Culhwch took himself to Arthur's court to ask his cousin the king for assistance in winning Olwen away from her father. Arthur's gatekeeper denied him entrance on the night of his arrival, explaining that "no one may enter but the son of a king of legiti mate rule or a craftsman who brings his craft. There is mash for your dogs and grain for your horse and hot hearty chops for you, with wine overflowing and delightful songs before you. Food for fifty men awaits you in the guest house; men from afar eat there, and the sons of foreign lands who offer no craft in Arthur's court. It will not be worse for you there than with Arthur in his court. A woman to sleep with you and delightful songs before your two knees."
Culhwch rejected the offers and demanded to be admitted at once. "I will do none of that. If you open the door it is well. If you do not open it, I will bring shame on your lord and slander on you. And I shall raise three shouts at the door of this ga te ... and every pregnant woman in this court will miscarry, and for those who are not pregnant, their wombs will become an affliction so that they will never be pregnant from this day on."
The gatekeeper went inside to confer with Arthur, recommending Culhwch as a surpassingly handsome youth, adn the king invited him in, against Kei's advice. Upon seeing the lad, Arthur promised him "any gift my mouth and tongue might name, as far as the w ind dires, as far as the rain wets, as far as the sun runs, as far as the sea spreads, as far as there is earth--except for my ship and mantle, and Caledfwlch my sword ... and Gwenhwyfar my wife."
Culhwch asked Arthur to trim his hair, and during the course of the haircut, he revealed the blood ties between them. Again Arthur promised him any favor he might ask, and this time Culhwch asked his cousin to get Olwen for him.
Arthur's men included Kei, whose "sword stroke ... no physician could heal ... amd Bedwyr, who never feared a quest on which Kei would go... Though he were one-handed, three warriors would not draw blood faster than he in the same field with them... Ar thur called Cynddylig the guide ... [and] Gwrhyr, Interpreter of Languages, who knew all languages. He called Gwalchmai [Gawain] the son of Gwyar, because he never came home without the quest he had gone seeking.
The company arrived at teh house of a shepherd who was Ysbaddaden' brother, and his wife, who was Culhwch's aunt. In her excitement over seeing them, the aunt "ran to meet them joyfully. Kei took a log from teh woodpile. And she came to meet them, to t ry to put her hands around their necks. Kei put the stake between her two hands. She squeezed the stake till it became a twisted twig. Kei said, `Woman, if you had squeezed me like that, no one else would ever need to love me. That's a bad love!'"
Culhwch's aunt summoned Olwen so that Culhwch might plead with her to run away with him, but she explained, "My father has asked me to pledge not to leave without his counsel, because there is life for him only until I go off with a husband. But I'll giv e you advice, if you will take it. Go ask my father for me. And however much he may ask of you, promise to get it. And you shall win me."
Culhwch obligingly went to visit Ysbaddaden, who gave him an impossible list of tasks to fulfill. To each demand Culhwch replied, "It's easy for me to manage that, though you think it's not easy."
Arthur's men immediately set to the tasks. To steal the giant Wrnach's sword, Kei posed as a sword burnisher and killed the giant with his own steel. Gwrhyr the Interpreter asked all the animals to help him find Mabon son of Modron, who was taken from h is mother when he was three days old. Kei and Bedwyr crossed to his island prison on the backs of salmon and freed the man. In Brittany, Arthur and his hound Cafall hunted Ysgithyrwyn Chief Boar and split his head to take his tusk.
When these and many other tasks were completed, "Culhwch set out, and with him ... those who wished ill to Ysbaddaden Chief Giant, taking the rare and difficult things with them and heading for his court. And Caw of Pictland came and shaved the giant's b eard--the flesh and skin to the bone and the two ears completely. And Culhwch said, `Have you been shaved, man?'
"`I have,' he said.
"`And is your daughter mine now?'
"`She is,' he said, `but you don't have to thank me for that. Instead thank Arthur, the man who made it happen for you. If I had my way, you would never win her. But it is time to take away my life.'
"...And that night Culhwch slept with Olwen. And she was his only wife as long as he lived. And the armies of Arthur dispersed, each to his own country. And thus did Culhwch win Olwen daughter of Ysbaddaden Chief Giant."
[Brengle, R.L. Arthur King of Britain: History, Chrinicle, Romance, & Criticism. Meredith Publishing Co.; New York, 1964.]
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