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THE MABINOGION


MATH SON OF MATHONWY





  Math son of Mathonwy was lord over Gwynedd, and Pryderi son of Pwyll was lord over one-and twenty cantrefs in the South. Those were the seven cantrefs of Dyfed, and the seven of Morgannwg, and the four of Ceredigiawn, and the three of Ystrad Tywi.

  And at that time Math son of Mathonwy might not live save while his two feet were in the fold of a maiden's lap, unless the turmoil of war prevented him. Now the maiden who was with him was Goewin daughter of Pebin of Dol Bebin in Arfon. And she was the fairest maiden of her time of whom there was knowledge in those parts.

  And he found his tranquillity at Caer Dathyl in Arfon, and he might not go the circuit of the land, save Gilfaethwy son of Dôn and Gwydion son of Dôn, his nephews, his sister's sons, and the war-band with them, would go the circuit of the land in his stead.

  And the maiden was with Math at all times; and Gilfaethwy son of Dôn set his heart on the maiden and loved her so that he knew not what to do because of her; and lo, his colour and his face and his form wasting away for love of her, so that it was not easy to know him.

  Gwydion his brother looked hard at him one day. 'Lad,' said he, what has befallen thee?' 'Why,' he answered, 'what seest thou on me?' 'I see on thee,' said he, 'that thou art losing thy looks and thy colour. And what has befallen thee?' 'Lord brother,' said he, 'what has befallen me, it is useless for me to admit to any.' 'What is that friend?' said he. 'Thou knowest,' he replied,' the peculiarity of Math son of Mathonwy whatever whisperings, however low, there be between men once the wind has met it he will know of it.' 'Aye,' said Gwydion, 'thou needest not say more, I know thy thought, thou lovest Goewin.'

  When he found that his brother knew his thought, he heaved the heaviest sigh in the world. 'Be quiet, friend. with thy sighing,' said Gwydion. 'It is not that way that success will be won. And I will bring about,' said he,' since it cannot be had otherwise, the mustering of Gwynedd and Powys and Deheubarth, so that the maiden may come at; and be thou of good heart, and I will bring it about for thee.'

  And with that they went to Math son of Mathonwy, 'Lord,' said Gwydion, 'I have heard tell that there have come to the South such creatures as never came to this Island,' 'What is their name?' said he? 'Hobeu, lord,'  1   'What kind of animals are those?' 'Small animals their flesh better than the flesh of oxen.' 'But they are small and they change names: moch  2  are they called nowadays.' 'To whom do they belong?' 'To Pryderi son of Pwyll, to whom they were sent from Annwn by Arawn king of Annwn.' 'And to this day there is kept of that name, hanner hwch, hanner hob.  3   "Aye,' he replied. 'by what means will they be got from him?' 'I will go, lord, as one of the twelve in the guise of bards to ask for the swine.' 'He may refuse you,' said he. 'Not bad is my plan, lord,' said he; 'I will not come back without the swine.' 'Gladly,' said he,'go thy way.'

  He went and Gilfaethwy, and ten men with them as far as Ceredigiawn, to the place which is nowadays called Rhuddlan Teifi. There was a court of Pryderi's there, and in the guise of bards they came inside. They made them welcome. Gwydion was placed at Pryderi's one hand that night.

  'Why,' said Pryderi, 'gladly would we have a tale from some of the young men yonder.' 'Lord' said Gwydion, 'it is a custom with us that the first night after one comes to a great man, the chief bard shall have the say. I will tell a tale gladly.' Gwydion was the best teller of tales in the world. And that night he entertained the court with pleasant tales and story-telling till he was praised by every one in the court, and it was pleasure for Pryderi to converse with him. And at the end thereof, 'Lord,' said he, 'will any one do my errand to thee better than I myself?' 'Not so,' he answered, 'a right good tongue is thine.' 'This then, lord, is my errand: to beg of thee the animals that were sent thee from Annwn.' 'Aye,' he replied, 'that would be the easiest thing in the world were there not a covenant between me and my country concerning them; that is, that they shall not go from me till they have bred double their number in the land.' 'Lord,' said he, 'I can free thee from those words. Thus can I do it; do not give me the swine to-night, and do not refuse them me. To-morrow I will show an exchange for them.'

  And that night he and his companions went to their lodging to take counsel. 'Men,' said he, 'we shall not have the swine for the asking.' 'Well,' said they, 'by what plan then may they be got?' 'I shall see that they are got,' said Gwydion.

  And then he betook him to his arts, and began to display his magic. And he made by magic twelve stallions and twelve greyhounds, each of them black but white breasted, and twelve collars and twelve leashes upon them, and any one that saw them would not know but that they were of gold; and twelve saddles upon the horses, and every part where there should be iron upon them was all of gold, and the bridges of the same workmanship.

  With the horses and the dogs he came to Pryderi. 'Good day to thee,' 'Lord,' said he. 'God prosper thee,' said he, 'and welcome to thee Lord,' said he 'here is a way out for thee from the word thou didst speak last evening about the swine, that thou wouldst not give them, and that thou wouldest not sell them but exchange them thou mayest for that which is better. I will give these twelve horses, all caparisoned as they are, and their saddles and their bridles, and the twelve greyhounds and their collars and their leashes, as thou seest them, and the twelve golden shields thou seest yonder.' Those he had made by magic out of toadstool. 'Why,' said he, 'we will take counsel.' They found in their counsel to give Gwydion the swine, and take from him in return the horses and the dogs and the shields.


  And then they took leave and started off with the swine. 'My brave lads said Gwydion, we must needs shift in haste. The spell will last but from one day till the morrow.'

  And that night they journeyed as far as the uplands of Ceredigiawn, the place which for that reason is still called Mochdref. And on the morrow they pushed ahead; over Elenid they came. And that night they were between Ceri and Arwystli, in the township which is likewise for that reason called Mochdref. And thence they journeyed on, and that night they went as far as a commot in Powys which is likewise for that reason called Mochnant, and they were there that night. And thence they journeyed as far as the cantref of Rhos, and they were there that night in the township which is still called Mochdref.  4  

  'Men,' said Gwydion, 'we will make for the fastness of Gwynedd with these animals. There is a marching of hosts in pursuit of us.' They made for the highest township of Arllechwoedd, and there a sty was made for the swine, and for that reason was the name Creuwryon  5   given to the township. And then after a sty had been made for the swine, they made their way to Math son of Mathonwy, as far as Caer Dathyl. And when they came there the country was being mustered. 'What news is here?' asked Gwydion. 'Pryderi,' said they, 'is mustering one-and twenty cantrefs in pursuit of you. Strange how very slowly you have journeyed!' 'Where are the animals you went after?' asked Math. 'A sty has been made for them in the other cantref below,' said Gwydion.

  With that, lo, they could hear the trumpets and the gathering throughout the land. With that, they too equipped themselves, and went forth until they were in Pennardd in Arfon.

  And that night Gwydion son of Dôn and Gilfaethwy his brother returned to Caer Dathyl, and Gilfaethwy and Goewin daughter of Pebin were put to sleep together in Math son of Mathonwy's bed; and the maidens were roughly forced out, and she was lain with against her will that night.

  When they saw day on the morrow they went to the place where Math son of Mathonwy was, and his host. When they came, those men were going to take counsel on what side they should await Pryderi and the men of the South. And they too joined in council. What they determined in council was to wait in the fastness of Gwynedd in Arfon. And a stand was made in the midmost part of the two districts, Maenawr Bennardd and Maenawr Coed Alun. And Pryderi went up against them there, and there the battle took place, and great slaughter was made on either hand, and the men of the South must needs retreat. The place they retreated to was the place which is still called Nant Call, and the pursuit was continued so far, and then there was made an immeasurable great slaughter. And then they fled as far as the place called Dol Benmaen. And then they rallied and sought to bring about a truce, and Prydcri gave hostages against the truce. He gave Gwrgi Gwastra and three-and-twenty sons of noblemen as hostages.

  And after that they traveled under truce as far as Y Traeth Mawr, but as soon as they reached Y Felenrhyd, the men on foot could not be restrained from shooting at each other. Messengers were sent by Pryderi to have the two hosts called off, and to ask that it be left to him and Gwydion son of Dôn, for it was he had caused that. The messengers came to Math son of Mathonwy. 'Aye,' said Math, 'between me and God, if it please Gwydion son of Dôn, I shall leave it gladly. Nor will I for my part compel any one to go to fight, instead of our doing what we can.' 'Faith,' said the messengers, 'it were fair, Pryderi reckons, for the man who did him this wrong to pit his body against his, and let the two hosts stand aside.' 'By my confession to God, I will not ask the men of Gwynedd to fight on my behalf, since I may myself do battle with Pryderi. I will pit my body against his, gladly' And that answer was sent to Pryderi. 'Aye,' said Pryderi, 'nor do I ask any one to seek my redress, save myself.'

  Those men were set apart and the equipping of them begun, and they fought. And by dint of strength and valour and by magic and enchantment Gwydion conquered, and Pryderi was slain. And at Maen Tyriawg, above Y Felenrhyd, was he buried, and his grave is there.

  The men of the South set forth with bitter lamentation towards their own land. Nor was it strange. They had lost their lord, and many of their noblemen, and their horses, and their arms for the most part.

  The men of Gwynedd went back in joy and exultation. 'Lord, 'said Gwydion to Math,'would it not be right for us to release their nobleman to the men of the South, him they gave us as a hostage against the truce? And we ought not to keep him in durance.' 'Let him be freed then,' said Math. And that youth and the hostages that were with him were freed to follow after the men of the South.

  Math for his part made for Caer Dathyl. Gilfaethwy son of Dôn and the war-band that had been with him went to make the circuit of Gwynedd, as had been their custom, and they did not come to the court. Math went to his chamber and bade a place be prepared for him to recline, so that he might put his feet in the fold of the maiden's lap. 'Lord,' said Goewin, 'seek now a maiden to be under thy feet. I am a woman.' 'How is that?' 'An assault was made upon me, lord, and that openly. Nor did I bear it in quiet; there was none in the court did not know of it. They who came were thy nephews, lord, thy sister's sons, Gwydion son of Dôn and Gilfaethwy son of Dôn. And they wrought rape upon me and upon thee dishonour. And I was lain with, and that in thy chamber and thy bed.' 'Aye,' said he, 'what I can, I will do: redress for thee first, and then I too will seek redress. As for thee,' he said, 'I will take thee to wife and the authority over my realm will I give into thy hands.'

  And meantime they come not near the court, but stayed to make their circuit of the land until a ban on their meat and drink went out against them. At first they come not near him; then however they came. 'Lord,' said they, 'good day to thee.' 'Aye,' said he, 'is it to make me amends that you are come?' 'Lord, we are at thy will.' 'Had it been my will, I had not lost what I have of men and arms. My dishonour you cannot make good to me, let alone the death of Pryderi. But since you are come unto my will, I will begin punishment upon you.'

  And then he took his magic wand and struck Gilfaethwy, so that he became a good-sized hind, and he seized the other quickly (though he wished to escape he could not), and struck him with the some magic wand, so that he became a stag . 'Since you are allied together, I will make you fare together and be coupled, and of the same nature as the beasts whose guise you are in; and at the time there be offspring to them, that it be to you also. And a year from to-day come hither to me.'

  At the end of the year from that same day, lo, he could hear an uproar from under the chamber wall, and the barking of the dogs of the court in answer to the uproar. 'Look what is without,' said one, ' I have looked; there are a stag and a hind, and a fawn with them.' And thereupon he arose and came outside. And when he came, he could see the three beasts were a stag and a hind and a strong fawn. He lifted up his magic wand. 'The one of you that has been a hind for the past year, let him this year be a wild boar; and the one of you that has been a stag for the past year, let him this year be a wild sow. ' And thereupon he struck them with the magic wand. 'The boy, however, I will take and have fostered and baptized.' The name that was bestowed on him was Hyddwn. 'As for you, go, and be the one of you a wild boar and the other a wild sow, and the nature that is in wild swine be your nature too. And a year from to-day be here under the wall, and your offspring with you.'

  At the end of the year, lo, they heard the barking of dogs under the chamber wall and the mustering of the court besides in answer to them. Thereupon he too arose and went outside. And when he came outside he could see three beasts. The beasts he saw were of this kind: a wild boar and a wild sow, and a well-grown young one with them. And it was big for its age. 'Aye,' said he, 'this one I will take to me and will have him baptized.' And he struck him with his magic wand, so that he became a fine boy with rich auburn hair. The name that was bestowed on that one was Hychdwn. 'And you, the one of you that has been a wild boar for the past year, let him this year be a she-wolf; and the one that has been a wild sow for the past year, let him this year be a wolf.' And thereupon he struck them with the magic wand, so that they became wolf and she-wolf. 'And the nature of the animals in whose guise you are, be yours too. And be here a year from this very day, under this wall.'

  That same day at the end of the year, lo, he could hear an uproar and a barking under the chamber wall. He arose and came outside. And when he came, he could see a wolf and a she-wolf, and a strong wolf cub with them. 'This one I will take, 'said he,'and have him baptized and his name is all ready. That is, Bleiddwn. The three sons are yours, and those three are:



The three sons of false Gilfaethwy.
Three champions true,
Bleiddwn, Hyddwn, Hychdwn Hir.  6  




-and thereupon striking them both with the magic wand, so that they were in their own flesh. 'Men,' said he, 'if you did me wrong, long enough has been your punishment. And great shame have you had, that each one of you has had young by the other. Have a bath made ready for the men, and their heads washed, and have them arrayed.' And that was done for them.

  And after they were made ready they came to him. 'Men,' he said, 'you have obtained peace, and you shall have friendship. And give me counsel what maiden I shall seek.' 'Lord,' said Gwydion son of Dôn, 'it is easy to counsel thee: Aranrhod daughter of Dôn thy niece, thy sister's daughter.'

  She was fetched to him; the maiden came in. 'Maiden, ' said he, 'art thou a maiden?' 'I know not but that I am.' Then he took the magic wand and bent it. 'Step over this,' said he, 'and if thou art a maiden, I shall know.' Then she stepped over the magic wand, and with that step she dropped a fine boy-child with rich yellow hair. The boy uttered a loud cry. After the boy's cry she made for the door, and thereupon dropped a small something, and before any one could get a second glimpse of it, Gwydion took it and wrapped a sheet of silk around it, and hid it. The place where he hid it was inside a small chest at the foot of his bed.

  'Why,' said Math son of Mathonwy, 'I will have this one baptized' -the rich yellow-haired boy. 'The name I will give him is Dylan.'

  The boy was baptized and the moment he was baptized he made for the sea. And there and then, as soon as he came to the sea he recieved the sea's nature, and swam as well as the best fish in the sea. And for that reason he was called Dylan Eil Ton.  7   No wave ever broke beneath him. And the blow whereby his death came, his uncle Gofannon aimed. And that was one of the Three Unhappy Blows.

  As Gwydion was one day in his bed and was waking, he heard a cry in the chest at his feet. Though it was not loud, it was so loud that he heard it. He arose quickly and opened the chest; and as he opened it, he could see an infant boy thrusting his arms from the fold of the sheet and opening it apart. And he took the boy between his hands and carried him to the town, where he knew there was a woman with breasts. And he made a bargain with the woman to suckle the child. The boy was reared that year, and in a year's time they would have remarked his great size had he been two years old. And the second year he was a big boy and able to go by himself to the court. And Gwydion himself gave heed to him when he came to the court. And the boy grew used to him and loved him better than any one. Then the boy was reared at the court till he was four years old; and it had been remarkable for a boy eight years old to be as big as he.

  And one day he followed after Gwydion to go out awalking. He made for Caer Aranrhod, and the boy with him. After he had come to the court, Aranrhod arose to meet him, to make him welcome and to give him greeting. ' God prosper thee,' said he. 'What is the boy that follows thee?' said she. 'This boy is a son of thine,' said he. 'Alas, man! What came over thee to put me to shame, and to pursue my shame, and keep it as long as this?' 'Unless thou suffer a greater shame than that I should rear a boy as fine as this, a small thing thy shame will be.' 'What is thy son's name?' asked she. 'Faith,' he said 'there is as yet no name to him.' 'Well,' said she, 'I will swear on him a destiny, that he shall not get a name till he get it from me.' 'By my confession to God,' said he, 'thou art a wicked woman, but the boy shall have a name, even though it be vexatious to thee. And thou,' said he, 'tis because of him thou art angry, for that thou art not called maiden. Never again shalt thou be called maiden!' And thereupon he went away in wrath, and made for Caer Dathyl, and there he was that night.


  And on the morrow he arose and took his son with him, and went to walk along the seashore between there and Aber Menei. And where he saw dulse and sea-girdle he made a ship by magic; and out of the seaweed and dulse he made cordwain, much of it, and he put colours on them so that no one had ever seen leather more lovely than that. And then he fitted a sail on the ship and came, he and the boy in the ship, to the entrance of the gate of Caar Aranrhod. And then they began to fashion shoes and to stitch them. And then they were seen from the caer. When he knew they had been seen from the caer, he took away their own semblance and put another semblance upon them, so that they would not be recognized. 'What men are in the ship?' asked Aranrhod. 'Shoemakers,' said they. 'Go and find, and what kind of leather they have, and what kind of work they do.'

  Then they came. And when they came he was colouring cordwain, and that in gold. Then the messengers came and told her that. 'Why,' said she, 'take the measure of my foot and ask the shoemaker to make shoes for me.' He fashioned the shoes, yet not to the measure, but bigger. The shoes brought to her. Lo, the shoes were too big. 'These are too big,' said she; 'he shall have payment for these, but let him also make some that are smaller than they.' He made other - smaller by far than her foot, and sent them to her. 'Tell him not one of these shoes will go on me,' she said. They told him. 'Why, he said, I will not fashion shoes for her until I see her foot.' And that was told her. 'Aye,' said she, 'I will go to him.'

  And then she came to the ship. And when she came he was cutting out, and the boy stitching. 'Why, lady,' said he, 'good day to thee.' 'God prosper thee,' said she. ' I marvel thou couldst not fit shoes to measure.' 'I was unable,' he replied; 'I shall be able now.'

  And thereupon, lo, a wren alighting on board the ship. The boy aimed at it, and hit it between the sinew of its leg and the bone. She laughed. 'Faith, ' said she, 'with a deft hand has the fair one hit it.' 'Aye,' he replied, 'God's curse on thee! He has now got a name, and good enough is his name. Lleu Llaw Gyffes is he from now on.' 8 And then the work vanished into dulse and seaweed; and he pursued the work no further than that. And for that reason he was called one of the Three Gold Shoemakers. 'Faith,' said she, 'thou wilt fare none the better for being bad to me.' 'I have not been bad to thee yet,' said he. And then he released his son into his proper semblance, and took on him his own aspect. 'Well,' said she, 'I will swear on this boy a destiny that he shall never bear arms till I myself equip him therewith.' 'Between me and God,' said he, 'this springs from thy wickedness. But arms he shall have.'

  Then they came towards Dinas Dinlleu. And then Lleu Llaw Gyffes was reared till he could ride every horse and till he was perfected in feature, growth and stature. And then Gwydion saw by him that he was pining for want of horses and arms, and he called him to him. 'Lad' said he, 'we will go, thou and I, on an errand to-morrow. And be more cheerful than thou art.' 'And that will I do,' said the lad. And on the morrow in the young of the day they arose and took the seashore, up towards Bryn Arien; and at the top of Cefyn Clun Tyno they made ready on horseback and came towards Caer Aranrhod. And then they changed their semblance and made towards the gate in the guise of two young men, save that Gwydion's mien was more staid than the lad's. 'Porter,' said he, 'go in and say there are bards here from Morgannwg.' The porter went 'God's welcome to them. Let them in,' said she. There was great joy at their coming, the hall was made ready, and they went to meat. When meat was ended, she discoursed with Gwydion of tales and story-telling. Now Gwydion was a good teller of tales.

  When it was time to leave off the carousal, a chamber was made ready for them and they went to sleep. At early cockcrow Gwydion arose. And then he summoned to him his magic and his power. By the time the light of day was dawning there was a bustling to and fro and trumpets and clamour throughout the country. When day was coming on they heard a knocking at the chamber door, and with that Aranrhod bidding them open. The young lad rose up and opened; she entered and a maiden with her. 'Ah, good sirs,' said she, 'tis a bad place we are in.' 'Aye,' he replied, 'we hear trumpets and clamour; and what thinkest thou of that?' ' Faith,' said she, 'we cannot see the colour of the deep for all the ships thronging together; and they are making for the land with all the speed they can. And what shall we do?' said she. 'Lady,' said Gwydion, 'there is no other counsel for us save to close the caer upon us and to defend it as best we can.' 'Aye,' she answered, 'God repay you. 'Do you then prepare a defence; and here you will find arms enough.'

  And with that she went after the arms. And lo, she came, and two maidens with her, and arms for two men with them. 'Lady,' said he, 'arm thou this youth, and I with the maidens will arm myself. I hear the noise of the men coning' 'That will I, gladly.' And she armed him gladly and at all points. 'Is the arming of that youth completed?' he asked. 'It is ' she replied. 'Mine too is completed,' said he; 'Let us now doff our arms; we have no need of them.' 'Alas,' said she, 'why? See the fleet around the house!' 'Lady, there is no fleet there?' 'A mustering,' he replied, 'to break thy destiny concerning thy son, and to seek arms for him. And now he has got arms, no thanks to thee for them.' 'Between me and God,' she answered, 'a wicked man art thou. And many a lad might have lost his life through the mustering thou hast brought about in this cantref to-day. And I will swear a destiny on him,' said she, 'that he shall never have a wife of the race that is now on this earth.' 'Aye,' said he, 'a wicked woman hast thou been ever, and none should further thee. But a wife he shall have all the same.'


  They came to Math son of Mathonwy and made the most sustained complaint in the world against Aranrhod, and made known how he had obtained all the arms for him. 'Aye,' said Math, 'let us seek, thou and I, by our magic and enchantment to conjure a wife for him out of flowers' -and he then a man in stature, and the handsomest youth that mortal ever saw. And then they took the flowers of the oak, and the flowers of the broom, and the flowers of the meadowsweet, and from those they called forth the very fairest and best endowed maiden that mortal ever saw, and baptized her with the baptism they used at that time, and named her Blodeuedd.  8  

  After they had slept together over the feast, 'It is not easy' said Gwydion, 'for a man without territory to maintain himself.' 'Why,' said Math, I will give him the very best cantref for a young man to have.' 'Lord,' he asked. 'what cantref is that?' 'Cantref Dinoding,' said he. And that is nowadays called Eifynydd and Ardudwy. The place in the cantref where he set up a court was the place called Mur Castell, and that in the uplands of Ardudwy. And then he settled down therein and ruled it. And every one was content with him and and his rule.

  And then once upon a time he went to Caer Dathyl to visit Math son of Mathonwy. The day he went to Caer Dathyl, she was stirring about the court. And she heard the blast of a horn, and after the horn, lo, a spent stag going by, and dogs and huntsmen after it, and after the dogs and the huntsmen a troop of men on foot coming. 'Send a lad,' said she, 'to learn what the company is.' The lad went and asked who they were. 'This is Gronw Bebyr, he who is lord of Penllyn,' said they. And that the lad told her.

  He went after the stag, and on Cynfael river he overtook the stag and slew it. And what with slaying the stag and baiting his dogs. he was busied till the night closed in on him. And as day declined and night was drawing near, he came past the gate of the court. 'Faith,' said she, 'we shall be ill-spoken of by the chieftain for letting him go at this hour to another domain, if we do not ask him in.' 'Faith, lady,' said they, 'it is only right to ask him in.' Then messengers went to meet him and ask him in. And then he accepted the invitation gladly and came to the court, and she herself to meet him, to make him welcome, and to give him greeting. 'Lady,' said he, 'God repay thee thy welcome.'

  They changed their garb and went to sit down. Blodeuedd looked on him, and the moment she looked there was no part of her that was not filled with love of him. And he too gazed on her, and the same thought came to him as had come to her. He might not conceal that he loved her, and he told her so. She knew great joy at heart, and their talk that night was of the affection and love they had conceived one for the other. Nor did they delay longer than that night ere they embraced each other. And that night they slept together.

  And on the morrow he sought to depart. 'Faith,' said she, 'thou wilt not go from me to-night.' That night too they were together And that night they took counsel how they might stay together. 'There is no counsel for thee,' said he, 'save one: to seek to learn from him how his death may come about, and that under pretence of loving care for him.'

  On the morrow he sought to depart. 'Faith, I do not counsel thee to go from me to-day.' 'Faith, since thou dost not counsel it, I will not go,' said he. 'Yet I say there is danger that the chieftain whose court it is may return.'

  'Aye,' said she, 'to-morrow I will give thee leave to depart.' On the morrow he sought to depart and she did not prevent him. 'Now,' said he, 'remember what I told thee, and speak closely with him, and that under pretence of importunity of love of him, and draw from him what way his death might come about.'

  And that night he came home. They spent the day in talk and song and carousal. And that night they went to sleep together, and he spoke to her, and a second time, but meantime not one word did he get from her. 'What has befallen thee?' he asked; 'and art thou well? ' 'I am thinking,' said she, 'that which thou wouldst not think concerning me. That is,' said she, 'I am troubled about thy death, if thou wert to go sooner than I.' 'Ah,' said he, 'God repay thee for thy loving care. But unless God slay me, it is not easy to slay me,' said he. 'Wilt thou then, for God's sake and for mine, tell me how thou might be slain? For my memory is a surer safeguard than thine.' 'I will, gladly,' said he. ' It is not easy,' said he, 'to slay me with a blow; and one must needs be a year making the spear wherewith I should be smitten, without making anything of it save when folk were at Mass on Sunday.' 'Is that certain?' said she. 'Certain, faith,' said he. 'I cannot be slain within a house,' said he, 'nor can I outside. I cannot be slain on horseback, nor can I a-foot.' 'Why,' said she, 'in what manner then couldst thou be slain?' 'I will tell thee,' said he. 'By making a bath for me on a river bank, and making a vaulted frame over the tub, and thatching it well and snugly too thereafter, and bringing a he-goat,' said he, 'and setting it beside the tub, and myself placing one foot on the back of the he-goat and the other on the edge of the tub. Whoever should smite me when so, he would bring about my death.' 'Why,' she replied, 'I thank God for that. That can be avoided easily.'

  No sooner had she heard this statement than she sent it to Gronw Bebyr. Gronw laboured at making the spear, and that selfsame day at the end of a year it was ready. And that day he had her informed of it.

  'Lord,' said she, 'I am wondering how that might be which thou didst once tell me of. And wilt thou show me in what manner thou wouldst stand on the edge of the tub and the he-goat, if I make ready the bath?' 'I will,' said he. Then she sent to Gronw and bade him be under the lee of the hill which is now called Bryn Cyfergyr. That was on the bank of Cynfael river. She bade gather too all the goats she found in the cantref and had them brought to the far side of the river, facing Bryn Cyfergyr. And on the morrow she said, 'Lord,' said she, 'I have had the frame and the bath prepared, and they are ready.' 'Why, ' he replied, 'gladly let us go to look at them.' They came on the morrow to look at the bath. 'Thou wilt go into the bath, lord?' said she. 'I will, gladly,' said he. He went into the bath and he bathed himself. 'Lord ' said she, 'here are the animals thou didst speak of as being called he-goats.' 'Aye,' said he, 'have one of them caught and have it fetched here.' It was fetched. Then he arose out of the bath and put on his breeks, and he placed one foot on the edge of the tub and the other on the he-goat's back. Then Gronw rose up from the hill which is called Bryn Cyfergyr, and he rose up on one knee and aimed the poisoned spear at him, and smote him in the side, so that the shaft started out of him and the head stayed in him. And then he flew up in the form of an eagle and gave a horrid scream. And after that he was seen no more.

  The moment he vanished they set off for the court, and that night they slept together. And on the morrow Gronw rose up and subdued Ardudwy. After subduing the land he ruled it, so that Ardudwy and Penllyn were under his sway.

  Then the tidings reached Math son of Mathonwy. Heaviness and grief Math felt within him, and Gwydion more he by far. "Lord,' said Gwydion, 'I shall never rest till I have tidings of my nephew.' 'Aye,' said Math, 'may God be thy strength.' And then he set out and began to go his way, and Gwynedd he traversed, and the length and breadth of Powys. When he had traversed every part, he came to Arfon, and came to the house of a villein in Maenawr Bennardd. He alighted at the house and stayed there that night. The man of the house and his household came in, and last of all came the swineherd. The man of the house said to the swineherd, 'Fellow,' said he, 'has thy sow come in to-night?' 'She has,' said he, 'she has just now come to the swine.' 'What manner of journey does that sow go on?' asked Gwydion. 'Every day when the sty is opened, out she goes. No one can keep in touch with her, neither is it known which way she goes more than if she went into the earth.' 'Wilt thou do this for my sake,' asked Gwydion, 'not to open the sty until I am on one side of the sty with thee?' 'I will, gladly,' said he.


  That night they went to sleep. And when the swineherd saw the light of day he roused Gwydion, and Gwydion rose and arrayed himself and came with him and stood beside the sty. The swineherd opened the sty. As soon as he opened it, lo, she leapt forth and set off at speed, and Gwydion followed her. And she went upstream and made for a valley which is now called Nantlleu, and there she slowed and fed. Gwydion came under the tree and looked to see what it was that the sow was feeding on. And he could see the sow feeding on rotten flesh and maggots. He then looked up into the top of the tree. And when he looked he could see an eagle in the tree top. And when the eagle shook himself the worms and the rotten flesh fell from him, and the sow eating them. And he thought that the eagle was Lleu, and sang an Englyn:

Grows an oak between two lakes,
Darkly shadowed sky and glen,
If I speak not falsely,
From Lleu's Flowers this doth come.


With that the eagle let himself down till he was in the middle of the tree. Then Gwydion sang another Englyn:

Grows an oak on upland plain,
Nor rain wets it, nor heat melts;
Nine score hardships hath he suffered
In its top, Lleu Llaw Gyffes.


And he let himself down till he was on the lowest branch of the tree. And he sang this englyn then:

Grows an oak upon a steep,
The sanctuary of a fair lord;
If I speak not falsely,
Lleu will come into my lap.


And he alighted on Gwydion's knee. And then Gwydion struck him with the magic wand, so that he was in his own likeness. Yet none had ever seen on man a more pitiful sight than was on him. He was nothing but skin and bone.

  Then he made for Caer Dathyl, and there were brought to him there all the good physicians that were found in Gwynedd. Long before the year's end he was whole. 'Lord,' said he to Math son of Mathonwy, 'it is high time for me to have redress from him through whom I have suffered ill.' 'Faith,' said Math, 'he cannot continue thus, withholding thy redress.' 'Aye,' said he, 'the sooner I get redress the better I shall be pleased.'

  Then they mustered Gwynedd and set out for Ardudwy. Gwydion travelled in the forefront and made for Mur Castell. Blodeuedd heard that they were coming, took her maidens with her and made for the mountain, and over Cynfael river they made for a court that was on the mountain. But through fear they could not proceed save with their faces looking backwards. And then, never a thing knew they before they fell into the lake, and were all drowned save she alone. And then Gwydion overtook her too, and he said to her; I will not slay thee. I will do to thee that which is worse; that is,' said he, 'I will let thee go in the form of a bird. And because of the dishonour thou hast done to Lleu Llaw Gyffes thou art never to dare show thy face in the light of day, and that through fear of all birds; and that there be enmity between thee and all birds, and that it be their nature to mob and molest thee wherever they may find thee; and that thou shalt not lose thy name, but that thou be for ever called Blodeuwedd.'

  Blodeuwedd is 'owl' in the language of this present day. And for that reason birds are hostile to the owl. And the owl is still called Blodeuwedd.  9  

  Gronw Bebyr made for Penllyn, and from there he sent envoys. The message he sent was to ask Lleu Llaw Gyffes whether he would take land or territory or gold or silver for his injury. 'I will not, by my confession to God,' said he. 'And this is the least I will accept of him, that he go to the place where I was when he aimed at me with the spear, and I in the place where he was, and let me aim a spear at him. And that is the very least I will take from him.' That was told to Gronw Bebyr. 'Aye,' said he, 'I must needs do that. My trusty gentles and my war-band and my foster brothers, is there one of you will take the blow in my stead?' 'Faith, there is none,' said they. And because they refused to stand taking one blow for their lord, they are called, from that day to this, one of the Three Disloyal War-bands. 'Well' said he, 'I will take it-'

  And then they two came to the bank of Cynfael river. And then Gronw Bebyr stood in the place where Lleu Llaw Gyffes was when he smote him, and Lleu in the place where he himself was. And then Gronw Bebyr said to Lleu, 'Lord,' said he, 'since it was through a woman's wiles I did to thee that which I did, I beg thee in God's name, a stone I see on the river bank, let me set that between me and the blow.' 'Faith, ' said Lleu, 'I - will not refuse thee that.' 'Why,' said he, 'God repay thee.' And then Gronw took the stone and set it between him and the blow. And then Lleu took aim at him with the spear, and it pierced through the stone and through him too, so that his back was broken, and then was Gronw Bebyr slain. And there the stone is, on the bank of Cynfael river in Ardudwy, and the hole through it. And for that reason it is still called Llech Ronw.  10  

  Then Lleu Llaw Gyffes subdued the land a second time and ruled over it prosperously. And as the tale tells, he was lord thereafter over Gwynedd.

  And thus ends this branch of the Mabinogi.

FOOTNOTES


[1]  Hobeu: hogs

[2]  Moch: swine.

[3]  Hanner: half. Hwch: pig. Hanner hwch, hanner hob; flitch.

[4]  In all these names the story-teller understands the first element moch as the word moch, swine. The tale here is clearly onomastic.

[5]  Creu: sty. Onomastic again.

[6]  Bleidd: wolf. Hydd: Stag. Hwch: pig. Hir: long, tall.

[7]  Dylan Eil Ton: Sea son of Wave.

[8]  Blodeuedd: Flowers (to the story teller).

[9]  Blodeuwedd: presumably Flower-face,' no bad name for the owl.

[10]  Llech Ronw: Gronw's Stone.


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