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The Fairy Dance


It was ever folly to dance with the Tylwyth Teg, and the sensible would always guard against the temptation to do so.  Those that failed to resist the lure would generally regret the experience.  Elias Owen tells a tale told too him by a Mr Richard Jones of Ty’n-y-wern at Bryneglwys.


Two waggoners were on their way one early morning from Bryneglwys carrying coals for the lead works at Minera, a journey of ten miles and a fair few hours over mountains and hills.  On their way, they came across a company of Tylwyth Teg dancing in a field within a dew fresh fairy ring.  Foolishly, the two men stopped to watch the mesmerising spectacle, perhaps believing as some did that to witness a fairy dance was a sign of good luck (although as many people believed quite the opposite).  Spying the men watching, the Tylwyth Teg called over to them, inviting them to join the dance.


One of the waggoners was shocked to sobriety by the invite, and immediately refused to do so, grasping his companion by the arm and trying to pull him away.  His friend shook him off and began to move forward into field, ignoring his companion’s pleas to ignore the fairy folk and get back on the road.


The foolish fellow swiftly joined the dance, and for a short while his friend watched, hoping his companion would soon see sense.  But the dance continued, his friend throwing himself around in full abandon with no sign of tiring.  Eventually, losing patience and perhaps sympathy for his friend’s situation, he called to the fellow that he would wait no longer and implored him to join him in resuming the journey to Minera.  He received no response, however, and so with his annoyance now outweighing his concern, he got the waggons moving again, glancing over his shoulder every now and then at the ever-diminishing fairy dance.


Despite his hope that his friend would re-join him on the journey, perhaps shamefacedly appearing from around a bend, having eventually seen the sense of his companion’s rational decision to avoid the fairy dance, the waggoner arrived at Minera without his friend.  The deal done, a little drink and food taken, the waggoner began his journey back to Bryneglwys.  Reaching the field where his friend had lost his sensibilities, the waggoner looked for his companion.  Of his friend and the Tylwyth Teg there was no sign.  Hoping that his friend had given up on the journey to Minera and returned home, the waggoner left the field and continued on his way home.  Hopeful he remained, but he could not lie to himself and claim that a creeping sense of unease was upon him, and on finding no sign of his friend at Bryneglwys, he was not surprised.


One day, many months later, the waggoner was walking in the hills above Bryneglwys when inexplicably he came upon a member of the Tylwyth Teg, leaning nonchalantly against a fence post  The fairy did not seem at all surprised to see the fellow.  Indeed, he seemed almost to be waiting for him.


‘Good morning, to you,’ said the man, politely.


‘And to you,’ came the matter of fact reply.


‘I don’t suppose you remember me, do you?’  The man asked.


‘Of course,’ said the fairy, ‘You would not dance, while your friend gave himself freely to the jig.  I imagine a journey for two was harder for one, coals and all.’


‘Aye, it was at that,’ laughed the man, ‘and I’d surely like the opportunity to tell him frankly what I think of him.’


The fairy grinned, ‘You’d like him back, then?’


‘Aye, I would, his wife and family also.’


The fairy continued to grin, a not entirely pleasant look in truth, and nodded.  ‘Very well, then…’


And with that, the fairy explained to the man that should he be at a certain field, at a certain time then his friend would be there.


The man did as he was bid, and sure enough, his friend was found, looking tired, disheveled and a little embarrassed as he thrust his shirt tails back into his trousers,

‘Have the waggons gone far?’  he said, completely unaware that months and months had gone by…

Further Reading

E. Owen, Welsh Folk-Lore: A Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales, Woodhall, Minshull & Co., Oswestry & Wrexham (1896)

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