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Corwrion Changeling Legend


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

Once on a time, in the fourteenth century, the wife of a man at Corwrion
had twins, and she complained one day to the witch who lived close by, at
Tyddyn y Barcut, that the children were not getting on, but that they
were always crying, day and night. 'Are you sure that they are your
children?' asked the witch, adding that it did not seem to her that they
were like hers. 'I have my doubts also,' said the mother. 'I wonder if
somebody has changed children with you,' said the witch. 'I do not
know,' said the mother. 'But why do you not seek to know?' asked the
other. 'But how am I to go about it?' said the mother. The witch
replied, 'Go and do something rather strange before their eyes and watch
what they will say to one another.' 'Well I do not know what I should
do,' said the mother. 'Oh,' said the other, 'take an egg-shell, and
proceed to brew beer in it in a chamber aside, and come here to tell me
what the children will say about it.' She went home and did as the witch
had directed her, when the two children lifted their heads out of the
cradle to see what she was doing, to watch, and to listen. Then one
observed to the other:--'I remember seeing an oak having an acorn,' to
which the other replied, 'And I remember seeing a hen having an egg,' and
one of the two added, 'But I do not remember before seeing anybody brew
beer in the shell of a hen's egg.'

The mother then went to the witch and told her what the twins had said
one to the other, and she directed her to go to a small wooden bridge not
far off, with one of the strange children under each arm, and there to
drop them from the bridge into the river beneath. The mother went back
home again and did as she had been directed. When she reached home this
time, to her astonishment, she found that her own children had been
brought back.

There is one important difference between these two tales. In the
latter, the mother drops the children over the bridge into the waters
beneath, and then goes home, without noticing whether the poor children
had been rescued by the goblins or not, but on reaching her home she
found in the cradle her own two children, presumably conveyed there by
the Fairies. In the first tale, we are informed that she saw the goblins
save their offspring from a watery grave. Subjecting peevish children to
such a terrible ordeal as this must have ended often with a tragedy, but
even in such cases superstitious mothers could easily persuade themselves
that the destroyed infants were undoubtedly the offspring of elfins, and
therefore unworthy of their fostering care. The only safeguard to
wholesale infanticide was the test applied as to the super-human
precociousness, or ordinary intelligence, of the children.

Another version of this tale was related to me by my young friend, the
Rev. D. H. Griffiths, of Clocaenog Rectory, near Ruthin. The tale was
told him by Evan Roberts, Ffriddagored, Llanfwrog. Mr. Roberts is an
aged farmer.

Next: Llanfwrog Changeling Legend

Previous: The Egg Shell Pottage

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