Explore: For other stories about confronting the fairies, see Tudur ap Einion and St Collen and the King of Fairy.
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).
Einion and the Lady of the Greenwood
He approached her in a courteous manner, and she also approached him. When he came near to her he saw that she had hoofs instead of feet, and would fain have fled. But she cast her glamour upon him and said, "Thou must follow me whithersoever I go."
She had him in thrall, and he said he would go with her to the ends of the earth, but he requested of her permission first to go and bid farewell to his wife Angharad. This the Lady of the Greenwood agreed to, "but," said she, "I shall be with thee, invisible to all but to thyself."
So he went, and the goblin (for the Lady of the Greenwood was none other) went with him. When he saw Angharad his wife, she appeared an old hag, but he retained the recollection of days past and still felt true love for her, but he was not able to loose himself from the bond of his enchantment.
"It is necessary for me," said he, "to part from thee for a time, I know not how long." They wept together and. broke a gold ring between them: he kept one half and Angharad the other. They took their leave of each other, and he went with the Lady of the Greenwood and knew not whither: for a powerful spell was upon him, and he saw not any place or person or object under its true and proper appearance, excepting the half of the ring alone.
After being a long time, he knew not how long, with the Lady of the Greenwood, he looked one morning, as the sun was rising, upon the half of the ring, and he bethought him to place it in the most secret place he could find. He resolved to put it under his eyelid: as he was endeavouring to do so, he saw a man in white apparel and mounted on a snow-white horse coming towards him.
The horseman asked him what he did there: Einion answered that he was cherishing the memory of his wife Angharad.
"Dost thou desire to see her? " asked the man in white.
"I do," replied Einion, "above all things and all pleasures in the world."
"If so," said the man in white, "get upon this horse behind me." That Einion did, and looking around he could not see any trace of the Lady of the Greenwood, except the track of hoofs of monstrous size, as if journeying towards the north.
"What spell art thou under?" asked the man in white. Then Einion answered him and told everything, how it occurred betwixt him and the Lady of the Greenwood.
"Take this white staff in thy hand, and wish for whatsoever thou desirest," said the man in white. Einion took it, and the first thing he wished was to see the Lady of the Greenwood, for he was not yet completely delivered from her spell. A hideous and uncanny beldam appeared to him, a thousand times more repulsive of aspect than the most frightful thing on earth. Einion uttered a cry of terror: the man in white cast his cloak over him, and in less than a twinkling Einion alighted on the hill of Trefeilir, by his own house, where he knew scarcely anyone, nor did anyone know him.
In the meantime, the goblin who had appeared to Einion as the Lady of the Greenwood had gone to Trefeilir in the form of an honourable and powerful nobleman, richly apparelled and wealthy. He placed a letter in Augharad's hand, in which it was stated that Einion had died in Norway more than nine years before. He cast his spell upon her, and she listened to his words of love.
Soon, seeing that she should become a noble lady, higher than any in Wales, she named a day for her marriage with him. There was a great preparation of every elegant and sumptuous kind of apparel, and of meats and drinks, and of every excellence of song and instruments of music and festive entertainment.
Now, there was in Angharad's hall a very beautiful harp: when the goblin nobleman saw it, he wished to have it played, and the harpers who had assembled, the best in Wales, tried to put it in tune, but were not able.
Just at this time Einion came into the house, and Angharad saw him as an old, decrepit, withered, grey-haired man, stooping with age, and dressed in rags. After the minstrels had failed to put the harp in tune, Einion took it in his hand and tuned it, and played on it an air which Angharad loved.
She marvelled exceedingly, and asked him who he was. "I am Einion, the son of Gwalchmai," said he; "see, the bright gold is my token." And he gave her the ring. But she could not bring him to her recollection. Upon that he placed the white staff in Angharad's hand.
Instantly the goblin, whom she had hitherto seen as a handsome and honourable nobleman, appeared to her as a monster, inconceivably hideous: she fainted from fear, and Einion supported her until she revived. When she opened her eyes, she saw neither the goblin nor any of the guests or minstrels, nothing except Einion and the harp and the banquet on the table, casting its savoury odour around. They sat down to eat, and exceeding great was their joy at the breaking of the spell which the goblin had cast over them.
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