The Egg Shell Pottage





In the parish of Treveglwys, near Llanidloes, in the county of

Montgomery, there is a little shepherd's cot, that is commonly called Twt

y Cwmrws (the place of strife) on account of the extraordinary strife

that has been there. The inhabitants of the cottage were a man and his

wife, and they had born to them twins, whom the woman nursed with great

care and tenderness. Some months afterwards indispensable business

called the wife to the house of one of her nearest neighbours; yet,

notwithstanding she had not far to go, she did not like to leave her

children by themselves in their cradle, even for a minute, as her house

was solitary, and there were many tales of goblins or the 'Tylwyth Teg'

(the Fair Family or the Fairies) haunting the neighbourhood. However,

she went, and returned as soon as she could; but on coming back she felt

herself not a little terrified on seeing, though it was mid-day, some of

'the old elves of the blue petticoat,' as they are usually called;

however, when she got back to her house she was rejoiced to find

everything in the state she had left it.



But after some time had passed by, the good people began to wonder that

the twins did not grow at all, but still continued little dwarfs. The

man would have it that they were not his children; the woman said that

they must be their children, and about this arose the great strife

between them that gave name to the place. One evening when the woman was

very heavy of heart she determined to go and consult a Gwr Cyfarwydd

(i.e., a wise man, or a conjuror), feeling assured that everything was

known to him, and he gave her his counsel. Now there was to be a harvest

soon of the rye and oats; so the wise man said to her:--'When you are

preparing dinner for the reapers empty the shell of a hen's egg, and boil

the shell full of pottage and take it out through the door as if you

meant it for a dinner to the reapers, and then listen what the twins will

say; if you hear the children speaking things above the understanding of

children, return into the house, take them, and throw them into the waves

of Llyn Ebyr, which is very near to you; but if you don't hear anything

remarkable, do them no injury.' And when the day of the reaping came,

the woman did as her adviser had recommended to her; and as she went

outside the door to listen, she heard one of the children say to the

other:--



Gwelais vesen cyn gweled derwen,

Gwelais wy cyn gweled iar,

Erioed ni welais verwi bwyd i vedel

Mewn plisgyn wy iar!



Acorns before oak I knew,

An egg before a hen,

Never one hen's egg-shell stew

Enough for harvest men!



On this the mother returned to her house and took the two children, and

threw them into the Llyn, and suddenly the goblins in their trousers came

to save their dwarfs, and the woman had her own children back again, and

thus the strife between her and her husband ended.



The writer of the preceding story says that it was translated almost

literally from Welsh, as told by the peasantry, and he remarks that the

legend bears a striking resemblance to one of the Irish tales published

by Mr. Croker.



Many variants of the legend are still extant in many parts of Wales.

There is one of these recorded in Professor Rhys's Welsh Fairy Tales,

Y Cymmrodor, vol. iv., pp. 208-209. It is much like that given in the

Cambrian Magazine.





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