Sunday, July 6, 2014

Welsh: The Fairies of Caragonan

The fairy ring, also called an elf circle, is a frequent feature of Welsh folklore. Some people associate the "fairy rings"  of folklore with circular patterns of mushrooms or other naturally occurring plant growth; you can read more at Wikipedia.


[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Welsh (Emerson) unit. Story source: Welsh Fairy-Tales and Other Stories by Peter H. Emerson (1894).

The Fairies of Caragonan
Once upon a time a lot of fairies lived in Mona.

One day the queen fairy's daughter, who was now fifteen years of age, told her mother she wished to go out and see the world. The queen consented, allowing her to go for a day, and to change from a fairy to a bird, or from a bird to a fairy, as she wished.

When she returned one night she said: "I've been to a gentleman's house, and as I stood listening, I heard the gentleman was witched: he was very ill, and crying out with pain."

"Oh, I must look into that," said the queen.

So the next day she went through her process and found that he was bewitched by an old witch. So the following day she set out with six other fairies, and when they came to the gentleman's house she found he was very ill.

Going into the room, bearing a small blue pot they had brought with them, the queen asked him: "Would you like to be cured?"

"Oh, bless you; yes, indeed."

Whereupon the queen put the little blue pot of perfume on the centre of the table and lit it, when the room was instantly filled with the most delicious odour.

Whilst the perfume was burning, the six fairies formed in line behind her, and, she leading, they walked round the table three times, chanting in chorus:

"Round and round three times three,
We have come to cure thee."

At the end of the third round, she touched the burning perfume with her wand and then touched the gentleman on the head, saying: "Be thou made whole."

No sooner had she said the words than he jumped up hale and hearty, and said: "Oh, dear queen, what shall I do for you? I'll do anything you wish."

"Money I do not wish for," said the queen, "but there's a little plot of ground on the sea-cliff I want you to lend me for I wish to make a ring there, and the grass will die when I make the ring. Then I want you to build three walls round the ring, but leave the sea-side open so that we may be able to come and go easily."

"With the greatest of pleasure," said the gentleman, and he built the three stone walls at once, at the spot indicated.

II.

Near the gentleman lived the old witch, and she had the power of turning at will into a hare. The gentleman was a great hare hunter, but the hounds could never catch this hare; it always disappeared in a mill, running between the wings and jumping in at an open window, though they stationed two men and a dog at the spot, when it immediately turned into the old witch. And the old miller never suspected, for the old woman used to take him a peck of corn to grind a few days before any hunt, telling him she would call for it on the afternoon of the day of the hunt so that when she arrived she was expected.

One day she had been taunting the gentleman as he returned from a hunt, that he could never catch the hare, and he struck her with his whip, saying "Get away, you witchcraft!"

Whereupon she witched him, and he fell ill, and was cured as we have seen.

When he got well, he watched the old witch and saw she often visited the house of an old miser who lived near by with his beautiful niece. Now all the people in the village touched their hats most respectfully to this old miser, for they knew he had dealings with the witch, and they were as much afraid of him as of her, but everyone loved the miser's kind and beautiful niece.

III.

When the fairies got home the queen told her daughter: "I have no power over the old witch for twelve months from to-day, and then I have no power over her life. She must lose that by the arm of a man."

So the next day the daughter was sent out again to see whether she could find a person suited to that purpose.

In the village lived a small crofter who was afraid of nothing; he was the boldest man thereabouts, and one day he passed the miser without saluting him. The old fellow went off at once and told the witch.

"Oh, I'll settle his cows to-night!" said she, and they were taken sick and gave no milk that night.

The fairy's daughter arrived at his croft-yard after the cows were taken ill, and she heard him say to his son, a bright lad: "It must be the old witch!"

When she heard this, she sent him to the queen.

So next day the fairy queen took six fairies and went to the croft, taking her blue pot of perfume. When she got there she asked the crofter if he would like his cows cured.

"God bless you, yes!" he said.

The queen made him bring a round table into the yard, whereon she placed the blue pot of perfume and, having lit it as before, they formed in line and walked round thrice, chanting the words:

"Round and round three times three,
We have come to cure thee."

Then she dipped the end of her wand into the perfume and touched the cows on the forehead, saying to each one: "Be thou whole."

Whereupon they jumped up cured.

The little farmer was overjoyed, and cried: "Oh, what can I do for you? What can I do for you?"

"Money I care not for," said the queen; "all I want is your son to avenge you and me."

The lad jumped up and said: "What I can do, I'll do it for you, my lady fairy."

She told him to be at the walled plot the following day at noon, and left.


(1000 words)




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