Mabinogion: Gwri Wallt Euryn

This story is part of the Mabinogion unit. Story source: The Mabinogion, translated by Lady Charlotte Guest (1877).

Gwri Wallt Euryn

And Pwyll the chief of Annwvyn arose, and his household, and his hosts. And this occurrence could not be concealed, but the story went forth throughout the land, and all the nobles heard it.

Then the nobles came to Pwyll and besought him to put away his wife because of the great crime which she had done. But Pwyll answered them that they had no cause wherefore they might ask him to put away his wife, save for her having no children.

"But children has she now had; therefore will I not put her away: if she has done wrong, let her do penance for it."

So Rhiannon sent for the teachers and the wise men, and as she preferred doing penance to contending with the women, she took upon her a penance. And the penance that was imposed upon her was that she should remain in that palace of Narberth until the end of seven years, and that she should sit every day near unto a horseblock that was without the gate. And that she should relate the story to all who should come there whom she might suppose not to know it already, and that she should offer the guests and strangers, if they would permit her, to carry them upon her back into the palace. But it rarely happened that any would permit.

And thus did she spend part of the year.

Now at that time Teirnyon Twryv Vliant was Lord of Gwent Is Coed, and he was the best man in the world. And unto his house there belonged a mare than which neither mare nor horse in the kingdom was more beautiful. And on the night of every first of May she foaled, and no one ever knew what became of the colt.

And one night Teirnyon talked with his wife: "Wife," said he, "it is very simple of us that our mare should foal every year, and that we should have none of her colts."

"What can be done in the matter?" said she.

"This is the night of the first of May," said he.

"The vengeance of Heaven be upon me, if I learn not what it is that takes away the colts."

So he caused the mare to be brought into a house, and he armed himself and began to watch that night. And in the beginning of the night, the mare foaled a large and beautiful colt. And it was standing up in the place. And Teirnyon rose up and looked at the size of the colt, and as he did so, he heard a great tumult, and after the tumult, behold: a claw came through the window into the house, and it seized the colt by the mane.

Then Teirnyon drew his sword and struck off the arm at the elbow, so that portion of the arm together with the colt was in the house with him. And then did he hear a tumult and wailing, both at once. And he opened the door and rushed out in the direction of the noise, and he could not see the cause of the tumult because of the darkness of the night, but he rushed after it and followed it.

Then he remembered that he had left the door open, and he returned. And at the door, behold: there was an infant boy in swaddling-clothes, wrapped around in a mantle of satin.

And he took up the boy, and behold: he was very strong for the age that he was of.

Then he shut the door and went into the chamber where his wife was. "Lady," said he, "art thou sleeping?"

"No, lord," said she, "I was asleep, but as thou camest in I did awake."

"Behold, here is a boy for thee if thou wilt," said he, "since thou hast never had one."

"My lord," said she, "what adventure is this?"

"It was thus," said Teirnyon, and he told her how it all befell.

"Verily, lord," said she, "what sort of garments are there upon the boy?"

"A mantle of satin," said he.

"He is then a boy of gentle lineage," she replied.

"My lord," she said, "if thou wilt, I shall have great diversion and mirth. I will call my women unto me and tell them that I have been pregnant."

"I will readily grant thee to do this," he answered.

And thus did they, and they caused the boy to be baptized, and the ceremony was performed there, and the name which they gave unto him was Gwri Wallt Euryn because what hair was upon his head was as yellow as gold.

And they had the boy nursed in the Court until he was a year old. And before the year was over, he could walk stoutly. And he was larger than a boy of three years old, even one of great growth and size. And the boy was nursed the second year, and then he was as large as a child six years old. And before the end of the fourth year, he would bribe the grooms to allow him to take the horses to water.

"My lord," said his wife unto Teirnyon, "where is the colt which thou didst save on the night that thou didst find the boy?"

"I have commanded the grooms of the horses," said he, "that they take care of him."

"Would it not be well, lord," said she, "if thou wert to cause him to be broken in and given to the boy, seeing that on the same night that thou didst find the boy, the colt was foaled, and thou didst save him?"

"I will not oppose thee in this matter," said Teirnyon. "I will allow thee to give him the colt."

"Lord," said she, "may Heaven reward thee; I will give it him." So the horse was given to the boy.

Then she went to the grooms and those who tended the horses and commanded them to be careful of the horse so that he might be broken in by the time that the boy could ride him.


(1000 words)

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