When young Huw plays his harp on the mountains above his father’s farm, he does not realize that the magic people of Wales, the Tylwyth Teg, are listening from within the Bearded Lake. But suddenly, among his father’s herd of black cattle, Huw finds a wonderful silver cow, sent up from the lake as a gift. It makes his father a rich man—until one day the farmer becomes greedy, and the Tylwyth Teg take their revenge.
Written in the soft, musical rhythm of Welsh speech and enriched by Susan Cooper’s own imaginative gifts, this old tale takes on new life. Warwick Hutton’s marvelously evocative illustrations capture the beauty of the Welsh countryside, the crafty greed of the farmer, and the magic of the Tylwyth Teg. Readers will return to this timeless retelling of a Welsh folktale again and again.
Related collections and offers
About the Author
Warwick Hutton had a strong conviction that pictures for children should have depth and distance, space and mood. His own books—Noah and the Great Flood, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nose Tree, Jonah and the Great Fish, Beauty and the Beast, Moses in the Bulrushes, and The Cricket Warrior—demonstrate that conviction. He resided in Cambridge, England.
Read an Excerpt
Once upon a time, high in the green hills of Wales, there lived a farmer named Gwilym Hughes. His small stone farmhouse was bleak and lonely, and his black cattle wandered the mountain.
Not far from his farm was a lake, up on a ledge of the mountain where you would not expect a lake to be. Today it is called Llyn Barfog in English, "the bearded lake" because of the starry white waterlilies that fringe its dark water. But the water-lilies were not there then.
Gwilym Hughes was a man with a heart as small and mean as his beady black eyes. Every day of the year he sent his small son Huw out to look after the cattle. Huw would rather have gone to school, like the boys in the village below the mountain, but Gwilym Hughes would have none of that. "I am a poor man," he said. "My son must work."
He would not even let Huw take his harp to the pasture, to make music while he watched the cows. "Do you want the cows dancing off the mountain?" he said. "I'm a poor man. It is milk for the market we need, not music in the empty air."
But every now and again, when his father was not looking, Huw would take his harp with him under his arm. Bronwen his mother noticed, but she said nothing. She only shook her head and smiled sadly, and gave him a hug.
Up on the mountain alone, Huw played his harp beside the lake, while the black Welsh cattle chewed away at the grass and paid him no attention. But suddenly one day he knew that somebody was listening, and he looked up from his music and saw a strange shining cow, looking at him from deep brown eyes.
Copyright © 1983 by Susan Cooper