Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Here is the Third Branch of The Story of Rhianon and Pryderi, called
I. THE PECULIARITIES OF THE RING AND THE FILLET OF THE FAMILY OF HEFEYDD, AND THE THREE PRIMITIVE BARDS OF THE ISLAND OF THE MIGHTY.
II. THE PETULANT IMPATIENCE OF PENDARAN DYFED, AND THE MAINTAINING OF THE SOVEREIGNTY OF RHIANON
III. THE COMING OF PRYDERI
I. THE PECULIARITIES OF THE RING AND THE FILLET OF THE FAMILY OF HEFEYDD, AND THE THREE PRIMITIVE BARDS OF THE ISLAND OF THE MIGHTY.
Tybie rose up, glimmering darkly, out of her fountain, when he came to the Field of Llandybie on the evening of the third day. Her aspect was even sterner than it had been before. "Wherefore come you?" said she.
"Aden Fwynach is made free from the sorceries," he answered.
"Yes is she made free," said Tybie; "Pryderi fab Pwyll freed her. Unless I obtain service from you, I shall never be requited for the loss of the water."
Gwri marveled in his mind; it seemed to him that it would have been he himself that freed Aden Fwynach; but it would have been unfitting for him to have spoken of it. "Whatever service you may require of me," he said, "it will be an honor to me to perform it."
"It will be the succoring of my kinswoman, Rhianon ferch Hefeydd," she said. "From dawn to dusk her place is at the palace gate in Arberth, doing the least just penance in the world; and her enemies plotting against her continually. Pryderi her son will be going forward to save her; but so many will be against him, that it is not known whether he would obtain success without aid."
"I never had any desire in my life, equal to my desire to do this," said he. "I will ride forward now, and storm the palace in the morning."
"Misfortune often overtakes the rash," said she. "It will be better to remain here until dawn. There would be no seeing, by night, the feathers that are to guide you."
Thereupon she gave him the feathers, one from each of the birds. "Follow the white one when the blue is lost," she said; "and the rainbow-colored when there may be no recovering the white. By the time that you have parted with the rainbow-colored, it will be a marvel if you are not within sight of Arberth." With that she melted into the glow and gloom of the dusk.
He lay down by the well, the beauty of the stars a tent for him. Scarcely had his eyelids fallen over his eyes, when he heard voices and conversation from the road. The voices were so melodious, that no music in the world would be equal to them.
"Is there any cure for old age?" said the first of them. "Is there any making the weak limbs strong, and taking whiteness from the hair, and the deep furrows from about the eyes and the mouth?"
"There is," said the second; "if one could find Pryderi fab Pwyll."
Then the third of them said: "How would he accomplish it?"
"With the peculiarities of the Fillet of the Family of Hefeydd Hen, from the Country of the Immortals," said the second.
"Put news of them on the wind, Lord Brother," said the first.
"Rhianon his mother brought it with her from the palace of Hefeydd, at the time she came into the Island of the Mighty. She bound it about the swaddling clothes of Pryderi on the day that he was born."
"Would there be using the fillet, without knowledge of spells?"
"There would not; and even with the Spell of the Three Places there would be no using it, unless the secret of it were made known to him." It was the third of the voices that said that.
"I will tell you," said the second voice. "There was a family that loved delight and beauty, and had not bestirred themselves, nor won any victories since the Morning of the Three Shouts. He came to them, and caused them to become eager for the battle of the world; and to reward him for this I shall make it known to him in the morning."
Gwri considered within himself; it was not in his power to rise up or question the voices. "The fillet was about my swaddling-clothes when I was found," thought he. "Beyond that, there is knowledge of the Spell of the Three Places. The men of Caer Hedd were such a family as was spoken of." He took the fillet from his breast where he wore it; never had he been without it during his life. "It might well have peculiarities with it," he thought. He fell to musing upon the fillet, and from musing, to sleep.
How long he might have been sleeping is not known, when he heard the voice again, and listened; it was still beyond his power either to rise, or to turn his head, or to question them.
"Lord Brother," said the third voice; "if there were, in the Island of the Mighty, any giving sight to the blind, it would be one of the priceless wonderful gifts of the island."
"There is such a gift," said the first. "It is with Pryderi fab Pwyll."
"Put news of it on the wind, Lord Brother," said the second.
"He would do it with the Spell of the Wood, the Field and the Mountain," said the first; "and by means of the peculiarities of the Ring of the Family of Hefeydd Hen."
"Is that ring with him also?" said the second.
"Rhianon his mother threaded it on a golden thread, and tied it about his neck on the morning when he was born. The ring was inscribed in the coelbren letters of the bards: Bydd i ti ddychwelyd."
"And a return there shall be for him," said the third voice. "There was a family that dwelt in confusion, and turmoil, and hideous sound; they had been at senseless warfare since the Crying of the Name. He came to them, and caused music to be heard in their caer, and brought harmony there, so that now they are doing service for the Immortals on the borders of space. To requite him for this I shall appear to him in the evening, and cause the path of his returning to be clear before him."
"I will tell you," said the first voice. "I shall cause the secret of curing blindness to be known to him; I shall appear to him at noonday and make it clear. There was a caer wherein there was heavy sloth and unbreakable slumber, and he brought the brightness of day, and clear vision there; it is to requite him for this that I shall appear to him and make known the secret of the ring."
"He is the song-bringer," said the second voice; "and therefore I shall aid him."
"He is the light-giver," said the first; "and therefore I shall reward him."
"He is the hero," said the third; "and therefore I also shall be with him."
Gwri put his hand in his breast, and touched the ring that he still wore there, on the golden thread on which it was threaded when he was found in the stall of Fflamwen the mare of Teyrnion. "All this is a marvel to me," thought he; and desired the more that Pryderi might become known to him. "There might be peculiarities with this ring also," he mused; "and the one inscription in the coelbren inscribed on it, and on the ring of the Family of Hefeydd that is with the son of Pwyll." From musing upon the ring, he fell asleep.
The sky was abloom with dawn tulips when he awoke; no memory of the voices remained with him, at that time. But it chanced that he had the fillet in his right hand, and his forefinger thrust through the ring; and when his eyes fell on those two adornments, it seemed to him that there was magic quickening in them, and elemental being; they flashed suddenly in the sunlight as far as from Bettws Mountain to Dinefawr.
He threw the feather of Aden Lonach into the air, according to the counsel Tybie had given him; a wind from the east took it and bore it on, and he rode forward following it through the valleys and over the hills of the Great Cantref till mid-morning. Then he saw it drop by the road-side; and at a word from him, away with the Wind-driver at his swiftest to the place where it fell. Here is who Gwri saw there: an old, infirm man sitting by the hedge. The flesh of his face and hands was withered, yellow, and with a thousand wrinkles; his back was bent double with age; he was grievously afflicted with coughing; his hair was as white as the wind-driven foam.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you, Pryderi fab Pwyll," said the old man. "Sorrow upon me," thought Gwri Gwallt Euryn, a moon of memory suddenly shining forth in his mind, "if I heard not such a voice as that in my dreams in the night."
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you also, and better to you than to me," said Gwri. "And no worse with you because Gwri Gwallt Euryn is the name to name me with, and not Pryderi fab Pwyll."
"Many times would it be worse," said the old man. "It would be the continuance of the burden of old age, when youth might be had for the asking from Pryderi."
"Could he accomplish that, indeed?" said Gwri. "Could he restore youth to the ancient?"
"Yes could he restore it," said the old man. "He has the golden fillet of the Family of Hefeydd Hen in the Country of the Immortals; and therein there is restoring youth to the ancient, and strength to the worn out limbs, and furthermore, blackness to the hair that has grown white these years."
"I marvel at this," said Gwri. "Make known to me, in heaven's name, if it please you, the manner of restoring youth with the fillet."
"Yes, yes will I make it known," said the old man. "Pryderi would set the fillet on my head, and he would repeat spells, and he would order the hair to assume its natural color, the black to be black, the brown brown, and the golden golden; and he would command the limbs to regain their former youth and vigor, as if the years had never passed over them; and in my deed he would put compulsion upon them all, and they would obey him."
"Well, well, in my deed, a marvel is this truly," said Gwri. "Would he put compulsion upon them in this way?" said he. He took his own fillet from his breast, and set it on the white hair of the old man, and as he did so, said: "By the Wood, the Field and the Mountain, forsake whiteness, every hair of you, and assume your natural color; let the black be black, and the brown brown, and the golden golden; and let the limbs regain their former vigor and youth, as if the years had never passed over them. Would he command them, and put compulsion upon them, in that way?" said Gwri.
But before the other could answer him, it was as if a wind arose and blew the old age from him; he stood forth there by the roadside, young and strong and handsome; one to be feared by the hostile, one to be loved by many. "By heaven, he would put the compulsion on them in that way," said he. His laughter rang out through the valley; except the sun in heaven, nothing was so bright and golden as the hair upon his head.
"It is a good fillet enough, and excellent peculiarities in it," he said, giving it back to Gwri. "It is a marvel if it be any other than the fillet of the Family of Hefeydd Hen." With that he raised his two hands towards the sky, and golden and roseate flames leaped up from the earth, and played and circled about him. Gwri watched him in delight and wonder. As the flame rose, so he increased in stature, till he had the height of pines and poplars with him. They leaped and played about the glory of his head, and took the form of soaring eagles of golden fire. Innumerable harps sounded out of the invisible air; their music was such as the Gods desire to hear, when They move combatward in their burning cars. On his two hands were two marvelous gloves; it seemed as if even the puny, wearing them, might easily pluck up Puralumon. A blue cloak of immortal bardhood was on his shoulders; it was as if woven of the fire of the sapphire, the turquoise and the amethyst. Higher and higher the flame circled and blossomed, and he rose with it into the air. As soon as he overtopped the mountains, the form and beauty of him changed; wings of excessive glory branched out on this side and on that, and he became a Dragon of flame against the blue brightness of the firmament. Soaring and flaming and circling, his eagles like stars scintillant around him, his music waning from the world, he ascended resplendently into the empyrean. Then the two glories of the sky were made one; the Dragon was lost in the brilliance of the morning sun.
"It was Gwron Brif-fardd," said Gwri. "In my deed, it was the Heartener of Heroes. Marvelous is my good fortune this day, to have held converse with such a one." Since the blue feather was lost, he put the white one on the wind, and mounted Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd slowly, and rode forward after the feather, deep in his meditations. "As for old age, and the restoration of his youth to him, never would he have needed the services of any one for that. The Immortals grow not old; they assume what guise will please them at any time." So he rode on, musing. "For what reason will the Prif-fardd have appeared to me?" he wondered.
At noonday, a mile from him along the road, he saw a blind man coming towards him slowly, tapping the ground with his stick. Immediately a gust took the feather, and whirled it away till it fell like a star into the breast of the blind man's coat. Away with the Wind-driver with that, leaving the wind behind him; the blind man had not taken the ten steps after receiving the feather, before Gwri and the Wind-driver had come up to him.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you, Pryderi fab Pwyll Pen Annwn," said the blind man.
"May it be better to you than to me," said Gwri; "and none the worse if the name with me is Gwri Gwallt Euryn."
"If this be true, it is the sorrow of my life. More than anything I desire to meet with Pryderi fab Pwyll, and that on account of the service he would do for me."
"I would do you service, if it were in my power to," said Gwri. "What service would Pryderi do for you?"
"Sight he would give to my eyes," said the blind man. "He would do it by means of the peculiarities of the ring of the Family of Hefeydd Hen in the Kingdom of the Immortals, that has the gift of restoring the blind to their eyesight, and even to seeing better than they saw before they became blind."
Gwri dismounted, and took the ring that had been found with him out of his breast. "Marvelous is this, indeed," said he. "Make known to me, if it please you, how he would restore eyesight with the ring."
"He would touch the eyelids over the eyes that might be afflicted," said the blind man. "It is a marvel to me that any one should be ignorant of this. He would put the ring on the forefinger of his right hand, and touch the eyelids."
"Which eyelid would he touch first?" said Gwri.
"The right eyelid, as would be natural and fitting," said the other; "few would dream that it would be the left. And he would put the Spell of the Three Places upon the one and the other of them, and command them; and a marvel if they were not obedient."
"Would he do it in this way?" he said, and touched the right eyelid of the blind man with the ring. "By the Wood, the Field and the Mountain, quit you your blindness," he said; and then to the left eye: By the Wood, the Field and the Mountain, quit you your blindness also; and neither stubbornness nor cheating with you, either of you; and the sight of the eagle, the God and the Dragon to the two of you from this out."
"By heaven, he would do it in that way," said the other. A wind rose up out of the Isle of Apples, and blew the blindness from him; whatever lack of beauty there had been upon him, vanished with it. His two eyes became brighter than the eyes of man; they became like two gleaming dragons afar, like two diamonds kindling in the sun, like the brightness of two sea-waves when the noonday sunlight is reflected from them. He laughed and looked sunward, and lifted his two arms towards the sky; he seemed to draw blueness out of the sky, and a flame out of the ground beneath his feet. His beggar's rags became a blue cloak of bardhood, woven of the fire of jewels, bluer than the bloom of the noonday in June; his body itself wavered and glimmered into intense, gleaming, excellent fire. He lifted his head; it rose to the level of the mountain-tops, so great was his stature. Because of his eyes, no one would have known that there were not three suns in heaven. Beautiful he appeared, and Oh, beautiful and worthy of praise; kindling the silvering gold of the noon light, kindling the mountains and the valley; the Glory of Wales, a meteor out of the firmament of Godhood. In the white, extreme blazonment of glory about his bardic, sun-bright head, birds brighter than the lightnings flashed and sang. He had a golden breastplate upon his breast, adorned with the opal, the sapphire and the diamond; its peculiarity was the gift of insight, and that no magic should ever prevail against the one wearing it. It was unknown to Gwri whether ever so much beauty had been revealed before, unless it was when Gwron appeared to him in the morning.
"A good ring it is with you," laughed the God; "and a marvel if it be not the ring of the Family of Hefeydd. Useful are its peculiarities." Laughing, he rose up into the air, and assumed the form and glory of the Dragon. From the north to the south above the mountains, burned his bright blue, bounteous, vision-giving wings. Beautifully he was poised there for a moment; the proud and arching neck, the quivering, flaming, sapphire scales, the head with the aspect of complete vision, wisdom, empire and command. Away with him then into the ether, into the empyrean, to play and kindle and leap forth among the constellations as it might please him.
"Indeed, indeed, and in my deed," thought Gwri, watching him, "fortunate is this beyond any falling of good fortune. To meet Gwron in the morning, and Plenydd before the passing of noon. Plenydd it was," said he; "the blind and foolish would have known him; undoubtedly it was Plenydd the Sight-giver, Plenydd Brif-fardd Prydain. Indeed, indeed, fortunate is this."
Deep in his musings he rode forward again, setting first the feather of Aden Fwynach on the wind to guide him. "Indeed," thought he, "marvelous revelations are made known to me this day. As for healing blindness, it would not be that Prif-fardd that would have suffered the loss of vision. Dear and blessed are these Immortals, and the hidden reasons they will have for their appearings and vanishings, and for this guise and that that they will wear as it pleases them." Then he sang the song that Taliesin Benbardd made at one night old, when Elphin the son of Gwyddno found him in the weir:
"O foroedd ac o fynydd,
Ac o cigion afonydd
Daw Duw a da i ddedwydd" —
— "and fortunate am I, truly," thought he; "to whom two Gods have appeared in the one day." So musing, he rode forward in a deep and golden content.
At sunset he was riding beside the river, and passed the hill of Gorsedd Arberth on his right. He saw that there was a company of men watching on the hilltop, but paid little heed to them. When the darkness came down over the mountains, the feather of Aden Fwynach became beautifully luminous before him, and failed not in its guiding him. He rode forward until he came within sight of a city, dim-walled in the light of stars. He saw a man come out of the city, and make his way towards him along the road. He had a little harp at his breast, that shone strangely; the feather blew towards him, and was caught in the harpstrings. Gwri rode up to him.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you, Pryderi fab Pwyll," said the Harper.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you also," said Gwri. "And much better to you than to me, Lord Alawn Brif-fardd," said he.
"What names are these you are putting on me?" said the Harper. "I marvel at this."
"What names are these you are putting on me?" said Gwri. "Gwri Gwallt Euryn my foster-parents called me."
" — And the aspect on you of the one that should be riding to the court of Arberth this night and all," said the Harper.
"Lord Prif-fardd," said Gwri; "Lord god," he said; "I am riding thither."
"Careless are you in the matter of speech and name-giving," said the Harper. "This is a cause for marveling."
"As to name-giving, and as to carelessness therein, the feather will know the one to whom it flies. I met Gwron in the morning, in the guise of an old man afflicted with coughing, and did not know him till he was taking dragon aspect. I met Plenydd at noonday, in the guise of a blind man. To both of them the feather flew, and rested with them. For that reason, when I meet a harper in the evening, and the feather flies to him, it will please me to call him Alawn and God, without consultation, or waiting for the dragon-change to come on him. Therefore, the greeting of the god and the man to you, Lord Alawn Brif-fardd," said Gwri.
"Well, well," said he; "would you take advice and counsel from the harper that the feather flew to, whether he had the dragon-guise or not?"
"Evil upon me if I would not," said Gwri, laughing.
"Here is what the counsel will be, then," said Alawn. "Go forward into Arberth, to the palace; and obtain entry in the name of a craftsman bearing his craft. And when it may be desired of you to make known the nature of the craft, name you the three Unusual Arts."
"Gladly will I do so," said Gwri.
"Is it known to you what those three arts will be?" said Alawn.
"It is not known," said Gwri.
"Here is what they will be then; give you heed to them. The first will be restoring youth to the aged; it is known to you how it may be accomplished. The second will be restoring sight to the sightless; Plenydd my brother made the secret of it known to you. See that you exercise those two arts between the outer portals and the door of the hall."
"What will the third art be?" said Gwri. "Make the third known to me also, if it please you."
"When they ask you for the third, say you that it will be restoring thrones to their rightful owners."
"I will say that," said Gwri. "And I will say, when the queen asks me, that I saw Alawn Alawon at the gates of her town in the starlight, and that I had counsels from the Priffardd of the Harmonies."
"Say it you," said the Other, laughing, and stroked his harpstrings with his fingers. As he touched them, they gave forth light and immortal melody; pale green and purple flames rose out of the earth and encompassed him; and it was to be seen that he was indeed the brother of Plenydd and of Gwron, not less marvelous than they. He stood there in his body of purple fire, darkly glowing, paling, gleaming, kindling and brightening; his two eyes complete in glory and beauty, in the most ancient wisdom, the deepest compassion in the world.
"Say it you," he said laughing. "And let it be known to our sister, Rhianon, that we the Prif-feirdd Prydain have served her, and will serve her until the ending of her sorrows. And now go forward," said he; "and success and advantage be with you according to your desert."
Then he, too, took the guise of the Dragon, his body of the fire of the amethyst glowing through the darkness, and his wide, beautiful flame wings kindling and flashing, hued like the beryl and the emerald, through the gloom. In a moment he too was lost, encompassed in the night amidst the stars.
Then Gwri rode forward, and through the gates of Arberth, and by the silent streets, until he came to the portals of the palace of Pwyll Pen Annwn.
II. THE PETULANT IMPATIENCE OF PENDARAN DYFED, AND THE MAINTAINING OF THE SOVEREIGNTY OF RHIANON
Rhianon sat at the palace gate in Arberth; day after day she had had her place there between dawn and dusk during twenty years. There was no queen's robe on her, no adornment in the world. When she chose the fate of waiting and penance, she acquired the nature of mortality, and knew there would be no escaping it unless she should go to the Gods, or until Pryderi should return. By reason of that, her hair was gray, and the lines of sorrow were on her forehead; and before the ten years were over, she was blind. Yet there was no concealing her majesty; nothing in fair Dyfed was fairer than she. Her calm, deep, beautiful eyes were bereft of their outward vision, but not of their lone, untroubled glory; not of their color like the sunlight through the oak-leaves on the waters of a deep pool in the forest. Whoever beheld her, knew that she was a queen.
No one had remained faithful to her, when she chose the penance, except Gwawl ab Clud and the hundred men of the teulu of Pwyll Pen Annwn, with Pendaran Dyfed for penteulu at the head of them. They had been men in the prime of their worth at that time; not too young to be the best in council; not too old to be the best in war. But the loss of his lord was equal to the taking of twenty years from the life of each one of them, and the penance of their queen had whitened their hair.
When she was accused, they were eager to do battle for her; but she forbade them. She would have no warfare until Pryderi or Pwyll Pen Annwn should return. She made a treaty with her enemies on behalf of Pwyll; she would claim no right for herself; she would remain in penance at the palace gate daily; but the throne on the dais should be kept for the king or for his son. As for the governing of Dyfed, it should be in the hands of Pendaran and the Crintach between them, and each with three men to uphold him in the council.
When Einion Arth Cennen heard of this, he rose up in furious impatience. "Are the men of the king's teulu dead?" said he. "While I live, this wrong shall not be done to the sovereign lady of the Dimetians. If she elects to do penance where no penance should be done, let her have praise and honor for it. But in my deed she shall have the name of queen, and she shall have the king's place at the feasts. I will not let sleep come to the eyes of any man, until this is granted."
"We will humor you," said the Crintach, remembering the furious nature of Einion's onslaught in the conflict, and how he was accustomed to go one against many, and drive his foemen into the wave. "The daughter of Hefeydd shall have the name of queen between dusk and dawn, and she shall hold the throne on the dais at feast time."
Madog and his men were proud enough of that treaty when they made it, on account of the rising of the teulu in the hall at Einion's words, and the fierce light in their eyes, and the difficulty that Rhianon had had in restraining them. But with every year they grew less proud and more impatient over it; with so little between their lord and the kingship: no more than word given to this woman at the palace gate; and she blind and gray after ten years of it, although she had seemed no older than the king, at the time she took on grief and mortality. No more than word given to her, and the will of those few fierce warriors that were growing older year by year; and if older, fewer also. For by the time that the twenty years were over, there were not more than nine and twenty of them left alive, and Gwawl ab Clud for the thirtieth. Here is relating, now, how it came to be that there were so few: During the first seven years, not one day had passed but that the queen had had plots and designs to combat in it: the whole power of Llwyd ab Cilcoed set against her. It was marvelous how she might meet and undo all without open warfare, and giving no one reason to accuse her. At times, indeed, her enemies obtained success against her; it was when any of the men of the teulu had forsaken following her counsel.
Every Eve of May she would send ten men to watch on Gorsedd Arberth, and until the seventh year, none of those she sent had ever failed in the watching. But it happened then to Einion Arth Cennen, that two days before May Eve he received tidings of the greatest wild boar in the world, that had its haunts on Mynydd Amanw, opposite Carreg Cennen, and was laying waste the whole of the cantref. The desire of his life came upon him to hunt it; and for that reason he rode away from Arberth without the queen's having knowledge of his going.
"Where is the lord of Iscennen?" said she, on the morning of May Eve. "It would be well for him to lead the watchers on Gorsedd Arberth this day."
"Hunting the wild boar on Mynydd Amanw he is," said Pendaran Dyfed.
"Indeed, alas for that hunting," she answered; "it is the pity of my life that he should have gone to it." The day after, news came that Einion had been found slain at the head of the mountain. The boar had slain him when he was parted from his huntsmen; Catwg Gwaeth had come upon him lifeless.
Pendaran Dyfed considered within himself. The loss of his lord had been a more grievous burden to Pendaran than to any of the men of the teulu; his hair was white and his brow furrowed, and he was never heard to laugh. "As for wild boars," said he, "many will be of the nature of swine, that have but two legs to go upon. It will be well to consult the queen."
He came to the gate and stood before her. "Lord Pendaran," said she, "the greeting of heaven and of man to you."
"And to you also," said he; "and better to you than to me or to any of us. I come for counsel."
"Concerning what?" said she.
"Concerning the slaying of wild boars," he said. "There was not the better of Einion Arth Cennen in Dyfed, except Gwawl ab Clud. Proud and fierce and kindly he was; there was no withstanding him in battle, there was no resisting him at the hearth in the hall."
"It is true," said Rhianon. "Unfitting it would be to say less concerning him."
"It appears to me that it would be better for Catwg Gythraul to be slain," said he. "He has the nature of a wild boar on him, and I can not abide these killings by swine."
"He shall not die," said she. "Albeit it is known to me that it was he who slew the chieftain of Iscennen."
"Even if you were other than the sovereign lady, I should follow your counsels," said he. "Yet there may be a way of appeasing Einion."
"What way will it be?" said Rhianon.
"I will not disobey you," said he. "Let it be permitted to me to maintain silence concerning this."
"Maintain it you," she said. "Well known to you are the fruits of rashness."
"Yes," said he, and the shadow of laughter on his face. "I was two days in the Basket of Gwaeddfyd Newynog, and it is not unremembered with me."
The next day the chieftains held council. Madog and Deiniol, Catwg and Gwylltyn were there; and against them, Pendaran Dyfed and Gwawl ab Clud, and Ceredig Cwmteifi, and Meurig Mwyn of Bronwydd in the place of Einion.
Madog Crintach rose up. "It was for the sake of pacifying the lord of Iscennen," said he, "that the throne at the feast times was given to the daughter of Hefeydd. For no reason was this, but for quieting his turbulent nature. Now that he is slain, let the treaty be kept. There is no sovereign in Dyfed, and no one shall be seated on the throne."
"Evil was the day on which Arth Cennen was slain," said Pendaran, not heeding him. "Were it not for the queen, I would hunt the boar that slew him as far as from here to the Sea of Mists, and from the top of Pengwaed in Cornwall to the bottom of Dinsol in the North. Though the boar were greater than Twrch Trwyth himself, it should come by ill health and extreme weariness, if not by death, because of me. In my deed to God," said he, " were it not for the commands of Rhianon Ren, the sovereign lady of the Dimetians, to whom obedience is due, I would be the cause of endless sorrow to that boar."
Said Catwg Gwaeth: "Heedless are you of the council, truly. There is no queen in Dyfed. It is unfitting to put the title of queen on the daughter of Hefeydd Hen."
"There was the treaty," said Pendaran, turning upon him.
"She has borne the name on account of the turbulence of Einion. It was not in the treaty."
"Well, well, and in my deed now," said Pendaran; "my mind is lightened of its burden by this." He had his bow strung beside his chair; he took it in his hands now, and drew an arrow from his quiver, as if for diversion merely, and without anger or vehemence. "She has no right of queenhood," said he, "and did ill to command me. Evil fall upon me unless I hunt that boar."
"For what reason is this fitting an arrow to the string?" said Madog, and anxiety enough in his voice as he said it. "There is no boar here."
"In my deed there is a boar here," said Pendaran. He was on his feet in a moment, towering over them and dominating them, his aspect regally warlike, menacing; the drawn bowstring at his right shoulder, the shaft aimed between the eyes of Catwg. "When the arrow hath pierced him, the enchantment will fall from him, and you shall see the swinish nature of yonder man."
"The queen ordered you not to shoot," said Catwg. Though he had opposed ten good shields to the arrow of Pendaran, it was well known that the shields would have been pierced, and he himself likewise, without hindering the arrow in its course. "For the sake of the queen, shoot not," said he.
"Not so," said Pendaran; "thou art a wild boar, and it was no more than the daughter of Hefeydd that ordered me."
"She is the queen," said Catwg.
"Say you so, indeed?" said Pendaran, not lowering the shaft.
"We say it," said the four of them. "She shall have the throne at the feasts."
"Einion would be appeased now," said Pendaran, when he was making it known to Rhianon. "If he should have to hear what has been gained by it, he would have no sorrow because of being slain."
"Were it in my power, I would relate it to him in the Gwerddonau Llion," said she. "A magnanimous hero he was; sorrow upon me that he should have been slain."
(The story relates that that evening a Dragon lighted down on the shores of the Gwerddonau Llion in the magical west of the world. "Where is the one that was Einion Arth Cennen?" said the Dragon. "I am here," said Einion; "sorrow upon me that I am not in Dyfed for the defense of my queen." "Sorrow not for it," said the Dragon, and related to him what had befallen. Einion was a stern, silent man at all times; nobly courteous in his demeanor, but few would jest with him, and he with few; seldom was he heard to laugh. But when he heard the news of that council, there was no restraining his laughter until the rising of the sun.)
Three years passed after that; at the end of them the men of the teulu were older and fewer than at the beginning, and it troubled the Crintach more and more daily to see any one on the throne at feast times, and he going throneless himself. It happened on the day before May Eve that news came to Ceredig Call at Boncath, that his lordship was being harried by sea-demons. "I must keep watch upon Pen Cemais tomorrow night," thought he; but if he should ride back to Arberth to give the news to Rhianon, there would be no keeping watch there. "This is a difficult matter," he said; "sorrow upon me if I know which course to take." But in the end he determined to ride forward into Cemais; he knew well that it was on May Eve that the demons would be at their worst.
"Where is Ceredig Cwmteifi?" said Rhianon in the morning. "It will be well for him to lead the watchers on Gorsedd Arberth."
"News has come from him that he has ridden to Aberteifi," said Gwawl. "The sea-demons are troubling his lordship."
"Woe is me on account of this," said she.
Two days after, Deiniol the Wicked came into the court. "Pendaran Dyfed," said he, "Ceredig is dead. He was found at the foot of Pen Cemais at low tide, on the morning of the first day of May."
"Who was it that found his body?" said Pendaran.
"It was I," said Deiniol. "It was a night of sea-mists, and he would have fallen from the headland."
"Evil upon the sea-mists," thought Pendaran; "it shall be the worse for them." He went out to the palace gate.
"It would be well to loose an arrow at Deiniol Drwg," said he. "He was ever an enemy of Ceredig; and there is much that is mistlike and treacherous, both in his mind and in his passions. Were an arrow to be loosed, and to chance to harm him, there might well be clearer nights upon the coast."
"Loose it not," said Rhianon, "or there will be no hindering warfare."
Pendaran went into the council; Gwawl and Meurig went with him, and the Lord of Aberdaugleddau in the place of Ceredig Call Cwmteifi. Now that another of the men of the teulu was slain, and he Ceredig Cwmteifi, the best of the Dimetians after Pendaran himself; a man beloved by Pwyll Pen Annwn, and holding high honor with him in the old days, and renowned even as far as the court of the King of London — it was intolerable to the Crintach that he should hold back any longer. "The Dimetians grow impatient of the breaking of laws and precedents," said he. "Let the treaty be kept from this time forward. It is unfitting that a woman should be throned at the feast times."
"Let it be kept, and evil fall upon it," said Pendaran. "If Ceredig Call Cwmteifi were here, ye should be hindered; as for me, I have no fortitude left wherewith to oppose ye, on account of being plagued by sea-mists."
Meurig Mwyn and the Lord of Aberdaugleddau marveled at the compliance of Pendaran. "Lord Pendaran," said Meurig, "old age is oppressing you."
"Truly is it oppressing me," said Pendaran. "On account of it, I can not hear of fallings into the sea without petulant impatience, and a desire for revenge upon the sea-mists. By the war-shout and Hai Atton of the Gods, I would shoot until there were no mists left along the sea-border, were it not that the queen forbade me."
While he was speaking, Deiniol Drwg came into the council hall. "What talk is this of queenhood?" said he. "According to the treaty, there is neither king nor queen in Dyfed."
"That is true," said the Crintach. "The treaty shall be kept from this out. Let no man speak of the queen in this council."
Pendaran took his bow lightly, and fitted an arrow to it without pomp or ostentation. "I am growing old," said he; "miserably fitful is my memory. It was but the daughter of Hefeydd forbade me; I had forgotten that she forfeited her sovereignty." No sooner was sovereignty out from between his teeth, than he was on his feet, dominant, a warlike hero intensely to be feared. His right hand with the bowstring was at his shoulder; the point of the shaft would take Deiniol between the eyes, were the string loosed, and thereafter would pass through his head and through the wall of the council chamber. "By heaven, I never will refrain from shooting except upon command of a lawful sovereign! The fickle rashness of my old age is too much for me."
Confusion took the four of them in a moment, and Deiniol more than any of them. "The queen ordered thee not to shoot," said he; and trembling with the fear of death as he said it.
"The queen?" said Pendaran. "What talk is this of queenhood, in the name of heaven? Was there no treaty? Was there no forfeiting queenhood? There is no sovereign in Arberth, and no one with a right to command me; and there are three arrows in the quiver, and one upon the string, that I shall shoot, to prove that ye are but sea-mists enchanted in the guise of men. It is evil to take advantage of my old age and infirmities, and to seek to deceive me because my wits are failing."
"Shoot not, on account of the queen's forbidding thee," said Madog. "Rhianon ferch Hefeydd is the queen."
In that way the sovereignty of Rhianon was maintained that year also. Gwydion ab Don, in the form of a dragon, took the news to Ceredig Call in the Gwerddonau Llion; and he, and Arth Cennen, and as many of the teulu of Pwyll Pen Annwn as were there, made merry over it, and over Pendaran's infirmities, between dawn and sunset during three days.
"Less well should I have served her, had I remained alive," said Ceredig.
In the fifteenth year, it happened that Meurig Mwyn was in his house at Bronwydd, and as they were sitting down to the feast, a messenger came into the hall from Rhianon, with news that there was need of the chieftain at Arberth. "Yes," said Meurig; "I will ride forth tomorrow when it dawns."
"It would be better to ride now," said the messenger. "Often the unprompt will be overtaken by misfortune."
Said Meurig: "For what labor will the need of me be?"
"For the watching on Gorsedd Arberth," said the messenger.
"We will set forth at dawn," said Meurig, "and be at Arberth by mid-morning. Inhospitable it were, truly, that a prince should come to the hall, and meet with no entertainment."
"You are to choose," said Gwawl ab Clud; "but it would be better to set forth now."
"Not so," said Meurig; "we will ride at dawn."
That night the house of Meurig was burnt over his head, and he himself perished in the smoke, and Gwawl ab Clud powerless to save him.
Gwawl gave the news to Rhianon and the penteulu. "There was a man lurking beyond the gate," said he, "that had the aspect of Gwylltyn Gwaethaf."
Pendaran Dyfed mourned for the slaying of Meurig; except Gwawl ab Clud, there was no one in Dyfed that he loved more. "The hospitality of the Immortals was with him!" said he. "I delighted in his conversation at all times, and in his generosity, and in his magnanimous bearing in the onslaught, and in the gay nature of him, and the regal songs and the laughter. Hateful to me above all things are these deaths by flame and suffocation."
"Noble are the words spoken," said Rhianon. "It would be unfitting to say less of him."
Pendaran turned to her. "Sovereign princess," said he, "do not deny me this. Unbounded is my desire to loose an arrow this day in the council. The anger of that Gwylltyn is of the nature of flame, and his deceits are darker and more treacherous than the smoke and fumes that destroy the sleeping."
"If Gwylltyn were slain, there would be war," said she. "Unless Pwyll Pen Annwn were here, or Pryderi fab Pwyll to lead you, there would be no advantage even in victory. Those two are of the kingly race, descendants of the Gods and the Cymry; there are many that would support and follow them, that will take no side now; and the Dimetians will be weary of lacking their king by the time Pryderi returns. And return he will," said she, "and will have need of you. But now you would destroy these men, and lay the land in ruin, and neither Pwyll nor Pryderi would have advantage from it."
"We desire no advantage for any one but you," said he. "It is the sorrow of our lives that you should do the penance."
"I am content with waiting and patience," said she. "This fate I foresaw. I pray you to be content with waiting also."
"Old and fierce and hasty am I grown," said Pendaran. "Fiercely I desire to loose this arrow, and three more after it. But I am not without knowledge what is your due."
He went into the council, and as he went, fell to his considering and cogitations. "They shall acknowledge her queenhood this year also," thought he; "Meurig Mwyn would not grudge the price of it."
Pendaran rose up in the council hall. "But for the orders I have received from the queen, the Daughter of Hefeydd Hen in the Kingdom of the Immortals, the sovereign ruler of the Dimetians, your lady and mine, and the lineage of the Gods with her, and herself a Goddess — " (slowly, and haughtily, with defiant menace, the words rolled out from between his teeth and lips) —
"You shall not speak of her thus," cried Gwylltyn Gwaethaf Oll; "unbearable is this."
"By the Son of the Three Shouts, were it not for the orders I had from her, I would quench certain fires with this arrow."
The point of it was aimed between the eyes of Gwylltyn; there was no one worse than he between the sea and the Tywi and the Teifi, and therefore was he called Gwaethaf Oll.
"Shoot not; the queen ordered thee," said Gwylltyn, trembling.
"Not so; it was Rhianon ordered me."
"She is the queen."
"I will show thee," said Pendaran, and lowered his aim. He loosed the arrow, and it took the two folds of the mantle of Gwylltyn between his right arm and his ribs, and pinned him by the mantle to the wall. Before the arrow struck, another was fitted to the bow. "I will show thee again," said Pendaran, and loosed it. It took the folds of his mantle between the left arm and the heart, and pinned him to the wall on that side also. The third arrow was aimed before the second struck. "Who is the queen?" said Pendaran Dyfed.
"Rhianon is the queen," said Gwylltyn.
"Ever I loved formalities," said Pendaran. "Appease you my irritable nature now, out of courtesy, by speaking according to her dignity and your own unworthiness. Let your words be: The queen, Rhianon Ren the daughter of Hefeydd, from the Land of the Immortals."
"The queen, Rhianon Ren the daughter of Hefeydd in the Land of the Immortals," said Gwylltyn.
"The sovereign ruler of the Dimetians, your lady and mine, and the lineage of the Gods with her, and herself clearly a Goddess — speak you the words as they are given you," said Pendaran.
Gwylltyn repeated the words.
"Madog and Catwg and Deiniol, to your feet with you, and repeat the titles of your lady and mine," said Pendaran. The fear of his swift bow was upon them, with his not ceasing to menace them with it, and they rose up and repeated the titles.
"That is well," said Pendaran. "It is delightful to me that the rash impetuosity of my nature should have been appeased, without committing violence and ill-considered action. You see how it is with me," he said. "I am grown old and hasty, and am troubled with forgetfulness and am fickly rash. When any of the servants of the queen meet their death by treachery, I am filled with the burning desire to shoot; and this desire takes me whenever I come into the council, and it is needful that you should constantly remind me who it is that has ordered me to restrain the arrows. And beyond that," said he, "it has been revealed to me that, should another of us be slain, I shall fall short of restraining them, and forget the orders of the queen, and shoot in this council, and that vehemently and without warning; and that the one I shall shoot at will be the Crintach himself; and heaven knows, if I did that, it might well be the cause of pining away and distaste of food with me."
So Rhianon had her queenhood acknowledged, what there was of it after doing penance from dawn to dusk, for that year also. As for Meurig Mwyn of Bronwydd, when the news was given him in the Gwerddonau Llion, there was no controlling his delight and laughter on account of the arrows and impatience of Pendaran, and of the infirmities of his old age.
It happened in the eighteenth year that there was a raid of giants at Aberdaugleddau, from beyond the raging sea. Few would go against them, except the men of the teulu of Pwyll Pen Annwn. Thirty remained to guard the queen at Arberth, and thirty went against the giants. They obtained the victory, such as it was, and destroyed the host that opposed them; but twenty of them were slain, and five so deeply wounded that neither physician nor cauldron of cure could heal them. On the Eve of May Rhianon sent ten men to guard the Gorsedd, so that there were no more than five and twenty left at Arberth that night.
The men of the Crintach had become more impatient than ever by that time; they had determined that on the Eve of May, when the teulu was at its fewest, their lord should take the throne at the feast. Pendaran Dyfed came into the hall early; he took the place of the king's heir opposite to the dais. Fourteen of his companions were with him; the rest would lead the queen from the gate, when she might leave it at sunset.
Madog came in at the head of his men; they did not take their places about the table, as would have befitted them, but went forward towards the throne. Pendaran waited until they were on the dais; then he was on his feet, and his bow drawn and aimed (it had not its equal in Dyfed either for swift suddenness, or for driving power, or for sureness of aim; nor in the whole of the Island of the Mighty, as was well known, nor in the rest of the world).
"Woe is me!" cried Pendaran; "old and rash and full of whims have I grown. I am seized with an intolerable desire to drive shafts through the back of yonder chair."
Madog turned and saw him, and stepped aside quickly from the throne.
"Fickly rash are the desires of old age," cried Pendaran again. "Bear you with me in all courtesy and consideration, and it shall be the better. It was revealed to me in dreams during the night that I should be speeding arrows senselessly at the dais throughout the feast time, unless there were one from the Kingdom of the Immortals upon the throne." His voice was like the roaring of the flood among the mountains; his aspect was that of a breaker of battles, a driver of thousands into the wave; there was no one in the hall that would have dared to oppose him.
In that way he preserved the queenhood of Rhianon during the twenty years. There were many that plotted to destroy him; but he was wise continually, and went nowhere but where Rhianon might have counseled him to go, and did nothing but what was service for her. With that, and with the ready, swift terror of his bow, it was as if there were unseen dragons of protection encircling him; there was no one that dared to come against him openly, and no one that could obtain success or advantage against him in secret.
III. THE COMING OF PRYDERI
The twenty-one years of the penance of Rhianon were at their end, and two months after it. By that time there were no more than thirty left to maintain the sovereignty of their queen: Pendaran Dyfed, and Gwawl ab Clud, and eight and twenty of the teulu of Pwyll Pen Annwn with them. From the Eve of May onward, she had let no day pass without ten of them guarding the Gorsedd from noon until sunset. Glanach and Llonach and Mwynach, her three birds, had returned to her; she had not kept them, to take delight in their singing, but had sent them questing over the world after her lord, the Son of the Boundless, that had been Pwyll Pen Annwn before the falling of the sorrow of the Dimetians. She had made known to the men of the teulu that the birds had returned, and that it would mean the coming of Pwyll or of Pryderi; and indeed, great was the need on them for good tidings; with their having grown so few and old, and their enemies waxing stronger and more insolent around them always.
Here is what happened to them at last: they were leading her into the hall for the feast, Pendaran on her right and Gwawl ab Clud on her left, and she leaning on their arms dependent on them; eighteen men followed those three. As they came in, they saw what had befallen. The place was filled with five hundred of the men of Madog, and the Crintach himself was on the throne. Five hundred bows were strung, and five hundred arrows aimed at Rhianon. Even if Pendaran had had his arms free for shooting, the queen would have been slain before his bow-string could have obtained its stretching.
Madog Crintach laughed. "Pendaran Dyfed," said he, "five hundred are the shafts that are aimed. Is there curbing your petulance in it? Is your rash impatience quenched?"
Pendaran moved forward between the arrows and Rhianon. "Their bows are aimed," he whispered to her; "there is no resisting them now. What answer will I give him?"
She laughed quietly. "A peaceful answer," said she; "give him a peaceful answer. Say that he has won, and may get to his feasting. Say that we will go into exile in Ireland, if it please him. He will not slay us here, but will make pursuit of us secretly."
"Indeed, my impatience is quenched, good soul," said Pendaran. "Never had I a greater desire for peace than now. The aged long for quietness. Take you the throne of the Dimetians. As for us, if it please you, we will go into exile in Ireland."
Then said Rhianon: "Lord Madog, I shall come again to oppose you; and it will be with Pwyll Pen Annwn or with Pryderi fab Pwyll."
Uproariously they laughed in mockery at that, the whole five hundred of them and Madog their lord. "Were it not for pity, ye should be slain," said he. "Ye are given until the morning to leave Dyfed."
"Lord Madog," whispered Gwylltyn to him; "it would be better to slay them before they can take ship at Aberdaugleddau."
"That is true," said Madog, whispering again. "Men shall go in pursuit of them, and slay them secretly."
The twenty turned sadly, and led their queen out from the hall. They came into the courtyard without speaking.
"The ruin of Dyfed is this," said Pendaran. "There is no more hope for it henceforward. Without fighting, it would have been hard for the thirty of us to have resisted them further. An evil fate is this."
"Not so," said Rhianon. "Fortunate are you, truly. The Immortals will have heard of your service; not one of you will be without his reward."
"By the Shield of Hu Gadarn, let there be no talk of reward," said Pendaran. "To have served you has been a better reward than was given to any one before. Less than human should we be, if we desired rewards beyond this."
The eighteen old men sighed; none of their keen, fierce, aged eyes but had the tears in them. "That is true," said they. "We will have no rewards. Alas that we are alive, to behold you bereft of sovereignty."
"Go you back to your immortality; this world is too evil for you," said Pendaran. "Be it granted to us to know that you are among your own Dragon Kin, and we will take what reward we desire. We are old men that love you," said he; "grant us the sight of the wings that shall carry you to the House of Hu Gadarn. After that, our own hands will take what our hearts desire."
The eighteen nodded; their old eyes fell, or were set, shining, for far vision. "Indeed, we could take it then," said they.
"It is known to me what ye would take." With that she turned to Gwawl ab Clud. "Lord Gwawl," she said; "is it your will to return to your own land?"
"It is not," said he. "I desire new lives in the Island of the Mighty. My fate will be one with theirs. Call you upon the dragon chariots; we are not able to serve you further."
They were standing beneath the apple-tree in the courtyard, under the moon. She lifted her face; although sightless, she saw what was not made known to any of them. She was aware of flaming mists, green and golden, that leaped and streamed over the firmament. They drew nearer and took the form of a dragon, that circled in the air above the Dimetians, and lighted down at last in the limbs of the tree.
"It is given you now to behold an Immortal," said Rhianon. "It is given you to hear the conversation of Gwydion the son of Don."
They looked up, and the tree was one white flame and intense glory above them; and there in the midst of it was Gwydion ab Don in his bardic guise, the most beautiful youth in the world.
"It is now that you will come to the Wyddfa, Daughter of Hefeydd," said he. "Hu the Mighty is enthroned there awaiting you. The knife is in the meat and the mead is in the horn, and there will be revelry in the Hall of the Gods, when the best of their race is made one with them. Every night during these one and twenty years it has been offered to you; you will not refuse it now. The dragon wings are made ready; come you with me now to the Ones that await you."
Proud and gentle was the laughter of Rhianon Ren. "Ah dear!" she said; "Gods and men, you are without understanding of this. Did you think that I had suffered defeat?"
The light waned from the tree, and Gwydion was gone. They went on towards the outer gate. Before they came to it, a sound of knocking arose from without.
"Is there a porter?" cried the one that knocked.
"There is not," said Pendaran Dyfed. "There is revelry in the court of Madog Crintach; the porters will be feasting with their lord."
"The greeting of heaven and of man to the one that made answer. Open the portal, if it please you."
"It is better for a good man not to enter the house of the wicked," said Pendaran. "Who is it that desires to come in?"
"A craftsman bearing his craft."
"Three Unusual Crafts, and the first of them, restoring youth to the aged."
"Madog the Crintach would be better without it. Not well would it be for you to come in here."
"The second is restoring sight to the sightless."
"Shall I open it?" he asked Rhianon.
"Let him make known the third craft first," said she.
"The Crintach would be better with less sight than he has," said Pendaran. "What will the third craft be?"
"O chieftain, it is not on the Crintach that I shall exercise my crafts. As for the third, it will be restoring thrones to their rightful owners," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn.
"Open thou the portal, dear soul," said Rhianon.
He opened it, and Gwri dismounted at the horse-block, and came in. As soon as he saw Rhianon, he kneeled down at her feet. "Lady," said he, "is it your will that I make known to you the manner of exercising the first of the arts?"
"It is my will," she said.
He rose up, and took the fillet, and fastened it about her white hair as Gwron Brif-fardd had directed him. "By the Wood, the Field and the Mountain," he said, "quit whiteness, every hair of you, and assume your natural color; let the black be black, and the brown brown, and the golden golden; and let the limbs regain their youth, as if years had never passed over them."
She stood there, as young and glorious of aspect as she had been when Pwyll first saw her riding through the valley of the Gorsedd; her rightful immortality kindled in all her limbs.
"The years are undone, and the sorrow with them," said Rhianon. "This also was foreknown. Do you deem now that I have suffered defeat?"
"This is a marvel," said the twenty of them. "Praised and honored be this young man, beyond all the youths of the world."
"Lady," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn, "is it your will that I make the second art known?"
"It is my will, dear," said she.
He put the ring on the forefinger of his right hand, and lifted it to her right eyelid, as Plenydd the Sight-giver had directed him. "By the Wood, the Field and the Mountain, quit you your blindness," said he. Then he touched the left eyelid, and said to it: "By the Wood, the Field and the Mountain, quit you your blindness also"; and then: "The vision of the God, the dragon and the eagle to the two of you from this out."
Rhianon turned to the twenty. "Souls, souls," said she; "excellent and delightful to me it is to behold you." There were two score eyes with them, that were shedding the tears of joy and delight. "Do you deem now that I have suffered defeat?" said she.
"As for you, dear," she said, turning to Gwri again; "am I made known to you now, as clearly as you were made known to me from the moment I heard you knocking on the portal?"
He was at her feet again, his arms compassing her knees.
"Indeed, yes, dear," she said, raising him. "You are my own son Pryderi."
. . . . . . . . .
"By heaven," said Pendaran Dyfed; "it is Pwyll Pen Annwn's son.
. . . . . . . . . .
They heard hoof-beats on the road near by, and the voice of the Lord of Aberdaugleddau. "Come," said Pendaran, quietly; "we will meet them on the road with the tidings." They stole forth through the gate, and met the ten from Gorsedd Arberth.
Said Pendaran Dyfed: "Is there any news with you from Gorsedd Arberth?"
"We saw a youth riding by through the twilight, and half of us said that he would be Pwyll Pen Annwn; and half of us held that he would be one of the Immortals," said the Lord of Aberdaugleddau. "Is there any news from the hall?"
"There is," said Pendaran. "Madog Crintach is enthroned there."
"The sorrow has fallen at last," said the ten. "Never was there misery to equal this."
"There never was joy to equal it," said Pendaran Dyfed. "Come you into the courtyard."
They went in, and beheld Pryderi and Rhianon. "By heaven," said the Lord of Aberdaugleddau, "it is Pwyll Pen Annwn's son."
. . . . . . . . . .
The nine and twenty old men, the last of the best of the Dimetians, and Gwawl ab Clud that had not grown old, and never would, came about Pryderi, eager to delight their eyes with his strength and his beauty, with the mien and regal bearing of Pwyll Pen Annwn that they beheld with him; eager for the touch of his hands. They remembered all the delights they had ever known during their lives; the best that they remembered seemed to them akin to sorrow, compared with the delight of beholding Pryderi fab Pwyll Pen Annwn.
"Lord," said Pendaran Dyfed; "here is your teulu. There will be barely five hundred within the hall to give you the welcome of opposition. Is it permitted to us to storm the hall?"
"Souls, souls," said Rhianon, "I will have you restored to the best of your manhood first." She turned to Pryderi. "Dear," she said; "there never were the equals of these Dimetians. Set you the fillet about their foreheads, one after another of them; it was for this that I bound it about your swaddling-clothes, the morning you were born. Souls, souls," she said; "did you deem that I would desert you? Did you deem that the companionship of the Immortals would be better to me than the companionship of such Cymry as you are?"
One by one, beginning with Pendaran Benteulu, Pryderi put youth on them; until there were thirty warriors with him in the courtyard, and they all in the prime of their strength and youthful manhood, of their warlike beauty and glory and vigor.
Pendaran Dyfed sighed. "Dear soul," said Rhianon, "what will be troubling you?"
"Inordinate desires," said Pendaran.
"What desires are they?" said she.
"I lament that I rejected that which was offered me. In spite of this young manhood, it is the fickle nature of the over-old that remains with me."
"Speak you without concealment," said Pryderi.
Then Pendaran said: "Heretofore I was penteulu for Pwyll Pen Annwn thy father. During one and twenty years have I been penteulu for the queen. For her sake I have desired often to shoot; for her sake I have refrained from shooting. Sorrow upon me, I desire a reward for this."
"Lord," said the nine and twenty; "the best of us will not compare with Pendaran."
"What reward do you desire, dear soul?"
Pendaran answered hesitatingly, and with the bashfulness of a young boy. "This," said he; "that I may make the way for my lord into the hall of his fathers. Delightful to my soul beyond all things would be this pleasant diversion. It is so long since I have made the bowstring sing."
All this while they had heard the shouting and revelry from within the hall. Suddenly the door was flung open, and a flare of light came out to them. "Stand in the shadow of the tree," said Rhianon, and they did so. "Forgo you the reward for a little while, Pendaran dear," said she. "My son has three Unusual Arts with him; and if the truth were told, he has barely made one of them known to us yet. Go you forward into the hall, Pryderi," said she. "There are your three arts that must be exercised."
"Who is it that makes disturbance in the courtyard?" shouted the porter. "Let him begone, whosoever he is. The knife is in the meat and the mead is in the horn, and no one may enter."
Pryderi fab Pwyll went forward towards the door. "Say you so, indeed?" said he. "A craftsman bearing his craft may enter at any time."
"Neither craftsman nor bard, neither king's son nor chieftain," said the porter.
"It is a marvel to me that this should be spoken," said Pryderi. "Come you into the hall with me, that you may make it clearer by the light of the torches."
He took the porter by the arm, and led him into the hall; it was more dragging than leading, and neither good will nor silence with the one dragged. "Lord Madog," cried he; "here is one that hath entered by violence when the door was opened."
"If he had no regard for usage, he ought to be slain," said Deiniol Drwg.
"Make an end of him quickly," said the Crintach; "we will have respect paid to the precedents of the court." A hundred men rose up, eager for the diversion; when they saw Pryderi, they paused, although their swords were drawn and his sheathed.
Pryderi laughed merrily. "As for usage and precedent," said he, "there will be regard paid to them everywhere except here. It is as if some upstart alien held court here, and no rightful king of the race of the Cymry."
"What disregard of them is found here?" said Madog. He knew that he had never learned kinghood.
"Disregard enough, and the greatest in the world," said Pryderi. "Two men may enter a court at any time, an institutional bard and the son of a king. Two men may enter if there is need of them; a warrior bearing his arms and a craftsman bearing his craft. I am a bard and a king's son, yet entrance was refused me. I am a warrior of whom there is need, yet I was not made welcome. I am also a craftsman bearing his crafts, yet I was not asked concerning the nature of them. Unkinglike and uncourtly is this."
"Let a place be made for him next to the penteulu," said Madog. It was his nature to be without hospitality, and therefore was he called the Crintach. No one had ever had generous kindliness from him; what he had, he kept, and desired more. Now that kinghood had come to him, nothing would please him but to seem kingly; he desired to put on the bearing of the kings of the Cymry, lest it should be remembered that he was the son of a merchant from beyond the sea. He would accord honor to this guest; but it was fear and meanness that drove him to it. He would have the most splendid feast that had been given in Dyfed since the reign of Hu Gadarn; but what seemed to him regal generosity was no better that gluttonous waste. There was triumph and delight in the hall that night, and consuming meat and mead without measure; but it was such feasting as would be hateful to heroes, and the songs sung would be the sorrow of bards.
Pryderi took his place; Gwylltyn Gwaethaf was in the seat of the Penteulu next to him. "The greeting of heaven and of man to you, Pendaran Dyfed," said Pryderi, and obtained no answer from him. The feasting went forward.
"Throughout these islands I have heard the renown of Pendaran Dyfed," said Pryderi. "This is a marvel to me."
"What is a marvel to thee?" said Gwylltyn.
"That a man with such fame for valor and courtesy should practice ill manners towards a guest," said Pryderi.
"Who practises ill manners?" said Gwylltyn.
"It is you that practise them, Pendaran," said Pryderi. "Ungreeted have I taken my place at your side. A cause of grief with me is this."
"Insolent thou art," said Gwylltyn. He rose to his feet, and struck at Pryderi with his hand. "Insolent thou art, truly," said he.
Pryderi rose up. "The penteulu of the court has given me blows and violence," said he. "According to precedent, it is a cause of fighting between him and me, and if I overcome him, I shall be the penteulu. It is the courtesy of king's houses," said he.
Gwylltyn waited for nothing, but drew his sword, and smote at Pryderi. Pryderi struck it out of his hand lightly, and it fell broken afar in the hall. "Forgo you the office of penteulu," said he; "it will be the better for you."
Gwylltyn slunk away ashamed; he would have fought well enough, but for overmuch meat and mead. Pryderi took the place of the penteulu; and Madog called Gwylltyn to him.
"This can be righted in the morning," said Madog. "At the first feast, there are the usages that must be considered."
Then he said: "The victorious shall be penteulu. Keep you this office, whosoever you are. Let the feasting go forward. Let the household bard sing, that we may have peace here."
As for who the household bard was: he was Deiniol the Wicked; there was no one better among them at bardism than he. Institutional bards of the holy Gorsedd of Ynys Prydain were not to be found in Dyfed at that time.
This much may be said of Deiniol's singing: it was without the three necessities of bardic song. The best truth in it was a lie; and truth is well known to be the first necessity. It was framed more in rancor against the queen, and Pwyll Pen Annwn, and Pendaran Dyfed, than in praise even of the Crintach; of whom, heaven knows, there was little praise either to be spoken or sung; the second necessity is, that the noble shall be extolled, and the small-souled and meagre left without mention. There was no sweet sound nor beauty with it; and the third necessity is, that a bardic song shall be well-framed and melodious, closely knit with sweet consonances and assonances, and no less agreeable to the ear than the music of the blackbird at dawn, or the whisper of the west wind among the reeds on the fairest evening in August, or the carolling of the mavis in the woods in May. Unless those necessities are observed the Immortal Kindred cannot maintain their friendship with the bards; neglect of them would have
been the corruption of the whole virtue of the Island of the Mighty, in those days.
Pryderi rose to his feet. "Vile singing is this," he said, pleasantly. He made his way to the dais, where Deiniol stood. "Peace be with you all," said he; "I myself will show you singing. It is unfitting that the king's feast should be defiled by songs without truth, extolment or assonance. Give me the harp, good soul, and I will make known to you the true method of bardic singing."
Deiniol stopped and stared at him. "By heaven," said he, "is this to be permitted? What insolent youth is here?"
Pryderi laughed lightly and pleasantly. "A bard, such as it is," said he. "Go you down there, good soul, and I will show you singing."
No one had the desire to hinder him, so regal was his mien, and so careless his laughter and cheerful audacity. He took the harp from Deiniol; who went down slowly from the dais. With the first note that he struck, he put wonder and silence on every one. Then he made these verses and sang them:
When darkness came down
On the lord of the west,
And, bereft of renown,
He went forth on his quest,
When he wandered the world, and was nameless,
Long years without joy, without rest;
Did ye deem that he went,
And left after him none?
That his life was all spent,
And your warfare all won?
When ye dreamed of the passing of Pwyll,
Took ye thought for Pryderi his son?
Madog started forward. "Pryderi!" he cried,"where hast thou heard news of Pryderi fab Pwyll?"
"Peace!" said Pryderi. "Kings are silent, when bards may be singing." Then he made these verses and sang them:
When the queen of the land
Was driven forth from her own,
That the puny might stand
On the steps of the throne,
Did ye deem there was none to redeem her?
Did ye search betwixt Mynwy and Mon?
A little gold band
From the regions of light,
And a ring from her hand
That had power over night,
And a babe that was stolen, from the cradle —
Can ye fathom the riddle aright?
Thrice dark was the world
When they stole him away,
To be hidden, to be hurled
In the flame, in the spray;
Save for one that was watching to save him
He should not have looked on the day.
— He multiplied the glory of his hwyl upon them with the singing; they were enthralled, they were enspelled, they were enchanted; they did not move nor speak; many of them remembered with yearning the splendor of the days of Pwyll Pen Annwn. Little wonder in that; since unseen behind and over him on the dais stood One bodied in purple flame, even Alawn Brif-fardd Prydain; even the Immortal Ruler of Song.
By this ring that was found
In the stall when they found me,
— he held up the ring of the Family of Hefeydd; they knew it for Rhianon's ring; it was as if carven out of sun-stuff; it flashed lightnings of brilliance through the hall —
By this small fillet bound,
Gold-buckled around me,
— he held up the fillet; they trembled when they saw its beauty and magical nature, and remembered how of old it had shone about the hair of Rhianon —
Ye shall know me in anger and fear
Ere the hands of my druids have crowned me.
Hath the saying been heard?
Hath the fate been made known?
Must I speak the brute word
Ere I come to mine own,
That myself am Pryderi fab Pwyll
That should come, that should reign on his throne?
Madog started up from the king's place. "Catwg, Gwylltyn, Deiniol," he cried, "without conflict there will be no kinghood for us. It is the son of Pwyll."
"Be silent as to that," cried Catwg Gwaeth. "Cowards obtain nothing. Every one to his arms!" he shouted; "the man hath a host of Gwyddelians about the city." They raised up their warshout, such as it was, and forced the Dimetians to their arming. But for the enchantments of Ab Cilcoed, there were many who would not have armed against the son of Pwyll.
But Pryderi strode towards the middle of the dais and towards Madog. "Quit thou the throne," said he. The Crintach drew sword, and struck at him, and he lifted neither shield nor blade to meet the blow. But it seemed to Madog as if a great battle-brand of flaming sapphire-stuff flashed down from the rafters of the roof, swifter than the lightning and more beautiful, and met his own sword, and shivered it into fragments in the midst of its falling. He looked up, and there was One standing over Pryderi that had the poplar-stature with him, and the beauty of the dawn, and his body of golden flaming fire. He shrank back from the menace of Gwron Gawr the Heroic Prif-fardd.
"Quit thou the throne when the king's son orders thee," said Pryderi fab Pwyll; and Madog slunk back into the shadows behind the throne.
Then Pryderi took his place before the throne, and watched those who were arming against him in the hall. "There may be peace here yet," he said. "It is permitted to the Crintach and the three that are with him to leave Dyfed this night; the rest shall have peace and pardon, if they desire it."
"So shall it never be permitted to you; and you shall have neither pardon nor peace," cried Catwg. He and Gwylltyn and Deiniol were well armed by that time; they were going about among the Dimetians, ordering and inciting them. It was as if they prepared for battle with a host, not for the slaying of one man; they knew that that one was Pryderi fab Pwyll. The three of them were powerful men, accustomed to conflict; but they would have their whole host about them armed, before they would give battle to the son of Pwyll Pen Annwn. They overthrew the tables of the feasting, and dragged them to the walls for the sake of war-space. Pryderi stood, and watched them proudly.
Catwg raised his warshout; five hundred of them raised it after him; shouting they rushed forward. When their rush was at its beginning, an arrow sped out from the back of the hall behind them, and passed Pryderi between his right arm and his ribs. It appeared to them that it would have been one among themselves that had shot, and that their enemy would have been already wounded, if not slain. But it was not Pryderi that moved or trembled because of the arrow, nor that groaned when it struck; nor that ceased then from nefarious projects, and from stealing upon men from behind, and from plotting treacherous dagger-blows, repugnant to the warlike and the courteous; nor that fell where he was lurking and creeping behind the throne.
"Evil upon the arrow," groaned Madog Crintach; "a miserable death is this."
They heard him, and paused in the first of their rush, shaken by indecision. But Catwg and his companions leaped forward, shouting them on. Deiniol and he were at the foot of the dais; Pryderi stood before the throne, unshaken, his sword undrawn, his shield at his back; the points of their spears were a hand's length from his breast. Two arrows sped out of the far end of the hall; Catwg fell for the first, and Deiniol for the second, at the very feet of the son of Pwyll. The third arrow flew, and Gwylltyn Gwaethaf fell upon his brethren. There was no remaining in doubt as to who might be the speeder of those arrows.
The men in the hall hesitated; there rose up from behind them a regal, triumphant shouting of warshouts; a warshout that they remembered of old, and a warshout that was new to them: For the sake of Pwyll Pen Annwn! and For the sake of Pryderi fab Pwyll! They turned; they saw there thirty men under Pendaran Dyfed, who had been old men when the feast began, but were now in the glory of their vigor and manhood, terrible of mien and aspect. There was the bow of Pendaran to consider, and how the shafts would come from it, if he had a mind to send them, swifter than the driving of hail before the north wind in January, when the blasts of winter are at their fiercest.
Pendaran laughed. "I shall never restrain the rash passions of my age," he cried; "I have no more power over the arrows." It seemed to them all that shafts from him were raining about them continually; no man dared to move because of them. "Evil upon the bowstring that I can not keep it from speeding them! Evil upon my right hand, that will forever be drawing the string!" He shot, and laughed, and shot. "Old age is a curse," he cried; "let none of ye desire it! Full it is of whims irrestrainable." The arrows took the sword blades in their hands and split them lengthwise; they shaved off the hair from their lips without grazing the skin. "I have destroyed the Crintach; I have destroyed Deiniol Drwg, and Catwg Gwaeth, and Gwylltyn Gwaethaf Oll; yet still the bowstring twangs and sings. Woe is me, it may well be that I shall pine away on account of this!" So he put confusion and terror upon them all, without slaying, or so much as wounding one of them. His shooting was unlike the shooting of a mortal; not one of them, but it seemed to him that arrows were grazing him at every moment. The men of the teulu of Pwyll Pen Annwn put their mantles over their faces, and rocked with laughter, silently. Pryderi took his place on the throne, and watched them; it was marvelous that he could keep from laughter. To him, and to Rhianon, was revealed what it was given to no one else to see. They saw the flame form that leaned over Pendaran from behind, and rained the arrows upon the string of his bow more swiftly than the wave-foam is driven by the tempests of November. They saw the glory of Plenydd Brif-fardd Prydain.
"Let a passage be cleared through the midst of ye," roared Pendaran. "For the sake of my peace let it be cleared; I shall not be able to refrain from driving arrows along the middle of the hall, such a storm of them as will sweep it clean. Get to the walls, if ye love your peace and mine." They obeyed him hastily.
Then Rhianon Ren went forward, passing through the middle of the hall towards the dais. "Ah, peace now, Pendaran Benteulu," said she.
The bowstring ceased its twanging, the arrows their flight. The Dimetians marveled when they saw her without blemish of old age or blindness, more beautiful than ever she had been. Pryderi came down from the dais, and led her to the throne. She took her place on the throne of the Princes of Dyfed.
"Indeed, indeed," thought Pendaran; "it was a marvel even to me, was that shooting. Never have I had pleasure out of bowstrings until now."
Then Pryderi spoke to the Dimetians that had followed Madog. "It is permitted to you all to leave this land," said he. "You shall ride towards Morganwg this night, and Pendaran Dyfed behind you, with his bow strung, for protection."
One of them stood forth. "I will not leave Dyfed," said he. "I served my lord Pwyll Pen Annwn of old, and he never had cause to complain of me. I will not leave Dyfed now that Pryderi fab Pwyll is here. If you are unwilling that I should be your man, order Pendaran to shoot."
Five of them took their places beside him; then ten more, then a hundred. "We have been under evil," said they; "an evil compulsion was put upon our minds. We will not leave Dyfed, and the true king on the throne."
"Evil upon me if there is any king here," said Pryderi.
"Evil upon me if I will have one man to follow me. Rhianon Ren my mother is the queen; there is no sovereignty here except with her."
They bowed their heads; they covered their faces with their mantles. "It is made known to us now," said the first of them, "how she has been made to suffer because of us. It would be impossible for her to take service from such as we are."
In silence the tears fell from their eyes. They remembered the good they had had from Rhianon; they remembered her wisdom and kindness; the thought of her long sorrow was a greater sorrow to them than they had ever known.
"Lady," said they; "order Pendaran to shoot."
But Pendaran's bow was unstrung, and he was hanging it on the wall behind the chair of the penteulu, where it had not hung since Pwyll Pen Annwn's time.
"Not so," said Rhianon. "Pendaran Benteulu will shoot at my enemies, not at the men of my own teulu; not at the men who are my own well-loved friends."
. . . . . .
With that the hall was suddenly filled with light and music; three bright jewels of song fluttered among the rafters, more light-giving than the moon of heaven. A murmur of delight went through the Dimetians.
"They are the Birds of Rhianon," said Pendaran Dyfed.
"They are Aden Lanach, Aden Lonach, and Aden Fwynach," said Pryderi; "they are the three beautiful Singers of Peace."
While they sang, all mournfulness departed from the Dimetians; it was to every one as if the whole evil of his life had gone from him. For an hour they flashed and sang there, then went forth again in quest of Pwyll Pen Annwn.
With their going forth from the hall, the Story of Rhianon and Pryderi ends. On account of its relating by what means Pryderi accomplished setting the birds free and overthrowing the men of Madog Crintach, it is often called The Book of the Three Unusual Arts of Pryderi.