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THE MABINOGION


MANAWYDAN SON OF LLŶR





  When the seven men we spoke of above had buried the head of Bendigeidfran in the White Mount in London, with its face towards France, Manawydan looked upon the town, in London, and on his companions, and heaved a great sigh. and felt much grief and longing within him. 'Alas, Almighty God, woe is me,' said he, 'there is none save me without a place for him this night.' 'Lord,' said Pryderi, 'be not so unhappy. Thy cousin is king in the Island of the Mighty, and though he has done thee wrong, thou hast never been a claimant for land and territory. Thou art one of the Three Ungrasping Chieftains.' 'Aye,' said he, 'yet though that man be my cousin, it saddens me to see any one in the place of Bendigeidfran my brother, and I cannot be happy in the same house with him.' 'Wilt thou follow a different counsel?' asked Pryderi. 'I had need of counsel,' said he, 'and what counsel is that?' 'The seven cantrefs of Dyfed were left to me,' said Pryderi, 'and Rhiannon, my mother, is there. I will bestow her upon thee, and authority over the seven cantrefs with her. And though thou hadst no territory save those seven cantrefs, there are not seven cantrefs better than they. My wife is Cigfa daughter of Gwyn Gloyw,' said he, 'and though the territory is mine in name, let the enjoyment thereof be thine and Rhiannon's; and hadst thou ever desired territory, maybe thou mightest have that.' 'I desire none, chieftain,' said he; 'God repay thee thy friendship.' 'The best friendship I can show shall be thine if thou wilt have it.' 'I will, friend,' said he; 'God repay thee. And I will go with thee to see Rhiannon and to look on the territory.' 'Thou dost well,' he answered. 'I believe thou didst never listen to a lady of better converse than she. What time she was in her heyday, no lady was more comely than she; and even now thou shalt not be ill-pleased with her looks.'

  They went on their way, and however long they were upon the road they came to Dyfed. A feast was prepared for them against their coming, at Arberth, and Rhiannon and Cigfa had made it ready. And then Manawydan and Rhiannon began to sit together and to converse, and with the converse his head and heart grew tender towards her, and he admired in his heart how he had never beheld a lady more graced with beauty and comeliness than she. 'Pryderi,' said he, 'I will abide by what thou didst say.' 'What saying was that?' asked Rhiannon. 'Lady,' said Pryderi, 'I have bestowed thee as wife upon Manawydan son of Llŷr.' 'And I too will abide by that, gladly,' said Rhiannon. 'Gladly will I too,' said Manawydan, 'and God repay the man who gives me his friendship as steadfastly as that.'

  Before that feast ended he slept with her. 'What is left of the feast,' said Pryderi, 'do you continue with it, and I will go to tender my homage to Caswallawn son of Beli, to Lloegyr.'  1   'Lord,' said Rhiannon, 'Caswallawn is in Kent, and thou canst continue with this feast and wait for him till he be nearer.' 'We will wait for him,' said he. And they continued with that feast, and they began to make a progress through Dyfed, and to hunt it, and to take their pleasure. And as they wandered through the country, they had never seen a land more delightful to live in, nor a better hunting ground, nor a land more abundant than that in honey and fish. And therewith such friendship grew up between those four that no one of them chose to be without the other, day or night.

  And meantime he went to Caswallawn, to Oxford, to tender him his homage; and with exceeding great joy was he received there, and thanks to him for tendering him his homage.

  And after his return, Pryderi and Manawydan feasted and took their ease. And they began a feast at Arberth, for it was a main court, and thence began every celebration. And a first sitting that night, whilst the attendants were at meat, they arose and went forth and proceeded all four to Gorsedd Arbeth, and a company with them. And as they were sifting thus, lo, a peal of thunder, and with the magnitude of the peal, lo, a fall of mist coming, so that no one of them could see the other. And after the mist, lo, every place filled with light. And when they looked the way they were wont before that to see the flocks and the herds and the dwellings, no manner of thing could they see: neither house nor beast nor smoke nor fire nor man nor dwelling, but the houses of the court empty, desolate, uninhabited, without man, without beast within them, their very companions lost, without their knowing aught of them, save they four only.

  'Alas, lord God,' said Manawydan, 'where is the host of the court, and our company too, save this? Let us go and look.' Into the hall they came: not a soul was there. into the bower and the sleeping chamber they went: not a soul could they see. In mead-cellar and in kitchen there was naught but desolation.

  They four set them to feasting, and they hunted and took their pleasure. And they began each one of them to wander through the land and the dominion, to see if they might descry house or habitation, but no manner of thing could they see, only wild beasts. And when they had finished their feast and their victuals, they began to live on the meat they hunted and on fish and wild swarms. And in this wise they passed a year pleasantly, and a second. And at last they grew weary.


  'Faith,' said Manawydan, 'we cannot live thus. Let us make for Lloegyr and seek some craft whereby we may make our livelihood.' They made for Lloegyr and came to Hereford. And they took on them to make saddles. And Manawydan began to fashion pommels, and to colour them in the manner he had seen it done by Llasar Llaes Gygnwyd with blue-azure, and proceeded to make blue-azure even as that other had done. And for that reason it is still called calch llasar, because Llasar Llaes Gygnwyd made it. And of that work, so long as it might be had of Manawydan, neither pommel nor saddle was bought of a saddler throughout all Hereford; so that each of the saddlers perceived that he was deprived of his gain, and that nothing was bought of them, save when it might not be got from Manawydan. And with that they assembled together and agreed to slay him and his companion. But with that they received warning, and took counsel whether they should quit the town. 'Between me and God,' said Pryderi, 'it is not my counsel that we quit the town, but that we slay those villeins yonder.' 'Not so,' said Manawydan, 'were we to fight with them we should get an ill name and be put in prison. It is better for us,' said he, 'to go to another town, there to earn a living.'

  And then they four went to another city. 'What craft shall we take upon us?' asked Pryderi. 'We will make shields said Manawydan. 'Do we know anything about that?' asked Pryderi. 'We will try it,' he replied. They set to work making shields, fashioning them after the design of good shields they had seen, and applying to them the colour they had applied to the saddles. And that work prospered for them, so that never a shield was bought in the whole town save when it might not be got from them. Brisk too was their work, and the shields they made without number; and they continued in this wise until their fellow townsmen became irked with them, and agreed to try and slay them. But warning came to them, and they heard how the men were minded to make an end of them. 'Pryderi, ' said Manawydan, other men are purposing to slay us.' 'We will not take that from the villeins. Let us fall on them and slay them.' 'Not so,' he answered, 'Caswallawn would hear of that, and his men, and we should come to grief. We will go to another town.'

  They came to another town. 'What craft shall we follow?' said Manawydan. 'Whichever thou wilt of those that we know,' said Pryderi. 'Not so,' he answered, 'we will take to shoemaking; there will be no heart in shoemakers either to fight with us or to forbid us.' 'I know nothing of that,' said Pryderi. 'I know it,' said Manawydan, 'and I will teach thee to stitch. And we will not trouble ourselves to dress leather, but will buy it ready dressed and will fashion our work from it.' And then he began to buy the finest cordwain he found in the town, and no other leather than that would he buy except leather for the soles; and he began to associate with the best goldsmith in the town, and had buckles made for the shoes, and the buckles gilded, and he looked on at that himself until he had learnt it. And for that reason he was called one of the Three Gold Shoemakers. So long as there might be got from him either shoe or high boot, nothing was bought of a shoemaker in the whole town. The shoemakers perceived that they were losing their gain; for as Manawydan cut out the work, so Pryderi stitched it. The shoemakers came and took counsel, and in their council they agreed to slay them. 'Pryderi,' said Manawydan, 'the men are purposing to slay us' 'Why should we take that from the thieving villeins said Pryderi, 'rather than slay them all?' 'Not so,' said Manawydan, 'we will not fight with them, neither will we stay in Lloegyr any longer. Let us make for Dyfed, and go to look upon it.'

  However long they were upon the road, they came to Dyfed and went on to Arberth. And they kindled fire and began to support themselves and hunt, and they spent a month thus. And they gathered their dogs about them and hunted, and were there in this wise for a year.


  And one morning Pryderi and Manawydan rose up to hunt, and they made ready their dogs and went out from the court. Some of their dogs ran ahead of them and went to a small copse which was close at hand. And as soon as they went into the copse they drew back hurriedly, all bristling with fear, and returned to the men. 'Let us draw near the copse,' said Pryderi, 'to see what is in it.' They drew near the copse. As they drew near, lo, a wild boar of shining white rising up from the copse. The dogs, encouraged by the men, made at him. He then left the copse and fell back a little way from the men; and until the men were close at hand he would stand at bay against the dogs, without retreating before them, and each time the men closed in, he would fall back once more and break away. And they pursued the boar until they could see a huge lofty caer  2   newly built, in a place where they had never seen either stone or building, and the boar making swiftly for the caer, and the dogs after him. And when the boar and the dogs had gone into the caer, they marvelled to see the caer in a place where they had never before seen any building at all. And from the top of the mound they looked and listened for the dogs. However long they remained thus, they heard not one of the dogs nor aught concerning them.

  'Lord,' said Pryderi, 'I will go into the caer to seek tidings of the dogs.' 'Faith,' he replied, 'it is not good counsel for thee to go into the caer. We never saw this caer here. And if thou wilt follow my counsel, thou wilt not go inside. And it is he who cast a spell over this land caused the caer to be here.' 'Faith,' said Pryderi, 'I will not give up my dogs.' For all the counsel he received of Manawydan, he sought the caer.

  When he came to the caer neither man nor beast nor the boar nor the dogs nor house nor habitation could he see in the caer. As it were in the middle of the caer floor, he could see a fountain with marble work around it, and on the edge of the fountain a golden bowl fastened to four chains, and that upon a marble slab, and the chains ascending into the air, and he could see no end to them. He was transported with the great beauty of the gold and with the exceeding good workmanship of the bowl, and he came to where the bowl was and laid hold of it. And as soon as he laid hold of the bowl his two hands stuck to the bowl, and his feet to the slab on which he was standing, and all his power of speech forsook him so that he could not utter one word. And thus he stood.


  And Manawydan waited for him till near the close of day. And late in the afternoon, when he was convinced he would get no tidings of Pryderi or of the dogs, he came to the court. As he came inside, Rhiannon looked on him. 'Where,' said she, 'are thy companion and thy dogs?' 'Here,' he replied, 'is my story.' And he told it all. 'Faith,' said Rhiannon, 'a bad comrade hast thou been, but a good comrade hast thou lost.' And with that word out she went, and in the direction he told her the man and the caer were, thither she proceeded. She saw the gate of the caer open; there was no concealment on it, and in she came. And as soon as she came, she perceived Pryderi laying hold of the bowl, and she came towards him. 'Alas, my lord,' said she, 'what dost thou here?' And she laid hold of the bowl with him, and as soon as she laid hold, her own hands stuck to the bowl and her feet to the slab, so that she too Was not able to utter one word. And with that, as soon as it was night, lo, a peal of thunder over them, and a fall of mist, and thereupon the caer vanished, and away with them too.

  When Cigfa daughter of Gwyn Gloyw, the wife of Pryderi, saw that there was no one in the court save her and Manawydan, she made lamentation that to live was to her no better than to die. Manawydan noticed that. 'Faith,' said he, 'you art in the wrong if through fear of me thou makest lamentation. I give thee God for surety that thou hast not seen a comrade truer than thou wilt find me, so long as God, will that thou be this way. Between me and God, were I in the first flush of my youth I would keep faith with Pryderi and for thy sake too I would keep it.' And let there be no fear upon thee,' said he. 'Between me and God,' said he, 'thou shalt have the friendship thou wouldst from me, so far as I can, for as long as it please God that we be in this misery and woe.' 'God repay thee,' said she, 'that is what I thought.' And with that the maiden was cheered and took courage on that account.

  'Indeed, friend,' said Manawydan, 'this is no place for us to stay. We have lost our dogs and can win no livelihood. Let us go into Lloegyr; it will be easiest for us to make a living there.' 'Gladly, lord,' said she, 'and we will do that.' Together they journeyed towards Lloegyr.

  "Lord,' said she, 'what craft wilt thou take upon thee? Take up one that is cleanly.' 'I will not,' said he, 'save shoemaking, as I did before.' 'Lord,' said she, 'that is not to be commended for its cleanliness to a man so skilled and of such high rank as thou.' 'That will I follow,' said he.

  He began his craft, and he fashioned his work from the finest cordwain that he found in the town. And as they had begun at the other place, he began to buckle the shoes with gold buckles, so that the work of all the shoemakers of the town was vain and trivial compared with his own. And so long as there might be got from him either shoe or high boot, nothing was bought from the others. And thus he spent a year there, till the shoemakers grew envious and jealous of him, and warnings came to him, and it was told him how the shoemakers had agreed to slay him. 'Lord,' said Cigfa, 'why is this borne from the villeins?' 'Not so,' he answered. However, let us go to Dyfed.'

  To Dyfed they made their way. Now Manawydan when he set out for Dyfed took with him a burden of wheat, and he made for Arberth and set up his dwelling there. And there was nothing more delightful to him than to see Arberth and the country he had been wont to hunt, he and Pryderi, and Rhiannon with them. He began to practise catching fish and the wild animals in their coverts there. And thereafter he began to till, and after that he sowed a croft and a second, and a third. And lo, the wheat springing up the best in the world, and his three crofts thriving in like growth, so that mortal had not seen wheat finer than that.

  He saw out the seasons of the year. Lo, the harvest coming. And he none to look at one of his crofts. Lo, that one was ripe. 'I will reap this tomorrow,' said he. He returned that night to Arberth. On the morrow in the grey dawn he came with intent to reap the croft. When he came there was nothing but the stalks, naked after each one of them had been broken off where the ear comes from the stalk, and the ears carried right away, and the stalks left there naked.

  At this he wondered greatly, and he came to look at another croft. Lo, that one was ripe. 'Faith,' said he, 'I will reap this to-morrow.' And on the morrow he came with intent to reap it. And when he came there was nothing but the naked stalks. 'Alas, lord God,' said he, who is completing my ruin? And that I know, it is he who began my ruin who is completing it, and who has ruined the country along with me.'

  He came to look at the third croft. When he came, mortal had not seen finer wheat, and that ripe. 'Shame on me,' said he, 'if I do not keep watch to-night. He who carried off the other corn will come to carry off this; and I will find out what it is.' And he took up his arms and began to watch the croft. And he told all that to Cigfa. 'Why' said she, what hast thou in mind?' 'I will watch the croft to-night' said he.

  He went to watch the croft. And while he was about it, towards midnight lo, the greatest commotion in the world. He looked. There was the mightiest host of mice in the world, and neither number nor measure might be set to them. And never a thing knew he before the mice were falling upon the croft and each of them climbing up along the stalk and bending it down with it, and breaking off the ear, and making off with the ears and leaving the stalks there; and for aught he knew there was not a single stalk that had not a mouse to it, And they were making off, and the ears with them.


  And then in wrath and anger he rushed in amidst the mice, but he could no more keep an eye on one of them than on the gnats or the birds in the air; but one he could see very heavy, so that he judged it incapable of any fleetness of foot. He went after that one, and caught it, and put it in his glove, and tied up the mouth of the glove with a string, and kept it with him, and made for the court. He came to the hall where Cigfa was, and brightened the fire, and hung the glove by its string upon the peg. 'What is there, lord?' asked Cigfa. 'A thief,' he answered, whom I found thieving from me.' 'What kind of a thief, lord, couldst thou put inside thy glove?' asked she. 'Here is the whole story's he answered, and he told how his crofts had been laid waste for him and destroyed, and how the mice came to the last of his crofts before his very eyes. 'And one of them was very heavy, which I caught and is inside the glove, and which I will hang to-morrow. And by my confession to God, had I caught them all, I would hang them.' 'Lord,' said she, that was not surprising, but yet it is unseemly to see a man of such rank and dignity as thou hanging such a creature as that. And if thou didst aright, thou wouldst not meddle with the creature, but let it go.' 'Shame on me,' said he, 'if I would not hang them all had I caught them; and the one I have caught I will hang.' 'Why, Lord,' said she, 'there is no reason why I should succour this creature except to ward off discredit from thee. But do as thou wilt, lord.' 'If I knew of any reason in the world why thou shouldst succour it, I would abide by thy counsel concerning it,' said Manawydan, 'but as I know of none, lady, I intend to destroy it.' 'Do so gladly then,' said she.

  And then he made for Gorsedd Arberth, and the mouse with him. And he planted two forks on the highest point of the mound. And while he was doing this lo, he could see a clerk coming towards him, and on him old, poor, threadbare garments. And it was now seven years since he had set eyes on man or beast, except those four persons who had been together till two of them were lost.

  'Lord,' said the clerk, 'good day to thee.' 'God prosper thee, and welcome to thee,' said he. 'Whence comest thou, clerk?' said he. 'I come, Lord, from song-making in Lloegyr. And why dost thou ask, Lord?' said he. Because for the last seven years said he, 'I have seen no person in this place, save four persons set apart, and thyself this very moment.' 'Why, Lord,' he said, 'I am myself but now passing through this land towards my own country. And what kind of work art thou engaged on, Lord?' 'Hanging a thief whom I caught thieving from me,' said he. What kind of a thief, Lord?' asked he. 'I see a creature in thy hand like a mouse, and it ill becomes a man of such rank as thou to touch such a creature as that. Let it go!' 'I will not let it go, between me and God,' he answered. 'Thieving I caught it, and the law concerning a thief will I execute upon it: to hang it!' 'Lord,' said he, 'lest a man of such rank as thou be seen about that work, a pound which I have received as alms will I give thee-and let that creature go.' ' I will not let it go, between me and God, neither will I sell it.' 'As thou wilt, Lord,' he answered; 'were it not unseemly to see a man of such rank as thou handle such a creature as that, it would not trouble me.' And away went the clerk.

  As he was fixing the crossbeam upon the forks, lo, a priest coming towards him on a caparisoned horse. 'Lord, good day to thee,' said he. 'God prosper thee,' said Manawydan; 'and thy blessing.' 'The blessing of God be upon thee and what kind of work art thou doing, Lord?' 'Hanging a thief whom I caught thieving from me,' said he. 'What kind of a thief, Lord?' he asked. 'A creature, he answered in the shape of a mouse. And it has thieved from me, and the doom of a thief will I execute upon it.' 'Lord,' said he, 'lest thou be seen handling that creature I will redeem it. Let it go.' 'By my confession to God, I will neither sell it nor let it go.' 'It is true, Lord, it has no price set upon it. Lest thou be seen defiling thy-self with that creature I will give thee three pounds and let it go!' 'Between me and God,' said Manawydan, 'I want no price for it, save what is its due: to hang it!' 'Gladly, Lord, do thy pleasure.' Away went the priest.


  Then he noosed the string about the neck of the mouse. And as he was drawing it up, lo, he could see a bishop's retinue with his loads of baggage and his train, and the bishop himself making towards him. He stayed his work. 'Lord,' said he. What kind of work art thou engaged on?' 'Hanging a thief whom I caught thieving from me,' said he. 'Is it not a mouse,' said he, 'I see in thy hand?' 'Aye,' he replied,' 'and a thief has she been to me.' 'Why,' said he, 'since I have come in at the destruction of that creature I will redeem it of thee. I will give thee seven pounds for it, and lest a man of such rank as thou be seen destroying such a worthless creature as that, let it go, and thou shalt have the money.' 'Between me and God, I will not let it go,' said he. 'Since thou wilt not let it go for that, I will give thee four and twenty pounds of ready money and let it go!' "I will not let it go, by my confession to God, for as much again,' said he. Since thou wilt not let it go for that,' said he, 'I will give thee all the horses thou seest in this plain, and seven loads of baggage that are here, on the seven horses they are on' 'Between me and God, I will not' he replied. 'Since thou wilt not have that, name its price.' 'That will I, ' said he, 'that Rhiannon and Pryderi be set free.' 'That shalt thou have.' 'Between me and God I will not.' 'bye 'What wouldst thou then?' 'That the charm and the enchantment be removed from the seven cantrefs of Dyfed.' 'That thou shalt have also- and let the mouse go!''I will not let it go, between me and God,' said he; 'I will know who the mouse is.' 'She is my wife; and were that not so, I should not free her.' 'How came she to me?' 'A-harrying,' he answered. 'I am Llwyd son of Cil Coed, and 'twas I cast the enchantment over the seven cantrefs of Dyfed, and to avenge Gwawl son of Clud, through friendship for him, did I cast the enchantment; and on Pryderi did I avenge the playing of Badger in the Bag on Gwawl son of Clud, when Pwyll Head of Annwn wrought that and he wrought that at the court of Hefeydd the Old, ill-advisedly. And after hearing that thou wert a dweller in the land, my war-band came to me and asked me to transform them into mice that they might destroy thy corn. And they came the first night, my war-band alone. And the second night they came too, and they destroyed the two crofts. And the third night there came to me my wife and the ladies of the court, to ask me to transform them, and transform them I did. And she was with child. And had she not been with child, thou hadst not overtaken her. But since she was, and was caught, I will give thee Pryderi and Rhiannon, and I will remove the charm and the enchantment from Dyfed. I have now told thee who she is-and let her go!' 'I will not let her go, between me and god's said he.' 'What wouldst thou then?' he asked. 'This he replied, is what I would have: that there never be any spell upon the seven cantrefs of Dyfed, and that none be cast upon it.' 'That thou shalt have,' said he, '-and let her go!' 'I will not let her go, between me and God,' said he. 'What wouldst thou then?' he asked. 'This,' said he, 'is what I would have: that vengeance be never taken for this upon Pryderi and Rhiannon, nor upon me.' 'All that thou shalt have. And faith, that was a shrewd stroke of thine. Hadst thou not struck on that, all the harm had lighted on thy head.' 'Aye,' said he, 'and to ward off that I make the demand.' 'And now set my wife free for me.' "I will not set her free, between me and God, until I see Pryderi and Rhiannon- with me free.' 'See here they come, ' he answered.

  With that behold, Pryderi and Rhiannon. He rose up to meet them, and greeted them, and they sat down together. 'Ah, good sir, now set my wife free for me, for thou hast now received all thou didst demand.' 'I will free her, gladly,' said he.

  And then she was set free, and he struck her with a magic wand, and he changed her back into the fairest young woman that any one had seen.

  'Look around thee upon the land,' said he, 'and thou wilt see all the houses and the habitations as they were at their best.' And then he rose up and looked. And when he looked, he saw all the land inhabited and complete with all its herds and its dwellings. 'in what servitude' he asked, 'have Pryderi and Rhiannon been?' 'Pryderi would have the gate-hammers of my court about his neck, and Rhiannon would have the collars of the asses, after they had been carrying hay, about her neck. And such has been their durance.'

  And by reason of that durance that story was called Mabinogi Mynweir a Mynordd.   3   And thus ends this branch of the Mabinogi.

FOOTNOTES



[1]  Lloegyr: England.

[2]  Caer: in various contexts the word denotes any fortified place: hill fort, Roman fort, or medieval castle.

[3]  A title unintelligible to the story-teller, who has attempted an explanation of his own: mynweir he regards as a compound, myn, 'neck,' and gweir, 'hay'; and myrnordd as a compound, myn, 'neck' and ordd, 'hammer.' In part we can correct him; mynweir, from myn, 'neck,' and gweir, collar,' is an attested word meaning 'collar.'


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