The Llanfabon Changeling
There is a farmhouse called Berth Gron in the parish of Llanfabon. A widow once lived there with her son of three summers. Pryderi by name, and she loved him more than her own eyes.
In those days, the parish was packed with fairies who delighted in dirty tricks, and hearsay had it that they even nabbed babies from the cribs. So the widow was watchful of Pryderi, afraid of letting the sun shine on him, as the saying goes.
One morning the widow hears her cattle lowing in the byre and went out to seek the cause of the commotion. But the cows were chewing their cud with contentment, and the widow tumbling on the truth, rushed back to the house. She was afraid to look into the cradle lest the fairies had switched one of their own for Pryderi. Gawking upon the babe she said You look like Pryderi, but are somehow different. You are not my child.
Truly I am, replied the little one, what do you mean mother?
The widow was dithered by doubt and, not knowing where to turn, went to see an old sage who dwelt in the parish. He lived at a place called Castell-y-Nos, the Castle of the Night, and was said to know of matters that are dark to most.
Pryderis mother lay her troubles before the Wise Man and he advised: Follow my counsel and all will be well. At noontide tomorrow take an eggshell and prepare to brew some beer in it. When the lad quizzes your purpose say that you are brewing beer for harvestmen. Report his reply to me at an hour that numbers one score and four from now.
The widow went home and did as bid by the sage. Whereupon, she heard the boy say :
I am very old this day,
I was living before my birth.
I remember yonder oak,
An acorn in the earth,
But never saw the egg of a hen,
Brewing beer for harvestmen.
The widow kept her appointment with the Wise Man and informed him of what had happened: As I thought, said he, follow my counsel and all will be well. Four eves hence the moon will be full. At the night;s high noon go to where the four roads meet at the Ford of the Bell. Stow yourself away there and do not reveal your presence whatever happens. Then, return to me and report what you saw.
At the appointed time the widow hid behind a leafy bush, and in due course a train of fairies filed past with her own dear son in their midst. The procession passed and the widow went home, bnt she didnt sleep a wink all night.
On the morrow she reported to the sage: As I thought, said he, follow my counsel and all will be well. Find a black hen without the flaw of a single white feather, shut every window and door in your cottage tight, leaving only the chimney open. Light a fire in the hearth and bake the hen before it. Watch her frizzle till the last of her feathers fall but do not cast your eyes upon the boy.
The widow went home and strange as the instructions seemed, followed them to the letter. Whilst she was baking the hen, the little fellow called out a number of times, but the widow was mindful not to look at him. All of a sudden, she fell in a swoon and, when she recovered, all the feathers lay on the floor like the widows ragged weeds. The fairy changeling had disappeared and there was a shouting of Mother coming from outside the cottage.
Out rushed the widow and, lo-and-behold, standing but a few paces from her threshold, was her blue-eyed boy, Pryderi. She snatched him in her arms, hugging him till he was wringing wet with kisses, and they both lived happily ever after.
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