Twm of the Fair Lies
THERE was once a man in South Wales who was fond of prophecy. He used to predict nice things for those who were kind to him, and nasty things for those who offended him. Now, very few of the pleasant things which he foretold came to pass, and so he got the name of Twm Gelwydd Teg, or Twin of the Fair Lies. But some of the unpleasant things which he said would happen to those who vexed him came true by some accident or other. Here is one of them. Sir George Herbert, of Cynfig Castle, once put him in prison, and Twm was very angry. After he came out of jail a great feast was held to celebrate the birth of a son and heir to Sir George. There was great rejoicing, and the proud father actually shod his horses with silver in honour of the event. When Twm heard of this, he said, "What a fuss about a baby which will be hanged by the string of its forehead-band." Sir George was told about this, and though he did not believe that Twm was a true prophet, still he thought that he could not be too careful. The child was placed under the charge of a nurse who was strictly ordered to watch him narrowly night and day.
Everything went on all right for some time, but one day somebody told Sir George and his lady that the nurse had an infectious skin disease. They sent for her at once, but found that the woman's skin was as healthy as their own. They went back with her to the nursery, and the first thing they saw was the baby dead in the cradle. The forehead band had slipped down, and the child had twisted his hands in it in such a manner that he had choked and died.
Another time Twm was threshing corn in a barn. In came a young lad and addressed him: "Well, Twm Gelwydd Teg, what news have you to-day?" "I have news which concerns you," answered Twin. "You shall die three deaths before night." "Ha, ha," said the youth, "nobody can die more than one death," and he went off laughing.
In the couise of the day the lad climbed to the top of a tall tree by the side of a river to rob a kite's nest. As he was thrusting his hand into the nest an adder stung him. He lost his hold and fell on a great branch, breaking his neck. Then his body fell into the river and sank into the depths of the water. He thus died three deaths: he was stung by an adder; he broke his neck; and he was drowned.