Chapter 74

The following day - Pride - Thriving trade - Tylwyth Teg - Ellis Wyn - Sleeping hard - Incalculable good - Fearful agony - The tale.

PETER and his wife did not proceed on any expedition during the following day. The former strolled gloomily about the fields, and the latter passed many hours in the farmhouse. Towards evening, without saying a word to either, I departed with my vehicle, and finding my way to a small town at some distance, I laid in a store of various articles, with which I returned. It was night, and my two friends were seated beneath the oak; they had just completed their frugal supper. ‘We waited for thee some time,’ said Winifred, ‘but, finding that thou didst not come, we began without thee; but sit down, I pray thee, there is still enough for thee.’ ‘I will sit down,’ said I, ‘but I require no supper, for I have eaten where I have been’: nothing more particular occurred at the time. Next morning the kind pair invited me to share their breakfast. ‘I will not share your breakfast,’ said I. ‘Wherefore not?’ said Winifred, anxiously. ‘Because,’ said I, ‘it is not proper that I be beholden to you for meat and drink.’ ‘But we are beholden to other people,’ said Winifred. ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘but you preach to them, and give them ghostly advice, which considerably alters the matter; not that I would receive anything from them, if I preached to them six times a day.’ ‘Thou art not fond of receiving favours, then, young man,’ said Winifred. ‘I am not,’ said I. ‘And of conferring favours?’ ‘Nothing affords me greater pleasure,’ said I, ‘than to confer favours.’ ‘What a disposition,’ said Winifred, holding up her hands; ‘and this is pride, genuine pride - that feeling which the world agrees to call so noble. Oh, how mean a thing is pride! never before did I see all the meanness of what is called pride!’

‘But how wilt thou live, friend,’ said Peter; ‘dost thou not intend to eat?’ ‘When I went out last night,’ said I, ‘I laid in a provision.’ ‘Thou hast laid in a provision!’ said Peter, ‘pray let us see it. Really, friend,’ said he, after I had produced it, ‘thou must drive a thriving trade; here are provisions enough to last three people for several days. Here are butter and eggs, here is tea, here is sugar, and there is a flitch. I hope thou wilt let us partake of some of thy fare.’ ‘I should be very happy if you would,’ said I. ‘Doubt not but we shall,’ said Peter; ‘Winifred shall have some of thy flitch cooked for dinner. In the meantime, sit down, young man, and breakfast at our expense - we will dine at thine.’

On the evening of that day, Peter and myself sat alone beneath the oak. We fell into conversation; Peter was at first melancholy, but he soon became more cheerful, fluent, and entertaining. I spoke but little; but I observed that sometimes what I said surprised the good Methodist. We had been silent some time. At length, lifting up my eyes to the broad and leafy canopy of the trees, I said, having nothing better to remark, ‘What a noble tree! I wonder if the fairies ever dance beneath it.’

‘Fairies!’ said Peter, ‘fairies! how came you, young man, to know anything about the fair family?’

‘I am an Englishman,’ said I, ‘and of course know something about fairies; England was once a famous place for them.’

‘Was once, I grant you,’ said Peter, ‘but is so no longer. I have travelled for years about England, and never heard them mentioned before; the belief in them has died away, and even their name seems to be forgotten. If you had said you were a Welshman, I should not have been surprised. The Welsh have much to say of the Tylwyth Teg, or fair family, and many believe in them.’

‘And do you believe in them?’ said I.

‘I scarcely know what to say. Wise and good men have been of opinion that they are nothing but devils, who, under the form of pretty and amiable spirits, would fain allure poor human beings; I see nothing irrational in the supposition.’

‘Do you believe in devils, then?’

‘Do I believe in devils, young man?’ said Peter, and his frame was shaken as if by convulsions. ‘If I do not believe in devils, why am I here at the present moment?’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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