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This is the story of Morgan ap Rhys who farmed the slopes of Cader Idris and was well known for his singing. He sang unaccompanied as he went about his work and his powerful voice was often heard on the other side of the valley.

One evening, as the great and good were gathered together to pass the time in music and dancing, a travelling bard, well-known for his silver tongue, commented on Morgans’s voice saying

“Morgan ap Rhys, you sing like a cow”

Which, it must be said, was an accurate description.

This insult did not stop Morgan from singing in the comfort of his own home, which is what he was doing one winter’s evening when a knock came at the door.

“Come in then and shut the door behind you” he yelled, not bothering to get up.

Three grey cloaked strangers entered, pinched with the cold, shaking raindrops onto the stone floor.

“Travellers you are I see. There’s bread on the table and cheese in the crock” said Morgan ap Rhys.  Some might have thought him an oaf, but he was as generous to visitors as any good Welshman.

The strangers ate their food at the scrubbed wooden table as Morgan continued singing.

As they got up to leave, the tallest of them said “Morgan ap Rhys, you are a kind man.You have fed us and entertained us. Is there anything you would like in return”.

Morgan thought a minute then said, “Strangers, you have heard me sing. I never sing in the village now. What I would dearly like is an instrument to play. One that will play a tune however badly I play it.”

The tall stranger nodded, “Keep well then, Morgan” he said. And with that they were gone.

But when Morgan got up from his comfortable seat by the fire he saw, standing in the middle of the room, the prettiest little harp you ever did see. He took it in his lap and played a tune.         

Morgan was soon welcome in every home in the valley with his lovely harp. Occasionally he would offer to sing as well, but his hosts would always say “Morgan, Morgan, another tune on your harp, will you?”

He played for all the dances and it was at one of these that, as fate would have it, the silver tongued bard who had so insulted his singing, came along.

Morgan was playing an Irish Reel  Seeing the silver tongued bard dancing to his tune, Morgan ap Rhys decided he would have his revenge.

Under his nimble fingers, he made the fairy harp play faster and faster. And, caught in the fairy tune, the dancers danced faster and faster. Faster and faster they danced until they fell off their shoes and over each other cracking their heads and breaking their ankles.

Morgan did not stop until the silver tongued bard was lying on the floor in agony, nursing two broken legs.

He took his harp home with him that night feeling mighty pleased with himself. In the morning he thought he would have a little tune before going about his work.

But when he looked for his harp, could he find it? Had he misplaced it? Forgotten it? Left it behind?

No, he had not. But it was as gone as gone could be.

Because Morgan had forgotten that fairy gifts are given for good, but not forever.


© Theresa Eynon 2014