Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

its being the best told, the most complete of its kind, and the one with which shorter ones can most readily be compared. I allude to the legend of the Lady of the Lake of the Little Van in Carmarthenshire, which I take the liberty of copying from Mr. Rees of Tonn's version of it, in the introduction to The Physicians of Myddvai, published by the Welsh Manuscript Society at Llandovery, in 1861. There he says that he wrote it down from the oral recitations, which I suppose were in Welsh, of John Evans, tiler, of Myddvai, David Williams, Morva, near Myddvai, who was about ninety years old at the time, and Elizabeth Morgan, of Henllys Lodge, near Llandovery, who was a native of the same village of Myddvai; to this it may be added that he acknowledges obligations also to J. Joseph, Esq., F.S.A., Brecon, for collecting particulars from the old inhabitants of the parish of Llanddeusant. The legend, as given by Mr. Rees in English, runs as follows:-

When the eventful struggle made by the Princes of South Wales to preserve the independence of their country was drawing to its close in the twelfth century, there lived at Blaensawddel near Llanddeusant, Carmarthenshire, a widowed woman, the relict of a farmer who had fallen in those disastrous troubles.

“ The widow had an only son to bring up, and Providence smiled upon her, and, despite her forlorn condition, her live stock had so increased in course of time that she could not well depasture them upon her farm, so she sent a portion of her cattle to graze on the adjoining Black Mountain, and their most favourite place was near the small lake called Llyn-y-Van-Vach, on the north-western side of the Carmarthenshire Vans.

1 “Blaensawdde, or the upper end of the river Sawdde- is situate about three-quarters of a mile S.E. from the village of Llanddeusant. It gives its name to one of the hamlets of that parish. The Sawdde has its source in Llyn-y-Van-Vach, which is nearly two miles distant from Blaensawdde house."

The son grew up to manhood, and was generally sent by his mother to look after the cattle on the mountain. One day, in his peregrinations along the margin of the lake, to his great astonishment, he beheld, sitting on the unruffled surface of the water, a Lady; one of the most beautiful creatures that mortal eyes ever beheld, her hair flowed gracefully in ringlets over her shoulders, the tresses of which she arranged with a comb, whilst the glassy surface of her watery couch served for the purpose of a mirror, reflecting back her own image. Suddenly she beheld the young man standing on the brink of the lake, with his eyes rivetted on her, and unconsciously offering to herself the provision of barley bread and cheese with which he had been provided when he left his home.

“Bewildered by a feeling of love and admiration for the object before him, he continued to hold out his hand towards the lady, who imperceptibly glided near to him, but gently refused the offer of his provisions. He attempted to touch her, but she eluded his grasp, saying

· Cras dy fara;
Nid hawdd fy nala.'

‘Hard baked is thy bread!
'Tis not easy to catch me;'

and immediately dived under the water, and disappeared, leaving the love-stricken youth to return home, a prey to disappointment and regret that he had been unable to make further acquaintance with one, in comparison with whom the whcle of the fair maidens of Llanddeusant and Myddvai, whom he had ever seen were as nothing.

1 66

“Myddvai parish was, in former times, celebrated for its fair maidens, but whether they were descendants of the Lady of the Lake or other"On his return home the young man communicated to his mother the extraordinary vision he had beheld. She advised him to take some unbaked dough or 'toes' the next time in his pocket, as there must have been some spell connected with the hard baked bread, or Bara cras', which prevented his catching the lady.

“Next morning, before the sun had gilded with its rays the peaks of the Vans, the young man was at the lake, not for the purpose of looking after his mother's cattle, but seeking for the same enchanting vision he had witnessed the day before; but all in vain did he anxiously strain his eye-balls and glance over the surface of the lake, as only the ripples occasioned by a stiff breeze met his view, and a cloud hung heavily on the summit of the Van, which imparted an additional gloom to his already distracted mind.

“Hours passed on, the wind was hushed, and the clouds which had enveloped the mountain had vanished into thin air, before the powerful beams of the sun, when the youth was startled by seeing some of his mother's cattle on the precipitous side of the acclivity, nearly on the opposite side of the lake. His duty impelled him to attempt to rescue them

wise cannot be determined. An old pennill records the fact of their beauty thus:-

• Mae eira gwyn
Ar ben y bryn,
A'r glasgoed yn y Ferdre,
Mae bedw mân
Ynghoed Cwm-bråp,

A merched glân yn Myddfe.'
Which may be translated,

There is white snow
On the mountain's brow,
And greenwood at the Verdre,
Young birch so good
In Cwm-brân wood,
And lovely girls in Myddve.'"

from their perilous position, for which purpose he was hastening away, when, to his inexpressible delight, the object of his search again appeared to him as before, and seemed much more beautiful than when he first beheld her. His hand was again held out to her, full of unbaked bread, which he offered with an urgent proffer of his heart also, and vows of eternal attachment. All of which were refused by her, saying

• Llaith dy fara !

Ti ni fynna'.'
• Unbaked is thy bread!
I will not have thee.'

But the smiles that played upon her features as the lady vanished beneath the waters raised within the young man a hope that forbade him to despair by her refusal of him, and the recollection of which cheered him on his way home. His aged parent was made acquainted with his ill-success, and she suggested that his bread should next time be but slightly baked, as most likely to please the mysterious being, of whom he had become enamoured.

"Impelled by an irresistible feeling, the youth left his mother's house early next morning, and with rapid steps he passed over the mountain. He was soon near the margin of the lake, and with all the impatience of an ardent lover did he wait with a feverish anxiety for the reappearance of the mysterious lady.

“The sheep and goats browsed on the precipitous sides of the Van; the cattle strayed amongst the rocks and large stones, some of which were occasionally loosened from their beds and suddenly rolled down into the lake; rain and sunshine alike came and passed away, but all were unheeded by the youth, so wrapped up was he in looking for the appearance of the lady.

“ The freshness of the early morning had disappeared before the sultry rays of the noon-day sun, which in its turn was fast verging towards the west as the evening was dying away and making room for the shades of night, and hope had well nigh abated of beholding once more the Lady of the Lake. The young man cast a sad and last farewell look over the waters, and, to his astonishment, beheld several cows walking along its surface. The sight of these animals caused hope to revive that they would be followed by another object far more pleasing; 110r was he disappointed, for the maiden reappeared, and to his enraptured sight, even lovelier than

She approached the land, and he rushed to meet her in the water. A smile encouraged him to seize her hand; neither did she refuse the moderately baked bread he offered her; and after some persuasion, she consented to become his bride, on condition that they should only live together until she received from him three blows without a cause,

• Tri ergyd diachos.'
"Three causeless blows.'

ever.

And if he ever should happen to strike her three such blows, she would leave him for ever. To such conditions he readily consented, and would have consented to any other stipulation, had it been proposed, as he was only intent on then securing such a lovely creature for his wife.

“ Thus the Lady of the Lake engaged to become the young man's wife, and having loosed her hand for a moment, she darted away and dived into the lake. His chagrin and grief were such that he determined to cast himself headlong into the deepest water, so as to end his life in the element that had contained in its unfathomed depths the only one for whom he cared to live on earth. As he was on the point of committing this rash act, there emerged out of the lake two most beautiful ladies, accompanied by a hoary-headed man of noble mien and extraordinary stature, but having otherwise all the force and strength of youth. This mian addressed

« ForrigeFortsæt »