This story has been told and retold countless times. It centres on Llyn y Fan Fach which nestles beneath the Black Mountain and on locations in the farmed lands below, which can still be reasily identified to day.
There was long ago a widow who lived at Blaensawdde. She had high hopes that her son would carry on the family but to her growing dismay he was betrothed to no woman.
Now one day he was watching his flocks beside Llyn y Fan Fach beneath the Black Mountain when he spied a beautiful woman sitting on a rock off the shore. Seeing her beauty, he immediately fell in love with her but being a simple shepherd, he stumbled over his words. As a token of his affection, he offered his barley bread to her. She however refused it, saying:
Hard baked is they bread,
I will not have thee
At that a breeze rippled the water and she was gone. He made his way home perplexed and told his mother this extraordinary tale. She thought to pack him some unbaked bread in case he should meet her again.
It was to be later the next day before his eyes were to fall upon her. As before she sat on a rock near the water’s edge. Once again he offered up his bread but once again she refused him, saying:
Unbaked is thy bread,
I will not have thee.
He made towards her but as he did she vanished amongst the sparkling reflections of the lake’s surface. That evening he returned home distraught. His mother who was a wise woman advised him to be patient and prepared some part-baked bread that he might offer it to her.
Although he returned to the lake before dawn the next day he was to wait until after nightfall before he was to see her for a third time. He had been about to depart in despair when she appeared in the moonlight. This time she accepted the part-baked bread, saying:
I will be yours,
but if you strike me three causeless blows,
I will return to the lake for evermore
He was of course overjoyed – he could not conceive of ever striking her and looked forward to a lifetime spent with this beautiful lady. The couple were married and moved down the mountain to Esgair Llaethdy near Myddfai.
In the spring their first child was born. Now shortly afterwards, the happy family were to attend a christening but seeing his wife was slow to depart the house, he patted her gently on the back to encourage her. No harm was intended, no force used, but even so this was the first causeless blow.
All went well with the couple and their new son. Indeed the next spring another child was on its way. Their second son was born in that summer. Now some time later, they attended the marriage of a cousin during which the lady cried. He wishing to reassure her, gently tapped her arm. Again no force was used, no harm intended but his was the second causeless blow.
He was alarmed at how thoughtless he had been and resolved not to strike her a causeless blow a third time. Time passed and a third son was born to them. Now some months later, the family was to attend a funeral and they entered the church to mourn the loss. She however laughed out loud in such a way as to discomfort her husband who was concerned that laughter was inappropriate. He gave her a gentle slap on the cheek. This was of course, the third causeless blow.
At that, she dashed out of the church and into the rain. He followed her through torrents but could not catch her. Past Esgair Llaethdy they went and on past Blaensawdde. Though he pursued her with all the speed he could muster he could not reach her before she vanished for a last time into the waters of Llyn y Fan Fach.
He searched the waters for hour upon hour but it was to be in vain. Her prophesy had been fulfilled. She was his no more. He was quite distraught but eventually turned for home.
He consoled himself with their three sons. They were to grow up strong and wise. Each of them chose healing as their mission in life and were to become the first in a long line of Physicians of Myddfai.