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The Fairy Walking Stick

A FARMER was rounding up his sheep in Cwmllan when he heard the sound. of weeping. As a general rule, only human beings weep noisily, and as the farmer had not observed any human beings in the vicinity he was considerably surprised. He went in the direction from which the sound came. For some time he could not discover who was causing it, but after a bit he saw a wee little lass lying on a narrow ledge of rock on the face of a great precipice, and sobbing as if her heart would break. He went to her rescue, and with great difficulty extricated her from her dangerous position. No sooner had he brought her to safety, than a little old man appeared. "I thank thee," said he, "for thy kindness to my daughter. Accept this in remembrance of thy good deed," handing a walking-stick to the farmer. The farmer took it, and the moment it was in his hand both the wee lass and the little old man disappeared from his sight.

The year after this every sheep in the farmer's possession had two ewe-lambs, and this continued for many years. His flocks during all this time were singularly free from accident and disease. Sheep-stealers were always frustrated in their evil designs upon them: birds of prey never ventured near them to pick out the eyes of the young lambs: even when a murrain devastated other flocks, these were untainted: when they were buried under snow-drifts in winter, and had to be dug out, they seemed better rather than worse for their experiences: and their wool was finer and more plentiful than that of any other sheep in the country. The farmer became rich, and all envied him.

One night, shortly after the sheep had been brought down from the mountains for the winter, the farmer went to a village some distance away to match his blue gamecock against a black fighter which was carrying all before it. It was late before the farmer started home, and a great storm arose. The wind howled, and the rain came down in sheets, and a horror of great darkness fell upon the land. On his way home the farmer had to cross a stream on some stepping stones. When he came to it the river was swollen, and sweeping all before it in a swift current. As he was feeling for the stones with the walking stick given him by the little old man, it somehow or other slipped from his hand and was swept away by the raging torrent, and he had a narrow escape of being carried away himself.

He reached home, and as soon as day came went out to search for the stick, and at the same time to see what damage had been done by the flood. He found that nearly all his sheep had been swept away by it. His wealth had gone as it came--with the walking stick.

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