edition amalia   

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Long ago there was in service at a Monmouthshire farm a young woman who was merry and strong. Who she was or whence she came nobody knew, but many believed that she belonged to the old breed of Bendith y Mamau.

Some time after she had come to the farm, the rumor spread that the house was sorely troubled by a spirit. But the girl and the elf understood one another well, and they became the best of friends. So the elf proved very useful to the maid, for he did everything for her - washing, ironing, spinning, and twisting wool. In fact, they say that he was remarkably handy at the spinning wheel. Moreover, he expected only a bowlful of sweet milk and wheat bread, or some flummery, for his work. So she took care to place the bowl with his food at the bottom of the stairs every night as she went to bed.

It ought to have been mentioned that she was never allowed to catch a sight of him, for he always did his work in the dark. Nor did anybody know when he ate his food. She used to leave the bowl there at night, and it would be empty by the time when she got up in the morning, the bwca having cleared it.

But one night, by way of cursedness, what did she do but fill the bowl with some stale urine which they used in dyeing wool and other things about the house. But heavens! it would have been better for her not to have done it, for when she got up next morning what should he do but suddenly spring from some corner and seized her by the neck! He began to beat her and kick her from one end of the house to the other, while he shouted at the top of his voice at every kick:

The idea that the thick-buttocked lass
Should give barley bread and p-
To the bogie!

Meanwhile she screamed for help, but none came for some time. When, however, he heard the servant men getting up, he took to his heels as hard as he could; and nothing was heard of him for some time.

But at the end of two years he was found to be at another farm in the neighborhood, called Hafod yr Ynys, where he at once became great friends with the servant girl, for she fed him like a young chicken by giving him a little bread and milk all the time.

So he worked willingly and well for her in return for his favorite food. More especially, he used to spin and wind the yarn for her; but she wished him in time to show his face, or to tell her his name. He would by no means do either. One evening, however, when all the men were out, and when he was spinning hard at the wheel, she deceived him by telling him that she was also going out. He believed her; and when he heard the door shutting, he began to sing as he plied the wheel:

How she would laugh, did she know
that Gwarwyn-a-throt is my name!

"Ha! ha!" said the maid at the bottom of the stairs. "I know thy name now."

"What is it, then?" he asked.

She replied, "Gwarwyn-a-throt"; and as soon as she uttered the words he left the wheel where it was, and off he went.


John Rhys: Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx. Oxford 1901, vol. 2, p. 593 ff. (AT 500, Wales)




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