Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/68

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56 The Voice of the Stone of Destiny,

The changes I thus venture to postulate are steps in the disintegration of the myth. A Welsh tale now to be cited has taken a further step in that it simply credits the instru- ment of divination with the diagnosis of blood royal, the practical purpose of determining the succession to the kingdom having disappeared. According to Giraldus Cam- brensis it happened that in the time of Henry I. Gruffydd ap Rhys ap Tudor, who, although he only held of the king one commote, namely, a fourth part of the cantref of Caio, yet was reputed as lord in Deheubarth, was returning from court by way of Llangorse Lake, in Brecknockshire, with Milo, Earl of Hereford and Lord of Brecknock, and Payn Fitzjohn, who then held Ewyas, two of the king's secre- taries and privy councillors. It was winter, and the lake was covered with water-fowl of various kinds. Seeing them, Milo, partly in joke, said to Gruffydd : " It is an old saying in Wales that if the natural prince of Wales, coming to this lake, command the birds upon it to sing, they will all immediately sing." Gruffydd replied : " Do you, there- fore, who now bear sway in this country, command them first." Both Milo and Payn having made the attempt in vain, Gruffydd dismounted from his horse, fell on his knees with his face to the East, and after devout prayers to God, stood up, and making the sign of the cross on his forehead and face, cried aloud : " Almighty and all-knowing God, Lord Jesus Christ, show forth here to-day thy power ! If thou hast made me lineally to descend from the natural princes of Wales, I command these birds in thy name to declare it." Forthwith all the birds, according to their kind, beating the water with outstretched wings, began altogether to sing and proclaim it. No wonder that all who were present were amazed and confounded, and that Milo and Payn reported it to the king, who is said to have taken it philosophically enough. " By the death of Christ ! " (his customary oath), he replied, " it is not so much to be wondered at. For although by our great power we