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The Escape of the Mouse
by [?]

Manawyddan the prince and his friend Pryderi were wanderers, for the brother of Manawyddan had been slain, and his throne taken from him. Very sorrowful was Manawyddan, but Pryderi was stout of heart, and bade him be of good cheer, as he knew a way out of his trouble.

‘And what may that be?’ asked Manawyddan.

‘It is that thou marry my mother Rhiannon and become lord of the fair lands that I will give her for dowry. Never did any lady have more wit than she, and in her youth none was more lovely; even yet she is good to look upon.’

‘Thou art the best friend that ever a man had,’ said Manawyddan. ‘Let us go now to seek Rhiannon, and the lands where she dwells.’

Then they set forth, but the news of their coming ran swifter still, and Rhiannon and Kieva, wife of Pryderi, made haste to prepare a feast for them. And Manawyddan found that Pryderi had spoken the truth concerning his mother, and asked if she would take him for her husband. Right gladly did she consent, and without delay they were married, and rode away to the hunt, Rhiannon and Manawyddan, Kieva and Pryderi, and they would not be parted from each other by night or by day, so great was the love between them.

One day, when they were returned, they were sitting out in a green place, and suddenly the crash of thunder struck loudly on their ears, and a wall of mist fell between them, so that they were hidden one from the other. Trembling they sat till the darkness fled and the light shone again upon them, but in the place where they were wont to see cattle, and herds, and dwellings, they beheld neither house nor beast, nor man nor smoke; neither was any one remaining in the green place save these four only.

‘Whither have they gone, and my host also?’ cried Manawyddan, and they searched the hall, and there was no man, and the castle, and there was none, and in the dwellings that were left was nothing save wild beasts. For a year these four fed on the meat that Manawyddan and Pryderi killed out hunting, and the honey of the bees that sucked the mountain heather. For a time they desired nothing more, but when the next year began they grew weary.

‘We cannot spend our lives thus,’ said Manawyddan at last, ‘let us go into England and learn some trade by which we may live.’ So they left Wales, and went to Hereford, and there they made saddles, while Manawyddan fashioned blue enamel ornaments to put on their trappings. And so greatly did the townsfolk love these saddles, that no others were bought throughout the whole of Hereford, till the saddlers banded together and resolved to slay Manawyddan and his companions.

When Pryderi heard of it, he was very wroth, and wished to stay and fight. But the counsels of Manawyddan prevailed, and they moved by night to another city.

‘What craft shall we follow?’ asked Pryderi.

‘We will make shields,’ answered Manawyddan.

‘But do we know anything of that craft?’ answered Pryderi.

‘We will try it,’ said Manawyddan, and they began to make shields, and fashioned them after the shape of the shields they had seen; and these likewise they enamelled. And so greatly did they prosper that no man in the town bought a shield except they had made it, till at length the shield-makers banded together as the saddlers had done, and resolved to slay them. But of this they had warning, and by night betook themselves to another town.

‘Let us take to making shoes,’ said Manawyddan, ‘for there are not any among the shoemakers bold enough to fight us.’

‘I know nothing of making shoes,’ answered Pryderi, who in truth despised so peaceful a craft.

‘But I know,’ replied Manawyddan, ‘and I will teach thee to stitch. We will buy the leather ready dressed, and will make the shoes from it.