Explore: For other stories about profiting from the fairy world, see The Stray Cow and The Fairy Reward.
[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).
Dick the Fiddler's Money
When he passed the greensward where the fairies used to revel he felt his fiddle suddenly becoming very heavy, and he heard a rattling and a tinkling inside it. This continued until he reached Llwybr Scriw Riw, his home.
When he entered the cottage he had to listen to harsher music than he was wont to extract from his fiddle, to wit, the angry voice of his wife, who, justly angered at his absence, began to lecture and scold him. He was called names which he richly deserved: idler, fool, drunken sot, and so forth. "How is it possible," asked his wife, "for me to beg enough for myself and half a houseful of children nearly naked, while you go about the country spending on drink the little money you earn? The landlord came here this morning, and said that if you do not pay him the rent which has long been overdue he will turn us all out, and what are we to do then? I am sure you have spent all your earnings as usual on beer, and that you haven't got a ha'penny in your pocket."
"Hush, hush, my good woman," said Dick, "see what's in my old fiddle." She obeyed, shook it, and out tumbled a number of bright new five-shilling pieces, more than enough to pay the rent. She promptly put the money away in a safe place, and asked him how he had come into possession of it, and he told her.
The following day he went to Llanidloes to pay his rent. His landlord was more than surprised to find that Dick had come, not to beg for mercy, as he had done several times before, but to discharge his debt. He gave him a receipt, and thirsty Dick betook himself to the "Unicorn" to sample Betty Brunt's ale before returning home.
He had not consumed more than a trifle of half-a-dozen glasses when in came his landlord in a state of great excitement. "Where did you get the money you gave me?" he asked.
"Why, what's the matter with it?" asked Dick.
"It has turned into cockleshells," said the landlord.
"Well, it was all right when I gave it you, and here is the receipt," said Dick, flourishing the document triumphantly. "Somebody must have bewitched the coins." He vouchsafed no further explanation, and even when he was gloriously drunk, as he finished up the evening by becoming, no one was able to pump any information out of him as to the origin of the money he had given the landlord.