The Woodcutter and the Fairies
In the olden days, before men left their farms to dig in underground pits for coal, people burned wood on their fires.
On winter eves, tiny tots sat upon their mothers laps and listened to their bedtime stories. In the flames that licked the crackling hearth, they fancied they saw giants and fairies, castles and caves.
And, tucked up as snug as bugs in their cots, before they floated to dreamland, they thought of the woodcutter, who kept them warm and fired their imaginations.
In a cabin on the fringe of Eglwysilan forest there lived a woodcutter and his wife. Every morning, with his axe over his shoulder, he walked to the woods, whistling a merry tune to the dawn. All day long he felled the tall trees, and as they crashed to the floor they shook the fairies out of the earth. The woodcutter wagged his tongue with the Bidden People as he chopped the trees into logs, telling them how it was his job to keep people as warm as wool. When day was done, the backwoodsman returned home to take supper with his pretty wife.
One night he didnt return. His wife was wild with worry, but too full of fear to venture into the gloomy forest.
A year went by without tidings of her husband, then a traveller knocked on the cabin door and begged a bed for the night. The wife told her tale of woe and the wayfarer pledged to search for her spouse as he went on his way the following day.
Deep in the woods, where the sun has never shone, the traveller found the fairies and inquired about the woodcutter.
Twelve moons ago, explained one fairy, the woodsman was here chopping branches from a tree. He was talking away, nineteen to the dozen, not minding his business, when a bough fell on one of our folk. For killing a fairy, our law demands that the woodcutter remains with us, enchanted in fairyland, for two score moons and four. The, he can go home to his wife.
Key Contact: Rhymney Valley Tales
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