Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race
Page: 166Pwyll agreed to follow up the adventure, and accordingly went in Arawn's shape to the kingdom of Annwn. Here he was placed in an unforeseen difficulty. The beautiful wife of Arawn greeted him as her husband. But when the time came for them to retire to rest he set his face to the wall and said no word to her, nor touched her at all until the morning broke. Then they rose up, and Pwyll went to the hunt, and ruled his kingdom, and did all things as if he were monarch of the land. And whatever affection he showed to the queen [pg 358] in public during the day, he passed every night even as this first.
At last the day of battle came, and, like the chieftains in Gaelic story, Pwyll and Havgan met each other in the midst of a river-ford. They fought, and at the first clash Havgan was hurled a spear's length over the crupper of his horse and fell mortally wounded. “For the love of heaven,” said he, “slay me and complete thy work.” “I may yet repent that,” said Pwyll. “Slay thee who may, I will not.” Then Havgan knew that his end was come, and bade his nobles bear him off; and Pwyll with all his army overran the two kingdoms of Annwn, and made himself master of all the land, and took homage from its princes and lords.
Then he rode off alone to keep his tryst in Glyn Cuch with Arawn as they had appointed. Arawn thanked him for all he had done, and added: “When thou comest thyself to thine own dominions thou wilt see what I have done for thee.” They exchanged shapes once more, and each rode in his own likeness to take possession of his own land.
At the court of Annwn the day was spent in joy and feasting, though none but Arawn himself knew that anything unusual had taken place. When night came Arawn kissed and caressed his wife as of old, and she pondered much as to what might be the cause of his change towards her, and of his previous change a year and a day before. And as she was thinking over these things Arawn spoke to her twice or thrice, but got no answer. He then asked her why she was silent. “I tell thee,” she said, “that for a year I have not spoken so much in this [pg 359] place.” “Did not we speak continually?” he said. “Nay,” said she, “but for a year back there has been neither converse nor tenderness between us.” “Good heaven!” thought Arawn, “a man as faithful and firm in his friendship as any have I found for a friend.” Then he told his queen what had passed. “Thou hast indeed laid hold of a faithful friend,” she said.
And Pwyll when he came back to his own land called his lords together and asked them how they thought he had sped in his kingship during the past year. “Lord,” said they, “thy wisdom was never so great, and thou wast never so kind and free in bestowing thy gifts, and thy justice was never more worthily seen than in this year.” Pwyll then told them the story of his adventure. “Verily, lord,” said they, “render thanks unto heaven that thou hast such a fellowship, and withhold not from us the rule which we have enjoyed for this year past.” “I take heaven to witness that I will not withhold it,” said Pwyll.