THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE
The next Fairy tale that I shall give akin to the preceding stories is to be found in “Y Brython”, vol. iii., pp. 459-60. The writer of the tale was the Rev. Benjamin Williams, whose bardic name was Gwynionydd. I do not know the source whence Mr. Williams derived the story, but most likely he obtained it from some aged person who firmly believed that the tale was a true record of what actually occurred. In the “Brython” the tale is called: “Y Tylwyth Teg a Mab Llech y Derwydd,” and this title I will retain, merely translating it. The introduction, however, I will not give, as it does not directly bear on the subject now under consideration.
The son of Llech y Derwydd was the only son of his parents and heir to the farm. He was very dear to his father and mother, yea, he was as the very light of their eyes. The son and the head servant man were bosom friends, they were like two brothers, or rather twins. As they were such close friends the farmer’s wife was in the habit of clothing them exactly alike. The two friends fell in love with two young handsome women who were highly respected in the neighbor-hood. This event gave the old people great satisfaction, and ere long the two couples were joined in holy wedlock, and great was the merry-making on the occasion. The servant man obtained a convenient place to live in on the grounds of Llech y Derwydd. About six months after the marriage of the son, he and the servant man went out to hunt. The servant penetrated to a ravine filled with brushwood to look for game, and presently returned to his friend, but by the time he came back the son was nowhere to be seen. He continued awhile looking about for his absent friend, shouting and whistling to attract his attention, but there was no answer to his calls.
By and by he went home to Llech y Derwydd, expecting to find him there, but no one knew anything about him. Great was the grief of the family throughout the night, but it was even greater the next day. They went to inspect the place where the son had last been seen. His mother and his wife wept bitterly, but the father had greater control over himself, still he appeared as half mad. They inspected the place where the servant man had last seen his friend, and, to their great surprise and sorrow, observed a Fairy ring close by the spot, and the servant recollected that he had heard seductive music somewhere about the time that he parted with his friend. They came to the conclusion at once that the man had been so unfortunate as to enter the Fairy ring, and they conjectured that he had been transported no one knew where. Weary weeks and months passed away, and a son was born to the absent man. The little one grew up the very image of his father, and very precious was he to his grandfather and grandmother. In fact, he was everything to them. He grew up to man’s estate and married a pretty girl in the neighbor-hood, but her people had not the reputation of being kind-hearted. The old folks died, and also their daughter-in-law.
One windy afternoon in the month of October, the family of Llech y Derwydd saw a tall thin old man with beard and hair as white as snow, who they thought was a stranger, approaching slowly, very slowly, towards the house. The servant girls stared mockingly through the window at him, and their mistress laughed unfeelingly at the “old man,” and lifted the children up, one after the other, to get a sight of him as he neared the house. He came to the door, and entered the house boldly enough, and inquired after his parents. The mistress answered him in a surly and unusually contemptuous manner, and wished to know “What the drunken old man wanted there,” for they thought he must have been drinking or he would never have spoken in the way he did. The old man looked at everything in the house with surprise and bewilderment, but the little children about the floor took his attention more than anything else. His looks betrayed sorrow and deep disappointment. He related his whole history, that, yesterday he had gone out to hunt, and that he had now returned. The mistress told him that she had heard a story about her husband’s father, which occurred before she was born, that he had been lost whilst hunting, but that her father had told her that the story was not true, but that he had been killed. The woman became uneasy and angry that the old “man” did not depart. The old man was roused and said that the house was his, and that he would have his rights. He went to inspect his possessions, and shortly afterwards directed his steps to the servant’s house. To his surprise he saw that things there were greatly changed. After conversing awhile with an aged man who sat by the fire, they carefully looked each other in the face, and the old man by the fire related the sad history of his lost friend, the son of Llech y Derwydd.
They conversed together deliberately on the events of their youth, but all seemed like a dream. However, the old man in the corner came to the conclusion that his visitor was his dear friend, the son of Llech y Derwydd, returned from the land of the Fairies after having spent there half a hundred years. The old man with the white beard believed the story related by his friend, and long was the talk and many were the questions which the one gave to the other. The visitor was informed that the master of Llech y Derwydd was from home that day, and he was persuaded to eat some food; but, to the horror of all, when he had done so, he instantly fell down dead.
Such is the story. The writer adds that the tale relates that the cause of this man’s sudden death was that he ate food after having been so long in the land of the Fairies, and he further states that the faithful old servant insisted on his dead friend’s being buried with his ancestors, and the rudeness of the mistress of Llech y Derwydd to her father-in-law brought a curse upon the place and family, and her offence was not expiated until the farm had been sold nine times.
TITLE: WELSH FOLKLORE
BY: REV. ELIAS OWEN, M.A, F.S.A.