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waters, and fairy bells are at times heard ringing from these towers.' So much by the way: we shall return to Crymlyn in chapter vii.
The other day, as I was going to Gwent, I chanced to be in the Golden Valley in Herefordshire, where the names in the churchyards seem largely to imply a Welsh population, though the Welsh language has not been heard there for ages. Among others I noticed Joneses and Williamses in abundance at Abbey Dore, Evanses and Bevans, Morgans, Prossers and Prices, not to mention Sayces—that is to say, Welshmen of English extraction or education—a name which may also be met with in Little England in Pembrokeshire, and probably on other English-Welsh borders. Happening to have to wait for a train at the Abbey Dore station, I got into conversation with the tenants of a cottage hard by, and introduced the subject of the fairies. The old man knew nothing about them, but his wife, Elizabeth Williams, had been a servant girl at a place called Pen Poch, which she pronounced with the Welsh guttural ch: she said that it is near ILandeilo Cressenny in Monmouthshire. It was about forty years ago when she served at Pen P6ch, and her mistress' name was Evans, who was then about fifty years of age. Now Mrs. Evans was in the habit of impressing on her servant girls' minds, that, unless they made the house tidy before going to bed, and put everything in its place overnight, the little people—the fairies, she thinks she called them —would leave them no rest in bed at night, but would come and ' pinch them like.' If they put everything in its place, and left the house 'tidy like,' it would be all right, and 'nobody would do anything to them like.' That is all I could get from her without prompting her, which I did at length by suggesting to her that the fairies might leave the tidy servants presents, a shilling 'on the hearth or the hob like.' Yes, she thought there was something of that sort, and her way of answering me suggested that this was not the first time she had heard of the shilling. She had never been lucky enough to have had one herself, nor did she know of anybody else that 'had got it like.'
During a brief but very pleasant sojourn at ILanover in May, 1883, I made some inquiries about the fairies, and obtained the following account from William Williams, who now, in his seventieth year, works in Lady ILanover's garden :—' I know of a family living a little
way from here at , or as they would now call it in
English , whose ancestors, four generations ago,
used to be kind to Bendith y Mamau, and always welcomed their visits by leaving at night a basinful of bread and milk for them near the fire. It always used to be eaten up before the family got up in the morning. But one night a naughty servant man gave them instead of milk a bowlful of urinel. They, on finding it out, threw it about the house and went away disgusted. But the servant watched in the house the following night. They found him out, and told him that he had made fools of them, and that in punishment for his crime there would always be a fool, i. e. an idiot, in his family. As a matter of fact, there was one among his children afterwards, and there is one in the family now. They have always been in a bad way ever since, and they never prosper. The name of the man who originally offended the fairies was ;and the name of the
1 The above, I am sorry to say, is not the only instance of this nasty trick associating itself with Gwent, as will be seen from the story of Bwca'r Trwyn in chapter x.
present fool among his descendants is .' For
evident reasons it is not desirable to publish the names.
Williams spoke also of a sister to his mother, who acted as servant to his parents. There were, he said, ten stepping stones between his father's house and the well, and on every one of these stones his aunt used to find a penny every morning, until she made it known to others, when, of course, the pennies ceased coming. He did not know why the fairies gave money to her, unless it was because she was a most tidy servant.
Another ILanover gardener remembered that the fairies used to change children, and that a certain woman called Nani Fach in that neighbourhood was one of their offspring; and he had been told that there were fairy rings in certain fields not far away in ILanover parish.
A third gardener, who is sixty-eight years of age, and is likewise in Lady ILanover's employ, had heard it said that servant girls about his home were wont to sweep the floor clean at night, and to throw crumbs of bread about on it before going to bed.
Lastly, Mrs. Gardner of Ty Uchaf ILanover, who is ninety years of age, remembers having a field close to Capel Newyd near Blaen Afon, in ILanover Uchaf, pointed out to her as containing fairy rings; and she recollects hearing, when she was a child, that a man had got into one of them. He remained away from home, as they always did, she said, a whole year and a day; but she has forgotten how he was recovered. Then she went on to say that her father had often got up in the night to see that his horses were not taken out and ridden about the fields by Bendithy Mamau; for they were wont to ride people's horses late at night round the four corners of the fields, and thereby they often broke the horses' wind. This, she gave me to understand, was believed in the parish of ILanover and that part of the country generally. So here we have an instance probably of confounding fairies with witches.
I have not the means at my command of going at length into the folklore of Gwent, so I will merely mention where the reader may find a good deal about it. I have already introduced the name of the credulous old Christian, Edmund Jones of the Tranch: he published at Trefecca in the year 1779 a small volume entitled, A Geographical, Historical, and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth in the County of Monmouth, to which are added Memoirs of several Persons of Note who lived in the said Parish. In 1813, by which time he seems to have left this world for another, where he expected to understand all about the fairies and their mysterious life, a small volume of his was published at Newport, bearing the title, A Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the County of Monmouth and the Principality of Wales, with other notable Relations from England, together with Observations about them, and Instructions from them, designed to confute and to prevent the Infidelity of denying the Being and Apparition of Spirits, which tends to Irreligion and Atheism. By the late Rev. Edmund Jones, of the Tranch. Naturally those volumes have been laid under contribution by Mr. Sikes, though the tales about apparitions in them are frequently of a ghastly nature, and sometimes loathsome: on the whole, they remind me more than anything else I have ever read of certain Breton tales which breathe fire and brimstone: all such begin to be now out of fashion in Protestant countries. I shall at present only quote a passage of quite a different nature from the earlier volume, p. 72—it is an interesting one, and it runs thus:—' It was the general opinion in times past, when these things were very frequent, that the fairies knew whatever was spoken in the air without the houses, not so much what was spoken in the houses. I suppose they chiefly knew what was spoken in the air at night. It was also said that they rather appeared to an uneven number of persons, to one, three, five, &c.; and oftener to men than to women. Thomas William Edmund, of Havodavel, an honest pious man, who often saw them, declared that they appeared with one bigger than the rest going before them in the company.' With the notion that the fairies heard everything uttered out of doors may be compared the faculty attributed to the great magician king, Math ab Mathonwy, of hearing any whisper whatsoever that met the wind: see the Oxford Mabinogion, p. 60, and Guest's Mabinogion, iii. 219; see also respectively pp. 94, 96, and pp. 308, 310, as to the same faculty belonging to the fairy people of the Corannians, and the strange precautions taken against them by the brothers ILud and ILevelys.