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I find it best to begin by reproducing a story which has already been placed on record: this appears desirable on account of its being 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 ILyn y Fan Fach in Carmarthenshire, which I take the liberty of copying from Mr. Rees of Tonn's version in the introduction to The Physicians of MydvaV, published by the Welsh Manuscript Society, at ILandovery, 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 Mydfai, David Williams, Morfa, near Mydfai, who was about ninety years old at the time, and Elizabeth Morgan, of Henftys Lodge, near ILandovery, who was a native of the same village of Mydfai; to this it may be added that he acknowledges obligations also to Joseph Joseph, Esq., F.S.A., Brecon, for collecting particulars from the old inhabitants of the parish of ILandeusant. The legend, as given by Mr. Rees in English, runs as follows, and strongly reminds one in certain parts of the Story of Undine as given in the German of De la Motte Fouqu6, with which it should be compared :—
'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 Blaensawde1 near ILandeusant, Carmarthenshire, a widowed woman, the relict of a farmer who had fallen in those disastrous troubles.
1 As to the spelling of Welsh names, it may be pointed out for the benefit of English readers that Welsh /has the sound of English v, while the sound of English / is written ff (and ph) in Welsh, and however strange it may seem to them that the written /should be sounded v, it is borrowed from an old English alphabet which did so likewise more or less systematically. Th in such English words as thin and breath is written /A, but the soft sound as in this and breathe is usually printed in Welsh dd and written in modern Welsh manuscript sometimes 5, like a small Greek delta: this will be found represented by 3 in the Welsh extracts edited by me in this volume.—J. R.
'The widow had an only son to bring up, but 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 ILyn y Fan Fach, on the north-western side of the Carmarthenshire Fans.
'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 riveted 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—
1 'Blaensawde, or the upper end of the river Sawde, is situate about three-quarters of a mile south-east from the village of ILandeusant. It gives its name to one of the hamlets of that parish. The Sawtfe has its source in H yn y Fan Fach, which is nearly two miles distant from Blaensawde House.'
Cms dy fara; Hard baked is thy bread!
Nid hawct fy nala. 'Tis not easy to catch me1;
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 whole of the fair maidens of ILandeusant and Mydfai2 whom he had ever seen were as nothing.
'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 Fans, 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 eyeballs 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 Fan, which imparted an additional gloom to his already distracted mind.
1 The rendering might be more correctly given thus: 'O thou of the crimped bread, it is not easy to catch me.'—J. R.
* 'Mydfai parish was, in former times, celebrated for its fair maidens, but whether they were descendants of the Lady of the Lake or otherwise cannot be determined. An old pennitt records the fact of their beauty thus:—
Mae dm gwyn
Ar ben y bryn,
A'r glasgoedyn y Ferdre,
Mae bedw man
A nicn/ud gldn yn My&fe. Which may be translated,
There is white snow
On the mountain's brow,
And greenwood at the Verdre,
Young birch so good
In Cwm-bran wood,
And lovely girls in Mytffe.'
'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 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—
ILaith dyfami Unbaked is thy bread!
Ti mfynna'. I will not have thee1.
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.
1 Similarly this should be rendered: • O thou of the moist bread, I will not have thee.'—J. R.
'The sheep and goats browsed on the precipitous sides of the Fan; 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 wellnigh 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; nor was he disappointed, for the maiden reappeared, and to his enraptured sight, even lovelier than ever. 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 mod diachos. Three causeless blows.
And if he ever should happen to strike her three such