Sunday, July 6, 2014

Welsh: The Fairy of the Dell

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

The Fairy of the Dell
In olden times fairies were sent to oppose the evil-doings of witches and to destroy their power. About three hundred years ago, a band of fairies, sixty in number, with their queen, called Queen of the Dell, came to Mona to oppose the evil works of a celebrated witch. The fairies settled by a spring, in a valley. After having blessed the spring, or "well," as they called it, they built a bower just above the spring for the queen, placing a throne therein. Near by, they built a large bower for themselves to live in.

After that, the queen drew three circles, one within the other, on a nice flat grassy place by the well. When they were comfortably settled, the queen sent the fairies about the country to gather tidings of the people. They went from house to house and everywhere heard great complaints against an old witch — how she had made some blind, others lame, and deformed others by causing a horn to grow out of their foreheads.

When they got back to the well and told the queen, she said: "I must do something for these old people, and, though the witch is very powerful, we must break her power." So the next day the queen fairy sent word to all the bewitched to congregate upon a fixed day at the sacred well, just before noon.

When the day came, several ailing people collected at the well. The queen then placed the patients in pairs in the inner ring, and the sixty fairies in pairs in the middle ring. Each little fairy was three feet and a half high, and carried a small wand in her right hand, and a bunch of fairy flowers — cuckoo's boots, baby's bells, and day's-eyes — in her left hand.

Then the queen, who was four feet and a half in height, took the outside ring. On her head was a crown of wild flowers, in her right hand she carried a wand, and in her left a posy of fairy flowers. At a signal from the queen they began marching round the rings, singing in chorus:

"We march round by two and two
The circles of the sacred well
That lies in the dell."

When they had walked twice round the ring singing, the queen took her seat upon the throne, and, calling each patient to her, she touched him with her wand and bade him go down to the sacred well and dip his body into the water three times, promising that all his ills should be cured.

As each one came forth from the spring, he knelt before the queen, and she blessed him and told him to hurry home and put on dry clothes. So that all were cured of their ills.

II.

Now the old witch who had worked all these evils lived near the well in a cottage. She had first learned witchcraft from a book called The Black Art, which a gentleman farmer had lent her when a girl. She progressed rapidly with her studies and, being eager to learn more, sold herself to the devil, who made compact with her that she should have full power for seven years, after which she was to become his. He gave her a wand that had the magic power of drawing people to her, and she had a ring on the grass by her house just like the fairy's ring. As the seven years were drawing to a close, and her heart was savage against the farmer who first led her into the paths of evil knowledge, she determined to be revenged.

One day, soon after the Fairy of the Dell came to live by the spring, she drew the farmer to her with her wand, and, standing in her ring, she lured him into it. When he crossed the line, she said:

"Cursed be he or she
That crosses my circle to see me,"

and, touching him on the head and back, a horn and a tail grew from the spots touched. He went off in a terrible rage, but she only laughed maliciously.

Then, as she heard of the Queen of the Dell's good deeds, she repented of her evil deeds and begged her neighbour to go to the queen fairy and ask her if she might come and visit her.

The queen consented, and the old witch went down and told her everything — of the book, of the magic wand, of the ring, and of all the wicked deeds she had done.

"O, you have been a bad witch," said the queen, "but I will see what I can do, but you must bring me the book and the wand," and she told the old witch to come on the following day a little before noon.

When the witch came the next day with her wand and book, she found the fairies had built a fire in the middle ring. The queen then took her and stood her by the fire, for she could not trust her on the outer circle.

"Now I must have more power," said the queen to the fairies, and she went and sat on the throne, leaving the witch by the fire in the middle ring. After thinking a little, the queen said, "Now I have it," and, coming down from her throne muttering, she began walking round the outer circle, waiting for the hour of one o'clock, when all the fairies got into the middle circle and marched round, singing:

"At the hour of one
The cock shall crow one,
Goo! Goo! Goo!
I am here to tell
Of the sacred well
That lies in the dell,
And will conquer hell."

On the second round, they sang:

"At the hour of two
The cock crows two,
Goo! Goo! Goo!
I am here to tell
Of the sacred well
That lies in the dell;
We will conquer hell."

At the last round, they sang:

"At the hour of three
The cock crows three,
Goo! Goo! Goo!
I am here to tell
Of the sacred well
That lies in the dell;
Now I have conquered hell."


(1000 words)





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