THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE
The following tale I received from the mouth of Mr. Richard Jones, Ty’n-y-wern, Bryneglwys, near Corwen. Mr. Jones has stored up in his memory many tales of olden times, and he even thinks that he has himself seen a Fairy. Standing by his farm, he pointed out to me on the opposite side of the valley a Fairy ring still green, where once, he said, the Fairies held their nightly revels. The scene of the tale which Mr. Jones related is wild, and a few years ago it was much more so than at present. At the time that the event is said to have taken place the mountain was unenclosed, and there was not much travelling in those days, and consequently the Fairies could, undisturbed, enjoy their dances. But to proceed with the tale.
Two waggoners were sent from Bryneglwys for coals to the works over the hill beyond Minera. On their way they came upon a company of Fairies dancing with all their might. The men stopped to witness their movements, and the Fairies invited them to join in the dance. One of the men stoutly refused to do so, but the other was induced to dance awhile with them. His companion looked on for a short time at the antics of his friend, and then shouted out that he would wait no longer, and desired the man to give up and come away. He, however, turned a deaf ear to the request, and no words could induce him to forego his dance. At last his companion said that he was going, and requested his friend to follow him. Taking the two waggons under his care he proceeded towards the coal pits, expecting every moment to be overtaken by his friend; but he was disappointed, for he never appeared. The waggons and their loads were taken to Bryneglwys, and the man thought that perhaps his companion, having stopped too long in the dance, had turned homewards instead of following him to the coal pit. But on enquiry no one had heard or seen the missing waggoner. One day his companion met a Fairy on the mountain and inquired after his missing friend. The Fairy told him to go to a certain place, which he named, at a certain time, and that he should there see his friend. The man went, and there saw his companion just as he had left him, and the first words that he uttered were “Have the waggons gone far.” The poor man never dreamt that months and months had passed away since they had started together for coal.
A variant of the preceding story appears in the “Cambrian Magazine”, vol. ii., pp. 58-59, where it is styled the Year’s Sleep, or “The Forest of the Yewtree,” but for the sake of association with like tales I will call it by the following title:-“Story of a man who spent twelve months in Fairyland”.
“In Mathavarn, in the parish of Llanwrin, and the Cantrev of Cyveilioc, there is a wood which is called “Ffridd yr Ywen” (the Forest of the Yew); it is supposed to be so called because there is a yew tree growing in the very middle of it. In many parts of the wood are to be seen green circles, which are called ‘the dancing places of the goblins,’ about which, a considerable time ago, the following tale was very common in the neighbor-hood:-Two servants of John Pugh, Esq., went out one day to work in the ‘Forest of the Yew.’ Pretty early in the afternoon the whole country was so covered with dark vapour, that the youths thought night was coming on; but when they came to the middle of the ‘Forest’ it brightened up around them and the darkness seemed all left behind; so, thinking it too early to return home for the night, they lay down and slept. One of them, on waking, was much surprised to find no one there but himself; he wondered a good deal at the behaviour of his companion, but made up his mind at last that he had gone on some business of his own, as he had been talking of it sometime before; so the sleeper went home, and when they inquired after his companion, he told them he was gone to the cobbler’s shop. The next day they inquired of him again about his fellow-servant, but he could not give them any account of him; but at last confessed how and where they had both gone to sleep. Alter searching and searching many days, he went to a ‘gwr cyvarwydd’ (a conjuror), which was a very common trade in those days, according to the legend; and the conjuror said to him, ‘Go to the same place where you and the lad slept; go there exactly a year after the boy was lost; let it be on the same day of the year, and at the same time of the day, but take care that you do not step inside the Fairy ring, stand on the border of the green circles you saw there, and the boy will come out with many of the goblins to dance, and when you see him so near to you that you may take hold of him, snatch him out of the ring as quickly as you can.’ He did according to this advice, and plucked the boy out, and then asked him, ‘if he did not feel hungry,’ to which he answered ‘No,’ for he had still the remains of his dinner that he had left in his wallet before going to sleep, and he asked ‘if it was not nearly night, and time to go home,’ not knowing that a year had passed by. His look was like a skeleton, and as soon as he had tasted food he was a dead man.”
TITLE: Welsh Folklore
BY: REV. ELIAS OWEN, M.A, F.S.A.