Caer Madoc is a sleepy little Welsh town, lying two miles from the sea coast. Far removed from the busy centres of civilisation, where the battle of life breeds keen wits and deep interests, it is still, in the opinion of its inhabitants, next to London, the most important place in the United Kingdom. It has its church and three chapels, its mayor and corporation, jail, town hall, and market-place; but, more especially, it has its fairs, and awakes to spasmodic jollity on such occasions, which come pretty often—quite ten times in the year. In the interims it resigns itself contentedly to its normal state of lethargy.
The day on which my story opens had seen the busiest and merriest fair of the year, and the evening found the little town looking jaded and disreputable after its few hours of dissipation, the dusty High Street being littered with scraps of paper, orange-peel, and such like débris. The merry-go-rounds and the "shows" had departed, the last donkey-cart had rattled out of the town, laden with empty gingerbread boxes.
In the stable of the Red Dragon three men stooped in conclave over the hind foot of a horse. Deio, the ostler, and Roberts, the farrier, agreed in their verdict for a wonder; and Caradoc Wynne, the owner of the horse, straightened himself from his stooping posture with a nod of decision.