• Graham Watkins

The Dancing Innkeeper.


The Magician, Dick Spot was going to Llanrwst and had been walking all day. It was getting late and he was tired, thirsty and hungry when he reached the village of Henllan. Dick trudged through the village looking for somewhere to stop for the night. The Llindir Inn, opposite the church, looked inviting.

“Here will do,” said Dick and in he went.

The landlord, a miserable man, showed Dick a room.

“We’re busy so this is all we have available,” said the innkeeper and pointed to a straw mattress on the floor.

It was a shabby resting place but Dick was tired and past arguing. He dropped his bundle on the mattress and followed the landlord downstairs.

The innkeeper’s wife was as disagreeable as her husband. She poured a tankard of ale and handed it to Dick without speaking.

“I’m starving and could eat a side of beef. What food are you serving tonight?” asked Dick.

He sipped the beer and shuddered. It was sour.

“We have cheese and bread,” replied the landlady.

“Surely you have some succulent meat, simmering in a pot and potatoes to fill a hungry man that has travelled far?” said Dick.

“I’ve no time to cook for the likes of you. Cheese and bread is what you’ll have. That or nothing,” answered the woman.

The supper, when it came, was a morsel on a plate. The crust was stale and mouldy. The tiny piece of stinking cheese wouldn’t even fill a mouse. Dick called the landlord over to remonstrate with him.

“Your beer is flat and sour. Your cheese stinks and is bad. This really will not do,” said Dick.

The innkeeper picked up the tankard and swallowed a mouthful. Then he snatched the cheese and took a bite.

“My beer is sweet and our cheese is tasty fare. You are just a moaning traveller, like many we get here,” said the landlord and demanded to be paid.

“Six pence, for your meal and four more for the beer. Six and four make ten. Ten pence is what you owe,” he said.

The price was outrageous but Dick Spot had little choice. He opened his purse and counted out ten pennies. Knowing he was being swindled, Dick decided to teach the unpleasant publican and his wife a lesson.

“Six and four make ten. Landlord, will you count it o’er again?” asked Dick, to make sure.

Then, he summoned the landlord’s wife and bid her do the same. “Six and four make ten. Will you count it o’er again?”

To be doubly sure they called the servant girl to do the same.

Then Dick took a scrap of paper, scribbled a short rhyme on it, hid it under the table and went upstairs to bed.

Dick Spot slept badly that night. The mattress was hard and filled with bugs that bit him everywhere. His stomach churned and gurgled, upset by the sour beer and putrid cheese. He left early in the morning glad to be on his way. After he had gone, the servant girl arose and started to clear up. But as she worked she began to dance and sing a merry song.

“Six and four are ten. Count it o’er again,” she sang and danced frantically around the kitchen.

The landlord, on hearing the commotion, got up and went to investigate. As he entered the kitchen his legs began to twitch and he too started to dance.

“Six and four are ten. Count it o’er again,” he sang and skipped uncontrollably around the kitchen.

By now everyone in the tavern was awake and the landlady went to see what all the noise was about. She stood in the kitchen doorway and watched, amazed, as her husband danced furiously with the servant girl.

“Six and four are ten. Count it o’er again,” they sang as they danced. Tears ran down their faces but they could not stop.

The landlady was angry to see her husband dancing and enjoying himself with another woman. She went to separate them and stop their cavorting. As she entered the kitchen she also started to jiggle about.

“Six and four are ten. Count it o’er again,” the three of them sang as they danced.

Hearing the laughter and singing, villagers rushed to the tavern and soon a crowd of people had collected to watch the dancing landlord and his wife. Realising what had happened, one of the villagers ran after Dick Spot to ask for his help.

“How do we stop the dancing?” he asked, when he caught up with the magician.

Take the spell from under the table and burn it. Only when the paper is consumed, will the dance end,” answered the magician and went on his way.

The villager returned to the tavern and found the slip of paper hidden under the table. He read the spell and then threw it into the fire. As he did so the three exhausted dancers collapsed in a heap.

“What did the spell say?” asked an onlooker.

“Six and four are ten. Count it o’er again,” replied the villager.

Despite Dick Spot’s dancing lesson, miserable publicans continued to run the Llindir Inn. Some years later, an equally unhappy landlord, reputedly, murdered his wife after discovering her with another man. The unfortunate woman now haunts the premises and her ghostly antics have been featured on national television. In more recent times a different publican at the Llindir Arms, with a particularly unpleasant disposition, was referred to, by customers, as ‘Happy Al’ and described as the most miserable landlord in North Wales.