OF GENILLYN THE THIEF

Genillyn was a notorious thief who lived in North Wales. Eventually things became too hot for him there and he sought shelter in South Wales, at the house of a man called Traer, accounted another notable robber. He arrived on foot, with a horse’s bridle around his neck and spurs attached to his belt.

After a sober and frugal supper, Genillyn spoke. “You are all wondering, yet, out of respect of our customs, no one asks who I am or from whence I came. I am from North Wales, attracted to these parts by a noble mare which a man in this area keeps and, for the last month, all my ambushes have been unsuccessful.”

Traer laughed. “It’s certainly right and with reason that your people are called cowardly and slow. Any one of us would sooner, for honour’s sake, make a valiant if foolhardy attempt at the theft and die a hard death than have dawdled a whole month in slack laziness. How abject and dull you are not to blush in confessing such a thing. Tell us about this mare and how it is kept and then wait here with my wife and children and, in three days, I will return with the spoils or fall gloriously in the attempt.”

“Your people are known for their boastful natures.” said Genillyn. “The mare is owned by Cadwallon ap Ifon Bach, lord of Senghenydd. By day she feeds in the midst of his troops and at night she stands in the corner of his house with the whole household sleeping between her and the only door. Not only that but Cadwallon keeps four of his best men guarding her closely while she stands on a rough carpet beside the fire. If you accomplish the deed, ten cows will be the price of the mare and five for the carpet.

Traer snatched the bridle and spurs and set off for Senghenydd, despite the knowledge that any horse thief, if caught, would not face the problem of a trial but would be hanged on the spot. When he came to Cadwallon’s house he kept a close watch, the night being dark and starless, appropriate to his needs. He made a hole beside the door so that he could open it himself. When the door was open wide he stole into the house to the mare, tied the fringes of the carpet to the mare’s tail then jumped on her and gave her a slap, sending her through the fire, scattering fire and embers over the sleepers so that he was able to escape in the ensuing mayhem.

A hue and cry was raised and Traer realised that his pursuers were following the sparks coming from the burning carpet so he stopped and quenched the flames and was able to ride away. He returned safe home, gaining great renown, but Genillyn got the horse and a singed carpet, by which he could tell the tale of how he came by a mare of great price with little exertion.

 

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