In a small village in Wales named Porthgain, there lived a fisherman named Idris. He would go down every day to the shore and climb into his boat, push off into the sea, and cast his net. He worked hard to catch his fish, and at the end of each day, he rowed back to shore with his bounty. He set aside enough fish to feed him for the next day and took the rest to market, where he sold them for just enough to afford some bread and milk, the rent on his small cottage, and the materials to repair his boat and nets.
One day, he went to his boat and saw a small lagomorph nibbling on a flower growing from the pebbles beside his craft. As he approached, the creature, a brown hare, turned to peer unafraid at him, and did not run. Idris began to think that he would be able to catch the hare and cook it for dinner, to give him something to eat besides fish. He took a net and crept towards the hare, but just as he got close enough to toss the net, the hare darted under a nearby rock. Idris gazed at the animal, feeling somewhat lugubrious.
He was then surprised to hear the hare say, 'I hope you're proud of yourself, that's all.'
Idris was speechless for a few moments, then said, 'I'm sorry. I did not know that you were anything other than a normal hare.'
The animal gazed out from under his rock and spoke once more. 'And why should that matter? Would I not want to live unharmed by a hungry human if I were only a normal hare?'
Idris thought about this for a moment, and finally replied, 'You have a point. But do not we also have a right to live, unharried by the constant pangs of hunger?'
'You also have a point,' was the hare's reply. 'Then for your wisdom, I shall grant you a boon. Within the week, you will find your one true love.'
Idris was a little disturbed by this, and protested, 'It is all I can do to support myself now. I do not need to support another in my small home.'
And the hare stated, 'Then I shall have to make sure that your one true love is not a burden to you, but a blessing.' And before the fisherman could say another word, the hare fled from his hiding hole and was gone.
It was four days later, when Idris had quite forgotten about his encounter with the hare, that he was rowing to shore after a day of fishing, and he spied a form sitting upon an eyot near the water's edge. He was a little concerned, so he set out towards the islet. Before he arrived, however, he heard a beautiful and sonorous voice singing the loveliest song he had ever heard. He stopped his rowing to listen to the sweet timbre of the song, the glorious dulcet melody and the words that sounded hauntingly familiar, although they were in a language he had never heard.
Finally, the song stopped, and he steered his craft towards the rock once more. When he arrived, he found a beautiful mermaid sitting combing her hair. 'Good day to you, sir,' she greeted him.
'Good day to you as well, my lady. May I ask about the song you were just singing? It was the finest sound that ever I have heard.'
'It was a lullaby that my mother used to sing to me.'
The two fell to talking, and they were so pleased with each other's company that they agreed to meet again the following day at sunset. And so began a long relation between the man and the fae woman, wherein they would meet every dusk and talk. Idris was so enchanted with her beauty and her gentle nature that it never occurred to him to tell anyone of his new friend.
After they had been meeting this way for a few months, Idris confided in his friend that he loved her with all his heart, madly, desperately, and eternally. The mermaid, whose name was Myf, confessed that she had grown quite fond of him as well. They kissed for the first time on that night, clasped in each others' arms, his rough shirt scratchy against her bare chest, her lips cold against his, but neither noticed the discomfort, so deeply were they in love with one another.
They met this same way for weeks afterwards, always parting most sorrowfully from one another. Finally, one night, Idris said to his love that he wanted to be with her forever, never parting. Myf pointed out that this was not possible, as she was a creature of the sea, and he was bound forever to the land. And for days after, they repeated this scene: Idris saying he wanted to be with her forever, and Myf saying that it was impossible.
One dark night, some weeks later, after Myf had bid her love farewell and splashed away into the waves, Idris remained on the eyot, staring off into the murky water. Suddenly he was overcome with such a powerful longing that he could not stop himself from diving into the ocean after his love. He swam and he swam, trying desperately to reach his fleeing paramour before his breath failed.
The last thing he remembered was her hand clasping his, her fingers entwined in his own, before the world went dark.
They say he still haunts the shore to this day, always seeking to meet up again with his faerie lover. But she does not come back to that place.
I will leave you with that for this week. Until next week,
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