Explore: For another story about profiting from the fairy world, see The Stray Cow 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).
The Fairy Reward
He was answered by a small silvery voice, "It is room we want to dress our children." lanto went down and opened the door: a dozen small beings entered carrying tiny babies in their arms, and began to search for an earthen pitcher with water; they remained in the cottage for some hours, washing the infants and adorning themselves. Just before the cock crew in the morning they went away, leaving some money on the hearth as a reward for the kindness they had received.
After this lanto used to keep his fire of coal balls burning all night long, leaving a vessel of water on the hearth, and bread with its accompaniments on the table, taking care, also, to remove everything made of iron before going to bed. The fairies often visited his cottage at night, and after each visit he found money left for him on the hearth. lanto gave up working, and lived very comfortably on the money which he received in return for his hospitality from the Fair Family. His income from this source was more than enough to keep himself in comfort, so lanto married a wife.
Betsi — that was the name of her whom lanto thus honoured — did not bother about the way in which he got his money before she married him, but after the knot had been tied she became very curious. lanto refused to tell her, and this of course made her more inquisitive than ever.
"I don't believe you get it honestly," she said. lanto denied by wood, field and mountain that there was anything dishonest about his means of livelihood. She gave him no peace, however.
"Nine shames on you," she said, "for having a bad secret from your own dear wife."
"But," remonstrated lanto, "if I tell you, Betsi bach, I'll never get any more money."
"Ah," she said (she had already had her doubts about lanto's nightly preparations of fire and hot water), "then it's the fairies."
"Drato," said he, "yes, the fairies it is." With that he thrust his hands down in his breeches pocket in a sullen manner and left the house. He had seven shillings in his pockets up to that minute. When he went feeling for them, thinking that a glass of beer and a pipe of tobacco at the inn would not be amiss after such a matrimonial squabble, he found they were gone. In place of them were some pieces of paper, no good even to light his pipe.
From that day the fairies brought him no more money, and he had once more to eat his bread in the sweat of his face, which is a more scriptural but less pleasant method of earning a living than gathering up fairy money.