More CELTIC FAIRY TALES
In the days of Henry Beauclerc of England there was a little lad named
Elidore, who was being brought up to be a cleric. Day after day he would trudge
from his mother's house, and she was a widow, up to the monks' Scriptorium.
There he would learn his A B C, to read it and to write it. But he was a lazy
little rogue was this Elidore, and as fast as he learned to write one letter, he
forgot another; so it was very little progress he was making. Now when the good
monks saw this they remembered the saying of the Book " Spare the rod and
spoil the child," and whenever Elidore forgot a letter they tried to make
him remember it with the rod. At first they used it seldom and lightly, but
Elidore was not a boy to be driven, and the more they thwacked him the less he
learned : so the thwackings became more frequent and more severe, till Elidore
could not stand any longer. So one day when he was twelve years old he upped
with them and offed with him into the great forest near St. David's. There for
two long days and nights he wandered about eating nothing but hips and haws. At
last he found himself at the mouth of a cave, at the side of a river, and there
he sank down, all tired and exhausted. Suddenly two little pigmies appeared to
him and said, "Come with us, and we will lead you into a land full of games
and sports." So Elidore raised himself and went with these two; at first
through an underground passage all in the dark, but soon they came out into a
most beautiful country, with rivers and meadows, woods and plains, as pleasant
as can be; only this there curious about it, that the sun never shone and clouds
were always over the sky, so that neither sun was seen by day, nor moon and
stars at night.
The two little men led Elidore before their king, who asked why and whence he
came. Elidore told him, and the king said: "Thou shalt attend on my
son," and waved him away. So for a long time Elidore waited on the king's
son, and joined in all the games and sports of the little men.
They were little, but they were not dwarfs, for all their limbs were of
suitable size one with another. Their hair was fair, and hung upon their
shoulders like that of women. They had little horses, about the size of
greyhounds; and did not eat flesh, fowl, or fish, but lived on milk flavoured
with saffron. And as they had such curious ways, so they had strange thoughts.
No oath took they, but never a lie they spoke. They would jeer and scoff at men
for their struggles, lying, and treachery. Yet though they were so good they
worshipped none, unless you might say they were worshippers of Truth.
After a time Elidore began to long to see boys and men of his own size, and
he begged permission to go and visit his mother. So the King gave him permission
so the little men led him along the passage, and guided him through the forest,
till he came near his mother's cottage, and when he entered, was not she
rejoiced to see her dear son again?" Where have you been? What have you
done?" she cried; and he had to tell her all that had happened to him. She
begged of him to stay with her, but he had promised the King to go back. And
soon he returned, after making his mother promise not to tell where he was, or
with whom. Henceforth Elidore lived, partly with the little men, and partly with
his mother. Now one day, when he was with his mother, be told her of the yellow
balls they used in their play, and which she felt sure must be of gold. So she
begged of him that the next time he came back to her he would bring with him one
of these balls. When the time came for him to go back to his mother again, he
did not wait for the little men to guide him back, as he now knew the road. But
seizing one of the yellow balls with which he used to play, he rushed home
through the passage. Now as he got near his mother's house he seemed to hear
tiny footsteps behind him, and he rushed up to the door as quickly as he could.
Just as he reached it his foot slipped, and he fell down, and the ball rolled
out of his hand, just to the feet of his mother. At that moment two little men
rushed forward, seized the ball and ran away, making faces, and spitting at the
boy as they passed him. Elidore remained with his mother for a time; but he
missed the play and games of the little men, and determined to go back to them.
But when he came to where the cave had been, near the river where the
under-ground passage commenced, he could not find it again, and though he
searched again and again in the years to come, he could not get back to that
fair country. So after a time he went back to the monastery, and became in due
course a monk. And men used to come and seek him out, and ask him what had
happened to him when he was in the Land of the Little Men. Nor could he ever
speak of that happy time without shedding tears.
Now it happened once, when this Elidore was old, that David, Bishop of St.
David's, came to visit his monastery and ask him about the manners and customs
of the little men, and above all, he was curious to know what language they
spoke; and Elidore told him some of their words. When they asked for water,
they would say: Udor udorum; and when they wanted salt, they would say:
Hapru udorum. And from this, the Bishop, who was a learned man,
discovered that they spoke some sort of Greek. For Udor is Greek for Water,
and Hap for Salt.
Hence we know that the Britons came from Troy, being descendants from Brito,
son of Priam, King of Troy.