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Ianto's Chase

Many, many years ago, there was a man in the hills of Breconshire whose proper name was Ifan Sion Watkin, but he was generally known as Ianto Coedcae, Ianto being a nickname for Ifan, and Coedcae being the name of the farm at which he lived.

Ianto was invited to the house of a friend on the borders of Glamorgan to celebrate a christening. He accepted the invitation gladly, expecting to have a jolly evening. Nor was he disappointed. There were plenty of good things to eat: there was an abundance of strong ale and old mead to drink: there was a dancing and penillion were sung to the harp. The time passed so quickly that it was quite a shock to Ifan to hear the old clock in the corner striking twelve. He had urgent business to attend to at home next morning, and as he had a long way to go he began to make preparations for going.

His host looked out into the night. "Ianto," he said, "it is as dark as a cow's inside. Will you have a lantern to light you home?"

Ianto felt insulted. "Do you take me for a child?" he asked indignantly. "I have been out on nights so dark that I could not see my hand in front of me, and I have never failed to find my way home. A lantern for me? No, thank you."

After bidding good-night to the other guests, who having only a short distance to go were in no hurry to put an end to the festivities, and to his host and hostess, Ianto set off at a rattling pace for his home over the mountain. He had walked some time and covered the best portion of his journey when he thought he could hear at a great distance some sounds resembling music nearly in the direction he was going. As he advanced Ianto found himself approaching these sounds so near that he could plainly distinguish them as proceeding from a harp and some voices singing to it. He could even make out the tune, which was Ar hyd y Nos--All through the Night. Ianto laughed. "Jabox," he said, "that is a very appropriate tune." The remark he had made struck him as most apposite, and he laughed again right merrily.

He tried to discover who they were who were thus amusing themselves, but he could not do so on account of the darkness. As he knew there was no house within a great distance of that spot his curiousity was greatly excited. The music still continuing and seemingly but a short distance from the path, he thought there could be no harm in deviating a little out of his way in order to see what was going forward. Moreover, he thought that it would be a pity to pass so near such a merry party without giving them the opportunity of inviting him to join in their mirth. Accordingly he made an oblique cut in the direction of the music, and having gone fully as far as the place from which he was quite sure the sounds emanated when he left the path, he was not a little surprised to find that they were still at some distance from him.

"This is curious," said Ianto, and he was so puzzled that he scratched his head vigorously for a minute or two. This cleared his intellect, and he wondered why he had been so slow to realise the explanation of the difficulty. "There's dull I am," he said, "not to remember that sounds are heard at much greater distance by night than by day. That is how it is, of course."

Off he started again, but somehow or other the more he walked the less chance he saw of getting there. He stopped to think things over. The music at this time was quite a long way off and receding from him. "No," he said, "I will not give it up," and he quickened his pace lest he should loose the strain altogether. He had not gone more than ten yards when a strange thing happened. He tumbled up to his neck in a turf bog. When he had struggled out and tidied himself up as well as he could under the circumstances, the music struck up quite near him, and he heard his name called, "Ifan, Ifan."

This was the most respectful mode of addressing him, and he reflected, "Well, whoever they are, they must be well berd people." Instead of giving up the chase, as he had fully intended to do after his accident, he became more desirous than ever of joining a company which was evidently as polite as it was harmonious. On he walked, and in a minute or two he heard himself called, "Ianto, Ianto." This was not such a dignified appellation as "Ifan, Ifan," but he was in such a clever mood that he had no difficulty in arriving at the explanation. "There must be someone in the company who knows me intimately," he said, and he therefore concluded that the familiarity was excusable. The salutations, however, which seemed to alternate between "Ifan, Ifan," and "Ianto, Ianto," now became so indistinct that he could not always decide whether or not they proceeded from the grouse or the lapwings which he was continually disturbing among the heather.

At length, chagrined and mortified by his repeated disappointments and excessively fatigued, he determined to lie down on the ground till morning. But he had scarcely composed himself to sleep when the harp struck up again more brilliantly than ever, and seemed so ear that he could plainly hear the words of the song that was being sung to it. Upon this he started up, absolutely determined, come what may, to achieve his quest. he tumbled into bogs, waded knee-deep through water, and scratched his legs in labouring through heather and gorse, but his blood was up and he did not mind. Suddenly he saw at a small distance from him a number of lights, which on a nearer approach he found to proceed from a house in which there appeared to be a large company assembled, enjoying a similar merrymaking to the one he had left, with music, with drink, and other good cheer. At the door a very bonny lass invited him in, seated him in a comfortable armchair by a roaring fire, and asked him whether he would have ale or mead. Ianto thought that ale would pick him up after his long walk rather than mead, and the maid bustled away to fetch it. But before it arrived, or he had time to take stock of the company around him, such was the effect of the fatigue he had undergone that he fell fast asleep.

He was awakened next morning by the sunbeams playing on his face. On opening his eyes and looking around him, he was more than astonished to find himself quite alone. The house and the convivial company had completely vanished, and nt a vestige remained of what he had positively seen before going to sleep. Instead of being comfortably seated in a good armchair by a roaring fire, he found himself almost frozen with cold and lying on a bare rock on a point of one of the loftiest crags of Mynydd Pen Cyrn, a thousand feet in height, down which poor Ianto would have fallen headlong had he moved but a foot or two further.

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