In the northwest corner of the parish of Beddgelert there is a place which used to be
called by the old inhabitants the Land of the Fairies, and it reaches from Cwm Hafod
Ruffydd along the slope of the mountain of Drws y Coed as far as Llyn y Dywarchen. The old
people of former times used to find much pleasure and amusement in this district in
listening every moonlight night to the charming music of the fair family, and in looking
at their dancing and their mirthful sports.
One on a time, a long while ago, there lived at upper Drws y Coed a youth, who was
joyous and active, brave and determined of heart. This young man amused himself every
night by looking on and listening to them. One night they had come to a field near the
house, near the shore of Llyn y Dywarchen, to pass a merry night. He went, as usual, to
look at them, when his glances at once fell on one of the ladies, who possessed such
beauty as he had never seen in a human being. Her appearance was like that of alabaster;
her voice was as agreeable as the nightingale's, and as unruffled as the zephyr in a
flower garden at the noon of a long summer's day; and her gait was pretty and
aristocratic; her feet moved in the dance as lightly on the grass as the rays of the sun
had a few hours before on the lake hard by.
He fell in love with her over head and ears, and in the strength of that passion - for
what is stronger than love! - he rushed, when the bustle was at its height, into the midst
of the fair crowd, and snatched the graceful damsel in his arms, and ran instantly with
her to the house.
When the fair family saw the violence used by a mortal, they broke up the dance and ran
after her toward the house; but, when they arrived, the door had been bolted with iron,
wherefore they could not get near her or touch her in any way; and the damsel had been
placed securely in a chamber.
The youth, having her now under his roof, as is the saying, endeavored, with all his
talent, to win her affection and to induce her to wed. But at first she would on no
account hear of it. On seeing his persistence, however, and on finding that he would not
let her go to return to her people, she consented to be his servant if he could find out
her name; but she would not be married to him.
As he thought that was not impossible, he half agreed to the condition; but, after
bothering his head with all the names known in that neighborhood, he found himself no
nearer his point, though he was not willing to give up the search hurriedly.
One night, as he was going home from Carnarvon market, he saw a number of the fair
folks in a turbary not far from his path. They seemed to him to be engaged in an important
deliberation, and it struck him that they were planning how to recover their abducted
sister. He thought, moreover, that if he could secretly get within hearing, he might
possibly find her name out. On looking carefully around, he saw that a ditch ran through
the turbary and passed near the spot where they stood. So he made his way round to the
ditch, and crept, on all fours, along it until he was within hearing of the family.
After listening a little, he found that their deliberation was as to the fate of the
lady he had carried away, and he heard one of them crying, piteously, "O Penelop, O
Penelop, my sister, why didst thou run away with a mortal!"
"Penelop," said the young man to himself, "that must be the name of my
beloved; that is enough."
At once he began to creep back quietly, and he returned home safely without having been
seen by the fairies. When he got into the house, he called out to the girl, saying,
"Penelop, my beloved one, come here!" and she came forward and asked, in
astonishment, "O mortal, who has betrayed my name to thee?"
Then, lifting up her tiny folded hands, she exclaimed, "Alas, my fate, my
But she grew contented with her fate, and took to her work in earnest. Everything in
the house and on the farm prospered under her charge. There was no better or cleanlier
housewife in the neighborhood around, or one that was more provident than she.
The young man, however, was not satisfied that she should be a servant to him, and,
after he had long and persistently sought it, she consented to be married, on the one
condition, that, if ever he should touch her with iron, she would be free to leave him and
return to her family.
He agreed to that condition, since he believed that such a thing would never happen at
So they were marred, and lived several years happily and comfortably together. Two
children where born to them, a boy and a girl, the picture of their mother and the idols
of their father. But one morning, when the husband wanted to go to the fair at Carnarvon,
he went out to catch a filly that was grazing in the field by the house; but for the life
of him he could not catch her, and he called to his wife to come to assist him.
She came without delay, and they managed to drive the filly to a secure corner, as they
thought; but, as the man approached to catch her, she rushed past him. In his excitement,
he threw the bridle after her; but who should be running in the direction of it, but his
The iron bit struck her on the cheek, and she vanished out of sight on the spot. Her
husband never saw her any more; but one cold frosty night, a long time after this event,
he was awakened from his sleep by somebody rubbing the glass of his window, and, after he
had given a response, he recognized the gentle and tender voice of his wife saying to him:
Lest my son should find it cold,
Place on him his father's coat;
Lest the fair one find it cold,
Place on her my petticoat.
It is said that the descendants of this family still continue in these neighborhoods,
and that they are easy to be recognized by their light and fair complexion.
John Rhys: Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx. Oxford 1901, vol. 1, p. 86 ff. (AT