THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE
The Pentrevoelas Legend
I am indebted to the Rev. Owen Jones, Vicar of Pentrevoelas, a mountain parish in West Denbighshire, for the following tale, which was written in Welsh by a native of those parts, and appeared in competition for a prize on the Folk-Lore of that parish.
The son of Hafodgarreg was shepherding his father’s flock on the hills, and whilst thus engaged, he, one misty morning, came suddenly upon a lovely girl, seated on the sheltered side of a peat-stack. The maiden appeared to be in great distress, and she was crying bitterly. The young man went up to her, and spoke kindly to her, and his attention and sympathy were not without effect on the comely stranger. So beautiful was the young woman, that from expressions of sympathy the smitten youth proceeded to words of love, and his advances were not repelled. But whilst the lovers were holding sweet conversation, there appeared on the scene a venerable and aged man, who, addressing the female as her father, bade her follow him. She immediately obeyed, and both departed leaving the young man alone. He lingered about the place until the evening, wishing and hoping that she might return, but she came not. Early the next day, he was at the spot where he first felt what love was. All day long he loitered about the place, vainly hoping that the beautiful girl would pay another visit to the mountain, but he was doomed to disappointment, and night again drove him homewards. Thus daily went he to the place where he had met his beloved, but she was not there, and, love-sick and lonely, he returned to Hafodgarreg. Such devotion deserved its reward. It would seem that the young lady loved the young man quite as much as he loved her. And in the land of allurement and illusion (ynnhir hud a lledrith) she planned a visit to the earth, and met her lover, but she was soon missed by her father, and he, suspecting her love for this young man, again came upon them, and found them conversing lovingly together. Much talk took place between the sire and his daughter, and the shepherd, waxing bold, begged and begged her father to give him his daughter in marriage. The sire, perceiving that the man was in earnest, turned to his daughter, and asked her whether it were her wish to marry a man of the earth? She said it was. Then the father told the shepherd he should have his daughter to wife, and that she should stay with him, until he should strike her with “iron”, and that, as a marriage portion, he would give her a bag filled with bright money. The young couple were duly married, and the promised dowry was received. For many years they lived lovingly and happily together, and children were born to them. One day this man and his wife went together to the hill to catch a couple of ponies, to carry them to the Festival of the Saint of Capel Garmon. The ponies were very wild, and could not be caught. The man, irritated, pursued the nimble creatures. His wife was by his side, and now he thought he had them in his power, but just at the moment he was about to grasp their manes, off they wildly galloped, and the man, in anger, finding that they had again eluded him, threw the bridle after them, and, sad to say, the bit struck the wife, and as this was of “iron” they both knew that their marriage contract was broken. Hardly had they had time to realise the dire accident, ere the aged father of the bride appeared, accompanied by a host of Fairies, and there and then departed with his daughter to the land whence she came, and that, too, without even allowing her to bid farewell to her children. The money, though, and the children were left behind, and these were the only memorials of the lovely wife and the kindest of mothers, that remained to remind the shepherd of the treasure he had lost in the person of his Fairy spouse.
Such is the Pentrevoelas Legend. The writer had evidently not seen the version of this story in the “Cambro-Briton”, nor had he read Williams’s tale of a like occurrence, recorded in “Observations on the Snowdon Mountains”. The account, therefore, is all the more valuable, as being an independent production.
A fragmentary variant of the preceding legend was given me by Mr. Lloyd, late schoolmaster of Llanfihangel-Glyn-Myfyr, a native of South Wales, who heard the tale in the parish of Llanfihangel. Although but a fragment, it may not be altogether useless, and I will give it as I received it:-Shon Rolant, Hafod y Dre, Pentrevoelas, when going home from Llanrwst market, fortunately caught a Fairy-maid, whom he took home with him. She was a most handsome woman, but rather short and slight in person. She was admired by everybody on account of her great beauty. Shon Rolant fell desperately in love with her, and would have married her, but this she would not allow. He, however, continued pressing her to become his wife, and, by and by, she consented to do so, provided he could find out her name. As Shon was again going home from the market about a month later, he heard someone saying, near the place where he had seized the Fairy-maid, “Where is little Penloi gone? Where is little Penloi gone?”
Shon at once thought that some one was searching for the Fairy he had captured, and when he reached home, he addressed the Fairy by the name he had heard, and Penloi consented to become his wife. She, however, expressed displeasure at marrying a dead man, as the Fairies call us.
She informed her lover that she was not to be touched with “iron”, or she would disappear at once. Shon took great care not to touch her with “iron”. However, one day, when he was on horseback talking to his beloved Penloi, who stood at the horse’s head, the horse suddenly threw up its head, and the curb, which was of “iron”, came in contact with Penloi, who immediately vanished out of sight.
Title: Welsh Folk-Lore
Author: Elias Owen