Explore: For other stories about the boundary of the fairy world and our world, see Owen Goes A-Wooing and Einion and the Fair Family.
[notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Welsh Fairy Tales unit. Story source: The Welsh Fairy Book by W. Jenkyn Thomas with illustrations by Willy Pogány (1908).
Why Deunant has the Front Door in the Back
Old Beti'r Bont, whose character was by no means above suspicion — she was thought to earn her living by stealing babies for the fairies — had called at Deunant when they were feathering geese and had begged much for one, but she had been refused, and the farmer concluded she was taking her revenge by harassing his stock.
So he went to old Beti and told her that he would tie her hands and feet and throw her into a river unless she removed the charm. She vehemently denied possessing any magical powers, and repeated the Lord's Prayer correctly in proof of her innocence.
The farmer was not altogether convinced even by this, and made her say, "Rhad Duw ar y da," "God's blessing be on the cattle." Now, if this is spoken over bewitched animals, they are always freed from their disease, but the farmer's stock was no better even after his invocation, and he was at his wits' end.
One night before going to bed he was standing a few steps in front of his house, meditating over his trouble. "I cannot imagine why the cattle do not get better," said he out loud to himself.
"I will tell you," said a squeaky little voice close by him. The farmer turned in the direction of the sound and saw a tiny little man, looking very angrily at him.
"It is," continued the mannikin, "because your family keeps on annoying mine so much."
"How is that?" asked the farmer, surprised and puzzled.
"They are always throwing the slops from your house down the chimney of my house," said the little man.
"That cannot be," retorted the farmer, "there is no house within a mile of mine."
"Put your foot on mine," said the small stranger, "and you will see that what I say is true."
The farmer complying, put his foot on the other's foot, and he could clearly see that all the slops thrown out of his house went down the chimney of the other's house which stood far below in a street he had never seen before. Directly he took his foot off the other's, however, there was no sign of house or chimney.
"Well, indeed, I am very sorry," said the farmer. "What can I do to make up for the annoyance which my family has caused you?"
The tiny little man was satisfied by the farmer's apology, and he said: "You had better wall up the door on this side of your house and make another in the other side. If you do that, your slops will no longer be a nuisance to my family and myself." Having said this he vanished in the dusk of the night.
The farmer obeyed, and his cattle recovered. Ever after he was a most prosperous man, and nobody was so successful as he in rearing stock in all Lleyn. Unless they have pulled it down to build a new one, you can see his house with the front door in the back.