Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Ghost from the Past

From fifteen feet away we see some of the men turning to leave, pulling up their hoods and beginning to walk toward the camera. Then we see Manawyddan in closeup as he walks. Pryderi comes up beside him.

Pryderi: "Are you going to visit Caswallon?"

Manawyddan: "I know he's my cousin, but I haven't the heart to see him in Bendigeidfran's place. Old though he must be, for all his magic."

Pryderi: "We all know that though you're a prince, you've never claimed land. If you can't bear to stay here in Llogres, may I offer you my home in Dyfed? My wife Cigfa is very fond of you, and my mother Rhiannon will be there. I know you've always admired her. If you like, I'll ask her what she thinks of becoming your wife."

From behind, in daylight, we see Pryderi and Manawyddan on foot approaching the walls of the castle at Arberth. Cigfa, Pryderi's wife, runs out to greet them in the snow and is enveloped by Pryderi's arms.

Pryderi: "Cigfa!"

His voice sounds muffled. He hugs his wife, moving slightly from side to side, and won't let go. She repeatedly pats his back in a rather clumsy comforting gesture.

Meanwhile Rhiannon, who runs more slowly, arrives and greets Manawyddan with a gaze of deep affection, both hands outstretched to clasp his. The two look into each other's eyes with a bond of true understanding, a communion of souls.

We see all four side by side, arms around each other's backs, radiant with joy, walking across the courtyard to the castle, a scattering of courtiers in the background smiling their happiness at the reunion. The people who have been living in the castle are dressed in simple and slightly frayed garments, but no one is dirty or unkempt. Rhiannon's birds flutter over the new arrivals. Cigfa still appears young, while Rhiannon's hair has streaks of silver among the dark locks. Both are still beautiful.

Pryderi (as they all go up the steps together): "Your birds have been doing their work, mother. You've hardly aged."

Rhiannon: "It's been a long wait, my darling."

We see Manawyddan and Rhiannon from about ten feet away. Manawyddan is still dressed in Faery armour. Both of them are inside a circle of small upright stones. They have taken off their cloaks and are on hands and knees bending down so that their faces are against the ground, leaning forward to peer in front of them. Next we see them from above and behind.

Rhiannon (without moving her head): "So... what are we doing?"

Manawyddan: "No jokes, my love, I'm concentrating."

Rhiannon gets up with a sigh. We switch to the previous point of view as she puts on her cloak and walks out of frame. Then we see her, head cocked to one side, surveying her husband, who is behind the camera.

Rhiannon: "Sad it is, the lengths to which some men will go to get a bit of attention from their wives."

We see Manawyddan from the side as he crouches in his uncomfortable position.

Rhiannon's voice: "Not time to start planting, is it?" She gives a little sigh, and continues with feigned patience in an even more singsong voice. "That's all right, dear. You couldn't possibly have known."

Manawyddan (not moving): "Six days, maybe."

Rhiannon’s voice: "Seven."

Manawyddan (still not moving): "Six."

Rhiannon’s voice: "You know, what we need is a bigger calendar ring."

Manawyddan grunts noncommittally, and there is a short pause.

"It's a complex problem, and you'll pardon my saying it as shouldn't, but if I were kneeling in the snow with my tail in the air and thinking about warm cakes fresh off the fire and cursing my knees and the presumption of my wife on a cold morning... I'd be looking at the third median. I say this not from a wish to criticize, you understand, but out of sheer pity." As usual, this is delivered in a singsong voice.

Manawyddan: (casually through his teeth, without moving, and also in a singsong voice): "You've already checked this, haven't you, Rhiannon?"

Rhiannon's voice (like a tiny bell): "Yes."

Manawyddan (as before): "You just thought you'd go along with me, without saying it had already been calculated."

Rhiannon's voice: "Not at all." She continues primly. "You're showing me how 'tis done."

Manawyddan (still without moving): "And why am I bending over in the snow this morning, Rhiannon?"

Rhiannon's voice (still prim): "To learn that dignity comes from within." She pauses, and finishes off more quickly. "Which is a good thing in your case, isn't it?" She is suddenly overcome with mirth: "Oh, I'm so sorry for you!"

Manawyddan gives her a look from ground level as he begins to pick himself up. Next we see him from Rhiannon's point of view as he approaches her. He stops about five feet away, his back hunched, head held stiffly downward, arms hanging away from his body at his sides, trying not to laugh. He looks rather pathetic, and utterly ridiculous in his Faery armour, complete with peaked cap.

Manawyddan (in a voice deliberately strained and pretending to be cutting): "Madam." We see Rhiannon from his point of view, doubled up in laughter and flapping her long hands in dismay. "Consider my position."

Rhiannon (still laughing): "I was doing that." She regains her composure, widens her eyes and regards him with her head cocked on one side, turned in the opposite direction like a sparrow to look at her husband. She speaks pointedly. "T'was a new low."

We see Manawyddan again as before. His face is contorted now.

Manawyddan (shaking with laughter and pretending it's outrage): "I have something to say." His voice raises in a squeak of pained desperation at the end, and it now continues in the same comic tone. His body starts to shake all over.

Rhiannon (feigning nervousness): "Oh please, don't thank me."

He becomes defiant and suspicious, though without moving his head or changing his facial expression.

Manawyddan: "It's the hat, isn't it?"

Rhiannon's voice (choked with laughter): "No, no, I love the hat!"

Manawyddan looks straight at her, his head lowered, and his voice becomes louder.

"I'll have you know, madam, that this hat is just as respectable a hat as any other, and that if you're going to take that tone with me–"

We see Rhiannon as before. She is shrieking.

Manawyddan's voice (continuing the sentence without pause): "–you can wear it yourself."

We see him enter the frame, stick his hat on her head and stalk out. Rhiannon is left with the hat over her face.

We see the entire court on an outing in the meadow below the dark presence of the Gorsedd Arberth. The season has changed. A group of children dances around a Maypole, complete with bright ribbons of red, orange, violet, yellow, green and blue, accompanied by a harp and pipe. Rhiannon and Manawyddan are wearing their robes but not their hats. Sunlight streams across the meadow from between grey clouds, but the mound in the distance is under an overcast sky. A closeup shows Rhiannon and Pryderi in profile.

Rhiannon (to Pryderi): "The land is still good. I think my birds had something to do with it."

Pryderi: "Mother, I've always wanted to visit the Gorsedd Arberth. I think the time has come."

Rhiannon (fondly): "It's not something to be taken lightly, my love. Perhaps all four of us can go together to give thanks for our good fortune."

We see Rhiannon, Pryderi, Manawyddan and Cigfa sitting silhouetted in the light at the entrance to the tomb. The countryside seen through the entrance is shrouded in mist. The four people are sitting with their backs to the camera, which is inside the tomb. The two women are fanning themselves with large leaves. Then we see Manawyddan and Rhiannon.

Manawyddan (quietly, so the others cannot hear): "I don't like this mist. I wonder what will come of it."

Rhiannon stops fanning herself and looks at him with big eyes.

Rhiannon: "From such a wizard as you, Manawyddan, those words are ominous."

We see the four of them in the mist, descending the steep slope which Pwyll's courtiers climbed long ago. Pryderi is first, and helps Cigfa. Manawyddan is third, and helps Rhiannon. We hear the ambient sound of the walkers' footsteps. From behind, we see them walking slowly and looking wonderingly around them on flat land. The mist is clearing, revealing the lush, pleasant landscape of Dyfed but without a single sign of human or animal life in the small fields edged with blackberry tangles.

Cigfa (in a small voice): "Where has everyone gone?"

She points suddenly, with urgency.

"People were ploughing there, I remember it!"

Manawyddan (to himself): "What manner of magic is this?"

Rhiannon (faintly): "We should have known better."

Still there is no background music. From behind, we see the four enter the castle courtyard. The sound of their tread echoes uncomfortably in the silence. The building is intact, but not a soul is present except themselves. We see parts of the castle which ought not to be deserted –the kitchen with food half prepared on the counters, the stables empty. Everything is supplied with the necessary equipment. Only the people and animals are missing, as though they suddenly disappeared in the middle of their usual work.

The four are eating cold food in the dining hall, looking thoughtful and miserable.

Manawyddan: "We could go into Llogres. It is my country."

Rhiannon: "And do what?"

Manawyddan: "Pryderi and I can become craftsmen. Henffordd is not far from here."

The camera approaches Manawyddan, looking slightly down at him. He is in worn working clothes, carrying two large earthenware water jars to a tiny cottage made of wattle and clay with a moss covered sod roof, built into a hillside. It is rather shocking to see him dressed in this way, and without his hat and robe. A small horse eats oats from a feedbag by a tidy vegetable garden.

Since the camerawork is less than perfectly smooth, we understand that we take the point of view of a person approaching. Manawyddan turns toward the camera and moves his head slightly from side to side as if recognizing a lineup of acquaintances by looking at all their faces. He puts down his jars.

We look up at a semicircle of five haggard men standing threateningly with wooden clubs, a wood and flint axe, an antler scythe and an antler pickaxe. The ringleader in the middle has both arms crossed in front of his chest.

Ringleader: "Are you the upstart saddler that's taken away our customers? These are hard times, and we don't like strangers getting in our way."

From the ringleader's point of view, we see Manawyddan with Pryderi approaching from behind him at a run.

Pryderi (breathless, standing behind Manawyddan with a bone awl in his hands): "What's the meaning of this?"

Manawyddan (calmly, without moving his head): "They say we're bad for business."

Voice of the ringleader (from out of frame): "Magic, I call it. Evil magic, mayhap."

Pryderi (impulsively brandishing his awl): "I'll show you a thing or two about–"

Manawyddan (again without moving his head, but pushing Pryderi back with his hand): "We'll be moving to the next cantrev at daybreak tomorrow."

From the other side of the cottage a closeup shows Manawyddan and Pryderi facing the camera, which is tracking backward to accommodate the fact that they're walking toward it. In the background, beyond the cottage, the five men are walking away, back where they came from, and a flock of sheep picks at the forest beyond, amid the tangle of blackberry bushes.

Pryderi (angrily, thrusting his neck out): "What are you doing? We could take on those fools easily."

Manawyddan (without moving his head): "Peace."

Pryderi: "Your saddles are better than theirs. That's why everyone buys them."

Manawyddan: "I know."

Pryderi: "It's all fair dealing."

Manawyddan (stopping and looking at Pryderi): "Who's to say some magic didn't accidentally get into my work? I was never trained as a saddler."

The two are standing facing each other.

Pryderi: "What shall we take up instead?"

Manawyddan: "We'll make shields."

The two begin walking again and the camera begins tracking as before. Pryderi is looking at Manawyddan, but Manawyddan is just looking straight ahead.

Pryderi: "Do we know anything about that?"

Manawyddan (not moving his head): "We'll experiment."

We see the inside of a small house with clay walls and a ceiling of thatch. There are wooden stools at a wooden table, and a fire pit in the centre. Shoulder high wooden partitions afford some privacy to the two sleeping areas at opposite sides of the room. From the rafters of branches hang an amazing array of herbs, upside down, covering the whole ceiling, and strips of smoked meat. Jars decorated in the 'grooved ware' style lie on low worktables, along with berries, mushrooms and leafy vegetables, and also mortars and pestles of various sizes.

Rhiannon is cutting root vegetables, and Cigfa is grinding flour behind her, using a round grindstone and a large saddle shaped stone quern. A small leather sack of meal lies beside her. Both women, like the men, are dressed as regular peasant folk. Manawyddan and Pryderi sit on plain wooden chairs at a table facing each other, over an oil lamp made from a hollowed out turnip. A circle has been cut at the top to make a lid, and the sides have been cut in crescent moon shapes which have been removed to show the light inside. The effect is much like a small jack-o-lantern. Pryderi sits crosslegged, Manawyddan does not.

Manawyddan: "Pryderi." (He pauses.) "The shield makers in this area want to kill us. I was told this morning. Something about how much pleasure it would bring to so many."

Pryderi (impetuously, banging his fist upon the table): "Let's kill them first."

Manawyddan: "No, we'll move again."

Pryderi moves back in his seat, turning toward the camera, leans one elbow on the table and looks down, sighing in frustration.

Pryderi: "Flexibility is all very well in its place, but it's not always the thing...."

Cigfa (bending a carrot, calls): "In a fresh garden vegetable, for example."

Manawyddan: "If you think you're going to change my mind, you can forget it."

Rhiannon: "Oh, he's putting his foot down, how sweet."

Pryderi: "Well, at least the women aren't fighting."

Cigfa: "Oh, we're the best of friends."

Rhiannon: "Yes, we've decided that you're the enemy." The two women laugh, and Pryderi's voice is heard over their laughter.

Pryderi: "...very bad influence!"

Rhiannon: "Oh, squiddles and twiddles."

Cigfa (looking at her husband, head inclined in one direction and turned in the other): "Did you notice the cunning way–"

Pryderi: "Yes, we heard the cleverness. I surrender unconditionally."

Cigfa (tossing her head): "That sort of underhanded technique will get you nowhere with me, my man."

Manawyddan: "Cigfa, how do you mediate between mother and son?"

Cigfa cocks her head away from Manawyddan, looks at him intently with her huge eyes, and smiles charmingly. She speaks in a singsong voice, feigning a dramatic outburst.

"I'm torn by internal strife." She raises her head, still inclined, and glares at him, lips suddenly pursed. "Imagine the suffering."

Pryderi: "You've been seeing entirely too much of my mother."

We see the interior of a shoemaker's workshop. Pryderi sits crosslegged on a stool while Manawyddan finishes work on a curly toed moccasin fitted upside down upon a wooden foot shape. He is sewing with sinew and a bone needle.

Pryderi: "It's happening again."

Manawyddan (not looking up from his work): "What's happening?"

Pryderi: "You're too good again." Suddenly enthusiastic, he leans forward: "Let's kill them this time."

We see Rhiannon inside their third cottage standing at a stone basin that sits on an unfinished wooden table. A harp plays the tune of 'The Holly and the Ivy'. The doorway is visible behind Rhiannon, and sunlight streams through it. She is scrubbing earthenware dishes in hot water. A wooden cup of pale green lye powder stands next to the tub. A peck basket stands outside the open door, with a small, clean trowel. The basket is full of sphagnum moss used for hygienic purposes.

Beside Rhiannon, Cigfa stands at a firepit in the middle of the room, over which hangs a ceramic cauldron from a tripod made from the trunks of saplings. Against a wall is a classic birch broom. Cigfa is ladling soup into wooden bowls with a wooden ladle. Next to the fire is a rough wooden bench from which she takes the bowls and to which she returns them. The camera assumes Manawyddan's point of view, at the other side of the washtub, looking at Rhiannon's face.

Rhiannon (archly, caught between irritation and amusement): "Can't you put some sort of control on it, dear?"

Cigfa (sourly): "I'd have thought it was easy enough to be a bad craftsman."

Rhiannon (looking down, amused): "It's safer to be ordinary, isn't it?"

Manawyddan's voice (from out of frame): "And this from the one who was offended when I called her attractive."

Rhiannon (drily): "Unearthly beauty, my love."

There is a pause. She clears her throat and looks pointedly beyond the camera. Suddenly she becomes absurdly agitated, rolling her enormous eyes and flapping her hands frenetically. Her voice rises to a squeak.


Manawyddan (suavely): "What can I say? A mere mortal such as I...."

Rhiannon (becoming all sweetness, sings): "That is the correct response. Well, back to business. I suggest we go home and see whether there's been a change."

We see Pryderi in the doorway.

Pryderi (assertively): "Enough of this moving. It's about time I put my foot down. I'm prince of Dyfed, and I say we stay." He bangs his fist against the doorway.

Rhiannon's voice (singing, from out of frame): "Go."

Pryderi (sternly): "Stay. And that's my final word on the subject." He turns to go out.

Next we see the four of them from behind. They are riding back to Dyfed on horses, their bags hung upon the saddles. They are only barely within earshot, yet we hear them clearly.

Rhiannon's voice (with a little sigh): "Now isn't everyone better off? I can't understand why people resist my ideas."

Manawyddan's voice: "You didn't persuade me, I agreed."

Rhiannon's voice (artificially high): "Yes, yes, of course." Cigfa giggles.

Manawyddan's voice (pointedly): "I'm not giving in on this."

Rhiannon (in a singsong voice): "I wouldn't expect it of you, dear." There is a pause. "I don't mean to be a bad woman."

Manawyddan (overlapping): "Oh, never mind." The other two are laughing.

We are in the same old growth rainforest where we first saw Pwyll. We see Manawyddan and Pryderi riding through the forest. Both are wearing black wide brimmed conical hats, sealskin boots and woolen capes, and look much as Pwyll did. We see something white amid the green branches, and observe that it is a boar. A long distance shot shows the dolmen we have seen before in a clearing partly obscured by trees, and something white running into its open doorway. It is the boar.

A closeup shows Rhiannon in a room at the castle in Arberth looking sideways over her raised shoulder at the camera, her face a picture of scorn. She wears her robe but not her hat.

Rhiannon (cuttingly): "You mean you let my son go into that place and came back to me without trying to save him?"

The words 'my' and 'son' are spoken coldly and distinctly. Her mood changes as she hurries out of the room away from the camera, her long skirts swishing imperiously through the doorway. Her head does not turn as she speaks on her way out.

"This is the last you see of me, coward. I will go and get him."

We see Cigfa weeping broken heartedly in a chair. She is directly in front of the camera, but her face is hidden in her hands and she is bent over with her head on her knees.

Manawyddan's voice (gently): "Cigfa. We will get them back."

He kneels in front of her and takes her hands. She starts in sudden terror. Manawyddan is surprised. When he recovers, he speaks tenderly.

"Lady, you have no cause for fear. I'll not touch a hair on your head. You have no truer friend than me, and you'll be protected with all the respect you deserve."

Cigfa looks up a little, beyond the camera on its left side, and her little round face with its pointed chin attempts a smile.

An establishing shot shows a small grainfield with the Gorsedd Arberth looming dark behind it. The wind is blowing and Manawyddan is seen in the distance walking past, looking at his crop.

A closeup follows from ground level showing shorn stalks in the field. Manawyddan's feet come into the frame and stop there. From below we see his frowning face against the sky. A wide angle shot from the other side of the shorn field shows him in the distance looking around in amazement with hands on his hips.

A closeup shows a pregnant mouse hanging by her tail from a man's thumb and forefinger by the light of a lamp which is out of frame. We can guess that the man is Manawyddan and that the place is a room in the castle at Arberth. Next another closeup shows Cigfa, her face lit by the glow, facing the camera and looking past it slightly upward and to one side, for she is sitting.

Cigfa: "It is unseemly for a man as noble as yourself to hang vermin. Let it go."

We see the suspended mouse again.

Manawyddan's voice (out of frame, quietly): "Lady, this is no ordinary rodent. And if I could hang them all, I would, for what they have done to this land. Tomorrow we go to the Gorsedd Arberth." The voice becomes truly terrible in its deadly calm. "It is time."

From ground level at the top of the Gorsedd Arberth, above the tomb, we look upward at Manawyddan –still bareheaded– and Cigfa, both of them crouching over something small. A slight wind swirls around them. The camera approaches, tracking forward and upward to disclose the fact that Manawyddan is tightening a tiny noose around the mouse's neck and that Cigfa is holding down a miniature scaffold on which the creature is standing. Cigfa and Manawyddan are in the foreground at lower right of the frame. Cigfa tries to hide a smile.

Manawyddan (with one of his slow and bemused smiles, bringing his head down to hers): "And what are you smirking at over there?"

Cigfa (rolling her eyes, but regaining some of her composure): "Sorry."

We see a young man appear over the side of the mound, walking toward the camera. It is a scholar climbing up, wearing the black robe of a wizard's apprentice. He carries a basket full of ceramic vials. First we see the top of his 'mortar board' hat, then gradually his whole figure appears. Manawyddan stands up so that we see only his legs. Cigfa, closer to centre frame, remains crouching with averted eyes, either uneasy or else just embarrassed.

Scholar: "Good day to you."

Manawyddan: "Welcome."

Scholar: "What sort of work are you engaged in, my father?"

Manawyddan: "Hanging a thief I caught stealing from me."

Scholar (with a cold smile and arched eyebrows): "Is that not a rather absurd thing to do?"

Manawyddan: "I caught it, and it will hang."

The scholar continues on his way out of the frame, and Manawyddan crouches down again. The last shot is then repeated almost exactly in duplicate. This time the man who arrives is a warrior in the leather armour of the Faery.

Warrior: "Good day to you."

Manawyddan: "Welcome."

Warrior: "What sort of work are you engaged in, my brother?"

Manawyddan: "Hanging a thief I caught stealing from me."

Warrior: "This ill befits the dignity of your station. You demean yourself."

Manawyddan: "I caught it, and it will hang."

The warrior continues on his way as the scholar did, and Manawyddan crouches down to his work again. Another repetition of the shot commences, proceeding almost exactly as before. This time the stranger is a wizard in a royal blue hat and robe with a long carved staff.

Wizard: "Good day to you."

Manawyddan: "Welcome."

Wizard: "What sort of work are you engaged in, my son?"

Manawyddan: "Hanging a thief I caught stealing from me."

Wizard: "It is a sin to victimize an animal that knows not what it has done."

Manawyddan (standing up): "I caught it, and it will hang."

Note that we see only Manawyddan's legs as he speaks, now and during the conversation to follow.

Wizard (suddenly businesslike): "I'll pay you for it."

Manawyddan: "I must name my price."

There is a pause.

Wizard: "Agreed."

Manawyddan: "There is no price on a soul. What I demand is the return of Rhiannon and Pryderi, and of all the citizens of Dyfed whom you spirited away to your world, and of all their animals and possessions."

There is another pause, during which the wizard appears to be thinking.

"And I demand that neither you nor anyone else you're in league with ever trouble our world again, or anyone in it."

We see the wizard alone as Manawyddan's voice continues out of frame.

"And I demand to know who is my prisoner."

Wizard: "She is my wife."

As he speaks he transforms into Gwawl, golden from head to toe.

"All the people of my land came to destroy your crop in the form of mice. She was unable to return to our world as fast as the others."

We see the full figure of a well dressed pregnant woman, also gold from head to toe, materialize beside Cigfa, who is rising from her knees. The woman stands demurely, eyes downcast.

Manawyddan's voice: "But why did you want to destroy my crop? Why did you kidnap our people?"

Gwawl's voice: "Perhaps your wife can explain."

We see the full figures of Rhiannon and Pryderi materialize.

Rhiannon (outraged): "Gwawl! Fancy meeting you!"

She sees Manawyddan and rushes forward past the camera. Next we see her hugging him.

Rhiannon: "My lord, I was too bold."

Manawyddan (laughing gently): "My lady, it is your finest feature."

Rhiannon pulls back and looks up at him, her head is cocked to one side and turned in the opposite direction, her lips are pursed and her enormous eyes widening. Manawyddan smiles indulgently.

Rhiannon (in a singsong voice): "Married to a terrible woman."

Manawyddan: "A treasure, my dear. Now, where were we?"

Rhiannon: "You were admiring me."

Manawyddan (raising his eyebrows): "Ah yes, so I was."

The tune of 'The Twa' Corbies' begins and swells with emotion as the mist filling the frame parts to reveal a view of Dyfed from atop the Gorsedd Arberth –a land of thick forests, sparkling lakes and lush hedgerows fringing small sunlit fields. The camera sweeps over the land to reveal houses built into hillsides, the market which is again full of busy people, meadows with bare patches full of sheep and bordered by low walls made of small flat stones. It swoops up again to reveal a panorama punctuated by the castle of Arberth, catching the sunlight in the distance.

back to introduction for the next episode

photo of Dyfed countryside courtesy Alastair Pearson
return to mainpage