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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 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 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!
Unbaked is thy bread!
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 re-appearance 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, nor was he disappointed, for the maiden re-appeared, 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 sieze 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.
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 man addressed the almost bewildered youth, in accents calculated to soothe his troubled mind, saying that as he proposed to marry one of his daughters, he consented to the union provided the young man could distinguish which of the two ladies before him was the object of his affections. This was no easy task as the maidens were such perfect counterparts of each other, that it seemed quite impossible for him to choose his bride, and if perchance he fixed upon the wrong one, all would be for ever lost.
Whilst the young man narrowly scanned the two ladies, he could not perceive the least difference betwixt the two, and was almost giving up the task in despair, when one of them thrust her foot a slight degree forward. The motion, simple as it was, did not escape the observation of the youth, and he discovered a trifling variation in the mode with which their sandals were tied, this at once put an end to the dilemma, for he, who had on previous occasions, been so taken up with the general appearance of the Lady of the Lake, had also noticed the beauty of her feet and ankles, and on now recognizing the peculiarity of her shoe-tie he boldly took hold of her hand.
"Thou hast chosen rightly" said her father, "be to her a kind and faithful husband, and I will give her, as a dowry, as many sheep, cattle, goats, and horses, as she can count of each, without heaving or drawing in her breath. But remember that if you prove unkind to her at any time, and strike her three times without a cause, she shall return to me and shall bring all her stock back with her."
Such was the verbal marriage settlement, to which the young man gladly assented, and his bride was desired to count the number of sheep she was to have. She immediately adopted the mode of counting by fives, thus :-One, two, three, four, five-One, two, three, four, five; as many times as possible in rapid succession, till her breath was exhausted. The same process of reckoning had to determine the number of goats, cattle, and horses respectively; and, in an instant the full number of each came out of the lake when called upon by the Father.
The young couple were then married, by what ceremony was not stated, and afterwards went to reside at a farm called Esgair
Llaethdy, somewhat more than a mile from the village of Myddvai, where they lived in prosperity and happiness for several years, and became the parents of three sons, who were beautiful children.
Once upon a time there was a christening to take place in the neighbourhood, to which the parents were specially invited. When the day arrived the wife appeared very reluctant to attend the christening, alledging that the distance was too great for her to walk. Her husband told her to fetch one of the horses which were grazing in an adjoining field. "I will" said she, "if you will bring me my gloves which I left in our house." He went to the house and returned with the gloves, and finding that she had not gone for the horse, jocularly slapped her shoulder with one of them, saying "go! go! (dos, dos) when she reminded him of the understanding upon which she consented to marry him :—That he was not to strike her without a cause; and warned him to be more cautious for the future.
On another occasion when they were together at a wedding; in the midst of the mirth and hilarity of the assembled guests, who had gathered together from all the surrounding country, she burst into tears and sobbed most piteously. Her husband touched her on her shoulder and enquired the cause of her weeping? she said now people are entering into trouble, and your troubles are likely to commence as you have the second time stricken me without a cause."
Years passed on, and their children had grown up, and were particularly clever young men. In the midst of so many worldly blessings at home the husband almost forgot that there remained only one causeless blow to be given to destroy the whole of his prosperity. Still he was watchful lest any trivial occurence should take place, which his wife must regard as a breach of their marriage contract. She told him, as her affection for him was unabated, to be careful that he would not, through some inadvertence give the last and only blow, which, by an unalterable destiny, over which she had no control, would separate them for ever.
It however so happened that one day they were together at a funeral, where, in the midst of the mourning and grief at the house of the deceased, she appeared in the highest and gayest spirits, and indulged in immoderate fits of laughter, which so shocked her husband that he touched her saying "Hush! Hush! dont laugh." She said that she laughed "because people when
they die go out of trouble," and, rising up, she went out of the house, saying, "The last blow has been struck, our marriage contract is broken, and at an end! Farewell!" Then she started off towards Esgair Llaethdy, where she called her cattle and other stock together, each by name. The cattle she called thus:
"Mu wlfrech, Moelfrech,
A'r llo du bach,
Sydd ar y bach,
Dere dithau, yn iach adre !”
Brindled cow, white speckled,
And the grey Geingen,
With the white Bull,
From the court of the King;
And the little black calf
Tho' suspended on the hook,
They all immediately obeyed the summons of their mistress, the "little black calf" although it had been slaughtered, became alive again and walked off with the rest of the stock at the command of the Lady. This happened in the spring of the year, and there were four oxen ploughing in one of the fields, to these she cried,
"Pedwar eidion glas
The four grey oxen,
Come you also.
Away the whole of the live stock went with the Lady across Myddvai Mountain, towards the lake from whence they came, a distance of above six miles, where they disappeared beneath its waters, leaving no trace behind except a well marked furrow, which was made by the plough the oxen drew after them into the lake, and which remains to this day as a testimony to the truth of this story.