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An Adventure in the Big Bog

A YOUNG harper of Bala was asked to play at a wedding in a farmhouse near Yspytty Ifan. When the joyous company broke up late at night he set off for home like the rest, but he had a much longer way to go than anyone else. When he was crossing the mountain a dense fog came on, and he lost his way. He was wandering about trying to find the path again, when he suddenly stepped into the Gors Fawr, "the big bog." The treacherous crust swayed for an instant under his tread, and then it broke. The soft mud oozed round his ankles, and he felt himself going further and further down. He tried to raise himself on his harp, but the only result of this was to plunge the beloved instrument into the bog, and he himself sank lower and lower. At last, with a desperate effort, he hurled himself full length upon the surface. The yielding crust caved under his body, and he clutched at the surface grass, but he only plucked the tufts from their roots. They gave him no hold. With every fresh effort to save himself he sank deeper. The gurgling slime sucked him down, down, down, and in the anguish of his soul he threw his head back in one last wild scream.

His cry was just dying away when the fog suddenly cleared, and a little man appeared on the brink of the bog. He threw a rope to the harper, who, after a great struggle, fastened it round his body under the arms. The little man pulled and pulled and gradually drew the harper out of the mire. He took him to a house blazing with light hard by, where there was singing and dancing and much revelry. The harper was given fine clean clothes, and after drinking a flagon of delicious mead he recovered sufficiently from the fright which the fall into the bog had given him to join in the festivity which was going on. There was a little lady there whom the company addressed as Olwen. She was the most beautiful little lady that the harper had ever seen and the best dancer. With her he danced hour after hour, and the only bitter in his cup of sweet was the thought that his beloved harp was in the slimy blackness of the Gors. When the whole company retired to rest he was put in a bed as soft as the softest down, and he thought he had reached a very heaven of delight.

But next morning he was awakened, not by a kiss from Olwen, but by the Plas Drain shepherd's dog licking his lips: he found himself lying by the wall of a sheepfold, and there was no trace of the house in which he had spent such a happy night. His clothes were all caked with bog mud, and his harp, which was in a clump of rushes at his feet, was black with the same defilement.

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