The Request

Last week we left Pwyll stunned as a complete stranger came to the wedding feast and demanded the bride for himself…

Pwyll sat frozen. All the company hardly dared to breath. Except for one young lady, who sneezed.

The everyday noise brought Pwyll to his senses, and he hung over the table as nausea swept down upon him. He had lost Rhiannon.

“Be silent as long as you like,” snapped a cold voice in his ear. “Never has a man made worse use of his wits than you have just done.”

Pwyll hardly dared look her in the eye. “I didn’t know who he was.”

“This is the man my father wanted to give me to. He is Gwawl, the son of Clud, a wealthy and powerful man. Since you have given your word, you must give me to him, to prevent dishonour to yourself.”

“I can’t do that. Never!” Pwyll protested. But what Rhiannon said was the truth. He would make an enemy of this man if he did not keep to his word.

“Give me to him,” Rhiannon insisted in a whisper, “and I will make sure he won’t have me.”

“How?” Pwyll asked, still in his melting-pot of shame.

“Before you go I will give you a little bag…” And she hastily whispered her plan in his ear.

Meanwhile, Gwawl was striding up and down the hall, getting many looks of admiration from the young ladies, “Lord,” he barked, coming to an abrupt stop in front of the high table, “It is high time I received an answer to my request.”

Pwyll gathered together what shreds of dignity were left to him, “You shall have as much of your request as I can give you.”

Rhiannon rose, and bestowed a dazzling smile on Gwawl, a smile that was like a dagger to Pwyll’s heart, even though he knew it was only for show. “Friend, I cannot give this feast to you, for I have already given it to the men of Dyfed. But, in a year’s time, I shall prepare a feast for you, my friend, and I will be your bride.”

The feast was over. Gwawl departed, a satisfied smile on his face, having got what he came for. Then Rhiannon silently pressed the bag into Pwyll’s hand, and summoned her birds. With a mute gesture, she indicated that Pwyll should follow them, and the men of Dyfed left the palace and stepped into the night.