Welsh: Three Short Tales of Fairies

You can read more about the practice of "baby-farming" 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 Craig-Y-Don Blacksmith
Once upon a time, an old blacksmith lived in an old forge at Craig-y-don, and he used to drink a great deal too much beer.

One night he was coming home from an alehouse very tipsy, and as he got near a small stream, a lot of little men suddenly sprang up from the rocks, and one of them, who seemed to be older than the rest, came up to him and said, "If you don't alter your ways of living, you'll die soon, but if you behave better and become a better man, you'll find it will be to your benefit," and they all disappeared as quickly as they had come.

The old blacksmith thought a good deal about what the fairies had told him, and he left off drinking and became a sober, steady man.

One day, a few months after meeting the little people, a strange man brought a horse to be shod. Nobody knew either the horse or the man.

The old blacksmith tied the horse to a hole in the lip of a cauldron (used for the purpose of cooling his hot iron) that he had built in some masonry.

When he had tied the horse up, he went to shoe the off hind-leg, but directly he touched the horse, the spirited animal started back with a bound and dragged the cauldron from the masonry, and then it broke the halter and ran away out of the forge and was never seen again — neither the horse nor its master.

When the old blacksmith came to pull down the masonry to rebuild it, he found three brass kettles full of money.

Old Gyilym
Old Gwilym Evans started off one fine morning to walk across the Eagle Hills to a distant town, bent upon buying some cheese. On his way, in a lonely part of the hills, he found a golden guinea, which he quickly put into his pocket.

When he got to the town, instead of buying his provisions, he went into an alehouse and sat drinking and singing with some sweet-voiced quarrymen until dark, when he thought it was time to go home.

Whilst he was drinking, an old woman with a basket came in and sat beside him, but she left before him. After the parting glass, he got up and reeled through the town, quite forgetting to buy his cheese, and as he got amongst the hills, they seemed to dance up and down before him, and he seemed to be walking on air.

When he got near the lonely spot where he had found the money, he heard some sweet music, and a number of fairies crossed his path and began dancing all round him, and then as he looked up, he saw some brightly-lighted houses before him on the hill, and he scratched his head, for he never remembered having seen houses thereabouts before. And as he was thinking and watching the fairies, one came and begged him to come into the house and sit down.

So he followed her in and found the house was all gold inside it, and brightly lighted, and the fairies were dancing and singing, and they brought him anything he wanted for supper, and then they put him to bed.

Gwilym slept heavily, and when he awoke turned round for he felt very cold, and his body seemed covered with prickles; so he sat up and rubbed his eyes and found that he was quite naked and lying in a bunch of gorse.

When he found himself in this plight, he hurried home and told his wife, and she was very angry with him for spending all the money and bringing no cheese home, and then he told her his adventures.

"Oh, you bad man!" she said; "the fairies gave you money and you spent it wrongly, so they were sure to take their revenge."

The Baby-Farmer
Old Kaddy was a baby-farmer, and one day she went to the woods to gather sticks for her fire, and whilst she was gathering the sticks, she found a piece of gold and took it home, but she never told anyone she had found the money for she always pretended to be very poor.

But though she was so poor, she used to dress two of her children in fine clothes, but the others, whom she did not like, she kept in the filthiest rags.

One day a man knocked at her door and asked to see the children.

He sat down in her little room, and she went and brought the ragged little boy and girl, saying she was very poor and couldn't afford to dress them better, for she had been careful to hide the well-dressed little boy and girl in a cockloft.

After the stranger had gone she went to the cockloft to look for her well-dressed favourites, but they had disappeared, and they were never seen afterwards, for they were turned into fairies.

(800 words)

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