Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  Celtic  Index  Previous  Next 

Sili go Dwt

AT Nant Corfan, in Cwm Tafolog, in Montgomeryshire, there once lived a poor woman who had been left a widow, with a little baby. "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." This was the case with the poor widow, for the Gwylliaid Cochion, the Red Banditti, of Mawddwy, sent one of their number down her chimney, although she had put scythes in it to prevent such an entry, and robbed her of all the money which she had put by to pay the rent. Not content with that, they drove away all her cattle to their lairs.

The poor woman was weeping as if her heart would break, when suddenly there came a knock at the door, and a tall old lady, dressed in green, came in with a long staff in her hand. "Why are you weeping?" asked the green lady. And the widow told her of her great misfortunes.

"Be comforted," said the stranger, "for I have gold here more than enough to pay your rent and to buy cattle to replace those which these wicked robbers have taken away." With that she brought out a great bag from under her cloak, and poured out a great heap of yellow gold on the little round table by the fire. The widow's eyes glistened and her mouth watered at the sight. "All this will I give you," said the green lady, "if you will give me what I ask for." "I will give you anything I have in my possession," said the widow: her belongings were so few that the best of them, she thought, would be a very poor exchange for the gold which was gleaming bright in the light of the peat fire. "I am not unreasonable," said the green lady, "and I always like to do a good turn for a small reward. All I ask is that little boy lying in the cradle there."

The widow felt as if she had been stabbed to the heart, and she begged and prayed the fairy (for such, it was now clear, she was) to take anything rather than her little boy. "No," said the fairy, "you must let me have your baby. I cannot by the law we live under take him until the third day. I will come back with the gold the day after to-morrow, and if you want the gold you know the condition. But stay, if you can then tell me my right name I will not take your boy." With that she gathered up the yellow metal into her bag and went out.

The poor widow was more wretched than ever. Much as she longed for the fairy's money, she loved her little son more than all the gold on earth, and the very thought of losing him kept her from sleeping all night. The next day she went to some relatives at Llanbrynmair to see whether they could help her in her trouble, but though they had the heart they had not the means to succour her, and she had to return empty-handed. As she was going through a wood she saw an open space among the trees, and in the middle of it was a fairy ring. A little woman was dancing wildly round this ring by herself and singing. The widow could not hear the words of the song from where she was, so she crept as silently as a mouse within hearing distance. Then she heard:

"How the widow would laugh if she was aware
That Sill go Dwt is the name that I bear."

When the widow heard this she felt as if a ton weight had been lifted off her heart: she stole away as noiselessly as she had approached, and made for home as fast as her legs would carry her.

The next day the fairy came again, as she had said, in the guise of a tall old lady as before, dressed in green and with a long staff in her hand. She poured the gold on the little table by the fire once more, and said that. the widow could have it if she either gave up her baby or guessed her name. The widow thought that she would have some sport with the fairy, and she asked:

"How many guesses will you give me?" "As many as you like," said the fairy. Then the widow tried every strange name that she had ever heard of, all the English names she remembered, and old Welsh names like Garmy, Gorasgwrn, Rhelemon, Enrydreg, Creiddylad, Ellylw. Gwaedan, Rathtyeu, Corth, Tybiau, Cywyllog, Peithian. But the fairy shook her head at each. Then the widow said,." I will have one more guess. Is your name Sili go Dwt, by any chance?" The fairy went up the chimney in a blaze of fire, such was her rage and disappointment. With the gold she left behind her the widow paid the rent and bought cattle, and there was enough to fill an old stocking besides.

She lived happily ever afterwards, and the boy, when he grew up, had the satisfaction of helping Baron Owen to hang a few dozens of the Red Banditti, who had robbed his mother, on the trees of their forest lair.

Next: Another Changeling