Theosophical University Press Online Edition
The Second Branch of it, namely:
I. The Anger of Pendaran Dyfed, and the Putting of Firing in the Basket
II. The Over-Eagerness of Ceredig Cwmtcifi after Knowledge, and the Putting of Bulrush-Heads in the Basket
III. The Circumspection of Pwyll Pen Annwn, and the Filling of the Basket at Last
The First Branch of it again:
III. The Second Wedding-Feast in the Court of Hefeydd, and the Enchantment of the Story of the Sons of Cleddyf Cyfwlch
Here now is the Second Branch of the Story of Pwyll and Rhianon, although the First has not yet come to its End. The Name of this one is:
I. THEANGER OF PENDARAN DYFED, AND THE PUTTING OF FIRING IN THE BASKET
The year and the day were over, all but three days; and still they had heard no rumor of the thing they were seeking. With their long wanderings in the east and the west, and the strange, glamorous nature of the world they were traversing, there was no such thing for them as to know were they near or far from the court of Hefeydd, or what way they should take to come to it; and they were due there in no more than three days' time. This is where they were that evening: in the midst of a wide, sandy plain, with here and there sparse reeds on the brink of a pool, and here and there the round tump, knee-high, and its meager bearding of dry rushes, hardly enough to put a whistle on the passing wind. Far on the right the land rose; from sand it became green, low-lying, pleasant country, as they could see from the head of any eminence; and beyond, a line of forest-clad mountains, ruddy-purple now against the sunset. On their left, all was flat; marsh or dry sand, and gleaming stretches of scarlet and yellow where there were waters. The road ran by a house half in ruins, in a garden where once there would have been flowers of a thousand colors, and all the herbs that Ceridwen needs for her enchantments; now there was little there but rank grass, and the nettle and the burdock, the wild chicory and the mullein, and a little, indeed, of the blue forget-me-not, run wild, and passing from blossom into seed. As for the house, the white lime was half washed from it by rain, and the fern-thatch half broken in; the whole appearance of desolation was over it. An old man was sitting beside the doorway; his clothing was little better than rags, and his hair and beard untrimmed, and his aspect no less bitter than miserable.
"Greeting of the god and the man to you kindly," said Pwyll Pen Annwn. "Is there news with you concerning the Basket of Gwaeddfyd Newynog, or concerning Gwaeddfyd Newynog himself?"
"If I knew anything, it is doubtful whether I would tell you. Shall I have no peace to consider my sorrows, without listening for rumors on the winds of the world?"
"As for the sorrow, it might well get its lightening with us."
"It would be better for you to do that, than to be troubling the peaceable with these foolish inquiries."
"Lord," said the Dimetians, "there are no more than three days. It would be better to go forward in search of the basket."
"Not so," said he; "we will heed the counsel of the Princess. If there is sorrow here, we will not pass till it is lightened."
"Sorrow there is, and three heavy parts of it," said the old man. "See you yonder line of mountains in the east?"
"We see it."
"I can get no firing that will comfort me, except the fallen beechwood from the forest on their slopes. Heretofore I was able to travel thither, and fill a basket with the firing; and that would be enough to satisfy me from one January to another. But now I am old, and bent double, and a prey to weakness and coughing, and the thought of journeying is hateful to me, and undoubtedly I shall perish of the cold. If any one desired to lighten the first part of my sorrow, he would obtain the firing for me; he would not idle here, and trouble me with vain questions and inquiries."
"We will obtain it for you gladly," said Pwyll. "With the dawn of the morning, there shall be a going out after it."
In the morning they rose up early. "Lord," said Pendaran Dyfed (he was Pwyll's penteulu; there was no one among the Dimetians either stronger or more impatient than he): "is it permitted to me to go for the firing?"
"It is permitted to you gladly," said Pwyll. The old man came out of the house. "Ah, it is you that will go, Pendaran Dyfed," said he. "Take you this basket with you, and let it be filled to the brim; less than that would be no lightening for my burdens." It was a flat straw basket; the firing it would hold would hardly burn for an hour. "Filled to the brim shall it be," said Pendaran. "It will be easy to accomplish that." Thereupon he went forward.
He crossed the plain swiftly, and the rolling land of bracken and heather; blue was the sky above his head, sweet-scented the bog-myrtle by the slow peat-dark streams; delicately poised the tufts of the bog-cotton in the hollows. Before the dewdrop was gone from the bloom of the harebell, where it might have shade from a brake-frond, he had 'come to the rising of the ground, and the fern-land running up in a wide, green, beautiful bay between two arms of the forest. Bright were the acres of fern, delicately bending before the wind; brightly gleaming was the golden green of the beech-tops; hardly could he see the gentle blue and purple of the mountains beyond them. Through that bay of bracken the path led towards the heart of the wood, where the firing would be to be gathered.
He had traversed as much as half of it, when there fell an unknown delight and glory upon the morning. The beeches seemed to be fountains of green fire; through their trembling leafage, sprays of some arcane, quickening flame seemed to be playing. There was a stillness of winds, and yet a quivering of the fern as if with delight; the whole air became brighter than the diamond. As he looked and marveled and exulted, he saw a man coming down towards him out of the forest; never had he known the like of such exultation, and delight, and glory as thrilled inward from his two eyes, and over his whole being, when he caught sight of him.
The man was white-haired and white-bearded, yet it was to be seen that there was such strength in him as would be with few, even of the proudest breakers of battle. A sheathed sword was beneath his cloak; a helmet of bright silver on his head; on his left arm was a little shield of such pure, clear, white brightness as will not be found on snow or foam, though the sun be shining on them. His face was complete in beauty and majesty, so that there will be no likeness for it in the length and breadth of the world; but the kind friendliness of his aspect was equal to its majesty and beauty.
"The greeting of heaven to you, Pendaran bach," said he, speaking to that great, warlike champion as if he were a child. "The greeting of heaven to you, Pendaran dear."
"Lord," said Pendaran, laughing with delight to get such words from the like of the one that was speaking to him, "the greeting of the god and the man to you, courteously and reverently; and a thousand times better to you than to me, and more than a thousand times. Who shall I say that it is then, if it please you to tell me?"
"Whoever it is, would you take counsel from him?" said the old man.
"And proud and glad would I be to take it," said Pendaran; for he knew the aspect of a god when he might see one.
"It is this, then," said the other. "Heed no advice you may obtain in the forest. As for the basket, it would be unfitting to be over-heedful whether it were full or not. When it may seem to you that you have gathered as much as should fill it, go back with it to Pwyll Pen Annwn. It would be better that he should have the looking into it, and the examining whether it be full or half full. And there is this saying also," said he: "Common with the impatient is their meeting with misfortune."
"That is true," said Pendaran; "and a hundred thanks to you. Will there be peculiarities with the forest then?"
"There will be few things without peculiarities," said the other. "The forest is the Forest of Celyddon; it is a main privilege for even the mightiest to go up into it, and of those that go, there will not be many that obtain the firing. As to that last, whoever kindles it will get more than the warming of his limbs; no smallness of soul and no ungenerosity will remain with him. And there is the basket too," he said; "that also will have peculiarities."
"Indeed will it?" said Pendaran. "Is it permitted to me to obtain tidings of them?" But in the midst of his speaking, the old man was gone. At one moment he was there, in his whiteness and kindly dignity; at the next, there was nothing but a hawthorn in the glory of its bloom where he had been standing. "There was no bloom on it before his coming, whatever," said Pendaran. "In my deed to Himself," said he; "Hu Benadur Byd was that one. Hu Gadarn he would have been, if there are eyes with me for the seeing."
Then he made this song in honor of Hu, and sang it as he went up towards the forest:
I saw the forest beeches yield
and fountain forth in feathery flame
Their secret glory unrevealed,
and lo, from out the fire sprays came
The Master of the Shining Shield,
Heart of the World-heart's Oriflame.
I saw the trembling leagues of fern
and the huge beech-trees bow them down,
And a thousand dark green rushes turn,
and bend their tufted blossom brown,
And the whole woodland bloom and burn
to yield him golden robe and crown.
And as I passed the marshy mead,
I heard a little, peat-dark stream
Grow vocal; and indeed, indeed,
a song that had the opal's gleam
Went tinkling down from reed to reed,
till the whole world was wrapped in dream.
Because of Him, such wild delight
hath filled the ousel's bill with tune;
The cuckoo's far and wandering flight
with such lone merriment is strewn,
And the thrush makes the wood's edge bright
beyond the cloudless light of noon.
And still from out the purple hills
I hear Him roving through the sky;
And still the wondering wildwood thrills,
His footsteps drop such melody
To ripple forth in music rills
on all the winds that wander by.
O Mightiest of the Mighty Ones,
and Smallest of Small Things that be,
Commensurate with stars and suns,
and the plumed splendors of the sea,
Who through the Atom burns and runs,
bide Thou and shine at heart in me!
— for the exultation of the morning had taken hold upon him, and the beauty of the world was multiplied before his vision with every step of his going. Never had he known the sun to have such an appearance of gleaming on all the tremulous leaves of the forest. Like fountains of delicate green, golden-tinged flame, the great beeches rose before him; never had he understood till then their secret aloofness, the haughty exultation of their pure dreaming. He passed the first of them, where their boughs swept low along the ground; he came to the great spaces of the forest, where the lowest branches would be as much as a bowshot, almost, from the earth; a place pillared with innumerable gray, unbranching tree-boles, the roadways of the squirrel; a quiet, shady region of the music of the ringdove and the blackbird. Many an old limb of a tree was strewn among the crisp, brown leaves of the forest floor; but he would take only the best wood, and none that was moss-grown, none that had turned blue-green with age and decay, none that had softness of rot in it. Delightful to him was the singing of the birds; delightful the green gloom, and the play and dappling of sunlight and shadow through the leafage far overhead. On and on he went; and as he finished one poem, would turn to the framing of another; with many liquid consonances and sweet assonances of melodious sound he framed them, for it was beneath the dignity of a warrior, in those days, to leave any poem unmade, of which he might have the making. Beautifully they sang themselves through his mind, imitating the crooning of the wood-dove, the music of the ousel, the far, sweet shouting of the cuckoo; reflecting the rich greenness, and the shining of the sunlight on the leaves. He had more success with poetry than with getting wood there; for what there was, was blue-green through and through for the most part, and he would not take it. So he went forward from one wood to another; crossing glades and valleys and stretches of heatherland; mounting always towards the mountains, and gathering firing here and there as he went. Certainly, whatever he might have put in it, the basket was less than full; but Pendaran was not heeding it, or heeding it little. Here there would be rushes to consider, and the sweet breath of the bog-myrtle; here there would be the small growth of the bilberry on the forest floor, or the darting of a lizard among the sunlit pebbles and mosses; and all these things were a delight to him. How should he heed what firing he might have taken from the gloom of this wood or that, from the borders of this glade, from the sward there between the beeches and the heather? There had not been much for the taking, in any place. At noon he came to a green drive in the midwood, narrow and ferny, where the trees might branch low, and the thrush find sunbright leafage for his verse-chanting, and still sunbright leafage rising above him, a mountain, not solid, of quivering, gleaming greenness. There at last he found much good firing strewn over the ground; the sight of it brought the basket to his mind. He opened it and saw that it was half full; and with that fell to considering better the filling of it. He would return with it to Pwyll when he should have gathered enough; there was Hu Gadarn's counsel to be thought of. He began picking up the wood, following the drive eastward; and indeed, soon again heeding more the framing of a poem, than giving any scrutiny to Hu Gadarn's counsel. He came to a bend in the drive, and stooped down there after the best firing he had seen; with his rising up from that, and his face turned in the new direction, what had been concealed before was made known to him.
Before him the lane cut straight through the wood, so that there was a narrow revealing of the mountains, sun-dusky, sun-purpled, beyond unseen valleys afar, between the two high banks of beech-leafage. There not ten paces from him, and as if waiting his coming, a woodman was standing in the middle of the drive: a man huger than any of the Dimetians, with a club in his hand studded with iron, and an ax at his belt that few could have wielded, even in those days.
"The courteous greeting of the god and the man to you," said Pendaran pleasantly.
"The greeting of the forest, such greeting as it is, to you also," said the other.
"Pleasant is the place, truly," said Pendaran. "More delightful to me than harping is the singing of yonder bird."
"Yes," said the woodman. Suddenly he raised his club, and swung it, and smote with it vigorously at Pendaran, knocking the helmet from his head, and coming near to destroying him, but for swiftness in turning aside. With that the sky was clouded over, and great drops of rain began to fall. The poem he had been framing fled out of Pendaran's mind, and the impatience of his nature rose up.
"Discourtesy dims the sunlight," said he; "I marvel that it should be found in such a place as this."
"Discourteous is the place for thieves and pilferers," said the woodman. "Often they meet with their death here."
Whatever delight and pleasantness of mind had been with Pendaran during the morning, so much the more bitter was the anger that rose in his soul then, faster than the oncoming of the ninth wave of the Atlantic when it beats upon the Headland of Gannion, and a wind from the north driving it furiously. Like the foam of it clouding the world, and hissing and bitterly whipping the precipice; and like the weight of it caught and hurled, and thunderously booming on the face of the rock, and whirled and churned and shattered, and whitening and pouring in froth and spume; so was his mind impelled by vehement, raging anger against the woodman, and the beauty of the world and song hidden from him, and the whole of his memories and purpose broken and confused and driven. His sword was out from its sheath in a moment, and he leaping to the attack. "Detestably discourteous is thy hospitality," he cried. "Unknown to me until now has been the like of this arrogant opposition."
They fought, and the rain drove and beat upon their fighting, and the green turf became mire under their feet, and the wind howled over the trees and made billows of the tossing tree-tops. Never had Pendaran met the equal of that warfare; for long and long there was no shadow of advantage for his obtaining; and he with the swift, sharp, slant rain driven always in his face. By the time the gray world was darkening, it seemed to him as if his strength were gone. A great blow from the club fell; he took it upon his shield, that was shattered by it; he himself was driven back staggering amongst the low boughs and leafage. "Thou art a puny pilferer," said the woodman. "It is permitted to thee, out of contempt and generosity, to return to the one that sent thee with what thou hast already in the basket." Pendaran laughed; his anger rose till it drove all hurt and weariness from his limbs. "When the basket is full I will return," said he. "When thou art slain and the basket is full it will be time to consider returning." Like a dragon through the firmament he sprang forward again to the attack. If there had been ten men such as the woodman opposing him, or more than ten, it would have been hard for them to have resisted him at that time. Swifter was his sword than the swoop of the falcon; he divided the club from the end to the handle; he shore it away from the hand of the woodman, so that the two halves of it fell out into the forest, leaving a broken stump alone in the hand that held it. Shameful was the course that his anger compelled him to; he forgot the courtesy of war, not waiting while his enemy might draw the ax from his girdle. Without pausing the sword swept forth again, and the head of the woodman fell from his body. With that a loud, harsh laugh rang out through the rain and grayness, and the bodiless head was converted into a raven, and flapped off, croaking and laughing harshly, and mocking at him, through the dripping leaves into the tree-tops.
"I will have the basket full," cried Pendaran. "By the splendor of the Clan of Hu Gadarn, I will not leave the forest until it is full to the brim." The laughter of the dark bird, quickening anger, and the sobbing of wind and rain, were the only answers for him. Then it came into his mind how he had broken the laws of courteous warfare, and done what was unfitting in a warrior of the Island of the Mighty; and the memory of it was bitterness with him during the whole night, and the stubborn hardening of his thoughts. He would fill the basket, although all good and evil might oppose him. He would not meet with the shame of returning with it less than full.
All night long he went wandering through the rain beneath the trees, getting what firing he might, sound or rotten; at dawn the basket was half full, and no more than that. Then blind bitterness took him, and complete forgetfulness of all bright and desirable things. "Evil fall upon my beard, truly," he cried, "if there is no magic in this hateful basket. Half full has it been since the noon of yesterday."
"And half full it will remain, while the ignorant are filling it," said a voice from behind him. He turned; there was a dwarf sitting at the root of a tree there; everything about him was of the color of the bare earth, but there was white motion in his eyes like the motion of a weasel in its hole under a bank. Pendaran drew his sword, and turned on him angrily.
"If thou art here for the sake of fighting —" said he.
"Fight thou the wind above the trees," said the dwarf; "it is for the sake of helping and good service I am here."
"That is well," said Pendaran.
"Half full will the basket remain, until compulsion be put upon it," said the dwarf. "Nothing but force would overcome its peculiarities."
"Give me news of them," said Pendaran.
"Yes, will I," said the dwarf. "Yes, yes," said he pleasantly. "No one would fill that basket with mere labor and gentleness," he said. "Force and compulsion must it have."
"It should have them gladly, if the means of giving them were known. Nothing but evil have I received from it."
"Trample on it," said the dwarf. "Overcome its pride by trampling. It is no old cocklewoman's pannier from the sands between the Tywi and the Llwchwr. No one would get it full without violently treading down the stuff he may have put into it."
"By heaven I will do that," said Pendaran. He set his left foot on the firing in the basket where it lay open on the ground, and trod it down violently.
"With both feet must it be," said the dwarf. "Otherwise its pride would not be conquered." Pendaran did as he was counseled. No sooner was the right foot of him beside the left in the basket, than the dawn and the dwarf and the forest were suddenly blotted out from him. It was as if he were at the bottom of a deep well, so marvelously had the sides of the basket shot up into the air above his head.
Far above, against a brightening of sky and leafage, he saw the face of the dwarf peering down at him over the edge. "Ah," said that one, meditatively, "it is a pity that so little thought should have been taken for the peculiarities of the basket. Too impetuous you were, truly. It would have been better to have waited till the whole secret had been made known. There are many that make this trial of treading down, but few escape without their enveloping in the basket, and their being made the slaves of the owner of it from that out. Neither his fault nor mine will it be. And there is this saying also," he said: "Common with the impatient will be their meeting with misfortune."
II. THE OVER-EAGERNESS OF CEREDIG CWMTEIFI AFTER KNOWLEDGE, AND THE PUTTING OF BULRUSH-HEADS IN THE BASKET
With the first whitening of the eastern sky, Pwyll Pen Annwn rose up; and it was a wonder to him that Pendaran Dyfed should not have returned, and no more than the two days left to them, and the two parts of the old man's sorrow still to be lightened. "It would be well not to wait for him," he thought. Thereupon he greeted the old man, and asked for news of the second part, and whether there would be need to wait for Pendaran before setting forward to lighten it.
"There would not be need," said the other; "many would have shown more eagerness in their generosity. See you yonder low, faint gleaming in the west?"
"I see it."
"The gleaming is from a sea," said he, "that only ships of the Immortals traverse. No more than a stone's throw from the high-tide mark there, there is a marsh of bulrushes. Now if I sleep on any bed not made of the down from the flowers of those rushes, I am afflicted with evil dreams and the destruction of my peace. Heretofore I was able to journey thither once every year, and to fill a basket with the rush-heads; and that would be enough for me from winter solstice to winter solstice. But now heaven knows I am over old, bent double and troubled with coughing; if I journey as far as from the house to the road, there will be a giddiness in my head and a misery in my feet; and for lack of the rushes I am deprived of my natural rest, and have no clearness of vision. If any one desired to lighten my sorrow, instead of waiting here he would go forth after the rushes."
"Lord," said Ceredig Call Cwmteifi (no one among the Dimetians was more eager after knowledge, and learning, and information than he was), "is it permitted to me to get the rushes?"
"Gladly it is permitted to you," said Pwyll.
"Is it you that will go, Ceredig Call?" said the old man. "Well, well, I will give you the basket," said he. With that he went into the house; and between the time of his going in, and the time of his coming out with the basket, Pendaran had held conversation with the dwarf in the forest, and had had his enveloping and making captive in the basket, and his bringing down magically across the plain.
"Look you now, Ceredig Cwmteifi," said the old man; "brim full must this basket be, or I shall never have the ending of my sorrow with it."
"Brim full you shall have it," said Ceredig; and set forward towards the west, walking.
His shadow was still thrown out far along the ground before him, when he had crossed the plain, and the pale, sun-rich wave-rippled sand stretched before him down to the gleaming of the sea. Delicately the sunlight sparkled on the green and dark-blue and purple of the ocean; lazily the little shore-waves ran in and curved and whitened and spread themselves in a wide sheen of silver. Northward, the plain extended to the foot of a high gorse-grown hill running seaward; the sands of the bay ended under the hill, and beyond them the waves whitened on the dark rocks incessantly. First southward, and then northward, Ceredig turned, looking for signs of the bulrush marsh where he was to get the bedding; to the north, at about half a mile from him, and where it would not be more than a stone's throw beyond the high-tide mark, in the shelter of the promontory, he saw it. While he was looking, and indeed, as soon as his eyes lighted on the rushes, it seemed to him that a subtle music rose up from the sea, and that the light and brightness of the sky were extraordinarily multiplied, and that the sand and the far rocks and the headland began to glow like the shining of the sun through jewels. He turned towards the sea, and there was an old man in the guise of an archdruid walking up from it towards him, where a moment before there had been no one. The jeweled moon upon his breast shone beautifully; from the diamond acorn in his scepter a spirit of singing seemed to flow out over the world. In his deep, clear-shining eyes there was a look of such vision as nothing could be concealed from, of such memory as might contain the whole of the stored-up secret wisdom of the world. A white bird that was walking on the sand rose not on the wing as he came to her. "In my deed," said Ceredig, "fortunate is this meeting. Not unknown to me is the aspect of the Immortals."
"The greeting of heaven to you, Ceredig Call Cwmteifi," said the Druid.
"The greeting of heaven and man to you, Lord Druid," said Ceredig. "Who shall I say that it is, then?" said he.
"Whoever it is, would you take counsel from him?" said the Druid.
"With pride and delight I would take it," said Ceredig.
"It will be this," said the Druid. "Many come down to the Marsh of Celyddon, seeking the rushes that give clear vision during sleep; but few succeed in obtaining them. That will be by reason of one thing and another," said he. "They will be apt to take what advice may be offered them, after they have come to the marsh; and to be over-curious as to the peculiarities of the rushes; and to concern themselves unduly as to whether the basket is full or not full. It would be better to gather the rushes quickly, and trouble with nothing but gathering them and returning, and to leave the examination as to fulness for Pwyll Pen Annwn. And there will be the courtesy of gift-giving to consider also," said he. "The new cloak will be the good gift, not the worn one; the whole fruit, not that which may be bitten into. And beyond that, there will be this saying to muse upon and remember: Common with the over-eager after knowledge will be their coming by deception."
"A hundred thanks to you, and more than a hundred, for the counsel," said Ceredig Call. "Undoubtedly it is the honor of the world to me, to get advice and counsel from one of such dignity."
In the middle of his speaking, the Druid was gone; and no knowing in the world what might have been the manner of his going. "It would have been Tad Awen himself," said Ceredig; "it would have been the Instructor of the Bards of the Immortals that was counseling me." He went forward along the sands towards the bulrush-bed, chanting these verses in honor of Tydain Tad Awen:
A hand to the skies,
And a hand to the golden horn;
And a lifting of songs that shall rise
Round the citadel turrets of morn,
To the House of the East, for Tad Awen,
From whose singing all singing is born.
The croon of the sea,
And the call of a sea-bird fair —
The glittering waves in their glee,
And the daughter of ocean and air —
And, a sudden, a God on the sea sands,
And the Master of Mysteries there.
Yea, He that took thought
In his trance, on the measureless deep,
Saw the glimmering galaxies wrought,
And the Universe shaken from sleep
By the sound that went kindling the silence,
More swift than heaven's lightning may leap.
About him of old
Came Gods to the gates of his school;
Came Plenydd, flame-mantled in gold,
Ere the sun had delight in his rule,
Ere he scattered noon-gems on the sea-wave,
Or dawn-scarlet and gold on the pool.
Came Alawn, a child,
And his little, bright harp in his hand,
To learn song that should ring through the wild,
That should bloom o'er the wilderness sand,
That should keep the stars moving in slow dance;
That should hearten the mountains to stand.
And, a blemishless boy,
Young Gwron, the third of them, came,
And the heart of him glory and joy,
And the robe and the form of him, flame;
And he learnt to be heart of all heroes,
And the hellions of Abred to tame.
Thee, Lord of the Breath,
That runs kindling the winds of the world,
That goes raising up music in death,
And where darkness and death are unfurled
Maketh laughter, and vision, and huge hope,
E'en when souls on the death-winds are whirled —
That was wisdom of old,
And the brilliant enkindling of minds
The dreams of the sea to behold,
And the wisdom at heart in the winds,
And the fathomless lore of the mountains,
And what song-spell the firmament binds —
Thee, Tydain, I saw
In the sunlight come up from the bay;
And the world in a glory of awe,
And all trembling the wild waters lay,
Though thou cam'st not in dragon nor god-guise,
Aflame from the bloom of the day;
They knew, as I knew
The druid-hid glory of a God —
The white robe embroidered in blue,
And what shone from the gem in thy rod —
They knew, as I knew too, what godhood
The brink of the wilderness trod.
Hast thou counseled the sand
With some secret enfolded of old?
Is some wonder-revealing at hand,
That it throbs so of topaz and gold?
That it beats so with life to the footsoul,
That it glows so with light to behold?
Didst thou plot with the sea,
That, where waters were moving, mine eyes
See sapphire and amethyst, see
Waves beryline, opaline, rise,
A great flood of flame of all jewels
Burn blue to the bloom of the skies?
And as for the heaven,
Is its madness of gladness from thee?
Was its turkis-stone loveliness given,
And its soul sapphirean, to be
For adornment of rapture at hearing
Thy voice on the verge of the sea?
Yea, a hand to the skies,
And a hand to the golden horn,
And a lifting of song that shall rise
To the gates of the palace of morn,
For high love of thee, Tydain Tad Awen,
From whose singing all singing is born!
The rushes were full of whisperings when he came to them; such whisperings as seemed to him to hold the whole secrecy of magic, and wonderful, dim, undreamed-of things that would be known only to a few among the druids. It was a place of many pools, of black waters, of jewel-green and golden mosses, unstable and treacherous for the footsoul. Never had it been given to Ceredig to see such bulrushes as were growing there, either for height, or for beauty of growth and color, or for excellent length and soft brownness of heads. But always between his feet and the coming near to them, between his hands and the gathering them, there was the black bog-water too wide to be leaped, even might there be firm ground to light down on beyond; too perilous, by reason of its hungry, all-swallowing mud, either for wading or swimming. Indeed, he made trial of it; he was not one to fear adventuring; nor was he one to give up life needlessly, when nothing might be gained by losing it. He made trial, and that more than once, of the water; but it was as if the mud laid hold of his feet; it was a marvel that he could draw himself away from it, and come off without meeting destruction. After that he took himself to searching for dry land from which he might gather the rushes. At the end of a while he came on the opening of a path that had the appearance of leading in towards the heart of the marsh, and took it. There were flagstones laid down so that one might stride or leap from one to the other of them, and on either side, the bright, unstable mosses or the bog-water, and beyond, and where there was no reaching them, the rushes.
It was a world of tall, whispering reeds that was about him, and no seeing the hills beyond and above them, and no hearing even the voice of the sea, by reason of the rumor they were keeping, the incessant mystery of the whispering that trembled about the pools and ran along the still waterways. The farther he went into the marshland, the more it took the nature of music; rippling, quiet, mysterious, subtly alluring, full of the whole dream and wonder of the world. It took hold of his soul; he had no thought but for going on and on; at the heart and center of the bulrush region he would come to the source of it.
The rushes opened out before him on this side and that; he was at the beginning of a winding water that might lead to the place he desired to reach, and to the harper whose strings and fingers made such a mystery and melody of the marsh. It was impossible for him to doubt that it would be harping. There in the water at his feet was a coracle; the thing he had been needing since he came to the bulrush-bed. He got into the coracle, and paddled it along the edge of the waters, cutting rushes here and there with his sword, and putting the heads of them in the basket. Before he had half filled it he came to a winding of the water, and saw that the rushes beyond were ten times more beautiful than those he had been gathering. Dark was the water before him, bordered with the motionless emerald lines where the rushes were glassed on its surface. There was a trembling of the water, and a light shaking of the reeds, and a soft gust of music was blown towards him. "It would be foolish not to go forward," he said. He threw the rushes he had gathered into the water, and went on slowly, gathering new ones where they were most beautiful. At the next winding of the water, it was the same; in the stretch beyond there were better rushes, more excellent murmurings of song. "At the end of this stretch I shall come on the cause of the music," he said. It seemed to him that he would have gathered more than the fill of the basket since he emptied it; but when he looked, it was no more than half full. He remembered the counsels of Tydain, and emptied it again; and went on, delighting in the quiet loneliness of the marshland, delighting in the sunlight on the green, tall rushes, in the still or rippling lines of emerald thrown out on the water from the banks; delighting in the music that drifted and whispered down to him across the water.
He passed seven windings of the water-way, and at every turn emptied the basket, by reason of the greater size and beauty of the rushes beyond; and going forward, gathered and put more in it than he had emptied out. At every turn he was drawn on by the greater nearness of the music, and the better sweetness and more alluring nature of it. At the seventh turn he came out into a little lake, and a sunny island in the midst of it; and the cause of the music was made known to him.
There was a maiden sitting on an old tree-stump on the island, her white fingers twinkling and wandering over the strings of a harp, bringing out of them such music as he had never attained the hearing of during his whole life. Her hair was darker and softer and browner than the bulrush-heads; her eyes were like the sunlight playing through clear water, when one ray may be brightening the dark peat at the bottom; her raiment was brighter, and of a fairer green, than the reflection of the rushes on the surface of the pools. About her small, proud, beautiful head was a crown of gold, and an emerald stone gleaming in the front of it, of greater beauty and brilliance than any diamond. She played on, watching Ceredig as her slender fingers wandered over the strings; but no words coming from her, beyond the low, soft, melodious crooning of magical tunes. As for him, he was under the enchantment of the music, and without power of utterance until it should cease. The coracle touched the brink of the island, and he stepped out from it and stood before her. Then her hands fell from the harpstrings, and she laughed; her laughter was like the sound of a little stream in its deep course on the mountain, when the gorse and heather have grown out from either bank, hiding it, and there will be no getting sight of the gleam of its waters from above.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you, Ceredig Call Cwmteifi," she said. "The welcome of the world to you, to the Marshland of Celyddon."
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you, Lady of the Marshland," said he; "and better to you than to me. It is you that strew magic through the enchanted region?"
"Magic there is, but it was made before I was. More excellent is the secrecy of these reeds and rushes than anything that has been made known to you hitherto."
"Ah me!" said he. "Oh that one might know what is concealed!"
"A mystery it is, hard to become acquainted with. There is glamor in it, and wonder, and the whole of the shadowy beauty of the world."
"It would be better to me, learning it, than winning victories in the east and the west."
"The impatient could not come by this. Neither giftedness nor good fortune would be equal to it in value."
"I would abide here in patience for the learning."
"Not so, but Pwyll Pen Annwn would have need of you. Both the Gods and the holy druids covet this learning."
"Whether he had need of me or not, until the dawn of the morning I would stay."
She laughed. "Easy it is to obtain, and yet not easy. No one would obtain it, without making use of the rush-heads he may have gathered."
With his eager covetousness after knowledge, and the enchantment of laughter and music and conversation that she put upon him, he made little of the end for which the rushes had been gathered. The counsels of Tad Awen drifted from his mind, and he forgot the whole courtesy of gift-giving. It seemed to him that one would lose no dignity, giving away the worn cloak, or the fruit that had been partly eaten. "I will do that," said he, "if you will direct me."
"It would be well to rest, then," she said. "It would be well to lie down on the turf here, and let your head be on the rushes for a pillow, and the two eyes of you closed."
"A hundred thanks to you, and more than a hundred," said he, and followed her counsel. Then she began her playing again; if the music she had been getting from the harp before was wild and sweet, the music she got from it now was overpowering in the subtlety and mysterious delicacy of its excellence, and laden with the whole wonder of the wind above the trees or among the reeds, of the quiet wind of twilight, when the world is betaking itself to dream. No sooner were his eyes closed than vision upon vision, as it seemed to him, of astounding secrecy, of glamorous splendor, was revealed to him. World upon inward world gave up its beauty to his gaze. The sun went down and the moon rose; and still her twinkling, wandering fingers traveled over the strings, loading the air with beauty and mystery. Unknown to Ceredig was the passing of time. At the first whitening of dawn it seemed to him that whatever he desired to see had been revealed to him; last of all, he was made aware of the secret, marvelous peculiarity of the manner of filling the basket. Then the music ceased with her, and he rose up.
"Is it made known to you?" said she.
"In my deed, it is made known. Deeper than the sea is that which I owe to you. Wonderful is the power of the rushes and the music; wonderful are the peculiarities of this little basket. Clearly I know the reason of its not being filled."
"Ah," she said, "have you learned that?"
"By the splendor of the Family of Hu Gadarn, I have learned it. It is the Basket of Gwaeddfyd Newynog; Pwyll Pen Annwn would have obtained no news of it, unless you had made it known to me. Swiftly shall it have its being filled now."
With that he set it, open, on the ground, and put the right foot of him on the rushes in it, and the left foot beside the right. No sooner had he put it there, and the two feet of him inside the basket, than whatever had happened to Pendaran, happened to him also. There he was, as if it were at the bottom of a well; and there was the maiden, far above him, looking down over the brink.
"Ah," she said, "common, with the over-eager after knowledge, is their coming by deception. It would have been better to have waited until the peculiarities of the basket had been fully made known. There are many that go forth to fill it; but the greater part of them will fail, and will come by enclosure, and envelopment, heaven knows, and by being enslaved by the owner of the basket, if they learn no more than this secret of treading it down."
"Ah, Ceredig Cwmteifi," said Pendaran Dyfed; "has the same fate overtaken you, that overtook me yesterday?"
III. THE CIRCUMSPECTION OF PWYLL PEN ANNWN, AND THE FILLING OF THE BASKET AT LAST
With the first cold paling of the dawn, Pwyll Pen Annwn rose up, and it was a wonder to him that neither Pendaran nor Ceredig Call should have returned, and the third part of the sorrow without its lightening yet; and no more than the one day left for them to reach the court of Hefeydd Hen in it. Then he said:
"Soul, make known to us the third part of the sorrow; and whether there will be need to wait for those two, before setting out to lighten it."
"There will not be need," said the old man; "I marvel thou hast not thought of this before. Many would have been more open-handed, and more ardent in their generosity. Seest thou yonder brilliant shining in the north?"
"I see it," said he.
"It is the shining of a shield of adornment on the palace-roof of the kings of Celyddon. Between this and that there is an orchard belonging to the king, and seven score and seven sweet apple-trees in it, equal in age, height, size, beauty, and flavor. So great are the infirmities of my nature, that unless I shall have to eat one of those apples at dawn, and another at night, food and drink become no better than filth and poison to me, and there will be a heaviness on my chest, and an evil taste in my mouth, and a vomiting at the changes of the moon. Heretofore I was able to go out after the apples, and I was permitted to gather as much as a basketful of the windfalls in the orchard, and that would be enough for me from the first day of January to the last day of December. Unless the apples are brought to me, undoubtedly I shall pine away during the remainder of my life; and of this I shall die. It is a pity that ever I was born. Common with the offenseless are sorrow and tribulation, and to be despised and persecuted, and to have no lightening of their burdens. If there were any one here with generosity with him, he would go out after the apples."
"Lord," said Einion Arth Cennen at that, "is it permitted to me to go after them?"
"Not so," said Pwyll. "The one that was pledged to the lightening of sorrows, let him lighten them. I myself will get the apples."
"Lord," said they, "it would be unfitting. And beyond the breaking of custom and precedent, and regal dignity, there is the court of Hefeydd Hen to be considered, and the arriving there this night. There will be no time for you to undertake this adventure."
Then the old man said:
"Lord, it would be beneath your dignity to get the apples. Let Arth Cennen go; it is not fitting that I should be waited on by a sovereign ruler."
"If thou desirest apples, get the basket; and indeed, whether thou desirest them or not. I myself will obtain those apples, if there is any obtaining them in the world. They will restore to thee the vigor of thy limbs; and furthermore, they will be a medicine for thee against complaining and ingratitude. It is a miserable thing when there is ill-natured impatience under misfortune."
Thereupon Gwaeddfyd went into the house after the basket; and between that and the time when he came out with it, Ceredig Cwmteifi had had his enveloping, and his enclosing, and his being made captive in the basket, as far away as the marshland of Celyddon; and his being borne by magic across the plain.
Pwyll was in the saddle, and Blodwen impatient to be gone, when the old man came out to him with the basket. "If there were no more than a few apples in it " — said he.
"Be thou silent, further," said Pwyll; "and it will be the better. Brim full shall the basket be; less than that would not cure thee." With that he rode forward.
Gray and heavy was the sky; the wind rose fiercely from the sea, driving the immense clouds; rain came with the wind, beating against him furiously as he rode; the plain became a marsh, and it was hard for Blodwen to put a hoof anywhere without slipping. He left the plain, and rode over many bare ridges, brown with peat and burnt gorse; and the dark, gray, streaming sky low over all of them. From the top of such a ridge he saw the walls of the orchard; there was a valley flowing down from before him, not deep; and the walls along the ridge beyond; between him and them, the width of the valley, and the waters everywhere over the close turf, and more perpetually falling; and the stretches of bracken broken and beaten down, and the sprawling stems of the bramble tossed and battered, crimson and shining in their wetness. Before he had come to the edge of the ridge, and the beginning of going downward, suddenly it seemed as if the whole of the waters of space were falling, driving against the earth, an illimitable gray deluge between the turf and the low sky, fiercely swift, bitter and irresistible in opposition, beating down the fern and the bramble; and through the driving and whirling, and uprising from the smitten and sodden ground of it, and that as high as the mare's shoulders, suddenly a wet, tremulous gleam shot up and towered before him, cream-white and silvery; and there, in a little lulling and steadying of the rain, stood one that had the stature of the pine and the poplar, shedding sheen on the watery air about him from his white beard and from his helmet of silver, from his eyes and from his mantle, from the shield of intense starry whiteness on his left arm, and from the whitely flaming sword that was drawn in his right hand. Handsome he was, with stern, sublime majesty of mien and aspect, of visage and bearing; a menacing, terrible severity of beauty; a lofty radiance through the innumerable raindrops, and the wind driving the light of him hither and yonder on the falling waters of the atmosphere, making liquid lightnings on the slant, and drive, and perpetually pervading wateriness of the rain.
"The greeting and courtesy of heaven and of man to you," shouted Pwyll Pen Annwn. There was not a word from the Other, but only the menace of the beautiful drawn sword, the stern aloofness of the countenance. "There will be passing," shouted Pwyll; "even if Hu Gadarn be opposing it." With that he drew his sword, and leaped down from horseback, prepared and eager for combat. A great wind came howling and lamenting up from the sea, and a terrible swift impetuosity of rain advancing upon him as he ran forward, so that there was no seeing through the nature of it, no making way through it for the legs of man. When the fury of it had passed, there was no one waiting for him.
He went back to Blodwen where she stood, head down, and the waters streaming and steaming from her body, and led her down the hill towards the gates of the orchard; not riding, by reason of the slipperiness of the world. As he went, supporting her gently, he framed these verses of a song in the face of the rain, as best he could, and sang them:
It's delight that hides in the storm-winds blinding,
It's wild mirth rides through the rain-swept sky;
Where will be peace and ease for the finding?
Where the blinding battle goes thundering by.
Winds of the world, shout loud and high!
Sweet wild rain on the east wind driven!
Come storm-riding, you Lords of Heaven,
I shall not turn from you, no, not I!
When the word was given for the lightening sorrow,
Ye left not heaven to make smooth the way,
Nor the barrier rocks of the world rift thorough —
Should wild March borrow the skies of May?
Hu with the Shield, it's proud's this day,
This wild, wet morn on the wind-loud plain,
That saw thy glory gleam through the rain,
Thy whiteness shine through a world of gray.
When he had sung as much as that — such singing as it was, with all that wateriness against him — he was drawing towards the bottom of the valley; it was all a shallow stretch of hissing, rain-pitted water at that time. Again a driving down of rain impenetrable by the eyesight; and again, through that, a certain gleaming and wavering brightness, and beauty shed over the floor of the vale; and when the rain had quieted a little, there stood one in the guise of a Druid above the waters. He had the stature of a well-grown silver birch-tree; there were flickerings of magical blue embroidery about his white robes, that seemed rather of woven light than of linen, and were motionless on the wind, and not made wet with the rain. Sternly beautiful was his face; an aspect of intense, all-penetrating, all-remembering vision shone from his eyes. He stretched out his scepter, barring the path before Pen Annwn; as he did so, a marvel of brightness flashed forth from the acorn of diamond in it, and the rain ceased about them, and the wind was stilled, and there was quietness there suddenly.
"The greeting of heaven and man to the Archdruid of earth and sky," said Pwyll. "Not without recognizing the majesty of Tydain Tad Awen am I."
"And you also; wherefore come you?"
"To get apples from the orchard have I come. This basket full to the brim will I be obtaining."
"Perilous is the quest. Many go up into the Orchard of Celyddon, but few attain the bringing away of apples. Many set forth with that basket, but few go back with it in their hands. If you desire safety, it would be better to return."
"Return I will, truly," said Pwyll; "as soon as the basket may be filled with apples. I will tell you," said he. "The filling of this basket will be the doing of a service; and without doing whatever service I may find to do, I should not come by the thing I am seeking; and without that thing, no compulsion would be put upon Gwawl the son of Clud; and if no compulsion were put on him, there would be no breaking the fate of the daughter of Hefeydd Hen; and without breaking it, she would never come into the Island of the Mighty; and if she did not come there, the whole Race and Kindred of the Cymry, the sons and the golden-chained daughters of Ynys Wen, would be without the best help and glory that might come to them. Therefore undoubtedly I will fill the basket, if there is any filling it; if the gods are opposing, it would be less than fitting for me to turn aside for them."
"Now listen you to this concerning the basket. Whosoever may undertake the filling of it, he never will succeed unless he can come by learning its peculiarities; and even if he learns them, it is a marvel if he should escape being enveloped in it, and being made captive, and the slave of the owner of the basket from that out. Pendaran Dyfed met that fate, and Ceredig Call Cwmteifi also. Go back, unless you are heedless of this peril."
"I will make this demand of the Immortals, and of you that are Chief Druid among them," said Pwyll. "I will not ask them for peace, nor for cessation from opposing; neither for life, if they desire mine, nor for protection against peril. But I will be so bold as to ask them what may be the peculiarities of the basket, and the manner of filling it."
"If you desire to know that, I will tell you a little of it, and not more than a little. No one will enter into the Orchard of Celyddon without meeting opposition and insult, blows and violence. And he would have to overcome these cheerfully, and to go forward without vexation, or repining, or querulousness of spirit. There are seven score and seven trees in the orchard, equal in age, height, size, beauty, and flavor. He would have to pick up all the apples that may have fallen from every one of them, and to do that fasting, in spite of the whole hunger of the world consuming him. Beyond that, if he were merry and wise, and heedless and heedful, not less than polite, and not more than courteous, it might happen to him to learn the manner of filling the basket."
When the last word of that was out of his mouth, he was gone; the whole light of him had vanished, and the wind was howling and driving through the valley again, and the rain beating down against Pwyll as it had been before. He went forward till he came to the gate of the orchard.
Said Pwyll Pen Annwn: "Is there a porter?"
"There is; for what reason hast thou come to the gates of the Orchard of Celyddon?"
"Seeking apples, good soul; seeking apples have I come, truly."
"Unwholesome is the place for thieves and pilferers. Unless thou desirest miserable death, quickly go back to the one that sent thee."
The king laughed. "O man," said he, "open thou the portal. Undoubtedly I desire whatever may come to me."
The gate swung open, and behind it stood a porter with a great club of beechwood in his hand, and an ax at his girdle such as few would have wielded, even in those days. Sullenly angry was his aspect; he was greater both in stature and in girth than even the greatest of the Dimetians. "It is death that will come to thee," he said, lifting his club.
Pwyll's sword was in his hand in a moment, and he leaping aside from the falling of the club, and rushing forward with laughter, and with raising up the ennobling Dragon Shout of the Island of the Mighty. In a little while he took the end of the club with the edge of the sword, and swept through the vast, well-seasoned, iron-studded length of it, and made two clubs of it, equal in weight, from the end to the handle, and scattered the two of them, the one in the orchard, the other in the valley behind him.
"It would be well to take the ax," said Pwyll; "the club was worthless."
"Courtesy is not lacking in you," said the porter, and drew the ax. In a little while there was an end to the fighting there.
"It is I that am slain," said the porter. "As for you, you will go forward, if you desire peril. For the sake of your courtesy I will tell you this," said he: "there is one in the orchard that knows the manner of filling the basket; but it would not be possible to learn it from her, if you acceded to her requests and invitations; she has the power to put enchantments, and a heavy spell, on any one that may accede to them. And heed you this, in the name of man," he said: "the basket has peculiarities with it, and it happens to many to become enveloped in it, and to come by loss and shame. Evil will fall on the one that takes no more thought and consideration for this basket, than he would for the pannier of a cocklewoman on the shore where the Llwchwr falls into the sea."
With that, it happened to him to perish in the guise of a man, and he rose up in the air in aspect like a starling, and took refuge among the apple-trees, chattering through the rain. "Ah," said Pwyll, "counsel will be from this one and that one. There will be many races among the Immortals."
He left Blodwen by the gate there, and went in, and fell to picking up the apples. Never had he seen the like of them during his life, either for size, or for beauty, or for the desirable emanations of them, kindling hunger in whomsoever might behold. There were ten fallen apples under the first tree; and by the time he had picked them up, and put them in the basket, he had never desired anything so much as food; and if food, apples; his whole body was consumed and torn with a great raging, devouring hunger. At the second tree, his hunger was multiplied upon him; it was doubtful to him whether, after a while, there would be enough apples in the world to appease it. Quickly he passed from tree to tree, ravenously desiring apples. There were six circles of the trees, one within the other; he went taking circle after circle, inward towards the heart of the orchard. At the last tree of the third circle the rain ceased suddenly; between the picking up of two apples the clouds were blown from the sky, and the sun shone forth, making known to him the full beauty of the trees. Not one of them was less in size than a full-grown oak; not one of them without its innumerable apples, mellow golden and of the color of the ruby-hearted rose; not one of them without its glory and softness of bloom, like white clouds in the east of the sky with the faintest pinkness of sunset on them. As he went forward, they budded perpetually, and the bloom fell about him like soft snow silently, and the young green apples ripened, spreading the alluring delightfulness of their scent over the world. The sight and the perfume of them were the ruin of his peace, the intense multiplying of his hunger. "There will be magic in all this," thought he; "it would be beneath dignity to pay heed to it." So he passed his four circles, and would have put as many as a thousand apples in the basket; but it was no more than half full for all of them. "It will be the peculiarities of the basket," he said. "Only the circumspect, and the watchful, and the judicious, would obtain learning the secret of filling it."
Slowly the silence of the orchard grew into a quiet, dream-laden delightfulness of harp-music. It would have been between the fourth and the fifth circles that he became aware of it; its whole burden was that he should rest and listen; that he should satisfy his hunger with the fruit, and no desire would come to him again from that out. The sight of the apples was the kindling of longing in him; their scent was its making burn furiously; but it was ten times more difficult to withstand the allurement of the music, than to withstand the golden beauty and emanation of perfume. "Well, well," he thought, "in my time I have heard the Birds of Rhianon singing." With that there rose on his hearing a faint, far wonder of bird-music, as if it were from beyond the rim of the world; and he knew the voices of the Singers of Peace. "True it is," said he, "that the harping is dull and harsh in its comparison." So he took the last two circles quickly, and came to the lawn that was in the middle of the orchard: a region of multitudinous blossoms, a market-place for the bees, laden with the scent and glamor of the daffodil. Then he looked up, and was aware of the source of the harping.
At midmost of the lawn was a little hill, and on it, the tree of all trees, the most beautiful of them all. But that which was more beautiful even than the tree was the maiden that sat in the shade of it on the hillside, and her long, foam-white fingers twinkling and wandering over the strings of a golden harp. Except Rhianon, he had never seen any one with such beauty as she had. Redder were her lips than the brightest redness of the apples; more delicate was her skin than the pinkness and whiteness of the bloom. Her robes were greener and fairer than the beauty of the young fruit, or the greenness and brightness of the new-budding leaves. As for her two eyes, they sparkled like the sunlight in the raindrops not yet fallen from the leafage; as for her long, shining, beautiful hair, it was nine times blacker than the starling's wing. He came through the daffodils and lilies-of-the-valley towards her; but she made no cessation of harping until he was picking up apples from beneath her own tree.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you, kindly and courteously, Pwyll Pen Annwn," said she at last.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you, courteously and kindly," said he, going on with the picking up of apples.
"It pities me that you should be hungry, and all this fruit ripe for the eating," she said.
"A hundred thanks to you, and more than a hundred. But it would be unfitting to eat them," he said; picking up the last of the apples.
"Wherefore would it be unfitting? It would not be unfitting to receive the hospitality of a queen."
"And queenly indeed is the hospitality," said he. "But there is fitness to be thought of, and moderation, and the subjection of bodily desires. It would be little better than gluttony in me, to be consuming these apples."
"Soul, soul," she said, "there are also the peculiarities of the basket. Without eating apples, there would be no manner of learning the art and secret of filling it."
"Kindly," said he, "is that thought also. Delightful to me was ever the conversation of the considerate. But there is Pendaran Dyfed —"
"What man is that?" said the lady.
"And beyond Pendaran, there is Ceredig Cwmteifi," said Pwyll. "It would be the pity of my life to bring inconvenience and crowding on those two men."
"What happened to them?" said the lady.
"Have you heard nothing of their fate?" said Pwyll. "It is a marvel to me that you should not know anything concerning them. The best of the Dimetians were Pendaran and Ceredig."
"I have heard nothing," she said. "Would it please you to tell me?"
"And they having their fame, and their renown, and their glory, and their praises, and their honor sung by the bards; and that from the top of Pengwaed in Cornwall to the bottom of Dinsol in the North, and unto Esgair Oerfel in Ireland," said Pwyll. "And not a word of it more than their deserts."
"And what befell them?" said she. "Where will they be now?"
"In the basket," said he. "Enveloped in the basket, according to its peculiarities; and the magic of it holding them."
She laughed. "I have heard a rumor of such a basket as that," she said. "How did they come by their enveloping?"
"How do men come by their enveloping in it?" said he. "There was Pendaran Dyfed," he said. "No one could look upon Pendaran without loving him, by reason of his boldness and his generosity, and the glory of his mien, and the handsomeness of his aspect, and the kingly dignity of his bearing; and yet all that without lack of gaiety, or consideration, or courteous kindliness. It was he that went out to the Forest of Celyddon to get firing in the basket."
"Did he get the firing?" said the lady.
"And there was Ceredig Call," said Pwyll. "If there had been one man to be named with Pendaran Dyfed, it was Ceredig Call Cwmteifi; and he no less good as bard than as warrior; the best man in conflict or council, in the hall or on the hill, in friendship or in foray. I asseverate to you now," said he, "that there would be no accusing Ceredig of anything, unless it might be that he would be over-eager for acquiring knowledge, and learning, and information about this matter and that. It was he that went out to the Marshlands of Celyddon to get rushes, and —"
"Ah," said she, "he was not the man."
"As to his not being the man," said Pwyll, "I declare to you, and affirm it, and make it strong with asseverations, that there was no better man among the Dimetians; and if not among them, then not in the whole of the Island of the Mighty, nor in the three islands near thereto, nor in the island of Ireland; and much less in the rest of the world. I marvel that it should be said that Ceredig was not the man!"
"Peace, peace!" she said, growing weary of the praises of Ceredig. "Whoever makes trial of filling the Basket of Gwaeddfyd Newynog, by treading down the stuff he may have put in it, if he be not the right man — "
"Be it requited to you a hundred times, and even more," said Pwyll, "for your courtesy in making this known. It would be unfitting for me to abide here longer."
As he went, he heard her quiet laughter and harping, but it had no enchantment for him; hunger and weariness had left him by that time. "Yes," he said; "we will make a trial of this treading down. It may be indeed that Ceredig Cwmteifi was not the man." He rode forward swiftly until he came to the house of Gwaeddfyd Newynog on the plain.
Said Gwaeddfyd: "Give me the basket."
"Not until it is full will I give it to you." With that he put the basket on the ground, and made ready for treading down the apples.
"In my deed it would be perilous to do that," said Gwaeddfyd. "Half full, it will be enough for me."
"Be you silent further," said Pwyll. "Full to the brim shall it be, or there will be no virtue in the apples. There must be an end to this querulous impatience under misfortune." Thereupon he put his left foot upon the apples, and as he did so, Pendaran leaped out from the basket, and stood at his left hand. Then he put the right foot beside the left; with his putting it there, Ceredig Call Cwmteifi came forth, and stood at his right. As for the basket, it was undoubtedly full of apples, and three of them more than it would hold, falling down and rolling in the road.
"I will take them into the house," said Gwaeddfyd. They went into the house with him, and he emptied the apples out on the sleeping-bench, lacking a better place for them. "Yes," he said; "the third part of my sorrow is gone, and the third part of my ignobility. My youth will return because of this, and the ancient sapience of my mind, and the warm kindling of my soul. If you desire apples, take you as many as half of them, or more than half, for a reward."
"I do not desire them," said Pwyll Pen Annwn. "They are for your own healing."
"The basket is yet full," said Ceredig Call. "There will be rushes in it."
Gwaeddfyd emptied out the rushes; there were enough of them to make bedding for ten men such as he. "That is well," he said. "Hereafter my dreams will not be troubled; knowledge will be revealed to me in clear vision. The second part of my sorrow and ignobility has departed. If it please you, take as many as half of the rushes for a reward."
"It would not please me to take them," said Ceredig; "the rushes are for your own peace and healing."
Then Pendaran Dyfed said: "The basket is yet full, and it is in my mind that there will be firing in it."
"Firing there is, and the best of firing," said Gwaeddfyd Newynog, emptying it out; "and that will be the end of the whole enchantment that was put upon me. Take you half of the firing, in the name of gratitude and good will."
"Not so," said Pendaran; "the firing is for you."
"As ye will have neither apples, nor rushes, nor firing from the forest for a reward," said Gwaeddfyd, "take you the basket; undoubtedly it is the one ye were seeking. And I will make known to you its peculiarities," he said. "There will be no means in the world of filling it, except by treading down the stuff that may have been put in it; and if any one should undertake this treading, unless he be the rightful chieftain, in his rightful place, and unless the time be the right time, he will come by being enveloped in it, and he will be the slave of the owner of the basket from that out. And now go forward, and may success, and victory, and delight, and advantage attend you."
So they rode away to the southward, and by the time the sun was at his setting, they saw the palace of Hefeydd Hen rise up before them in its strength and beauty beyond the plain. Before the rising of the moon, and when the world was dark, they had taken their places in the orchard without any one having seen them. Then Pwyll bade them wait, until they should hear him blow upon his warhorn the hai atton of the gathering of the men of Dyfed, and he himself went forward towards the hall.
Here is the likeness of him when he went forward: no more than driving on his twenty-five years he was; and his long, white cloak was about him, fastened with a brooch of gold over his breast; and the golden torque of his kinghood was round his neck, and the two acorns of it alone were of the value of fifty kine. His forehead was smooth, and the hair and the beard of him blacker than coal, and his limbs stronger than whatever may be strongest, and his heart eager for battle or for peace, whichever might be awaiting him. With proud, long strides he went forward towards the first and lowest of the seven gates of the high-reared, giant-guarded, immense, impregnable fortress of Hefeydd Hen in the Country of the Immortals. With his going, the Second Branch of the Story of Pwyll and Rhianon comes to its end.
As for this, it is going back to the First Branch, called The Coming of Rhianon Ren ferch Hefeydd
III. THE SECOND WEDDING-FEAST IN THE COURT OF HEFEYDD, AND THE ENCHANTMENT OF THE STORY OF THE SONS OF CLEDDYF CYFWLCH
If the Wedding-Feast of Pwyll and Rhianon had been beautiful, and a marvel for its splendor of magic, ten times more so was the Wedding-Feast of Rhianon and Gwawl. Nor was that unfitting, seeing the lofty dignity of the Sons of Clud, and their long lineage, and their stainlessness and unlaboring peace since the world began. Hefeydd Hen had his place on the dais, and Gwawl and the Princess beside him; according to usage and precedent, Gwawl had greater honor even than Hefeydd the Ancient himself. Below them was a great company of the Immortals, Hefeydd's warriors and bards, and the ladies of his court; and many also of the Gods of the Family of Clud, the people of Gwawl. Fair, tall and beautiful they were; their conversation was as pleasing as song, and their song better than any that may be heard from the wind beside the river, or from the wind above the forest, or from the waters of the world, or from the winged gorsedd of the woodland. If there had been richness of music, and pomp and luster and high magniloquence of story-telling, and keen, quick wittiness of conversation at the first feast; ten times more magical were the songs now, and the stories were ten times more marvelous — and they telling of the wonderful priceless things of the world, from the bottom of the Great Deep to the top of Infinity; and being decorated, and adorned about, and interwoven, heaven knows, with cunningly contrived consonances and assonances, with flows of excellent melody and sweet sound. As for the conversation, it was such that the wisest man in the world would have desired to listen to it; and if he had listened at all, he would never have come away of his own will until it was ended.
At that time Taliesin the Chief of Bards (his forehead shone like the morning star) had made journey to the court of Hefydd Hen; wandering the world and the waters he was at that time in Prydwen, Arthur's ship of glass, in quest of learning. The bards of Hefedd and Gwawl had sung their songs and related their stories; at last they besought Taliesin to set forth one of the heroic tales of the Island of the Mighty, having heard of his renown. Thereupon he began to make known to them the story of Bwlch and Cyfwlch and Sefwlch, the three sons of Cleddyf Cyfwlch, the three grandsons of Cleddyf Difwlch; three warlike princes of the Island of the Mighty, in the ancient times, were they. It would be hard to hear the equal of that story anywhere; only a bard of the dignity of Taliesin — and heaven knows there never was another of such dignity — could attain relating it in a fitting manner. Before the twenty words were out between his teeth, no one in the hall, except Rhianon, had any thought for anything but for the deeds and weapons and wonderful peculiarities of those three men, and for their journeyings to and fro, questing adventure, between this world and that. As for Gwawl, it was a year and a day since he had known the light and beauty of his own land, and he was worn with sorrow and exertion, through camping during that time in the Country of the Immortals. But Taliesin had such power in relating stories, that Gwawl had never come by comfort equal to listening to him; all dismay and lack of ease were gone while he might be harkening to the rising and falling, and the quivering and the gathering, and the crooning and the crying, and the raging and the triumphing, and the majestic intoning of Taliesin's voice. While he heard it he might be at peace, and consoling his soul with innumerable sunlit clouds of dream. As for Rhianon, whatever magic there was in the story-telling, it had little power to hinder her from wondering concerning Pwyll Pen Annwn, and would his soul be great enough to bring him past the dangers he would have to meet. It is well known what those dangers were. They were the seven companies of giants on the seven battlements, the least of them able to snap an oak of nine hundred years across his knee; and beyond the giants, the seven watchdogs at the seven gates, and the smallest and feeblest of them all equal in the conflict to seven full-grown, fierce, flesh-desiring, battle-eager wolves — and indeed, more than equal to them. What with considering these things, and cogitating, and musing upon them, and concluding that the soul of Pwyll would be great enough for them, little heed would she pay to the three shields of the sons of Cleddyf Cyfwlch, that were three gleaming glitterers; and little would she bother with their three spears, that were three pointed piercers; nor even with their three swords themselves, even though they were, as is well known, three marvelous, great griding gashers — Gles, Glessic, and Gleisad.
From one thing to another Taliesin took them, filling the hall with bewildering glory. He was barely touching upon their three dogs, Call, and Cuall, and Cafall, when there rose up a sound of furious barking outside. Twice it rose during the story of Call the Hound of Bwlch, and twice in the story of Cuall the Hound of Cyfwlch, and twice in the story of Cafall the Hound of Sefwlch, and once at the end; each time it waned slowly into a long, whining wail, and died away. At last it broke in upon his peace as he was telling the story, causing him to forget what would follow when all that was known concerning those three hounds should have been related.
"What barking was that?" said he.
"If there was barking, it would have been the voices of the dogs of the Sons of Cleddyf Cyfwlch," said the courtiers. "Call and Cuall and Cafall it would have been that we heard, by reason of the magic of the story-telling."
"I heard barking, but it was not from those three dogs," said Taliesin.
"It would have been Pwyll Pen Annwn against the seven watchdogs," said Rhianon. "Every one of them will have been slain before now."
(And Pwyll it was; and the war he waged with them was equal to three years of his life passing for each one of them, and he three times seven years older at the end than at the beginning of it. No one but Rhianon had heard the fierceness of the barking, and the leaping of the dogs through the air, and the impact of their bodies on the shield of Pwyll Pen Annwn, and the sweep of his sword as he slew them.)
"Not so, princess," said Gwawl; "it will have been no more than the story-telling. It would be easy for a bard of such dignity to cause this. Lord Radiant Forehead," said he; "go you forward with the story, if it shall please the princess to be heeding you."
"Greatly will it please me," said Rhianon. With that, Taliesin went forward.
He filled the hall with the warfare of those three men; when they went out against Caer Sidi amongst the stars, and had the three thousand defenders of Caer Sidi against them, and fought from the dawn until the noon, and by noon had made three piles of the slain, and in each of the piles not less than a thousand men. By reason of the noise of that warfare, no one but Rhianon heard clearly the raising seven times of a single warshout from the battlements, and seven times the roaring of the warshout of a whole host opposing it; and the roaring dying away, and losing itself in the end in the single warshout that was raised at first. But when silence came on that shout the seventh time, it broke in on Taliesin's peace again."
"What shouting was that from the battlements?" said he.
"We heard nothing, except what was in the story," said the courtiers.
"It was Pwyll Pen Annwn against the giants," said Rhianon, giving them such warning as was their due in courtesy, according to the custom of the Gods and the Cymry. "The Dragon Warshout of the Island of the Mighty he was raising."
"Not so, truly," said Gwawl. "It would have been no more than the magic of the story. Go you forward with the telling of it," said he; "if it please you, and if it please the princess."
"Lord Radiant Forehead," said she; "it pleases me, and more than pleases me."
With that he went forward again, and made account of the armories of Caer Ochren, and the assailment of them by the sons of Cleddyf Cyfwlch, and the breaking down of the lofty towers, and the toppling of the stones from the heights, the sinking of the jeweled pennons. There came a grand clamor from the battlements, a hollow clashing and ringing, and the smiting of bronze and iron on the flagstones, as if vessels of iron were falling in a furious storm and turbulence from heaven; but by reason of the glamor of the story-telling, no one but Rhianon heard it clearly; and not until it was dying away did it break upon Taliesin's peace, and shake the power of the story in his mind.
"Evil fall upon me," he said, "if there was no sound of fighting."
"Noise of fighting there was, by reason of the magic of the story," said they. "Marvelous truly is the power of the Chief Bard of the Island of the Mighty."
Then Rhianon made it known to them again. "It was Pwyll Pen Annwn on the battlements," said she; "sweeping the swords and shields and helmets from the giants he was, and making seven piles of each of them upon the flag-stones. Marvelous is the triumphing power of this sovereign ruler of the Dimetians."
(And Pwyll Pen Annwn it was; each pile that he made was the equal of a year from his life; so that he was three times seven years older at the end than at the beginning of it. But no one would believe Rhianon, because of the story, and their intense desire to hear what was yet untold of it; and Gwawl believed her less than any of them.)
Taliesin went forward then, and finished the story; and there came sound upon sound through it as if rocks were being hurled from the peak of Cadair Idris, and were dashing from crag to crag, and thundering and booming along the slopes, and crashing into the lake in the valley below, and driving the waters of it afar over the mountains: but no one heard more than a faint rumor of it, except Rhianon. Then at last the story came to its end; and in its very finishing, there rose a sound as if Cadair Idris himself had fallen, the whole mountain of him, into the lake; and by reason of the story being at its end, they heard that.
"It will be Pwyll Pen Annwn, and he flinging the chieftains of the giants over the battlements into the moat," said Rhianon. "Lord Gwawl," said she; "it is unlikely that I shall go hence with you."
"It will be no more than the tempest, and the blowing down of trees," said Gwawl. "Lord Radiant Forehead," said he; "it would be the delight of my life, and the consolation of my soul, were you to make known to us another of the stories of the Island of the Mighty."
But before the Penbardd could get the first word of it between his teeth, they heard a low knocking at the door. When it was opened, they beheld an old, white-bearded beggarman, and he in a ragged cloak, and his back bent double, and his face lined with old age, with care, and sickness. "I have been through the fierce storm," said he; "I have journeyed without ceasing for a year and a day. Without doubt it would be better to let me in."
Said Taliesin: "If he comes in, let him make clear the reason for the noises."
"Was there barking of the dogs at the gates?" said the porter. "I marvel that you should have had such protection, that you came past them unharmed."
"There will be few in these worlds, that do not know there was barking. I came past when it was ended, and the dogs did not harm me. It would be unfitting for me to relate to you the reason for the barking."
"Is there news with you concerning the raising up of warshouts?" said the porter. "Was there shouting to be heard?"
"As for shouting, I marvel if there will be any one in the Island of the Mighty now, and sleep visiting his eyelids, on account of it. The deaf would have been aware of it, from the Island of Ireland to Greece in the East."
"What protection had you against the giants?" said the porter. "Of their own will, they would not have allowed any one to pass."
"I came by when the shouting was ended, and they did me no injury. It would be unfitting for me to tell you more."
With the end of the story-telling, sorrow and anxiety and longing for his own land came upon Gwawl; and they oppressed him much more when he heard the beggar speaking. Impatiently always, and with sighs, he would listen to the voice of a mortal — for, although of the race of the Cymry, no one could call Taliesin mortal; with the life of him extending throughout the ages, and his being able to come and go between the worlds as he might please.
"Let him come in," said Gwawl. "So that there may be an end of this wrangling, let him have whatsoever he will. Except the hand of Rhianon my bride, or freedom to enter my own land, I grant him his request."
"It is a small thing that is requested," said the beggarman. "The fill of this basket, of the food from the feast."
"Fill it to the brim for him, and let him be silent," said Gwawl. "Let no complaint of niggardliness come from him."
With that Taliesin began another story, and one of the serving-men took the basket, and put what food from the first table might not be required into it. Food for ten strong, hungry men he put in it, but at the end it was no more than half full. Then he took it to the beggar.
"It is not full," said he. "The word of the chieftain was that it should be filled to the brim."
Like a keen, bitter wind of mid January, the words of the beggar, the voice of a mortal, swept across the mind of Gwawl; and he endeavoring at the time to lose his thoughts and longings in the tale Taliesin was telling. "What trouble is on him?" he said.
"Food for ten strong, hungry men have I put in the basket, and the first table is cleared," said the serving-man. "It seemed to me that he would be contented with that."
"Woe is me," said the beggar. "It would be the sorrow of my life if the promise should be unfulfilled, and the basket less than full."
"Fill it, and let him go," said Gwawl. "Oh that there might be peace in the court!"
They cleared the second table without appeasing the hunger of the basket. They cleared the third and fourth, the fifth and the sixth, the seventh and the eighth, the ninth and the tenth, the eleventh and the twelfth and the thirteenth; they left nothing but what was needed by the princes for the satisfying of hunger. When they brought the basket to the beggar, indeed, half full it was, and no more than that.
"Were it not for the beauty of the story-telling, I would make an outcry concerning this. Undoubtedly the word of the chieftain was that it should be filled."
Bitterly the mortal voice broke in on Gwawl's peace again, driving away the whole delight of the story. "What trouble is on him?" said he, sighing. "For the sake of heaven, grant him his request."
"We have cleared the thirteen tables of whatever food is unneeded," said they. "It appeared to us that he might well be contented."
"Fill the basket, fill the basket and let him go," said Gwawl, the sorrow of the world oppressing him. Then they went and gathered all the food in the hall; gladly the princes gave up whatever might be before them, and no thought taken for hunger, or the desires of the appetite. At the end, the basket was no nearer to fulness than before.
"The word of the chieftain is unkept," said the beggar. "Hungry I came in here, hungry I shall go away. The sorrow of my life is this." More keenly laden even than before with the unbearable misery of the world, his speech went drifting and wandering like the sea-mist through the musings of Gwawl; and Taliesin himself without the art that could make them endurable to him.
"Woe is me that he should remain here until we are withered with the infection of mortality, and until we look with loathing on our own forms. Fill you the basket, and let him go."
"There is no more food in the palace," said they; "and yet the basket is no more than half full."
Then Gwawl betook himself to considering in what way he might be released from his sorrow. "Soul, soul," said he; "will nothing requite you for the loss of the food?"
"Nothing will requite me for it," said he. "Neither sovereignty, nor riches, nor extravagant praise from yonder bard."
"The basket will have peculiarities," said Rhianon. "It would be unwise to let him go, without learning what news there may be concerning them. It would have been full, but for peculiarities."
"What peculiarity is with the basket?" said Gwawl. "Is the manner of filling it known?"
"It is known," said the other. "Its peculiarity is that if its mind is set against being filled, there will be no filling it, unless there be treading down the stuff that has been put in it."
Then Gwawl said to the chief serving-man: "Tread you it down, if it please you."
"Ah, for the sake of heaven, not so, truly!" said the beggar. "It would be the peril of his life were he to do that."
"Wherefore would it be the peril?"
"Are there no peculiarities with the basket? Is no consideration to be paid it? Is it no better than the pannier of an old cocklewoman, from the shores of Penclawdd in Gwyr ? So reckless you are!"
"O man of sorrowful conversation, make known to us the whole of it."
"Heed you this, then," said he. "Whoever makes trial of filling this basket by treading it down, unless he be the rightful chieftain, and unless the place that he holds is his by right, and according to desert, and no usurpation nor defraudment; and unless the time be the right time, and the best of time for him; he will never attain filling the basket; and not only will he never attain filling it, but it will be a marvel if he himself shall escape without meeting hurt, and harm, and misfortune, and injury and disaster."
"It is I that must tread it down," said Gwawl. "Clearly I forsee that it is I that must do it."
Thereupon he rose up; and as he rose Rhianon said to him: "Lord Gwawl, is there any breaking the fate that was put upon me at the wedding-feast, when Pwyll Pen Annwn lost me? Is there any permitting me to go hence in peace to the Island of the Mighty?"
"Of my own will, there is no permitting you. Unless compulsion is put upon me, and that before the ending of this feast, and by the chieftain that was here formerly, it never will be broken."
"Broken will it be, and compulsion will be put upon you, and I shall go forth with Pwyll Pen Annwn tomorrow."
They rose up from the tables as he went down from the dais, out of respect and courtesy. He went down towards the beggar, and towards the hearth in the center of the hall. The men of the court ranged themselves against the wall at his left; the men of the Family of Clud ranged themselves against the wall on his right.
"Lord Gwawl," said the beggar; "is it of your own will that you tread down the food in the basket?"
"It is of my own will, out of desire that you may have what you need, and go. Unbearable to me is the presence of a mortal."
"Tread you it down then," said the other. "And may better befall you."
With that he put the basket on the floor, bulging open with its half-fulness. Gwawl set his left foot on the food, and trod it down, but the basket was no fuller. "With both feet must the treading be," said the beggar, "or it will never get its filling."
Thereupon Gwawl set the right foot beside the left on the food.
And still the basket was no more than half full; indeed and indeed now, evil upon the least and the best of us, if it was any fuller than that. Half full it was after the treading; half full, and no more. But if the fate of Pendaran Dyfed, and the fate of Ceredig Call Cwmteifi be remembered, the fate of Gwawl ab Clud will be known. Whatever may have been the stature of him before, inside that little, bag-shaped basket he was now, by reason of the magic, and power of illusion and phantasy, and strange peculiarities, and devouring nature of it; and it knowing that not he, but Pwyll Pen Annwn, was the rightful chieftain at that wedding-feast, and the rightful husband of the Daughter of Hefeydd. It was closed upon him, and lifted with him, and thrown over the shoulder of the beggar. As for that one, he was on his feet, and the war-horn at his lips; and for all his age and weakness, it was the grand hai atton of the men of Dyfed, the gathering call of the Dimetians in the Island of the Mighty, that he blazed and sounded, and regally drove out echoing through the horn. Before the Immortals, the Children of the Family of Clud, or the people of Hefeydd Hen, had flung their surprise from them, there was Pwyll Pen Annwn in his dignity before them; they perceived that the beggar was no other than Pwyll. Old he seemed, indeed, as if fifty years, and not one year, had passed since he went forth on his wanderings; yet they saw that there was peril for them in his majesty of mien, and in the light in his eyes, and in the drawn sword in his hand. If they had sought to overcome him, before they might have reached him the Dimetians with their war-worn, terrible swords were in the hall.
"Lord Gwawl," said Rhianon; "the compulsion has been put upon you. Pwyll Pen Annwn did it."
"Yes," said he; "and therefore the fate is broken. Let there be peace in the hall, and let the chieftain take his rightful place at the wedding-feast."
Pwyll set down the basket, and opened it, and Gwawl ab Clud came forth. "Lord Gwawl," said Pwyll; "what gifts will requite you for this discourtesy? By my will, your dignity shall not be lessened."
"Nothing will requite me, but journeying with you into the Island of the Mighty, and dwelling there from this out. I shall have no delight in timeless beauty and peace hereafter, but in serving, and doing deeds, and devising plans for the benefit of the Race and Kindred of the Cymry."
"It shall be granted to you gladly," said they. "It will be an honor to us."
"And beyond that, I desire your taking back the gift of your youth and vigor from me, that you lost while you were conquering the watchdogs, and while you were sweeping the armor from the giants, and making piles of it on the battlements, and while you were raising the Warshout of the Island of the Mighty, and while you were driving the giants over the battlements, so that they fell into the moat. It is a marvel to me, and a cause for delight and admiration, that any one should have accomplished this."
With that Pwyll was restored to his youth; even younger and stronger Gwawl made him, than he had been before.
Then the feast went forward until its ending, in peace, and in merriment, and in splendid song, and in listening to the stories of Taliesin Benbardd, until the dawn of the morning. Ten times more and better was the food that was taken out of the basket of Gwaeddfyd Newynog, than that which had been put into it. The men of the Family of Clud wondered at the strength and heroic bearing of the men of the Island of the Mighty; and the men of the Island of the Mighty wondered at the grace and beauty and dignity, and excellence of conversation of the Family of Clud; and as for the Gods, the people of Hefeydd Hen, they had equal delight in those that were from above them, and those that were from below.
The next day they departed; the Family of Clud for their own land, and the Dimetians under Pwyll and Rhianon, and Gwawl ab Clud with them, for the Island of the Mighty. After three days they came to Dyfed, and to Arberth; and it seemed to Gwawl that he had never seen a fairer region, nor a better city. With their coming there, the First Branch of the Story of Pwyll and Rhianon has its end. As for Taliesin the Chief of Bards, it is not known whither he may have journeyed, at that time.