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Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

Page: 174

The seven found that in the absence of Bran, Caswallan son of Beli had conquered Britain and slain the six captains of Caradawc. By magic art he had thrown on Caradawc the Veil of Illusion, and Caradawc saw only the sword which slew and slew, but not him who wielded it, and his heart broke for grief at the sight.

They then went to Harlech and remained there seven years listening to the singing of the birds of Rhiannon—“all the songs they had ever heard were unpleasant compared thereto.” Then they went to Gwales in Penvro and found a fair and spacious hall overlooking the ocean. When they entered it they forgot all the sorrow of the past and all that had befallen them, and remained there fourscore years in joy and mirth, the wondrous Head talking to them as if it were alive. And bards call this “the Entertaining of the Noble Head.” Three doors were in the hall, and one of them which looked to Cornwall and to Aber Henvelyn was closed, but the other two were open. At the end of the time, Heilyn son of Gwyn said, “Evil betide me if I do not open the door to see if what was said is true.” And he opened it, and at once remembrance and sorrow fell upon them, and they set forth at once for London and buried the Head in the White Mount, where it remained [pg 373] until Arthur dug it up, for he would not have the land defended but by the strong arm. And this was “the Third Fatal Disclosure” in Britain.

So ends this wild tale, which is evidently full of mythological elements, the key to which has long been lost. The touches of Northern ferocity which occur in it have made some critics suspect the influence of Norse or Icelandic literature in giving it its present form. The character of Evnissyen would certainly lend countenance to this conjecture. The typical mischief-maker of course occurs in purely Celtic sagas, but not commonly in combination with the heroic strain shown in Evnissyen's end, nor does the Irish “poison-tongue” ascend to anything like the same height of daimonic malignity.

The Tale of Pryderi and Manawyddan

After the events of the previous tales Pryderi and Manawyddan retired to the dominions of the former, and Manawyddan took to wife Rhiannon, the mother of his friend. There they lived happily and prosperously till one day, while they were at the Gorsedd, or Mound, near Narberth, a peal of thunder was heard and a thick mist fell so that nothing could be seen all round. When the mist cleared away, behold, the land was bare before them—neither houses nor people nor cattle nor crops were to be seen, but all was desert and uninhabited. The palace of Narberth was still standing, but it was empty and desolate—none remained except Pryderi and Manawyddan and their wives, Kicva and Rhiannon.

Two years they lived on the provisions they had, and on the prey they killed, and on wild honey; and then they began to be weary. “Let us go into Lloegyr,” [pg 374] then said Manawyddan, “and seek out some craft to support ourselves.” So they went to Hereford and settled there, and Manawyddan and Pryderi began to make saddles and housings, and Manawyddan decorated them with blue enamel as he had learned from a great craftsman, Llasar Llaesgywydd. After a time, however, the other saddlers of Hereford, finding that no man would purchase any but the work of Manawyddan, conspired to kill them. And Pryderi would have fought with them, but Manawyddan held it better to withdraw elsewhere, and so they did.


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