Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

Page: 167

So the two kings made strong the friendship that was between them, and sent each other rich gifts of horses and hounds and jewels; and in memory of the adventure Pwyll bore thenceforward the title of “Lord of Annwn.”

The Wedding of Pwyll and Rhiannon

Near to the castle of Narberth, where Pwyll had his court, there was a mound called the Mound of Arberth, of which it was believed that whoever sat upon it would have a strange adventure: either he would receive blows and wounds or he would see a wonder. One day when all his lords were assembled at Narberth for a feast Pwyll declared that he would sit on the mound and see what would befall.

He did so, and after a little while saw approaching [pg 360] him along the road that led to the mound a lady clad in garments that shone like gold, and sitting on a pure white horse. “Is there any among you,” said Pwyll to his men, “who knows that lady?” “There is not,” said they. “Then go to meet her and learn who she is.” But as they rode towards the lady she moved away from them, and however fast they rode she still kept an even distance between her and them, yet never seemed to exceed the quiet pace with which she had first approached.

Several times did Pwyll seek to have the lady overtaken and questioned, but all was in vain—none could draw near to her.

Next day Pwyll ascended the mound again, and once more the fair lady on her white steed drew near. This time Pwyll himself pursued her, but she flitted away before him as she had done before his servants, till at last he cried : “O maiden, for the sake of him thou best lovest, stay for me.” “I will stay gladly,” said she, “and it were better for thy horse had thou asked it long since.”

Pwyll then questioned her as to the cause of her coming, and she said: “I am Rhiannon, the daughter of Hevydd Hēn, and they sought to give me to a husband against my will. But no husband would I have, and that because of my love for thee; neither will I yet have one if thou reject me.” “By heaven!” said Pwyll, “if I might choose among all the ladies and damsels of the world, thee would I choose.”

They then agree that in a twelvemonth from that day Pwyll is to come and claim her at the palace of Hevydd Hēn.

Pwyll kept his tryst, with a following of a hundred [pg 361] knights, and found a splendid feast prepared for him, and he sat by his lady, with her father on the other side. As they feasted and talked there entered a tall, auburn-haired youth of royal bearing, clad in satin, who saluted Pwyll and his knights. Pwyll invited him to sit down. “Nay, I am a suitor to thee,” said the youth; “to crave a boon am I come.” “Whatever thou wilt thou shalt have,” said Pwyll unsuspiciously, “if it be in my power.” “Ah,” cried Rhiannon, “wherefore didst thou give that answer?” “Hath he not given it before all these nobles?” said the youth; “and now the boon I crave is to have thy bride Rhiannon, and the feast and the banquet that are in this place.” Pwyll was silent. “Be silent as long as thou wilt,” said Rhiannon. “Never did man make worse use of his wits than thou hast done.” She tells him that the auburn-haired young man is Gwawl, son of Clud, and is the suitor to escape from whom she had fled to Pwyll.