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THE MABINOGION


LLUDD AND LLEFELYS





  To Beli the Great, son of Manogan, were three sons: Lludd and Caswallawn and Nyniaw; and according to the story a fourth son of his was Llefelys. And when Beli died and the kingdom of the Island of Britain fell into the hands of Lludd his eldest son, and Lludd ruled it prosperously, he rebuilt the walls of London and girt it about with innumerable towers; and after that he bade the citizens build houses within it. So that there might not be in the kingdoms houses of such splendour as would be therein. Moreover, he was a good warrior and generous and liberal in giving meat and drink to all who sought them. And though he had many castles and cities he loved this one more than any; and he dwelt in it the greatest part of the year, and on that account it was called Caer Ludd, and at last Caer Lundein. And it was after the coming of the foreign folk thereto that it was called Lundein, or otherwise Lwndrys.

  Best of all his brothers Lludd loved Llefelys, for a wise and prudent man was he. And when he heard that the king of France had died, leaving no offspring save an only daughter, and had left the dominions in her hands, he came to Lludd his brother to seek of him counsel and aid, and that not more for his own advantage, but to seek increase in honour and dignity and status for their kindred, if he might go to the kingdom of France to seek that maiden as wife. And straightway his brother agreed with him, and he was pleased with his counsel in that matter.

  And straightway ships were made ready and filled with armed knights and they set out for France. And straightway after their coming to land they sent messengers to declare to the nobles of France the reason for the quest he was come to seek. And by common counsel of the nobles of France and its princes the maiden was given to Llefelys, and the crown of the kingdom along with her; and thereafter he ruled the land prudently and wisely and happily, so long as his life lasted.

  And after a space of time had passed, three plagues befell in the Island of Britain, whose like none in the Islands had seen before. The first of these was a certain folk that came and was called the Coranieid. And so great was their knowledge that there was no discourse over the face of the Island, however low it might be spoken, that they did not know about if the wind met it. And because of this no hurt might be done them.

  The second plague was a scream which was raised every May-eve over every hearth in the Island of Britain. And that would pierce folks' hearts, and strike them with such terror that men would lose their hue and their strength and women the fruit of their wombs, and the young men and maidens would lose their senses, and all animals and trees and the earth and the waters be left barren.

  The third plague was that however much might be the provision and food prepared in the king's courts, even though it were a year's provision of meat and drink, never a thing of it would be enjoyed save what was consumed the very first night.

  Yet the first plague was open and manifest, but of the two other plagues there was none who knew what their meaning might be, and for this reason there was greater hope of winning deliverance from the first than there was from the second or from the third. And thereat king Lludd felt great trouble and care since he knew not how he might win deliverance from those plagues. And he summoned to him all the nobles of his kingdom, and asked counsel of them what they should do against those plagues; and by the common counsel of his nobles, Lludd son of Beli went to Llefelys his brother, king of France (for a man great in counsel and wise was he), to seek advice from him. and then they made ready a fleet, and that in secret and in silence, lest that folk should know the reason for their mission, or any besides the king and his counsellors. And once they were ready, they went into their ships, Lludd and those he chose along with him; and they began to cleave the seas towards France.

  And when those tidings came to Llefelys, since he knew not the reason for his brother's fleet, he came from the other side to meet him, and with him a fleet of vast size. And when Lludd saw that, he left all his ships out on the deep save one ship, and in that one he came to meet his brother. And he came in one other ship to meet his brother, and when they were met together each embraced the other, and each welcomed the other with brotherly affection.


  And after Lludd had made known to his brother the reason for his mission, Llefelys declared that he himself knew the reason for his coming into those parts. And then they took counsel together to discuss their business in some way other than that, so that the wind might not catch their discourse, lest the Coranieid should know what they were saying. And then Llefelys had made a long horn of bronze, and through that horn they conversed; and whatever words they said one to the other through the horn, it came to each of them as nothing but hateful contrariety. And when Llefelys perceived that, and how there was a demon thwarting them and making mischief through the horn, he had wine poured into the horn, and had it washed, and by the virtue of the wine had the demon driven out of the horn. And when their talk was unhindered, Llefelys told his brother that he would give him certain insects and that he should keep some of these alive to breed, for fear lest a plague such as that should perchance come a second time, and other of the insects he should take and mash them with water; and he affirmed that was good for destroying the Coranieid folk. That is to say, when he returned home to his kingdom he should summon together all the people, his own folk and the Coranieid folk, to one assembly, under pretence of making peace between them; and when they were all assembled he should take that magic water and sprinkle it over all alike. And he affirmed that that water would poison the Coranieid folk, but would neither slay nor injure any of his own folk.

  'The second plague,' said he, 'which is in thy dominion, that is a dragon, and a dragon of another foreign folk is fighting with it and striving to overcome it. And therefore,' said he, 'this dragon of yours raises a dire scream. And this is how thou canst prove it. After thou hast returned home, have the Island measured in its length and its breadth, and in the place where thou shalt find the exact point of centre, have a pit dug in that place, and then have set in that pit a tub full of the best mead that can be made, and a covering of silk over the face of the tub. And then keep watch in thine own person, and then thou shalt see the dragons fighting in the shape of monster animals. But at last they shall go in dragon-shape aloft in air; and last of all, when they shall have grown weary of their dire and frightful combat, they will fall in the shape of two little pigs upon the covering, and will make the covering sink down with them, and will drag it to the bottom of the tub, and they will drink up all the mead, and after that they will fall asleep. And then do thou straightway wrap the covering about them, and in the strongest place thou canst find in thy dominions bury them in a stone coffer, and hide them in the earth. And so long as they are in that strong place no plague shall come to the Island of Britain from elsewhere.

  'The cause of the third plague,' said he, 'is a mighty man of magic who carries off thy meat and thy drink and thy provisions. And he through his magic and enchantment causes every one to fall asleep. And on that account thou must needs in thine own person keep watch over thy feasts and thy provisioning. And lest that sleep of his should overcome thee, let there be on hand a tub of cold water, and when sleep bears hard upon thee, get into the tub.'

  And then Lludd returned to his country. And straightway he summoned to him each and every one of his own folk and of the Coranieid. And as Llefelys instructed him, he mashed the insects with water and sprinkled it over all alike, and there and then destroyed so the whole folk of the Coranieid, without hurt to any of the Britons.

  And a while thereafter Lludd had the Island measured in its length and in its breadth, and in Oxford he found the point of centre. And in that place he had a pit dug in the ground, and in that pit he set a tub full of the best mead that might be made, and a covering of silk over the face of it, and he himself keeping watch that night. And as he was thus, he saw the dragons fighting; and when they were worn and weary they descended on top of the covering, and dragged it with them to the bottom of the tub. And when they had made an end of drinking the mead they fell asleep. And in their sleep Lludd wrapped the covering about them, and in the safest place he found in Eryri he hid them in a stone coffer. The form by which that place was known thereafter was Dinas Emreis, and before that Dinas Ffaraon Dandde. He was one of the Three Noble Youths who broke their hearts with consternation. And so ended the tempestuous scream that was in his dominion.


  And when that was over, king Lludd had prepared an exceeding great feast. And when it was ready he had a tub of cold water set near at hand, and he himself in his own person kept watch over it. And while he was thus, clad in arms, about the third watch of the night, lo, he heard much rare pastime and variety of song, and drowsiness compelling him to sleep. And thereupon, lest his design be hindered, and his drowsiness overcome him, he went often into the water. And at last, lo, a man of huge stature, clad in strong heavy armour coming in with a hamper, and as he had been wont, putting all the provisions and store of meat and drink into the hamper, and making off with it. And nothing was more wonderful to Lludd than that so much should be contained in that hamper. And thereupon king Lludd made after him, and spoke to him thus: 'Stop, stop!' said he, 'though thou hast wrought many wrongs and losses ere this, thou shalt do so no further, unless thy skill at arms show thou art stronger and braver than I.' And straightway he placed the hamper on the ground and waited for him to come up. And a terrible encounter was there between them, until sparks of fire flew from their weapons. But at length Lludd came to grips with him, and fate willed that victory should fall to Lludd, by casting down the oppressor between him and the ground. And when he had been overcome by might and by main, he asked for quarter. 'How could I give thee quarter,' asked the king, 'after the many losses and wrongs thou hast wrought me?' 'All the losses that I have ever wrought thee,' he answered, 'I will make good even to the extent I have inflicted them. And I will never do the like henceforth, and a liege man will I be to thee for evermore And the king accepted that of him.

  And in this wise Lludd rid the Island of Britain of the three plagues. And from that time till his life's end Lludd son of Beli ruled the Island of Britain in prosperous peace.

  And this tale is called the Adventure of Lludd and Llefelys. And thus it ends.



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