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Lavengro - The Scholar, The Gypsy, The Priest
by George Borrow
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'As you call me brother; I am not an uncivil person after all, sister.'

'I say, brother, tell me one thing, and look me in the face—there—do you speak Rommany?'

'Rommany! Rommany! what is Rommany?'

'What is Rommany? our language to be sure; tell me, brother, only one thing, you don't speak Rommany?'

'You say it.'

'I don't say it, I wish to know. Do you speak Rommany?'

'Do you mean thieves' slang—cant? no, I don't speak cant, don't like it, I only know a few words; they call a sixpence a tanner, don't they?'

'I don't know,' said the girl, sitting down on the ground, 'I was almost thinking—well, never mind, you don't know Rommany. I say, brother, I think I should like to have the kekaubi.'

'I thought you said it was badly mended?'

'Yes, yes, brother, but—'

'I thought you said it was only fit to be played at football with?'

'Yes, yes, brother, but—'

'What will you give for it?'

'Brother, I am the poor person's child, I will give you sixpence for the kekaubi.'

'Poor person's child; how came you by that necklace?'

'Be civil, brother; am I to have the kekaubi?'

'Not for sixpence; isn't the kettle nicely mended?'

'I never saw a nicer mended kettle, brother; am I to have the kekaubi, brother?'

'You like me then?'

'I don't dislike you—I dislike no one; there's only one, and him I don't dislike, him I hate.'

'Who is he?'

'I scarcely know, I never saw him, but 'tis no affair of yours, you don't speak Rommany; you will let me have the kekaubi, pretty brother?'

'You may have it, but not for sixpence; I'll give it to you.'

'Parraco tute, that is, I thank you, brother; the rikkeni kekaubi is now mine. O, rare! I thank you kindly, brother.'

Starting up, she flung the bulrush aside which she had hitherto held in her hand, and, seizing the kettle, she looked at it for a moment, and then began a kind of dance, flourishing the kettle over her head the while, and singing—

'The Rommany chi And the Rommany chal Shall jaw tasaulor To drab the bawlor, And dook the gry Of the farming rye.

Good-bye, brother, I must be going.'

'Good-bye, sister; why do you sing that wicked song?'

'Wicked song, hey, brother! you don't understand the song!'

'Ha, ha! gypsy daughter,' said I, starting up and clapping my hands, 'I don't understand Rommany, don't I? You shall see; here's the answer to your gillie—

'The Rommany chi And the Rommany chal, Love Luripen And dukkeripen, And hokkeripen, And every pen But Lachipen And tatchipen.'

The girl, who had given a slight start when I began, remained for some time after I had concluded the song standing motionless as a statue, with the kettle in her hand. At length she came towards me, and stared me full in the face. 'Gray, tall, and talks Rommany,' said she to herself. In her countenance there was an expression which I had not seen before—an expression which struck me as being composed of fear, curiosity, and the deepest hate. It was momentary, however, and was succeeded by one smiling, frank, and open. 'Ha, ha, brother,' said she, 'well, I like you all the better for talking Rommany; it is a sweet language, isn't it? especially as you sing it. How did you pick it up? But you picked it up upon the roads, no doubt? Ha, it was funny in you to pretend not to know it, and you so flush with it all the time; it was not kind in you, however, to frighten the poor person's child so by screaming out, but it was kind in you to give the rikkeni kekaubi to the child of the poor person. She will be grateful to you; she will bring you her little dog to show you, her pretty juggal; the poor person's child will come and see you again; you are not going away to-day, I hope, or to-morrow, pretty brother, gray-haired brother—you are not going away to-morrow, I hope?'

'Nor the next day,' said I, 'only to take a stroll to see if I can sell a kettle; good-bye, little sister, Rommany sister, dingy sister.'

'Good-bye, tall brother,' said the girl, as she departed, singing

'The Rommany chi,' etc.

'There's something about that girl that I don't understand,' said I to myself; 'something mysterious. However, it is nothing to me, she knows not who I am, and if she did, what then?'

Late that evening as I sat on the shaft of my cart in deep meditation, with my arms folded, I thought I heard a rustling in the bushes over against me. I turned my eyes in that direction, but saw nothing. 'Some bird,' said I; 'an owl, perhaps'; and once more I fell into meditation; my mind wandered from one thing to another—musing now on the structure of the Roman tongue—now on the rise and fall of the Persian power—and now on the powers vested in recorders at quarter-sessions. I was thinking what a fine thing it must be to be a recorder of the peace, when, lifting up my eyes, I saw right opposite, not a culprit at the bar, but, staring at me through a gap in the bush, a face wild and strange, half covered with gray hair; I only saw it a moment, the next it had disappeared.

{picture:I saw, staring at me through a gap in the bush, a face wild and strange, half covered with gray hair: page396.jpg}



CHAPTER LXXI

Friend of Slingsby—All quiet—Danger—The two cakes—Children in the wood—Don't be angry—In deep thought—Temples throbbing—Deadly sick—Another blow—No answer—How old are you?—Play and sacrament—Heavy heart—Song of poison—Drow of gypsies—The dog—Ely's church—Get up, bebee—The vehicle—Can you speak?—The oil.

The next day, at an early hour, I harnessed my little pony, and, putting my things in my cart, I went on my projected stroll. Crossing the moor, I arrived in about an hour at a small village, from which, after a short stay, I proceeded to another, and from thence to a third. I found that the name of Slingsby was well known in these parts.

'If you are a friend of Slingsby you must be an honest lad,' said an ancient crone; 'you shall never want for work whilst I can give it you. Here, take my kettle, the bottom came out this morning, and lend me that of yours till you bring it back. I'm not afraid to trust you—not I. Don't hurry yourself, young man, if you don't come back for a fortnight I shan't have the worse opinion of you.'

I returned to my quarters at evening, tired, but rejoiced at heart; I had work before me for several days, having collected various kekaubies which required mending, in place of those which I left behind—those which I had been employed upon during the last few days. I found all quiet in the lane or glade, and, unharnessing my little horse, I once more pitched my tent in the old spot beneath the ash, lighted my fire, ate my frugal meal, and then, after looking for some time at the heavenly bodies, and more particularly at the star Jupiter, I entered my tent, lay down upon my pallet, and went to sleep.

Nothing occurred on the following day which requires any particular notice, nor indeed on the one succeeding that. It was about noon on the third day that I sat beneath the shade of the ash tree; I was not at work, for the weather was particularly hot, and I felt but little inclination to make any exertion. Leaning my back against the tree, I was not long in falling into a slumber; I particularly remember that slumber of mine beneath the ash tree, for it was about the sweetest slumber that I ever enjoyed; how long I continued in it I do not know; I could almost have wished that it had lasted to the present time. All of a sudden it appeared to me that a voice cried in my ear, 'Danger! danger! danger!' Nothing seemingly could be more distinct than the words which I heard; then an uneasy sensation came over me, which I strove to get rid of, and at last succeeded, for I awoke. The gypsy girl was standing just opposite to me, with her eyes fixed upon my countenance; a singular kind of little dog stood beside her.

'Ha!' said I, 'was it you that cried danger? What danger is there?'

'Danger, brother, there is no danger; what danger should there be? I called to my little dog, but that was in the wood; my little dog's name is not danger, but Stranger; what danger should there be, brother?'

'What, indeed, except in sleeping beneath a tree; what is that you have got in your hand?'

'Something for you,' said the girl, sitting down and proceeding to untie a white napkin; 'a pretty manricli, so sweet, so nice; when I went home to my people I told my grandbebee how kind you had been to the poor person's child, and when my grandbebee saw the kekaubi, she said, "Hir mi devlis, it won't do for the poor people to be ungrateful; by my God, I will bake a cake for the young harko mescro."'

'But there are two cakes.'

'Yes, brother, two cakes, both for you; my grandbebee meant them both for you—but list, brother, I will have one of them for bringing them. I know you will give me one, pretty brother, gray-haired brother—which shall I have, brother?'

In the napkin were two round cakes, seemingly made of rich and costly compounds, and precisely similar in form, each weighing about half a pound.

'Which shall I have, brother?' said the gypsy girl.

'Whichever you please.'

'No, brother, no, the cakes are yours, not mine. It is for you to say.'

'Well, then, give me the one nearest you, and take the other.'

'Yes, brother, yes,' said the girl; and taking the cakes, she flung them into the air two or three times, catching them as they fell, and singing the while. 'Pretty brother, gray-haired brother—here, brother,' said she, 'here is your cake, this other is mine.'

'Are you sure,' said I, taking the cake, 'that this is the one I chose?'

'Quite sure, brother; but if you like you can have mine; there's no difference, however—shall I eat?'

'Yes, sister, eat.'

'See, brother, I do; now, brother, eat, pretty brother, gray-haired brother.'

'I am not hungry.'

'Not hungry! well, what then—what has being hungry to do with the matter? It is my grandbebee's cake which was sent because you were kind to the poor person's child; eat, brother, eat, and we shall be like the children in the wood that the gorgios speak of.'

'The children in the wood had nothing to eat.'

'Yes, they had hips and haws; we have better. Eat, brother.'

'See, sister, I do,' and I ate a piece of the cake.

'Well, brother, how do you like it?' said the girl, looking fixedly at me.

'It is very rich and sweet, and yet there is something strange about it; I don't think I shall eat any more.'

'Fie, brother, fie, to find fault with the poor person's cake; see, I have nearly eaten mine.'

'That's a pretty little dog.'

'Is it not, brother? that's my juggal, my little sister, as I call her.'

'Come here, juggal,' said I to the animal.

'What do you want with my juggal?' said the girl.

'Only to give her a piece of cake,' said I, offering the dog a piece which I had just broken off.

'What do you mean?' said the girl, snatching the dog away; 'my grandbebee's cake is not for dogs.'

'Why, I just now saw you give the animal a piece of yours.'

'You lie, brother, you saw no such thing; but I see how it is, you wish to affront the poor person's child. I shall go to my house.'

'Keep still, and don't be angry; see, I have eaten the piece which I offered the dog. I meant no offence. It is a sweet cake after all.'

'Isn't it, brother? I am glad you like it. Offence, brother, no offence at all! I am so glad you like my grandbebee's cake, but she will be wanting me at home. Eat one piece more of grandbebee's cake, and I will go.'

'I am not hungry, I will put the rest by.'

'One piece more before I go, handsome brother, gray-haired brother.'

'I will not eat any more, I have already eaten more than I wished to oblige you; if you must go, good-day to you.'

The girl rose upon her feet, looked hard at me, then at the remainder of the cake which I held in my hand, and then at me again, and then stood for a moment or two, as if in deep thought; presently an air of satisfaction came over her countenance, she smiled and said, 'Well, brother, well, do as you please, I merely wished you to eat because you have been so kind to the poor person's child. She loves you so, that she could have wished to have seen you eat it all; good-bye, brother, I daresay when I am gone you will eat some more of it, and if you don't, I daresay you have eaten enough to—to—show your love for us. After all it was a poor person's cake, a Rommany manricli, and all you gorgios are somewhat gorgious. Farewell, brother, pretty brother, gray-haired brother. Come, juggal.'

I remained under the ash tree seated on the grass for a minute or two, and endeavoured to resume the occupation in which I had been engaged before I fell asleep, but I felt no inclination for labour. I then thought I would sleep again, and once more reclined against the tree, and slumbered for some little time, but my sleep was more agitated than before. Something appeared to bear heavy on my breast, I struggled in my sleep, fell on the grass, and awoke; my temples were throbbing, there was a burning in my eyes, and my mouth felt parched; the oppression about the chest which I had felt in my sleep still continued. 'I must shake off these feelings,' said I, 'and get upon my legs.' I walked rapidly up and down upon the green sward; at length, feeling my thirst increase, I directed my steps down the narrow path to the spring which ran amidst the bushes; arriving there, I knelt down and drank of the water, but on lifting up my head I felt thirstier than before; again I drank, but with the like result; I was about to drink for the third time, when I felt a dreadful qualm which instantly robbed me of nearly all my strength. What can be the matter with me? thought I; but I suppose I have made myself ill by drinking cold water. I got up and made the best of my way back to my tent; before I reached it the qualm had seized me again, and I was deadly sick. I flung myself on my pallet, qualm succeeded qualm, but in the intervals my mouth was dry and burning, and I felt a frantic desire to drink, but no water was at hand, and to reach the spring once more was impossible; the qualms continued, deadly pains shot through my whole frame; I could bear my agonies no longer, and I fell into a trance or swoon. How long I continued therein I know not; on recovering, however, I felt somewhat better, and attempted to lift my head off my couch; the next moment, however, the qualms and pains returned, if possible, with greater violence than before. I am dying, thought I, like a dog, without any help; and then methought I heard a sound at a distance like people singing, and then once more I relapsed into my swoon.

I revived just as a heavy blow sounded upon the canvas of the tent. I started, but my condition did not permit me to rise; again the same kind of blow sounded upon the canvas; I thought for a moment of crying out and requesting assistance, but an inexplicable something chained my tongue, and now I heard a whisper on the outside of the tent. 'He does not move, bebee,' said a voice which I knew. 'I should not wonder if it has done for him already; however, strike again with your ran'; and then there was another blow, after which another voice cried aloud in a strange tone, 'Is the gentleman of the house asleep, or is he taking his dinner?' I remained quite silent and motionless, and in another moment the voice continued, 'What, no answer? what can the gentleman of the house be about that he makes no answer? perhaps the gentleman of the house may be darning his stockings?' Thereupon a face peered into the door of the tent, at the farther extremity of which I was stretched. It was that of a woman, but owing to the posture in which she stood, with her back to the light, and partly owing to a large straw bonnet, I could distinguish but very little of the features of her countenance. I had, however, recognised her voice; it was that of my old acquaintance, Mrs. Herne. 'Ho, ho, sir!' said she, 'here you are. Come here, Leonora,' said she to the gypsy girl, who pressed in at the other side of the door; 'here is the gentleman, not asleep, but only stretched out after dinner. Sit down on your ham, child, at the door, I shall do the same. There—you have seen me before, sir, have you not?'

'The gentleman makes no answer, bebee; perhaps he does not know you.'

'I have known him of old, Leonora,' said Mrs. Herne; 'and, to tell you the truth, though I spoke to him just now, I expected no answer.'

'It's a way he has, bebee, I suppose?'

'Yes, child, it's a way he has.'

'Take off your bonnet, bebee, perhaps he cannot see your face.'

'I do not think that will be of much use, child; however, I will take off my bonnet—there—and shake out my hair—there—you have seen this hair before, sir, and this face—'

'No answer, bebee.'

'Though the one was not quite so gray, nor the other so wrinkled.'

'How came they so, bebee?'

'All along of this gorgio, child.'

'The gentleman in the house, you mean, bebee?'

'Yes, child, the gentleman in the house. God grant that I may preserve my temper. Do you know, sir, my name? My name is Herne, which signifies a hairy individual, though neither gray-haired nor wrinkled. It is not the nature of the Hernes to be gray or wrinkled, even when they are old, and I am not old.'

'How old are you, bebee?'

'Sixty-five years, child—an inconsiderable number. My mother was a hundred and one—a considerable age—when she died, yet she had not one gray hair, and not more than six wrinkles—an inconsiderable number.'

'She had no griefs, bebee?'

'Plenty, child, but not like mine.'

'Not quite so hard to bear, bebee?'

'No, child; my head wanders when I think of them. After the death of my husband, who came to his end untimeously, I went to live with a daughter of mine, married out among certain Romans who walk about the eastern counties, and with whom for some time I found a home and pleasant society, for they lived right Romanly, which gave my heart considerable satisfaction, who am a Roman born, and hope to die so. When I say right Romanly, I mean that they kept to themselves, and were not much given to blabbing about their private matters in promiscuous company. Well, things went on in this way for some time, when one day my son-in-law brings home a young gorgio of singular and outrageous ugliness, and, without much preamble, says to me and mine, "This is my pal, ain't he a beauty? fall down and worship him." "Hold," said I, "I for one will never consent to such foolishness."'

'That was right, bebee, I think I should have done the same.'

'I think you would, child; but what was the profit of it? The whole party makes an almighty of this gorgio, lets him into their ways, says prayers of his making, till things come to such a pass that my own daughter says to me, "I shall buy myself a veil and fan, and treat myself to a play and sacrament." "Don't," says I; says she, "I should like for once in my life to be courtesied to as a Christian gentlewoman."'

'Very foolish of her, bebee.'

'Wasn't it, child? Where was I? At the fan and sacrament; with a heavy heart I put seven score miles between us, came back to the hairy ones, and found them over-given to gorgious companions; said I, "Foolish manners is catching; all this comes of that there gorgio." Answers the child Leonora, "Take comfort, bebee; I hate the gorgios as much as you do."'

'And I say so again, bebee, as much or more.'

'Time flows on, I engage in many matters, in most miscarry. Am sent to prison; says I to myself, I am become foolish. Am turned out of prison, and go back to the hairy ones, who receive me not over courteously; says I, for their unkindness, and my own foolishness, all the thanks to that gorgio. Answers to me the child, "I wish I could set eyes upon him, bebee."'

'I did so, bebee; go on.'

'"How shall I know him, bebee?" says the child. "Young and gray, tall, and speaks Romanly." Runs to me the child, and says, "I've found him, bebee." "Where, child?" says I. "Come with me, bebee," says the child. "That's he," says I, as I looked at my gentleman through the hedge.'

'Ha, ha! bebee, and here he lies, poisoned like a hog.'

'You have taken drows, sir,' said Mrs. Herne; 'do you hear, sir? drows; tip him a stave, child, of the song of poison.'

And thereupon the girl clapped her hands, and sang—

'The Rommany churl And the Rommany girl To-morrow shall hie To poison the sty, And bewitch on the mead The farmer's steed.'

'Do you hear that, sir?' said Mrs. Herne; 'the child has tipped you a stave of the song of poison: that is, she has sung it Christianly, though perhaps you would like to hear it Romanly; you were always fond of what was Roman. Tip it him Romanly, child.'

'He has heard it Romanly already, bebee; 'twas by that I found him out, as I told you.'

'Halloo, sir, are you sleeping? you have taken drows; the gentleman makes no answer. God give me patience!'

'And what if he doesn't, bebee; isn't he poisoned like a hog? Gentleman, indeed! why call him gentleman? if he ever was one he's broke, and is now a tinker, a worker of blue metal.'

'That's his way, child, to-day a tinker, to-morrow something else; and as for being drabbed, I don't know what to say about it.'

'Not drabbed! what do you mean, bebee? but look there, bebee; ha, ha, look at the gentleman's motions.'

'He is sick, child, sure enough. Ho, ho! sir, you have taken drows; what, another throe! writhe, sir, writhe; the hog died by the drow of gypsies; I saw him stretched at evening. That's yourself, sir. There is no hope, sir, no help, you have taken drow; shall I tell you your fortune, sir, your dukkerin? God bless you, pretty gentleman, much trouble will you have to suffer, and much water to cross; but never mind, pretty gentleman, you shall be fortunate at the end, and those who hate shall take off their hats to you.'

'Hey, bebee!' cried the girl; 'what is this? what do you mean? you have blessed the gorgio!'

'Blessed him! no, sure; what did I say? Oh, I remember, I'm mad; well, I can't help it, I said what the dukkerin dook told me; woe's me, he'll get up yet.'

'Nonsense, bebee! Look at his motions, he's drabbed, spite of dukkerin.'

'Don't say so, child; he's sick, 'tis true, but don't laugh at dukkerin, only folks do that that know no better. I, for one, will never laugh at the dukkerin dook. Sick again; I wish he was gone.'

'He'll soon be gone, bebee; let's leave him. He's as good as gone; look there, he's dead.'

'No, he's not, he'll get up—I feel it; can't we hasten him?'

'Hasten him! yes, to be sure; set the dog upon him. Here, juggal, look in there, my dog.'

The dog made its appearance at the door of the tent, and began to bark and tear up the ground.

'At him, juggal, at him; he wished to poison, to drab you. Halloo!'

The dog barked violently, and seemed about to spring at my face, but retreated.

'The dog won't fly at him, child; he flashed at the dog with his eye, and scared him. He'll get up.'

'Nonsense, bebee! you make me angry; how should he get up?'

'The dook tells me so, and, what's more, I had a dream. I thought I was at York, standing amidst a crowd to see a man hung, and the crowd shouted, "There he comes!" and I looked, and, lo! it was the tinker; before I could cry with joy I was whisked away, and I found myself in Ely's big church, which was chock full of people to hear the dean preach, and all eyes were turned to the big pulpit; and presently I heard them say, "There he mounts!" and I looked up to the big pulpit, and, lo! the tinker was in the pulpit, and he raised his arm and began to preach. Anon, I found myself at York again, just as the drop fell, and I looked up, and I saw not the tinker, but my own self hanging in the air.'

'You are going mad, bebee; if you want to hasten him, take your stick and poke him in the eye.'

'That will be of no use, child, the dukkerin tells me so; but I will try what I can do. Halloo, tinker! you must introduce yourself into a quiet family, and raise confusion—must you? You must steal its language, and, what was never done before, write it down Christianly—must you? Take that—and that'; and she stabbed violently with her stick towards the end of the tent.

'That's right, bebee, you struck his face; now once more, and let it be in the eye. Stay, what's that? get up, bebee.'

'What's the matter, child?'

'Some one is coming, come away.'

'Let me make sure of him, child; he'll be up yet.' And thereupon Mrs. Herne, rising, leaned forward into the tent, and, supporting herself against the pole, took aim in the direction of the farther end. 'I will thrust out his eye,' said she; and, lunging with her stick, she would probably have accomplished her purpose had not at that moment the pole of the tent given way, whereupon she fell to the ground, the canvas falling upon her and her intended victim.

'Here's a pretty affair, bebee,' screamed the girl.

'He'll get up, yet,' said Mrs. Herne, from beneath the canvas.

'Get up!—get up yourself; where are you? where is your—Here, there, bebee, here's the door; there, make haste, they are coming.'

'He'll get up yet,' said Mrs. Herne, recovering her breath; 'the dock tells me so.'

'Never mind him or the dook; he is drabbed; come away, or we shall be grabbed—both of us.'

'One more blow, I know where his head lies.'

'You are mad, bebee; leave the fellow—gorgio avella.'

And thereupon the females hurried away.

A vehicle of some kind was evidently drawing nigh; in a little time it came alongside of the place where lay the fallen tent, and stopped suddenly. There was a silence for a moment, and then a parley ensued between two voices, one of which was that of a woman. It was not in English, but in a deep guttural tongue.

'Peth yw hono sydd yn gorwedd yna ar y ddaear?' said a masculine voice.

'Yn wirionedd—I do not know what it can be,' said the female voice, in the same tongue.

'Here is a cart, and there are tools; but what is that on the ground?'

'Something moves beneath it; and what was that—a groan?'

'Shall I get down?'

'Of course, Peter, some one may want your help?

'Then I will get down, though I do not like this place; it is frequented by Egyptians, and I do not like their yellow faces, nor their clibberty clabber, as Master Ellis Wyn says. Now I am down. It is a tent, Winifred, and see, here is a boy beneath it. Merciful father! what a face.'

A middle-aged man, with a strongly marked and serious countenance, dressed in sober-coloured habiliments, had lifted up the stifling folds of the tent, and was bending over me. 'Can you speak, my lad?' said he in English; 'what is the matter with you? if you could but tell me, I could perhaps help you—' 'What is that you say? I can't hear you. I will kneel down'; and he flung himself on the ground, and placed his ear close to my mouth. 'Now speak if you can. Hey! what! no, sure, God forbid!' then starting up, he cried to a female who sat in the cart, anxiously looking on—'Gwenwyn! gwenwyn! yw y gwas wedi ei gwenwynaw. The oil! Winifred, the oil!'



CHAPTER LXXII

Desired effect—The three oaks—Winifred—Things of time—With God's will—The preacher—Creature comforts—Croesaw—Welsh and English—Mayor of Chester.

The oil, which the strangers compelled me to take, produced the desired effect, though, during at least two hours, it was very doubtful whether or not my life would be saved. At the end of that period the man said that with the blessing of God he would answer for my life. He then demanded whether I thought I could bear to be removed from the place in which we were; 'for I like it not,' he continued, 'as something within me tells me that it is not good for any of us to be here.' I told him, as well as I was able, that I, too, should be glad to leave the place; whereupon, after collecting my things, he harnessed my pony, and, with the assistance of the woman, he contrived to place me in the cart; he then gave me a draught out of a small phial, and we set forward at a slow pace, the man walking by the side of the cart in which I lay. It is probable that the draught consisted of a strong opiate, for after swallowing it I fell into a deep slumber; on my awaking, I found that the shadows of night had enveloped the earth—we were still moving on. Shortly, however, after descending a declivity, we turned into a lane, at the entrance of which was a gate. This lane conducted to a meadow, through the middle of which ran a small brook; it stood between two rising grounds; that on the left, which was on the farther side of the water, was covered with wood, whilst the one on the right, which was not so high, was crowned with the white walls of what appeared to be a farmhouse.

Advancing along the meadow, we presently came to a place where grew three immense oaks, almost on the side of the brook, over which they flung their arms, so as to shade it as with a canopy; the ground beneath was bare of grass, and nearly as hard and smooth as the floor of a barn. Having led his own cart on one side of the midmost tree, and my own on the other, the stranger said to me, 'This is the spot where my wife and myself generally tarry in the summer season, when we come into these parts. We are about to pass the night here. I suppose you will have no objection to do the same? Indeed, I do not see what else you could do under present circumstances.' After receiving my answer, in which I, of course, expressed my readiness to assent to his proposal, he proceeded to unharness his horse, and, feeling myself much better, I got down, and began to make the necessary preparations for passing the night beneath the oak.

Whilst thus engaged, I felt myself touched on the shoulder, and, looking round, perceived the woman, whom the stranger called Winifred, standing close to me. The moon was shining brightly upon her, and I observed that she was very good-looking, with a composed yet cheerful expression of countenance; her dress was plain and primitive, very much resembling that of a Quaker. She held a straw bonnet in her hand. 'I am glad to see thee moving about, young man,' said she, in a soft, placid tone; 'I could scarcely have expected it. Thou must be wondrous strong; many, after what thou hast suffered, would not have stood on their feet for weeks and months. What do I say?—Peter, my husband, who is skilled in medicine, just now told me that not one in five hundred would have survived what thou hast this day undergone; but allow me to ask thee one thing, Hast thou returned thanks to God for thy deliverance?' I made no answer, and the woman, after a pause, said, 'Excuse me, young man, but do you know anything of God?' 'Very little,' I replied, 'but I should say He must be a wondrous strong person, if He made all those big bright things up above there, to say nothing of the ground on which we stand, which bears beings like these oaks, each of which is fifty times as strong as myself, and will live twenty times as long.' The woman was silent for some moments, and then said, 'I scarcely know in what spirit thy words are uttered. If thou art serious, however, I would caution thee against supposing that the power of God is more manifested in these trees, or even in those bright stars above us, than in thyself—they are things of time, but thou art a being destined to an eternity; it depends upon thyself whether thy eternity shall be one of joy or sorrow.'

Here she was interrupted by the man, who exclaimed from the other side of the tree, 'Winifred, it is getting late, you had better go up to the house on the hill to inform our friends of our arrival, or they will have retired for the night.' 'True,' said Winifred, and forthwith wended her way to the house in question, returning shortly with another woman, whom the man, speaking in the same language which I had heard him first use, greeted by the name of Mary; the woman replied in the same tongue, but almost immediately said, in English, 'We hoped to have heard you speak to- night, Peter, but we cannot expect that now, seeing that it is so late, owing to your having been detained by the way, as Winifred tells me; nothing remains for you to do now but to sup—to-morrow, with God's will, we shall hear you.' 'And to-night, also, with God's will, provided you be so disposed. Let those of your family come hither.' 'They will be hither presently,' said Mary, 'for knowing that thou art arrived, they will, of course, come and bid thee welcome.' And scarcely had she spoke, when I beheld a party of people descending the moonlit side of the hill. They soon arrived at the place where we were; they might amount in all to twelve individuals. The principal person was a tall, athletic man, of about forty, dressed like a plain country farmer; this was, I soon found, the husband of Mary; the rest of the group consisted of the children of these two, and their domestic servants. One after another they all shook Peter by the hand, men and women, boys and girls, and expressed their joy at seeing him. After which he said, 'Now, friends, if you please, I will speak a few words to you.' A stool was then brought him from the cart, which he stepped on, and the people arranging themselves round him, some standing, some seated on the ground, he forthwith began to address them in a clear, distinct voice; and the subject of his discourse was the necessity, in all human beings, of a change of heart.

The preacher was better than his promise, for, instead of speaking a few words, he preached for at least three-quarters of an hour; none of the audience, however, showed the slightest symptom of weariness; on the contrary, the hope of each individual appeared to hang upon the words which proceeded from his mouth. At the conclusion of the sermon or discourse the whole assembly again shook Peter by the hand, and returned to their house, the mistress of the family saying, as she departed, 'I shall soon be back, Peter; I go but to make arrangements for the supper of thyself and company'; and, in effect, she presently returned, attended by a young woman, who bore a tray in her hands. 'Set it down, Jessy,' said the mistress to the girl, 'and then betake thyself to thy rest, I shall remain here for a little time to talk with my friends.' The girl departed, and the preacher and the two females placed themselves on the ground about the tray. The man gave thanks, and himself and his wife appeared to be about to eat, when the latter suddenly placed her hand upon his arm, and said something to him in a low voice, whereupon he exclaimed, 'Ay, truly, we were both forgetful'; and then getting up, he came towards me, who stood a little way off, leaning against the wheel of my cart; and, taking me by the hand, he said, 'Pardon us, young man, we were both so engaged in our own creature-comforts, that we forgot thee, but it is not too late to repair our fault; wilt thou not join us, and taste our bread and milk?' 'I cannot eat,' I replied, 'but I think I could drink a little milk'; whereupon he led me to the rest, and seating me by his side, he poured some milk into a horn cup, saying, '"Croesaw." That,' added he, with a smile, 'is Welsh for welcome.'

The fare upon the tray was of the simplest description, consisting of bread, cheese, milk, and curds. My two friends partook with a good appetite. 'Mary,' said the preacher, addressing himself to the woman of the house, 'every time I come to visit thee, I find thee less inclined to speak Welsh. I suppose, in a little time, thou wilt entirely have forgotten it; hast thou taught it to any of thy children?' 'The two eldest understand a few words,' said the woman, 'but my husband does not wish them to learn it; he says sometimes, jocularly, that though it pleased him to marry a Welsh wife, it does not please him to have Welsh children. Who, I have heard him say, would be a Welshman, if he could be an Englishman?' 'I for one,' said the preacher, somewhat hastily; 'not to be king of all England would I give up my birthright as a Welshman. Your husband is an excellent person, Mary, but I am afraid he is somewhat prejudiced.' 'You do him justice, Peter, in saying that he is an excellent person,' sail the woman; 'as to being prejudiced, I scarcely know what to say, but he thinks that two languages in the same kingdom are almost as bad as two kings.' 'That's no bad observation,' said the preacher, 'and it is generally the case; yet, thank God, the Welsh and English go on very well, side by side, and I hope will do so till the Almighty calls all men to their long account.' 'They jog on very well now,' said the woman; 'but I have heard my husband say that it was not always so, and that the Welsh, in old times, were a violent and ferocious people, for that once they hanged the mayor of Chester.' 'Ha, ha!' said the preacher, and his eyes flashed in the moonlight; 'he told you that, did he?' 'Yes,' said Mary; 'once, when the mayor of Chester, with some of his people, was present at one of the fairs over the border, a quarrel arose between the Welsh and the English, and the Welsh beat the English, and hanged the mayor.' 'Your husband is a clever man,' said Peter, 'and knows a great deal; did he tell you the name of the leader of the Welsh? No! then I will: the leader of the Welsh on that occasion was —-. He was a powerful chieftain, and there was an old feud between him and the men of Chester. Afterwards, when two hundred of the men of Chester invaded his country to take revenge for their mayor, he enticed them into a tower, set fire to it, and burnt them all. That—was a very fine, noble—God forgive me, what was I about to say—a very bad, violent man; but, Mary, this is very carnal and unprofitable conversation, and in holding it we set a very bad example to the young man here—let us change the subject.'

They then began to talk on religious matters. At length Mary departed to her abode, and the preacher and his wife retired to their tilted cart.

'Poor fellow, he seems to be almost brutally ignorant,' said Peter, addressing his wife in their native language, after they had bidden me farewell for the night.

'I am afraid he is,' said Winifred, 'yet my heart warms to the poor lad, he seems so forlorn.'



CHAPTER LXXIII

Morning hymn—Much alone—John Bunyan—Beholden to nobody—Sixty-five—Sober greeting—Early Sabbaths—Finny brood—The porch—No fortune-telling—The master's niece—Doing good—Two or three things—Groans and voices—Pechod Ysprydd Glan.

I slept soundly during that night, partly owing to the influence of the opiate. Early in the morning I was awakened by the voices of Peter and his wife, who were singing a morning hymn in their own language. Both subsequently prayed long and fervently. I lay still till their devotions were completed, and then left my tent. 'Good morning,' said Peter, 'how dost thou feel?' 'Much better,' said I, 'than I could have expected.' 'I am glad of it,' said Peter. 'Art thou hungry? yonder comes our breakfast,' pointing to the same young woman I had seen the preceding night, who was again descending the hill bearing the tray upon her head.

'What dust thou intend to do, young man, this day?' said Peter, when we had about half finished breakfast. 'Do,' said I; 'as I do other days, what I can.' 'And dost thou pass this day as thou dost other days?' said Peter. 'Why not?' said I; 'what is there in this day different from the rest? it seems to be of the same colour as yesterday.' 'Art thou aware,' said the wife, interposing, 'what day it is? that it is Sabbath? that it is Sunday?' 'No,' said I, 'I did not know that it was Sunday.' 'And how did that happen?' said Winifred, with a sigh. 'To tell you the truth,' said I, 'I live very much alone, and pay very little heed to the passing of time.' 'And yet of what infinite importance is time,' said Winifred. 'Art thou not aware that every year brings thee nearer to thy end?' 'I do not think,' said I, 'that I am so near my end as I was yesterday.' 'Yes, thou art,' said the woman; 'thou wast not doomed to die yesterday; an invisible hand was watching over thee yesterday; but thy day will come, therefore improve the time; be grateful that thou wast saved yesterday; and, oh! reflect on one thing; if thou hadst died yesterday, where wouldst thou have been now?' 'Cast into the earth, perhaps,' said I. 'I have heard Mr. Petulengro say that to be cast into the earth is the natural end of man.' 'Who is Mr. Petulengro?' said Peter, interrupting his wife, as she was about to speak. 'Master of the horse- shoe,' said I; 'and, according to his own account, king of Egypt.' 'I understand,' said Peter, 'head of some family of wandering Egyptians—they are a race utterly godless. Art thou of them?—but no, thou art not, thou hast not their yellow blood. I suppose thou belongest to the family of wandering artisans called —-. I do not like you the worse for belonging to them. A mighty speaker of old sprang up from amidst that family.' 'Who was he?' said I. 'John Bunyan,' replied Peter, reverently, 'and the mention of his name reminds me that I have to preach this day; wilt thou go and hear? the distance is not great, only half a mile.' 'No,' said I, 'I will not go and hear.' 'Wherefore?' said Peter. 'I belong to the church,' said I, 'and not to the congregations.' 'Oh! the pride of that church,' said Peter, addressing his wife in their own tongue, 'exemplified even in the lowest and most ignorant of its members. Then thou, doubtless, meanest to go to church,' said Peter, again addressing me; 'there is a church on the other side of that wooded hill.' 'No,' said I, 'I do not mean to go to church.' 'May I ask thee wherefore?' said Peter. 'Because,' said I, 'I prefer remaining beneath the shade of these trees, listening to the sound of the leaves and the tinkling of the waters.'

'Then thou intendest to remain here?' said Peter, looking fixedly at me. 'If I do not intrude,' said I; 'but if I do, I will wander away; I wish to be beholden to nobody—perhaps you wish me to go?' 'On the contrary,' said Peter, 'I wish you to stay. I begin to see something in thee which has much interest for me; but we must now bid thee farewell for the rest of the day, the time is drawing nigh for us to repair to the place of preaching; before we leave thee alone, however, I should wish to ask thee a question—Didst thou seek thy own destruction yesterday, and didst thou wilfully take that poison?' 'No,' said I; 'had I known there had been poison in the cake I certainly should not have taken it.' 'And who gave it thee?' said Peter. 'An enemy of mine,' I replied. 'Who is thy enemy?' 'An Egyptian sorceress and poison-monger.' 'Thy enemy is a female. I fear thou hadst given her cause to hate thee—of what did she complain?' 'That I had stolen the tongue out of her head.' 'I do not understand thee—is she young?' 'About sixty-five.'

Here Winifred interposed. 'Thou didst call her just now by hard names, young man,' said she; 'I trust thou dost bear no malice against her.' 'No,' said I, 'I bear no malice against her.' 'Thou art not wishing to deliver her into the hand of what is called justice?' 'By no means,' said I; 'I have lived long enough upon the roads not to cry out for the constable when my finger is broken. I consider this poisoning as an accident of the roads; one of those to which those who travel are occasionally subject.' 'In short, thou forgivest thine adversary?' 'Both now and for ever,' said I. 'Truly,' said Winifred, 'the spirit which the young man displayeth pleases me much; I should be loth that he left us yet. I have no doubt that, with the blessing of God, and a little of thy exhortation, he will turn out a true Christian before he leaveth us.' 'My exhortation!' said Peter, and a dark shade passed over his countenance; 'thou forgettest what I am—I—I—but I am forgetting myself; the Lord's will be done; and now put away the things, for I perceive that our friends are coming to attend us to the place of meeting.'

Again the family which I had seen the night before descended the hill from their abode. They were now dressed in their Sunday's best. The master of the house led the way. They presently joined us, when a quiet sober greeting ensued on each side. After a little time Peter shook me by the hand and bade me farewell till the evening; Winifred did the same, adding that she hoped I should be visited by sweet and holy thoughts. The whole party then moved off in the direction by which we had come the preceding night, Peter and the master leading the way, followed by Winifred and the mistress of the family. As I gazed on their departing forms, I felt almost inclined to follow them to their place of worship. I did not stir, however, but remained leaning against my oak with my hands behind me.

And after a time I sat me down at the foot of the oak with my face turned towards the water, and, folding my hands, I fell into deep meditation. I thought on the early Sabbaths of my life, and the manner in which I was wont to pass them. How carefully I said my prayers when I got up on the Sabbath morn, and how carefully I combed my hair and brushed my clothes in order that I might do credit to the Sabbath day. I thought of the old church at pretty D—-, the dignified rector, and yet more dignified clerk. I though of England's grand Liturgy, and Tate and Brady's sonorous minstrelsy. I thought of the Holy Book, portions of which I was in the habit of reading between service. I thought, too, of the evening walk which I sometimes took in fine weather like the present, with my mother and brother—a quiet sober walk, during which I would not break into a run, even to chase a butterfly, or yet more a honey-bee, being fully convinced of the dread importance of the day which God had hallowed. And how glad I was when I had got over the Sabbath day without having done anything to profane it. And how soundly I slept on the Sabbath night after the toil of being very good throughout the day.

And when I had mused on those times a long while, I sighed and said to myself, I am much altered since then; am I altered for the better? And then I looked at my hands and my apparel, and sighed again. I was not wont of yore to appear thus on the Sabbath day.

For a long time I continued in a state of deep meditation, till at last I lifted up my eyes to the sun, which, as usual during that glorious summer, was shining in unclouded majesty; and then I lowered them to the sparkling water, in which hundreds of the finny brood were disporting themselves, and then I thought what a fine thing it was to be a fish on such a fine summer day, and I wished myself a fish, or at least amongst the fishes; and then I looked at my hands again, and then, bending over the water, I looked at my face in the crystal mirror, and started when I saw it, for it looked squalid and miserable.

Forthwith I started up, and said to myself, I should like to bathe and cleanse myself from the squalor produced by my late hard life and by Mrs. Herne's drow. I wonder if there is any harm in bathing on the Sabbath day. I will ask Winifred when she comes home; in the meantime I will bathe, provided I can find a fitting place.

But the brook, though a very delightful place for fish to disport in, was shallow, and by no means adapted for the recreation of so large a being as myself; it was, moreover, exposed, though I saw nobody at hand, nor heard a single human voice or sound. Following the winding of the brook, I left the meadow, and, passing through two or three thickets, came to a place where between lofty banks the water ran deep and dark, and there I bathed, imbibing new tone and vigour into my languid and exhausted frame.

Having put on my clothes, I returned by the way I had come to my vehicle beneath the oak tree. From thence, for want of something better to do, I strolled up the hill, on the top of which stood the farm-house; it was a large and commodious building built principally of stone, and seeming of some antiquity, with a porch, on either side of which was an oaken bench. On the right was seated a young woman with a book in her hand, the same who had brought the tray to my friends and myself.

'Good-day,' said I, 'pretty damsel, sitting in the farm porch.'

'Good-day,' said the girl, looking at me for a moment, and then fixing her eyes on her book.

'That's a nice book you are reading,' said I.

The girl looked at me with surprise. 'How do you know what book it is?' said she.

'How do I know—never mind; but a nice book it is—no love, no fortune- telling in it.'

The girl looked at me half offended. 'Fortune-telling!' said she, 'I should think not. But you know nothing about it'; and she bent her head once more over the book.

'I tell you what, young person,' said I, 'I know all about that book; what will you wager that I do not?'

'I never wager,' said the girl.

'Shall I tell you the name of it,' said I, 'O daughter of the dairy? '

The girl half started. 'I should never have thought,' said she, half timidly, 'that you could have guessed it.'

'I did not guess it,' said I, 'I knew it; and meet and proper it is that you should read it.'

'Why so?' said the girl.

'Can the daughter of the dairy read a more fitting book than the Dairyman's Daughter?'

'Where do you come from?' said the girl.

'Out of the water,' said I. 'Don't start, I have been bathing; are you fond of the water?'

'No,' said the girl, heaving a sigh; 'I am not fond of the water, that is, of the sea'; and here she sighed again.

'The sea is a wide gulf,' said I, 'and frequently separates hearts.'

The girl sobbed.

'Why are you alone here?' said I.

'I take my turn with the rest,' said the girl, 'to keep at home on Sunday.'

'And you are—' said I.

'The master's niece!' said the girl. 'How came you to know it? But why did you not go with the rest and with your friends?'

'Who are those you call my friends?' said I.

'Peter and his wife.'

'And who are they?' said I.

'Do you not know?' said the girl; 'you came with them.'

'They found me ill by the way,' said I; 'and they relieved me: I know nothing about them.'

'I thought you knew everything,' said the girl.

'There are two or three things which I do not know, and this is one of them. Who are they?'

'Did you never hear of the great Welsh preacher, Peter Williams?'

'Never,' said I.

'Well,' said the girl, 'this is he, and Winifred is his wife, and a nice person she is. Some people say, indeed, that she is as good a preacher as her husband, though of that matter I can say nothing, having never heard her preach. So these two wander over all Wales and the greater part of England, comforting the hearts of the people with their doctrine, and doing all the good they can. They frequently come here, for the mistress is a Welsh woman, and an old friend of both, and then they take up their abode in the cart beneath the old oaks down there by the stream.'

'And what is their reason for doing so?' said I; 'would it not be more comfortable to sleep beneath a roof?'

'I know not their reasons,' said the girl, 'but so it is; they never sleep beneath a roof unless the weather is very severe. I once heard the mistress say that Peter had something heavy upon his mind; perhaps that is the cause. If he is unhappy, all I can say is, that I wish him otherwise, for he is a good man and a kind—'

'Thank you,' said I, 'I will now depart.'

'Hem!' said the girl, 'I was wishing—'

'What? to ask me a question?'

'Not exactly; but you seem to know everything; you mentioned, I think, fortune-telling.'

'Do you wish me to tell your fortune?'

'By no means; but I have a friend at a distance at sea, and I should wish to know—'

'When he will come back? I have told you already there are two or three things which I do not know—this is another of them. However, I should not be surprised if he were to come back some of these days; I would if I were in his place. In the meantime be patient, attend to the dairy, and read the Dairyman's Daughter when you have nothing better to do.'

It was late in the evening when the party of the morning returned. The farmer and his family repaired at once to their abode, and my two friends joined me beneath the tree. Peter sat down at the foot of the oak, and said nothing. Supper was brought by a servant, not the damsel of the porch. We sat round the tray, Peter said grace, but scarcely anything else; he appeared sad and dejected, his wife looked anxiously upon him. I was as silent as my friends; after a little time we retired to our separate places of rest.

About midnight I was awakened by a noise; I started up and listened; it appeared to me that I heard voices and groans. In a moment I had issued from my tent—all was silent—but the next moment I again heard groans and voices; they proceeded from the tilted cart where Peter and his wife lay; I drew near, again there was a pause, and then I heard the voice of Peter, in an accent of extreme anguish, exclaim, 'Pechod Ysprydd Glan—O pechod Ysprydd Glan!' and then he uttered a deep groan. Anon, I heard the voice of Winifred, and never shall I forget the sweetness and gentleness of the tones of her voice in the stillness of that night. I did not understand all she said—she spoke in her native language, and I was some way apart; she appeared to endeavour to console her husband, but he seemed to refuse all comfort, and, with many groans, repeated—'Pechod Ysprydd Glan—O pechod Ysprydd Glan!' I felt I had no right to pry into their afflictions, and retired.

Now 'pechod Ysprydd Glan,' interpreted, is the sin against the Holy Ghost.



CHAPTER LXXIV

The following day—Pride—Thriving trade—Tylwyth Teg—Ellis Wyn—Sleeping hard—Incalculable good—Fearful agony—The tale.

Peter and his wife did not proceed on any expedition during the following day. The former strolled gloomily about the fields, and the latter passed many hours in the farmhouse. Towards evening, without saying a word to either, I departed with my vehicle, and finding my way to a small town at some distance, I laid in a store of various articles, with which I returned. It was night, and my two friends were seated beneath the oak; they had just completed their frugal supper. 'We waited for thee some time,' said Winifred, 'but, finding that thou didst not come, we began without thee; but sit down, I pray thee, there is still enough for thee.' 'I will sit down,' said I, 'but I require no supper, for I have eaten where I have been': nothing more particular occurred at the time. Next morning the kind pair invited me to share their breakfast. 'I will not share your breakfast,' said I. 'Wherefore not?' said Winifred, anxiously. 'Because,' said I, 'it is not proper that I be beholden to you for meat and drink.' 'But we are beholden to other people,' said Winifred. 'Yes,' said I, 'but you preach to them, and give them ghostly advice, which considerably alters the matter; not that I would receive anything from them, if I preached to them six times a day.' 'Thou art not fond of receiving favours, then, young man,' said Winifred. 'I am not,' said I. 'And of conferring favours?' 'Nothing affords me greater pleasure,' said I, 'than to confer favours.' 'What a disposition,' said Winifred, holding up her hands; 'and this is pride, genuine pride—that feeling which the world agrees to call so noble. Oh, how mean a thing is pride! never before did I see all the meanness of what is called pride!'

'But how wilt thou live, friend,' said Peter; 'dost thou not intend to eat?' 'When I went out last night,' said I, 'I laid in a provision.' 'Thou hast laid in a provision!' said Peter, 'pray let us see it. Really, friend,' said he, after I had produced it, 'thou must drive a thriving trade; here are provisions enough to last three people for several days. Here are butter and eggs, here is tea, here is sugar, and there is a flitch. I hope thou wilt let us partake of some of thy fare.' 'I should be very happy if you would,' said I. 'Doubt not but we shall,' said Peter; 'Winifred shall have some of thy flitch cooked for dinner. In the meantime, sit down, young man, and breakfast at our expense—we will dine at thine.'

On the evening of that day, Peter and myself sat alone beneath the oak. We fell into conversation; Peter was at first melancholy, but he soon became more cheerful, fluent, and entertaining. I spoke but little; but I observed that sometimes what I said surprised the good Methodist. We had been silent some time. At length, lifting up my eyes to the broad and leafy canopy of the trees, I said, having nothing better to remark, 'What a noble tree! I wonder if the fairies ever dance beneath it.'

'Fairies!' said Peter, 'fairies! how came you, young man, to know anything about the fair family?'

'I am an Englishman,' said I, 'and of course know something about fairies; England was once a famous place for them.'

'Was once, I grant you,' said Peter, 'but is so no longer. I have travelled for years about England, and never heard them mentioned before; the belief in them has died away, and even their name seems to be forgotten. If you had said you were a Welshman, I should not have been surprised. The Welsh have much to say of the Tylwyth Teg, or fair family, and many believe in them.'

'And do you believe in them?' said I.

'I scarcely know what to say. Wise and good men have been of opinion that they are nothing but devils, who, under the form of pretty and amiable spirits, would fain allure poor human beings; I see nothing irrational in the supposition.'

'Do you believe in devils, then?'

'Do I believe in devils, young man?' said Peter, and his frame was shaken as if by convulsions. 'If I do not believe in devils, why am I here at the present moment?'

'You know best,' said I; 'but I don't believe that fairies are devils, and I don't wish to hear them insulted. What learned men have said they are devils?'

'Many have said it, young man, and, amongst others, Master Ellis Wyn, in that wonderful book of his, the Bardd Cwsg.'

'The Bardd Cwsg,' said I; 'what kind of book is that? I have never heard of that book before.'

'Heard of it before; I suppose not; how should you have heard of it before? By the bye, can you read?'

'Very tolerably,' said I; 'so there are fairies in this book. What do you call it—the Bardd Cwsg?'

'Yes, the Bardd Cwsg. You pronounce Welsh very fairly; have you ever been in Wales?'

'Never,' said I.

'Not been in Wales; then, of course, you don't understand Welsh; but we were talking of the Bardd Cwsg—yes, there are fairies in the Bardd Cwsg,—the author of it, Master Ellis Wyn, was carried away in his sleep by them over mountains and valleys, rivers and great waters, incurring mighty perils at their hands, till he was rescued from them by an angel of the Most High, who subsequently showed him many wonderful things.'

'I beg your pardon,' said I, 'but what were those wonderful things?'

'I see, young man,' said Peter, smiling, 'that you are not without curiosity; but I can easily pardon any one for being curious about the wonders contained in the book of Master Ellis Wyn. The angel showed him the course of this world, its pomps and vanities, its cruelty and its pride, its crimes and deceits. On another occasion, the angel showed him Death in his nether palace, surrounded by his grisly ministers, and by those who are continually falling victims to his power. And, on a third occasion, the state of the condemned in their place of everlasting torment.'

'But this was all in his sleep,' said I, 'was it not?'

'Yes,' said Peter, 'in his sleep; and on that account the book is called Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg, or, Visions of the Sleeping Bard.'

'I do not care for wonders which occur in sleep,' said I. 'I prefer real ones; and perhaps, notwithstanding what he says, the man had no visions at all—they are probably of his own invention.'

'They are substantially true, young man,' said Peter; 'like the dreams of Bunyan, they are founded on three tremendous facts, Sin, Death, and Hell; and like his they have done incalculable good, at least in my own country, in the language of which they are written. Many a guilty conscience has the Bardd Cwsg aroused with its dreadful sights, its strong sighs, its puffs of smoke from the pit, and its showers of sparks from the mouth of the yet lower gulf of—Unknown—were it not for the Bardd Cwsg perhaps I might not be here.'

'I would sooner hear your own tale,' said I, 'than all the visions of the Bardd Cwsg.'

Peter shook, bent his form nearly double, and covered his face with his hands. I sat still and motionless, with my eyes fixed upon him. Presently Winifred descended the hill, and joined us. 'What is the matter?' said she, looking at her husband, who still remained in the posture I have described. He made no answer; whereupon, laying her hand gently on his shoulder, she said, in the peculiar soft and tender tone which I had heard her use on a former occasion, 'Take comfort, Peter; what has happened now to afflict thee?' Peter removed his hand from his face. 'The old pain, the old pain,' said he; 'I was talking with this young man, and he would fain know what brought me here, he would fain hear my tale, Winifred—my sin: O pechod Ysprydd Glan! O pechod Ysprydd Glan!' and the poor man fell into a more fearful agony than before. Tears trickled down Winifred's face, I saw them trickling by the moonlight, as she gazed upon the writhing form of her afflicted husband. I arose from my seat. 'I am the cause of all this,' said I, 'by my folly and imprudence, and it is thus I have returned your kindness and hospitality; I will depart from you and wander my way.' I was retiring, but Peter sprang up and detained me. 'Go not,' said he, 'you were not in fault; if there be any fault in the case it was mine; if I suffer, I am but paying the penalty of my own iniquity'; he then paused, and appeared to be considering: at length he said, 'Many things which thou hast seen and heard connected with me require explanation; thou wishest to know my tale, I will tell it thee, but not now, not to-night; I am too much shaken.'

Two evenings later, when we were again seated beneath the oak, Peter took the hand of his wife in his own, and then, in tones broken and almost inarticulate, commenced telling me his tale—the tale of the Pechod Ysprydd Glan.



CHAPTER LXXV

Taking a cup—Getting to heaven—After breakfast— Wooden gallery—Mechanical habit—Reserved and gloomy—Last words—A long time—From the clouds—Ray of hope—Momentary chill—Pleasing anticipation.

'I was born in the heart of North Wales, the son of a respectable farmer, and am the youngest of seven brothers.

'My father was a member of the Church of England, and was what is generally called a serious man. He went to church regularly, and read the Bible every Sunday evening; in his moments of leisure he was fond of holding religious discourse both with his family and his neighbours.

'One autumn afternoon, on a week day, my father sat with one of his neighbours taking a cup of ale by the oak table in our stone kitchen. I sat near them, and listened to their discourse. I was at that time seven years of age. They were talking of religious matters. "It is a hard matter to get to heaven," said my father. "Exceedingly so," said the other. "However, I don't despond; none need despair of getting to heaven, save those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost."

'"Ah!" said my father, "thank God I never committed that—how awful must be the state of a person who has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. I can scarcely think of it without my hair standing on end"; and then my father and his friend began talking of the nature of the sin against the Holy Ghost, and I heard them say what it was, as I sat with greedy ears listening to their discourse.

'I lay awake the greater part of the night musing upon what I had heard. I kept wondering to myself what must be the state of a person who had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, and how he must feel. Once or twice I felt a strong inclination to commit it, a strange kind of fear, however, prevented me; at last I determined not to commit it, and, having said my prayers, I fell asleep.

'When I awoke in the morning the first thing I thought of was the mysterious sin, and a voice within me seemed to say, "Commit it"; and I felt a strong temptation to do so, even stronger than in the night. I was just about to yield, when the same dread, of which I have already spoken, came over me, and, springing out of bed, I went down on my knees. I slept in a small room alone, to which I ascended by a wooden stair, open to the sky. I have often thought since that it is not a good thing for children to sleep alone.

'After breakfast I went to school, and endeavoured to employ myself upon my tasks, but all in vain; I could think of nothing but the sin against the Holy Ghost; my eyes, instead of being fixed upon my book, wandered in vacancy. My master observed my inattention, and chid me. The time came for saying my task, and I had not acquired it. My master reproached me, and, yet more, he beat me; I felt shame and anger, and I went home with a full determination to commit the sin against the Holy Ghost.

'But when I got home my father ordered me to do something connected with the farm, so that I was compelled to exert myself; I was occupied till night, and was so busy that I almost forgot the sin and my late resolution. My work completed, I took my supper, and went to my room; I began my prayers, and, when they were ended, I thought of the sin, but the temptation was slight, I felt very tired, and was presently asleep.

'Thus, you see, I had plenty of time allotted me by a gracious and kind God to reflect on what I was about to do. He did not permit the enemy of souls to take me by surprise, and to hurry me at once into the commission of that which was to be my ruin here and hereafter. Whatever I did was of my own free will, after I had had time to reflect. Thus God is justified; He had no hand in my destruction, but, on the contrary, He did all that was compatible with justice to prevent it. I hasten to the fatal moment. Awaking in the night, I determined that nothing should prevent my committing the sin. Arising from my bed, I went out upon the wooden gallery; and having stood for a few moments looking at the stars, with which the heavens were thickly strewn, I laid myself down, and supporting my face with my hand, I murmured out words of horror, words not to be repeated, and in this manner I committed the sin against the Holy Ghost.

'When the words were uttered I sat up upon the topmost step of the gallery; for some time I felt stunned in somewhat the same manner as I once subsequently felt after being stung by an adder. I soon arose, however, and retired to my bed, where, notwithstanding what I had done, I was not slow in falling asleep.

'I awoke several times during the night, each time with the dim idea that something strange and monstrous had occurred, but I presently fell asleep again; in the morning I awoke with the same vague feeling, but presently recollection returned, and I remembered that I had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. I lay musing for some time on what I had done, and I felt rather stunned, as before; at last I arose and got out of bed, dressed myself, and then went down on my knees, and was about to pray from the force of mechanical habit; before I said a word, however, I recollected myself, and got up again. What was the use of praying? I thought; I had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost.

'I went to school, but sat stupefied. I was again chidden, again beaten, by my master. I felt no anger this time, and scarcely heeded the strokes. I looked, however, at my master's face, and thought to myself, you are beating me for being idle, as you suppose; poor man, what would you do if you knew I had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost?

'Days and weeks passed by. I had once been cheerful, and fond of the society of children of my own age; but I was now reserved and gloomy. It seemed to me that a gulf separated me from all my fellow-creatures. I used to look at my brothers and schoolfellows, and think how different I was from them; they had not done what I had. I seemed, in my own eyes, a lone monstrous being, and yet, strange to say, I felt a kind of pride in being so. I was unhappy, but I frequently thought to myself, I have done what no one else would dare to do; there was something grand in the idea; I had yet to learn the horror of my condition.

'Time passed on, and I began to think less of what I had done; I began once more to take pleasure in my childish sports; I was active, and excelled at football and the like all the lads of my age. I likewise began, what I had never done before, to take pleasure in the exercises of the school. I made great progress in Welsh and English grammar, and learnt to construe Latin. My master no longer chid or beat me, but one day told my father that he had no doubt that one day I should be an honour to Wales.

'Shortly after this my father fell sick; the progress of the disorder was rapid; feeling his end approaching, he called his children before him. After tenderly embracing us, he said "God bless you, my children, I am going from you, but take comfort, I trust that we shall all meet again in heaven."

'As he uttered these last words, horror took entire possession of me. Meet my father in heaven,—how could I ever hope to meet him there? I looked wildly at my brethren and at my mother; they were all bathed in tears, but how I envied them. They might hope to meet my father in heaven, but how different were they from me, they had never committed the unpardonable sin.

'In a few days my father died; he left his family in comfortable circumstances, at least such as would be considered so in Wales, where the wants of the people are few. My elder brother carried on the farm for the benefit of my mother and us all. In course of time my brothers were put out to various trades. I still remained at school, but without being a source of expense to my relations, as I was by this time able to assist my master in the business of the school.

'I was diligent both in self-improvement and in the instruction of others; nevertheless, a horrible weight pressed upon my breast; I knew I was a lost being; that for me there was no hope; that, though all others might be saved, I must of necessity be lost; I had committed the unpardonable sin, for which I was doomed to eternal punishment, in the flaming gulf, as soon as life was over!—and how long could I hope to live? perhaps fifty years; at the end of which I must go to my place; and then I would count the months and the days, nay, even the hours, which yet intervened between me and my doom. Sometimes I would comfort myself with the idea that a long time would elapse before my time would be out; but then again I thought that, however long the term might be, it must be out at last; and then I would fall into an agony, during which I would almost wish that the term were out, and that I were in my place; the horrors of which I thought could scarcely be worse than what I then endured.

'There was one thought about this time which caused me unutterable grief and shame, perhaps more shame than grief. It was that my father, who was gone to heaven, and was there daily holding communion with his God, was by this time aware of my crime. I imagined him looking down from the clouds upon his wretched son, with a countenance of inexpressible horror. When this idea was upon me, I would often rush to some secret place to hide myself; to some thicket, where I would cast myself on the ground, and thrust my head into a thick bush, in order to escape from the horror- struck glance of my father above in the clouds; and there I would continue groaning till the agony had, in some degree, passed away.

'The wretchedness of my state increasing daily, it at last became apparent to the master of the school, who questioned me earnestly and affectionately. I, however, gave him no satisfactory answer, being apprehensive that, if I unbosomed myself, I should become as much an object of horror to him as I had long been to myself. At length he suspected that I was unsettled in my intellects; and, fearing probably the ill effect of my presence upon his scholars, he advised me to go home; which I was glad to do, as I felt myself every day becoming less qualified for the duties of the office which I had undertaken.

'So I returned home to my mother and my brother, who received me with the greatest kindness and affection. I now determined to devote myself to husbandry, and assist my brother in the business of the farm. I was still, however, very much distressed. One fine morning, however, as I was at work in the field, and the birds were carolling around me, a ray of hope began to break upon my poor dark soul. I looked at the earth and looked at the sky, and felt as I had not done for many a year; presently a delicious feeling stole over me. I was beginning to enjoy existence. I shall never forget that hour. I flung myself on the soil, and kissed it; then, springing up with a sudden impulse, I rushed into the depths of a neighbouring wood, and, falling upon my knees, did what I had not done for a long, long time—prayed to God.

'A change, an entire change, seemed to have come over me. I was no longer gloomy and despairing, but gay and happy. My slumbers were light and easy; not disturbed, as before, by frightful dreams. I arose with the lark, and like him uttered a cheerful song of praise to God, frequently and earnestly, and was particularly cautious not to do anything which I considered might cause His displeasure.

'At church I was constant, and when there listened with deepest attention to every word which proceeded from the mouth of the minister. In a little time it appeared to me that I had become a good, very good, young man. At times the recollection of the sin would return, and I would feel a momentary chill; but the thought quickly vanished, and I again felt happy and secure.

'One Sunday morning, after I had said my prayers, I felt particularly joyous. I thought of the innocent and virtuous life I was leading; and when the recollection of the sin intruded for a moment, said, "I am sure God will never utterly cast away so good a creature as myself." I went to church, and was as usual attentive. The subject of the sermon was on the duty of searching the Scriptures: all I knew of them was from the liturgy. I now, however, determined to read them, and perfect the good work which I had begun. My father's Bible was upon the shelf, and on that evening I took it with me to my chamber. I placed it on the table, and sat down. My heart was filled with pleasing anticipation. I opened the book at random, and began to read; the first passage on which my eyes lighted was the following:—

'"He who committeth the sin against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, either in this world or the next."'

Here Peter was seized with convulsive tremors. Winifred sobbed violently. I got up, and went away. Returning in about a quarter of an hour, I found him more calm; he motioned me to sit down; and, after a short pause, continued his narration.



CHAPTER LXXVI

Hasty farewell—Lofty rock—Wrestlings of Jacob—No rest—Ways of Providence—Two females—Foot of the Cross—Enemy of souls—Perplexed—Lucky hour—Valetudinarian—Methodists—Fervent in prayer—You Saxons—Weak creatures—Very agreeable—Almost happy—Kindness and solicitude.

'Where was I, young man? Oh, I remember, at the fatal passage which removed all hope. I will not dwell on what I felt. I closed my eyes, and wished that I might be dreaming; but it was no dream, but a terrific reality: I will not dwell on that period, I should only shock you. I could not bear my feelings; so, bidding my friends a hasty farewell, I abandoned myself to horror and despair, and ran wild through Wales, climbing mountains and wading streams.

'Climbing mountains and wading streams, I ran wild about, I was burnt by the sun, drenched by the rain, and had frequently at night no other covering than the sky, or the humid roof of some cave; but nothing seemed to affect my constitution; probably the fire which burned within me counteracted what I suffered from without. During the space of three years I scarcely knew what befell me; my life was a dream—a wild, horrible dream; more than once I believe I was in the hands of robbers, and once in the hands of gypsies. I liked the last description of people least of all; I could not abide their yellow faces, or their ceaseless clabber. Escaping from these beings, whose countenances and godless discourse brought to my mind the demons of the deep Unknown, I still ran wild through Wales, I know not how long. On one occasion, coming in some degree to my recollection, I felt myself quite unable to bear the horrors of my situation; looking round I found myself near the sea; instantly the idea came into my head that I would cast myself into it, and thus anticipate my final doom. I hesitated a moment, but a voice within me seemed to tell me that I could do no better; the sea was near, and I could not swim, so I determined to fling myself into the sea. As I was running along at great speed, in the direction of a lofty rock, which beetled over the waters, I suddenly felt myself seized by the coat. I strove to tear myself away, but in vain; looking round, I perceived a venerable hale old man, who had hold of me. "Let me go!" said I, fiercely. "I will not let thee go," said the old man, and now, instead of with one, he grappled me with both hands. "In whose name dost thou detain me?" said I, scarcely knowing what I said. "In the name of my Master, who made thee and yonder sea; and has said to the sea, So far shalt thou come, and no farther, and to thee, Thou shalt do no murder." "Has not a man a right to do what he pleases with his own?" said I. "He has," said the old man, "but thy life is not thy own; thou art accountable for it to thy God. Nay, I will not let thee go," he continued, as I again struggled; "if thou struggle with me the whole day I will not let thee go, as Charles Wesley says, in his 'Wrestlings of Jacob'; and see, it is of no use struggling, for I am, in the strength of my Master, stronger than thou"; and indeed, all of a sudden I had become very weak and exhausted; whereupon the old man, beholding my situation, took me by the arm and led me gently to a neighbouring town, which stood behind a hill, and which I had not before observed; presently he opened the door of a respectable-looking house, which stood beside a large building having the appearance of a chapel, and conducted me into a small room, with a great many books in it. Having caused me to sit down, he stood looking at me for some time, occasionally heaving a sigh. I was, indeed, haggard and forlorn. "Who art thou?" he said at last. "A miserable man," I replied. "What makes thee miserable?" said the old man. "A hideous crime," I replied. "I can find no rest; like Cain I wander here and there." The old man turned pale. "Hast thou taken another's life?" said he; "if so, I advise thee to surrender thyself to the magistrate; thou canst do no better; thy doing so will be the best proof of thy repentance; and though there be no hope for thee in this world there may be much in the next." "No," said I, "I have never taken another's life." "What then, another's goods? If so, restore them sevenfold, if possible: or, if it be not in thy power, and thy conscience accuse thee, surrender thyself to the magistrate, and make the only satisfaction thou art able." "I have taken no one's goods," said I. "Of what art thou guilty, then?" said he. "Art thou a drunkard? a profligate?" "Alas, no," said I; "I am neither of these; would that I were no worse."

'Thereupon the old man looked steadfastly at me for some time; then, after appearing to reflect, he said, "Young man, I have a great desire to know your name." "What matters it to you what is my name?" said I; "you know nothing of me." "Perhaps you are mistaken," said the old man, looking kindly at me; "but at all events tell me your name." I hesitated a moment, and then told him who I was, whereupon he exclaimed with much emotion, "I thought so; how wonderful are the ways of Providence. I have heard of thee, young man, and know thy mother well. Only a month ago, when upon a journey, I experienced much kindness from her. She was speaking to me of her lost child, with tears; she told me that you were one of the best of sons, but that some strange idea appeared to have occupied your mind. Despair not, my son. If thou hast been afflicted, I doubt not but that thy affliction will eventually turn out to thy benefit; I doubt not but that thou wilt be preserved, as an example of the great mercy of God. I will now kneel down and pray for thee, my son."

'He knelt down, and prayed long and fervently. I remained standing for some time; at length I knelt down likewise. I scarcely knew what he was saying, but when he concluded I said "Amen."

'And when we had risen from our knees, the old man left me for a short time, and on his return led me into another room, where were two females; one was an elderly person, the wife of the old man,—the other was a young woman of very prepossessing appearance (hang not down thy head, Winifred), who I soon found was a distant relation of the old man,—both received me with great kindness, the old man having doubtless previously told them who I was.

'I stayed several days in the good man's house. I had still the greater portion of a small sum which I happened to have about me when I departed on my dolorous wandering, and with this I purchased clothes, and altered my appearance considerably. On the evening of the second day my friend said, "I am going to preach, perhaps you will come and hear me." I consented, and we all went, not to a church, but to the large building next the house; for the old man, though a clergyman, was not of the established persuasion, and there the old man mounted a pulpit, and began to preach. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden," etc. etc., was his text. His sermon was long, but I still bear the greater portion of it in my mind.

'The substance of it was that Jesus was at all times ready to take upon Himself the burden of our sins, provided we came to Him with a humble and contrite spirit, and begged His help. This doctrine was new to me; I had often been at church, but had never heard it preached before, at least so distinctly. When he said that all men might be saved, I shook, for I expected he would add, all except those who had committed the mysterious sin; but no, all men were to be saved who with a humble and contrite spirit would come to Jesus, cast themselves at the foot of His cross, and accept pardon through the merits of His blood-shedding alone. "Therefore, my friends," said he, in conclusion, "despair not—however guilty you may be, despair not—however desperate your condition may seem," said he, fixing his eyes upon me, "despair not. There is nothing more foolish and more wicked than despair; over-weening confidence is not more foolish than despair; both are the favourite weapons of the enemy of souls."

'This discourse gave rise in my mind to no slight perplexity. I had read in the Scriptures that he who committeth a certain sin shall never be forgiven, and that there is no hope for him either in this world or the next. And here was a man, a good man certainly, and one who, of necessity, was thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures, who told me that any one might be forgiven, however wicked, who would only trust in Christ and in the merits of His blood-shedding. Did I believe in Christ? Ay, truly. Was I willing to be saved by Christ? Ay, truly. Did I trust in Christ? I trusted that Christ would save every one but myself. And why not myself? simply because the Scriptures had told me that he who has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost can never be saved, and I had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost,—perhaps the only one who ever had committed it. How could I hope? The Scriptures could not lie, and yet here was this good old man, profoundly versed in the Scriptures, who bade me hope; would he lie? No. But did the old man know my case? Ah, no, he did not know my case! but yet he had bid me hope, whatever I had done, provided I would go to Jesus. But how could I think of going to Jesus, when the Scriptures told me plainly that all would be useless? I was perplexed, and yet a ray of hope began to dawn in my soul. I thought of consulting the good man, but I was afraid he would drive away the small glimmer. I was afraid he would say, "Oh yes, every one is to be saved, except a wretch like you; I was not aware before that there was anything so horrible,—begone!" Once or twice the old man questioned me on the subject of my misery, but I evaded him; once, indeed, when he looked particularly benevolent, I think I should have unbosomed myself to him, but we were interrupted. He never pressed me much; perhaps he was delicate in probing my mind, as we were then of different persuasions. Hence he advised me to seek the advice of some powerful minister in my own church; there were many such in it, he said.

'I stayed several days in the family, during which time I more than once heard my venerable friend preach; each time he preached, he exhorted his hearers not to despair. The whole family were kind to me; his wife frequently discoursed with me, and also the young person to whom I have already alluded. It appeared to me that the latter took a peculiar interest in my fate.

'At last my friend said to me, "It is now time thou shouldest return to thy mother and thy brother." So I arose, and departed to my mother and my brother; and at my departure my old friend gave me his blessing, and his wife and the young person shed tears, the last especially. And when my mother saw me, she shed tears, and fell on my neck and kissed me, and my brother took me by the hand and bade me welcome; and when our first emotions were subsided, my mother said, "I trust thou art come in a lucky hour. A few weeks ago my cousin (whose favourite thou always wast) died and left thee his heir—left thee the goodly farm in which he lived. I trust, my son, that thou wilt now settle, and be a comfort to me in my old days." And I answered, "I will, if so please the Lord"; and I said to myself, "God grant that this bequest be a token of the Lord's favour."

'And in a few days I departed to take possession of my farm; it was about twenty miles from my mother's house, in a beautiful but rather wild district; I arrived at the fall of the leaf. All day long I busied myself with my farm, and thus kept my mind employed. At night, however, I felt rather solitary, and I frequently wished for a companion. Each night and morning I prayed fervently unto the Lord; for His hand had been very heavy upon me, and I feared Him.

'There was one thing connected with my new abode which gave me considerable uneasiness—the want of spiritual instruction. There was a church, indeed, close at hand, in which service was occasionally performed, but in so hurried and heartless a manner that I derived little benefit from it. The clergyman to whom the benefice belonged was a valetudinarian, who passed his time in London, or at some watering-place, entrusting the care of his flock to the curate of a distant parish, who gave himself very little trouble about the matter. Now I wanted every Sunday to hear from the pulpit words of consolation and encouragement, similar to those which I had heard uttered from the pulpit by my good and venerable friend, but I was debarred from this privilege. At length, one day being in conversation with one of my labourers, a staid and serious man, I spoke to him of the matter which lay heavy upon my mind; whereupon, looking me wistfully in the face, he said, "Master, the want of religious instruction in my church was what drove me to the Methodists." "The Methodists," said I, "are there any in these parts?" "There is a chapel," said he, "only half a mile distant, at which there are two services every Sunday, and other two during the week." Now it happened that my venerable friend was of the Methodist persuasion, and when I heard the poor man talk in this manner, I said to him, "May I go with you next Sunday?" "Why not?" said he; so I went with the labourer on the ensuing Sabbath to the meeting of the Methodists.

'I liked the preaching which I heard at the chapel very well, though it was not quite so comfortable as that of my old friend, the preacher being in some respects a different kind of man. It, however, did me good, and I went again, and continued to do so, though I did not become a regular member of the body at that time.

'I had now the benefit of religious instruction, and also to a certain extent of religious fellowship, for the preacher and various members of his flock frequently came to see me. They were honest plain men, not exactly of the description which I wished for, but still good sort of people, and I was glad to see them. Once on a time, when some of them were with me, one of them inquired whether I was fervent in prayer. "Very fervent," said I. "And do you read the Scriptures often?" said he. "No," said I. "Why not?" said he. "Because I am afraid to see there my own condemnation." They looked at each other, and said nothing at the time. On leaving me, however, they all advised me to read the Scriptures with fervency and prayer.

'As I had told these honest people, I shrank from searching the Scriptures; the remembrance of the fatal passage was still too vivid in my mind to permit me. I did not wish to see my condemnation repeated, but I was very fervent in prayer, and almost hoped that God would yet forgive me by virtue of the blood-shedding of the Lamb. Time passed on, my affairs prospered, and I enjoyed a certain portion of tranquillity. Occasionally, when I had nothing else to do, I renewed my studies. Many is the book I read, especially in my native language, for I was always fond of my native language, and proud of being a Welshman. Amongst the books I read were the odes of the great Ab Gwilym, whom thou, friend, hast never heard of; no, nor any of thy countrymen, for you are an ignorant race, you Saxons, at least with respect to all that relates to Wales and Welshmen. I likewise read the book of Master Ellis Wyn. The latter work possessed a singular fascination for me, on account of its wonderful delineations of the torments of the nether world.

'But man does not love to be alone; indeed, the Scripture says that it is not good for man to be alone. I occupied my body with the pursuits of husbandry, and I improved my mind with the perusal of good and wise books; but, as I have already said, I frequently sighed for a companion with whom I could exchange ideas, and who could take an interest in my pursuits; the want of such a one I more particularly felt in the long winter evenings. It was then that the image of the young person whom I had seen in the house of the preacher frequently rose up distinctly before my mind's eye, decked with quiet graces—hang not down your head, Winifred—and I thought that of all the women in the world I should wish her to be my partner, and then I considered whether it would be possible to obtain her. I am ready to acknowledge, friend, that it was both selfish and wicked in me to wish to fetter any human being to a lost creature like myself, conscious of having committed a crime for which the Scriptures told me there is no pardon. I had, indeed, a long struggle as to whether I should make the attempt or not—selfishness however prevailed. I will not detain your attention with relating all that occurred at this period—suffice it to say that I made my suit and was successful; it is true that the old man, who was her guardian, hesitated, and asked several questions respecting my state of mind. I am afraid that I partly deceived him, perhaps he partly deceived himself; he was pleased that I had adopted his profession—we are all weak creatures. With respect to the young person, she did not ask many questions; and I soon found that I had won her heart. To be brief, I married her; and here she is, the truest wife that ever man had, and the kindest. Kind I may well call her, seeing that she shrinks not from me, who so cruelly deceived her, in not telling her at first what I was. I married her, friend; and brought her home to my little possession, where we passed our time very agreeably. Our affairs prospered, our garners were full, and there was coin in our purse. I worked in the field; Winifred busied herself with the dairy. At night I frequently read books to her, books of my own country, friend; I likewise read to her songs of my own, holy songs and carols which she admired, and which yourself would perhaps admire, could you understand them; but I repeat, you Saxons are an ignorant people with respect to us, and a perverse, inasmuch as you despise Welsh without understanding it. Every night I prayed fervently, and my wife admired my gift of prayer.

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