answered he, "I have seen no man here save four secluded persons, and thyself this moment." "Truly, lord," said he, "I go through this land unto mine own. And what work art thou upon, lord?" "I am hanging a thief that I caught robbing me," said he. "What manner of thief is that?" asked the scholar. "I see a creature in thy hand like unto a mouse, and ill does it become a man of rank equal to thine to touch a reptile such as this. Let it go forth free." "I will not let it go free, by Heaven," said he; "I caught it robbing me, and the doom of a thief will I inflict upon it, and I will hang it." "Lord," said he, "rather than see a man of rank equal to thine at such a work as this, I would give thee a pound, which I have received as alms, to let the reptile go forth free." "I will not let it go free," said he, "neither will I sell it." "As thou wilt, lord," he answered; "I care naught."
And the scholar went his way.
As he was placing the cross-beam upon the two forks, behold, a priest came towards him, upon a horse covered with trappings. "Good day to thee, lord," said he. "Heaven prosper thee!" said Manawyddan; "thy blessing." "The blessing of Heaven be upon thee! And what, lord, art Thou doing?" "I am hanging a thief that I caught robbing me," said he. "What manner of thief, lord?" asked he. "A creature," he answered, "in the form of a mouse. It has been robbing me, and I am inflicting upon it the doom of a thief." "Lord," said he, "rather than see thee touch this reptile, I would purchase its freedom." "By my confession to Heaven, neither will I sell it nor set it free." "It is true, lord, that it is worth nothing to buy; but rather than see thee defile thyself by touching such a reptile as this, I will give thee three pounds to let it go." "I will not, by Heaven," said he, "take any price for it. As it ought, so shall it be hanged." And the priest went his way.
Then he noosed the string around the mouse's neck, and as he was about to draw it up, behold, he saw a bishop's retinue, with his sumpter-horses and his attendants. The bishop himself came towards him, and he stayed his work. "Lord bishop," said he, "thy blessing."
"Heaven's blessing be unto thee!" said he. "What work art thou upon?"
"Hanging a thief that I caught robbing me," said he. "Is not that a mouse that I see in thy hand?" "Yes," answered he, "and she has robbed me." "Ay," said he, "since I have come at the doom of this reptile, I will ransom it of thee. I will give thee seven pounds for it, and that rather than see a man of rank equal to thine destroying so vile a reptile as this. Let it loose, and thou shalt have the money." "I declare to Heaven that I will not let it loose." "If thou wilt not loose it for this, I will give thee four and twenty pounds of ready money to set it free." "I will not set it free, by Heaven, for as much again," said he. "If thou wilt not set it free for this, I will give thee all the horses that thou seest in this plain, and the seven loads of baggage, and the seven horses that they are upon." "By Heaven, I will not," he replied. "Since for this thou wilt not set it free, do so at what price soever thou wilt." "I will that Rhiannon and Pryderi be free," said he. "That thou shalt have," he answered. "Not yet will I loose the mouse, by Heaven." "What then wouldst thou?"
"That the charm and the illusion be removed from the seven cantrevs of Dyved." "This shalt thou have also; set therefore the mouse free." "I will not set it free, by Heaven," said he, "till I know who the mouse may be." "She is my wife." "Wherefore came she to me?" "To despoil thee," he answered. "I am Lloyd, the son of Kilwed, and I cast the charm over the seven cantrevs of Dyved. And it was to avenge Gawl, the son of Clud, from the friendship I had towards him, that I cast the charm. And upon Pryderi did I avenge Gawl, the son of Clud, for the game of Badger in the Bag, that Pwyll, the son of Auwyn, played upon him. And when it was known that thou wast come to dwell in the land, my household came and besought me to transform them into mice, that they might destroy thy corn. They went the first and the second night, and destroyed thy two crops. The third night my wife came unto me, and the ladies of the court, and besought me to transform them. And I transformed them. Now my wife was not in her usual health, for had she been in her usual health thou wouldst not have been able to overtake her; but since this has taken place, and she has been caught, I will restore to thee Pryderi and Rhiannon, and I will take the charm and illusion from off Dyved. Set her therefore free." "I will not set her free yet." "What wilt thou more?" he asked. "I will that there be no more charm upon the seven cantrevs of Dyved, and that none shall be put upon it henceforth; moreover, that vengeance be never taken for this, either upon Pryderi or Rhiannon, or upon me."
"All this shalt thou have. And truly thou hast done wisely in asking this. Upon thy head would have lit all this trouble." "Yea," said he, "for fear thereof was it that I required this." "Set now my wife at liberty." "I will not," said he, "until I see Pryderi and Rhiannon with me free." "Behold, here they come," he answered.
And thereupon behold Pryderi and Rhiannon. He rose up to meet them, and greeted them, and sat down beside them. "Ah, chieftain, set now my wife at liberty," said the bishop. "Hast thou not received all thou didst ask?" "I will release her, gladly," said he. And thereupon he set her free.
Then he struck her with a magic wand, and she was changed back into a young woman, the fairest ever seen.
"Look round upon thy land," said he, "and thou wilt see it all tilled and peopled as it was in its best estate." And he rose up and looked forth. And when he looked he saw all the lands tilled, and full of herds and dwellings.
THE STORY OF LLUDD LLEVELYS
By Lady Charlotte Guest
Beli the Great, the son of Manogan, had three sons, Lludd and Caswallawn and Nynyaw; and according to the story he had a fourth son called Llevelys. And after the death of Beli, the kingdom of the island of Britain fell into the hands of Lludd his eldest son; and Lludd ruled prosperously, and rebuilt the city of London, and encompassed it about with numberless towers. And after that he bade the citizens build houses therein, such as no houses in the kingdom could equal. And moreover he was a mighty warrior, and generous and liberal in giving meat and drink to all that sought them. And though he had many castles and cities, this one loved he more than any. And he dwelt therein most part of the year, and therefore was it called Caer Lludd, and at last Caer London.
And after the stranger race came there, it was called London, or Lwndrys.
Lludd loved Llevelys best of all his brothers, because he was a wise and a discreet man. Having heard that the King of France had died, leaving no heir except a daughter, and that he had left all his possessions in her hands, he came to Lludd his brother, to beseech his counsel and aid. And that not so much for his own welfare, as to seek to add to the glory and honour and dignity of his kindred, if he might go to France to woo the maiden for his wife. And forthwith his brother conferred with him, and this counsel was pleasing unto him.
So he prepared ships and filled them with armed knights, and set forth towards France. And as soon as they had landed, they sent messengers to show the nobles of France the cause of the embassy. And by the joint counsel of the nobles of France and of the princes, the maiden was given to Llevelys, and the crown of the kingdom with her. And thenceforth he ruled the land discreetly and wisely and happily, as long as his life lasted.
After a space of time had passed, three plagues fell upon the island of Britain, such as none in the islands had ever seen the like. The first was a certain race that came, and was called the Coranians; and so great was their knowledge that there was no discourse upon the face of the island however low it might be spoken, but what, if the wind met it, it was known to them. And through this they could not be injured.
The second plague was a shriek which came on every May eve, over every hearth in the island of Britain. And this went through people's hearts, and so scared them that men lost their hue and their strength, and the women their children, and the young men and the maidens lost their senses, and all the animals and the waters were left barren.
The third plague was, that however much of provisions and food might be prepared in the king's courts, were there even so much as a year's provisions of meats and drink, none of it could ever be found, except what was consumed in the first night. And two of these plagues, no one ever knew their cause; therefore was there better hope of being freed from the first than from the second and third.
And thereupon King Lludd felt great sorrow and care, because that he knew not how he might be freed from these plagues. And he called to him all the nobles of his kingdom, and asked counsel of them what they should do against these afflictions. And by the common counsel of the nobles, Lludd the son of Beli went to Llevelys his brother, King of France, for he was a man great of counsel and wisdom, to seek his advice.
And they made ready a fleet, and that in secret and in silence, lest that race should know the cause of their errand, or any besides the king and his counsellors. And when they were made ready they went into their ships, Lludd and those whom he chose with him. And they began to cleave the seas towards France.
And when these tidings came to Llevelys, seeing that he knew not the cause of his brother's ships, he came on the other side to meet him, and with him was a fleet vast of size. And when Lludd saw this, he left all the ships out upon the sea except one only; and in that one he came to meet his brother, and he likewise with a single ship came to meet him. And when they were come together, each put his arms about the other's neck, and they welcomed each other with brotherly love.
After that Lludd had shown his brother the cause of his errand, Llevelys said that he himself knew the cause of the coming to those lands. And they took counsel together to discourse on the matter otherwise than thus, in order that the wind might not catch their words, nor the Coranians know what they might say. Then Llevelys caused a long horn to be made of brass, and through this horn they discoursed. But whatsoever words they spoke through this horn, one to the other, neither of them could hear any other but harsh and hostile words. And when Llevelys saw this and that there was a demon thwarting them and disturbing through this horn, he caused wine to be put therein to wash it. And through the virtue of the wine the demon was driven out of the horn. And when their discourse was unobstructed, Llevelys told his brother that he would give him some insects whereof he should keep some to breed, lest by chance the like affliction might come a second time. And other of these insects he should take and bruise in water. And he assured him that he would have power to destroy the race of Coranians. That is to say, that when he came home to his kingdom he should call together all the people both of his own race and of the race of the Coranians for a conference, as though with the intent of making peace between them; and that when they were all together, he should take this charmed water, and cast it over all alike. And he assured him that the water would poison the race of the Coranians, but that it would not slay or harm those of his own race.
"And the second plague," said he, "that is in thy dominion, behold it is a dragon. And another dragon of foreign race is fighting with it, and striving to overcome it. And therefore does your dragon make a fearful outcry. And on this wise mayest thou come to know this. After thou hast returned home, cause the island to be measured in its length and breadth, and in the place where thou dost find the exact central point, there cause a pit to be dug, and cause a cauldron full of the best mead that can be made to be put in the pit with a covering of satin over the face of the cauldron. And then in thine own person do thou remain there watching, and thou wilt see the dragons fighting in the form of terrific animals. And at length they will take the form of dragons in the air. And last of all, after wearying themselves with fierce and furious fighting, they will fall in the form of two pigs upon the covering, and they will sink in and the covering with them, and they will draw it down to the very bottom of the cauldron. And they will drink up the whole of the mead; and after that they will sleep. Thereupon do thou immediately fold the covering round them, and bury them in a kistvaen, in the strongest place thou hast in thy dominions, and hide them in the earth. And as long as they shall bide 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 takes thy meat and thy drink and thy stores. And he through illusions and charms causes every one to sleep. Therefore it is needful for thee in thy own person to watch thy food and thy provisions. And lest he should overcome thee with sleep, be there a cauldron of cold water by thy side, and when thou art oppressed with sleep, plunge into the cauldron."
Then Lludd returned back into his land. And immediately he summoned to him the whole of his own race and of the Coranians. And as Llevelys had taught him, he bruised the insects in water, the which he cast over them altogether, and forthwith it destroyed the whole tribe of the Coranians, without hurt to any of the Britons.
And some time after this Lludd caused the island to be measured in its length and breadth. And in Oxford he found the central point, and in that place he caused the earth to be dug, and in that pit a cauldron to be set, full of the best mead that could be made, and a covering of satin over the face of it. And he himself watched that night. And while he was there, he beheld the dragons fighting. And when they were weary they fell, and came down upon the top of the satin, and drew it with them to the bottom of the cauldron. And when they had drunk the mead, they slept. And in their sleep, Lludd folded the covering around them, and in the securest place he had in Snowdon, he hid them in a kistvaen. Now after that this spot was called Dinas Emreis, but before that, Dinas Ffaraon. And thus the fierce outcry ceased in his dominions.
And when this was ended, King Lludd caused an exceeding great banquet to be prepared. And when it was ready, he placed a vessel of cold water by his side and he in his own proper person watched it. And as he abode thus clad with arms, about the third watch of the night, lo!
he heard many surpassing fascinations and various songs. And drowsiness urged him to sleep. Upon this, lest he should be hindered from his purpose and be overcome by sleep, he went often into the water. And at last, behold! a man of vast size, clad in strong, heavy armour, came in, bearing a hamper. And, as he was wont, he put all the food and provisions of meat and drink into the hamper and proceeded to go with it forth. And nothing was ever more wonderful to Lludd than that the hamper should hold so much.
And thereupon King Lludd went after him and spoke unto him thus: "Stop, stop," said he; "though thou hast done many insults and much spoil erewhile, thou shalt not do so any more unless thy skill in arms and thy prowess be greater than mine."
Then he instantly put down the hamper on the floor, and awaited him. And a fierce encounter was between them, so that the glittering fire flew out from their arms. And at the last Lludd grappled with him, and fate bestowed the victory on Lludd. And he threw the plague to the earth. And after he had overcome him by strength and might, he besought his mercy. "How can I grant thee mercy," said the king, "after all the many injuries and wrongs thou hast done me?" "All the losses that ever I have caused thee," said he, "I will make thee atonement for, equal to what I have taken. And I will never do the like from this time forth. But thy faithful vassal will I be." And the king accepted this from him.
And thus Lludd freed the island of Britain from the three plagues. And from thenceforth until the end of his life, in prosperous peace did Lludd the son of Beli rule the island of Britain. And this tale is called the Story of Lludd and Llevelys. And thus it ends.
TALES FROM EARLY ENGLISH CHRONICLES
King Horn, in the version here given, is a fine old English story, evidently very popular with the common people. Earlier versions were probably familiar to the Norse in the tenth century, at which time Dublin was the capital of a Norse kingdom. Suddenne was possibly the Isle of Man.
There seems to be some historical basis for the story of Havelok, since the seal of the city of Grimsby today represents Grim with "Habloc," or Havelok, on his right hand, and Goldborough on his left.
The Fair Unknown is one of the King Arthur stories that is not included in Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur.
THE ADVENTURES OF KING HORN
Retold by F. J. H. Darton
Murray was King of Suddenne in the west country, a wise king whom all his subjects honoured. Godhild was his queen, and no woman of that day was lovelier than she. Their son was named Horn; and when Horn was fifteen years old, the sun shone and the rain fell on no fairer boy.
Twelve squires, each one the son of a man of noble birth, were chosen to be Horn's companions. Athulf was the best and truest of them, and dearest to Horn's heart; and one Fikenhild was the basest among them.
It pleased King Murry, on a certain summer's day, to ride, as was his wont, by the seashore, with only two comrades. Suddenly, as they rode, they came upon a strange sight. There before them on the edge of the waves lay fifteen ships beached, full of fierce Saracens; and many other Saracens went busily to and fro upon the shore. "What seek you here, pagan men?" cried Murry at that sight. "What wares do you bring to this my land of Suddenne?" For he thought them to be merchants from a far land,
"We are come to slay all your folk who believe in Christ," answered one of them; "and that we do right soon. As for you, you go not hence alive. "Thereat Murry was sorely troubled in heart. Nevertheless, he made no sign of fear. He and his two companions, with bold mien, leapt down from their horses, to fight more readily, and drew their swords, and fell upon the pagans. Many a stout blow they dealt; many a Saracen felt the strength of their arms: but for all their might and valour, they were but three against a host. From every side the enemy fell upon them unceasingly, and in a little time they lay there dead upon the sand. Then the Saracens left their ships and spread over the whole of Suddenne, slaying and burning and laying waste wheresoever they came. None might live, were he stranger or friend or native of the land, unless he forswore the Christian faith and became a pagan.
Of all women in those days Godhild the queen was saddest. Her kingdom was lost, her husband cruelly slain, and all her days were filled with grief. But worse befell her, for on a certain day the Saracens came suddenly and took Horn prisoner and carried him away. Godhild escaped, and in her dire distress fled alone to a distant cave, and there lay hid, worshipping her God in secret, and praying that He would save her son from harm.
Horn and his companions--for all his twelve squires had been captured with him--seemed in sorry case. The savage pagans were for killing all Christians. But their chief Emir wished to have no innocent blood on his hands, and spoke out boldly. "We might well slay you, Horn," he said; "you are young and fair and strong, and will grow yet stronger. Perchance, if we spare you now, you will some day return and be avenged upon us, when you have come to your full power. Yet we ourselves will not put you to death; the guilt shall not be on us, but on the sea. To the sea will we give you and your comrades; the sea shall be your judge, to save or drown you as it will."
Weeping and wringing their hands, Horn and his comrades were led down to the seashore. There a boat was made ready for them, with oars, but no rudder or sail.
All their tears were vain: the Saracens forced them aboard, and turned the little craft adrift into the wide ocean.