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Guto Bach and the Fairies


GRUFFYDD was the name given at baptism to a little boy who once lived at Llangybi, but everyone called him Guto Bach. One day, after he had been up to the mountain to see his father's sheep, he brought home a number of pieces, the size of crowns, with letters stamped on them and resembling real crown pieces exactly, only that they were made of white paper instead of silver. His mother asked him where he had got them. "I played with some little children on the mountain," said little Guto, "and they gave them to me." "Whose children? "asked the mother. "I don't know," he replied; "they are very nice children, much nicer than I am." But his mother knew they were fairies, and told him he must never go on the mountain again by himself, because no good ever came of playing with strange children.

But Guto was longing to have another game with the little children. One day he disobeyed his mother and slipped away to the mountain. He did not come back, and though every search was made for him, no trace of Guto Bach could be found anywhere. Two years after, however, what should his mother see on opening the door in the morning but little Guto sitting on the threshold with a bundle under his arm. He was the very same size and dressed in the same little clothes as on the day of his disappearance, and he did not look a day older. "My child," said the astonished and delighted mother, "where have you been this long, long while?" "Mother," said Guto, "I have not been long away; it was only yesterday that I went to play with the little children. Look what pretty clothes they have given me." The mother opened the bundle; it contained a dress of very white paper without seam or sewing. As it had been given to him by the fairies she burnt it, and Guto's long disappearance made her more sure that no good could come of playing with strange children.

But she was wrong all the same. Guto Bach's friendship with the little children, as he still thought they were, proved to be very advantageous. Shortly after his reappearance his father and mother suffered a very great loss. They had invested all their savings and all the money they could raise in a ship sailing from Pwllheli, which had been making very profitable voyages and bringing great wealth to those who had shares in her. The vessel went down in a storm, and ruin stared Guto's parents in the face. Now there was on Pentyrch, the hill above Llangybi, a great rock under which there was said to be a great treasure of gold hidden. Many men had tried to move the rocks but had failed because they were undeserving. Guto's father determined to make another effort to dislodge the stone, in the hope that the treasure underneath it would recoup his losses. His neighbours sympathised with him, and brought all the horses of the parish to help him. But the rock was so heavy and fixed so fast in the ground that the combined efforts of all the men and horses of Liangybi were unavailing. Guto's father's hopes had been high: whatever the others might have been who had attempted to reach the treasure, he at least, he thought, was deserving. The disappointment, therefore, was all the harder to bear.

Seeing his parents grief, Guto remembered that the little children with whom he had played had plenty of gold and silver, and he made up his mind to ask them to help his father and mother in their distress. He went again to the mountain and found the little children playing as before. He told them his trouble, and asked them whether they could spare him some of their money. "No," they said, "there is plenty of gold and silver waiting for you under the rock on Pentyrch." "But," remonstrated little Guto, "it would not budge for all the men and horses of Llangybi." "We are aware of that," said the little children, "but do you try to move it and see what will happen."

Guto went home and told his parents what the little children had said to him. They laughed at the idea that little Guto would succeed where the full strength of Llangybi parish had failed. But they were in such a desperate plight that they allowed Guto to do as the fairies had directed. They took him to the rock. He put his little hand on it, and the great mass trembled. He gave it a shove, and the huge stone crashed down the hill. Underneath it there was found enough gold and silver not only to replace all their losses, but to make Guto and his parents the richest people in Carnarvonshire.

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