Mabinogion, Volume 1

Transcribed from the 1902 T. Fisher Unwin edition by David Price, email




More than half a century ago Lady Charlotte Guest gave The Mabinogion to English readers in the form which, probably, will ever most delight them.  Her transcript of the Red Book of Hergest was not perfect, she found the meaning of many a Welsh phrase obscure, but her rendering is generally very accurate; and the Celtic tales retain in their new dress much of the charm, which so often evades the translator, of a perfect style formed by generations of narrating.

The Red Book of Hergest, from which The Mabinogion are taken, is a collection of tales and poems written during the fourteenth century.  Some of the Mabinogion in it have been reconstructed in Norman and Crusading times, but they contain reminiscences of a more distant period, often but half understood by the later story-teller.  Among these are “The Dream of Rhonabwy,” “The Lady of the Fountain,” and “Peredur the son of Evrawc”—the three which happen to come first in the Red Book.  These are Christian, but with distant glimpses of Celtic heathenism.  The adventures are all grouped around Arthur and his knights; and a kind of connection is given to the three tales by the presence of Owen and his mysterious ravens.

Others, especially the four Mabinogion properly so called and the Tale of Lludd and Llevelys, are far older; they are older than Christianity, and older than Arthur.

In this new edition of Lady Guest’s translation I have put, in the form of footnotes, what appears to me to be a more correct or a more literal rendering of some of the passages of the Welsh.  This course makes it unnecessary to tamper with the charming translation that has become a classic of the English language.

I am very grateful to the Principal and Fellows of Jesus College for access to the Red Book, to Dr J. Gwenogvryn Evans for permission to use his edition and to Lord Wimborne (the Ivor of Lady Guest’s dedication) for information kindly given.


Lincoln College,
Oxford, 1st March 1902.


My Dear Children,

Infants as you yet are, I feel that I cannot dedicate more fitly than to you these venerable relics of ancient lore, and I do so in the hope of inciting you to cultivate the Literature of “Gwyllt Walia,” in whose beautiful language you are being initiated, and amongst whose free mountains you were born.

May you become early imbued with the chivalric and exalted sense of honour, and the fervent patriotism for which its sons have ever been celebrated.

May you learn to emulate the noble qualities of Ivor Hael, and the firm attachment to your Native Country, which distinguished that Ivor Bach, after whom the elder of you was named.

I am,
Your affectionate Mother,

Dowlais, 29th August 1838.


King Arthur [15] was at Caerlleon upon Usk; and one day he sat in his chamber; and with him were Owain the son of Urien, and Kynon the son of Clydno, and Kai the son of Kyner; and Gwenhwyvar and her hand-maidens at needlework by the window.  And if it should be said that there was a porter at Arthur’s palace, there was none.  Glewlwyd Gavaelvawr was there, acting as porter, to welcome guests and strangers, and to receive them with honour, and to inform them of the manners and customs of the Court; and to direct those who came to the Hall or to the presence chamber, and those who came to take up their lodging. [16]

In the centre of the chamber king Arthur sat, upon a seat of green rushes, over which was spread a covering of flame-coloured satin; and a cushion of red satin was under his elbow.

Then Arthur spoke, “If I thought you would not disparage me,” said he, “I would sleep while I wait for my repast; and you can entertain one another with relating tales, and can obtain a flagon of mead and some meat from Kai.”  And the King went to sleep.  And Kynon the son of Clydno asked Kai for that which Arthur had promised them.  “I too will have the good tale which he promised to me,” said Kai.  “Nay,” answered Kynon, “fairer will it be for thee to fulfil Arthur’s behest in the first place, and then we will tell thee the best tale that we know.”  So Kai went to the kitchen and to the mead-cellar, and returned, bearing a flagon of mead, and a golden goblet, and a handful of skewers upon which were broiled collops of meat.  Then they ate the collops and began to drink the mead.  “Now” said Kai, “it is time for you to give me my story.”  “Kynon,” said Owain, “do thou pay to Kai the tale that is his due.”  “Truly,” said Kynon, “thou art older, and are a better teller of tales, and hast seen more marvellous things than I; do thou therefore pay Kai his tale.”  “Begin p. 17thyself,” quoth Owain, “with the best that thou knowest.”  “I will do so,” answered Kynon.

“I was the only son of my mother and father; and I was exceedingly aspiring, and my daring was very great.  I thought there was no enterprise in the world too mighty for me, and after I had achieved all the adventures that were in my own country, [17a] I equipped myself, and set forth to journey through deserts, and distant regions.  And at length it chanced that I came to the fairest valley in the world, wherein were trees of equal growth; and a river ran through the valley, and a path was by the side of the river.  And I followed the path until mid-day, and continued my journey along the remainder of the valley until the evening; and at the extremity of a plain I came to a large and lustrous Castle, at the foot of which was a torrent.  And I approached the Castle, and there I beheld two youths, with yellow curling hair, each with a frontlet of gold upon his head, and clad in a garment of yellow satin; and they had gold clasps upon their insteps.  In the hand of each of them was an ivory bow, strung with the sinews of the stag; and their arrows had their shafts of the bone of the whale, and were winged with peacock’s feathers.  The shafts also had golden heads.  And they had daggers with blades of gold, and with hilts of the bone of the whale.  And they were shooting their daggers.

“And a little way from them, I saw a man [17b] in the prime of life, with his beard newly shorn, clad in a robe and a mantle of yellow satin; and round the top of his mantle was a band of gold lace.  On his feet were shoes of variegated leather, fastened by two bosses of gold.  When I saw him, I went towards him and saluted him; and such was his courtesy, that he no sooner received my greeting than he returned it. [18a]  And he went with me towards the Castle.  Now there were no dwellers in the Castle, except those who were in one hall.  And there I saw four and twenty damsels, embroidering satin, at a window.  And this I tell thee, Kai, that [18b] the least fair of them was fairer than the fairest maid thou didst ever behold, in the Island of Britain; and the least lovely of them was more lovely than Gwenhwyvar, the wife of Arthur, when she appeared loveliest at the Offering, on the day of the Nativity, or at the feast of Easter. [18c]  They rose up at my coming, and six of them took my horse, and divested me of my armour; and six others took my arms, and washed them in a vessel, until they were perfectly bright.  And the third six spread cloths upon the tables, and prepared meat.  And the fourth six took off my soiled garments, and placed others upon me; namely, an under vest and a doublet of fine linen, and a robe, and a surcoat, and a mantle of yellow satin, and a broad gold band upon the mantle.  And they placed cushions both beneath and around me, with coverings of red linen.  And I sat down.  Now the six maidens who had taken my horse, unharnessed him, as well as if they had been the best Squires in the Island of Britain.  Then, behold, they brought bowls of silver wherein was water to wash; and towels of linen, some green and some white; and I washed.  And in a little while the man sat down to the table. [19a]  And I sat next to him, and below me sat all the maidens, except those who waited on us.  And the table was of silver; and the cloths upon the table were of linen.  And no vessel was served upon the table that was not either of gold, or of silver, or of buffalo horn.  And our meat was brought to us.  And verily, Kai, I saw there every sort of meat, and every sort of liquor, that I ever saw elsewhere; but the meat and the liquors were better served there, than I ever saw them in any other place.

“Until the repast was half over, neither the man nor any one of the damsels spoke a single word to me; but when the man perceived that it would be more agreeable to me to converse than to eat any more, he began to enquire of me who I was.  I said I was glad to find that there was some one who would discourse with me, and that it was not considered so great a crime at that Court, for people to hold converse together.  ‘Chieftain,’ said the man, ‘we would have talked to thee sooner, but we feared to disturb thee during thy repast.  Now, however, we will discourse.’  Then I told the man who I was, and what was the cause of my journey.  And said that I was seeking whether any one was superior to me, or whether I could gain the mastery over all.  The man looked upon me, and he smiled, and said, ‘If I did not fear to distress thee too much, [19b] I would shew thee that which thou seekest.’  Upon this I became anxious and sorrowful; and when the man perceived it, he said, ‘If thou wouldst rather that I should shew thee thy disadvantage, than thine advantage, I will do so.  Sleep here to-night, and in the morning, arise early, and take the road upwards through the valley, until thou reachest the wood, through which thou camest hither.  A little way within the wood, thou wilt meet with a road, branching off to the right; by which thou must proceed, until thou comest to a large sheltered glade, with a mound in the centre.  And thou wilt see a black man of great stature, on the top of the mound; he is not smaller in size than two of the men of this world.  He has but one foot, and one eye, in the middle of his forehead.  And he has a club of iron, and it is certain that there are no two men in the world, who would not find their burden in that club.  And he is not a comely man, but on the contrary he is exceedingly ill favoured; and he is the woodward of that wood.  And thou wilt see a thousand wild animals, grazing around him.  Enquire of him the way out of the glade, and he will reply to thee briefly, [20] and will point out the road, by which thou shalt find that which thou art in quest of.’

“And long seemed the night to me.  And the next morning I arose, and equipped myself, and mounted my horse, and proceeded straight through the valley, to the wood, and I followed the crossroad which the man had pointed out to me, till at length I arrived at the glade.  And there was I three times more astonished at the number of wild animals that I beheld, than the man had said I should be.  And the black man was there, sitting upon the top of the mound.  Huge of stature as the man had told me that he was, I found him to exceed by far the description he had given me of him.  As for the iron club, which the man had told me was a burden for two men, I am certain, Kai, that it would be a heavy weight for four warriors to lift.  And this was in the black man’s hand.  And he only spoke to me in answer to my questions. [21a]  Then I asked him what power he held over those animals.  ‘I will shew thee, little man,’ said he.  And he took his club in his hand, and with it he struck a stag a great blow, so that he brayed vehemently, and at his braying, the animals came together, as numerous as the stars in the sky, so that it was difficult for me to find room in the glade, to stand among them.  There were serpents, and dragons, and divers sorts of animals.  And he looked at them, and bade them go and feed.  And they bowed their heads, and did him homage, as vassals to their lord.

“Then the black man said to me, ‘Seest thou now, little man, what power I hold over these animals?’  Then I enquired of him the way; and he became very rough in his manner to me; however he asked me whither I would go.  And when I had told him who I was, and what I sought, he directed me.  ‘Take,’ said he, ‘that path that leads towards the head of the glade, and ascend the wooded steep, until thou comest to its summit; and there thou wilt find an open space, like to a large valley, and in the midst of it a tall tree, whose branches are greener than the greenest pine trees.  Under this tree is a fountain, and by the side of the fountain, a marble slab, and on the marble slab a silver bowl, attached by a chain of silver, so that it may not be carried away. [21b]  Take the bowl, and throw a bowlful of water upon the slab, and thou wilt hear a mighty peal of thunder; so that thou wilt think that heaven and earth are trembling with its fury.  With the thunder there will come a shower so severe, that it will be scarcely possible for thee to endure it and live.  And the shower will be of hailstones.  And after the shower, the weather will become fair; but every leaf that was upon the tree will have been carried away by the shower.  Then a flight of birds will come and alight upon the tree; and in thine own country thou didst never hear a strain so sweet, as that which they will sing.  And at the moment thou art most delighted with the song of the birds, thou wilt hear a murmuring and complaining coming towards thee along the valley.  And thou wilt see a knight upon a coal black horse, clothed in black velvet, and with a pennon of black linen upon his lance, and he will ride unto thee to encounter thee, with the utmost speed.  If thou fleest from him he will overtake thee, and if thou abidest there, as sure as thou art a mounted knight, he will leave thee on foot.  And if thou dost not find trouble in that adventure, thou needst not seek it during the rest of thy life.’

“So I journeyed on, until I reached the summit of the steep.  And there I found every thing, as the black man had described it to me.  And I went up to the tree, and beneath it I saw the fountain, and by its side the marble slab; and the silver bowl, fastened by the chain.  Then I took the bowl, and cast a bowlful of water upon the slab; and thereupon behold the thunder came, much more violent than the black man had led me to expect; and after the thunder came the shower; and of a truth I tell thee, Kai, that there is neither man nor beast that could p. 23endure that shower and live.  For not one of those hailstones would be stopped either by the flesh, or by the skin, until it had reached the bone.  I turned my horse’s flanks towards the shower, and placed the beak of my shield over his head and neck, while I held the upper part of it over my own head.  And thus I withstood the shower.  When I looked on the tree, there was not a single leaf upon it, and then the sky became clear; and with that, behold the birds lighted upon the tree, and sang.  And truly, Kai, I never heard any melody equal to that, either before or since.  And when I was most charmed with listening to the birds, lo, a murmuring voice was heard through the valley, approaching me, and saying, ‘Oh, Knight, what has brought thee hither?  What evil have I done to thee, that thou shouldest act towards me and my possessions, as thou hast this day?  Dost thou not know that the shower to-day has left in my dominions neither man nor beast alive, that was exposed to it?’  And thereupon, behold a Knight on a black horse appeared, clothed in jet black velvet, and with a tabard of black linen about him.  And we charged each other; and as the onset was furious, it was not long before I was overthrown.  Then the Knight passed the shaft of his lance through the bridle rein of my horse, and rode off with the two horses; leaving me where I was.  And he did not even bestow so much notice upon me, as to imprison me, nor did he despoil me of my arms.  So I returned along the road by which I had come.  And when I reached the glade where the black man was, I confess to thee, Kai, it is a marvel that I did not melt down into a liquid pool, through the shame that I felt at the black man’s derision.  And that night I came to the same Castle, where I had spent the night preceding.  p. 24And I was more agreeably entertained that night, than I had been the night before; and I was better feasted, and I conversed freely with the inmates of the Castle; and none of them alluded to my expedition to the fountain, neither did I mention it to any.  And I remained there that night.  When I arose on the morrow, I found ready saddled a dark-bay palfrey, with nostrils as red as scarlet.  And after putting on my armour, and leaving there my blessing, I returned to my own Court.  And that horse I still possess, and he is in the stable yonder.  And I declare that I would not part with him for the best palfrey in the Island of Britain.

“Now of a truth, Kai, no man ever before confessed to an adventure so much to his own discredit; and verily it seems strange to me, that neither before nor since have I heard of any person, besides myself, who knew of this adventure, and that the subject of it should exist within King Arthur’s dominions, without any other person lighting upon it.”

“Now,” quoth Owain, “would it not be well to go and endeavour to discover that place?”

“By the hand of my friend,” said Kai, “often dost thou utter that with thy tongue, which thou wouldest not make good with thy deeds.”

“In very truth,” said Gwenhwyvar, “it were better thou wert hanged, Kai, than to use such uncourteous speech towards a man like Owain.”

“By the hand of my friend, good Lady,” said Kai, “thy praise of Owain is not greater than mine.”

With that Arthur awoke, and asked if he had not been sleeping a little.

“Yes, Lord,” answered Owain, “thou hast slept awhile.”

p. 25“Is it time for us to go to meat?”

“It is, Lord,” said Owain.

Then the horn for washing was sounded, and the King and all his household sat down to eat.  And when the meal was ended, Owain withdrew to his lodging, and made ready his horse and his arms.

On the morrow, with the dawn of day, he put on his armour, and mounted his charger, and travelled through distant lands, and over desert mountains.  And at length he arrived at the valley which Kynon had described to him; and he was certain that it was the same that he sought.  And journeying along the valley, by the side of the river, he followed its course till he came to the plain, and within sight of the Castle.  When he approached the Castle, he saw the youths shooting their daggers, in the place where Kynon had seen them; and the yellow man, to whom the Castle belonged, standing hard by.  And no sooner had Owain saluted the yellow man, than he was saluted by him in return.

And he went forward towards the Castle, and there he saw the chamber; and when he had entered the chamber, he beheld the maidens working at satin embroidery, in chairs of gold.  And their beauty, and their comeliness seemed to Owain far greater than Kynon had represented to him.  And they arose to wait upon Owain, as they had done to Kynon.  And the meal which they set before him, gave more satisfaction to Owain than it had done to Kynon.

About the middle of the repast the yellow man asked Owain the object of his journey.  And Owain made it known to him, and said, “I am in quest of the Knight who guards the fountain.”  Upon this, the yellow man smiled, and said that he was as loth to point out that adventure to Owain as he had been to Kynon.  However he described the whole to Owain, and they retired to rest.

The next morning Owain found his horse made ready for him by the damsels, and he set forward and came to the glade where the black man was.  And the stature of the black man seemed more wonderful to Owain, than it had done to Kynon, and Owain asked of him his road, and he showed it to him.  And Owain followed the road, as Kynon had done, till he came to the green tree; and he beheld the fountain, and the slab beside the fountain with the bowl upon it.  And Owain took the bowl, and threw a bowlful of water upon the slab.  And lo, the thunder was heard, and after the thunder came the shower, much more violent than Kynon had described, and after the shower, the sky became bright.  And when Owain looked at the tree, there was not one leaf upon it.  And immediately the birds came, and settled upon the tree, and sang.  And when their song was most pleasing to Owain, he beheld a Knight coming towards him through the valley, and he prepared to receive him; and encountered him violently.  Having broken both their lances, they drew their swords, and fought blade to blade.  Then Owain struck the Knight a blow through his helmet, head piece and visor, and through the skin, and the flesh, and the bone, until it wounded the very brain.  Then the black Knight felt that he had received a mortal wound, upon which he turned his horse’s head, and fled.  And Owain pursued him, and followed close upon him, although he was not near enough to strike him with his sword.  Thereupon Owain descried a vast and resplendent Castle.  And they came to the Castle gate.  And the black Knight was allowed to enter, and the portcullis was let fall p. 27upon Owain; and it struck his horse behind the saddle, and cut him in two, and carried away the rowels of the spurs that were upon Owain’s heels.  And the portcullis descended to the floor.  And the rowels of the spurs and part of the horse were without, and Owain, with the other part of the horse remained between the two gates, and the inner gate was closed, so that Owain could not go thence; and Owain was in a perplexing situation.  And while he was in this state, he could see through an aperture in the gate, a street facing him, with a row of houses on each side.  And he beheld a maiden, with yellow curling hair, and a frontlet of gold upon her head; and she was clad in a dress of yellow satin, and on her feet were shoes of variegated leather.  And she approached the gate, and desired that it should be opened.  “Heaven knows, Lady,” said Owain, “it is no more possible for me to open to thee from hence, than it is for thee to set me free.”  “Truly,” said the damsel, “it is very sad that thou canst not be released, and every woman ought to succour thee, for I never saw one more faithful in the service of ladies than thou.  As a friend thou art the most sincere, and as a lover the most devoted.  Therefore,” quoth she, “whatever is in my power to do for thy release, I will do it.  Take this ring and put it on thy finger, with the stone inside thy hand; and close thy hand upon the stone.  And as long as thou concealest it, it will conceal thee.  When they have consulted together, they will come forth to fetch thee, in order to put thee to death; [27] and they will be much grieved that they cannot find thee.  And I will await thee on the horseblock yonder; and thou wilt be able to see me, though I cannot see thee; therefore come and place thy hand upon my shoulder, that I may know that thou art near me.  And by the way that I go hence, do thou accompany me.”

Then she went away from Owain, and he did all that the maiden had told him.  And the people of the Castle came to seek Owain, to put him to death, and when they found nothing but the half of his horse, they were sorely grieved.

And Owain vanished from among them, and went to the maiden, and placed his hand upon her shoulder, whereupon she set off, and Owain followed her, until they came to the door of a large and beautiful chamber, and the maiden opened it, and they went in, and closed the door.  And Owain looked around the chamber, and behold there was not even a single nail in it, that was not painted with gorgeous colours; and there was not a single panel, that had not sundry images [28] in gold portrayed upon it.

The maiden kindled a fire, and took water in a silver bowl, and put a towel of white linen on her shoulder, and gave Owain water to wash.  Then she placed before him a silver table, inlaid with gold; upon which was a cloth of yellow linen; and she brought him food.  And of a truth, Owain never saw any kind of meat that was not there in abundance, but it was better cooked there, than he ever found it in any other place.  Nor did he ever see so excellent a display of meat and drink as there.  And there was not one vessel from which he was served, that was not of gold, or of silver.  And Owain ate and drank, until late in the afternoon, when lo, they heard a mighty clamour in the Castle; and Owain asked the maiden what that outcry was.  “They are administering extreme unction,” said she, “to the Nobleman who owns the Castle.”  And Owain went to sleep.

The couch which the maiden had prepared for him was meet for Arthur himself; it was of scarlet, and fur, and satin, and sendall, and fine linen.  In the middle of the night they heard a woeful outcry.  “What outcry again is this?” said Owain.  “The Nobleman who owned the Castle is now dead,” said the maiden.  And a little after daybreak, they heard an exceeding loud clamour and wailing.  And Owain asked the maiden what was the cause of it.  “They are bearing to the church, the body of the Nobleman who owned the Castle.”

And Owain rose up, and clothed himself, and opened a window of the chamber, and looked towards the Castle; and he could see neither the bounds, nor the extent of the hosts that filled the streets.  And they were fully armed; and a vast number of women were with them, both on horseback, and on foot; and all the ecclesiastics in the city, singing.  And it seemed to Owain that the sky resounded with the vehemence of their cries, and with the noise of the trumpets, and with the singing of the ecclesiastics. [29a]  In the midst of the throng, he beheld the bier, over which was a veil of white linen; and wax tapers were burning beside, and around it, and none that supported the bier was lower in rank than a powerful [29b] Baron.

Never did Owain see an assemblage so gorgeous with satin, and silk, and sendall.  And following the train, he beheld a lady with yellow hair falling over her shoulders, and stained with blood; and about her a dress of yellow satin, which was torn.  Upon her feet were shoes of variegated leather.  And it was a marvel that the ends of her fingers were not bruised, from the violence with which she smote her hands together.  Truly she would have been the fairest lady Owain ever saw, had she been in her usual guise.  And her cry was louder than the shout of the men, or the clamour of the trumpets. [30]  No sooner had he beheld the lady, than he became inflamed with her love, so that it took entire possession of him.

Then he enquired of the maiden who the lady was.  “Heaven knows,” replied the maiden, “she may be said to be the fairest, and the most chaste, and the most liberal, and the wisest, and the most noble of women.  And she is my mistress; and she is called the Countess of the Fountain, the wife of him whom thou didst slay yesterday.”  “Verily,” said Owain, “she is the woman that I love best.”  “Verily,” said the maiden, “she shall also love thee not a little.”

And with that the maid arose, and kindled a fire, and filled a pot with water, and placed it to warm; and she brought a towel of white linen, and placed it around Owain’s neck; and she took a goblet of ivory, and a silver basin, and filled them with warm water, wherewith she washed Owain’s head.  Then she opened a wooden casket, and drew forth a razor, whose haft was of ivory, and upon which were two rivets of gold.  And she shaved his beard, and she dried his head, and his throat, with the towel.  Then she rose up from before Owain, and brought him to eat.  And truly Owain had never so good a meal, nor was he ever so well served.

When he had finished his repast, the maiden arranged his couch.  “Come here,” said she, “and p. 31sleep, and I will go and woo for thee.”  And Owain went to sleep, and the maiden shut the door of the chamber after her, and went towards the Castle.  When she came there, she found nothing but mourning, and sorrow; and the Countess in her chamber could not bear the sight of any one through grief.  Luned came and saluted her, but the Countess answered her not.  And the maiden bent down towards her, and said, “What aileth thee, that thou answerest no one to-day?”  “Luned,” said the Countess, “what change hath befallen thee, that thou hast not come to visit me in my grief?  It was wrong in thee, and I having made thee rich; it was wrong in thee that thou didst not come to see me in my distress.  That was wrong in thee.”  “Truly,” said Luned, “I thought thy good sense was greater than I find it to be.  Is it well for thee to mourn after that good man, or for anything else, that thou canst not have?”  “I declare to heaven,” said the Countess, “that in the whole world there is not a man equal to him.”  “Not so,” said Luned, “for an ugly man would be as good as, or better than he.” [31]  “I declare to heaven,” said the Countess, “that were it not repugnant to me to cause to be put to death one whom I have brought up, I would have thee executed, for making such a comparison to me.  As it is, I will banish thee.”  “I am glad,” said Luned, “that thou hast no other cause to do so, than that I would have been of service to thee when thou didst not know what was to thine advantage.  And henceforth evil betide whichever of us shall make the first advance towards reconciliation to the other; whether I should seek an invitation from thee, or thou of thine own accord shouldest seek to invite me.”

With that Luned went forth; and the Countess arose and followed her to the door of the chamber, and began coughing loudly.  And when Luned looked back, the Countess beckoned to her; and she returned to the Countess.  “In truth,” said the Countess, “evil is thy disposition; but if thou knowest what is to my advantage, declare it to me.”  “I will do so,” quoth she.

“Thou knowest that except by warfare and arms it is impossible for thee to preserve thy possessions; delay not, therefore, to seek some one who can defend them.”  “And how can I do that?” said the Countess.  “I will tell thee,” said Luned, “unless thou canst defend the fountain, thou canst not maintain thy dominions; and no one can defend the fountain, except it be a knight of Arthur’s household; and I will go to Arthur’s court, and ill betide me, if I return thence without a warrior who can guard the fountain, as well as, or even better than, he who defended it formerly.”  “That will be hard to perform,” said the Countess.  “Go, however, and make proof of that which thou hast promised.”

Luned set out, under the pretence of going to Arthur’s court; but she went back to the chamber where she had left Owain; and she tarried there with him as long as it might have taken her to have travelled to the Court of King Arthur.  And at the end of that time, she apparelled herself, and went to visit the Countess.  And the Countess was much rejoiced when she saw her, and enquired what news she brought from the Court.  “I bring thee the best of news,” said Luned, “for I have compassed the object of my mission.  When wilt thou, that I should present to thee the chieftain who has come with me hither?”  “Bring him here to visit me to-morrow, at mid-day,” said the Countess, “and I will cause the town to be assembled by that time.”

And Luned returned home.  And the next day, at noon, Owain arrayed himself in a coat, and a surcoat, and a mantle of yellow satin, upon which was a broad band of gold lace; and on his feet were high shoes of variegated leather, which were fastened by golden clasps, in the form of lions.  And they proceeded to the chamber of the Countess.

Right glad was the Countess of their coming.  And she gazed steadfastly upon Owain, and said, “Luned, this knight has not the look of a traveller.”  “What harm is there in that, Lady?” said Luned.  “I am certain,” said the Countess, “that no other man than this, chased the soul from the body of my lord.”  “So much the better for thee, Lady,” said Luned, “for had he not been stronger than thy lord, he could not have deprived him of life.  There is no remedy for that which is past, be it as it may.”  “Go back to thine abode,” said the Countess, “and I will take counsel.”

The next day, the Countess caused all her subjects to assemble, and shewed them that her Earldom was left defenceless, and that it could not be protected but with horse and arms, and military skill.  “Therefore,” said she, “this is what I offer for your choice: either let one of you take me, or give your consent for me to take a husband from elsewhere, to defend my dominions.”

So they came to the determination, that it was p. 34better that she should have permission to marry some one from elsewhere; and thereupon she sent for the Bishops and Archbishops, to celebrate her nuptials with Owain.  And the men of the Earldom did Owain homage.

And Owain defended the Fountain with lance and sword.  And this is the manner in which he defended it.  Whensoever a knight came there, he overthrew him, and sold him for his full worth.  And what he thus gained, he divided among his Barons, and his Knights; and no man in the whole world could be more beloved than he was by his subjects.  And it was thus for the space of three years.

It befell that as Gwalchmai went forth one day with King Arthur, he perceived him to be very sad and sorrowful.  And Gwalchmai was much grieved to see Arthur in this state; and he questioned him, saying, “Oh my Lord! what has befallen thee?”  “In sooth, Gwalchmai,” said Arthur, “I am grieved concerning Owain, whom I have lost these three years; and I shall certainly die, if the fourth year passes without my seeing him.  Now I am sure, that it is through the tale which Kynon the son of Clydno related, that I have lost Owain.”  “There is no need for thee,” said Gwalchmai, “to summon to arms thy whole dominions, on that account; for thou thyself, and the men of thy household, will be able to avenge Owain, if he be slain; or to set him free, if he be in prison; and if alive, to bring him back with thee.”  And it was settled, according to what Gwalchmai had said.

Then Arthur and the men of his household prepared to go and seek Owain; and their number was three thousand, beside their attendants.  And Kynon the son of Clydno acted as their guide.  And Arthur came to the Castle, where Kynon had been before.  And when he came there the youths were shooting in the same place, and the yellow man was standing hard by.  When the yellow man saw Arthur, he greeted him, and invited him to the Castle.  And Arthur accepted his invitation, and they entered the Castle together.  And great as was the number of his retinue, their presence was scarcely observed in the Castle, so vast was its extent.  And the maidens rose up to wait on them.  And the service of the maidens appeared to them all to excel any attendance they had ever met with; and even the pages who had charge of the horses, were no worse served, that night, than Arthur himself would have been, in his own Palace.

The next morning, Arthur set out thence, with Kynon for his guide, and came to the place where the black man was.  And the stature of the black man was more surprising to Arthur, than it had been represented to him.  And they came to the top of the wooded steep, and traversed the valley, till they reached the green tree; where they saw the fountain, and the bowl and the slab.  And upon that, Kai came to Arthur, and spoke to him.  “My Lord,” said he, “I know the meaning of all this, and my request is, that thou wilt permit me to throw the water on the slab, and to receive the first advantage that may befall.”  And Arthur gave him leave.

Then Kai threw a bowlful of water upon the slab, and immediately there came the thunder, and after the thunder the shower.  And such a thunderstorm they had never known before.  And many of the attendants who were in Arthur’s train were killed by the shower.  After the shower had ceased, the sky became clear.  And on looking at the tree, they beheld it completely leafless.  Then the birds descended upon the tree.  And the song of the birds was far sweeter than any strain they had ever heard before.  Then they beheld a Knight, on a coal-black horse, clothed in black satin, coming rapidly towards them.  And Kai met him and encountered him, and it was not long before Kai was overthrown.  And the Knight withdrew. [36]  And Arthur and his host encamped for the night.

And when they arose in the morning, they perceived the signal of combat upon the lance of the Knight; and Kai came to Arthur, and spoke to him.  “My Lord,” said he, “though I was overthrown yesterday, if it seem good to thee, I would gladly meet the Knight again to-day.”  “Thou mayst do so,” said Arthur.  And Kai went towards the Knight.  And on the spot he overthrew Kai, [37a] and struck him with the head of his lance in the forehead, so that it broke his helmet and the headpiece, and pierced the skin, and the flesh, the breadth of the spearhead, even to the bone.  And Kai returned to his companions.

After this, all the household of Arthur went forth, one after the other, to combat the Knight, until there was not one that was not overthrown by him, except Arthur and Gwalchmai.  And Arthur armed himself to encounter the Knight.  “Oh, my lord,” said Gwalchmai, “permit me to fight with him first.”  And Arthur permitted him.  And he went forth to meet the Knight, having over himself and his horse, a satin robe of honour which had been sent him by the daughter of the Earl of Rhangyw, and in this dress he was not known by any of the host.  And they charged each other, and fought all that day until the evening.  And neither of them was able to unhorse the other.

The next day they fought with strong lances; and neither of them could obtain the mastery.

And the third day they fought with exceeding strong lances.  And they were increased with rage, and fought furiously, even until noon.  And they gave each other such a shock, that the girths of their horses were broken, so that they fell over their horses’ cruppers to the ground.  And they rose up speedily, and drew their swords, and resumed the combat. [37b]  And the multitude that witnessed the encounter felt assured that they had never before seen two men so valiant, or so powerful.  And had it been midnight, it would have been light from the fire that flashed from their weapons.  And the Knight gave Gwalchmai a blow that turned his helmet from off his face, so that the Knight knew that it was Gwalchmai.  Then Owain said, “My lord Gwalchmai, I did not know thee for my cousin, owing to the robe of honour, that enveloped thee; take my sword and my arms.”  Said Gwalchmai, “Thou, Owain, art the victor; take thou my sword.”  And with that Arthur saw that they were conversing, and advanced towards them.  “My lord Arthur,” said Gwalchmai, “here is Owain, who has vanquished me, and will not take my arms.”  “My lord,” said Owain, “it is he that has vanquished me, and he will not take my sword.”  “Give me your swords,” said Arthur, “and then neither of you has vanquished the other.”  Then Owain put his arms around Arthur’s neck, and they embraced.  And all the host hurried forward to see Owain, and to embrace him.  And there was nigh being a loss of life, so great was the press.

And they retired that night, and the next day Arthur prepared to depart.  “My lord,” said Owain, “this is not well of thee.  For I have been absent from thee these three years, [38] and during all that time, up to this very day, I have been preparing a banquet for thee, knowing that thou wouldest come to seek me.  Tarry with me therefore, until thou and thy attendants have recovered the fatigues of the journey, and have been anointed.”

And they all proceeded to the Castle of the Countess of the Fountain, and the banquet which had been three years preparing was consumed in three months.  Never had they a more delicious or agreeable banquet.  And Arthur prepared to depart.  Then he sent an embassy to the Countess, to beseech her to permit Owain to go with him, for the space of three months, that he might shew him to the nobles, and the fair dames of the Island of Britain.  And the Countess gave her consent, although it was very painful to her.  So Owain came with Arthur to the Island of Britain.  And when he was once more amongst his kindred and friends, he remained three years, instead of three months, with them.

* * * * *

And as Owain one day sat at meat, in the City of Caerlleon upon Usk, behold a damsel entered, upon a bay horse, with a curling mane, and covered with foam; and the bridle, and as much as was seen of the saddle, were of gold.  And the damsel was arrayed in a dress of yellow satin.  And she went up to Owain, and took the ring from off his hand.  “Thus,” said she, “shall be treated the deceiver, the traitor, the faithless, the disgraced, and the beardless.” [39]  And she turned her horse’s head, and departed.

Then his adventure came to Owain’s remembrance, and he was sorrowful.  And having finished eating, he went to his own abode, and made preparations that night.  And the next day he arose, but did not go to the Court, but wandered to the distant parts of the earth, and to uncultivated mountains.  And he remained there until all his apparel was worn out, and his body was wasted away, and his hair was grown long.  And he went about with the wild beasts, and fed with them, until they became familiar with him.  But at length he grew so weak, that he could no longer bear them company.  Then he descended from the mountains to the valley, and came to a park, that was the fairest in the world, and belonged to a widowed Countess.

One day the Countess and her maidens went forth to walk by a lake, that was in the middle of the park.  And they saw the form of a man.  And they were terrified.  Nevertheless they went near him, and touched him, and looked at him.  And they saw that there was life in him, though he was exhausted by the heat of the sun.  And the Countess returned to the Castle, and took a flask full of precious ointment, and gave it to one of her maidens.  “Go with this,” said she, “and take with thee yonder horse, and clothing, and place them near the man we saw just now.  And anoint him with this balsam, near his heart; and if there is life in him, he will arise, through the efficacy of this balsam.  Then watch what he will do.”

And the maiden departed from her, and poured the whole of the balsam upon Owain, and left the horse and the garments hard by, and went a little way off, and hid herself, to watch him.  In a short time she saw him begin to move his arms; and he arose up, and looked at his person, and became ashamed of the unseemliness of his appearance.  Then he perceived the horse and the garments, that were near him.  And he crept forward till he was able to draw the garments to him from off the saddle.  And he clothed himself, and with difficulty mounted the horse.  Then the damsel discovered herself to him, and saluted him.  And he was rejoiced when he saw her, and enquired of her, what land and what territory that was.  “Truly,” said the maiden, “a widowed Countess owns yonder Castle; at the death of her husband, he left her two Earldoms, but at this day she has but this one dwelling that has not been wrested from her, by a young Earl, who is her neighbour, because she refused to become his wife.”  “That is pity,” said Owain.  And he and the maiden proceeded to the Castle; and he alighted there, and the maiden conducted him to a pleasant chamber, and kindled a fire, and left him.

And the maiden came to the Countess, and gave the flask into her hand.  “Ha! maiden,” said the Countess, “where is all the balsam?”  “Have I not used it all?” said she.  “Oh, maiden,” said the Countess, “I cannot easily forgive thee this; it is sad for me to have wasted seven-score pounds’ worth of precious ointment, upon a stranger whom I know not.  However, maiden, wait thou upon him, until he is quite recovered.”

And the maiden did so, and furnished him with meat and drink, and fire, and lodging, and medicaments, until he was well again.  And in three months he was restored to his former guise, and became even more comely, than he had ever been before.

One day Owain heard a great tumult, and a sound of arms in the Castle, and he enquired of the maiden the cause thereof.  “The Earl,” said she, “whom I mentioned to thee, has come before the Castle, with a numerous army, to subdue the Countess.”  And Owain enquired of her whether the Countess had a horse and arms, in her possession.  “She has the best in the world,” said the maiden.  “Wilt thou go and request the loan of a horse and arms for me,” said Owain, “that I may go and look at this army?”  “I will,” said the maiden.

And she came to the Countess, and told her what Owain had said.  And the Countess laughed.  p. 42“Truly,” said she, “I will even give him a horse and arms, for ever; such a horse and such arms, had he never yet, and I am glad that they should be taken by him to-day, lest my enemies should have them against my will to-morrow.  Yet I know not what he would do with them.”

The Countess bade them bring out a beautiful black steed, upon which was a beechen saddle, and a suit of armour, for man and horse.  And Owain armed himself, and mounted the horse, and went forth, attended by two pages completely equipped, with horses and arms.  And when they came near to the Earl’s army, they could see neither its extent, nor its extremity.  And Owain asked the pages in which troop the Earl was.  “In yonder troop,” said they, “in which are four yellow standards.  Two of them are before, and two behind him.”  “Now,” said Owain, “do you return and await me near the portal of the Castle.”  So they returned, and Owain pressed forward, until he met the Earl.  And Owain drew him completely out of his saddle, and turned his horse’s head towards the Castle, and, though it was with difficulty, he brought the Earl to the portal, where the pages awaited him.  And in they came.  And Owain presented the Earl as a gift to the Countess.  And said to her, “Behold a requittal to thee for thy blessed balsam.”

The army encamped around the Castle.  And the Earl restored to the Countess the two Earldoms, he had taken from her, as a ransom for his life; and for his freedom, he gave her the half of his own dominions, and all his gold, and his silver, and his jewels, besides hostages.

And Owain took his departure.  And the Countess and all her subjects besought him to remain, but Owain chose rather to wander through distant lands and deserts.

And as he journeyed, he heard a loud yelling in a wood.  And it was repeated a second and a third time.  And Owain went towards the spot, and behold a huge craggy mound, in the middle of the wood; on the side of which was a grey rock.  And there was a cleft in the rock, and a serpent was within the cleft.  And near the rock, stood a black lion, and every time the lion sought to go thence, the serpent darted towards him to attack him.  And Owain unsheathed his sword, and drew near to the rock; and as the serpent sprung out, he struck him with his sword, and cut him in two.  And he dried his sword, and went on his way, as before.  But behold the lion followed him, and played about him, as though it had been a greyhound, that he had reared.

p. 44They proceeded thus throughout the day, until the evening.  And when it was time for Owain to take his rest, he dismounted, and turned his horse loose in a flat and wooded meadow.  And he struck fire, and when the fire was kindled, the lion brought him fuel enough to last for three nights.  And the lion disappeared.  And presently the lion returned, bearing a fine large roebuck.  And he threw it down before Owain, who went towards the fire with it.

And Owain took the roebuck, and skinned it, and placed collops of its flesh upon skewers, around the fire.  The rest of the buck he gave to the lion to devour.  While he was doing this, he heard a deep sigh near him, and a second, and a third.  And Owain called out to know whether the sigh he heard proceeded from a mortal; and he received answer, that it did.  “Who art thou?” said Owain.  “Truly,” said the voice, “I am Luned, the hand-maiden of the Countess of the Fountain.”  “And what dost thou here?” said Owain.  “I am imprisoned,” said she, “on account of the knight who came from Arthur’s Court, and married the Countess.  And he staid a short time with her, but he afterwards departed for the Court of Arthur, and he has not returned since.  And he was the friend I loved best in the world.  And two of the pages of the Countess’s chamber, traduced him, and called him a deceiver.  And I told them that they two were not a match for him alone.  So they imprisoned me in the stone vault, and said that I should be put to death, unless he came himself, to deliver me, by a certain day; and that is no further off, than the day after to-morrow.  And I have no one to send to seek him for me.  And his name is Owain the son of Urien.”  “And art thou certain, that if that knight knew all this, he p. 45would come to thy rescue?”  “I am most certain of it,” said she.

When the collops were cooked, Owain divided them into two parts, between himself and the maiden; and after they had eaten, they talked together until the day dawned.  And the next morning Owain enquired of the damsel, if there was any place where he could get food and entertainment for that night.  “There is, lord,” said she; “cross over yonder, and go along the side of the river, and in a short time, thou wilt see a great Castle, in which are many towers.  And the Earl who owns that Castle, is the most hospitable man in the world.  There thou mayest spend the night.”

Never did sentinel keep stricter watch over his lord, than the lion that night over Owain.

And Owain accoutred his horse, and passed across by the ford, and came in the sight of the Castle.  And he entered it, and was honourably received.  And his horse was well cared for, and plenty of fodder was placed before him.  Then the lion went and laid down in the horse’s manger; so that none of the people of the Castle dared to approach him.  The treatment which Owain met with there, was such as he had never known elsewhere, for every one was as sorrowful, as though death had been upon him. [45]  And they went to meat.  And the Earl sat upon one side of Owain; and on the other side his only daughter.  And Owain had never seen any more lovely than she.  Then the lion came and placed himself between Owain’s feet, and he fed him with every kind of food, that he took himself.  And he never saw any thing equal to the sadness of the people.

p. 46In the middle of the repast, the Earl began to bid Owain welcome.  “Then,” said Owain, “behold it is time for thee to be cheerful.”  “Heaven knows,” said the Earl, “that it is not thy coming that makes us sorrowful, but we have cause enough for sadness and care.”  “What is that?” said Owain.  “I have two sons,” replied the Earl, “and yesterday they went to the mountains to hunt.  Now there is on the mountain a monster, who kills men and devours them.  And he seized my sons.  And to-morrow is the time he has fixed to be here, and he threatens that he will then slay my sons before my eyes, unless I will deliver into his hands this my daughter. [46a]  He has the form of a man, but in stature he is no less than a giant.”

“Truly,” said Owain, “that is lamentable.  And which wilt thou do?”  “Heaven knows,” said the Earl, “it will be better that my sons should be slain, against my will, than I should voluntarily give up my daughter to him to ill-treat and destroy.”  Then they talked about other things, and Owain staid there that night.

The next morning, they heard an exceeding great clamour, which was caused by the coming of the giant, with the two youths.  And the Earl was anxious both to protect his Castle, and to release his two sons. [46b]  Then Owain put on his armour, and went forth to encounter the giant; and the lion followed him.  And when the giant saw that Owain was armed, he rushed towards him, and attacked him.  And the lion fought with the giant, much more fiercely than Owain did.

p. 47“Truly,” said the giant, “I should find no difficulty in fighting with thee, were it not for the animal that is with thee.”  Upon that Owain took the lion back to the Castle, and shut the gate upon him.  And then he returned to fight the giant, as before.  And the lion roared very loud, for he heard that it went hard with Owain.  And he climbed up, till he reached the top of the Earl’s Hall; and thence he got to the top of the Castle, and he sprang down from the walls, and went and joined Owain.  And the lion gave the giant a stroke with his paw, which tore him from his shoulder to his hip, and his heart was laid bare.  And the giant fell down dead.  Then Owain restored the two youths to their father.

The Earl besought Owain to remain with him, and he would not, but set forward towards the meadow, where Luned was.  And when he came there, he saw a great fire kindled, and two youths with beautiful curling auburn hair, were leading the maiden to cast her into the fire.  And Owain asked them what charge they had against her.  And they told him of the compact [47] that was between them; as the maiden had done the night before.  “And,” said they, “Owain has failed her, therefore we are taking her to be burnt.”  “Truly,” said Owain, “he is a good knight, and if he knew that the maiden was in such peril, I marvel that he came not to her rescue.  But if you will accept me in his stead, I will do battle with you.”  “We will,” said the youths, “by him who made us.”

And they attacked Owain, and he was hard beset by them.  And with that the lion came to Owain’s assistance; and they two got the better of the young men.  And they said to him, “Chieftain, it was not agreed that we should fight, save with thyself alone, and it is harder for us to contend with yonder animal, than with thee.”  And Owain put the lion in the place where the maiden had been imprisoned, and blocked up the door with stones.  And he went to fight with the young men as before.  But Owain had not his usual strength, [48] and the two youths pressed hard upon him.  And the lion roared incessantly at seeing Owain in trouble.  And he burst through the wall, until he found a way out, and rushed upon the young men, and instantly slew them.  So Luned was saved from being burned.

Then Owain returned with Luned, to the dominions of the Countess of the Fountain.  And when he went thence, he took the Countess with him to Arthur’s Court, and she was his wife as long as she lived.

And they took the road that led to the Court of the savage black man.  And Owain fought with him, and the lion did not quit Owain, until he had vanquished him.  And when he reached the Court of the savage black man, he entered the hall: and beheld four and twenty ladies, the fairest that could be seen.  And the garments which they had on, were not worth four and twenty pence.  And they were as sorrowful as death.  And Owain asked them the cause of their sadness.  And they said, “We are the daughters of Earls, and we all came here, with our husbands, whom we dearly loved.  And we were received with honour and rejoicing.  And we were thrown into a state of stupor, and while we were thus, the demon who owns this Castle, slew all our husbands, and took from us our horses, and our raiment, and our gold, and our silver.  And the corpses of our husbands are still in this house, and many others with them.  And this, p. 49Chieftain, is the cause of our grief, and we are sorry that thou art come hither, lest harm should befall thee.”

And Owain was grieved, when he heard this.  And he went forth from the Castle, and he beheld a Knight approaching him, who saluted him, in a friendly and cheerful manner, as if he had been a brother.  And this was the savage black man.  “In very sooth,” said Owain, “it is not to seek thy friendship that I am here.”  “In sooth,” said he, “thou shalt not find it then.”  And with that they charged each other, and fought furiously.  And Owain overcame him, and bound his hands behind his back.  Then the black savage besought Owain to spare his life, and spoke thus, “My lord Owain,” said he, “it was foretold, that thou shouldst come hither and vanquish me, and thou hast done so.  I was a robber here, and my house was a house of spoil.  But grant me my life, and I will become the keeper of an Hospice, and I will maintain this house as an Hospice for weak and for strong, as long as I live, for the good of thy soul.”  And Owain accepted the proposal of him, and remained there that night.

And the next day he took the four and twenty ladies, and their horses, and their raiment, and what they possessed of goods, and jewels, and proceeded with them to Arthur’s Court.  And if Arthur was rejoiced when he saw him, after he had lost him the first time, his joy was now much greater.  And of those ladies, such as wished to remain in Arthur’s Court, remained there; and such as wished to depart, departed.

And thenceforward Owain dwelt at Arthur’s Court, greatly beloved as the head of his household, until he went away with his followers; and those were the army of three hundred ravens which Kenverchyn had left him.  And wherever Owain went with these, he was victorious.

And this is the tale of The Lady of the Fountain.


Earl Evrawc owned the Earldom of the North.  And he had seven sons.  And Evrawc maintained himself not so much by his own possessions as by attending tournaments, and wars, and combats.  And, as it often befalls those who join in encounters and wars, he was slain, and six of his sons likewise.  Now the name of his seventh son was Peredur, and he was the youngest of them.  And he was not of an age to go p. 52to wars and encounters, otherwise he might have been slain as his father and brothers.  His mother was a scheming and thoughtful woman, and she was very solicitous concerning this her only son and his [52] possessions.  So she took counsel with herself to leave the inhabited country, and to flee to the deserts and unfrequented wildernesses.  And she permitted none to bear her company thither but women and boys, and spiritless men, who were both unaccustomed and unequal to war and fighting.  And none dared to bring either horses or arms where her son was, lest he should set his mind upon them.  And the youth went daily to divert himself in the forest, by flinging sticks and staves.  And one day he saw his mother’s flock of goats, and near the goats two hinds were standing.  And he marvelled greatly that these two should be without horns, while the others had them.  And he thought they had long run wild and on that account they had lost their horns.  And by activity and swiftness of foot, he drove the hinds and the goats together into the house which there was for the goats at the extremity of the forest.  Then Peredur returned to his mother.  “Ah, mother,” said he, “a marvellous thing have I seen in the wood; two of thy goats have run wild, and lost their horns; through their having been so long missing in the wood.  And no man had ever more trouble than I had to drive them in.”  Then they all arose and went to see.  And when they beheld the hinds, they were greatly astonished.

And one day they saw three knights coming along the horse-road on the borders of the forest.  And the three knights were Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar, and Geneir Gwystyl, and Owain the son of Urien.  And Owain kept on the track of the knight who had divided the apples in Arthur’s Court, whom they were in pursuit of.  “Mother,” said Peredur, “what are those yonder?”  “They are angels, my son,” said she.  “By my faith,” said Peredur, “I will go and become an angel with them.”  And Peredur went to the road, and met them.  “Tell me, good soul,” said Owain, “sawest thou a knight pass this way, either to-day or yesterday?”  “I know not,” answered he, “what a knight is.”  “Such an one as I am,” said Owain.  “If thou wilt tell me what I ask thee, I will tell thee that which thou askest me.”  “Gladly will I do so,” replied Owain.  “What is this?” demanded Peredur, concerning the saddle.  “It is a saddle,” said Owain.  Then he asked about all the accoutrements which he saw upon the men, and the horses, and the arms, and what they were for, and how they were used.  And Owain shewed him all these things fully, and told him what use was made of them.  “Go forward,” said Peredur, “for I saw such an one as thou enquirest for, and I will follow thee.”

Then Peredur returned to his mother and her company, and he said to her, “Mother, those were not angels, but honourable knights.”  Then his mother swooned away.  And Peredur went to the place where they kept the horses that carried firewood, and that brought meat and drink from the inhabited country to the desert.  And he took a bony piebald horse, which seemed to him the strongest of them.  And he pressed a pack into the form of a saddle, and with twisted twigs he imitated the trappings which he had seen upon the horses.  And when Peredur came again to his mother, the Countess had recovered from her swoon.  “My son,” said she, p. 54“desirest thou to ride forth?”  “Yes, with thy leave,” said he.  “Wait then, that I may counsel thee before thou goest.”  “Willingly,” he answered, “speak quickly.”  “Go forward,” then she said, “to the Court of Arthur, where there are the best, and the boldest, and the most bountiful of men.  And wherever thou seest a church, repeat there thy Paternoster unto it.  And if thou see meat and drink, and hast need of them, and none have the kindness or the courtesy to give them to thee, take them thyself.  If thou hear an outcry, proceed towards it, especially if it be the outcry of a woman.  If thou see a fair jewel, possess thyself of it, and give it to another, for thus thou shalt obtain praise.  If thou see a fair woman, pay thy court to her, whether she will or no; for thus thou wilt render thyself a better and more esteemed man than thou wast before.”

After this discourse, Peredur mounted the horse, and taking a handful of sharp pointed forks in his hand, he rode forth.  And he journeyed two days and two nights in the woody wildernesses, and in desert places, without food and without drink.  And then he came to a vast wild wood, and far within the wood he saw a fair even glade, and in the glade he saw a tent, and seeming to him to be a church, he repeated his Paternoster to the tent.  And he went towards it, and the door of the tent was open.  And a golden chair was near the door.  And on the chair sat a lovely auburn-haired maiden, with a golden frontlet on her forehead, and sparkling stones in the frontlet, and with a large gold ring on her hand.  And Peredur dismounted, and entered the tent.  And the maiden was glad at his coming, and bade him welcome.  At the entrance of the tent he saw food, and two flasks full of wine, and two loaves of fine wheaten flour, and collops of the flesh of the wild boar.  “My mother told me,” said Peredur, “wheresoever I saw meat and drink, to take it.”  “Take the meat and welcome, chieftain,” said she.  So Peredur took half of the meat and of the liquor himself, and left the rest to the maiden.  And when Peredur had finished eating, he bent upon his knee before the maiden.  “My mother,” said he, “told me, wheresoever I saw a fair jewel, to take it.”  “Do so, my soul,” said she.  So Peredur took the ring.  And he mounted his horse, and proceeded on his journey.

After this, behold the knight came, to whom the tent belonged; and he was the Lord of the Glade.  And he saw the track of the horse, and he said to the maiden, “Tell me who has been here since I departed.”  “A man,” said she, “of wonderful demeanour.”  And she described to him what Peredur’s appearance and conduct had been.  “Tell me,” said he, “did he offer thee any wrong?”  “No,” answered the maiden, “by my faith, he harmed me not.”  “By my faith, I do not believe thee; and until I can meet with him, and revenge the insult he has done me, and wreak my vengeance upon him, thou shalt not remain two nights in the same house.”  And the knight arose, and set forth to seek Peredur.

Meanwhile Peredur journeyed on towards Arthur’s Court.  And before he reached it, another knight had been there, who gave a ring of thick gold at the door of the gate for holding his horse, and went into the Hall where Arthur and his household, and Gwenhwyvar and her maidens, were assembled.  And the page of the chamber was serving Gwenhwyvar with a golden goblet.  Then the knight dashed the liquor that was therein upon her face, and upon her stomacher, and gave her a violent blow on the face, and said, “If any have the boldness to dispute this goblet with me, and to avenge the insult to Gwenhwyvar, let him follow me to the meadow, and there I will await him.”  So the knight took his horse, and rode to the meadow.  And all the household hung down their heads, lest any of them should be requested to go and avenge the insult to Gwenhwyvar.  For it seemed to them, that no one would have ventured on so daring an outrage, unless he possessed such powers, through magic or charms, that none could be able to take vengeance upon him.  Then, behold Peredur entered the Hall, upon the bony piebald horse, with the uncouth trappings upon it; and in this way he traversed the whole length of the Hall. [56]  In the centre of the Hall stood Kai.  “Tell me, tall man,” said Peredur, “is that Arthur, yonder?”  “What wouldest thou with Arthur?” asked Kai.  “My mother told me to go to Arthur, and receive the honour of knighthood.”  “By my faith,” said he, “thou art all too meanly equipped with horse and with arms.”  Thereupon he was perceived by all the household, and they threw sticks at him.  Then, behold, a dwarf came forward.  He had already been a year at Arthur’s Court, both he and a female dwarf.  They had craved harbourage of Arthur, and had obtained it; and during the whole year, neither of them had spoken a single word to any one.  When the dwarf beheld Peredur, “Ha ha!” said he, “the welcome of Heaven be unto thee, goodly Peredur, son of Evrawc, the chief of warriors, and flower of knighthood.”  “Truly,” said Kai, “thou art ill-taught to remain a year mute at Arthur’s Court, with choice of society; and now, before the face of Arthur and all his household, to call out, and declare such a man as this the chief of warriors, and the flower of knighthood.”  And he gave him such a box on the ear, that he fell senseless to the ground.  Then exclaimed the female dwarf, “Ha ha! goodly Peredur, son of Evrawc; the welcome of Heaven be unto thee, flower of knights, and light of chivalry.”  “Of a truth, maiden,” said Kai, “thou art ill-bred to remain mute for a year at the Court of Arthur and then to speak as thou dost of such a man as this.”  And Kai kicked her with his foot, so that she fell to the ground senseless.  “Tall man,” said Peredur, “show me which is Arthur.”  “Hold thy peace,” said Kai, “and go after the knight who went hence to the meadow, and take from him the goblet, and overthrow him, and possess thyself of his horse and arms, and then thou shalt receive the order of knighthood.”  “I will do so, tall man,” said Peredur.  So he turned his horse’s head towards the meadow.  And when he came there, the knight was riding up and down, proud of his strength, and valour, and noble mien.  “Tell me,” said the knight, “didst thou see any one coming after me from the Court?”  “The tall man that was there,” said he, “desired me to come, and overthrow thee, and to take from thee the goblet, and thy horse and thy armour for myself.”  “Silence,” said the knight; “go back to the Court, and tell Arthur, from me, either to come himself, or to send some other to fight with me; and unless he do so quickly, I will not wait for him.”  “By my faith,” said Peredur, “choose thou whether it shall be willingly or unwillingly, but I will have the horse, and the arms, and the goblet.”  And upon this the knight ran at him furiously, and struck him a violent blow [58] with the shaft of his spear, between the neck and the shoulder.  “Ha ha! lad,” said Peredur, “my mother’s servants were not used to play with me in this wise; therefore, thus will I play with thee.”  And thereupon he struck him with a sharp pointed fork, and it hit him in the eye, and came out at the back of his neck, so that he instantly fell down lifeless.

“Verily,” said Owain the son of Urien to Kai, “thou wert ill advised, when thou didst send that madman after the knight, for one of two things must befall him.  He must either be overthrown, or slain.  If he is overthrown by the knight, he will be counted by him to be an honourable person of the Court, and an eternal disgrace will it be to Arthur and his warriors.  And if he is slain, the disgrace will be the same, and moreover, his sin will be upon him; therefore will I go to see what has befallen him.”  So Owain went to the meadow, and he found Peredur dragging the man about.  “What art thou doing thus?” said Owain.  “This iron coat,” said Peredur, “will never come from off him; not by my efforts, at any rate.” [59a]  And Owain unfastened his armour and his clothes.  “Here, my good soul,” said he, “is a horse and armour better than thine.  Take them joyfully, and come with me to Arthur, to receive the order of knighthood, for thou dost merit it.”  “May I never shew my face again, if I go,” said Peredur, “but take thou the goblet to Gwenhwyvar, and tell Arthur, that wherever I am, I will be his vassal, and will do him what profit and service I am able.  And say that I will not come to his Court, until I have encountered the tall man that is there, to avenge the injury he did to the dwarf and dwarfess.”  And Owain went back to the Court, and related all these things to Arthur and Gwenhwyvar, and to all the household. [59b]

And Peredur rode forward.  And as he proceeded, behold a knight met him.  “Whence comest thou?” said the knight.  “I come from Arthur’s Court,” said Peredur.  “Art thou one of his men?” asked he.  “Yes, by my faith,” he answered.  “A good service, truly, is that of Arthur.”  “Wherefore sayest thou so?” said Peredur.  “I will tell thee,” said he, “I have always been Arthur’s enemy, and all such of his men as I have ever encountered, I have slain.”  And without further parlance, they fought, and it was not long before Peredur brought him to the ground, over his horse’s crupper.  Then the knight besought his mercy.  “Mercy thou shalt have,” said Peredur, “if thou wilt make oath to me, that thou wilt go to Arthur’s Court, and tell him that it was I that overthrew thee, for the honour of his service; and say that I will never come to the Court, until I have avenged the insult offered to the dwarf and dwarfess.”  The knight pledged him his faith of this, and proceeded to the Court of Arthur, and said as he had promised, and conveyed the threat to Kai.

And Peredur rode forward.  And within that week he encountered sixteen knights, and overthrew them all shamefully.  And they all went to Arthur’s Court, taking with them the same message which the first knight had conveyed from Peredur, and the same threat which he had sent to Kai.  And thereupon Kai was reproved by Arthur; and Kai was greatly grieved thereat.

And Peredur rode forward.  And he came to a vast and desert wood, on the confines of which was a lake.  And on the other side was a fair castle.  And on the border of the lake he saw a venerable hoary-headed man sitting upon a velvet cushion, and having a garment of velvet upon him.  And his attendants were fishing in the lake.  When the hoary-headed man beheld Peredur approaching, he arose, and went towards the castle.  And the old man was lame.  Peredur rode to the palace, and the door was open, and he entered the hall.  And there was the hoary-headed man sitting on a cushion, and a large blazing fire burning before him.  And the household and the company arose to meet Peredur, and disarrayed him.  And the man asked the youth to sit on the cushion; and they sat down, and conversed together.  When it was time, the tables were laid, and they went to meat.  And when they had finished their meal, the man enquired of Peredur, if he knew well how to fight with the sword.  “I know not,” said Peredur, “but were I to be taught, doubtless I p. 61should.”  “Whoever can play well with the cudgel and shield, will also be able to fight with a sword.”  And the man had two sons; the one had yellow hair, and the other auburn.  “Arise, youth,” said he, “and play with the cudgel and the shield.”  And so did they.  “Tell me, my soul,” said the man, “which of the youths thinkest thou plays best?”  “I think,” said Peredur, “that the yellow-haired youth could draw blood from the other, if he chose.”  “Arise thou, my life, and take the cudgel and the shield from the hand of the youth with the auburn hair, and draw blood from the yellow-haired youth, if thou canst.”  So Peredur arose, and went to play with the yellow-haired youth; and he lifted up his arm, and struck him such a mighty blow, that his brow fell over his eye, and the blood flowed forth.  “Ah, my life,” said the man, “come now, and sit down, for thou wilt become the best fighter with the sword of any in this island; and I am thy uncle, thy mother’s brother.  And with me shalt thou remain a space, in order to learn the manners and customs of different countries, and courtesy, and gentleness, and noble bearing.  Leave, then, the habits and the discourse of thy mother, and I will be thy teacher; and I will raise thee to the rank of knight from this time forward.  And thus do thou.  If thou seest aught to cause thee wonder, ask not the meaning of it; if no one has the courtesy to inform thee, the reproach will not fall upon thee, but upon me that am thy teacher.”  And they had abundance of honour and service.  And when it was time, they went to sleep.  At the break of day, Peredur arose, and took his horse, and with his uncle’s permission, he rode forth.  And he came to a vast desert wood, and at the further end of the wood was a meadow, and on the other side of the meadow he saw a large castle.  And thitherward Peredur bent his way, and he found the gate open, and he proceeded to the hall.  And he beheld a stately hoary-headed man sitting on one side of the hall, and many pages around him, who arose to receive and to honour Peredur.  And they placed him by the side of the owner of the palace.  Then they discoursed together; and when it was time to eat, they caused Peredur to sit beside the nobleman during the repast.  And when they had eaten and drank as much as they desired, the nobleman asked Peredur, whether he could fight with a sword?  “Were I to receive instruction,” said Peredur, “I think I could.”  Now, there was on the floor of the hall a huge staple, as large as a warrior could grasp.  “Take yonder sword,” said the man to Peredur, “and strike the iron staple.”  So Peredur arose, and struck the staple, so that he cut it in two; and the sword broke into two parts also.  “Place the two parts together, and reunite them,” and Peredur placed them together, and they became entire as they were before.  And a second time he struck upon the staple, so that both it and the sword broke in two, and as before they reunited.  And the third time he gave a like blow, and placed the broken parts together, and neither the staple nor the sword would unite, as before.  “Youth,” said the nobleman, “come now, and sit down, and my blessing be upon thee.  Thou fightest best with the sword of any man in the kingdom.  Thou hast arrived at two-thirds of thy strength, and the other third thou hast not yet obtained; and when thou attainest to thy full power, none will be able to contend with thee.  I am thy uncle, thy mother’s brother, and I am brother [62] to the man in whose house thou wast p. 63last night.”  Then Peredur and his uncle discoursed together, and he beheld two youths enter the hall, and proceed up to the chamber, bearing a spear of mighty size, with three streams of blood flowing from the point to the ground.  And when all the company saw this, they began wailing and lamenting.  But for all that, the man did not break off his discourse with Peredur.  And as he did not tell Peredur the meaning of what he saw, he forebore to ask him concerning it.  And when the clamour had a little subsided, behold two maidens entered, with a large salver between them, in which was a man’s head, surrounded by a profusion of blood.  And thereupon the company of the court made so great an outcry, that it was irksome to be in the same hall with them.  But at length they were silent.  And when time was that they should sleep, Peredur was brought into a fair chamber.

And the next day, with his uncle’s permission, he rode forth.  And he came to a wood, and far within the wood he heard a loud cry, and he saw a beautiful woman with auburn hair, and a horse with a saddle upon it, standing near her, and a corpse by her side.  And as she strove to place the corpse upon the horse, it fell to the ground, and thereupon she made a great lamentation.  “Tell me, sister,” said Peredur, “wherefore art thou bewailing?”  “Oh! accursed Peredur, little pity has my ill fortune ever met with from thee.”  “Wherefore,” said Peredur, “am I accursed?”  “Because thou wast the cause of thy mother’s death; for when thou didst ride forth against her will, anguish seized upon her heart, so that she died; and therefore art thou accursed.  And the dwarf and the dwarfess that thou sawest at Arthur’s Court, were the dwarfs of thy father and mother; and I am thy foster-sister, and this was my wedded husband, and he was slain by the knight that is in the glade in the wood; and do not thou go near him, lest thou shouldest be slain by him likewise.”  “My sister, thou dost reproach me wrongfully; through my having so long remained amongst you, I shall scarcely vanquish him; and had I continued longer it would, indeed, be difficult for me to succeed.  Cease, therefore, thy lamenting, for it is of no avail, and I will bury the body, and then I will go in quest of the knight, and see if I can do vengeance upon him.”  And when he had buried the body, they went to the place where the knight was, and found him riding proudly along the glade; and he enquired of Peredur whence he came.  “I come from Arthur’s Court.”  “And art thou one of Arthur’s men?”  “Yes, by my faith.”  “A profitable alliance, truly, is that of Arthur.”  And without further parlance, they encountered one another, and immediately Peredur overthrew the knight, and he besought mercy of Peredur.  “Mercy shall thou have,” said he, “upon these terms, that thou take this woman in marriage, and do her all the honour and reverence in thy power, seeing thou hast, without cause, slain her wedded husband; and that thou go to Arthur’s Court, and shew him that it was I that overthrew thee, to do him honour and service; and that thou tell him that I will never come to his Court again until I have met with the tall man that is there, to take vengeance upon him for his insult to the dwarf and the dwarfess.”  And he took the knight’s assurance, that he would perform all this.  Then the knight provided the lady with a horse and garments that were suitable for her, and took her with him to Arthur’s Court.  And he told Arthur all that had occurred, and gave the defiance to Kai.  And Arthur and all his household reproved Kai, for having driven such a youth as Peredur from his Court.

Said Owain the son of Urien, “This youth will never come into the Court until Kai has gone forth from it.”  “By my faith,” said Arthur, “I will search all the deserts in the island of Britain, until I find Peredur, and then let him and his adversary do their utmost to each other.”

p. 66Then Peredur rode forward.  And he came to a desert wood, where he saw not the track either of men or animals, and where there was nothing but bushes and weeds.  And at the upper end of the wood he saw a vast castle, wherein were many strong towers; and when he came near the gate, he found the weeds taller than he had done elsewhere.  And he struck the gate with the shaft of his lance, and thereupon behold a lean auburn-haired youth came to an opening in the battlements.  “Choose thou, chieftain,” said he.  “Whether shall I open the gate unto thee, or shall I announce unto those that are chief, that thou art at the gateway?”  “Say that I am here,” said Peredur, “and if it is desired that I should enter, I will go in.”  And the youth came back, and opened the gate for Peredur.  And when he went into the hall, he beheld eighteen youths, lean and red-headed, of the same height and of the same aspect, and of the same dress, and of the same age as the one who had opened the gate for him.  And they were well skilled in courtesy and in service.  And they disarrayed him.  Then they sat down to discourse.  Thereupon, behold five maidens came from the chamber into the hall.  And Peredur was certain that he had never seen another of so fair an aspect as the chief of the maidens.  And she had an old garment of satin upon her, which had once been handsome, but was then so tattered, that her skin could be seen through it.  And whiter was her skin than the bloom of crystal, and her hair and her two eyebrows were blacker than jet, and on her cheeks were two red spots, redder than whatever is reddest.  And the maiden welcomed Peredur, and put her arms about his neck, and made him sit down beside her.  Not long after this he saw two nuns enter and a flask full of wine was borne by one, and six loaves of white bread by the other.  “Lady,” said they, “Heaven is witness, that there is not so much of food and liquor as this left in yonder Convent this night.”  Then they went to meat, and Peredur observed that the maiden wished to give more of the food and of the liquor to him than to any of the others.  “My sister,” said Peredur, “I will share out the food and the liquor.”  “Not so, my soul,” said she.  “By my faith, but I will.”  So Peredur took the bread, and he gave an equal portion of it to each alike, as well as a cup full of the liquor.  And when it was time for them to sleep, a chamber was prepared for Peredur, and he went to rest.

“Behold, sister,” said the youths to the fairest and most exalted of the maidens, “we have counsel for thee.”  “What may it be?” she enquired.  “Go to the youth that is in the upper chamber, and offer to become his wife, or the lady of his love, if it seem well to him.”  “That were indeed unfitting,” said she.  “Hitherto I have not been the lady love of any knight, and to make him such an offer before I am wooed by him, that, truly, can I not do.”  “By our confession to Heaven, unless thou actest thus, we will leave thee here to thy enemies, to do as they will with thee.”  And through fear of this, the maiden went forth; and shedding tears, she proceeded to the chamber.  And with the noise of the door opening, Peredur awoke; and the maiden was weeping and lamenting.  “Tell me, my sister,” said Peredur, “wherefore dost thou weep?”  “I will tell thee, lord,” said she, “my father possessed these dominions as their chief, and this palace was his, and with it he held the best earldom in the kingdom; then the son of another earl sought me of my father, and I was not willing to be given unto him, and my father would not give me against my will, either to him or any earl in the world.  And my father had no child except myself.  And after my father’s death, these dominions came into my own hands, and then was I less willing to accept him than before.  So he made war upon me, and conquered all my possessions except this one house.  And through the valour of the men whom thou hast seen, who are my foster brothers, and the strength of the house, it can never be taken while food and drink remain.  And now our provisions are exhausted; but as thou hast seen, we have been fed by the nuns, to whom the country is free.  And at length they also are without supply of food or liquor.  And at no later date than to-morrow, the earl will come against this place with all his forces; and if I fall into his power, my fate will be no better than to be given over to the grooms of his horses.  Therefore, lord, I am come to offer to place myself in thy hands, that thou mayest succour me, either by taking me hence, or by defending me here, whichever may seem best unto thee.”  “Go, my sister,” said he, “and sleep; nor will I depart from thee until I do that which thou requirest, or prove whether I can assist thee or not.”  The maiden went again to rest; and the next morning she came to Peredur, and saluted him.  “Heaven prosper thee, my soul, and what tidings dost thou bring?”  “None other, than that the earl and all his forces have alighted at the gate, and I never beheld any place so covered with tents, and thronged with knights challenging others to the combat.”  “Truly,” said Peredur, “let my horse be made ready.”  So his horse was accoutred, and he arose, and sallied forth to the meadow.  And there was a knight riding proudly along the meadow, having raised the signal for battle.  And they encountered, and Peredur threw the knight over his horse’s crupper to the ground.  And at the close of the day, one of the chief knights came to fight with him, and he overthrew him also, so that he besought his mercy.  “Who art thou?” said Peredur.  “Verily,” said he, “I am Master of the Household to the earl.”  “And how much of the Countess’s possessions is there in thy power?”  “The third part, verily,” answered he.  “Then,” said Peredur, “restore to her the third of her possessions in full, and all the profit thou hast made by them, and bring meat and drink for a hundred men, with their horses and arms, to her court this night.  And thou shalt remain her captive, unless she wish to take thy life.”  And this he did forthwith.  And that night the maiden was right joyful, and they fared plenteously.

And the next day Peredur rode forth to the meadow; and that day he vanquished a multitude of the host.  And at the close of the day, there came a proud and stately knight, and Peredur overthrew him, and he besought his mercy.  “Who art thou?” said Peredur.  “I am Steward of the Palace,” said he.  “And how much of the maiden’s possessions are under thy control?”  “One third part,” answered he.  “Verily,” said Peredur, “thou shalt fully restore to the maiden her possessions, and, moreover, thou shalt give her meat and drink for two hundred men, and their horses and their arms.  And for thyself, thou shalt be her captive.”  And immediately it was so done.

And the third day Peredur rode forth to the meadow; and he vanquished more that day than on either of the preceding.  And at the close of the day, an earl came to encounter him, and he overthrew him, and he besought his mercy.  “Who art thou?” said Peredur.  “I am the earl,” said he.  “I will not conceal it from thee.”  “Verily,” said Peredur, “thou shalt restore the whole of the maiden’s earldom, and shalt give her thine own earldom in addition thereto, and meat and drink for three hundred men, and their horses and arms, and thou thyself shalt remain in her power.”  And thus it was fulfilled.  And Peredur tarried three weeks in the country, causing tribute and obedience to be paid to the maiden, and the government to be placed in her hands.  “With thy leave,” said Peredur, “I will go hence.”  “Verily, my brother, desirest thou this?”  “Yes, by my faith; and had it not been for love of thee, I should not have been here thus long.”  “My soul,” said she, “who art thou?”  “I am Peredur the son of Evrawc from the North; and if ever thou art in trouble or in danger, acquaint me therewith, and if I can, I will protect thee.”

So Peredur rode forth.  And far thence there met him a lady, mounted on a horse that was lean, and covered with sweat; and she saluted the youth.  “Whence comest thou, my sister?”  Then she told him the cause of her journey.  Now she was the wife of the Lord of the Glade.  “Behold,” said he, “I am the knight through whom thou art in trouble, and he shall repent it, who has treated thee thus.”  Thereupon, behold a knight rode up, and he enquired of Peredur, if he had seen a knight such as he was seeking.  “Hold thy peace,” said Peredur, “I am he whom thou seekest; and by my faith, thou deservest ill of thy household for thy treatment of the maiden, for she is innocent concerning me.”  So they encountered, and they were not long in combat ere Peredur overthrew the knight, and he besought his mercy.  “Mercy thou shalt have,” said Peredur, “so thou wilt return by the way thou camest, and declare that thou holdest the maiden innocent, and so that thou wilt acknowledge unto her the reverse thou hast sustained at my hands.”  And the knight plighted him his faith thereto.

Then Peredur rode forward.  And above him he beheld a castle, and thitherward he went.  And he struck upon the gate with his lance, and then, behold a comely auburn-haired youth opened the gate, and he had the stature of a warrior, and the years of a boy.  And when Peredur came into the hall, there was a tall and stately lady sitting in a chair, and many handmaidens around her; and the lady rejoiced at his coming.  And when it was time, they went to meat.  And after their repast was finished, “It were well for thee, chieftain,” said she, “to go elsewhere to sleep.”  “Wherefore can I not sleep here?” said Peredur.  “Nine sorceresses are here, my soul, of the sorceresses of Gloucester, and their father and their mother are with them; and unless we can make our escape before daybreak, we shall be slain; and already they have conquered and laid waste all the country, except this one dwelling.”  “Behold,” said Peredur, “I will remain here to-night, and if you are in trouble, I will do you what service I can; but harm shall you not receive from me.”  So they went to rest.  And with the break of day, Peredur heard a dreadful outcry.  And he hastily arose, and went forth in his vest and his doublet, with his sword about his neck, and he saw a sorceress overtake one of the watch, who cried out violently.  Peredur attacked the sorceress, and struck her upon p. 72the head with his sword, so that he flattened her helmet and her headpiece like a dish upon her head.  “Thy mercy, goodly Peredur, son of Evrawc, and the mercy of Heaven.”  “How knowest thou, hag, that I am Peredur?”  “By destiny, and the foreknowledge that I should suffer harm from thee.  And thou shalt take a horse and armour of me; and with me thou shalt go to learn chivalry and the use of thy arms.”  Said Peredur, “Thou shalt have mercy, if thou pledge thy faith thou wilt never more injure the dominions of the Countess.”  And Peredur took surety of this, and with permission of the Countess, he set forth with the sorceress to the palace of the sorceresses.  And there he remained for three weeks, and then he made choice of a horse and arms, and went his way.

And in the evening he entered a valley, and at the head of the valley he came to a hermit’s cell, and the hermit welcomed him gladly, and there he spent the night.  And in the morning he arose, and when he went forth, behold a shower of snow had fallen the night before, and a hawk had killed a wild fowl in front of the cell.  And the noise of the horse scared the hawk away, and a raven alighted upon the bird.  And Peredur stood, and compared the blackness of the raven, and whiteness of the snow, and the redness of the blood, to the hair of the lady that best he loved, which was blacker than jet, and to her skin which was whiter than the snow, and to the two red spots upon her cheeks, which were redder than the blood upon the snow appeared to be.

Now Arthur and his household were in search of Peredur.  “Know ye,” said Arthur, “who is the knight with the long spear that stands by the brook [72] up yonder?”  “Lord,” said one of them, “I will go and learn who he is.”  So the youth came to the place where Peredur was, and asked him what he did thus, and who he was.  And from the intensity with which he thought upon the lady whom best he loved, he gave him no answer.  Then the youth thrust at Peredur with his lance, and Peredur turned upon him, and struck him over his horse’s crupper to the ground.  And after this, four and twenty youths came to him, and he did not answer one more than another, but gave the same reception to all, bringing them with one single thrust to the ground.  And then came Kai, and spoke to Peredur rudely and angrily; and Peredur took him with his lance under the jaw, and cast him from him with a thrust, so that he broke his arm and his shoulder blade, and he rode over him one and twenty times.  And while he lay thus, stunned with the violence of the pain that he had suffered, his horse returned back at a wild and prancing pace.  And when the household saw the horse come back without his rider, they rode forth in haste to the place where the encounter had been.  And when they first came there, they thought that Kai was slain; but they found that if he had a skilful physician, he yet might live.  And Peredur moved not from his meditation, on seeing the concourse that was around Kai.  And Kai was brought to Arthur’s tent, and Arthur caused skilful physicians to come to him.  And Arthur was grieved that Kai had met with this reverse, for he loved him greatly.

“Then,” said Gwalchmai, “it is not fitting that any should disturb an honourable knight from his thought unadvisedly; for either he is pondering some damage that he has sustained, or he is thinking of the lady whom best he loves.  And through such ill-advised proceeding, perchance this misadventure has befallen him who last met with him.  And if it seem well to thee, lord, I will go and see if this knight has changed from his thought; and if he has, I will ask him courteously to come and visit thee.”  Then Kai was wrath, and he spoke angry and spiteful words.  “Gwalchmai,” said he, “I know that thou wilt bring him because he is fatigued.  Little praise and honour, nevertheless, wilt thou have from vanquishing a weary knight, who is tired with fighting.  Yet, thus hast thou gained the advantage over many.  And while thy speech and thy soft words last, a coat of thin linen were armour sufficient for thee, and thou wilt not need to break either lance or sword in fighting with the knight in the state he is in.”  Then said Gwalchmai to Kai, “Thou mightest use more pleasant words, wert thou so minded; and it behoves thee not upon me to wreak thy wrath and thy displeasure.  Methinks I shall bring the knight hither with me without breaking either my arm or my shoulder.”  Then said Arthur to Gwalchmai, “Thou speakest like a wise and a prudent man; go and take enough of armour about thee, and choose thy horse.”  And Gwalchmai accoutred himself, and rode forward hastily to the place where Peredur was.

And Peredur was resting on the shaft of his spear, pondering the same thought, and Gwalchmai came to him without any signs of hostility, and said to him, “If I thought that it would be as agreeable to thee as it would be to me, I would converse with thee.  I have also a message from Arthur unto thee, to pray thee to come and visit him.  And two men have been before on this errand.”  “That is true,” said Peredur, “and uncourteously they came.  They attacked p. 75me, and I was annoyed thereat, for it was not pleasing to me to be drawn from the thought that I was in, for I was thinking of the lady whom best I love; and thus was she brought to my mind,—I was looking upon the snow, and upon the raven, and upon the drops of the blood of the bird that the hawk had killed upon the snow.  And I bethought me that her whiteness was like that of the snow, and that the blackness of her hair and her eyebrows was like that of the raven, and that the two red spots upon her cheeks were like the two drops of blood.”  Said Gwalchmai, “This was not an ungentle thought, and I should marvel if it were pleasant to thee to be drawn from it.”  “Tell me,” said Peredur, “is Kai in Arthur’s Court?”  “He is,” said he, “and behold he is the knight that fought with thee last; and it would have been better for him had he not come, for his arm and his shoulder blade were broken with the fall which he had from thy spear.”  “Verily,” said Peredur, “I am not sorry to have thus begun to avenge the insult to the dwarf and dwarfess.”  Then Gwalchmai marvelled to hear him speak of the dwarf and the dwarfess; and he approached him, and threw his arms around his neck, and asked him what was his name.  “Peredur the son of Evrawc am I called,” said he, “and thou?  Who art thou?”  “I am called Gwalchmai,” he replied.  “I am right glad to meet with thee,” said Peredur, “for in every country where I have been, I have heard of thy fame for prowess and uprightness, and I solicit thy fellowship.”  “Thou shall have it, by my faith, and grant me thine,” said he.  “Gladly will I do so,” answered Peredur.

So they rode forth together joyfully towards the place where Arthur was; and when Kai saw them coming, he said, “I knew that Gwalchmai needed not to fight the knight.  And it is no wonder that he should gain fame; more can he do by his fair words, than I by the strength of my arm.”  And Peredur went with Gwalchmai to his tent, and they took off their armour.  And Peredur put on garments like those that Gwalchmai wore; and they went together unto Arthur, and saluted him.  “Behold, lord,” said Gwalchmai, “him whom thou hast sought so long.”  “Welcome unto thee, chieftain,” said Arthur.  “With me thou shalt remain; and had I known thy valour [76] had been such, thou shouldst not have left me as thou didst.  Nevertheless, this was predicted of thee by the dwarf and the dwarfess, whom Kai ill treated, and whom thou hast avenged.”  And hereupon, behold there came the Queen and her handmaidens, and Peredur saluted them.  And they were rejoiced to see him, and bade him welcome.  And Arthur did him great honour and respect, and they returned towards Caerlleon.

And the first night, Peredur came to Caerlleon, to Arthur’s Court, and as he walked in the city after his repast, behold, there met him Angharad Law Eurawc.  “By my faith, sister,” said Peredur, “thou art a beauteous and lovely maiden; and were it pleasing to thee, I could love thee above all women.”  “I pledge my faith,” said she, “that I do not love thee, nor will I ever do so.”  “I also pledge my faith,” said Peredur, “that I will never speak a word to any Christian again, until thou come to love me above all men.”

The next day, Peredur went forth by the high road, along a mountain ridge, and he saw a valley of a circular form, the confines of which were rocky and wooded.  And the flat part of the valley was in meadows, and there were fields betwixt the meadows and the wood.  And in the bosom of the wood he saw large black houses, of uncouth workmanship.  And he dismounted, and led his horse towards the wood.  And a little way within the wood he saw a rocky ledge, along which the road lay.  And upon the ledge was a lion bound by a chain, and sleeping.  And beneath the lion he saw a deep pit, of immense size, full of the bones of men and animals.  And Peredur drew his sword, and struck the lion, so that he fell into the mouth of the pit, and hung there by the chain; and with a second blow he struck the chain, and broke it, and the lion fell into the pit, and Peredur led his horse over the rocky ledge, until he came into the valley.  And in the centre of the valley he saw a fair castle, and he went towards it.  And in the meadow by the Castle he beheld a huge grey man sitting, who was larger than any man he had ever before seen.  And two young pages were shooting the hilts of their daggers, of the bone of the sea horse.  And one of the pages had red hair, and the other auburn.  And they went before him to the place where the grey man was.  And Peredur saluted him.  And the grey man said, “Disgrace to the beard of my porter.”  Then Peredur understood that the porter was the lion.  And the grey man and the pages went together into the Castle, and Peredur accompanied them; and he found it a fair and noble place.  And they proceeded to the hall, and the tables were already laid, and upon them was abundance of food and liquor.  And thereupon he saw an aged woman and a young woman come from the chamber; and they were the most stately women he had ever seen.  Then they washed, and went to meat, and the grey man sat in the upper seat at the head of the table, and the aged woman next to him.  And Peredur and the maiden were placed together; and the two young pages served them.  And the maiden gazed sorrowfully upon Peredur, and Peredur asked the maiden wherefore she was sad.  “For thee, my soul; for, from when I first beheld thee, I have loved thee above all men.  And it pains me to know that so gentle a youth as thou should have such a doom as awaits thee to-morrow.  Sawest thou the numerous black houses in the bosom of the wood.  All these belong to the vassals of the grey man yonder, who is my father.  And they are all giants.  And to-morrow they will rise up against thee, and will slay thee.  And the Round Valley is this valley called.”  “Listen, fair maiden, wilt thou contrive that my horse and arms be in the same lodging with me to-night.”  “Gladly will I cause it so to be, by Heaven, if I can.”

And when it was time for them to sleep rather than to carouse, they went to rest.  And the maiden caused Peredur’s horse and arms to be in the same lodging with him.  And the next morning Peredur heard a great tumult of men and horses around the Castle.  And Peredur arose, and armed himself and his horse, and went to the meadow.  Then the aged woman and the maiden came to the grey man, “Lord,” said they, “take the word of the youth, that he will never disclose what he has seen in this place, and we will be his sureties that he keep it.”  “I will not do so, by my faith,” said the grey man.  So Peredur fought with the host; and towards evening, he had slain the one-third of them without receiving any hurt himself.  Then said the aged woman, “Behold, many of thy host have been slain by the youth.  Do thou, therefore, grant him mercy.”  “I will not grant it, by my faith,” said he.  And the aged woman and the fair maiden were upon the battlements of the Castle, looking forth.  And at that juncture, Peredur encountered the yellow-haired youth, and slew him.  “Lord,” said the maiden, “grant the young man mercy.”  “That will I not do, by Heaven,” he replied; and thereupon Peredur attacked the auburn-haired youth, and slew him likewise.  “It were better thou hadst accorded mercy to the youth, before he had slain thy two sons; for now scarcely wilt thou thyself escape from him.”  “Go, maiden, and beseech the youth to grant mercy unto us, for we yield ourselves into his hands.”  So the maiden came to the place where Peredur was, and besought mercy for her father, and for all such of his vassals as had escaped alive.  “Thou shalt have it, on condition that thy father, and all that are under him, go and render homage to Arthur, and tell him that it was his vassal Peredur that did him this service.”  “This will we do willingly, by Heaven.”  “And you shall also receive baptism; and I will send to Arthur, and beseech him to bestow this valley upon thee, and upon thy heirs after thee for ever.”  Then they went in, and the grey man and the tall woman saluted Peredur.  And the grey man said unto him, “Since I have possessed this valley, I have not seen any Christian depart with his life, save thyself.  And we will go to do homage to Arthur, and to embrace the faith, and be baptized.”  Then said Peredur, “To Heaven I render thanks that I have not broken my vow to the lady that best I love, which was, that I would not speak one word unto any Christian.”

That night they tarried there.  And the next day, in the morning, the grey man, with his company, set forth to Arthur’s Court; and they did homage unto Arthur, and he caused them to be baptized.  And the grey man told Arthur, that it was Peredur that had vanquished them.  And Arthur gave the valley to the grey man and his company, to hold it of him as Peredur had besought.  And with Arthur’s permission, the grey man went back to the Round Valley.

Peredur rode forward next day, and he traversed a vast tract of desert, in which no dwellings were.  And at length he came to a habitation, mean and small.  And there he heard that there was a serpent that lay upon a gold ring, and suffered none to inhabit the country for seven miles around.  And Peredur came to the place where he heard the serpent was.  And angrily, furiously, and desperately, fought he with the serpent; and at the last he killed it, and took away the ring.  And thus he was for a long time without speaking a word to any Christian.  And therefrom he lost his colour and his aspect, through extreme longing after the Court of Arthur, and the society of the lady whom best he loved, and of his companions.  Then he proceeded forward to Arthur’s Court, and on the road there met him Arthur’s household, going on a particular errand, with Kai at their head.  And Peredur knew them all, but none of the household recognised him.  “Whence comest thou, chieftain?” said Kai.  And this he asked him twice, and three times, and he answered him not.  And Kai thrust him through the thigh with his lance.  And lest he should be compelled to speak, and to break his vow, he went on without stopping.  “Then,” said Gwalchmai, “I declare to Heaven, Kai, that thou hast acted ill in committing such an outrage on a youth like this, who cannot speak.”  And Gwalchmai returned back to Arthur’s Court.  “Lady,” said he to Gwenhwyvar, “seest thou how wicked an outrage Kai has committed upon this youth who cannot speak; for Heaven’s sake, and for mine, cause him to have medical care before I come back, and I will repay thee the charge.”

And before the men returned from their errand, a knight came to the meadow beside Arthur’s Palace, to dare some one to the encounter.  And his challenge was accepted; and Peredur fought with him, and overthrew him.  And for a week he overthrew one knight every day.

And one day, Arthur and his household were going to Church, and they beheld a knight who had raised the signal for combat.  “Verily,” said Arthur, “by the valour of men, I will not go hence until I have my horse and my arms to overthrow yonder boor.”  Then went the attendants to fetch Arthur’s horse and arms.  And Peredur met the attendants as they were going back, and he took the horse and arms from them, and proceeded to the meadow; and all those who saw him arise and go to do battle with the knight, went upon the tops of the houses, and the mounds, and the high places, to behold the combat.  And Peredur beckoned with his hand to the knight to commence the fight.  And the knight thrust at him, but he was not thereby moved from where he stood.  And Peredur spurred his horse, and ran at him wrathfully, furiously, fiercely, desperately, and with mighty rage, and he gave him a thrust, deadly-wounding, severe, furious, adroit and strong, under his jaw, and raised him out of his saddle, and cast him a long way from him.  And Peredur went back, and left the horse and the arms with the attendant as before, and he went on foot to the Palace.

p. 82Then Peredur went by the name of the Dumb Youth.  And behold, Angharad Law Eurawc met him.  “I declare to Heaven, chieftain,” said she, “woeful is it that thou canst not speak; for couldst thou speak, I would love thee best of all men; and, by my faith, although thou canst not, I do love thee above all.”  “Heaven reward thee, my sister,” said Peredur, “by my faith, I also do love thee.”  Thereupon it was known that he was Peredur.  And then he held fellowship with Gwalchmai, and Owain the son of Urien, and all the household, and he remained in Arthur’s Court.

Arthur was in Caerlleon upon Usk; and he went to hunt, and Peredur went with him.  And Peredur let loose his dog upon a hart, and the dog killed the hart in a desert place.  And a short space from him he saw signs of a dwelling, and towards the dwelling he went, and he beheld a hall, and at the door of the hall he found bald swarthy youths playing at chess.  And when he entered, he beheld three maidens sitting on a bench, and they were all clothed alike, as became persons of high rank.  And he came, and sat by them upon the bench; and one of the maidens looked steadfastly upon Peredur, and wept.  And Peredur asked her wherefore she was weeping.  “Through grief, that I should see so fair a youth as thou art, slain.”  “Who will slay me?” enquired Peredur.  “If thou art so daring as to remain here to-night, I will tell thee.”  “How great soever my danger may be from remaining here, I will listen unto thee.”  “This Palace is owned by him who is my father,” said the maiden, “and he slays every one who comes hither without his leave.”  “What sort of a man is thy father, that he is able to slay every one thus?”

p. 83“A man who does violence and wrong unto his neighbours, and who renders justice unto none.”  And hereupon he saw the youths arise and clear the chessmen from the board.  And he heard a great tumult; and after the tumult there came in a huge black one-eyed man, and the maidens arose to meet him.  And they disarrayed him, and he went and sat down; and after he had rested and pondered awhile, he looked at Peredur, and asked who the knight was.  “Lord,” said one of the maidens, “he is the fairest and gentlest youth that ever thou didst see.  And for the sake of Heaven, and of thine own dignity, have patience with him.”  “For thy sake I will have patience, and I will grant him his life this night.”  Then Peredur came towards them to the fire, and partook of food and liquor, and entered into discourse with the ladies.  And being elated with the liquor, he said to the black man, “It is a marvel to me, so mighty as thou sayest thou art, who could have put out thine eye?”  “It is one of my habits,” said the black man, “that whosoever puts to me the question which thou hast asked, shall not escape with his life, either as a free gift, or for a price.”  “Lord,” said the maiden, “whatsoever he may say to thee in jest, and through the excitement of liquor, make good that which thou saidest and didst promise me just now.”  “I will do so, gladly, for thy sake,” said he.  “Willingly will I grant him his life this night.”  And that night thus they remained.

And the next day the black man got up, and put on his armour, and said to Peredur, “Arise, man, and suffer death.”  And Peredur said unto him, “Do one of two things, black man; if thou wilt fight with me, either throw off thy own armour, or give arms to me, that I may encounter thee.”  “Ha! man,” said he, p. 84“couldst thou fight, if thou hadst arms?  Take, then, what arms thou dost choose.”  And thereupon the maiden came to Peredur with such arms as pleased him; and he fought with the black man, and forced him to crave his mercy.  “Black man, thou shalt have mercy, provided thou tell me who thou art, and who put out thine eye.”  “Lord, I will tell thee, I lost it in fighting with the Black Serpent of the Carn.  There is a mound, which is called the Mound of Mourning; and on the mound there is a earn, and in the earn there is a serpent, and on the tail of the serpent there is a stone, and the virtues of the stone are such, that whosoever should hold it in one hand, in the other he will have as much gold as he may desire.  And in fighting with this serpent was it that I lost my eye.  And the Black Oppressor am I called.  And for this reason I am called the Black Oppressor, that there is not a single man around me whom I have not oppressed, and justice have I done unto none.”  “Tell me” said Peredur, “how far is it hence?”  “The same day that thou settest forth, thou wilt come to the Palace of the Sons of the King of the Tortures.”  “Wherefore are they called thus?”  “The Addanc of the Lake slays them once every day.  When thou goest thence, thou wilt come to the Court of the Countess of the Achievements.”  “What achievements are there?” asked Peredur.  “Three hundred men there are in her household, and unto every stranger that comes to the Court, the achievements of her household are related.  And this is the manner of it,—the three hundred men of the household sit next unto the Lady; and that not through disrespect unto the guests, but that they may relate the achievements of the household.  And the day that thou goest thence, thou wilt reach the Mound of Mourning, and round about the mound there are the owners of three hundred tents guarding the serpent.”  “Since thou hast, indeed, been an oppressor so long,” said Peredur, “I will cause that thou continue so no longer.”  So he slew him.

Then the maiden spoke, and began to converse with him.  “If thou wast poor when thou camest here, henceforth thou wilt be rich through the treasure of the black man whom thou hast slain.  Thou seest the many lovely maidens that there are in this Court, thou shalt have her whom thou best likest for the lady of thy love.”  “Lady, I came not hither from my country to woo; but match yourselves as it liketh you with the comely youths I see here; and none of your goods do I desire, for I need them not.”  Then Peredur rode forward, and he came to the Palace of the Sons of the King of the Tortures; and when he entered the Palace, he saw none but women; and they rose up, and were joyful at his coming; and as they began to discourse with him, he beheld a charger arrive, with a saddle upon it, and a corpse in the saddle.  And one of the women arose, and took the corpse from the saddle, and anointed it in a vessel of warm water, which was below the door, and placed precious balsam upon it; and the man rose up alive, and came to the place where Peredur was, and greeted him, and was joyful to see him.  And two other men came in upon their saddles, and the maiden treated these two in the same manner as she had done the first.  Then Peredur asked the chieftain wherefore it was thus.  And they told him, that there was an Addanc in a cave, which slew them once every day.  And thus they remained that night.

And next morning the youths arose to sally forth, and Peredur besought them, for the sake of the ladies of their love, to permit him to go with them; but they refused him, saying, “If thou shouldst be slain there, thou hast none to bring thee back to life again.”  And they rode forward, and Peredur followed after them; and after they had disappeared out of his sight, he came to a mound, whereon sat the fairest lady he had ever beheld.  “I know thy quest,” said she, “thou art going to encounter the Addanc, and he will slay thee, and that not by courage, but by craft.  He has a cave, and at the entrance of the cave there is a stone pillar, and he sees every one that enters, and none see him; and from behind the pillar he slays every one with a poisonous dart.  And if thou wouldst pledge me thy faith, to love me above all women, I would give thee a stone, by which thou shouldst see him when thou goest in, and he should not see thee.”  “I will, by my troth,” said Peredur, “for when first I beheld thee, I loved thee; and where shall I seek thee?”  “When thou seekest me, seek towards India.”  And the maiden vanished, after placing the stone in Peredur’s hand.

And he came towards a valley, through which ran a river; and the borders of the valley were wooded, and on each side of the river were level meadows.  And on one side of the river he saw a flock of white sheep, and on the other a flock of black sheep.  And whenever one of the white sheep bleated, one of the black sheep would cross over, and become white; and when one of the black sheep bleated, one of the white sheep would cross over, and become black.  And he saw a tall tree by the side of the river, one half of which was in flames from the root to the top, and the other half was green and in full leaf.  And nigh thereto he saw a youth sitting upon a mound, and two greyhounds, white-breasted, and spotted, in leashes, lying by his side.  And certain was he, that he had never seen a youth of so royal a bearing as he.  And in the wood opposite he heard hounds raising a herd of deer.  And Peredur saluted the youth, and the youth greeted him in return.  And there were three roads leading from the mound; two of them were wide roads, and the third was more narrow.  And Peredur enquired where the three roads went.  “One of them goes to my palace,” said the youth, “and one of two things I counsel thee to do, either to proceed to my palace, which is before thee, and where thou wilt find my wife, or else to remain here to see the hounds chasing the roused deer from the wood to the plain.  And thou shall see the best greyhounds thou didst ever behold, and the boldest in the chase, kill them by the water beside us; and when it is time to go to meat, my page will come with my horse to meet me, and thou shalt rest in my palace to-night.”  “Heaven reward thee; but I cannot tarry, for onward must I go.”  “The other road leads to the town, which is near here, and wherein food and liquor may be bought; and the road which is narrower than the others goes towards the cave of the Addanc.”  “With thy permission, young man, I will go that way.”

And Peredur went towards the cave.  And he took the stone in his left hand, and his lance in his right.  And as he went in, he perceived the Addanc, and he pierced him through with his lance, and cut off his head.  And as he came from the cave, behold the three companions were at the entrance; and they saluted Peredur, and told him that there was a prediction that he should slay that monster.  And Peredur gave the head to the young men, and they offered him in marriage whichever of the three sisters he might choose, and half their kingdom with her.  “I came not hither to woo,” said Peredur, “but if peradventure I took a wife, I should prefer your sister to all others.”  And Peredur rode forward, and he heard a noise behind him.  And he looked back, and saw a man upon a red horse, with red armour upon him; and the man rode up by his side, and saluted him, and wished him the favour of Heaven and of man.  And Peredur greeted the youth kindly.  “Lord, I come to make a request unto thee.”  “What wouldest thou?”  “That thou shouldest take me as thine attendant.”  “Who then should I take as my attendant, if I did so?”  “I will not conceal from thee what kindred I am of.  Etlym Gleddyv Coch am I called, an Earl from the East Country.”  “I marvel that thou shouldest offer to become attendant to a man whose possessions are no greater than thine own; for I have but an earldom like thyself.  But since thou desirest to be my attendant, I will take thee joyfully.”

And they went forward to the Court of the Countess, and all they of the Court were glad at their coming; and they were told it was not through disrespect they were placed below the household, but that such was the usage of the Court.  For, whoever should overthrow the three hundred men of her household, would sit next the Countess, and she would love him above all men.  And Peredur having overthrown the three hundred men of her household, sat down beside her, and the Countess said, “I thank Heaven that I have a youth so fair and so valiant as thou, since I have not obtained the man whom best I love.”  “Who is he whom best thou lovest?”  “By my faith, Etlym Gleddyv Coch is the man whom I love best, and I have never seen him.”  “Of a truth, Etlym is my companion; and behold here he is, and for his sake did I come to joust with thy household.  And he could have done so better than I, had it pleased him.  And I do give thee unto him.”  “Heaven reward thee, fair youth, and I will take the man whom I love above all others.”  And the Countess became Etlym’s bride from that moment.

And the next day Peredur set forth towards the Mound of Mourning.  “By thy hand, lord, but I will go with thee,” said Etlym.  Then they went forwards till they came in sight of the mound and the tents.  “Go unto yonder men,” said Peredur to Etlym, “and desire them to come and do me homage.”  So Etlym went unto them, and said unto them thus—“Come and do homage to my lord.”  “Who is thy lord?” said they.  “Peredur with the long lance is my lord,” said Etlym.  “Were it permitted to slay a messenger, thou shouldest not go back to thy lord alive, for making unto Kings, and Earls, and Barons, so arrogant a demand as to go and do him homage.”  Peredur desired him to go back to them, and to give them their choice, either to do him homage or to do battle with him.  And they chose rather to do battle.  And that day Peredur overthrew the owners of a hundred tents.  And the next day he overthrew the owners of a hundred more; and the third day the remaining hundred took counsel to do homage to Peredur.  And Peredur enquired of them, wherefore they were there.  And they told him they were guarding the serpent until he should die.  “For then should we fight for the stone among ourselves, and whoever should be conqueror among us would have the stone.”  “Await here,” said Peredur, “and I will go to encounter the serpent.”  “Not so, lord,” said they, “we will go altogether to encounter the serpent.”

p. 90“Verily,” said Peredur, “that will I not permit; for if the serpent be slain, I shall derive no more fame therefrom than one of you.”  Then he went to the place where the serpent was, and slew it, and came back to them, and said, “Reckon up what you have spent since you have been here, and I will repay you to the full.”  And he paid to each what he said was his claim.  And he required of them only that they should acknowledge themselves his vassals.  And he said to Etlym, “Go back unto her whom thou lovest best, and I will go forwards, and I will reward thee for having been my attendant.”  And he gave Etlym the stone.  “Heaven repay thee and prosper thee,” said Etlym.

And Peredur rode thence, and he came to the fairest valley he had ever seen, through which ran a river; and there he beheld many tents of various colours.  And he marvelled still more at the number of water-mills and of wind-mills that he saw.  And there rode up with him a tall auburn-haired man, in a workman’s garb, and Peredur enquired of him who he was.  “I am the chief miller,” said he, “of all the mills yonder.”  “Wilt thou give me lodging?” said Peredur.  “I will, gladly,” he answered.  And Peredur came to the miller’s house, and the miller had a fair and pleasant dwelling.  And Peredur asked money as a loan from the miller, that he might buy meat and liquor for himself, and for the household, and he promised that he would pay him again ere he went thence.  And he enquired of the miller, wherefore such a multitude were there assembled.  Said the miller to Peredur, “One thing is certain; either thou art a man from afar, or thou art beside thyself.  The Empress of Cristinobyl the Great is here; and she will have no one but the man who is most valiant; for riches does she not require.  And it was impossible to bring food for so many thousands as are here, therefore were all these mills constructed.”  And that night they took their rest.

And the next day Peredur arose, and he equipped himself and his horse for the tournament.  And among the other tents, he beheld one, which was the fairest he had ever seen.  And he saw a beauteous maiden leaning her head out of a window of the tent, and he had never seen a maiden more lovely than she.  And upon her was a garment of satin.  And he gazed fixedly on the maiden, and began to love her greatly.  And he remained there, gazing upon the maiden from morning until mid-day, and from mid-day until evening; and then the tournament was ended; and he went to his lodging, and drew off his armour.  Then he asked money of the miller as a loan, and the miller’s wife was wroth with Peredur; nevertheless, the miller lent him the money.  And the next day he did in like manner as he had done the day before.  And at night he came to his lodging, and took money as a loan from the miller.  And the third day, as he was in the same place, gazing upon the maiden, he felt a hard blow between the neck and the shoulder, from the edge of an axe.  And when he looked behind him, he saw that it was the miller; and the miller said to him, “Do one of two things: either turn thy head from hence, or go to the tournament.”  And Peredur smiled on the miller, and went to the tournament; and all that encountered him that day, he overthrew.  And as many as he vanquished, he sent as a gift to the Empress, and their horses and arms he sent as a gift to the wife of the miller, in payment of the borrowed money.  Peredur attended the tournament until all were overthrown, p. 92and he sent all the men to the prison of the Empress, and the horses and arms to the wife of the miller, in payment of the borrowed money.  And the Empress sent to the Knight of the Mill, to ask him to come and visit her.  And Peredur went not for the first nor for the second message.  And the third time she sent an hundred knights to bring him against his will, and they went to him, and told him their mission from the Empress.  And Peredur fought well with them, and caused them to be bound like stags, and thrown into the mill dyke.  And the Empress sought advice of a wise man, who was in her counsel; and he said to her, “With thy permission, I will go to him myself.”  So he came to Peredur, and saluted him, and besought him, for the sake of the lady of his love, to come and visit the Empress.  And they went, together with the miller.  And Peredur went and sat down in the outer chamber of the tent, and she came and placed herself by his side.  And there was but little discourse between them.  And Peredur took his leave, and went to his lodging.  And the next day he came to visit her, and when he came into the tent, there was no one chamber less decorated than the others.  And they knew not where he would sit.  And Peredur went and sat beside the Empress, and discoursed with her courteously.  And while they were thus, they beheld a black man enter with a goblet full of wine in his hand.  And he dropped upon his knee before the Empress, and besought her to give it to no one who would not fight with him for it.  And she looked upon Peredur.  “Lady,” said he, “bestow on me the goblet.”  And Peredur drank the wine, and gave the goblet to the miller’s wife.  And while they were thus, behold there entered a black man, of larger stature than the other, with a wild beast’s claw in his hand, wrought into the form of a goblet, and filled with wine.  And he presented it to the Empress, and besought her to give it to no one but the man who would fight with him.  “Lady,” said Peredur, “bestow it on me.”  And she gave it to him.  And Peredur drank the wine, and sent the goblet to the wife of the miller.  And while they were thus, behold a rough-looking crisp-haired man, taller than either of the others, came in with a bowl in his hand full of wine; and he bent upon his knee, and gave it into the hands of the Empress, and he besought her to give it to none but him who would fight with him for it; and she gave it to Peredur, and he sent it to the miller’s wife.  And that night Peredur returned to his lodging; and the next day he accoutred himself and his horse, and went to the meadow, and slew the three men.  Then Peredur proceeded to the tent, and the Empress said to him, “Goodly Peredur, remember the faith thou didst pledge me when I gave thee the stone, and thou didst kill the Addanc.”  “Lady,” answered he, “thou sayest truth, I do remember it.”  And Peredur was entertained by the Empress fourteen years, as the story relates.

* * * * *

Arthur was at Caerlleon upon Usk, his principal palace; and in the centre of the floor of the hall were four men sitting on a carpet of velvet, Owain the son of Urien, and Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar, and Howel the son of Emyr Llydaw, and Peredur of the long lance.  And thereupon they saw a black curly-headed maiden enter, riding upon a yellow mule, with jagged thongs in her hand, to urge it on; and having a rough and hideous aspect.  Blacker were her face and her two hands than the blackest iron covered with pitch; and her hue was not more frightful than her form.  High cheeks had she, and a face lengthened downwards, and a short nose with distended nostrils.  And one eye was of a piercing mottled grey, and the other was as black as jet, deep sunk in her head.  And her teeth were long and yellow, more yellow were they than the flower of the broom.  And her stomach rose from the breast bone, higher than her chin.  And her back was in the shape of a crook, and her legs were large and bony.  And her figure was very thin and spare, except her feet and her legs, which were of huge size.  And she greeted Arthur and all his household, except Peredur.  And to Peredur she spoke harsh and angry words.  “Peredur, I greet thee not, seeing that thou dost not merit it.  Blind was fate in giving thee fame and favour.  When thou wast in the Court of the Lame King, and didst see there the youth bearing the streaming spear, from the points of which were drops of blood flowing in streams, even to the hand of the youth, and many other wonders likewise, thou didst not enquire their meaning nor their cause.  Hadst thou done so, the King would have been restored to health, and his dominions to peace.  Whereas, from henceforth, he will have to endure battles and conflicts, and his knights will perish, and wives will be widowed, and maidens will be left portionless, and all this is because of thee.”  Then said she unto Arthur, “May it please thee, lord, my dwelling is far hence, in the stately castle of which thou hast heard, and therein are five hundred and sixty-six knights of the order of Chivalry, and the lady whom best he loves with each; and whoever would acquire fame in arms, and encounters, and conflicts, he will gain it there, if he deserve it.  And whoso would reach the summit of fame and of honour, I know where he may find it.  There is a Castle on a lofty mountain, and there is a maiden therein, and she is detained a prisoner there, and whoever shall set her free will attain the summit of the fame of the world.”  And thereupon she rode away.

Said Gwalchmai, “By my faith, I will not rest tranquilly until I have proved if I can release the maiden.”  And many of Arthur’s household joined themselves with him.  Then, likewise said Peredur, “By my faith, I will not rest tranquilly until I know the story and meaning of the lance whereof the black maiden spoke.”  And while they were equipping themselves, behold a knight came to the gate.  And he had the size and the strength of a warrior, and was equipped with arms and habiliments.  And he went forward, and saluted Arthur and all his household, except Gwalchmai.  And the knight had upon his shoulder a shield, ingrained with gold, with a fesse of azure blue upon it, and his whole armour was of the same hue.  And he said to Gwalchmai, “Thou didst slay my lord, by thy treachery and deceit, and that will I prove upon thee.”  Then Gwalchmai rose up.  “Behold,” said he, “here is my gage against thee, to maintain either in this place, or wherever else thou wilt, that I am not a traitor or deceiver.”  “Before the King whom I obey, will I that my encounter with thee take place,” said the knight.  “Willingly,” said Gwalchmai, “go forward, and I will follow thee.”  So the knight went forth, and Gwalchmai accoutred himself, and there was offered unto him abundance of armour, but he would take none but his own.  And when Gwalchmai and Peredur were equipped, they set forth to follow him, by reason of their fellowship, and of the great friendship that was between them.  And they did not go after him p. 96in company together, but each went his own way.

At the dawn of day, Gwalchmai came to a valley, and in the valley he saw a fortress, and within the fortress a vast palace, and lofty towers around it.  And he beheld a knight coming out to hunt from the other side, mounted on a spirited black snorting palfrey, that advanced at a prancing pace, proudly stepping, and nimbly bounding, and sure of foot; and this was the man to whom the palace belonged.  And Gwalchmai saluted him, “Heaven prosper thee, chieftain,” said he, “and whence comest thou?”  “I come,” answered he, “from the Court of Arthur.”  “And art thou Arthur’s vassal?”  “Yes, by my faith,” said Gwalchmai.  “I will give thee good counsel,” said the knight.  “I see that thou art tired and weary, go unto my palace, if it may please thee, and tarry there to-night.”  “Willingly, lord,” said he, “and Heaven reward thee.”  “Take this ring as a token to the porter, and go forward to yonder tower, and therein thou wilt find my sister.”  And Gwalchmai went to the gate, and shewed the ring, and proceeded to the tower.  And on entering, he beheld a large blazing fire, burning without smoke, and with a bright and lofty flame, and a beauteous and stately maiden was sitting on a chair by the fire.  And the maiden was glad at his coming, and welcomed him, and advanced to meet him.  And he went and sat beside the maiden, and they took their repast.  And when their repast was over, they discoursed pleasantly together.  And while they were thus, behold there entered a venerable hoary-headed man.  “Ah! base girl,” said he, “if thou didst think that it was right for thee to entertain and to sit by yonder man; thou wouldest not do so.”  And he withdrew his head, and went forth, “Ha! chieftain,” said the maiden, “if thou wilt do as I counsel thee, thou wilt shut the door, lest the man should have a plot against thee.”  Upon that Gwalchmai arose, and when he came near unto the door, the man, with sixty others, fully armed, were ascending the tower.  And Gwalchmai defended the door with a chessboard, that none might enter until the man should return from the chase.  And thereupon, behold the earl arrived.  “What is all this?” asked he.  “It is a sad thing,” said the hoary-headed man, “the young girl yonder has been sitting and eating with him who slew your father.  He is Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar.”  “Hold thy peace, then,” said the earl, “I will go in.”  And the earl was joyful concerning Gwalchmai.  “Ha! chieftain,” said he, “it was wrong of thee to come to my Court, when thou knewest that thou didst slay my father; and though we cannot avenge him, Heaven will avenge him upon thee.”  “My soul,” said Gwalchmai, “thus it is; I came not here either to acknowledge or to deny having slain thy father; but I am on a message from Arthur, and therefore do I crave the space of a year until I shall return from my embassy, and then, upon my faith, I will come back unto this palace, and do one of two things, either acknowledge it, or deny it.”  And the time was granted him willingly; and he remained there that night.  And the next morning he rode forth.  And the story relates nothing further of Gwalchmai respecting this adventure.

And Peredur rode forward.  And he wandered over the whole island, seeking tidings of the black maiden, and he could meet with none.  And he came to an unknown land, in the centre of a valley, watered by a river.  And as he traversed the valley, he beheld a horseman coming towards him, and wearing the p. 98garments of a priest, and he besought his blessing.  “Wretched man,” said he, “thou meritest no blessing, and thou wouldst not be profited by one, seeing that thou art clad in armour on such a day as this.”  “And what day is to-day?” said Peredur.  “To-day is Good Friday,” he answered.  “Chide me not, that I knew not this, seeing that it is a year to-day since I journeyed forth from my country.”  Then he dismounted, and led his horse in his hand.  And he had not proceeded far along the high road before he came to a cross road, and the cross road traversed a wood.  And on the other side of the wood he saw an unfortified castle, which appeared to be inhabited.  And at the gate of the castle there met him the priest whom he had seen before, and he asked his blessing.  “The blessing of Heaven be unto thee,” said he, “it is more fitting to travel in thy present guise, than as thou wast erewhile; and this night thou shalt tarry with me.”  So he remained there that night.

And the next day Peredur sought to go forth.  “To-day may no one journey.  Thou shalt remain with me to-day and to-morrow, and the day following, and I will direct thee as best I may to the place which thou art seeking.”  And the fourth day Peredur sought to go forth, and he entreated the priest to tell him how he should find the Castle of Wonders.  “What I know thereof, I will tell thee,” he replied.  “Go over yonder mountain, and on the other side of the mountain thou wilt come to a river, and in the valley wherein the river runs is a King’s Palace, wherein the King sojourned during Easter.  And if thou mayest have tidings anywhere of the Castle of Wonders, thou wilt have them there.”

Then Peredur rode forward.  And he came to the valley in which was the river, and there met him a number of men going to hunt, and in the midst of them was a man of exalted rank, and Peredur saluted him.  “Choose, chieftain,” said the man, “whether thou wilt go with me to the chase, or wilt proceed to my Palace, and I will despatch one of my household to commend thee to my daughter, who is there, and who will entertain thee with food and liquor until I return from hunting; and whatever may be thine errand, such as I can obtain for thee, thou shalt gladly have.”  And the King sent a little yellow page with him as an attendant; and when they came to the palace, the lady had arisen, and was about to wash before meat.  Peredur went forward, and she saluted him joyfully, and placed him by her side.  And they took their repast.  And whatsoever Peredur said unto her, she laughed loudly, so that all in the palace could hear.  Then spoke the yellow page to the lady.  “By my faith,” said he, “this youth is already thy husband; or if he be not, thy mind and thy thoughts are set upon him.”  And the little yellow page went unto the King, and told him that it seemed to him that the youth whom he had met with was his daughter’s husband, or if he were not so already, that he would shortly become so, unless he were cautious.  “What is thy counsel in this matter, youth?” said the King.  “My counsel is,” he replied, “that thou set strong men upon him, to seize him, until thou hast ascertained the truth respecting this.”  So he set strong men upon Peredur, who seized him, and cast him into prison.  And the maiden went before her father, and asked him, wherefore he had caused the youth from Arthur’s Court to be imprisoned.  “In truth,” he answered, “he shall not be free to-night, nor to-morrow, nor the day following, and he shall not come from where he is.”  She replied not to what the king p. 100had said, but she went to the youth.  “Is it unpleasant to thee to be here?” said she.  “I should not care, if I were not,” he replied.  “Thy couch and thy treatment shall be in no wise inferior to that of the King himself, and thou shalt have the best entertainment that the palace affords.  And if it were more pleasing to thee that my couch should be here, that I might discourse with thee, it should be so, cheerfully.”  “This can I not refuse,” said Peredur.  And he remained in prison that night.  And the maiden provided all that she had promised him.

And the next day Peredur heard a tumult in the town.  “Tell me, fair maiden, what is that tumult?” said Peredur.  “All the King’s hosts and his forces have come to the town to-day.”  “And what seek they here?” he enquired.  “There is an Earl near this place, who possesses two Earldoms, and is as powerful as a king; and an engagement will take place between them to-day.”  “I beseech thee,” said Peredur, “to cause a horse and arms to be brought, that I may view the encounter, and I promise to come back to my prison again.”  “Gladly,” said she, “will I provide thee with horse and arms.”  So she gave him a horse and arms, and a bright scarlet robe of honour over his armour, and a yellow shield upon his shoulder.  And he went to the combat; and as many of the Earl’s men as encountered him that day, he overthrew; and he returned to his prison.  And the maiden asked tidings of Peredur, and he answered her not a word.  And she went and asked tidings of her father, and enquired who had acquitted himself best of the household.  And he said that he knew not, but that it was a man with a scarlet robe of honour over his armour, and a yellow shield upon his shoulder.  Then she smiled, and returned to where p. 101Peredur was, and did him great honour that night.  And for three days did Peredur slay the Earl’s men; and before any one could know who he was, he returned to his prison.  And the fourth day Peredur slew the Earl himself.  And the maiden went unto her father, and enquired of him the news.  “I have good news for thee,” said the King, “the Earl is slain, and I am the owner of his two Earldoms.”  “Knowest thou, lord, who slew him?”  “I do not know,” said the King.  “It was the knight with the scarlet robe of honour, and the yellow shield.”  “Lord,” said she, “I know who that is.”  “By Heaven,” he exclaimed, “who is he?”  “Lord,” she replied, “he is the knight whom thou hast imprisoned.”  Then he went unto Peredur, and saluted him, and told him that he would reward the service he had done him, in any way he might desire.  And when they went to meat, Peredur was placed beside the King, and the maiden on the other side of Peredur, “I will give thee,” said the King, “my daughter in marriage, and half my kingdom with her, and the two Earldoms as a gift.”  “Heaven reward thee, lord,” said Peredur, “but I came not here to woo.”  “What seekest thou, then, chieftain?”  “I am seeking tidings of the Castle of Wonders.”  “Thy enterprise is greater, chieftain, than thou wilt wish to pursue,” said the maiden, “nevertheless, tidings shalt thou have of the Castle, and thou shalt have a guide through my father’s dominions, and a sufficiency of provisions for thy journey, for thou art, O chieftain, the man whom best I love.”  Then she said to him, “Go over yonder mountain, and thou wilt find a Lake, and in the middle of the Lake there is a Castle, and that is the Castle that is called the Castle of Wonders; and we p. 102know not what wonders are therein, but thus is it called.”

And Peredur proceeded towards the Castle, and the gate of the Castle was open.  And when he came to the hall, the door was open, and he entered.  And he beheld a chessboard in the hall, and the chessmen were playing against each other, by themselves.  And the side that he favoured lost the game, [102] and thereupon the others set up a shout, as though they had been living men.  And Peredur was wroth, and took the chessmen in his lap, and cast the chessboard into the lake.  And when he had done thus, behold the black maiden came in, and she said to him, “The welcome of Heaven be not unto thee.  Thou hadst rather do evil than good.”  “What complaint hast thou against me, maiden?” said Peredur.  “That thou hast occasioned unto the Empress the loss of her chessboard, which she would not have lost for all her empire.  And the way in which thou mayest recover the chessboard is, to repair to the Castle of Ysbidinongyl, where is a black man, who lays waste the dominions of the Empress; and if thou canst slay him, thou wilt recover the chessboard.  But if thou goest there, thou wilt not return alive.”  “Wilt thou direct me thither?” said Peredur.  “I will show thee the way,” she replied.  So he went to the Castle of Ysbidinongyl, and he fought with the black man.  And the black man besought mercy of Peredur.  “Mercy will I grant thee,” said he, “on condition that thou cause the chessboard to be restored to the place where it was when I entered the hall.”  Then the maiden came to him and said, “The malediction of Heaven attend thee for thy work, since thou hast left that monster alive, who lays waste all the possessions of the Empress.”  “I granted him his life,” said Peredur, “that he might cause the chessboard to be restored.”  “The chessboard is not in the place where thou didst find it; go back, therefore, and slay him,” answered she.  So Peredur went back, and slew the black man.  And when he returned to the palace, he found the black maiden there.  “Ah! maiden,” said Peredur, “where is the Empress?”  “I declare to Heaven that thou wilt not see her now, unless thou dost slay the monster that is in yonder forest.”  “What monster is there?”  “It is a stag that is as swift as the swiftest bird; and he has one horn in his forehead, as long as the shaft of a spear and as sharp as whatever is sharpest.  And he destroys the branches of the best trees in the forest and he kills every animal that he meets with therein; and those that he does not slay perish of hunger.  And what is worse than that, he comes every night, and drinks up the fish pond, and leaves the fishes exposed, so that for the most part they die before the water returns again.”  “Maiden,” said Peredur, “wilt thou come and show me this animal?”  “Not so,” said the maiden, “for he has not permitted any mortal to enter the forest for above a twelvemonth.  Behold, here is a little dog belonging to the Empress, which will rouse the stag, and will chase him towards thee, and the stag will attack thee.”  Then the little dog went as a guide to Peredur, and roused the stag, and brought him towards the place where Peredur was.  And the stag attacked Peredur, and he let him pass by him, and as he did so, he smote off his head with his sword.  And while he was looking at the head of the stag, he saw a lady on horseback coming towards him.  And she took the little dog in the lappet of her cap, and the head and the body of the stag lay before her.  And around the stag’s neck was a golden collar.  “Ha! chieftain,” said she, “uncourteously hast thou acted in slaying the fairest jewel that was in my dominions.”  “I was intreated so to do; and is there any way by which I can obtain thy friendship?”  “There is,” she replied.  “Go thou forward unto yonder mountain, and there thou wilt find a grove; and in the grove there is a cromlech, do thou there challenge a man three times to fight, and thou shalt have my friendship.”

So Peredur proceeded onward, and came to the side of the grove, and challenged any man to fight.  And a black man arose from beneath the cromlech, mounted upon a bony horse, and both he and his horse were clad in huge rusty armour.  And they fought.  And as often as Peredur cast the black man to the earth, he would jump again into his saddle.  And Peredur dismounted, and drew his sword; and thereupon the black man disappeared with Peredur’s horse and his own, so that he could not gain sight of him a second time.  And Peredur went along the mountain, and on the other side of the mountain he beheld a castle in the valley, wherein was a river.  And he went to the castle; and as he entered it, he saw a hall, and the door of the hall was open, and he went in.  And there he saw a lame grey-headed man, sitting on one side of the hall, with Gwalchmai beside him.  And Peredur beheld his horse, which the black man had taken, in the same stall with that of Gwalchmai.  And they were glad concerning Peredur.  And he went and seated himself on the other side of the hoary-headed man.  Then, behold a yellow-haired youth came, and bent upon the knee before Peredur, and besought his friendship.  “Lord,” said the youth, “it was I that came in the form of the black maiden to Arthur’s Court, and when thou didst throw down the chessboard, and when thou didst slay the black man of Ysbidinongyl, and when thou didst slay the stag, and when thou didst go to fight the black man of the cromlech.  And I came with the bloody head in the salver, and with the lance that streamed with blood from the point to the hand, all along the shaft; and the head was thy cousin’s, and he was killed by the sorceresses of Gloucester, who also lamed thine uncle; and I am thy cousin.  And there is a prediction that thou art to avenge these things.”  Then Peredur and Gwalchmai took counsel, and sent to Arthur and his household, to beseech them to come against the sorceresses.  And they began to fight with them, and one of the sorceresses slew one of Arthur’s men before Peredur’s face, and Peredur bade her forbear.  And the sorceress slew a man before Peredur’s face a second time, and a second time he forbade her.  And the third time the sorceress slew a man before the face of Peredur, and then Peredur drew his sword, and smote the sorceress on the helmet, and all her head armour was split in two parts.  And she set up a cry, and desired the other sorceresses to flee, and told them that this was Peredur, the man who had learnt Chivalry with them, and by whom they were destined to be slain.  Then Arthur and his household fell upon the sorceresses, and slew the sorceresses of Gloucester every one And thus is it related concerning the Castle of Wonders.


Madawc the son of Maredudd possessed Powys within its boundaries, from Porfoed to Gwauan in the uplands of Arwystli.  And at that time he had a brother, Iorwerth the son of Maredudd, in rank not equal to himself.  And Iorwerth had great sorrow and heaviness because of the honour and power that his brother enjoyed, which he shared not.  And he sought his fellows and his foster-brothers, and took counsel with them what he should do in this matter.  And they resolved to despatch some of their number to go and seek a maintenance for him.  Then Madawc offered him to become Master of the Household and to have horses, and arms, and honour, and to fare like as himself.  But Iorwerth refused this.

And Iorwerth made an inroad into England, slaying the inhabitants, and burning houses, and carrying away prisoners.  And Madawc took counsel with the men of Powys, and they determined to place an hundred men in each of the three Commots of Powys to seek for him.  And thus did they in the plains of Powys from Aber Ceirawc, and in Allictwn Ver, and in Rhyd Wilure, on the Vyrnwy, the three best Commots of Powys.  So he was none the better, he nor his household, in Powys, nor in the plains thereof. [108]  And they spread these men over the plains as far as Nillystwn Trevan.

Now one of the men who was upon this quest was called Rhonabwy.  And Rhonabwy and Kynwrig Vrychgoch, a man of Mawddwy, and Cadwgan Vras, a man of Moelvre in Kynlleith, came together to the house of Heilyn Goch the son of Cadwgan the son of Iddon.  And when they near to the house, they saw an old hall, very black and having an upright gable, whence issued a great smoke; and on entering, they found the floor full of puddles and mounds; and it was difficult to stand thereon, so slippery was it with the mire of cattle.  And where the puddles were a man might go up to his ankles in water and dirt.  And there were boughs of holly spread over the floor whereof the cattle had browsed the sprigs.  When they came to the hall of the house, they beheld cells full of dust, and very gloomy, [109] and on one side an old hag making a fire.  And whenever she felt cold, she cast a lapful of chaff upon the fire, and raised such a smoke, that it was scarcely to be borne, as it rose up the nostrils.  And on the other side was a yellow calf skin on the floor, a main privilege was it to any one who should get upon that hide.

And when they had sat down, they asked the hag where were the people of the house.  And the hag spoke not but muttered.  Thereupon behold the people of the house entered; a ruddy, clownish curly-headed man, with a burthen of fagots on his back, and a pale slender woman, also carrying a bundle under her arm.  And they barely welcomed the men, and kindled a fire with the boughs.  And the woman cooked something and gave them to eat, barley bread, and cheese, and milk and water.

And there arose a storm of wind and rain, so that it was hardly possible to go forth with safety.  And being weary with their journey, they laid themselves down and sought to sleep.  And when they looked at the couch, it seemed to be made but of a little coarse straw full of dust and vermin, with the stems of boughs sticking up therethrough, for the cattle had eaten all the straw that was placed at the head and the foot.  And upon it was stretched an old russet-coloured rug, threadbare and ragged; and a coarse sheet, full of slits was upon the rug, and an ill-stuffed pillow, and a worn-out cover upon the sheet.  And after much suffering from the vermin, and from the discomfort of their couch, a heavy sleep fell on Rhonabwy’s companions.  But Rhonabwy, not being able either to sleep or to rest, thought he should suffer less if he went to lie upon the yellow calfskin that was stretched out on the floor.  And there he slept.

As soon as sleep had come upon his eyes, it seemed to him that he was journeying with his companions across the plain of Argyngroeg, and he thought that he went towards Rhyd y Groes on the Severn.  As he journeyed, he heard a mighty noise, the like whereof heard he never before; and looking behind him, he beheld a youth with yellow curling hair, and with his beard newly trimmed, mounted on a chesnut horse, whereof the legs were grey from the top of the forelegs, and from the bend of the hindlegs downwards.  And the rider wore a coat of yellow satin sewn with green silk, and on his thigh was a gold-hilted sword, with a scabbard of new leather of Cordova, belted with the skin of the deer, and clasped with gold.  And over this was a scarf of yellow satin wrought with green silk, the borders whereof were likewise green.  And the green of the caparison of the horse, and of his rider, was as green as the leaves of the fir tree, and the yellow was as yellow as the blossom of the broom.  So fierce was the aspect of the knight, that fear seized upon them, and they began to flee.  And the knight pursued them.  And when the horse breathed forth, the men became distant from him, and when he drew in his breath, they were drawn near to him, even to the horse’s chest.  And when he had overtaken them, they besought his mercy.  “You have it gladly!” said he, “fear nought.”  “Ha, chieftain, since thou hast p. 111mercy upon me, tell me also who thou art,” said Rhonabwy.  “I will not conceal my lineage from thee.  I am Iddawc the son of Mynyo, yet not by my name, but by my nickname am I best known.”  “And wilt thou tell us what thy nickname is?”  “I will tell you; it is Iddawc Cordd Prydain.”  “Ha, chieftain,” said Rhonabwy, “why art thou called thus?”  “I will tell thee.  I was one of the messengers between Arthur and Medrawd his nephew, at the battle of Camlan; and I was then a reckless youth, and through my desire for battle, I kindled strife between them, and stirred up wrath, when I was sent by Arthur the Emperor to reason with Medrawd, and to shew him, that he was his foster-father and his uncle, and to seek for peace, lest the sons of the Kings of the Island of Britain, and of the nobles, should be slain.  And whereas Arthur charged me with the fairest sayings he could think of, I uttered unto Medrawd the harshest I could devise.  And therefore am I called Iddawc Cordd Prydain, for from this did the battle of Camlan ensue.  And three nights before the end of the battle of Camlan I left them, and went to the Llech Las in North Britain to do penance.  And there I remained doing penance seven years, and after that I gained pardon.”

Then lo! they heard a mighty sound which was much louder than that which they had heard before, and when they looked round towards the sound; behold a ruddy youth, without beard or whiskers, [111] noble of mien, and mounted on a stately courser.  And from the shoulders and the front of the knees downwards the horse was bay.  And upon the man was a dress of red satin wrought with yellow silk, and yellow were the borders of his scarf.  And such parts of his apparel and of the trappings of his horse as were yellow, as yellow were they as the blossom of the broom, and such as were red, were as ruddy as the ruddiest blood in the world.

Then behold the horseman overtook them, and he asked of Iddawc a share of the little men that were with him.  “That which is fitting for me to grant I will grant, and thou shalt be a companion to them as I have been.”  And the horseman went away.  “Iddawc,” enquired Rhonabwy, “who was that horseman?”  “Rhuvawn Pebyr, the son of Prince Deorthach.”

And they journeyed over the plain of Argyngroeg as far as the ford of Rhyd y Groes on the Severn.  And for a mile around the ford on both sides of the road, they saw tents and encampments, and there was the clamour of a mighty host.  And they came to the edge of the ford, and there they beheld Arthur sitting on a flat island below the ford, having Bedwini [112] the Bishop on one side of him, and Gwarthegyd the son of Kaw on the other.  And a tall auburn-haired youth stood before him, with his sheathed sword in his hand, and clad in a coat and a cap of jet black satin.  And his face was white as ivory, and his eyebrows black as jet, and such part of his wrist as could be seen between his glove and his sleeve was whiter than the lily, and thicker than a warrior’s ankle.

Then came Iddawc and they that were with him, and stood before Arthur, and saluted him.  “Heaven grant thee good,” said Arthur.  “And where, Iddawc, didst thou find these little men?”  “I found them, lord, up yonder on the road.”  Then the Emperor smiled.  “Lord,” said Iddawc, “wherefore dost thou laugh?”  “Iddawc,” replied Arthur, “I laugh nor; but it pitieth me that men of such stature as these should have this Island in their keeping, after the men that guarded it of yore.”  Then said Iddawc, “Rhonabwy, dost thou see the ring with a stone set in it, that is upon the Emperor’s hand?”  “I see it,” he answered.  “It is one of the properties of that stone, to enable thee to remember that thou seest here to-night, and hadst thou not seen the stone, thou wouldest never have been able to remember aught thereof.”

After this they saw a troop coming towards the ford.  “Iddawc,” enquired Rhonabwy, “to whom does yonder troop belong?”  “They are the fellows of Rhuvawn Pebyr the son of Prince Deorthach.  And these men are honourably served with mead and bragget, and are freely beloved by the daughters of the kings of the Island of Britain.  And this they merit, for they were ever in the front and the rear in every peril.”  And he saw but one hue upon the men and the horses of this troop, for they were all as red as blood.  And when one of the knights rode forth from the troop, he looked like a pillar of fire glancing athwart the sky.  And this troop encamped above the ford.

Then they beheld another troop coming towards the ford, and these from their horses’ chests upwards were whiter than the lily, and below blacker than jet.  And they saw one of these knights go before the rest, and spur his horse into the ford in such a manner that the water dashed over Arthur and the Bishop, and those holding counsel with them, so that they were as wet as if they had been drenched in the river.  And as he turned the head of his horse, the youth who stood before Arthur struck the horse over the nostrils with his sheathed sword, so that had it been with the bare blade it would have been a marvel if the bone had not been wounded as well as the flesh.  And the knight drew his sword half out of the scabbard, and asked of him, “Wherefore didst thou strike my horse?  Whether was it in insult or in counsel unto me?”  “Thou dost indeed lack counsel.  What madness caused thee to ride so furiously as to dash the water of the ford over Arthur, and the consecrated Bishop, and their counsellors, so that they were as wet as if they had been dragged out of the river?”  “As counsel then will I take it.”  So he turned his horse’s head round towards his army.

“Iddawc,” said Rhonabwy, “who was yonder knight?”  “The most eloquent and the wisest youth that is in this Island; Adaon the son of Taliesin.”  “Who was the man that struck his horse?”  “A youth of froward nature; Elphin the son of Gwyddno.”

Then spake a tall and stately man, of noble and flowing speech, saying that it was a marvel that so vast a host should be assembled in so narrow a space, and that it was a still greater marvel that those should be there at that time who had promised to be by mid-day in the battle of Badon, fighting with Osla Gyllellvawr.  “Whether thou mayest choose to proceed or not, I will proceed.”  “Thou sayest well,” said Arthur, “and we will go all together.”  “Iddawc,” said Rhonabwy, “who was the man who spoke so marvellously unto Arthur erewhile?”  “A man who may speak as boldly as he listeth, Caradawc Vreichvras, the son of Llyr Marini, his chief counsellor and his cousin.”

Then Iddawc took Rhonabwy behind him on his horse, and that mighty host moved forward, each troop in its order, towards Cevndigoll.  And when they came to the middle of the ford of the Severn, Iddawc turned his horse’s head, and Rhonabwy looked along the valley of the Severn.  And he beheld two fair troops coming towards the ford.  One troop there came of brilliant white, whereof every one of the men had a scarf of white satin with jet black borders.  And the knees and the tops of the shoulders of their horses were jet black, though they were of a pure white in every other part.  And their banners were pure white, with black points to them all.

“Iddawc,” said Rhonabwy, “who are yonder pure white troop?”  “They are the men of Norway, and March the son of Meirchion is their prince.  And he is cousin unto Arthur.”  And further on he saw a troop, whereof each man wore garments of jet black, with borders of pure white to every scarf; and the tops of the shoulders and the knees of their horses were pure white.  And their banners were jet black with pure white at the point of each.

“Iddawc,” said Rhonabwy, “who are the jet black troop yonder?”  “They are the men of Denmark, and Edeyrn the son of Nudd is their prince.”

And when they had overtaken the host, Arthur and his army of mighty ones dismounted below Caer Badon, and he perceived that he and Iddawc journeyed the same road as Arthur.  And after they had dismounted he heard a great tumult and confusion amongst the host, and such as were then at the flanks, turned to the centre, and such as had been in the centre moved to the flanks.  And then, behold, he saw a knight coming, clad, both he and his horse, in mail, of which the rings were whiter than the whitest lily, and the rivets redder than the ruddies blood.  And he rode amongst the host.

p. 116“Iddawc,” said Rhonabwy, “will yonder host flee?”  “King Arthur never fled, and if this discourse of thine were heard, thou wert a lost man.  But as to the knight whom thou seest yonder, it is Kai.  The fairest horseman is Kai in all Arthur’s Court; and the men who are at the front of the army hasten to the rear to see Kai ride, and the men who are in the centre, flee to the side from the shock of his horse. [116a]  And this is the cause of the confusion of the host.”

Thereupon they heard a call made for Kadwr, Earl of Cornwall, and behold he arose with the sword of Arthur in his hand.  And the similitude of two serpents was upon the sword in gold.  And when the sword was drawn from its scabbard, it seemed as if two flames of fire burst forth from the jaws of the serpents, and then, so wonderful was the sword, that it was hard for any one to look upon it.  And the host became still, and the tumult ceased, and the Earl returned to the tent.

“Iddawc,” said Rhonabwy, “who is the man who bore the sword of Arthur?”  “Kadwr, the Earl of Cornwall, whose duty is to arm the King on the days of battle and warfare.”

And they heard a call made for Eirynwych Amheibyn, Arthur’s servant, a red, rough, ill-favoured man, having red whiskers [116b] with bristly hairs.  And behold he came upon a tall red horse, with the mane parted on each side, and he brought with him a large and beautiful sumpter pack.  And the huge red youth dismounted before Arthur, and he drew a golden chair out of the pack, and a carpet of diapered satin.  And he spread the carpet before Arthur, and there was an apple of ruddy gold at each corner thereof, p. 117and he placed the chair upon the carpet.  And so large was the chair that three armed warriors might have sat therein.  Gwenn was the name of the carpet, and it was one of its properties, that whoever was upon it no one could see him, and he could see every one.  And it would retain no colour but its own.

And Arthur sat within the carpet, and Owain the son of Urien was standing before him.  “Owain,” said Arthur, “wilt thou play chess?”  “I will, Lord,” said Owain.  And the red youth brought the chess for Arthur and Owain; golden pieces and a board of silver.  And they began to play.

And while they were thus, and when they were best amused with their game, behold they saw a white tent with a red canopy, and the figure of a jet black serpent on the top of the tent, and red glaring venomous eyes in the head of the serpent, and a red flaming tongue.  And there came a young page with yellow curling hair, and blue eyes, and a newly springing beard, wearing a coat and a surcoat of yellow satin, and hose of thin greenish yellow cloth upon his feet, and over his hose shoes of parti-coloured leather, fastened at the insteps with golden clasps.  And he bore a heavy three-edged sword with a golden hilt, in a scabbard of black leather tipped with fine gold.  And he came to the place where the Emperor and Owain were playing at chess.

And the youth saluted Owain.  And Owain marvelled that the youth should salute him and should not have saluted the Emperor Arthur.  And Arthur knew what was in Owain’s thought.  And he said to Owain, “Marvel not that the youth salutes thee now, for he saluted me erewhile; and it is unto thee that his errand is.”  Then said the youth unto Owain, “Lord, is it with thy leave that the young pages and attendants of the Emperor harass and torment and worry the Ravens?  And if it be not with thy leave, cause the Emperor to forbid them.”  “Lord,” said Owain, “thou hearest what the youth says; if it seem good to thee, forbid them from my Ravens.”  “Play thy game,” said he.  Then the youth returned to the tent.

That game did they finish, and another they began, and when they were in the midst of the game, behold, a ruddy young man with auburn curling hair, and large eyes, well grown, and having his beard new shorn, came forth from a bright yellow tent, upon the summit of which was the figure of a bright red lion.  And he was clad in a coat of yellow satin, falling as low as the small of his leg, and embroidered with threads of red p. 119silk.  And on his feet were hose of fine white buckram, and buskins of black leather were over his hose, whereon were golden clasps.  And in his hand a huge, heavy, three-edged sword, with a scabbard of red-deer hide, tipped with gold.  And he came to the place where Arthur and Owain were playing at chess.  And he saluted him.  And Owain was troubled at his salutation, but Arthur minded it no more than before.  And the youth said unto Owain, “Is it not against thy will that the attendants of the Emperor harass thy Ravens, killing some and worrying others?  If against thy will it be, beseech him to forbid them.”  “Lord,” said Owain, “forbid thy men if it seem good to thee.”  “Play thy game,” said the Emperor.  And the youth returned to the tent.

And that game was ended, and another begun.  And as they were beginning the first move of the game, they beheld at a small distance from them a tent speckled yellow, the largest ever seen, and the figure of an eagle of gold upon it, and a precious stone on the eagle’s head.  And coming out of the tent, they saw a youth with thick yellow hair upon his head, fair and comely, and a scarf of blue satin upon him, and a brooch of gold in the scarf upon his right shoulder as large as a warrior’s middle finger.  And upon his feet were hose of fine Totness, and shoes of parti-coloured leather, clasped with gold, and the youth was of noble bearing, fair of face, with ruddy cheeks and large hawk’s eyes.  In the hand of the youth was a mighty lance, speckled yellow, with a newly sharpened head; and upon the lance a banner displayed.

Fiercely angry, and with rapid pace, came the youth to the place where Arthur was playing at chess with Owain.  And they perceived that he was wroth.  And thereupon he saluted Owain, and told him that his Ravens had been killed, the chief part of them, and that such of them as were not slain were so wounded and bruised that not one of them could raise its wings a single fathom above the earth.  “Lord,” said Owain, “forbid thy men.”  “Play,” said he “if it please thee.”  Then said Owain to the youth, “Go back, and wherever thou findest the strife at the thickest, there lift up the banner, and let come what pleases Heaven.”  So the youth returned back to the place where the strife bore hardest upon the Ravens, and he lifted up the banner; and as he did so they all rose up in the air, wrathful and fierce and high of spirit, clapping their wings in the wind, and shaking off the weariness that was upon them.  And recovering their energy and courage, furiously and with exultation did they, with one sweep, descend upon the heads of the men, who had erewhile caused them anger and pain and damage, and they seized some by the heads and others by the eyes, and some by the ears, and others by the arms, and carried them up into the air; and in the air there was a mighty tumult with the flapping of the wings of the triumphant Ravens, and with their croaking; and there was another mighty tumult with the groaning of the men, that were being torn and wounded, and some of whom were slain.

And Arthur and Owain marvelled at the tumult as they played at chess; and, looking, they perceived a knight upon a dun-coloured horse coming towards them.  And marvellous was the hue of the dun horse.  Bright red was his right shoulder, and from the top of his legs to the centre of his hoof was bright yellow.  Both the knight and his horse were fully equipped with heavy foreign armour.  The clothing of the horse p. 121from the front opening upwards was of bright red sendal, and from thence opening downwards was of bright yellow sendal.  A large gold-hilted one-edged sword had the youth upon his thigh, in a scabbard of light blue, and tipped with Spanish laton.  The belt of the sword was of dark green leather with golden slides and a clasp of ivory upon it, and a buckle of jet black upon the clasp.  A helmet of gold was on the head of the knight, set with precious stones of great virtue, and at the top of the helmet was the image of a flame-coloured leopard with two ruby-red stones in its head, so that it was astounding for a warrior, however stout his heart, to look at the face of the leopard, much more at the face of the knight.  He had in his hand a blue-shafted lance, but from the haft to the point it was stained crimson-red, with the blood of the Ravens and their plumage.

The knight came to the place where Arthur and Owain were seated at chess.  And they perceived that he was harassed and vexed and weary as he came towards them.  And the youth saluted Arthur, and told him, that the Ravens of Owain were slaying his young men and attendants.  And Arthur looked at Owain and said, “Forbid thy Ravens.”  “Lord,” answered Owain, “play thy game.”  And they played.  And the knight returned back towards the strife, and the Ravens were not forbade any more than before.

And when they had played awhile, they heard a mighty tumult, and a wailing of men, and a croaking of Ravens, as they carried the men in their strength into the air, and, tearing them betwixt them, let them fall piecemeal to the earth.  And during the tumult they saw a knight coming towards them on a light grey horse, and the left foreleg of the horse was jet black to the centre of his hoof.  And the knight and the horse were fully accoutred with huge heavy blue armour.  And a robe of honour of yellow diapered satin was upon the knight, and the borders of the robe were blue.  And the housings of the horse were jet black, with borders of bright yellow.  And on the thigh of the youth was a sword, long, and three-edged, and heavy.  And the scabbard was of red cut leather, and the belt of new red deerskin, having upon it many golden slides and a buckle of the bone of the sea horse, the tongue of which was jet black.  A golden helmet was upon the head of the knight, wherein were set sapphire stones of great virtue.  And at the top of the helmet was the figure of a flame-coloured lion, with a fiery-red tongue, issuing above a foot from his mouth, and with venomous eyes, crimson-red, in his head.  And the knight came, bearing in his hand a thick ashen lance, the head whereof, which had been newly steeped in blood, was overlaid with silver.

And the youth saluted the Emperor: “Lord,” said he, “carest thou not for the slaying of thy pages, and thy young men, and the sons of the nobles of the Island of Britain, whereby it will be difficult to defend this Island from henceforward for ever?”  “Owain,” said Arthur, “forbid thy Ravens.”  “Play this game, Lord,” said Owain.

So they finished the game, and began another; and as they were finishing that game, lo, they heard a great tumult and a clamour of armed men, and a croaking of Ravens, and a flapping of wings in the air, as they flung down the armour entire to the ground, and the men and the horses piecemeal.  Then they saw coming a knight on a lofty-headed piebald horse.  And the left shoulder of the horse was of bright red, and its right leg from the chest to the hollow of the hoof was pure white.  And the knight and horse were equipped with arms of speckled yellow, variegated with Spanish laton.  And there was a robe of honour upon him, and upon his horse, divided in two parts, white and black, and the borders of the robe of honour were of golden purple.  And above the robe he wore a sword three-edged and bright, with a golden hilt.  And the belt of the sword was of yellow goldwork, having a clasp upon it of the eyelid of a black sea horse, and a tongue of yellow gold to the clasp.  Upon the head of the knight was a bright helmet of yellow laton, with sparkling stones of crystal in it, and at the crest of the helmet was the figure of a griffin, with a stone of many virtues in its head.  And he had an ashen spear in his hand, with a round shaft, coloured with azure blue.  And the head of the spear was newly stained with blood, and was overlaid with fine silver.

Wrathfully came the knight to the place where Arthur was, and he told him that the Ravens had slain his household and the sons of the chief men of this Island, and he besought him to cause Owain to forbid his Ravens.  And Arthur besought Owain p. 124to forbid them.  Then Arthur took the golden chessmen that were upon the board, and crushed them until they became as dust.  Then Owain ordered Gwres the son of Rheged to lower his banner.  So it was lowered, and all was peace.

Then Rhonabwy enquired of Iddawc, who were the first three men that came to Owain, to tell him his Ravens were being slain.  Said Iddawc, “They were men who grieved that Owain should suffer loss, his fellow-chieftains and companions, Selyv the son of Kynan Garwyn of Powys, and Gwgawn Gleddyvrudd, and Gwres the son of Rheged, he who bears the banner in the day of battle and strife.”  “Who,” said Rhonabwy, “were the last three men who came to Arthur, and told him that the Ravens were slaughtering his men?”  “The best of men,” said Iddawc, “and the bravest, and who would grieve exceedingly that Arthur should have damage in aught; Blathaon, the son of Mawrheth, [124a] and Rhuvawn Pebyr the son of Prince Deorthach, and Hyveidd Unllenn.”

And with that behold four and twenty knights came from Osla Gyllellvawr, to crave a truce of Arthur for a fortnight and a month.  And Arthur arose and went to take counsel.  And he came to where a tall auburn curly-headed man was a little way off, and there he assembled his counsellors.  Bedwini, [124b] the Bishop, and Gwarthegyd the son of Kaw, and March the son of Meirchawn, and Caradawc Vreichvras, and Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar, and Edeyrn the son of Nudd, and Rhuvawn Pebyr the son of Prince Deorthach, and Rhiogan the son of the King of Ireland, and Gwenwynwyn the son of Nav, Howel the son of Emyr Llydaw, Gwilym the son of Rhwyf Freinc, and Daned the son of Ath, [124c] and Goreu Custennin, and p. 125Mabon the son of Modron, and Peredur Paladyr Hir, and Hyveidd [125a] Unllenn, and Twrch the son of Perif, and Nerth the son of Kadarn, and Gobrwy the son of Echel Vorddwyttwll, Gwair the son of Gwestyl, and Gadwy [125b] the son of Geraint, Trystan [125c] the son of Tallwch, Moryen Manawc, Granwen the son of Llyr, and Llacheu the son of Arthur, and Llawvrodedd Varvawc, and Kadwr Earl of Cornwall, Morvran the son of Tegid, and Rhyawd the son of Morgant, and Dyvyr the son of Alun Dyved, Gwrhyr Gwalstawd Ieithoedd, Adaon the son of Taliesin, Llary [125d] the son of Kasnar [125e] Wledig, and Fflewddur Fflam, and Greidawl Galldovydd, Gilbert the son of Kadgyffro, Menw the son of Teirgwaedd, Gwrthmwl Wledig, Cawrdav the son of Caradawc Vreichvras, Gildas the son of Kaw, Kadyriaith the son of Saidi, and many of the men of Norway, and Denmark, and many of the men of Greece, and a crowd of the men of the host came to that counsel.

“Iddawc,” said Rhonabwy, “who was the auburn haired man to whom they came just now?”  “Rhun the son of Maelgwn Gwynedd, a man of whose prerogative it is, that he may join in counsel with all.” [125f]  “And wherefore did they admit into counsel with men of such dignity as are yonder a stripling so young as Kadyriaith the son of Saidi?”  “Because there is not throughout Britain a man better skilled in counsel than he.”

Thereupon, behold, bards came and recited verses before Arthur, and no man understood those verses, but Kadyriaith only, save that they were in Arthur’s praise.

And, lo, there came four and twenty asses with their burdens of gold and of silver, and a tired wayworn man with each of them, bringing tribute to Arthur from the Islands of Greece.  Then Kadyriaith the son of Saidi besought that a truce might be granted to Osla Gyllellvawr for the space of a fortnight and a month, and that the asses and the burdens they carried might be given to the bards, to be to them as the reward for their stay and that their verse might be recompensed, during the time of the truce.  And thus it was settled.

“Rhonabwy,” said Iddawc, “would it not be wrong to forbid a youth who can give counsel so liberal as this from coming to the councils of his Lord?”

Then Kai arose, and he said, “Whosoever will follow Arthur, let him be with him to-night in Cornwall, and whosoever will not, let him be opposed to Arthur even during the truce.”  And through the greatness of the tumult that ensued, Rhonabwy awoke.  And when he awoke he was upon the yellow calfskin, having slept three nights and three days.

And this tale is called The Dream of Rhonabwy.  And this is the reason that no one knows the dream without a book, neither bard nor gifted seer; because of the various colours that were upon the horses, and the many wondrous colours of the arms and of the panoply, and of the precious scarfs, and of the virtue-bearing stones.


[15]  “The Emperor Arthur” all through the tale.

[16]  To begin to honour them, to inform them of the manners and the customs of the Court, those he was told were to go to the hall or the presence chamber, and those he was told were to get lodging.

[17a]  And I did not think there was in the world a wrong too mighty for me to set right.  And when I had set right all the wrongs that were in my own country.

[17b]  Add “with fair curly hair.”

[18a]  And such was his courtesy that he greeted me before I could greet him.

[18b]  Add, “I ween that.”

[18c]  When she was ever loveliest, at Christmas, or at Easter tide mass.

[19a]  And the man I had seen erstwhile sat down to the table.

[19b]  Did I not think that too much trouble would befall thee.

[20]  With querulous roughness.

[21a]  And he would but bandy words with me.

[21b]  So that they cannot be separated.

[27]  Add “On account of the knight.”

[28]  An image of a different kind.

[29a]  Monks.

[29b]  Land-owning.

[30]  Louder was her cry than any trumpet blast that arose from among the multitude.

[31]  “Truly,” said Luned, “I thought thy good sense was greater than I find it to be.  Is it better to grieve because thou canst not get that good man, than it is to grieve for anything else thou canst never get?”  “I declare to heaven,” said the Countess, “that I could never get my lord in any other man, be he the best in the world.”  “Oh yes,” said Luned, “thou couldst marry a husband that would be as good as he, or better than he.”

[36]  Encamped.

[37a]  Add “and looked at him.”

[37b]  And belaboured each other.

[38]  Add “and this is my abode.”

[39]  To the disgrace of thy beard.

[45]  Owen was certain he had never seen better service, but every one was as sorrowful as if death had been upon him.

[46a]  And to-morrow is the appointed day for me to meet him, to deliver to him yonder maiden, otherwise he will kill my sons before my eyes.

[46b]  And the Earl determined to hold the castle against him, abandoning his two sons to their fate.

[47]  And they told him their tale.

[48]  But Owen’s strength had not yet returned.

[52]  Her.

[56]  And very unmeet for so honourable a Court.

[58]  Add “causing a grievous wound.”

[59a]  “This iron coat will never come off him,” said Peredur.  “I doubt whether it is not part of himself, born with him.”

[59b]  Add “and the threat against Kai.”

[62]  We are brother and sister.

[72]  In the dingle.

[76]  Progress.

[102]  And the side that he would favour would lose the game.

[108]  And they reckoned that the corn land of Powys, from Aber Ceirawc in Allictun Ver to Rhyd Wilure on the Vyrnwy, was as good as the three best commots in Powys; and that, if there was not sustenance for him and his followers in that corn land, there would be none in Powys.

[109]  Scantly draped, poverty-stricken.

[111]  Moustache.

[112]  Bedwin.

[116a]  For fear of being crushed by his horse.

[116b]  A red moustache.

[124a]  Murheth.

[124b]  Bedwin.

[124c]  Oth.

[125a]  Heneidd.

[125b]  Adwy.

[125c]  Dyrstan.

[125d]  Llara.

[125e]  Kasnat.

[125f]  It is his privilege that everyone should come to have counsel with him.

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