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Bala Lake

LONG, long ago, there was a fertile valley where now roll the waters of Bala Lake.

In a stately palace in the middle of the valley lived a cruel and unjust prince. "As a roaring lion and a ranging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people." He feared not God, neither regarded man, and he so oppressed and vexed the five parishes of Penllyn that his name stank in the nostrils of the men of Meirion.

Those whom he afflicted cried to the Lord, and He sent a warning to the oppressor. As the wicked ruler walked in his garden he heard a voice saying, "Vengeance will come," but he laughed the warning to scorn. And he seemed to have reason, for he flourished exceedingly. He laid up treasure and took to wife a noble lady, who bore him a son.

To celebrate the birth of his first-born he prepared a splendid feast, and sent his servants to bid the highest in the land to it. Many made excuse, but many came, and they supped sumptuously. Every sort of meat and every sorts of liquor was served that was ever seen elsewhere, and no vessel was placed upon the table that was not either of gold, or of silver, or of buffalo horn. Merry tales were told and mirthful songs were sung, and when it was more agreeable to them to dance than to listen to tales and songs, they danced to the strains of the harp.

About midnight there was an interval in the dancing and the harper was resting alone in a corner, when suddenly he heard a whisper in his ear, "Vengeance, vengeance." He turned at once, and saw a little bird hovering about him. Having arrested the harper's attention, the bird flew slowly to the door. The harper did not go after it, and the bird came back, sang plaintively a second time in his ear, "Vengeance, vengeance," after which it again flew off to the door, beckoning, as it were, to the harper to follow. This time the harper went after it, but after getting outside he hesitated. Once more the bird returned to him and piped, "Vengeance, vengeance," mournfully and sadly in his ear.

The harper now became afraid of refusing to follow, and proceeded to walk in the direction in which the bird invited him to advance. On they went, through thicket and through bog, the bird hovering the while in front of him and leading him along the easiest and safest paths. If he but stopped for a moment the bird would sing, "Vengeance, vengeance," and he felt constrained to continue his flight. At last he reached the top of a hill, some considerable distance 'from the palace. By this time he was fatigued and weary (for he was an old man), and he stopped to rest. He fully expected to hear the bird's warning note as before, but on this occasion, though he listened carefully, he could hear nothing but the murmuring of the little burn hard by. "How foolish I have been," he now thought to himself, "to allow myself to be led away in this fashion from the palace! They will be looking for me to play for the next dance and I must hurry back."

In his anxiety, however, to make haste, the old harper lost his way on the hill, and found himself forced to await the break of day.

When the sun's rim appeared above the Berwyn mountains, he turned his eye in the direction of the palace. He was astonished beyond measure to see no trace of it. The whole valley was one calm, large lake, and he could descry his harp floating on the face of the waters.

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