Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mabinogion: In the Stead of Arawn

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

In the Stead of Arawn

So he conducted him until he came in sight of the palace and its dwellings. "Behold," said he, "the Court and the kingdom in thy power. Enter the Court; there is no one there who will know thee, and when thou seest what service is done there, thou wilt know the customs of the Court."

So he went forward to the Court, and when he came there, he beheld sleeping-rooms, and halls, and chambers, and the most beautiful buildings ever seen. And he went into the hall to disarray, and there came youths and pages and disarrayed him, and all as they entered saluted him. And two knights came and drew his hunting-dress from about him, and clothed him in a vesture of silk and gold. And the hall was prepared, and behold he saw the household and the host enter in, and the host was the most comely and the best equipped that he had ever seen.

And with them came in likewise the Queen, who was the fairest woman that he had ever yet beheld. And she had on a yellow robe of shining satin, and they washed and went to the table, and sat, the Queen upon one side of him, and one who seemed to be an Earl on the other side.

And he began to speak with the Queen, and he thought, from her speech, that she was the seemliest and most noble lady of converse and of cheer that ever was. And they partook of meat, and drink, with songs and with feasting, and of all the Courts upon the earth, behold this was the best supplied with food and drink, and vessels of gold and royal jewels.

And the year he spent in hunting, and minstrelsy, and feasting, and diversions, and discourse with his companions until the night that was fixed for the conflict. And when that night came, it was remembered even by those who lived in the furthest part of his dominions, and he went to the meeting, and the nobles of the kingdom with him.

And when he came to the Ford, a knight arose and spake thus. "Lords," said he, "listen well. It is between two kings that this meeting is, and between them only. Each claimeth of the other his land and territory, and do all of you stand aside and leave the fight to be between them."

Thereupon the two kings approached each other in the middle of the Ford, and encountered, and at the first thrust, the man who was in the stead of Arawn struck Havgan on the centre of the boss of his shield, so that it was cloven in twain, and his armour was broken, and Havgan himself was borne to the ground an arm's and a spear's length over the crupper of his horse, and he received a deadly blow.

"O Chieftain," said Havgan, "what right hast thou to cause my death? I was not injuring thee in anything, and I know not wherefore thou wouldest slay me. But, for the love of Heaven, since thou hast begun to slay me, complete thy work."

"Ah, Chieftain," he replied, "I may yet repent doing that unto thee; slay thee who may, I will not do so."

"My trusty Lords," said Havgan, "bear me hence. My death has come. I shall be no more able to uphold you."

"My Nobles," also said he who was in the semblance of Arawn, "take counsel and know who ought to be my subjects."

"Lord," said the Nobles, "all should be, for there is no king over the whole of Annwvyn but thee."

"Yes," he replied, "it is right that he who comes humbly should be received graciously, but he that doth not come with obedience, shall be compelled by the force of swords."

And thereupon he received the homage of the men, and he began to conquer the country, and the next day by noon the two kingdoms were in his power. And thereupon he went to keep his tryst, and came to Glyn Cuch.

And when he came there, the King of Annwvyn was there to meet him, and each of them was rejoiced to see the other.

"Verily," said Arawn, "may Heaven reward thee for thy friendship towards me. I have heard of it. When thou comest thyself to thy dominions," said he, "thou wilt see that which I have done for thee."

"Whatever thou hast done for me, may Heaven repay it thee."

Then Arawn gave to Pwyll Prince of Dyved his proper form and semblance, and he himself took his own, and Arawn set forth towards the Court of Annwvyn, and he was rejoiced when he beheld his hosts, and his household, whom he had not seen so long, but they had not known of his absence, and wondered no more at his coming than usual. And that day was spent in joy and merriment, and he sat and conversed with his wife and his nobles. And when it was time for them rather to sleep than to carouse, they went to rest.


(800 words)

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