The Story of Twm and Siôn and Dai and the Three Roan Calves
Margaret D Jones
[Once] there was a poor farmer and a rich farmer. And the poor farmer had three sons, Twm and Siôn and Dai. And the rich farmer had a daughter. The first farmer's land bordered the other's. And these three sons, now, Twm and Siôn and Dai, had fallen in love with the girl. And she was a pretty girl: her hair like yellow wheat, her eyes as blue as the sky, and her cheeks like the red rose that grew at the garden gate. Now the three boys had asked the rich farmer if they could have the girl as wife. And he said, what he would do with them was give each one a calf. And the one who was best at caring for the calf - by Llanfyllin fair, I think - the one who'd got the best price at Llanfyllin fair for the calf, he'd be the one to marry the daughter. And, well, they each got a calf, a roan calf.
And now Twm, old Twm was a very lazy boy. He wasn't very fond of work. And then Dai, well he was a real schemer. He wouldn't care what he did. But he did want to marry the girl. And Siôn then, Siôn was the best of the three. Siôn was a nice boy and everything you could wish for. And strangely enough, had they but known, Siôn and the girl had been meeting in secret. But neither of the other two knew that. Nobody knew. Well now, the three sons did their best to look after the calves. Twm's calf died very soon, because Twm wasn't looking after him. And Dai, now, he was doing his best for the calf. But Siôn's calf was coming on better. Siôn had the best calf.
Now, Siôn and the girl were meeting in secret. They met in the churchyard, under the old yew tree. There they were, courting quietly, and no-one ever disturbed them there. And well, the fair was a year away, and the year was drawing on and the fair was getting closer. And they were courting - Siôn now, and the girl, under the yew tree. And a man came one night, quietly, with a sack, and he cut some of the yew branches. But Siôn recognised him. Siôn realised who he was. And a day or two after that, with the fair getting closer, Siôn's calf died. And he didn't understand, he didn't understand what was the matter with it. But he picked up a couple of yew twigs from the trough in front of the calf. And he understood at once. He remembered that Dai had been doing something with the yew tree, cutting some of its twigs off and putting them in the sack. He understood at once that Dai had put them in the calf's trough. And of course the yew - the leaves of the yew - will poison an animal, especially horned animals. And of course the calf died. But what did Siôn do but skin the calf and dry the skin, and said nothing.
The fair came [anyway], and of course, Dai took the calf to the fair and got a pretty good price. Three pounds, I think, was the price he got for the calf. And he was a real boy now, of course, he was tamping to get that girl as his wife. And in the fair now they were having the most wonderful fun at the fair, there was some old man with clogs on his feet and ragged old clothes on him, and a sack around his neck hanging from a cord and a load of leather shoelaces on his back. And he was going through the fair shouting:
'Rhics, rhocs, careion, clocs,
Rhics, rhocs, careion, clocs.'
And the people were following him and buying these shoelaces, now, for tuppence each. And they were good ones. And Siôn - this old man - now he was pulling at the shoelaces and giving out a challenge to anyone to cut them. Nobody could do it. But anyway, that was the end of the fair. The most fun they'd had was following this old man and hearing him shouting 'Rhics, rhocs, careion, clocs,' all the time.
And that night, now, Dai was going down to the farm, having sold the calf and got three pounds for it, and of course, he was claiming the girl as his wife. And they were counting the money now, on the table and there was a knock at the door. The girl went out and came back in, and told her father that it was the old man from the fair, wanting a lodging for the night. And he said: 'Oh, yes, yes,' he said, 'tell him he can have it'. And he asked them - he came in then to the door - he asked whether he'd look after the money bag he had, the bag now with the pennies he'd got for the shoelaces at the fair. 'Oh, right, I'll look after them till the morning,' said the farmer, 'but we'll have to count them first.'
And they were spilled out there on the table. And Dai and the farmer and the girl counted the money then. And while they were doing that, Siôn came in and up to the hearth quietly, and he pulled off the old ragged clothes, and pulled off the beard. And when they turned to look, who did they see but Siôn. Now, Siôn's money had to be counted, what he'd got for the calf. Siôn explained to them then that he was the old man at the fair. And then they counted the money and he had three pounds and a crown's worth of pennies. So he had more than Dai. And, of course, he got the girl as wife. And they lived comfortably ever afterwards.