3.1 Manawyddan Meets Rhiannon

WHEN the seven men of whom we spoke above had buried the head of Bendigeid Vran, in the White Mount an London, with its face towards France; Manawyddan gazed upon the town of London, and upon his companions, and heaved a great sigh; and much grief and heaviness came upon him. “Alas, Almighty Heaven, woe is me,” he exclaimed, “there is none save myself without a resting-place this night.”

“Lord,” said Pryderi, “be not so sorrowful. Thy cousin is king of the Island of the Mighty, and though he should do thee wrong, thou hast never been a claimant of land or possessions. Thou art the third disinherited prince.”

“Yea,” answered he, “but although this man is my cousin, it grieveth me to see any one in the place of my brother Bendigeid Vran, neither can I be happy in the same dwelling with him.”

“Wilt thou follow the counsel of another?” said Pryderi.

“I stand in need of counsel,” he answered, “and what may that counsel be?”

“Seven Cantrevs remain unto me,” said Pryderi, “wherein Rhiannon my mother dwells. I will bestow her upon thee and the seven Cantrevs with her, and though thou hadst no possessions but those Cantrevs only, thou couldst not have seven Cantrevs fairer than they. Kicva, the daughter of Gwynn Gloyw, is my wife, and since the inheritance of the Cantrevs belongs to me, do thou and Rhiannon enjoy them, and if thou ever desire any possessions thou wilt take these.”

“I do not, Chieftain,” said he; “Heaven reward thee for thy friendship.”

“I would show thee the best friendship in the world if thou wouldst let me.”

“I will, my friend,” said he, “and Heaven reward thee. I will go with thee to seek Rhiannon and to look at thy possessions.”

“Thou wilt do well,” he answered. “And I believe that thou didst never hear a lady discourse better than she, and when she was in her prime none was ever fairer. Even now her aspect is not uncomely.”

They set forth, and, however long the journey, they came at length to Dyved, and a feast was prepared for them against their coming to Narberth, which Rhiannon and Kicva had provided. Then began Manawyddan and Rhiannon to sit and to talk together, and from their discourse his mind and his thoughts became warmed towards her, and he thought in his heart he had never beheld any lady more fulfilled of grace and beauty than she. “Pryderi,” said he, “I will that it be as thou didst say.”

“What saying was that?” asked Rhiannon.

“Lady,” said Pryderi, “I did offer thee as a wife to Manawyddan the son of Llyr.”

“By that will I gladly abide,” said Rhiannon.

“Right glad am I also,” said Manawyddan; “may Heaven reward him who hath shown unto me friendship so perfect as this.”

And before the feast was over she became his bride. Said Pryderi, “Tarry ye here the rest of the feast, and I will go into Lloegyr to tender my homage unto Caswallawn the son of Beli.”

“Lord,” said Rhiannon, “Caswallawn is in Kent, thou mayest therefore tarry at the feast, and wait until he shall be nearer.”

“We will wait,” he answered. So they finished the feast. And they began to make the circuit of Dyved, and to hunt, and to take their pleasure. And as they went through the country, they had never seen lands more pleasant to live in, nor better hunting grounds, nor greater plenty of honey and fish. And such was the friendship between those four, that they would not be parted from each other by night nor by day.

And in the midst of all this he went to Caswallawn at Oxford, and tendered his homage; and honourable was his reception there, and highly was he praised for offering his homage.