord," said Kicva, "wherefore should this be borne from these
boors?" "Nay," said he, "we will go back unto Dyved." So towards
Dyved they set forth.
Now Manawyddan, when he set out to return to Dyved, took with him
a burden of wheat. And he proceeded towards Narberth, and there he
dwelt. And never was he better pleased than when he saw Narberth
again, and the lands where he had been wont to hunt with Pryderi
and with Rhiannon. And he accustomed himself to fish, and to hunt
the deer in their covert. And then he began to prepare some
ground, and he sowed a croft, and a second, and a third. And no
wheat in the world ever sprung up better. And the three crofts
prospered with perfect growth, and no man ever saw fairer wheat
And thus passed the seasons of the year until the harvest came.
And he went to look at one of his crofts, and, behold, it was
ripe. "I will reap this to-morrow," said he. And that night he
went back to Narberth, and on the morrow, in the gray dawn, he
went to reap the croft; and when he came there, he found nothing
but the bare straw. Every one of the ears of the wheat was cut off
from the stalk, and all the ears carried entirely away, and
nothing but the straw left. And at this he marvelled greatly.
Then he went to look at another croft, and, behold, that also was
ripe. "Verily," said he, "this will I reap to-morrow." And on the
morrow he came with the intent to reap it; and when he came there,
he found nothing but the bare straw. "O gracious Heaven!" he
exclaimed. "I know that whosoever has begun my ruin is completing
it, and has also destroyed the country with me."
Then he went to look at the third croft; and when he came there,
finer wheat had there never been seen, and this also was ripe.
"Evil betide me," said he, "if I watch not here to-night. Whoever
carried off the other corn will come in like manner to take this,
and I will know who it is." And he told Kicva all that had
befallen. "Verily," said she, "what thinkest thou to do?" "I will
watch the croft to-night," said he. And he went to watch the
And at midnight he heard something stirring among the wheat; and
he looked, and behold, the mightiest host of mice in the world,
which could neither be numbered nor measured. And he knew not what
it was until the mice had made their way into the croft, and each
of them, climbing up the straw, and bending it down with its
weight, had cut off one of the ears of wheat, and had carried it
away, leaving there the stalk; and he saw not a single straw there
that had not a mouse to it. And they all took their way, carrying
the ears with them.
In wrath and anger did he rush upon the mice; but he could no more
come up with them than if they had been gnats or birds of the air,
except one only, which, though it was but sluggish, went so fast
that a man on foot could scarce overtake it. And after this one he
went, and he caught it, and put it in his glove, and tied up the
opening of the glove with a string, and kept it with him, and
returned to the palace. Then he came to the hall where Kicva was,
and he lighted a fire, and hung the glove by the string upon a
peg. "What hast thou there, lord?" said Kicva. "A thief," said he,
"that I found robbing me." "What kind of a thief may it be, lord,
that thou couldst put into thy glove?" said she. Then he told her
how the mice came to the last of the fields in his sight. "And one
of them was less nimble than the rest, and is now in my glove; to-
morrow I will hang it." "My lord," said she, "this is marvellous;
but yet it would be unseemly for a man of dignity like thee to be
hanging such a reptile as this." "Woe betide me," said he, "if I
would not hang them all, could I catch them, and such as I have I
will hang." "Verily, lord," said she, "there is no reason that I
should succor this reptile, except to prevent discredit unto thee.
Do therefore, lord, as thou wilt."
Then he went to the Mound of Narberth, taking the mouse with him.
And he set up two forks on the highest part of the mound. And
while he was doing this, behold, he saw a scholar coming towards
him, in old and poor and tattered garments. And it was now seven
years since he had seen in that place either man or beast, except
those four persons who had remained together until two of them
"My lord," said the scholar, "good-day to thee." "Heaven prosper
thee, and my greeting be unto thee! And whence dost thou come,
scholar?" asked he. "I come, lord, from singing in England; and