OF THE HOSPITALITY OF THE WELSH

There was a man, a small Welsh farmer, who, in the spirit of hospitality, took in a stranger. The following day there was a market that the farmer was intent on going to, so he left the stranger alone with his wife.

Returning two days later he found his guest gone and asked his wife what had happened to him.

“That lazy swine? He was lying in his bed early today looking at the rain coming down outside and I heard him say, ‘Good God! What a terrible tempest.’ So I said to him, ‘It is a good day for a fool to dawdle in a good man’s house.’ With that he took offence, rushed out of the house and I was unable to stop him.”

The farmer was appalled. Knocking down his wife with a great blow, he rushed out after his guest. After a long search he found the body of a dead wolf, then eight more and then he came upon a broken spear. Then he came upon the man he sought, together with the largest wolf yet who was savaging the unfortunate fellow and had already severely mauled him. The farmer drove away the wolf and fell at the feet of the stranger, apologising for the discourtesy of his wife.

The man saw, behind the farmer’s back, the wolf circling, preparing to return. “I will allow you to be innocent of my death,” he said, “as long as you have the courtesy to depart while I have strength left, so that I can finish the job and kill this wolf. The farmer moved away and the wolf attacked, only to be transfixed by the farmer’s spear that he had left with the stranger. The farmer carried the injured man back to his cottage but he died of his injuries and this was the beginning of a bitter feud between their descendants that cost many more lives.

 

 

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