In The Cave
From "The Welsh Fairy Book"
Jenkyn Thomas 
upon a time a Welshman was walking on London Bridge,
staring at the traffic, and wondering why there
were so many kites hovering about. He had come
to London after many adventures with thieves and
highwaymen, which need not be related here, in
charge of a herd of black Welsh cattle. He had
sold them with much profit, and with jingling
gold in his pocket he was going about to see the
sights of the city.
He was carrying a hazel staff in his hand, for
you must know that a good staff is as necessary
to a drover as teeth are to his dog. He stood
still to gaze at some wares in a shop (for at
that time London Bridge was shops from beginning
to end), when he noticed that a man was looking
at his stick with a long fixed look. The man after
a while came to him and asked him where he came
from. "I come from my own country," said the Welshman,
rather surlily, for he could not see what business
the man had to ask him such a question.
not take it amiss," said the stranger: "if you
will only answer my questions and take my advice,
it will be of greater benefit to you than you
imagine. Do you remember where you cut that stick."
The Welshman was still suspicious and said. "What
does it matter where I cut it?"
matters," said his questioner, "because there
is treasure hidden near the spot 'where you cut
that stick. If you remember the place and can
conduct me to it, I will put you in possession
of great riches."
The Welshman now understood that he had to deal
with a sorcerer, and he was greatly perplexed
as to what to do. On the one hand, he was tempted
by the prospect of wealth; on the other hand,
he knew that the sorcerer must have derived his
knowledge from devils, and he feared to have anything
to do with the powers of darkness. The cunning
man strove hard to persuade him, and at length
made him promise to show the place where he had
cut his hazel staff.
The Welshman and the magician journeyed together
to Wales. They went to Craig y Dinas, the Rock
of the Fortress, at the head of the Neath Valley,
near Pont Nedd Fechan, and the Welshman, pointing
to the stock or root of an old hazel, said, "This
is where I cut my stick."
us dig," said the sorcerer. They digged until
they came to a broad, flat stone. Prising this
up, they found some steps leading downwards. They
went down the steps and along a narrow passage
until they came to a door. "Are you brave," asked
the sorcerer, "will you come in with me?"
will," said the Welshman, his curiosity getting
the better of his fear.
They opened the door, and a great cave opened
out before them. There was a faint red light in
the cave, and they could see everything. The first
thing they came to was a bell. "Do not touch that
bell," said the sorcerer, "or it will be all over
with us both."
As they went further in, the Welshman saw that
the place was not empty. There were soldiers lying
down asleep, thousands of them, as far as ever
the eye could see. Each one was clad in bright
armour, the steel helmet of each was on his head,
the shining shield of each was on his arm, the
sword of each was near his hand, each had his
spear stuck in the ground near him, and each and
all were asleep. In the middle of the cave was
a great round table at which sat warriors, whose
noble features and richly-dight armour proclaimed
that they were not in the roll of common men.
Each of those, too, had his head bent down in
sleep. On a golden throne on the further side
of the round table was a King of gigantic stature
and august presence. In his hand, held below the
hilt, was a mighty sword with scabbard and haft
of gold studded with gleaming gems; on his head
was a crown set with precious stones which flashed
and glinted like so many points of fire. Sleep
had set its seal on his eyelids also.
they asleep?" asked the Welshman, hardly believing
his own eyes.
each and all of them," answered the sorcerer,
"but if you touch yonder bell, they will all awake."
long have they been asleep?"
over a thousand years!"
warriors, waiting for the time to come when they
shall destroy all the enemies of the Cymry and
repossess the Island of Britain, establishing
their own King once more at Caer Lleon."
are those sitting at the round table?"
are Arthur's Knights, Owain, the son of Urien;
Cai, the son of Cynyr; Gwalchmai, the son of Gwyar;
Peredur, the son of Efrawc; Geraint, the son of
Erbin; Trystan, the son of March; Bedwyr, the
son of Bedrawd; Cilhwch, the son of Celyddon;
Edeyrn, the son of Nudd; Cynon, the son of Clydno
"--" And on the golden throne?" broke in the Welshman--"
is Arthur himself, with his sword Excalibur in
his hand," replied the sorcerer.
Impatient by this time at the Welshman's questions,
the sorcerer hastened to a great heap of yellow
gold on the floor of the cave. He took up as much
as he could carry, and bade his companion do the
same. "It is time for us to go," he then said,
and he led the way towards the door by which they
But the Welshman was fascinated by the sight of
the countless soldiers in their glittering arms,
all asleep. "How I should like to see them all
awaking!" he said to himself. "I will touch the
bell--I must see them all arising from their sleep."
When they came to the bell, he struck it until
it rang through the whole place. As soon as it
rang, lo! the thousands of warriors leapt to their
feet and the ground beneath them shook with the
sound of the steel arms. And a, great voice came
from their midst, "Who rang the bell? Has the
The sorcerer was so frightened that he shook like
an aspen leaf. He shouted in answer," No, the
day has not come. Sleep on."
The mighty host was all in motion, and the Welsh-man's
eyes were dazzled as he looked at the bright steel
arms which illumined the cave as with the light
of myriad flames of fire.
said the voice again, "awake; the bell has rung,
the day is breaking. Awake, Arthur the Great"
shouted the sorcerer, ' it is still night; sleep
on, Arthur the Great."
A sound came from the throne. Arthur was standing,
and the jewels in his crown shone like bright
stars above the countless throng. His voice was
strong and sweet like the sound of many waters,
and he said, "My warriors, the day has not come
when the Black Eagle and the Golden Eagle shall
go to war. It is only a seeker after gold who
has rung the bell. Sleep on, my warriors, the
morn of Wales has not yet dawned."
A peaceful sound like the distant sigh of the
sea came over the cave, and in a trice the soldiers
were all asleep again. The sorcerer hurried the
Welshman out of the cave, moved the stone back
to its place, and vanished.
Many a time did the Welshman try to find the way
into the cave again, but though he dug over every
inch of the hill, he never found the entrance.
In The Cave - From "The Welsh Fairy Book"
© W. Jenkyn Thomas