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Manawyddan, son of Llyr

part 6

And he went to watch the croft. And at midnight, lo, there arose the loudest tumult in the world. And he looked, and behold the mightiest host of mice in the world, which could neither be numbered nor measured. And he knew not what it was until the mice had made their way into the croft, and each of them climbing up the straw and bending it down with its weight, had cut off one of the ears of wheat and had carried it away leaving there the stalk, and he saw not a single straw there that had not a mouse to it. And they all took their way, carrying the ears with them.

In wrath and anger did he rush upon the mice, but he could no more come up with them than if they had been gnats, or birds in the air, except one only, which though it was but sluggish, went so fast that a man on foot could scarce overtake it. And after this one he went, and he caught it and put it in his glove, and tied up the opening of the glove with a string, and kept it with him, and returned to the palace. Then he came to the hall where Kicva was, and he lighted a fire, and hung the glove by the string upon a peg.
  "What hast thou there, lord?" said Kicva.
  "A thief," said he, "that I found robbing me."
  "What kind of thief may it be, lord, that thou couldst put into thy glove?" said she.
  "Behold I will tell thee," he answered.
then heshowed her how his fields had been wasted and destroyed, and how the mice came to the last of the fields in his sight.
  "And one of them was less nimble than the rest, and is now in my glove; tomorrow I will hang it, and before Heaven, if I had them, I would hang them all."
  "My lord," said she, "this is marvellous; but yet it would be unseemly for a man of dignity like thee to be hanging such a reptile as this. And if thou doest right, thou wilt not meddle with the creature, but wilt let it go."
  "Woe betide me," said he, "if I would not hang them all could I catch them, and such as I have I will hang."
  "Verily, lord," said she, "there is no reason that I should succour this reptile, except to prevent discredit unto thee. Do therefore, lord, as thou wilt."
  "If I knew of any cause in the world wherefore thou shouldst succour it, I would take thy counsel concerning it," said Manawyddan, "but as I know of none, lady, I am minded to destroy it."
  "Do. so willingly then," said she.
And then he went to the Gorsedd of Narberth, taking the mouse with him. And he set up two forks on the highest part of the Gorsedd. And while he was doing this, behold he saw a scholar coming towards him, in old and poor and tattered garments. And it was now seven years since he had seen in that place either man or beast, except those four persons who had remained together until two of them were lost.
"My lord," said the scholar, "good day to thee."
  "Heaven prosper thee, and my greeting be unto thee. And whence dost thou come, scholar?" asked he.
  "I come, lord, from singing in Lloegyr; and wherefore dost thou inquire?"
  "Because for the last seven years," answered he, "I have seen no man here save four secluded persons, and thyself this moment."
  "Truly, lord," said he, "I go through this land unto mine own. And what work art thou upon, lord?"
  "I am hanging a thief that I caught robbing me," said he.
  "What manner of thief is that?" asked the scholar. "I see a creature in thy hand like unto a mouse, and ill does it become a man of rank equal to thine to touch a reptile such as this. Let it go forth free."
  "I will not let it go free, by Heaven," said he, "I caught it robbing me, and the doom of a thief will I inflict upon it, and I will hang it."
  "Lord," said he, "rather than see a man of rank equal to thine at such work as this, I would give thee a pound which I have received as alms, to let the reptile go forth free."
  "I will not let it go free," said he, "by Heaven, neither will I sell it."
  "As thou wilt, lord," he answered, "except that I would not see a man of rank equal to thine touching such a reptile, I care nought."
And the scholar went his way.

To part 7

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