desperate flight carried him through these dense lakeside
the babies’ development seemed retarded, and, if anything,
they grew uglier all the time.
This aroused the parents’ suspicions, and the father
eventually declared that the boys were not his sons.
In despair, the woman went to see a gwr cyfarwydd
(wise man or conjurer), who offered traditional advice
on how to recognize changelings. The woman returned home, and the next day, while her husband and
a farmhand were at work in the fields, she set her trap.
full view of the twins, she began to prepare the meal
for the day—in an eggshell!
The boys, curious, asked what she was doing.
When she replied that she was preparing the main
meal of the day, the children, in astonishment, revealed
themselves as changelings by blurting out:
Acorns before oak I knew,
An egg before a hen,
Never one hen’s egg stew
Enough for harvest man.
Upon hearing this, the wife seized the changelings,
dragged them outside, and threw them into the pool. The fairies immediately appeared, rescued their young, and restored
the woman’s own.
loss of fairy sight
story and others of its type all follow the same pattern.
The eggshell test and giveaway fairy recital are
consistent elements. One
curious characteristic of the tales is that fairies only
steal male babies. The
general explanation for this behavior was that the fairy
people were so sickly and ugly that they hoped that interbreeding
would strengthen their race. The deficiencies in fairy males are also illustrated by the fact
that there are no stories of fairy men marrying human girls. On the other hand, there are a great many accounts
of young men capturing and subsequently marrying fairy maidens. These marriages were usually on the condition
that the husbands never struck their wives, either needlessly
or with iron. In
such circumstances, the fairy woman invariably disappeared.