1.3 Rhiannon’s Anxiety

And in the third year the nobles of the land began to be sorrowful at seeing a man whom they loved so much, and who was moreover their lord and their foster-brother, without an heir. And they came to him. And the place where they met was Preseleu (pre-SELL-ee), in Dyved.

“Lord,” said they, “we know that thou art not so young as some of the men of this country, and we fear that thou mayest not have an heir of the wife whom thou hast taken. Take therefore another wife of whom thou mayest have heirs. Thou canst not always continue with us, and though thou desire to remain as thou art, we will not suffer thee.”

“Truly,” said Pwyll, “we have not long been joined together, and many things may yet befall. Grant me a year from this time, and for the space of a year we will abide together, and after that I will do according to your wishes. So they granted it.

And before the end of a year a son was born unto him. And in Narberth was he born; and on the night that he was born, women were brought to watch the mother and the boy. And the women slept, as did also Rhiannon, the mother of the boy. And the number of the women that were brought into the chamber was six. And they watched for a good portion of the night, and before midnight every one of them fell asleep, and towards break of day they awoke; and when they awoke, they looked where they had put the boy, and behold he was not there.

“Oh,” said one of the women, “the boy is lost?”

“Yes,” said another, “and it will be small vengeance if we are burnt or put to death because of the child.”

Said one of the women, “Is there any counsel for us in the world in this matter?”

“There is,” answered another, “I offer you good counsel.”

“What is that?” asked they.

“There is here a stag-hound bitch, and she has a litter of whelps. Let us kill some of the cubs, and rub the blood on the face and hands of Rhiannon, and lay the bones before her, and assert that she herself hath devoured her son, and she alone will not be able to gainsay us six.”

And according to this counsel it was settled. And towards morning Rhiannon awoke, and she said, “Women, where is my son?”

“Lady,” said they, “ask us not concerning thy son, we have nought but the blows and the bruises we got by struggling with thee, and of a truth we never saw any woman so violent as thou, for it was of no avail to contend with thee. Hast thou not thyself devoured thy son? Claim him not therefore of us.”

“For pity’s sake,” said Rhiannon; “the Lord God knows all things. Charge me not falsely. If you tell me this from fear, I assert before Heaven that I will defend you.”

“Truly,” said they, “we would not bring evil on ourselves for any one in the world.”

“For pity’s sake,” said Rhiannon, “you will receive no evil by telling the truth.” But for all her words, whether fair or harsh, she received but the same answer from the women.

And Pwyll the chief of Annwvyn arose, and his household, and his hosts. And this occurrence could not be concealed, but the story went forth throughout the land, and all the nobles heard it. Then the nobles came to Pwyll, and besought him to put away his wife, because of the great crime which she had done. But Pwyll answered them, that they had no cause wherefore they might ask him to put away his wife, save for her having no children. “But children has she now had, therefore will I not put her away; if she has done wrong, let her do penance for it.”

So Rhiannon sent for the teachers and the wise men, and as she preferred doing penance to contending with the women, she took upon her a penance. And the penance that was imposed upon her was, that she should remain in that palace of Narberth until the end of seven years, and that she should sit every day near unto a horse-block that was without the gate. And that she should relate the story to all who should come there, whom she might suppose not to know it already; and that she should offer the guests and strangers, if they would permit her, to carry them upon her back into the palace. But it rarely happened that any would permit. And thus did she spend part of the year.

Now at that time Teirnyon Twryv Vliant (TIRE-nee-on TOR-o VLY-ant) was Lord of Gwent Is Coed (GWENT ISS COID), and he was the best man in the world. And unto his house there belonged a mare, than which neither mare nor horse in the kingdom was more beautiful. And on the night of every first of May she foaled, and no one ever knew what became of the colt.

And one night Teirnyon talked with his wife: “Wife,” said he, “it is very simple of us that our mare should foal every year, and that we should have none of her colts.”

“What can be done in the matter?” said she.

“This is the night of the first of May,” said he. “The vengeance of Heaven be upon me, if I learn not what it is that takes away the colts.” So he caused the mare to be brought into a house, and he armed himself, and began to watch that night. And in the beginning of the night, the mare foaled a large and beautiful colt. And it was standing up in the place. And Teirnyon rose up and looked at the size of the colt, and as he did so he heard a great tumult, and after the tumult behold a claw came through the window into the house, and it seized the colt by the mane.

Then Teirnyon drew his sword, and struck off the arm at the elbow, so that portion of the arm together with the colt was in the house with him. And then did he hear a tumult and wailing, both at once. And he opened the door, and rushed out in the direction of the noise, and he could not see the cause of the tumult because of the darkness of the night, but he rushed after it and followed it. Then he remembered that he had left the door open, and he returned. And at the door behold there was an infant boy in swaddling-clothes, wrapped around in a mantle of satin. And he took up the boy, and behold he was very strong for the age that he was of.

Then he shut the door, and went into the chamber where his wife was. “Lady,” said he, “art thou sleeping?”

“No, lord,” said she, “I was asleep, but as thou camest in I did awake.”

“Behold, here is a boy for thee if thou wilt,” said he, “since thou hast never had one.”

“My lord,” said she, “what adventure is this?”

“It was thus…,” said Teirnyon; and he told her how it all befell.

“Verily, lord,” said she, “what sort of garments are there upon the boy?”

“A mantle of satin,” said he.

“He is then a boy of gentle lineage,” she replied. “My lord,” she said, “if thou wilt, I shall have great diversion and mirth. I will call my women unto me, and tell them that I have been pregnant.”

“I will readily grant thee to do this,” he answered. And thus did they, and they caused the boy to be baptized, and the ceremony was performed there; and the name which they gave unto him was Gwri Wallt Euryn (GOUR-wee WALT IRE-in), because what hair was upon his head was as yellow as gold. And they had the boy nursed in the Court until he was a year old. And before the year was over he could walk stoutly. And he was larger than a boy of three years old, even one of great growth and size. And the boy was nursed the second year, and then he was as large as a child six years old. And before the end of the fourth year, he would bribe the grooms to allow him to take the horses to water.

“My lord,” said his wife unto Teirnyon, “where is the colt which thou didst save on the night that thou didst find the boy?”

“I have commanded the grooms of the horses,” said he, “that they take care of him.” “Would it not be well, lord,” said she, “if thou wert to cause him to be broken in, and given to the boy, seeing that on the same night that thou didst find the boy, the colt was foaled and thou didst save him?”

“I will not oppose thee in this matter,” said Teirnyon. “I will allow thee to give him the colt.”

“Lord,” said she, “may Heaven reward thee; I will give it him.” So the horse was given to the boy. Then she went to the grooms and those who tended the horses, and commanded them to be careful of the horse, so that he might be broken in by the time that the boy could ride him.

And while these things were going forward, they heard tidings of Rhiannon and her punishment. And Teirnyon Twryv Vliant, by reason of the pity that he felt on hearing this story of Rhiannon and her punishment, inquired closely concerning it, until he had heard from many of those who came to his court.

Then did Teirnyon, often lamenting the sad history, ponder within himself, and he looked steadfastly on the boy, and as he looked upon him, it seemed to him that he had never beheld so great a likeness between father and son, as between the boy and Pwyll the Chief of Annwvyn. Now the semblance of Pwyll was well known to him, for he had of yore been one of his followers.

And thereupon he became grieved for the wrong that he did, in keeping with him a boy whom he knew to be the son of another man. And the first time that he was alone with his wife, he told her that it was not right that they should keep the boy with them, and suffer so excellent a lady as Rhiannon to be punished so greatly on his account, whereas the boy was the son of Pwyll the Chief of Annwvyn.

And Teirnyon’s wife agreed with him, that they should send the boy to Pwyll. “And three things, lord,” said she, “shall we gain thereby. Thanks and gifts for releasing Rhiannon from her punishment; and thanks from Pwyll for nursing his son and restoring him unto him; and thirdly, if the boy is of gentle nature, he will be our foster-son, and he will do for us all the good in his power.” So it was settled according to this counsel.

And no later than the next day was Teirnyon equipped, and two other knights with him. And the boy, as a fourth in their company, went with them upon the horse which Teirnyon had given him.

And they journeyed towards Narberth, and it was not long before they reached that place. And as they drew near to the palace, they beheld Rhiannon sitting beside the horseblock. And when they were opposite to her, “Chieftain,” said she, “go not further thus, I will bear every one of you into the palace, and this is my penance for slaying my own son and devouring him.”

“Oh, fair lady,” said Teirnyon, “think not that I will be one to be carried upon thy back.”

“Neither will I,” said the boy.

“Truly, my soul,” said Teirnyon, “we will not go.” So they went forward to the palace, and there was great joy at their coming.

And at the palace a feast was prepared, because Pwyll was come back from the confines of Dyved.

And they went into the hall and washed, and Pwyll rejoiced to see Teirnyon. And in this order they sat. Teirnyon between Pwyll and Rhiannon, and Teirnyon’s two companions on the other side of Pwyll, with the boy between them. And after meat they began to carouse and to discourse. And Teirnyon’s discourse was concerning the adventure of the mare and the boy, and how he and his wife had nursed and reared the child as their own. “And behold here is thy son, lady,” said Teirnyon. “And whosoever told that lie concerning thee, has done wrong. And when I heard of thy sorrow, I was troubled and grieved. And I believe that there is none of this host who will not perceive that the boy is the son of Pwyll,” said Teirnyon.

“There is none,” said they all, “who is not certain thereof.”

“I declare to Heaven,” said Rhiannon, “that if this be true, there is indeed an end to my trouble.”

“Lady,” said Pendaran Dyved, “well hast thou named thy son Pryderi (PRI-dere-ee), and well becomes him the name of Pryderi son of Pwyll Chief of Annwvyn.”

“Look you,” said Rhiannon, “will not his own name become him better?”

“What name has he?” asked Pendaran Dyved.

“Gwri Wallt Euryn is the name that we gave him.”

“Pryderi,” said Pendaran, “shall his name be.”

“It were more proper,” said Pwyll, “that the boy should take his name from the word his mother spoke when she received the joyful tidings of him.” And thus was it arranged.

“Teirnyon,” said Pwyll, “Heaven reward thee that thou hast reared the boy up to this time, and, being of gentle lineage, it were fitting that he repay thee for it.”

“My lord,” said Teirnyon, “it was my wife who nursed him, and there is no one in the world so afflicted as she at parting with him. It were well that he should bear in mind what I and my wife have done for him.”

“I call Heaven to witness,” said Pwyll, “that while I live I will support thee and thy possessions, as long as I am able to preserve my own. And when he shall have power, he will more fitly maintain them than I. And if this counsel be pleasing unto thee, and to my nobles, it shall be that, as thou hast reared him up to the present time, I will give him to be brought up by Pendaran Dyved, from henceforth. And you shall be companions, and shall both be foster-fathers unto him.”

“This is good counsel,” said they all. So the boy was given to Pendaran Dyved, and the nobles of the land were sent with him.

And Teirnyon Twryv Vliant, and his companions, set out for his country, and his possessions, with love and gladness. And he went not without being offered the fairest jewels and the fairest horses, and the choicest dogs; but he would take none of them.

Thereupon they all remained in their own dominions. And Pryderi, the son of Pwyll the Chief of Annwvyn, was brought up carefully as was fit, so that he became the fairest youth, and the most comely, and the best skilled in all good games, of any in the kingdom. And thus passed years and years, until the end of Pwyll the Chief of Annwvyn’s life came, and he died.

And Pryderi ruled the seven Cantrevs of Dyved prosperously, and he was beloved by his people, and by all around him. And at length he added unto them the three Cantrevs of Ystrad Tywi (is-TRED ta-WEE), and the four Cantrevs of Cardigan; and these were called the Seven Cantrevs of Seissyllwch (SIS-that-hrock). And when he made this addition, Pryderi the son of Pwyll the Chief of Annwvyn desired to take a wife. And the wife he chose was Kicva (KICK-va), the daughter of Gwynn Gohoyw (GWEN go-HOY-ro), the son of Gloyw Wallt Lydan (GLOY-u WALT hli-DAN), the son of Prince Casnar, one of the nobles of this Island.

And thus ends this portion of the Mabinogion.