Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race
Page: 184So they depart on their way to fulfil the tasks, and on their way home they fall in with Gwrnach the Giant, whose sword Kai, pretending to be a sword-polisher, obtains by a stratagem. On reaching Arthur's Court again, and telling the King what they have to do, he promises his aid. First of the marvels they accomplished was the discovery and liberation of Mabon son of Modron, “who was taken from his mother when three nights old, and it is not known where he is now, nor whether he is living or dead.” Gwrhyr inquires of him from the Ousel of Cilgwri, who is so old that a smith's anvil on which he was wont to peck has been worn to the size of a nut, yet he has never heard of [pg 392] Mabon. But he takes them to a beast older still, the Stag of Redynvre, and so on to the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd, and the Eagle of Gwern Abwy, and the Salmon of Llyn Llyw, the oldest of living things, and at last they find Mabon imprisoned in the stone dungeon of Gloucester, and with Arthur's help they release him, and so the second task is fulfilled. In one way or another, by stratagem, or valour, or magic art, every achievement is accomplished, including the last and most perilous one, that of obtaining “the blood of the black witch Orddu, daughter of the white witch Orwen, of Penn Nart Govid on the confines of Hell.” The combat here is very like that of Finn in the cave of Keshcorran, but Arthur at last cleaves the hag in twain, and Kaw of North Britain takes her blood.
So then they set forth for the castle of Yspaddaden again, and he acknowledges defeat. Goreu son of Custennin cuts off his head, and that night Olwen became the happy bride of Kilhwch, and the hosts of Arthur dispersed, every man to his own land.
The Dream of Rhonabwy
Rhonabwy was a man-at-arms under Madawc son of Maredudd, whose brother Iorwerth rose in rebellion against him; and Rhonabwy went with the troops of Madawc to put him down. Going with a few companions into a mean hut to rest for the night, he lies down to sleep on a yellow calf-skin by the fire, while his friends lie on filthy couches of straw and twigs. On the calf-skin he has a wonderful dream. He sees before him the court and camp of Arthur—here the quasi-historical king, neither the legendary deity of the former tale nor the Arthur of the French chivalrous romances—as he moves towards Mount Badon for his great battle with the heathen. A character named Iddawc is [pg 393] his guide to the King, who smiles at Rhonabwy and his friends, and asks: “Where, Iddawc, didst thou find these little men?” “I found them, lord, up yonder on the road.” “It pitieth me,” said Arthur, “that men of such stature as these should have the island in their keeping, after the men that guarded it of yore.” Rhonabwy has his attention directed to a stone in the King's ring. “It is one of the properties of that stone to enable thee to remember that which thou seest here to-night, and hadst thou not seen the stone, thou wouldst never have been able to remember aught thereof.”