MY NEIGHBORS STORIES OF THE WELSH PEOPLE
BY CARADOC EVANS
NEW YORK HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE 1920
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE, INC.
THE QUINN & BODEN COMPANY RAHWAY, N.J.
TO MY FRIEND THOMAS BURKE OF "LIMEHOUSE NIGHTS"
THE WELSH PEOPLE 3 I. LOVE AND HATE 11 II. ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN 31 III. THE TWO APOSTLES 59 IV. EARTHBRED 81 V. FOR BETTER 99 VI. TREASURE AND TROUBLE 117 VII. SAINT DAVID AND THE PROPHETS 131 VIII. JOSEPH'S HOUSE 155 IX. LIKE BROTHERS 173 X. A WIDOW WOMAN 187 XI. UNANSWERED PRAYERS 199 XII. LOST TREASURE 215 XIII. PROFIT AND GLORY 231
THE WELSH PEOPLE
Our God is a big man: a tall man much higher than the highest chapel in Wales and broader than the broadest chapel. For the promised day that He comes to deliver us a sermon we shall have made a hole in the roof and taken down a wall. Our God has a long, white beard, and he is not unlike the Father Christmas of picture-books. Often he lies on his stomach on Heaven's floor, an eye at one of his myriads of peepholes, watching that we keep his laws. Our God wears a frock coat, a starched linen collar and black necktie, and a silk hat, and on the Sabbath he preaches to the congregation of Heaven.
Heaven is a Welsh chapel; but its pulpit is of gold, and its walls, pews, floor, roof, harmonium, and its clock—which marks the days of the month as well as the hours of the day—are of glass. The inhabitants are clothed in the white shirts in which they were buried and in which they arose at the Call; and the language of God and his angels and of the Company of Prophets is Welsh, that being the language spoken in the Garden of Eden and by Jacob, Moses, Abraham, and Elijah.
Wales is Heaven on earth, and every Welsh chapel is a little Heaven; and God has favored us greatly by choosing to rule over us preachers who are fashioned in his likeness and who are without spot or blemish.
Every Welsh child knows that the preacher is next to God; "I am the Big Man's photograph," the preacher shouts; and the child is brought up in the fear of the preacher.
Jealous of his trust, the preacher has made rules for the salvation of our bodies and souls. Temptations such as art, drama, dancing, and the study of folklore he has removed from our way. Those are vanities, which make men puffed up and vainglorious; and they are unsavory in the nostrils of the Big Man. And look you, the preacher asks, do they not cost money? Are they not time wasters? The capel needs your money, boys bach, that the light—the grand, religious light—shall shine in the pulpit.
That is the lamp which burns throughout Wales. It keeps our feet from Church door and public house, and it guides us to the polling booth where we record our votes as the preacher has instructed us. Be the season never so hard and be men and women never so hungry, its flame does not wane and the oil in its vessel is not low.
White cabbages and new potatoes, eggs and measures of corn, milk and butter and money we give to the preacher. We trim our few acres until our shoulders are crutched and the soil is in the crevices of our flesh that his estate shall be a glory unto God. We make for him a house which is as a mansion set amid hovels and for the building thereof the widow must set aside portions of her weekly old age pension. These things and many more we do, for forgiveness of sin is obtained by sacrifice. Such folk as hold back their offerings have their names proclaimed in the pulpit.
Said the preacher: "Heavy was the punishment of the Big Man on Twm Cwm, persons, because Twm speeched against the capel. Was he not put in the coffin in his farm trowsis and jacket? And do you know, the Big Man cast a brightness on his buttons for him to be known in the blackness of hell."
It is no miracle that we are religious. Our God is just behind the preacher, and he is in the semblance of the preacher; and we believe in him truly. It is no miracle that we are prayerful. Our God is by us in our hagglings and cheatings. Becca Penffos prays that the dealer's eyes are closed to the disease of her hen; Shon Porth asks the Big Man to destroy his pregnant sister into whose bed Satan enticed him; Ianto Tybach says: "Give me a nice bit of haymaking weather, God bach. Strike my brother Enoch dead and blind and see I have his fields without any old bother. A champion am I in the religion and there's gifts I give the preacher. Ask him. That's all. Amen."
Although we know God, we are afraid of to-morrow: one will steal our seeds, a horse will perish, our wife will die and a servant woman will have to be hired to the time that we find another wife, the Englishman whom we defrauded in the market place will come and seek his rights.
We are what we have been made by our preachers and politicians, and thus we remain. Among ourselves our repute is ill. Our villages and countryside are populated with the children of cousins who have married cousins and of women who have played the harlot with their brothers; and no one loves his neighbor. Abroad we are distrusted and disdained. This is said of us: "A Welshman's bond is as worthless as his word." We traffic in prayers and hymns, and in the name of Jesus Christ, and we display a spurious heart upon our breast. Our politicians, crafty pupils of the preachers and now their masters, weep and moan in the public places as if they were women in childbirth; in their souls they are lustful and cruel and greedy. They have made themselves the slaves of the wicked, and like asses their eyes are lifted no higher than the golden carrot which is their reward from the wicked. Not of one of us it can be said: "He is a great man," or "He is a good man," or "He is an honest man."
Maybe the living God will consider our want of knowledge and act mercifully toward us.
LOVE AND HATE
By living frugally—setting aside a portion of his Civil Service pay and holding all that he got from two butchers whose trade books he kept in proper order—Adam Powell became possessed of Cartref in which he dwelt and which is in Barnes, and two houses in Thornton East; and one of the houses in Thornton East he let to his widowed daughter Olwen, who carried on a dressmaking business. At the end of his term he retired from his office, his needs being fulfilled by a pension, and his evening eased by the ministrations of his elder daughter Lisbeth.
Soon an inward malady seized him, and in the belief that he would not be rid of it, he called Lisbeth and Olwen, to whom both he pronounced his will.
"The Thornton East property I give you," he said. "Number seven for Lissi and eight for Olwen as she is. It will be pleasant to be next door, and Lissi is not likely to marry at her age which is advanced. Share and share alike of the furniture, and what's left sell with the house and haff the proceeds. If you don't fall out in the sharing, you never will again."
At once Lisbeth and Olwen embraced.
"My sister is my best friend," was the testimony of the elder; "we shan't go astray if we follow the example of the dad and mother," was that of the younger.
"Take two or three excursion trains to Aberporth for the holidays," said Adam, "and get a little gravel for the mother's grave in Beulah. And a cheap artificial wreath. They last better than real ones. It was in Beulah that me and your mother learnt about Jesus."
Together Olwen and Lisbeth pledged that they would attend their father's behests: shunning ill-will and continually petitioning to be translated to the Kingdom of God; "but," Lisbeth laughed falsely, "you are not going to die. The summer will do wonders for you."
"You are as right as a top really," cried Olwen.
Beholding that his state was the main concern of his children, Adam counted himself blessed; knowing of a surety that the designs of God stand fast against prayer and physic, he said: "I am shivery all over."
A fire was kindled and coals piled upon it that it was scarce to be borne, and three blankets were spread over those which were on his bed, and three earthen bottles which held heated water were put in his bed; and yet the old man got no warmth.
"I'll manage now alone," said Lisbeth on the Saturday morning. "You'll have Jennie and her young gentleman home for Sunday. Should he turn for the worse I'll send for you."
Olwen left, and in the afternoon came Jennie and Charlie from the drapery shop in which they were engaged; and sighing and sobbing she related to them her father's will.
"If I was you, ma," Jennie counseled, "I wouldn't leave him too much alone with Aunt Liz. You never can tell. Funny things may happen."
"I'd trust Aunt Liz anywhere," Olwen declared, loath to have her sister charged with unfaithfulness.
"What do you think, Charlie?" asked Jennie.
The young man stiffened his slender body and inclined his pale face and rubbed his nape, and he proclaimed that there was no discourse of which the meaning was hidden from him and no device with which he was not familiar; and he answered: "I would stick on the spot."
That night Olwen made her customary address to God, and before she came up from her knees or uncovered her eyes, she extolled to God the acts of her father Adam. But slumber kept from her because of that which Jennie had spoken; and diffiding the humor of her heart, she said to herself: "Liz must have a chance of going on with some work." At that she slept; and early in the day she was in Cartref.
"Jennie and Charlie insist you rest," she told Lisbeth. "She can manage quite nicely, and there's Charlie which is a help. So should any one who is twenty-three."
For a week the daughters waited on their father and contrived they never so wittily to free him from his disorder—Did they not strip and press against him?—they could not deliver him from the wind of dead men's feet. They stitched black cloth into garments and while they stitched they mumbled the doleful hymns of Sion. Two yellow plates were fixed on Adam's coffin—this was in accordance with the man's request—and the engraving on one was in the Welsh tongue, and on the other in the English tongue, and the reason was this: that the angel who lifts the lid—be he of the English or of the Welsh—shall know immediately that the dead is of the people chosen to have the first seats in the Mansion.
The sisters removed from Cartref such things as pleased them; Lisbeth chose more than Olwen, for her house was bare; and in the choosing each gave in to the other, and neither harbored a mean thought.
With her chattels and her sewing machine, Lisbeth entered number seven, which is in Park Villas, and separated from the railway by a wood paling, and from then on the sisters lived by the rare fruits of their joint industry; and never, except on the Sabbath, did they shed their thimbles or the narrow bright scissors which hung from their waists. Some of the poor middle-class folk near-by brought to them their measures of materials, and the more honorable folk who dwelt in the avenues beyond Upper Richmond Road crossed the steep railway bridge with blouses and skirts to be reformed.
"We might be selling Cartref now," said Olwen presently.
"I leave it to you," Lisbeth remarked.
"And I leave it to you. It's as much yours as mine."
"Suppose we consult Charlie?"
"He's a man, and he'll do the best he can."
"Yes, he's very cute is Charlie."
Charlie gave an ear unto Olwen, and he replied: "You been done in. It's disgraceful how's she's took everything that were best."
"She had nothing to go on with," said Olwen. "And it will come back. It will be all Jennie's."
"What guarantee have you of that? That's my question. What guarantee?"
Olwen was silent. She was not wishful of disparaging her sister or of squabbling with Charlie.
"Well," said Charlie, "I must have an entirely free hand. Give it an agent if you prefer. They're a lively lot."
He went about over-praising Cartref. "With the sticks and they're not rubbish," he swore, "it's worth five hundred. Three-fifty will buy the lot."
A certain man said to him: "I'll give you two-twenty"; and Charlie replied: "Nothing doing."
Twelve months he was in selling the house, and for the damage which in the meanseason had been done to it by a bomb and by fire and water the sum of money that he received was one hundred and fifty pounds.
Lisbeth had her share, and Olwen had her share, and each applauded Charlie, Lisbeth assuring him: "You'll never regret it"; and this is how Charlie applauded himself: "No one else could have got so much."
"The house and cash will be a nice egg-nest for Jennie," Olwen announced.
"And number seven and mine will make it more," added Lisbeth.
"It's a great comfort that she'll never want a roof over her," said Olwen.
Mindful of their vows to their father, the sisters lived at peace and held their peace in the presence of their prattling neighbors. On Sundays, togged in black gowns on which were ornaments of jet, they worshiped in the Congregational Chapel; and as they stood up in their pew, you saw that Olwen was as the tall trunk of a tree at whose shoulders are the stumps of chopped branches, and that Lisbeth's body was as a billhook. Once they journeyed to Aberporth and they laid a wreath of wax flowers and a thick layer of gravel on their mother's grave. They tore a gap in the wall which divided their little gardens, and their feet, so often did one visit the other, trod a path from backdoor to backdoor.
Nor was their love confused in the joy that each had in Jennie, for whom sacrifices were made and treasures hoarded.
But Jennie was discontented, puling for what she could not have, mourning her lowly fortune, deploring her spinsterhood.
"Bert and me are getting married Christmas," she said on a day.
"Hadn't you better wait a while," said Olwen. "You're young."
"We talked of that. Charlie is getting on. He's thirty-eight, or will be in January. We'll keep on in the shop and have sleep-out vouchers and come here week-ends."
As the manner is, the mother wept.
"You've nothing to worry about," Lisbeth assuaged her sister. "He's steady and respectable. We must see that she does it in style. You look after the other arrangements and I'll see to her clothes."
She walked through wind and rain and sewed by day and night, without heed of the numbness which was creeping into her limbs; and on the floor of a box she put six jugs which had been owned by the Welshwoman who was Adam's grandmother, and over the jugs she arrayed the clothes she had made, and over all she put a piece of paper on which she had written, "To my darling niece from her Aunt Lisbeth."
Jennie examined her aunt's handiwork and was exceedingly wrathful.
"I shan't wear them," she cried. "She might have spoken to me before she started. After all, it's my wedding. Not hers. Pwf! I can buy better jugs in the six-pence-apenny bazaar."
"Aunt Liz will alter them," Olwen began.
"I agree with her," said Charlie. "Aunt Liz should be more considerate seeing what I have done for her. But for me she wouldn't have any money at all."
Charlie and Jennie stirred their rage and gave utterance to the harshest sayings they could devise about Lisbeth; "and I don't care if she's listening outside the door," said Charlie; "and you can tell her it's me speaking," said Jennie.
Throughout Saturday and Sunday Jennie pouted and dealt rudely and uncivilly with her mother; and on Monday, at the hour she was preparing to depart, Olwen relented and gave her twenty pounds, wherefore on the wedding day Lisbeth was astonished.
"Why aren't you wearing my presents?" she asked.
"That's it," Jennie shouted. "Don't you forget to throw cold water, will you? It wouldn't be you if you did. I don't want to. See? And if you don't like it, lump it."
Olwen calmed her sister, whispering: "She's excited. Don't take notice."
At the quickening of the second dawn after Christmas, Jennie and Bert arose, and Jennie having hidden her wedding-ring, they two went about their business; and when at noon Olwen proceeded to number seven, she found that Lisbeth had been taken sick of the palsy and was fallen upon the floor. Lisbeth was never well again, and what time she understood all that Olwen had done for her, she melted into tears.
"I should have gone but for you," she averred. "The money's Jennie's, which is the same as I had it and under the mattress, and the house is Jennie's."
"She's fortunate," returned Olwen. "She'll never want for ten shillings a week which it will fetch. You are kind indeed."
"Don't neglect them for me," Lisbeth urged. "I'll be quite happy if you drop in occasionally."
"Are you not my sister?" Olwen cried. "I'm having a bed for you in our front sitting-room. You won't be lonely."
Winter, spring, and summer passed, and the murmurs of Jennie and Charlie against Lisbeth were grown into a horrid clamor.
"Hush, she'll hear you," Olwen always implored. "It won't be for much longer. The doctor says she may go any minute."
"Or last ages," said Charlie.
"Jennie will have the house and the money," Olwen pleaded. "And the money hasn't been touched. Same as you gave it to her. She showed it to me under the mattress. Not every one have two houses."
"By then you will have bought it over and over again," said Charlie. "Doesn't give Jennie and me much chance of saving, does it?"
"And she can't eat this and can't eat that," Jennie screamed. "She won't, she means."
Weekly was Olwen harassed with new disputes, and she rued that she had said: "I'll have a bed for you in our front sitting-room"; and as it falls out in family quarrels, she sided with her daughter and her daughter's husband.
So the love of the sisters became forced and strained, each speaking and answering with an ill-favored mouth; it was no longer entire and nothing that was professed united it together.
"I must make my will now," Lisbeth hinted darkly.
"Perhaps Charlie will oblige you," replied Olwen.
"Charlie! You make me smile. Why, he can't keep a wife."
"I thought you had settled all that," Olwen faltered.
"Did you? Anyway, I'll have it in black and white. The minister will do it."
After the minister was gone away, Lisbeth said: "I couldn't very well approach him. He's worried about money for the new vestry. Why didn't you tell me about the new vestry? It was in the magazine."
Olwen mused and from her musings came this: "It'll be a pity to spoil it now. For Jennie's sake."
She got very soft pillows and clean bed-clothes for Lisbeth and she placed toothsome dishes before Lisbeth; and it was Lisbeth's way to probe with a fork all the dishes that Olwen had made and to say "It's badly burnt," or "You didn't give much for this," or "Of course you were never taught to cook."
For three years Olwen endured her sister's taunts and the storms of her daughter and her son-in-law; and then Jennie said: "I'm going to have a baby." If she was glad and feared to hear this, how much greater was her joy and how much heavier was her anxiety as Jennie's space grew narrower? She left over going to the aid of Lisbeth, from whom she took away the pillows and for whom she did not provide any more toothsome dishes; she did not go to her aid howsoever frantic the beatings on the wall or fierce the outcry. Never has a sentry kept a closer look-out than Olwen for Jennie. Albeit Jennie died, and as Olwen looked at the hair which was faded from the hue of daffodils into that of tow and at the face the cream of the skin of which was now like clay, she hated Lisbeth with the excess that she had loved her.
"My dear child shall go to Heaven like a Princess," she said; and she sat at her work table to fashion a robe of fine cambric and lace for her dead.
Disturbed by the noise of the machine, Lisbeth wailed: "You let me starve but won't let me sleep. Why doesn't any one help me? I'll get the fever. What have I done?"
Olwen moved to the doorway of the room, her body filling the frame thereof, her scissors hanging at her side.
"You are wrong, sister, to starve me," Lisbeth said. "To starve me. I cannot walk you know. You must not blame me if I change my mind about my money. It was wrong of you."
Olwen did not answer.
"Dear me," Lisbeth cried, "supposing our father in Heaven knew how you treat me. Indeed the vestry shall have my bit. I might be a pig in a pigsty. I'll get the fever. Supposing our father is looking through the window of Heaven at your cruelty to me."
Olwen muttered the burden of her care: "'The wife would pull through if she had plenty of attention. How could she with her about? The two of you killed her. You did. I warned you to give up everything and see to her. But you neglected her.' That's what Charlie will say. Hoo-hoo. 'It's unheard of for a woman to die before childbirth. Serves you right if I have an inquest.'..."
"For shame to keep from me now," said Lisbeth in a voice that was higher than the continued muttering of Olwen. "Have you no regard for the living? The dead is dead. And you made too much of Jennie. You spoiled her...."
On a sudden Olwen ceased, and she strode up to the bed and thrust her scissors into Lisbeth's breast.
ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN
On the eve of a Communion Sunday Simon Idiot espied Dull Anna washing her feet in the spume on the shore; he came out of his hiding-place and spoke jestingly to Anna and enticed her into Blind Cave, where he had sport with her. In the ninth year of her child, whom she had called Abel, Anna stretched out her tongue at the schoolmaster and took her son to the man who farmed Deinol.
"Brought have I your scarecrow," she said. "Give you to me the brown pennies that you will pay for him."
From dawn to sunset Abel stood on a hedge, waving his arms, shouting, and mimicking the sound of gunning. Weary of his work he vowed a vow that he would not keep on at it. He walked to Morfa and into his mother's cottage; his mother listened to him, then she took a stick and beat him until he could not rest nor move with ease.
"Break him in like a frisky colt, little man bach," said Anna to the farmer. "Know you he is the son of Satan. Have I not told how the Bad Man came to me in my sound sleep and was naughty with me?"
[Footnote 1: Dear little man. "Bach" is the Welsh masculine for "dear"; "fach" the Welsh feminine for "dear."]
But the farmer had compassion on Abel and dealt with him kindly, and when Abel married he let him live in Tybach—the mud-walled, straw-thatched, two-roomed house which is midway on the hill that goes down from Synod Inn into Morfa—and he let him farm six acres of land.
The young man and his bride so labored that the people thereabout were confounded; they stirred earlier and lay down later than any honest folk; and they took more eggs and tubs of butter to market than even Deinol, and their pigs fattened wondrously quick.
Twelve years did they live thus wise. For the woman these were years of toil and child-bearing; after she had borne seven daughters, her sap husked and dried up.
Now the spell of Abel's mourning was one of ill-fortune for Deinol, the master of which was grown careless: hay rotted before it was gathered and corn before it was reaped; potatoes were smitten by a blight, a disease fell upon two cart-horses, and a heifer was drowned in the sea. Then the farmer felt embittered, and by day and night he drank himself drunk in the inns of Morfa.
Because he wanted Deinol, Abel brightened himself up: he wore whipcord leggings over his short legs, and a preacher's coat over his long trunk, a white and red patterned celluloid collar about his neck, and a bowler hat on the back of his head; and his side-whiskers were trimmed in the shape of a spade. He had joy of many widows and spinsters, to each of whom he said: "There's a grief-livener you are," and all of whom he gave over on hearing of the widow of Drefach. Her he married, and with the money he got with her, and the money he borrowed, he bought Deinol. Soon he was freed from the hands of his lender. He had eight horses and twelve cows, and he had oxen and heifers, and pigs and hens, and he had twenty-five sheep grazing on his moorland. As his birth and poverty had caused him to be scorned, so now his gains caused him to be respected. The preacher of Capel Dissenters in Morfa saluted him on the tramping road and in shop, and brought him down from the gallery to the Big Seat. Even if Abel had land, money, and honor, his vessel of contentment was not filled until his wife went into her deathbed and gave him a son.
"Indeed me," he cried, "Benshamin his name shall be. The Large Maker gives and a One He is for taking away."
He composed a prayer of thankfulness and of sorrow; and this prayer he recited to the congregation which gathered at the graveside of the woman from Drefach.
Benshamin grew up in the way of Capel Dissenters. He slept with his father and ate apart from his sisters, for his mien was lofty. At the age of seven he knew every question and answer in the book "Mother's Gift," with sayings from which he scourged sinners; and at the age of eight he delivered from memory the Book of Job at the Seiet; at that age also he was put among the elders in the Sabbath School.
He advanced, waxing great in religion. On the nights of the Saying and Searching of the Word he was with the cunningest men, disputing with the preacher, stressing his arguments with his fingers, and proving his learning with phrases from the sermons of the saintly Shones Talysarn.
If one asked him: "What are you going, Ben Abel Deinol?" he always answered: "The errander of the White Gospel fach."
His father communed with the preacher, who said: "Pity quite sinful if the boy is not in the pulpit."
"Like that do I think as well too," replied Abel. "Eloquent he is. Grand he is spouting prayers at his bed. Weep do I."
Neighbors neglected their fields and barnyards to hear the lad's shoutings to God. Once Ben opened his eyes and rebuked those who were outside his room.
"Shamed you are, not for certain," he said to them. "Come in, boys Capel. Right you hear the Gospel fach. Youngish am I but old is my courtship of King Jesus who died on the tree for scamps of parsons."
He shut his eyes and sang of blood, wood, white shirts, and thorns; of the throng that would arise from the burial-ground, in which there were more graves than molehills in the shire. He cried against the heathenism of the Church, the wickedness of Church tithes, and against ungodly book-prayers and short sermons.
Early Ben entered College Carmarthen, where his piety—which was an adage—was above that of any student. Of him this was said: "'White Jesus bach is as plain on his lips as the purse of a big bull.'"
Brightness fell upon him. He had a name for the tearfulness and splendor of his eloquence. He could conduct himself fancifully: now he was Pharaoh wincing under the plagues, now he was the Prodigal Son longing to eat at the pigs' trough, now he was the Widow of Nain rejoicing at the recovery of her son, now he was a parson in Nineveh squirming under the prophecy of Jonah; and his hearers winced or longed, rejoiced or squirmed. Congregations sought him to preach in their pulpits, and he chose such as offered the highest reward, pledging the richest men for his wage and the cost of his entertainment and journey. But Ben would rule over no chapel. "I wait for the call from above," he said.
His term at Carmarthen at an end, he came to Deinol. His father met him in a doleful manner.
"An old boy very cruel is the Parson," Abel whined. "Has he not strained Gwen for his tithes? Auction her he did and bought her himself for three pounds and half a pound."
Ben answered: "Go now and say the next Saturday Benshamin Lloyd will give mouthings on tithes in Capel Dissenters."
Ben stood in the pulpit, and spoke to the people of Capel Dissenters.
"How many of you have been to his church?" he cried. "Not one male bach or one female fach. Go there the next Sabbath, and the black muless will not say to you: 'Welcome you are, persons Capel. But there's glad am I to see you.' A comic sermon you will hear. A sermon got with half-a-crown postal order. Ask Postman. Laugh highly you will and stamp on the floor. Funny is the Parson in the white frock. Ach y fy, why for he doesn't have a coat preacher like Respecteds? Ask me that. From where does his Church come from? She is the inheritance of Satan. The only thing he had to leave, and he left her to his friends the parsons. Iss-iss, earnest affair is this. Who gives him his food? We. Who pays for Vicarage? We. Who feeds his pony? We. His cows? We. Who built his church? We. With stones carted from our quarries and mortar messed about with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our fathers."
At the gate of the chapel men discussed Ben's words; and two or three of them stole away and herded Gwen into the corner of the field; and they caught her and cut off her tail, and drove a staple into her udder. Sunday morning eleven men from Capel Dissenters, with iron bands to their clogs on their feet, and white aprons before their bellies, shouted without the church: "We are come to pray from the book." The Parson was affrighted, and left over tolling his bell, and he bolted and locked the door, against which he set his body as one would set the stub of a tree.
Running at the top of their speed the railers came to Ben, telling how the Parson had put them to shame.
"Iobs you are," Ben answered. "The boy bach who loses the key of his house breaks into his house. Does an old wench bar the dairy to her mishtress?"
The men returned each to his abode, and an hour after midday they gathered in the church burial-ground, and they drew up a tombstone, and with it rammed the door; and they hurled stones at the windows; and in the darkness they built a wall of dung in the room of the door.
Repentance sank into the Parson as he saw and remembered that which had been done to him. He called to him his servant Lissi Workhouse, and her he told to take Gwen to Deinol. The cow lowed woefully as she was driven; she was heard even in Morfa, and many hurried to the road to witness her.
Abel was at the going in of the close.
"Well-well, Lissi Workhouse," he said, "what's doing then?"
"'Go give the male his beast,' mishtir talked."
"Right for you are," said Abel.
"Right for enough is the rascal. But a creature without blemish he pilfered. Hit her and hie her off."
As Lissi was about to go, Ben cried from within the house: "The cow the fulbert had was worth two of his cows."
"Sure, iss-iss," said Abel. "Go will I to Vicarage with boys capel. Bring the baston, Ben bach."
Ben came out, and his ardor warmed up on beholding Lissi's broad hips, scarlet cheeks, white teeth, and full bosoms.
"Not blaming you, girl fach, am I," he said. "My father, journey with Gwen. Walk will I with Lissi Workhouse."
That afternoon Abel brought a cow in calf into his close; and that night Ben crossed the mown hayfields to the Vicarage, and he threw a little gravel at Lissi's window.
* * * * *
The hay was gathered and stacked and thatched, and the corn was cut down, and to the women who were gleaning his father's oats, Ben said how that Lissi was in the family way.
"Silence your tone, indeed," cried one, laughing. "No sign have I seen."
"If I died," observed a large woman, "boy bach pretty innocent you are, Benshamin. Four months have I yet. And not showing much do I."
"No," said another, "the bulk might be only the coil of your apron, ho-ho."
"Whisper to us," asked the large woman, "who the foxer is. Keep the news will we."
"Who but the scamp of the Parson?" replied Ben. "What a sow of a hen."
By such means Ben shifted his offense. On being charged by the Parson he rushed through the roads crying that the enemy of the Big Man had put unbecoming words on a harlot's tongue. Capel Dissenters believed him. "He could not act wrongly with a sheep," some said.
So Ben tasted the sapidness and relish of power, and his desires increased.
"Mortgage Deinol, my father bach," he said to Abel. "Going am I to London. Heavy shall I be there. None of the dirty English are like me."
"Already have I borrowed for your college. No more do I want to have. How if I sell a horse?"
"Sell you the horse too, my father bach."
"Done much have I for you," Abel said. "Fairish I must be with your sisters."
"Why for you cavil like that, father? The money of mam came to Deinol. Am I not her son?"
Though his daughters, murmured—"We wake at the caw of the crows," they said, "and weary in the young of the day"—Abel obeyed his son, who thereupon departed and came to Thornton East to the house of Catherine Jenkins, a widow woman, with whom he took the appearance of a burning lover.
Though he preached with a view at many English chapels in London, none called him. He caused Abel to sell cattle and mortgage Deinol for what it was worth and to give him all the money he received therefrom; he swore such hot love for Catherine that the woman pawned her furniture for his sake.
Intrigued that such scant fruit had come up from his sowings, Ben thought of further ways of stablishing himself. He inquired into the welfare of shop-assistants from women and girls who worshiped in Welsh chapels, and though he spoiled several in his quest, the abominations which oppressed these workers were made known to him. Shop-assistants carried abroad his fame and called him "Fiery Taffy." Ben showed them how to rid themselves of their burden; "a burden," he said, "packed full and overflowing by men of my race—the London Welsh drapers."
The Welsh drapers were alarmed, and in a rage with Ben. They took the opinion of their big men and performed slyly. Enos-Harries—this is the Enos-Harries who has a drapery shop in Kingsend—sent to Ben this letter: "Take Dinner with Slf and Wife same, is Late Dinner I am pleased to inform. You we don't live in Establishment only as per printed Note Heading. And Oblige."
Enos-Harries showed Ben his house, and told him the cost of the treasures that were therein.
Also Harries said: "I have learned of you as a promising Welshman, and I want to do a good turn for you with a speech by you on St. David's Day at Queen's Hall. Now, then."
"I am not important enough for that."
"She'll be a first-class miting in tip-top speeches. All the drapers and dairies shall be there in crowds. Three sirs shall come."
"I am choked with engagements," said Ben. "I am preaching very busy now just."
"Well-well. Asked I did for you are a clean Cymro bach. As I repeat, only leading lines in speakers shall be there. Come now into the drawing-room and I'll give you an intro to the Missus Enos-Harries. In evening dress she is—chik Paris Model. The invoice price was ten-ten."
"Wait a bit," Ben remarked. "I would be glad if I could speak."
"Perhaps the next time we give you the invite. The Cymrodorion shall be in the miting."
"As you plead, try I will."
"Stretching a point am I," Harries said. "This is a favor for you to address this glorious miting where the Welsh drapers will attend and the Missus Enos-Harries will sing 'Land of my Fathers.'"
Ben withdrew from his fellows for three days, and on the third day—which was that of the Saint—he put on him a frock coat, and combed down his mustache over the blood-red swelling on his lip; and he cleaned his teeth. Here are some of the sayings that he spoke that night:
"Half an hour ago we were privileged to listen to the voice of a lovely lady—a voice as clear as a diamond ring. It inspired us one and all with a hireath for the dear old homeland—for dear Wales, for the land of our fathers and mothers too, for the land that is our heritage not by Act of Parliament but by the Act of God....
"Who ownss this land to-day? The squaire and the parshon. By what right? By the same right as the thief who steals your silk and your laces, and your milk and butter, and your reddy-made blousis. I know a farm of one hundred acres, each rod having been tamed from heatherland into a manna of abundance. Tamed by human bones and muscles—God's invested capital in His chosen children. Six months ago this land—this fertile and rich land—was wrestled away from the owners. The bones of the living and the dead were wrestled away. I saw it three months ago—a wylderness. The clod had been squeesed of its zweat. The land belonged to my father, and his father, and his father, back to countless generations....
"I am proud to be among my people to-night. How sorry I am for any one who are not Welsh. We have a language as ancient as the hills that shelter us, and the rivers that never weery of refreshing us....
"Only recently a few shop-assistants—a handful of counter-jumpers—tried to shake the integrity of our commerse. But their white cuffs held back their aarms, and the white collars choked their aambitions. When I was a small boy my mam used to tell me how the chief Satan was caught trying to put his hand over the sun so as to give other satans a chance of doing wrong on earth in the dark. That was the object of these misguided fools. They had no grievances. I have since investigated the questions of living-in and fines. Both are fair and necessary. The man who tries to destroy them is like the swimmer who plunges among the water lilies to be dragged into destruction....
"Welsh was talked in the Garden of Aden. That is where commerse began. Didn't Eve buy the apple?...
"Ladies and gentlemen, Cymrodorion, listen. There is a going in these classical old rafterss. It is the coming of God. And the message He gives you this night is this: 'Men of Gwalia, march on and keep you tails up.'"
From that hour Ben flourished. He broke his league with the shop-assistants. Those whom he had troubled lost courage and humbled themselves before their employers; but their employers would have none of them, man or woman, boy or girl.
Vexation followed his prosperity. His father reproached him, writing: "Sad I drop into the Pool as old Abel Tybach, and not as Lloyd Deinol." Catherine harassed him to recover her house and chattels. To these complainings he was deaf. He married the daughter of a wealthy Englishman, who set him up in a large house in the midst of a pleasure garden; and of the fatness and redness of his wife he was sickened before he was wedded to her.
By studying diligently, the English language became as familiar to him as the Welsh language. He bound himself to Welsh politicians and engaged himself in public affairs, and soon he was as an idol to a multitude of people, who were sensible only to his well-sung words, and who did not know that his utterances veiled his own avarice and that of his masters. All that he did was for profit, and yet he could not win enough.
Men and women, soothed into false ease and quickened into counterfeit wrath, commended him, crying: "Thank God for Ben Lloyd." Such praise puffed him up, and howsoever mighty he was in the view of fools, he was mightier in his own view.
"At the next election I'll be in Parliament," he boasted in his vanity. "The basis of my solidity—strength—is as immovable—is as impregnable as Birds' Rock in Morfa."
Though the grandson of Simon Idiot and Dull Anna prophesied great things for himself, it was evil that came to him.
He trembled from head to foot to ravish every comely woman on whom his ogling eyes dwelt. His greed made him faithless to those whom he professed to serve: in his eagerness to lift himself he planned, plotted, and trafficked with the foes of his officers. Hearing that an account of his misdeeds was spoken abroad, he called the high London Welshmen into a room, and he said to them:
"These cruel slanderers have all but broken my spirit. They are the wicked inventions of fiends incarnate. It is not my fall that is required—if that were so I would gladly make the sacrifise—the zupreme sacrifise, if wanted—but it is the fall of the Party that these men are after. He who repeats one foul thing is doing his level best to destroy the fabric of this magnificent organisation that has been reared by your brains. It has no walls of stone and mortar, yet it is a sity builded by men. We must have no more bickerings. We have work to do. The seeds are springing forth, and a goodly harvest is promised: let us sharpen our blades and clear our barn floors. Cymru fydd—Wales for the Welsh—is here. At home and at Westminster our kith and kin are occupying prominent positions. Disestablishment is at hand. We have closed public-houses and erected chapels, each chapel being a factor in the education of the masses in ideas of righteous government. You, my friends, have secured much of the land, around which you have made walls, and in which you have set water fountains, and have planted rare plants and flowers. And you have put up your warning signs on it—'Trespassers will be prosecuted.'
"There is coming the Registration of Workers Act, by which every worker will be held to his locality, to his own enormous advantage. And it will end strikes, and trades unionism will deservedly crumble. In future these men will be able to settle down, and with God's blessing bring children into the world, and their condition will be a delight unto themselves and a profit to the community.
"But we must do more. I must do more. And you must help me. We must stand together. Slander never creates; it shackles and kills. We must be solid. Midway off the Cardigan coast—in beautiful Morfa—there is a rock—Birds' Rock. As a boy I used to climb to the top of it, and watch the waters swirling and tumbling about it, and around it and against it. But I was unafraid. For I knew that the rock was old when man was young, and that it had braved all the washings of the sea."
The men congratulated Ben; and Ben came home and he stood at a mirror, and shaping his body put out his arms.
"How's this for my maiden speech in the house?" he asked his wife. Presently he paused. "You're a fine one to be an M.P.'s lady," he said. "You stout, underworked fool."
Ben urged on his imaginings: he advised his monarch, and to him for favors merchants brought their gold, and mothers their daughters. Winter and spring moved, and then his mind brought his enemies to his door.
"As the root of a tree spreads in the bosom of the earth," he said, "so my fame shall spread over the world"; and he built a fence about his house.
But his mind would not be stilled. Every midnight his enemies were at the fence, and he could not sleep for the dreadful outcry; every midnight he arose from his bed and walked aside the fence, testing the strength of it with a hand and a shoulder and shooing away his enemies as one does a brood of chickens from a cornfield.
His fortieth summer ran out—a season of short days and nights speeding on the heels of night. Then peace fell upon him; and at dusk of a day he came into his room, and he saw one sitting in a chair. He went up to the chair and knelt on a knee, and said: "Your Majesty...."
THE TWO APOSTLES
God covered sun, moon, and stars, stilled the growing things of the earth and dried up the waters on the face of the earth, and stopped the roll of the world; and He fixed upon a measure of time in which to judge the peoples, this being the measure which was spoken of as the Day of Judgment.
In the meanseason He summoned Satan to the Judgment Hall, which is at the side of the river that breaks into four heads, and above which, its pulpits stretching beyond the sky, is the Palace of White Shirts, and below which, in deep darknesses, are the frightful regions of the Fiery Oven. "Give an account of your rule in the face of those whom you provoked to mischief," He said to Satan. "My balance hitched to a beam will weigh the good and evil of my children, and if good is heavier than evil, I shall lighten your countenance and clothe you with the robes of angels."
"Awake the dead" He bade the Trumpeter, and "Lift the lids off the burying-places" He bade the laborers. In their generations were they called; "for," said the Lord, "good and evil are customs of a period and when the period is passed and the next is come, good may be evil and evil may be good."
Now God did not put His entire trust in Satan, and in the evening of the day He set to prove him: "It is over."
"My Lord, so be it," answered Satan.
"How now?" asked God.
"The scale of wickedness sways like a kite in the wind," cried Satan. "Give me my robes and I will transgress against you no more."
"In the Book of Heaven and Hell," said God, "there is no writing of the last of the Welsh."
Satan spoke up: "My Lord, your pledge concerned those judged on the Day of Judgment. Day is outing. The windows of the Mansion are lit; hark the angels tuning their golden strings for the cheer of the Resurrection Supper. Give me my robes that I may sing your praises."
"Can I not lengthen the day with a wink of my eye?"
"All things you can do, my Lord, but observe your pledge to me. Allow these people to rest a while longer. Their number together with the number of their sins is fewer than the hairs on Elisha's head."
God laughed in His heart as He replied to Satan: "Tell the Trumpeter to take his horn and the laborers their spades and bring to me the Welsh."
The laborers digged, and at the sound of the horn the dead breathed and heaved. Those whose wit was sharp hurried into neighboring chapels and stole Bibles and hymn-books, with which in their pockets and under their arms they joined the host in Heaven's Courtyard, whence they went into the Waiting Chamber that is without the Judgment Hall.
"Boy bach, a lot of Books of the Word he has," a woman remarked to the Respected Towy-Watkins. "Say him I have one."
"Happy would I be to do like that," was the reply. "But, female, much does the Large One regard His speeches. What is the text on the wall? 'Prepare your deeds for the Lord.' The Beybile is the most religious deed. Farewell for now," and he pretended to go away.
Holding the sleeve of his White Shirt, the woman separated her toothless gums and fashioned her wrinkled face in grief. "Two tens he has," she croaked. "And his shirt is clean. Dirty am I; buried I was as I was found, and the shovelers beat the soil through the top of the coffin. Do much will I for one Beybile."
"A poor dab you are," said Towy.
"Many deeds you have? But no odds to me."
"Four I have."
"Woe for you, unfortunate."
"Iss-iss, horrid is my plight," the woman whined. "Little I did for Him."
"Don't draw tears. For eternity you'll weep. Here is a massive Beybile for your four deeds."
"Take him one. Handy will three be in the minute of the questioning."
"Refusing the Beybile bach you are. Also the hymn-book—old and new notations—I present for four. Stupid am I as the pigger's prentice who bought the litter in the belly."
"Be him soft and sell for one."
"I cannot say less. No relation you are to me. Hope I do that right enough are your four. Recite them to me, old woman."
"I ate rats to provide a Beybile to the Respected," the woman trembled. "I—"
"You are pathetic," Towy said. "Hie and get your tokens and have that poor one will I because of my pity for you."
The woman told her deeds in Heaven's Record Office, and she was given four white tablets on which her deeds were inscribed; and the rat tablet Towy took from her. "Faith and hope are tidy heifers," he said, "but a stallion is charity. Priceless Beybile I give you, sinner."
As he moved away Towy cried in the manner of one selling by auction: "This is the beloved Beybile of Jesus. This is the book of hymns—old and new notations. Hymns harvest, communion, funerals, Sunday schools, and hymns for children bach are here. Treasures bulky for certain."
For some he received three tablets each, for some five tablets each, and for some ten tablets each. But the gaudy Bible which was decorated with pictures and ornamented with brass clasps and a leather covering he did not sell; nor did he sell the gilt-edged hymn-book. Between the leaves of his Bible he put his tablets—as a preacher his markers—the writing on each tablet confirming a verse in the place it was set. His labor over, he chanted: "Pen Calvaria! Pen Calvaria! Very soon will come to view." Men and women gazed upon him, envying him; and those who had Bibles and hymn-books hastened to do as he had done.
Among the many that came to him was one whose name was Ben Lloyd.
"Dear me," said Towy.
"Dear me," said Ben.
"Fat is my religion after the springing," cried Towy. "Perished was I and up again. Amen, Big Man. Amen and amen. And amen.
"I opened my eyes and I saw a hand thrusting aside the firmament and I heard One calling me from the beyond, and the One was God."
"Like the roar of heated bulls was the noise, Ben bach."
"Praise Him I did that I was laid to rest at home. Away from the stir of Parliament. Tell Him I will how my spirit, though the flesh was dead, bathed in the living rivers and walked in the peaceful valleys of the glorious land of my fathers—thinking, thinking of Jesus."
"Hold on. Not so fast. From Capel Bryn Salem I journeyed to mouth with my heart to the Lord, and your slut of widow paid me only four soferens. Eloquent sermon I spouted and four soferens is the price of a supply."
"In your charity forgive her; her sorrow was o'erpowering."
"Sorrow! The mule of an English! She wasn't there."
"You don't say," cried Ben. "If above she is I will have her dragged down."
"Not a stone did she put over your head, and the strumpets of your sisters did not tend your grave. Why you were not eaten by worms I can't know."
On a sudden Towy shouted: "See an old parson do I. Is not this the day of rising up? Awful if the Big Man mistakes us for the Church. Not been inside a church have I, drop dead and blind, since I was born."
None gave heed to his cry, for the sound of the bargaining was most high. "Dissenters," he bellowed, "what right have Church heathens to mix with us? The Fiery Oven is their home."
The people were dismayed. Their number being small, the Church folk were pressed one upon the other; and after they were thrown in a mass against the gate of the Chariot House the Dissenters spread themselves easily as far as the door of the Crooked Stairway.
"Now, boys capel," Towy-Watkins said, "we will have a sermon. Fine will Welsh be in the nostrils of the Big Preacher. Pray will I at once."
The prayer ended, and one struck his tuning-fork; and while the congregation moaned and lamented, a tall man, who wore the habit of a preacher and whose yellow beard—the fringe of which was singed—hung over his breast like a sheaf of wheat, passed through the way of the door of the Stairway, and as he walked towards the Judgment Hall, some said: "Fair day, Respected," and some said: "Similar he is to Towy-Watkins."
"Shut your throats, colts," Towy rebuked the people. "Say after me: 'Go round my backhead, Satan.'"
"Go round my backhead, Satan," the people obeyed.
"Catch him and skin him," Towy screamed. "Teach him we will to snook about here."
Fear arming his courage, Satan shouted: "He who hurts me him shall I pitch head-long to the flames." The people's hands went to their sides, and Satan departed in peace.
"In my heart is my head," Towy said. "Near the Oven we are. Blow your noses of the stench. Young youths, herd blockheads Church over here."
Before the stalwarts started on their errand, the Overseer of the Waiting Chamber came to the door of the lane that takes you into the Judgment Hall, wherefore the Dissenters wept, howled, and whooped.
"Ready am I, God bach," Towy exclaimed, stretching his hairy arms. "Take me."
"Patiently I waited for the last Trump and humbly do I now wait for the Crown from your fingers," said Ben Lloyd. "My deeds are recorded in the archives of the House of Commons and the Cymrodorion Society."
"Clap up," Towy admonished Ben. "My religious actions can't be counted."
Lowering his eyes the Overseer murmured: "I am not the Lord."
"For why did you not say that?" cried Towy. He stepped to the Overseer. "Hap you are Apostle Shames. A splendid photo of Shames is in the Beybile with pictures. Fond am I of preaching from him. Lovely pieces there are. 'Abram believed God.' Who was Abram? Father of Isaac bach. Who made Abram? The Big Man. And the Big Man made the capel and the respected that is the jewel of the capel. Is not the pulpit the throne? Glad am I to see you, indeed, Shames."
The Overseer opened his lips.
"Enter with you will I," said Towy. "Look through my glassy soul you can."
"Silence—" the Overseer began.
"Iss, silence for ever and ever, amen," said Towy. "No trial I need. How can the Judge judge if there's no judging to be? Go up will I then. Hope to see you again, Shames."
The Overseer tightened his girdle. "Thus saith the Lord," he proclaimed: "'I will consider each by his deeds or all by the deeds of their two apostles.'"
"Ho-ho," said Towy. "Half one moment. Think will we. Dissenters, crowd here. Ben Lloyd, make arguments. Tricky is old Shames."
The Dissenters assembled close to Ben and Towy, and the Church people crept near them in order to share their counsel; but the Dissenters turned upon their enemies and bruised them with fists and Bibles and hymn-books, and called them frogs, turks, thieves, atheists, blacks; and there never has been heard such a tumult in any house. Alarmed that he could not part one side from the other, the Overseer sought Satan, who had a name for crafty dealings with disputants.
Satan was distressed. "If it was not for personal reasons," he said, "I would let them go to Hell." He sent into the Chamber a carpenter who put a barrier from wall to wall, and he appointed Jude in charge of the barrier to guard that no one went under it or over it.
Then the wise men of the Dissenters continued to examine the Lord's offer; and a thousand men declared they were holy enough to go before God, and from the thousand five hundred were cast out, and from the five hundred three hundred, and from the two hundred one hundred were cast away. Now this hundred were Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalists, and they quarreled so harshly and decried one another so spitefully that Ben and Towy made with them a compact to speak specially for each of them in the private ear of God. The strife quelled and Towy having cried loudly: "Dissenters and Churchers, glad you are that me and Ben Lloyd, Hem Pee, are your apostles," he and Ben followed the Overseer.
In the Judgment Hall the two apostles crouched to pray, and they were stirred by Satan laying his hands on their shoulders.
"Prayers are useless here, my friends," said the Devil. "We must proceed with the business. I am just as anxious as you are that everything reaches a satisfactory conclusion."
"I object," said Ben. "Solemnly object. I don't know this infidel. I don't want to know him."
"Go from here," Towy gruntled. "A sweat is in my whiskers. Inhabitants, why isn't his tongue a red-hot poker?... Well, boys Palace, grand this is. Say who you are?" he asked one whose face shone like a mirror. "Respected Towy-Watkins am I."
He whose face shone like a polished mirror answered that he was Moses the Keeper of the Balance. "The Lord is in the Cloud," he said.
Towy addressed the Cloud, which was the breadth of a man's hand, and which was brighter than the golden halo of the throne: "Big Man, peep at your helper. Was not I a ruler over the capel? Religious were my prayers."
"I did not hear any," said God.
"Mistake. Mistake. Towy bach eloquent was I called. Here am I with the Speech, and the Speech is God and God is the Speech. Take you as a great gift this nice hymn-book."
"What are hymns?" asked God.
"Moses, Moses," cried Towy, "explain affairs to Him."
God spoke: "Satan, render your account of the mischief you made these men do."
"This is a travesty of the traditions of the House," said Ben. "Traditions that are dear to me, being taught them at my mother's knees. I refuse to be drenched in Satan's froth. Against one who was a member of the Government you are taking the evidence of the most discredited man in the universe—the world's worst sinner."
He ceased, because Satan had begun to read; and Satan read rapidly, with shame, and without pantomime, not pausing at what times he was abused and charged with lying; and he read correctly, for the Records Clerk followed him word by word in the Book of the Watchers; and for every sin to which he confessed Moses placed a scarlet tablet in the scale of wickedness.
"I will attend to what I have heard," said the Lord when Satan had finished. "Put your tablets in the scale and go into the Chamber."
Ben and Towy withdrew, and as they passed out they beheld that the scale of scarlet tablets touched the ground.
Then the Cloud vanished and God came out of the Cloud.
"My wrath is fierce," He said. "Bind these Welsh and torment them with vipers and with fire in the uttermost parts of Hell. They shall have no more remembrance before me."
"Will you destroy the just?" asked Moses.
"They have chosen."
"Shall the godly perish because of the godless?"
"I flooded the world," said God.
"The righteous Noah and his house and his animals you did not destroy. And you repented that you smote every living thing. May not my Lord repent again?"
"I am not destroying every living thing," God replied. "I am destroying the vile."
"Remember Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot's wife and his daughters. They all sinned after their deliverance. The doings of Sodom stayed."
Moses also said: "You gave your ear to Jonah from the well of the sea."
"I sacrificed my Son for man."
"And loosed Satan upon him."
"Is scarlet white?" asked God.
"Is justice the fruit of injustice? The two men were not of the Church, and the Church may be holy in your sight."
"I have judged."
"And your judgment is past understanding," said Moses, and he sat at the Balance.
The servants of the Lord spoke one with another: "I cannot eat of the supper," said one; "The songs will be as a wolf's howlings in the wilderness," said another; "The honey will be as bittersweet as Adam's apple," said a third. But Satan exclaimed: "Come, let us seek in the Book of the Watchers for an act that will turn Him from His purpose."
In seeking, some put their fingers on the leaves and advised Moses to cry unto the Lord in such and such a manner.
"My voice is dumb," replied Moses.
Satan presently astonished the servants; he took the book to the Lord. "My Lord," he said, "which is the more precious—good or evil?"
"Good," said the Lord.
"More precious than the riches of Solomon is a deed done in your name?"
"Though the sins were as numerous as the teeth of a shoal of fish?"
"So. Unravel your riddle."
"An old woman of the Dissenters," said Satan, "claimed four tablets, whereas her deeds were nine."
God looked at the Balance and lo, the scale of white tablets was heavier than the scale of scarlet tablets.
"Bid hither the apostles," He commanded the Overseer, "for they shall see me, and this day they and their flocks shall be in Paradise."
Satan stood before the face of Moses, glowing as the angels; and he brought out scissors to clip off the fringe of his beard. When he had cut only a little, the Overseer entered the Judgment Hall, saying: "The two apostles tricked Jude and crawled under the barrier, and they shot back the bolts of the gate of the Chariot House and called a charioteer to take them to Heaven. 'This is God's will,' they said to him."
Satan's scissors fell on the floor.
Because he was diseased with a consumption, Evan Roberts in his thirtieth year left over being a drapery assistant and had himself hired as a milk roundsman.
A few weeks thereafter he said to Mary, the woman whom he had promised to wed: "How now if I had a milk-shop?"
Mary encouraged him, and searched for that which he desired; and it came to be that on a Thursday afternoon they two met at the mouth of Worship Street—the narrow lane that is at the going into Richmond.
"Stand here, Marri," Evan ordered. "Go in will I and have words with the owner. Hap I shall uncover his tricks."
"Very well you are," said Mary. "Don't over-waggle your tongue. Address him in hidden phrases."
Evan entered the shop, and as there was no one therein he made an account of the tea packets and flour bags which were on the shelves. Presently a small, fat woman stood beyond the counter. Evan addressed her in English: "Are you Welsh?"
"That's what people say," the woman answered.
"Glad am I to hear you," Evan returned in Welsh. "Tell me how you was."
"A Cymro bach I see," the woman cried. "How was you?"
"Peeped did I on your name on the sign. Shall I say you are Mistress Jinkins?"
"Iss, indeed, man."
"What about affairs these close days?"
"Busy we are. Why for you ask? Trade you do in milk?"
"Blurt did I for nothing," Evan replied.
"No odds, little man. Ach y fy, jealous other milkmen are of us. There's nasty some people are."
"Natty shop you have. Little shop and big traffic, Mistress Jinkins?"
"Quick you are."
"Know you Tom Mathias Tabernacle Street?" Evan inquired.
"Seen him have I in the big meetings at Capel King's Cross."
"Getting on he is, for certain sure. Hundreds of pints he sells. And groceries."
"Pwf," Mrs. Jenkins sneered. "Fulbert you are to believe him. A liar without shame is Twm. And a cheat. Bad sampler he is of the Welsh."
"Speak I do as I hear. More thriving is your concern."
"No boast is in me. But don't we do thirty gallons?"
Evan summoned up surprise into his face, and joy. "Dear me to goodness," he exclaimed. "Take something must I now. Sell you me an egg."
Evan shook the egg at his ear. "She is good," he remarked.
"Weakish is the male," observed Mrs. Jenkins. "Much trouble he has in his inside."
"Poor bach," replied Evan. "Well-well. Fair night for to-day."
"Why for you are in a hurry?"
"Woman fach, for what you do not know that I abide in Wandsworth and the clock is late?"
Mrs. Jenkins laughed. "Boy pretty sly you are. Come you to Richmond to buy one egg."
Evan coughed and spat upon the ground, and while he cleaned away his spittle with a foot he said: "Courting business have I on the Thursdays. The wench is in a shop draper."
"How shall I mouth where she is? With Wright?"
"In shop Breach she is." He spoke this in English: "So long."
In that language also did Mrs. Jenkins answer him: "Now we shan't be long."
Narrowing his eyes and crooking his knees, Evan stood before Mary. "Like to find out more would I," he said. "Guess did the old female that I had seen the adfertissment."
"Blockhead you are to bare your mind," Mary admonished him.
"Why for you call me blockhead when there's no blockhead to be?"
"Sorry am I, dear heart. But do you hurry to marry me. You know that things are so and so. The month has shown nothing."
"Shut your head, or I'll change my think altogether."
The next week Evan called at the dairy shop again.
"How was the people?" he cried on the threshold.
Mrs. Jenkins opened the window which was at the back of her, and called out: "The boy from Wales is here, Dai."
Stooping as he moved through the way of the door, Dai greeted Evan civilly: "How was you this day?"
"Quite grand," Evan answered.
"What capel do you go?"
"Walham Green, dear man."
"Good preach there was by the Respected Eynon Daviss the last Sabbath morning, shall I ask? Eloquent is Eynon."
"In the night do I go."
"Solemn serious, go you ought in the mornings."
"Proper is your saying," Evan agreed. "Perform I would if I could."
"Biggish is your round, perhaps?" said Dai.
"Iss-iss. No-no." Evan was confused.
"Don't be afraid of your work. Crafty is your manner."
Evan had not anything to say.
"Fortune there is in milk," said Dai. "Study you the size of her. Little she is. Heavy will be my loss. The rent is only fifteen bob a week. And thirty gallons and more do I do. Broke is my health," and Dai laid the palms of his hands on his belly and groaned.
"Here he is to visit his wench," said Mrs. Jenkins.
"You're not married now just?" asked Dai.
"Better in his pockets trousers is a male for a woman," said Mrs. Jenkins.
"Comforting in your pockets trousers is a woman," Dai cried.
"Clap your throat," said Mrs. Jenkins. "Redness you bring to my skin."
Evan retired and considered.
"Tempting is the business," he told Mary. "Fancy do I to know more of her. Come must I still once yet."
"Be not slothful," Mary pleaded. "Already I feel pains, and quickly the months pass."
Then Evan charged her to watch over the shop, and to take a count of the people who went into it. So Mary walked in the street. Mrs. Jenkins saw her and imagined her purpose, and after she had proved her, she and Dai formed a plot whereby many little children and young youths and girls came into the shop. Mary numbered every one, but the number that she gave Evan was three times higher than the proper number. The man was pleased, and he spoke out to Dai. "Tell me the price of the shop," he said.
"Improved has the health," replied Dai. "And not selling I don't think am I."
"Pity that is. Great offer I have."
"Smother your cry. Taken a shop too have I in Petersham. Rachel will look after this."
Mrs. Jenkins spoke to her husband with a low voice: "Witless you are. Let him speak figures."
"As you want if you like then," said Dai.
"A puzzle you demand this one minute," Evan murmured. "Thirty pounds would—"
"Light is your head," Dai cried.
"More than thirty gallons and a pram. Eighty I want for the shop and stock."
"I stop," Evan pronounced. "Thirty-five can I give. No more and no less."
"Cute bargainer you are. Generous am I to give back five pounds for luck cash on spot. Much besides is my counter trade."
"Bring me papers for my eyes to see," said Evan.
Mrs. Jenkins rebuked Evan: "Hoity-toity! Not Welsh you are. Old English boy."
"Tut-tut, Rachel fach," said Dai. "Right you are, and right and wrong is Evan Roberts. Books I should have. Trust I give and trust I take. I have no guile."
"How answer you to thirty-seven?" asked Evan. "No more we've got, drop dead and blind."
He went away and related all to Mary.
"Lose the shop you will," Mary warned him. "And that's remorseful you'll be."
"Like this and that is the feeling," said Evan.
"Go to him," Mary counseled, "and say you will pay forty-five."
"No-no, foolish that is."
They two conferred with each other, and Mary gave to Evan all her money, which was almost twenty pounds; and Evan said to Dai: "I am not doubtful—"
"Speak what is in you," Dai urged quickly.
"Test your shop will I for eight weeks as manager. I give you twenty down as earnest and twenty-five at the finish of the weeks if I buy her."
Dai and Rachel weighed that which Evan had proposed. The woman said: "A lawyer will do this"; the man said: "Splendid is the bargain and costly and thievish are old lawyers."
In this sort Dai answered Evan: "Do as you say. But I shall not give money for your work. Act you honestly by me. Did not mam carry me next my brother, who is a big preacher? Lend you will I a bed, and a dish or two and a plate, and a knife to eat food."
At this Mary's joy was abounding. "Put you up the banns," she said.
"Lots of days there is. Wait until I've bought the place."
Mary tightened her inner garments and loosened her outer garments, and every evening she came to the shop to prepare food for Evan, to make his bed, and to minister to him as a woman.
Now the daily custom at the shop was twelve gallons of milk, and the tea packets and flour bags which were on shelves were empty. Evan's anger was awful. He upbraided Mary, and he prayed to be shown how to worst Dai. His prayer was respected: at the end of the second week he gave Dai two pounds more than he had given him the week before.
"Brisk is trade," said Dai.
"I took into stock flour, tea, and four tins of job biscuits," replied Evan. "Am I not your servant?"
"Well done, good and faithful servant."
It was so that Evan bought more than he would sell, and each week he held a little money by fraud; and matches also and bundles of firewood and soap did he buy in Dai's name.
In the middle of the eighth week Dai came down to the shop.
"How goes it?" he asked in English.
"Fine, man. Fine." Changing his language, Evan said: "Keep her will I, and give you the money as I pledged. Take you the sum and sign you the paper bach."
Having acted accordingly, Dai cast his gaze on the shelves and on the floor, and he walked about judging aloud the value of what he saw: "Tea, three-pound-ten; biscuits, four-six; flour, four-five; firewood, five shillings; matches, one-ten; soap, one pound. Bring you these to Petersham. Put you them with the bed and the dishes I kindly lent you."
"For sure me, fulfil my pledge will I," Evan said.
He assembled Dai's belongings and placed them in a cart which he had borrowed; and on the back of the cart he hung a Chinese lantern which had in it a lighted candle. When he arrived at Dai's house, he cried: "Here is your ownings. Unload you them."
Dai examined the inside of the cart. "Mistake there is, Evan. Where's the stock?"
"Did I not pay you for your stock and shop? Forgetful you are."
Dai's wrath was such that neither could he blaspheme God nor invoke His help. Removing the slabber which was gathered in his beard and at his mouth, he shouted: "Put police on you will I."
"Away must I now," said Evan. "Come, take your bed."
"Not touch anything will I. Rachel, witness his roguery. Steal he does from the religious."
Evan drove off, and presently he became uneasy of the evil that might befall him were Dai and Rachel to lay their hands on him; he led his horse into the unfamiliar and hard and steep road which goes up to the Star and Garter, and which therefrom falls into Richmond town. At what time he was at the top he heard the sound of Dai and Rachel running to him, each screaming upon him to stop. Rachel seized the bridle of the horse, and Dai tried to climb over the back of the cart. Evan bent forward and beat the woman with his whip, and she leaped aside. But Dai did not release his clutch, and because the lantern swayed before his face he flung it into the cart.
Evan did not hear any more voices, and misdeeming that he had got the better of his enemies, he turned, and, lo, the bed was in a yellow flame. He strengthened his legs and stretched out his thin upper lip, and pulled at the reins, saying: "Wo, now." But the animal thrust up its head and on a sudden galloped downwards. At the railing which divides two roads it was hindered, and Evan was thrown upon the ground. Men came forward to lift him, and he was dead.
At the time it was said of him "There's a boy that gets on he is," Enoch Harries was given Gwen the daughter of the builder Dan Thomas. On the first Sunday after her marriage the people of Kingsend Welsh Tabernacle crowded about Gwen, asking her: "How like you the bed, Messes Harries fach?" "Enoch has opened a shop butcher then?" "Any signs of a baban bach yet?" "Managed to get up quickly you did the day?" Gwen answered in the manner the questions were asked, seriously or jestingly. She considered these sayings, and the cause of her uneasiness was not a puzzle to her; and she got to despise the man whom she had married, and whose skin was like parched leather, and to repel his impotent embraces.
Withal she gave Enoch pleasure. She clothed herself with costly garments, adorned her person with rings and ornaments, and she modeled her hair in the way of a bob-wig. Enoch gave in to her in all things; he took her among Welsh master builders, drapers, grocers, dairymen, into their homes and such places as they assembled in; and his pride in his wife was nearly as great as his pride in the twenty plate-glass windows of his shop.
In her vanity Gwen exalted her estate.
"I hate living over the shop," she said. "It's so common. Let's take a house away from here."
"Good that I am on the premizes," Enoch replied in Welsh. "Hap go wrong will affairs if I leave."
"We can't ask any one decent here. Only commercials," Gwen said. With a show of care for her husband's welfare, she added: "Working too hard is my boy bach. And very splendid you should be."
Her design was fulfilled, and she and Enoch came to dwell in Thornton East, in a house near Richmond Park, and on the gate before the house, and on the door of the house, she put the name Windsor. From that hour she valued herself high. She had the words Mrs. G. Enos-Harries printed on cards, and she did not speak of Enoch's trade in the hearing of anybody. She gave over conversing in Welsh, and would give no answer when spoken to in that tongue. She devised means continually to lift herself in the esteem of her neighbors, acting as she thought they acted: she had a man-servant and four maid-servants, and she instructed them to address her as the madam and Enoch as the master; she had a gong struck before meals and a bell rung during meals; the furniture in her rooms was as numerous as that in the windows of a shop; she went to the parish church on Sundays; she made feasts. But her life was bitter: tradespeople ate at her table and her neighbors disregarded her.
Enoch mollified her moaning with: "Never mind. I could buy the whole street up. I'll have you a motor-car. Fine it will be with an advert on the front engine."
Still slighted, Gwen smoothed her misery with deeds. She declared she was a Liberal, and she frequented Thornton Vale English Congregational Chapel. She gave ten guineas to the rebuilding fund, put a carpet on the floor of the pastor's parlor, sang at brotherhood gatherings, and entertained the pastor and his wife.
Wherefore her charity was discoursed thus: "Now when Peter spoke of a light that shines—shines, mark you—he was thinking of such ladies as Mrs. G. Enos-Harries. Not forgetting Mr. G. Enos-Harries."
"I'm going to build you a vestry," Gwen said to the pastor. "I'll organize a sale of work to begin with."
The vestry was set up, and Gwen bethought of one who should be charged with the opening ceremony of it, and to her mind came Ben Lloyd, whose repute was great among the London Welsh, and to whose house in Twickenham she rode in her car. Ben's wife answered her sharply: "He's awfully busy. And I know he won't see visitors."
"But won't you tell him? It will do him such a lot of good. You know what a stronghold of Toryism this place is."
A voice from an inner room cried: "Who is to see me?"
"Come this way," said Mrs. Lloyd.
Ben, sitting at a table with writing paper and a Bible before him, rose.
"Messes Enos-Harries," he said, "long since I met you. No odds if I mouth Welsh? There's a language, dear me. This will not interest you in the least. Put your ambarelo in the cornel, Messes Enos-Harries, and your backhead in a chair. Making a lecture am I."
Gwen told him the errand upon which she was bent, and while they two drank tea, Ben said: "Sing you a song, Messes Enos-Harries. Not forgotten have I your singing in Queen's Hall on the Day of David the Saint. Inspire me wonderfully you did with the speech. I've been sad too, but you are a wedded female. Sing you now then. Push your cup and saucer under the chair."
"No-no, not in tone am I," Gwen feigned.
"How about a Welsh hymn? Come in will I at the repeats."
"Messes Lloyd will sing the piano?"
"Go must she about her duties. She's a handless poor dab."
Gwen played and sang.
"Solemn pretty hymns have we," said Ben. "Are we not large?" He moved and stood under a picture which hung on the wall—his knees touching and his feet apart—and the picture was that of Cromwell. "My friends say I am Cromwell and Milton rolled into one. The Great Father gave me a child and He took him back to the Palace. Religious am I. Want I do to live my life in the hills and valleys of Wales: listening to the anthem of creation, and searching for Him under the bark of the tree. And there I shall wait for the sound of the last trumpet."
"A poet you are." Gwen was astonished.
"You are a poetess, for sure me," Ben said. He leaned over her. "Sparkling are your eyes. Deep brown are they—brown as the nut in the paws of the squirrel. Be you a bard and write about boys Cymru. Tell how they succeed in big London."
"I will try," said Gwen.
"Like you are and me. Think you do as I think."
"Know you for long I would," said Gwen.
"For ever," cried Ben. "But wedded you are. Read you a bit of the lecture will I." Having ended his reading and having sobbed over and praised that which he had read, Ben uttered: "Certain you come again. Come you and eat supper when the wife is not at home."
Gwen quaked as she went to her car, and she sought a person who professed to tell fortunes, and whom she made to say: "A gentleman is in love with you. And he loves you for your brain. He is not your husband. He is more to you than your husband. I hear his silver voice holding spellbound hundreds of people; I see his majestic forehead and his auburn locks and the strands of his silken mustache."
Those words made Gwen very happy, and she deceived herself that they were true. She composed verses and gave them to Ben.
"Not right to Nature is this," said Ben. "The mother is wrong. How many children you have, Messes Enos-Harries?"
"Not one. The husband is weak and he is older much than I."
"The Father has kept His most beautiful gift from you. Pity that is." Tears gushed from Ben's eyes. "If the marriage-maker had brought us together, children we would have jeweled with your eyes and crowned with your hair."
"And your intellect," said Gwen. "You will be the greatest Welshman."
"Whisper will I now. A drag is the wife. Happy you are with the husband."
"Why for you speak like that?"
"And for why we are not married?" Ben took Gwen in his arms and he kissed her and drew her body nigh to him; and in a little while he opened the door sharply and rebuked his wife that she waited thereat.
Daily did Gwen praise and laud Ben to her husband. "There is no one in the world like him," she said. "He will get very far."
"Bring Mistar Lloyd to Windsor for me to know him quite well," said Enoch.
"I will ask him," Gwen replied without faltering.
"Benefit myself I will."
Early every Thursday afternoon Ben arrived at Windsor, and at the coming home from his shop of Enoch, Ben always said: "Messes Enos-Harries has been singing the piano. Like the trilling of God's feathered choir is her music."
Though Ben and Gwen were left at peace they could not satisfy nor crush their lust.
Before three years were over, Ben had obtained great fame. "He ought to be in Parliament and give up preaching entirely," some said; and Enoch and Gwen were partakers of his glory.
Then Gwen told him that she had conceived, whereof Ben counseled her to go into her husband's bed.
"That I have not the stomach to do," the woman complained.
"As you say, dear heart," said Ben. "Cancer has the wife. Perish soon she must. Ease our path and lie with your lout."
Presently Gwen bore a child; and Enoch her husband looked at it and said: "Going up is Ben Lloyd. Solid am I as the counter."
Gwen related her fears to Ben, who contrived to make Enoch a member of the London County Council. Enoch rejoiced: summoning the congregation of Thornton Vale to be witnesses of his gift of a Bible cushion to the chapel.
As joy came to him, so grief fell upon his wife. "After all," Ben wrote to her, "you belong to him. You have been joined together in the holiest and sacredest matrimony. Monumental responsibilities have been thrust on me by my people. I did not seek for them, but it is my duty to bear them. Pray that I shall use God's hoe with understanding and wisdom. There is a talk of putting me up for Parliament. Others will have a chanse of electing a real religious man. I must not be tempted by you again. Well, good-by, Gwen, may He keep you unspotted from the world. Ships that pass in the night."
Enoch was plagued, and he followed Ben to chapel meetings, eisteddfodau, Cymrodorion and St. David's Day gatherings, always speaking in this fashion: "Cast under is the girl fach you do not visit her. Improved has her singing."
Because Ben was careless of his call, his wrath heated and he said to him: "Growing is the baban."
"How's trade?" Ben remarked. "Do you estimate for Government contracts?"
"Not thought have I."
"Just hinted. A word I can put in."
"Red is the head of the baban."
"Two black heads make red," observed Ben.
"And his name is Benjamin."
"As you speak. Farewell for to-day. How would you like to put up for a Welsh constituency?"
"Not deserving am I of anything. Happy would I and the wife be to see you in the House."
But Ben's promise was fruitless; and Enoch bewailed: "A serpent flew into my house."
He ordered Gwen to go to Ben.
"Recall to him this and that," he said. "A very good advert an M.P. would be for the business. Be you dressed like a lady. Take a fur coat on appro from the shop."
Often thereafter he bade his wife to take such a message. But Gwen had overcome her distress and she strew abroad her charms; for no man could now suffice her. So she always departed to one of her lovers and came back with fables on her tongue.
"What can you expect of the Welsh?" cried Enoch in his wrath. "He hasn't paid for the goods he got on tick from the shop. County court him will I. He ate my food. The unrighteous ate the food of the righteous. And he was bad with you. Did I not watch? No good is the assistant that lets the customer go away with not a much obliged."
The portion of the Bible that Enoch read that night was this: "I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.... Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with love. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone on a long journey. He hath—"
"That's lovely," said Gwen.
"Tapestry from my shop," Enoch expounded. "And Irish linen. And busy was the draper in Kingsend."
Gwen pretended to be asleep.
"He is the father. That will learn him to keep his promise. The wicked man!"
Unknown to her husband Gwen stood before Ben; and at the sight of her Ben longed to wanton with her. Gwen stretched out her arms to be clear of him and to speak to him; her speech was stopped with kisses and her breasts swelled out. Again she found pleasure in Ben's strength.
Then she spoke of her husband's hatred.
"Like a Welshman every spit he is," said Ben. "And a black."
But his naughtiness oppressed him for many days and he intrigued; and it came to pass that Enoch was asked to contest a Welsh constituency, and Enoch immediately let fall his anger for Ben.
"Celebrate this we shall with a reception in the Town Hall," he announced. "You, Gwen fach, will wear the chikest Paris model we can find. Ben's kindness is more than I expected. Much that I have I owe to him."
"Even your son," said Gwen.
TREASURE AND TROUBLE
On a day in a dry summer Sheremiah's wife Catrin drove her cows to drink at the pistil which is in the field of a certain man. Hearing of that which she had done, the man commanded his son: "Awful is the frog to open my gate. Put you the dog and bitch on her. Teach her will I."
It was so; and Sheremiah complained: "Why for is my spring barren? In every field should water be."
"Say, little husband, what is in your think?" asked Catrin.
"Stupid is your head," Sheremiah answered, "not to know what I throw out. Going am I to search for a wet farm fach."
Sheremiah journeyed several ways, and always he journeyed in secret; and he could not find what he wanted. Tailor Club Foot came to sit on his table to sew together garments for him and his two sons. The tailor said: "Farm very pretty is Rhydwen. Farm splendid is the farm fach."
"And speak like that you do, Club Foot," said Sheremiah.
"Iss-iss," the tailor mumbled.
"Not wanting an old farm do I," Sheremiah cried. "But speak to goodness where the place is. Near you are, calf bach, about affairs."
The tailor answered that Rhydwen is in the hollow of the hill which arises from Capel Sion to the moor.
In the morning Sheremiah rode forth on his colt, and he said to Shan Rhydwen: "Boy of a pigger am I, whatever."
"Dirt-dirt, man," Shan cried; "no fat pigs have I, look you."
"Mournful that is. Mouthings have I heard about grand pigs Tyhen. No odds, wench. Farewell for this minute, female Tyhen."
"Pigger from where you are?" Shan asked.
"From Pencader the horse has carried me. Carry a preacher he did the last Monday."
"Weary you are, stranger. Give hay to your horse, and rest you and take you a little cup of tea."
"Happy am I to do that. Thirsty is the backhead of my neck."
Sheremiah praised the Big Man for tea, bread, butter, and cheese, and while he ate and drank he put artful questions to Shan. In the evening he said to Catrin: "Quite tidy is Rhydwen. Is she not one hundred acres? And if there is not water in every field, is there not in four?"
He hastened to the owner of Rhydwen and made this utterance: "Farmer very ordinary is your sister Shan. Shamed was I to examine your land."
"I shouldn't be surprised," answered the owner. "Speak hard must I to the trollop."
"Not handy are women," said Sheremiah. "Sell him to me the poor-place. Three-fourths of the cost I give in yellow money and one-fourth by-and-by in three years."
Having taken over Rhydwen, Sheremiah in due season sold much of his corn and hay, some of his cattle, and many such movable things as were in his house or employed in tillage; and he and Catrin came to abide in Rhydwen; and they arrived with horses in carts, cows, a bull and oxen, and their sons, Aben and Dan. As they passed Capel Sion, people who were gathered at the roadside to judge them remarked how that Aben was blind in his left eye and that Dan's shoulders were as high as his ears.
At the finish of a round of time Sheremiah hired out his sons and all that they earned he took away from them; and he and Catrin toiled to recover Rhydwen from its slovenry. After he had paid all that he owed for the place, and after Catrin had died of dropsy, he called his sons home.
Thereon he thrived. He was over all on the floor of Sion, even those in the Big Seat. Men in debt and many widow-women sought him to free them, and in freeing them he made compacts to his advantage. Thus he came to have more cattle than Rhydwen could hold, and he bought Penlan, the farm of eighty acres which goes up from Rhydwen to the edge of the moor, and beyond.