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The Pellings

Welsh Folktale

In a meadow belonging to Ystrad, bounded by the river which falls from Cwellyn Lake, they say the fairies used to assemble, and dance in fair moonlight nights. One evening a young man, who was the heir and occupier of this farm, hid himself in a thicket close to the spot where they used to gambol. Presently they appeared, and when in their merry mood, out he bounced from his covert, and seized one of their females; the rest of the company dispersed themselves, and disappeared in an instant. Disregarding her struggles and screams, he hauled her to his home, where he treated her so very kindly that she became contented to live with him as his maid-servant, but he could not prevail upon her to tell him her name. Some time after, happening again to see the fairies upon the same spot, he heard one of them saying, "The last time we met here our sister Penelope was snatched away from us by one of the mortals." Rejoiced at knowing the name of his incognita, he returned home; and as she was very beautiful and extremely active, he proposed to marry her, which she would not for a long time consent to; at last, however, she complied, but on this condition, "That if ever he should strike her with iron, she would leave him, and never return to him again." They lived happy for many years together, and he had by her a son and a daughter; and by her industry and prudent management as a housewife he became one of the richest men in the country. He farmed, besides his own freehold, all the lands on the north side of Nant y Bettws to the top of Snowdon, and all Cwm brwynog in Llanberis, an extent of about five thousand acres or upwards.

Unfortunately, one day Penelope followed her husband into the field to catch a horse, and he, being in a rage at the animal as he ran away from him, threw at him the bridle that was in his hand, which unluckily fell on poor Penelope. She disappeared in an instant, and he never saw her afterwards, but heard her voice in the window of his room one night after, requesting him to take care of the children, in these words:—

  "Rhag bod anwyd ar fy mâb,
  Yn rhodd rhowch arno gôb ei dâd:
  Rhag bod anwyd ar liw'r cann,
  Rhoddwch arni bais ei mam."

That is,

  "Oh! lest my son should suffer cold,
  Him in his father's coat infold:
  Lest cold should seize my darling fair,
  For her, her mother's robe prepare."

These children and their descendants they say were called Pellings [1], a word corrupted from their mother's name Penelope.

[1] In England we frequently meet with the surname Pilling and Billing; it might have happened, that a man had met with an English woman of that name, and had married her, and, as is usual in brides, she might have been, though married, called by her maiden name, and the appellation might have been continued to her posterity.— Authors Note.

The name Billing and Belling is the family name of one of the oldest
Cornish (Keltic) families—a fact that suggests other possibilities.
—P. H. E.

Welsh Fairy-Tales And Other Stories

Welsh Fairy-Tales And Other Stories

Notes: This book holds 24 Welsh folktales. The last six are not from welsh sources.

Editor: P. H. Emerson
Published: 1894
Publisher: D. Nutt, London

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