Wild Goats Of Snowdonia
Cadwalader, the goatherd, grazed his beasts on the hills of Eryri. One, he named Jenny, was tame and soon became more of a pet than a wild animal. He groomed her regularly and chatted away as if she was human.
One evening, something spooked her and she turned tail and fled off up the mountain. Cadwalader, running after her, calling her, begging her to return. The slope was steep and slippy and he soon he began to tire. As if to tease him, she would stop until he had almost caught up, then run again. He was wet, he was cold and his feet throbbed painfully. He was furious with her for running, but his shouts did not make any difference.
Jenny came to a crag with a steep chasm below, beyond was another crag and the high mountain beyond. She stopped and turned and looked at Cadwalader as if to say, “follow me if you can!” He was exhausted, he was angry. In temper, he picked up a rock and as she jumped from the crag he threw it as hard as he could. Striking her in the side, she yelped and fell to the rocks beneath. “What have I done?” he thought to himself. Fearing the worse, he peered over the edge to look for her. He climbed down the chasm and sat beside her, she was alive, just! He stroked her head and cried “Jenny, please, please forgive me!”
He sat with her head in his arms, stroking her hair and gently whispering to her. As the day drew to an end she gradually grew quieter and calmer.
Just then, a thin shaft of moonlight pierced the clouds and when he looked down, Jenny was no longer a goat.
She had turned into a beautiful young woman, long, soft hair and big brown eyes. Also, far from deaths door, she was smiling and looking quite smug. “Cadwalader” she said, “at last, I have found you!” His heart began to beat faster and stronger, he could almost see it beating under his thick woollen clothes.
She was beautiful, but wasn’t she also a goat? Confused and not sure what to do, should he run, should he stay? Then she stood, took his hand and set off up the mountainside. He felt strange, he felt scared, but something made him follow. Her hands were soft like a womans, but every now and then he was sure that he could feel a hoof. Her laughing and talking was lively, soothing but kind, but every now and then he was sure he could hear a bleat. He was uneasy, what’s happening? Where are we going? Should I run? Should I hide?
High on the mountain, they came across a wide, rocky ledge. It was full of goats of many sizes and colours, wearing shaggy beards and log curved horns. Kids played, billy goats fought.
The noise of the bleating was almost deafening. Jenny pushed her way through the flock, leading Cadwalder to the biggest billy of them all.
“King Billy” she said, “this is the one.”
“Hmmmm,” grunted the King, “he looks a bit feeble to me, I had expected something better.”
“He will be better after” Jenny said, hopefully.
“After what?” Cadwalader replied, “what’s happening, what’s going on?”
The King turned and looked at Cadwalader, “you have been chosen, and bought before us, to marry young Jenny and to become one of us!”
“NO!!! I don’t want to be a goat, I don’t want to be a goat, I have a family, I am happy as a person, please, please let me go.”
“You don’t want to be a goat?” roared the King. “We are the lords of creation, if you choose not to join us, then you must reap the consequences!” At that point, his eyes turned black as the night and he charged at Cadwalader, knocking him off the ledge and into a deep ravine to his death.
After a long search, Cadwalader’s family eventually found his crumpled body, they looked up to from where he had fell to see a herd of goats bleating loudly (almost as if they were laughing.)
They vowed never to keep goats again, sold their flock and bought sheep instead.
That’s why all the farmers of Eryri keep sheep.
If you are lucky enough, you might catch a glimpse of a wild goat, magnificent and fleet of foot. But be aware, NEVER, get close enough to stroke its hair!!!!