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WELSH FAIRY TALES. I By PROFESSOR RHYS. THE MYDDVAI LEGEND—LITTLE VAK LAKE. I find it best to begin by reproducing a story which has already been recorded; this T think desirable on account of its being the best told, the most complete of its kind, and the one with which shorter ones can reaHily be compared. I ailude to the legend of the Lady of the Lake of the little Van in Carmarthen- shire, which I take the liberty of copying from Mr Rees of Tonn's version of it, in the iutroduction of The Physicians of Myddvai, published by the Welsh Manuscript Society at Llandovery, in 1861. There he says that he wrotejit down from the oral recitations, which I suppose were in Welsh, of John Evans, tiler, of Myddvai, David Williams, Morfa, near Myddvai, who was about ninety years old at the time, and Elizabeth Morgan, of Henllys Lodge, near Llan- dovery, who was a native of the same village of Myddvai; to this it may be added that he acknow- ledges obligations also to J. Joseph, Esq., F.S.A., Brecon, for collecting particulars from the old inhabi- tants of the parish of Llanddensant. 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 cen- tury, there lived at Blaensawdde* near Llanddensant, 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-Yach, on the north-western side of the Carmar- thenshire Vans. "The son grew up to manhood, and was generally sent by his mother to look afLer the cattle on the mountain. One day, in his peregrinations along the margin of the lake, to his great astonishment, he be. held, sitting on the unruffled surface of the water, a Lady; one of the most beantiful creatures that mortal eyes ever beheld, her hair flowed gracefully in ringlets over her shoulders, the tresses of which shs arranged with a comb, whilst the glassy surface of her watery couch served for the purpose of a mirror, reflecting 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 nnconsciously 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 ot love and admir ition for the object before him, he continued to hold out his hand towards the la.dy, 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 disap- peared, 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 cemparison with whom the whole of the fair maidens of Llanddeusant and; Mydd vai, 9 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 cas,' 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 oc- casioned by a stiff breeze met his view, and a cloud hung heavily on the summit of the Van, which im- parted an additional gloom to his already distracted mi rid. "Hours passed on, the wind was hushed, and the clouds which had enveloped the mountain had van- ished 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 ac- clivity, nearly opposite the 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 be- fore, 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 sug- gested 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 next morning, and with rapid steps he passed over the mountain. He was soon near the margin of the lake, and with all the im- patience of an ardent lover did he wait with a fever- ish anxiety for the reappearance of the mysterious lady. "The sheep and goats browsed on the precipitous sides of the Van; the cattle strayed upon the rocks and large stcnes, 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 disap- peared 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 toj revive that they would be followed by another object far more pleas- ing; nor was he disappointed, for the maiden reap- peared,land to hie 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 persu- asion, she consented to become his bride, on con- dition that they should only live together until she received from him three blows without a cause, 'Tri ergyd diachos.' I 'Three causeless blows.' And if he ever should happen to strike her three 8acb blows, see would lewe him for ever. To Suoh condition she readily consented, and would have consented to any other stipulation, had it been pro- posed, as he was only intent OK 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 fer a momert, shfl darted away and tlived into the lake. His chagrin and grief were such that he de- termined to ca.st 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 f(,r whom he cared to live on elrth. 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 extraor- dinary stature, but having otherwise all the force and strength of youth. This man addressed the al- most bewildered youth in accents calculated to soothe his troubled mind, sayinc 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 ehoose 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 be. twixt 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 dis. covered a trifling variation in the mode with which their sandals were tied. This at once put an end to the dilemma, for he, who ha.d on previous occasions been 59 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 recognising the peculi- arity of her shoe-tie he boldly took hold of her hand.

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