John Rhys.

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hill farmer (Thomas Abergraes by name), well skilled in
the folk-lore of the district, informed me that, in years
gone by, though when, exactly, he was too young to
remember, those dames were wont to make their
appearance, arrayed in green, in the neighbourhood of
ILyn Barfog, chiefly at eventide, accompanied by their
kine and hounds, and that on quiet summer nights in
particular, these ban-hounds were often to be heard in
full cry pursuing their prey the souls of doomed men
dying without baptism and penance along the upland
township of Cefnrhosucha. Many a farmer had a sight
of their comely milk-white kine ; many a swain had his
soul turned to romance and poesy by a sudden vision
of themselves in the guise of damsels arrayed in green,
and radiant in beauty and grace ; and many a sportsman
had his path crossed by their white hounds of super-

1 I should not like to vouch for the accuracy of Mr. Pughe's rendering of
this and the other Welsh names which he has introduced : that involves
difficult questions.


natural fleetness and comeliness, the Cwn Annwn ; but
never had any one been favoured with more than a
passing view of either, till an old farmer residing at
Dyssyrnant, in the adjoining valley of Dyffryn Gwyn,
became at last the lucky captor of one of their milk-
white kine. The acquaintance which the Gwartheg y
ILyn, the kine of the lake, had formed with the farmer's
cattle, like the loves of the angels for the daughters of
men, became the means of capture ; and the farmer was
thereby enabled to add the mystic cow to his own herd,
an event in all cases believed to be most conducive to
the worldly prosperity of him who should make so
fortunate an acquisition. Never was there such a cow,
never such calves, never such milk and butter, or
cheese, and the fame of the Fuwch Gyfeiliorn, the stray
cow, was soon spread abroad through that central part
of Wales known as the district of Rhwng y dwy Afon,
from the banks of the MawcTach to those of the Dofwy 1

-from Aberdiswnwy 2 to Abercorris. The farmer, from
a small beginning, rapidly became, like Job, a man of
substance, possessed of thriving herds of cattle a very
patriarch among the mountains. But, alas ! wanting
Job's restraining grace, his wealth made him proud, his
pride made him forget his obligation to the Elfin cow,
and fearing she might soon become too old to be profit-
able, he fattened her for the butcher, and then even she
did not fail to distinguish herself, for a more monstrously
fat beast was never seen. At last the day of slaughter
cam.e an eventful day in the annals of a mountain farm

the killing of a fat cow, and such a monster of obesity !
No wonder all the neighbours were gathered together

1 The writer meant the river known as Dyfi or Dovey ; but he would
seem to have had a water etymology on the brain.

' This involves the name of the river called Disynni, and Diswnwy em-
bodies a popular etymology which is not worth discussing.



to see the sight. The old farmer looked upon the pre-
parations in self-pleased importance the butcher felt
he was about no common feat of his craft, and, baring
his arms, he struck the blow not now fatal, for before
even a hair had been injured, his arm was paralysed
the knife dropped from his hand, and the whole company
was electrified by a piercing cry that awakened echo
in a dozen hills, and made the welkin ring again ; and
lo and behold ! the whole assemblage saw a female
figure clad in green, with uplifted arms, standing on one
of the craigs overhanging ILyn Barfog, and heard her
calling with a voice loud as thunder :

Dere di velen Einion, Come yellow Anvil, stray horns,

Cyrn Cyveiliorn braith y ILyn, Speckled one of the lake,

A'r voel Dodin, And of the hornless Dodin,

Codwch, dewch adre. Arise, come home '.

And no sooner were these words of power uttered than
the original lake cow and all her progeny, to the third and
fourth generations, were in full flight towards the heights
of ILyn Barfog, as if pursued by the evil one. Self-
interest quickly roused the farmer, who followed in
pursuit, till breathless and panting he gained an emi-
nence overlooking the lake, but with no better success
than to behold the green attired dame leisurely descend-
ing mid-lake, accompanied by the fugitive cows and their
calves formed in a circle around her, they tossing their
tails, she waving her hands in scorn as much as to
say, u You may catch us, my friend, if you can," as they
disappeared beneath the dark waters of the lake, leaving
only the yellow water-lily to mark the spot where they

1 It would, I think, be a little nearer the mark as follows :

Come thou, Einion's Yellow One,

Stray-horns, the Particoloured Lake Cow,

And the Hornless Dodin :

Arise, come home.

But one would like to know whether Dodin ought not rather to be written
Dodyn, to rhyme with ILyn.



vanished, and to perpetuate the memory of this strange
event. Meanwhile the farmer looked with rueful
countenance upon the spot where the Elfin herd dis-
appeared, and had ample leisure to deplore the effects
of his greediness, as with them also departed the pros-
perity which had hitherto attended him, and he became
impoverished to a degree below his original circum-
stances ; and, in his altered circumstances, few felt pity
for one who in the noontide flow of prosperity had
shown himself so far forgetful of favours received, as to
purpose slaying his benefactor.'

Mr. Pughe did a very good thing in saving this legend
from oblivion, but it would be very interesting to know
how much of it is still current among the inhabitants of
the retired district around ILyn Barfog, and how the
story would look when stripped of the florid language
in which Mr. Pughe thought proper to clothe it. Lastly,
let me add a reference to the lolo Manuscripts, pp. 85,
475, where a short story is given concerning a certain
Milkwhite Sweet-milk Cow (y Fuwch Laethwen Lefrith}
whose milk was so abundant and possessed of such
virtues as almost to rival the Holy Grail. Like the
Holy Grail also this cow wandered everywhere spread-
ing plenty, until she chanced to come to the Vale of
Towy, where the foolish inhabitants wished to kill and
eat her : the result was that she vanished in their hands
and has never since been heard of.


Here I wish to add some further stories connected
with Merionethshire which have come under my notice
lately. I give them chiefly on the authority of Mr. Owen
M. Edwards of Lincoln College, who is a native of
ILanuwchttyn, and still spends a considerable part of his



time there ; and partly on that of Hywel's essay on the
folklore of the county, which was awarded the prize at
the National Eistedfod of 1898 l . A story current at
ILanuwchltyn, concerning a midwife who attends on
a fairy mother, resembles the others of the same group :
for one of them see p. 63 above. In the former, how-
ever, one misses the ointment, and finds instead of it
that the midwife was not to touch her eyes with the
water with which she washed the fairy baby. But as
might be expected one of her eyes happened to itch,
and she touched it with her fingers straight from the
water. It appears that thenceforth she was able to see
the fairies with that eye ; at any rate she is represented
some time afterwards recognizing the father of the fairy
baby at a fair at Bala, and inquiring of him kindly about
his family. The fairy asked with which eye she saw
him, and when he had ascertained this, he at once
blinded it, so that she never could see with it after-
wards. Hywel also has it that the Tylwyth Teg
formerly used to frequent the markets at Bala, and
that they used to swell the noise in the market-place
without anybody being able to see them : this was a
sign that prices were going to rise.

The shepherds of Ardudwy are familiar, according
to Hywel, with a variant of the story in which a man
married a fairy on condition that he did not touch her
with iron. They lived on the Moelfre and dwelt happily
together for years, until one fine summer day, when
the husband was engaged in shearing his sheep, he
put the gweUe, ( shears,' in his wife's hand : she then
instantly disappeared. The earlier portions of this story
are unknown to me, but they are not hard to guess.

1 Hywel's real name is William Davies, Tal y Bont, Cardiganshire. As
adjudicator I became acquainted with several stories which Mr. Davies has
since given me permission to use, and I have to thank him for clues to
several others.

L 2


Concerning ILyn Irdyn, between the western slopes
of the ILawiiech, Hywel has a story the like of which
I am not acquainted with : walking near that lake you
shun the shore and keep to the grass in order to avoid
the fairies, for if you take hold of the grass no fairy
can touch you, or dare under any circumstances injure
a blade of grass.

Lastly, Hywel speaks of several caves containing
treasure, as for instance a telyn aur, or golden harp,
hidden away in a cave beneath Castett Carn Dochan
in the parish of ILanuwchttyn. Lewis Morris, in his
Celtic Remains, p. 100, calls it Castett Corndochen, and
describes it as seated on the top of a steep rock at the
bottom of a deep valley : it appears to have consisted of
a wall surrounding three turrets, and the mortar seems
composed of cockle-shells : see also the Archceologia
Cambrensis for 1850, p. 204. Hywel speaks also of a
cave beneath Castett Dinas Bran, near ILangotten, as
containing much treasure, which will only be disclosed
to a boy followed by a white dog with ttygaid arian,
' silver eyes/ explained to mean light eyes : every such
dog is said to see the wind. So runs this story, but it
requires more exegesis than I can supply. One may
compare it at a distance with Myrdin's arrangement
that the treasure buried by him at Dinas Emrys should
only be found by a youth with yellow hair and blue
eyes, and with the belief that the cave treasures of the
Snowdon district belong to the Gwydyl or Goidels, and
that Goidels will eventually find them: see chapter viii.

The next three stories are from Mr. Owen Edwards'
Cymru for 1897, pp. 188-9, where he has published
them from a collection made for a literary competition
or local Eistedfod by his friend J. H. Roberts, who died
in early manhood. The first is a blurred version of
the story of the Lake Lady and her dowry of cattle, but



enough of the story remains to show that, had we got it
in its original form, it would be found to differ some-
what on several points from all the other versions
extant. I summarize the Welsh as follows : In ages
gone by, as the shepherd of Hafod y Garreg was looking
after his sheep on the shores of the Arennig Lake, he
came across a young calf, plump, sleek, and strong, in
the rushes. He could not guess whence the beast
could have come, as no cattle were allowed to approach
the lake at that time of the year. He took it home,
however, and it was reared until it was a bull, remark-
able for his fine appearance. In time his offspring were
the only cattle on the farm, and never before had there
been such beasts at Hafod y Garreg. They were the
wonder and admiration of the whole country. But one
summer afternoon in June, the shepherd saw a little fat
old man playing on a pipe, and then he heard him call
the cows by their names-

Mulican, Molican, Malen, Mair, Mulican, Molican, Malen and Mair,

Dowch adre^r awrhon ar fy ngair. Come now home at my word.

He then beheld the whole herd running to the little
man and going into the lake. Nothing more was heard
of them, and it was everybody's opinion that they were
the Tylwyth Teg's cattle.

The next is a quasi fairy tale, the outcome of which
recalls the adventure of the farmer of Drws y Coed on
his return from Bedgelert Fair, p. 99 above. It is told
of a young harpist who was making his way across
country from his home at Yspyty Ifan to the neigh-
bourhood of Bala, that while crossing the mountain he
happened in the mist to lose his road and fall into the
Gors Fawr, 'the big bog.' There he wallowed for
hours, quite unable to extricate himself in spite of all
his efforts. But when he was going to give up in


despair, he beheld close to him, reaching him her hand,
a little woman who was wondrous fair beyond all his
conception of beauty, and with her help he got out of
the Gors. The damsel gave him a jolly sweet kiss that
flashed electricity through his whole nature : he was at
once over head and ears in love. She led him to the
hut of her father and mother : there he had every
welcome, and he spent the night singing and dancing
with Olwen, for that was her name. Now, though the
harpist was a mere stripling, he thought of wedding at
once he was never before in such a heaven of delight.
But next morning he was waked, not by a kiss from
Olwen, but by the Plas Drain shepherd's dog licking
his lips : he found himself sleeping against the wall of
a sheepfold (cor/ati), with his harp in a clump of rushes
at his feet, without any trace to be found of the family
with whom he had spent such a happy night.

The next story recalls Glasynys' Einion Las, as
given at pp. 111-5 above: its peculiarity is the part
played by the well introduced. The scene was a
turbary near the river called Afon Mynach, so
named from Cwm Tir Mynach, behind the hills imme-
diately north of Bala : Ages ago, as a number of
people were cutting turf in a place which was then
moorland, and which is now enclosed ground form-
ing part of a farm called Nant Hir, one of them
happened to wash his face in a well belonging to the
fairies. At dinner-time in the middle of the, day they
sat down in a circle, while the youth who had washed
his face went to fetch the food, but suddenly both he
and the box of food were lost. They knew not what to
do, they suspected that it was the doing of the fairies ;
but the wise man (givr hyspys) came to the neighbour-
hood and told them, that, if they would only go to the
spot on the night of full moon in June, they would


behold him dancing with the fairies. They did as they
were told, and found the moor covered with thousands
of little agile creatures who sang and danced with all
their might, and they saw the missing man among them.
They rushed at him, and with a great deal of trouble
they got him out. But oftentimes was Einion missed
again, until at the time of full moon in another June
he returned home with a wondrously fair wife, whose
history or pedigree no one knew. Everybody believed
her to be one of the Tylwyth Teg,


There is a kind of fairy tale of which I think I have
hitherto not given the reader a specimen : a good instance
is given in the third volume of the Brython, at p. 459, by
a contributor who calls himself Idnerth ab Gwgan, who,
I learn from the Rev. Chancellor Silvan Evans, the
editor, was no other than the Rev. Benjamin Williams,
best known to Welsh antiquaries by his bardic name
of Gwynionycf. The preface to the tale is also interest-
ing, so I am tempted to render the whole into English,
as follows :

' The fair family were wonderful creatures in the
imaginary world : they encamped, they walked, and
they capered a great deal in former ages in our country,
according to what we learn from some of our old people.
It may be supposed that they were very little folks like
the children of Rhys f)wfn ; for the old people used to
imagine that they were wont to visit their hearths in
great numbers in ages gone by. The girls at the farm
houses used to make the hearths clean after supper, and
to place a cauldron full of water near the fire ; and so
they thought that the fair family came there to play at
night, bringing sweethearts for the young women, and


leaving pieces of money on the hob for them in the
morning. Sometimes they might be seen as splendid
hosts exercising themselves on our hills. They were
very fond of the mountains of Dyfed ; travellers between
Lampeter and Cardigan used to see them on the hill of
ILanwenog, but by the time they had reached there the
fairies would be far away on the hills of ILandyssul, and
when one had reached the place where one expected to
see the family together in tidy array, they would be
seen very busily engaged on the tops of Crug y Balog ;
when one went there they would be on Blaen Pant ar
Fi, moving on and on to Bryn Bwa, and, finally, to some
place or other in the lower part of Dyfed. Like the
soldiers of our earthly world, they were possessed of
terribly fascinating music ; and in the autumnal season
they had their rings, still named from them, in which
they sang and danced. The young man of ILech y
Derwyd l was his father's only son, as well as heir to
the farm ; so he was very dear to his father and his
mother, indeed he was the light of their eyes. Now,
the head servant and the son were bosom friends : they
were like brothers together, or rather twin brothers.
As the son and the servant were such friends, the
farmer's wife used to get exactly the same kind of
clothes prepared for the servant as for her son. The
two fell in love with two handsome young women of
very good reputation in the neighbourhood. The two
couples were soon joined in honest wedlock, and great
was the merry-making on the occasion. The servant
had a suitable place to live in on the farm of ILech y
Derwyd"; but about half a year after the son's marriage,

1 Or ILech y Deri, as Mr. Williams tells me in a letter, where he adds that
he does not know the place, but that he took it to be in the Hundred of
Cemmes, in North-west Pembrokeshire. I take ILech y Dcrwyct to be
fictitious ; but I have not succeeded in finding any place called by the other
name either.


he and his friend went out for sport, when the servant
withdrew to a wild and retired corner to look for game.
He returned presently for his friend, but when he got
there he could not see him anywhere : he kept looking
around for some time for him, shouting and whistling,
but there was no sign of his friend. By-and-by, he
went home to ILech y Derwyd expecting to see him,
but no one knew anything about him. Great was the
sorrow of his family through the night ; and next day
the anxiety was still greater. They went to see the
place where his friend had seen him last : it was hard
to tell whether his mother or his wife wept the more
bitterly; but the father was a little better, though he
also looked as if he were half mad with grief. The
spot was examined, and, to their surprise, they saw a
fairy ring close by, and the servant recollected that he
had heard the sound of very fascinating music some-
where or other about the time in question. It was at
once agreed that the man had been unfortunate enough
to have got into the ring of the Tylwyth, and to have been
carried away by them, nobody knew whither. Weeks
and months passed away, and a son was born to the
heir of ILech y Derwyd", but the young father was not
there to see his child, which the old people thought very
hard. However, the little one grew up the very picture
of his father, and great was his influence over his
grandfather and grandmother ; in fact he was every-
thing to them. He grew up to be a man, and he
married a good-looking girl in that neighbourhood ; but
her family did not enjoy the reputation of being kind-
hearted people. The old folks died, and their daughter-
in-law also. One windy afternoon in the month of
October, the family of ILech y Derwyd beheld a tall
thin old man, with his beard and hair white as snow,
coming towards the house, and they thought he was


a Jew. The servant maids stared at him, and their
mistress laughed at the "old Jew," at the same time
that she lifted the children up one after another to see
him. He came to the door and entered boldly enough,
asking about his parents. The mistress answered him
in an unusually surly and contemptuous tone, won-
dering why the " drunken old Jew had come there,"
because it was thought he had been drinking, and
that he would otherwise not have spoken so. The old
man cast wondering and anxious looks around on every-
thing in the house, feeling as he did greatly surprised ;
but it was the little children about the floor that drew
his attention most : his looks were full of disappoint-
ment and sorrow. He related the whole of his account,
saying that he had been out the day before and that he
was now returning. The mistress of the house told
him that she had heard a tale about her husband's
father, that he had been lost years before her birth
while out sporting, whilst her father maintained that it
was not true, but that he had been killed. She became
angry, and quite lost her temper at seeing " the old
Jew " not going away. The old man was roused, saying
that he was the owner of the house, and that he must
have his rights. He then went out to see his posses-
sions, and presently went to the house of the servant,
where, to his surprise, things had greatly changed ;
after conversing with an aged man, who sat by the fire,
the one began to scrutinize the other more and more.
The aged man by the fire told him what had been the
fate of his old friend, the heir of ILech y Derwyd". They
talked deliberately of the events of their youth, but it all
seemed like a dream ; in short, the old man in the corner
concluded that his visitor was his old friend, the heir
of ILech y Derwyd", returning from the land of the
Tylwyth Teg after spending half a hundred years there.


The other old man, with the snow-white beard, believed
in his history, and much did they talk together and
question one another for many hours. The old man by
the fire said that the master of ILech y Derwyct was
away from home that day, and he induced his aged
visitor to eat some food, but, to the horror of all, the
eater fell down dead on the spot l . There is no record
that an inquest was held over him, but the tale relates
that the cause of it was, that he ate food after having
been so long in the world of the fair family. His old
friend insisted on seeing him buried by the side of his
ancestors ; but the rudeness of the mistress of ILech y
Derwyd to her father-in-law brought a curse on the
family that clung to it to distant generations, and until
the place had been sold nine times.'

A tale like this is to be found related of Idwal of
Nantclwyd, in Cymru Fu, p. 85. I said ' a tale like this,'
but, on reconsidering the matter, I should think it is the
very same tale passed through the hands of Glasynys
or some one of his imitators. Another of this kind
will be found in the Brython, ii. 170, and several similar
ones also in Wirt Sikes' book, pp. 65-90, either given
at length, or merely referred to. There is one kind of
variant which deserves special notice, as making the
music to which the sojournerin Faery listens for scores
of years to be that of a bird singing on a tree. A story
of the sort is located by Howells, in his Cambrian Super-
stitions, pp. 127-8, at Pant Shon Shencin, near Pen-
cader, in Cardiganshire. This latter kind of story leads
easily up to another development, namely, to substi-
tuting for the bird's warble the song and felicity of
heaven, and for the simple shepherd a pious monk. In

1 Perhaps the more usual thing is for the man returning from Faery to fall
into dust on the spot : see later in this chapter the Curse of Pantannas,
which ends with an instance in point, and compare Howells, pp. 142, 146.


this form it is located at a place called ILwyn y Nef, or
' Heaven's Grove/ near Celynnog Fawr, in Carnarvon-
shire. It is given by Glasynys in Cymru Fu, pp. 183-4,
where it was copied from the Brython, iii. in, in which
he had previously published it. Several versions of it
in rhyme came down from the eighteenth century, and
Silvan Evans has brought together twenty-six stanzas
in point in St. David's College Magazine for 1881, pp. 191-
200, where he has put into a few paragraphs all that
is known about the song of the Hen Wr o'r Coed, or the
Old Man of the Wood, in his usually clear and lucid style.

A tale from the other end of the tract of country once
occupied by a sprinkling, perhaps, of Celts among a
population of Picts, makes the man, and not the
fairies, supply the music. I owe it to the kindness
of the Rev. Andrew Clark, Fellow of Lincoln College,

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