Explore: For a more sinister story of supernatural lovers, see Einion and the Lady of the Greenwood. For another story about the boundary between our world and the fairy world, see Why Deunant has the Front Door in the Back.
[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).
The Bride from the Red Lake
After this the farmer often used to visit the lake, but he saw nothing remarkable until one hot day in autumn, when riding by the lake he took his horse into the water to drink. While the animal was slaking its thirst he was looking idly at the ripples, when to his intense astonishment he became aware of a most lovely face just beneath the surface a little distance from him, looking up at him. As he gazed bewildered, the head and shoulders which belonged to the face emerged from the water.
He leaped from his horse and rushed towards the damsel; when he got there the vision had vanished, but it instantly reappeared in another part of the lake. Again he rushed towards it, and again it disappeared. This happened a third time, and a fourth time, and a fifth, after which the farmer gave up the chase and went disconsolately home.
The next day the farmer went to the lake once more, and sat down by the margin in the hope of seeing the beautiful damsel again, but for a long time there was no sign of her. To beguile the tedium of waiting, he took out of his pocket some apples of rare and delicious quality which had been given to him by a neighbour, and began to munch one of them. Suddenly the lady appeared in all her dazzling beauty almost close to him, and begged him to throw her one of his apples.
"If you want an apple you must fetch it yourself," said the farmer, and he held out the tempting morsel, exhibiting its beautiful red and green sides.
Upon this she came up quite close, and as she took the apple from his left hand, he seized tight hold of her with his right and held her fast. She screamed at the top of her voice, and an old man, with a long white beard and a wreath of water-lilies, appeared out of the midst of the lake. "Oh, mortal, what wouldest thou with my daughter?" he asked of the farmer.
The farmer said that he would break his heart unless the nymph of the lake consented to be his wife. After much pleading the father agreed to the union on one condition, which was that the young man should not strike his wife with clay. The wedding took place at once, and the couple lived together in the greatest happiness.
One day the wife expressed a desire for some of those same delicious apples with which the farmer had tempted her out of the lake. Off went the husband to the neighbour who grew them, and brought back not only some apples, but a beautiful young sapling, bearing the same apple, as a present from their friend. This they at once proceeded to set, he digging and she holding the tree until the hole should be deep enough to plant it in.
"It is deep enough now," said the farmer, and for luck he threw out the last spadeful of clay over his shoulder. He did not look which way he threw it, and it fell right against the breast of his wife.
She no sooner received the blow than she cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry. "Fare thee well, dear husband," she said, and ran into the lake and disappeared beneath the smooth and glassy waters.