RHYS AT THE FAIRY-DANCE
Rhys and Llewellyn, two farmer's servants, who had been all day carrying lime for their master, were driving in the twilight their mountain ponies before them, returning home from their work. On reaching a little plain, Rhys called to his companion to stop and listen to the music, saying it was a tune to which he had danced a hundred times, and must go and have a dance now. He bade him go on with the horses, and he would soon overtake him.
Llewellyn could hear nothing, and began to remonstrate; but away sprang Rhys, and he called after him in vain. He went home, put up the ponies, ate his supper, and went to bed, thinking that Rhys had only made a pretext for going to the ale-house. But when morning came, and still no sign of Rhys, he told his master what had occurred.
Search was then made everywhere, but no Rhys could be found. Suspicion now fell upon Llewellyn of having murdered him, and he was thrown into prison, though there was no evidence against him. A farmer, however, skilled in fairy-matters, having an idea of how things might have been, proposed that himself and some others should accompany Llewellyn to the place where he parted with Rhys. On coming to it, they found it green as the mountain ash.
"Hush!" cried Llewellyn, "I hear music, I hear sweet harps."
Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)
We all listened, says the narrator, for I was one of them, but could hear nothing.
Richard Doyle (1824-1883)
I did so, and so did we all, one after another, and then we beard the sound of many harps, and saw within a circle, about twenty feet across, great numbers of little people, of the size of children of three or four years old, dancing round and round. Among them we saw Rhys, and Llewellyn catching him by the smock-frock, as he came by him, pulled him out of the circle.
"Where are the horses? where are the horses?" cried he.
"Horses, indeed!" said Llewellyn.
Rhys urged him to go home, and let him finish his dance, in which he averred he had not been engaged more than five minutes. It was by main force they took him from the place. He still asserted he had been only five minutes away, and could give no account of the people he had been with. He became melancholy, took to his bed, and soon after died.
"The morning after," says the narrator, "we went to look at the place, and we found the edge of the ring quite red, as if trodden down, and I could see the marks of little heels, about the size of my thumb-nail."
For more about the Welsh fairy folklore and particularly the belief in fairy rings, see this chapter in British Goblins: Welsh Folk-lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions, by Wirt Sikes, which was published in 1880.
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