The Comical Adventures of Twm Shon Catty (Thomas Jones, Esq.), Commonly known as the Welsh Robin Hood by Prichard, T. J. Llewelyn (Thomas Jeffery Llewelyn)

CATTY***

Transcribed from the 1900[?] W. Nicholson and Sons edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

THE COMICAL ADVENTURES OF TWM SHON CATTY, (THOMAS JONES, ESQ.) COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE WELSH ROBIN HOOD.

“In Ystrad Feen a mirthful sound Pervades the hollow hills around; The very stones with laughter bound, At Twm Shon Catty’s jovial round.”

PREFACE.

In presenting to the public the following Enlarged and Corrected Edition of “Twm Shon Catty,” the author cannot forget that on its first appearance in 1836, with “all its imperfections on its head,” it was received with a welcome quite unlooked for on the part of the writer, and he now presents this edition to the world, with several additions and alterations.

On examining the cause of such unlooked-for approbation, he found it, not in any merit of his own, but in the nationality of his subject, and the humiliating suggestion that, slight as it was, it was the first attempted thing that could bear the title of a Welsh Novel.

It is true others have made Wales the scene of action for the heroes of their Tales; but however talented such writers might be, to the Welshman’s feelings they lacked nationality, and betrayed the hand of the foreigner in the working of the web; its texture perchance, filled up with yams of finer fleeces, but strange and loveless to their unaccustomed eyes.

Were a native of one of the South Sea Islands to publish the life and adventures of one of their legendary heroes, it is probable that such a production would excite more attention, as a true transcript of mind and manners of the people he essayed to describe, than the more polished pages of the courtly English and French novelist, who undertook to write on the same subject. On the same principle, the author of this unpretending little provincial production accounts for the sunny gleams of favour that have flashed on the new tract which he has endeavoured to tread down, among briers and brambles of an unexplored way, while the smoother path of the practised traveller has been shrouded in gloom.

The expression of the Author’s gratitude is here presented to the Rev. W. J. Rees, Rector of Cascob, for numerous favours; and especially for the historic and traditional matter that his researches furnished. To the Critics of the Cambrian Quarterly for their favourable notice of the “Small Book,” a skeleton as it then was, compared to the present Edition, imperfect as it still remains. And lastly to the revered memory of the late Archdeacon Benyon of Llandilo. That lamented friend of Wales and Welshmen, (whose aims were ever directed to the enlargement of the narrow boundary within which prejudice and custom had encircled and enchained Welsh literature,) in the town-hall of Carmarthen, before his highly respectable Auditors, honoured this production with a favourable notice. He warmly eulogised the Author’s attempt at the production of the first Welsh Novel; and concluded by an offer of a pecuniary reward to the person who could give the best translation of it in the best Welsh language.

CHAPTER I.

THE name of Twm Shon Catty, popular throughout Wales. “The Inn-Keeper’s Album,” and the drama founded thereon. Twm Shon Catty apparently born in different towns. A correct account of his birth and parentage.

It is often the custom, however foolish it may be, to frighten the occupants of an English nursery into submission by saying, “The bogie is coming,” and though the exact form or attributes of the said “bogie” are by no means definitely known, the mere mention of the individual has sufficient power to make the juveniles cover their heads, and dive under the bed-clothes, with fear. The preface to the once popular farce of “Killing no Murder” informs us, that many a fry of infant Methodists are terrified and frightened to bed by the cry of “the Bishop is coming!”—That the right reverend prelates of the realm should become bugbears and buggaboos to frighten the children of Dissenters, is curious enough, and evinces a considerable degree of ingenious malignity in bringing Episcopacy into contempt, if true. Be that as it may in England, in Wales it is not so; for the demon of terror and monster of the nursery there, to check the shrill cry of infancy, and enforce silent obedience to the nurse or mother is Twm Shon Catty.

But “babes and sucklings” are not the only ones on whom that name has continued to act as a spell; nor for fear and wonder its only attributes, for the knavish exploits and comic feats of Twm Shon Catty are, like those of Robin Hood in England, the themes of many a rural rhyme, and the subject of many a village tale; where, seated round the ample hearth of a farm house, or the more limited one of a lowly cottage, an attentive audience is ever found, where his mirth-exciting tricks are told and listened to with vast satisfaction, unsated by the frequency of repetition; for the “lowly train” are generally strangers to that fastidiousness which turns disgusted, from a twice-told tale.

Although neither the legends, the poetry, nor the history of the principality, seem to interest, or accord with the taste of our English brethren, the name of Twm Shon Catty, curiously enough, not only made its way among them, but had the unexpected honour of being woven into a tale, and exhibited on the stage, as a Welsh national dramatic spectacle, under the title, and the imposing second title, of Twn _John_ Catty, or, the Welsh Rob Roy. The nationality of the Welsh residents in London, who always bear their country along with them wherever they go, was immediately roused, notwithstanding the great offence of substituting “John” for “Shon,” which called at once on their curiosity and love of country to pursue the “Inkeeper’s Album,” in which this tale first appeared, and to visit the Cobourg Theatre, where overflowing houses nightly attended the representation of the “Welsh Rob Roy.” Now this second title, which confounded the poor Cambrians, was a grand expedient of the Dramatist, to excite the attention of the Londoners, who naturally associated it with the hero of the celebrated Scotch novel. The bait was immediately swallowed, and that tale, an awkward and most weak attempt to imitate the “Great Unknown,” and by far the worst article in a very clever book, actually sold the volume.

As Twm Shon Catty was invariably known to every Crymrian as a great practical joker, they were of course proportionately surprised to find him manufactured into a stilted, injured, melo-dramatic chieftain, for the love of his _Ellen_, dying the death of a hero!

“This may do for London, but in Wales, where ‘_Gwir yn erbyn y byd_’ {9a} is our motto, we know better!” muttered many a testy Cambrian, which he felt doubly indignant at the authors’ and actors’ errors in the mis-writing and the mis-pronouncing the well-known “sponsorial or baptismal appellation,” {9b} as Doctor Pangloss would say: and another source of umbrage to them was, that an English author’s sacrilegiously dignifying Twm with the qualities of a hero, conveying the villanous inference that Wales was barren of _real_ heroes—an insinuation that no Welshman could tamely endure to forgive. In an instant recurred the honoured names of Rodri Mawr, Owen Gwyneth, Caswallon ab Beli, Own Glyndwr, Rhys ab Thomas, and a vast chain of Cambrian worthies, not forgetting the royal race of Tudor, that gave an Elizabeth to the English throne; on which the mimic scene before them, and the high vauntings of Huntley in the character of Twm Shon Catty, sunk into the insignificance of a punch and puppet show, in comparison with the mighty men who then passed before the mental eye.

Sir John Wynn, of Gwydir, bart., was the father of our hero, who was a natural son by a woman called Catherine. Little or nothing is known of her, but surnames not being generally adopted in Wales, her son, by Universal consent, was called “Twn Shon Catty,” which means literally, “Thoms John Catherine.” One very astute English Commentator informs us that the name “Catty” originated in the fact that of his armorial bearings included a Cat’s Eye!! This is simply nonsense, as every Welshman can testify.

Like the immortal Homer, different towns have put forth their claims to the enviable distinction of having given our hero birth; among which Cardigan, Llandovery, and Carmarthen, are said to have displayed considerable warmth in asserting their respective pretentions. A native of the latter far-famed borough town, whose carbuncled face and rubicund nose—indelible stamps of bacchanalian royalty—proclaimed him the undisputed prince of topers, roundly affirmed that no town but Carmarthen—ever famed for its stout ale, large dampers, {10} and blustering heroes of the pipe and pot—could possibly have produced such a jolly dog. It is with regret that we perceive such potent authority opposed by the united opinions of our Cambrian bards and antiquaries, who place his birth in the year 1570, at Tregaron, that primitive, yet no longer obscure, Cardiganshire town, but long celebrated throughout the principality for its pony fair; and above all, as the established birthplace of Twm Shon Catty.

He first saw the light, it seems, at a house of his mother’s, situate on a hill south-east of Tregaron, called Llidiard-y-Fynnon, (Fountain-Gate,) from its situation beside an excellent well, that previous to the discovery of other springs nearer to their habitations, supplied the good people of Tregaron with water. That distinguished spot is now, however, more generally known by the more elevated name of Plâs Twm Shon Catty, (the mansion of Twm Shon Catty,) the ruins of which are now pointed out by the neighbouring people to any curious traveller who may wish to enrich the pages of his virgin tour by their important communications.

And now, having given our hero’s birth and parentage with the fidelity of a true historian, who has a most virtuous scorn of the spurious embellishments of fiction, a more excursive pen shall flourish on our future chapters.

CHAPTER II.

THE grandfather of Twm Shon Catty. Squire Graspacre on morality. Sir Jno. Wynn, the practical exponent of it—and our hero the result thereof.

Catty, the mother of Twm, lived in the most unsophisticated manner at Llidiard-y-Fynnon, with an ill-favoured, hump-backed sister, who was the general drudge and domestic manager. Their mother had long been dead, and their father, the horned cattle, a small farm and all its appurtenances, had been lost to them about two years. This little farm was their father’s property, but provokingly situated in the middle of the vast possessions of Squire Graspacre, an English gentleman-farmer, who condescendingly fixed himself in the principality with the laudable idea of civilizing the Welsh.

The most feasible mode of accomplishing so grand an undertaking, that appeared to him, was, to dispossess them of their property, and to take as much as possible of their country into his own paternal care. The rude Welsh, to be sure, he found so blind to their own interests as to prefer living on their farms to either selling or giving them away, to profit by his superior management. His master-genius now became apparent to everybody; for after ruining the owners, and appropriating to himself half the neighbouring country, the other half became his own with ease, as the poor little freeholders found it better to accept a small sum for their property, than to have all wasted in litigation, and perhaps, ultimately, to end their days in prison.

The maternal grandfather of Twm Shon Catty, was the last who held out against the tyranny of the squire. He triumphantly won his cause; but because he could not pay the costs, he was imprisoned by his own solicitor, in the county gaol of Cardigan, where it is said he died of a broken heart. The squire then gained his ends. The farm-house (separated from the land, which was added to another farm) became the dwelling of the old farmer’s two daughters: not a gift, as they had to pay annually about twice as much rental as they ought to have paid.

It was soon after this admirable settlement of his affairs, that the squire had a grand visitor to entertain at Graspacre Hall, who was no less a personage than Sir John Wynn, of Gwydir, in North Wales, whose sister our deep-scheming squire had just married, with the politic view of identifying himself with the Cambrian principality, and becoming one of the landed proprietors of the country. One day, after a long ride with his noble guest, over his far-spreading hills and vales, it was poor Catty’s lot to be observed by these lordly sons of affluence. She was spinning wool at the cottage door, a work which she seldom performed without the accompaniment of a song; and at that time she was giving utterance to a mournful ditty, as the recent death of her father had naturally attuned her mind to melancholy, and cast a cloud over her usual cheerfulness.

The great men stopped their horses: “a fine girl, Sir John,” cried the squire.

“You are right!” said the baronet: “I wonder if she would object to a few delicate attentions from a man of honour?”

“Object! my dear sir, I am surprised that you should ask the question. The girl is poor and friendless, and has just buried her father. My dear sir, it would be kind of you, if you were to call and offer her those ‘delicate attentions’ of which you speak.”

The amorous baronet was not slow to avail himself of this very amiable suggestion, delivered with a significant leer which could not be mistaken; he called for several successive evenings at Llidiard-y-Fynnon; but we may very reasonably question the _delicacy_ of the attentions he proffered to the fair Catty. The sequel to the adventure soon became notorious, and the maiden Catty became the mother of our redoubted hero, thence, with an illusion to his father, called Twm Shon Catty.

CHAPTER III.

THE boy indicative of the man. Antiquarian propensities show themselves. His mother rises in the world, and assumes the dignified office of village schoolmistress. Her mode of tuition. Twm a member of the “academy.”

As the period of early infancy seldom contains incidents worthy the recording pen of history, we shall bring our hero at once at his fourth year. The biographers of great men have generally evinced a predilection to present their readers with certain early indications of the peculiar genius that has distinguished their heroes in after life; and far from us be the presumption of deviating from such a popular and legitimate rule, by any radical attempt at innovation or improvement.

Pope’s lispings in numbers, West’s quaker daublings in childhood, with many other instances, not forgetting Peter Pindar’s waggery on Sir Joseph Bank’s spreading spiders and butterflies on his bread and butter, (certain indication of the future Naturalist,) are cases in point, which are familiar to every reader; true or not, we have also heard the story of Sir Isaac Newton’s partiality for apples, in childhood; that Paganini’s first desire was for a sixpenny toy fiddle; that other great men in infancy exemplified the motto that “Coming events cast their shadows before them;” and it will not appear strange to those already acquainted with his fame, that we have to add to these eminent names that of our long neglected hero.

It is true he became neither a poet, a painter, nor a natural historian, but, according to the unbiassed opinions of geniuses of the same caste with himself, who could not be suspected of either egotism or partiality, a superior character to either—an eminent antiquary—to which may be added, though perhaps it ought to take the lead—a no less eminent thief—if thief he can be called whose illicit doings were prompted by no motives of selfishness, but were ever the spontaneous offspring of whim and madcap daring.

Twm’s mother affirms (and when a lady affirms anything the gentlemen feel bound to believe in, and swear by it,) that her son’s first predilection consisted of an intense affection for street rubbish. The gutters and sweepings of Tregaron furnished him with materials for an antiquarian exhibition which he held in a stable manger. The pottery of bygone days, somewhat the worse for wear and tear, but still exhibiting the taste and substantial ideas of the original manufactures—cutlery of Sheffield manufactures, discarded and useless, but not beneath the notice of our juvenile showman—twisted hemp and bits of figured rags and paper, relics of time past—all formed part and parcel of his “exhibition.”

To be sure his occupation was not of the cleanest. To secure these priceless relics, he coated hands, face, and clothes, with a thick crust of mud, and thus showed his origin, by the close affection he had for mother earth. As in these little fancies he spent the greater part of his time, it became a wonder to his mother that he seldom ran home for food; but it was soon discovered that he had a mode peculiar to himself of raising contributions on the public of which he was a member, by forcing them to part with a portion of their bread and butter—a praiseworthy act, and trebly commendable, as in the first place it showed his filial piety, in saving his mother the expense of his victuals; in the next, it taught courtesy to the churlish, who in time anticipated his demand by voluntary offerings; and thirdly, it engendered the principle of honesty in their tender minds, by marking the propriety of paying for their curiosity in gaping over the produce of his labours. This, it will also be observed, was another feature that announced his future character, which, it will be seen, “grew with his growth, and strengthened with his strength.”

Sir Jno. Wynn was made acquainted with the result of those “delicate attentions,” to which we have before alluded, and as some sort of compensation, he bought the cottage of Squire Graspacre, and presented it to Catty, as the reward of her kind compliance with his “delicate” wishes. The little property made her of great importance in the district. As the house was large, and not overstocked with inhabitants, it occurred to the good people of Tregaron, that a day-school might be established within its walls; and having with their own consent found a school-room, by the same indisputable right they fixed on Catty for its mistress, and instituted her governess, to rule their tender progeny.

Catty, with huge grin of approbation at her unexpected promotion, immediately ratified their election, and declared both her house and self ready for the reception of pupils at the moderate terms of a penny a week. Her hump-backed sister was by no means pleased with this arrangement, and very testily asked, “Who was to clean up the house after the grubby fry?” Catty made no reply, but in the pride of her heart hummed a gay song, scratched the mud off her boy’s clothes with an old birch broom, which being hardened by sweeping the house, answered the purpose better than a brush, and had some old coffers converted into benches for the service of her scholars.

She then with singular alacrity, proceeded to cut from the hedge, with her own fair hand, one of the most engaging-looking birch rods, that ever was wielded by rural governess. This premature display of the sceptre of severity was far from fortunate, and nearly ruined the undertaking at the outset. The tender mothers of Tregaron were startled at so unexpected a proceeding, and practically declared they had rather their dear babes should be brought up like calves and pigs, in the most bestial ignorance, than have knowledge beaten into them at the nether end with a birch rod.

Catty immediately quieted their fears, by protesting that she entertained the utmost abhorrence of the flagellation system, and that the bunch of birch was but bound together for a very different purpose, namely, to be suspended as a sign over her door. As Catty was all compliance with their requisitions, every thing was set to rights; and without more ado children were sent from every house where the affluence of the inmates enabled them to give their offspring the first rudiments of education. The mother of Twm became the pink and paragon of schoolmistresses. ’Tis true, the noise and uproar of her school was so great, that the pigs were frightened from their trough, and the curate’s wife, who rode an ill-tamed horse, was thrown headlong into the well, when passing the academy, from the animal taking fright; but that was no fault of Catty’s; people should break in their horses properly, and curates’ wives should learn to ride and keep their seats better. Besides, the alleged uproar was the greatest evidence in her favour, as it proved the tenderness of her heart in not correcting her scholars—a quality more valued by their maternal parents than any other that could be substituted; and in their appreciation of this prime desideratum, they omitted to inquire minutely into her other qualifications for a governess.

Unreasonable people might have asserted that she should at least have been able to read and write with ordinary ability. But poor Catty was not troubled with either of these accomplishments, and believed with Dogberry, that “reading and writing came by nature,” and that “where ignorance is bliss, ’twere folly to be wise.” She congratulated herself that none could say to her “Too much learning hath made thee mad;” and inwardly thanked heaven that her sanity would be unquestioned if such a test was applied to her.

Many of Catty’s pupils had been taken by their wise and considerate mothers out of the curate’s school, fearful that his severity would break their hearts; and having there learnt their letters and a little spelling, they kept possession at least of what they had acquired, by teaching other children, which flattered their childish vanity, while it served their mistress, who, like a sage general that stands aloof from the broil of battle, takes to herself the credit of success, while the real operators are forgotten. Thus in time, with the powerful support of the matrons of Tregaron, who took the lead of their spouses, and directed the taste and opinions of the clodhopping community, Catty’s school became an alarming rival to the curate’s.

The mode of tuition adopted by Twm’s mother, was an entirely original one, as the reader will have surmised. It cost very little trouble in acquiring, because its chief secret consisted in tutor and pupils doing just what they chose. It may save a good deal of anxiety and trouble to those tutors who are too conscientious if we furnish them with a leaf from the book of this original preceptor.

“Come here, little Guenny Cadwgan,” said Catty one day, “Come here, my little pretty buttercup, and say your lesson, if you can; but if you can’t, never mind, I won’t beat nor scold you.” Guenny came forward bobbing a curtsey, and while his mistress broomed the mud from little Twm’s breeches, began her lesson.

_Guenny_.—a, b, hab.

_Catty_.—There’s a good maaid!

_Guenny_.—e, b, heb.

_Catty_.—There’s a good maaid!

_Guenny_.—o, b, hob.

_Catty_.—There’s a good maaid!

_Guenny_.—i, b,—can’t tell.

_Catty_.—Skipe it, child, skipe it—(meaning “skip it.”)

_Guenny_.—u, b, cub.

_Catty_.—There’s a good maaid! Twm you little wicked dog, don’t kick the child. Go on, Guenny vach.

_Twm_.—(who had been struggling for some time to get from under his mother’s combs,) I want to go a fishing.

_Catty_.—Lord love the darling child! You’ll fall into the river and be drowned.

_Twm_.—Oh! no, mother; I always fish in the gutters.

_Dio Bengoch_.—I want to go home for some bread and butter.

“And I! and I! and I!” squalls every urchin in the school; and out they would run in a drove, on perceiving the independent exit of master Twm, without waiting for the permission of his parent and governess.

CHAPTER IV.

A LECTURE on learning. Astuteness below stairs. A gentleman’s opinion on servants. A horse milliner. Intimacy with Catty. More suspicion of “delicate attentions,” which so far are not quite so criminal as the squire’s.

Perhaps our modern governesses who possess the vain accomplishment of reading and writing, may feel disposed to undervalue the acquirements of our rural Welsh governess. But let them not triumph; and be it recollected that tastes differ, and that many of our living patricians, as well as wealthy plebeians, who are considered the great, the mighty, and the respectable of the land, deprecate with becoming vehemence the prevailing mania for educating the poor. We have heard ladies, and great ones too, attired in silks and velvets, pall and purple, and “faring sumptuously every day,” declare most positively that they never knew a servant good for anything that could read and write.

No sooner were they capable of wielding a goose quill, than the impudent hussies presumed to have a will of their own, and their opinions mounted a step nearer to the attitude of their mistresses. And on men, they said, education had a worse effect, as thereby they became the idle readers of books and newspapers, which made them saucy to their superiors, and sometimes the most villanous cut-throat radicals. Now it will be readily admitted, we should think, that there was little danger of Catty’s scholars ever becoming such pernicious characters; and therefore, let not liberal envy withhold from her the well-merited meed of applause. Alas for the good old times—we see no such school-mistresses now-a-days! those days of the golden age of simplicity are gone for ever.

Perhaps we might wonder that the parents of the children, those who paid such a round sum every week for instruction administered to those “babes and sucklings,” did not grumble at the slow pace at which the process went on. But to criticise a subject properly, we must be “well up” in it, and the villagers of Tregaron were not exactly calculated to measure the amount of “book larning” their babes did, or did not acquire. They were satisfied if their children were “out of the way, the livelong day” and a penny per week was surely not so high a price to pay for that luxury.

Although our hero’s mother could not be called a woman of letters, she certainly possessed qualities more original than generally fell to the lot of persons in her station. At carding wool or spinning it, knitting stockings or mittens, the most envious admitted her superiority to every woman in Tregaron.

She moreover had gained no small consideration in another character, which her jealous neighbours satirically denominated a hedge milliner, whose province it was to mend hedging gloves and coarse frocks for ploughmen, to darn or patch with leather the heels of their stout woollen stockings, and also to repair horse collars at half the price charged by old Daff the saddler; the latter part of her occupation, which required a delicate hand to cut the slender sewing thongs from the raw bull hides, caused her to be called a horse milliner, which, after all, was not much more applicable than if she had been called a bull tailor. This malignant waggery, however, was unable to disturb the tranquil soul of Catty; she loved horses, and in her juvenile days had often whiled away her mornings and evenings in the rural pastime of driving them, both in plough and harrow, while carolling some rural ditty, till the rocks and mountains echoed with the cadence of her harmony.

Catty, with such capabilities and accomplishments, was of course an object of wonder, awe, and admiration, to many of the swains of Tregaron, notwithstanding those “delicate attentions” bestowed upon her by Sir Jno. Wynn, bart., but the success of her original method of tuition made her quite independent of their protestations. But, altering the sex in the quotation, we may say that, “There is a tide in the affairs of women;” and it proved to be so in Catty’s case.

The right man came at last. Like all her amiable sex, she professed the utmost abhorrence of mercenary motives in marriage, though many insinuated that she knew the value of property from having never possessed any worth mentioning. It was observed that she treated with indifference, if not aversion, those unprofitable lovers who had nothing but their goodly persons to recommend them.

Certain innuendoes were even thrown out respecting a suspicion of her coquettings with one of the most ugly, miserly, and repulsive of clowns;—one who was not only a clown, but a red-haired one;—not only knock-kneed, but squint-eyed;—not only squint-eyed, but a woman-hater; and worse than all, a foreigner!—being a native of a distant part of the adjoining county of Carmarthen, and known only by the nick-name of Jack of Sheer Gâr, or Carmarthenshire Jack.

This person was repulsive in the extreme. Clad in old, patched, dirty clothes, with such peculiar facial properties as we have before enumerated, he was apparently the last man upon whom one of the opposite sex would have cast her favouring eye. He was at this time chief husbandman and bailiff to the squire, an office which, giving him power over other servants, we may be very sure did not increase his popularity. But few showed their distaste and aversion openly; it would have been a dangerous experiment with Jack of Sheer Gâr.

The standing jest against him was, his qualifications as a trencherman, and his reputation as a “huge feeder” was certainly unrivalled. As there was not a single pastime under the head of amusement, that the ingenuity of man has ever devised for the entertainment of his fellows, save eating, that possessed a charm for him, it might of course be expected that this solitary recreation would be indulged in the proportion that he excluded all others. He not only performed all the functions of the gross glutton, but as the actors say, “looked the character,” to perfection.

The reader, measuring him by other men, would make a very erroneous guess on the most prominent feature of his face, if he fixed on the nasal protuberance—no such thing—his nose was flat and small, but his large projecting upper teeth, like “rocks of pearl jutting over the sea,” were ever bared for action, white as those of his only companion, the mastiff, and nobly independent of a sheathing lip.

Others more comely features might wear But Jack was famed for his white teeth bare.

As the squire’s lady was not the most liberal in supplying the servants’ table, those wags, male or female, who were in the habit of committing the silent mimicry against Jack, were soon taught a severe lesson at the expense of their bowels. It was discovered that, whenever enraged at their treatment, instead of spending his breath in vain reproaches, or taking to the more violent proceeding of fisty-cuffs, Jack revenged himself by eating most outrageously, so that scoffers, deprived of their shares, often found their stomachs minus. His power of mastication increased with his anger; and the flaming energy that was mentally inciting him to give an enemy a fierce facer, or a destructive cross-buttock, was diverted from his knuckles to his teeth; and in every quantum which he ground in his relentless mill, he felt the glowing satisfaction of having annihilated a foe.

Woe to those who were his next neighbours at table, and sat so close to his elbows at those hours of excitement; fierce punches in the ribs, as if by accident, were among the slightest consequences; and those who were thus taught the manners to keep a respectable distance, declared that the fears they entertained was only of his knife. But his bloodthirsty propensities were not so great as they were represented to be. Jack believed in the “power of the eye,” and exemplified it, in his own case, by making that organ express what his head never meant to carry out. The squire knew his value as a faithful servant, and turned a deaf ear to all the evil that was reported of him.

Before fanaticism had cast its puritanic gloom over Wales, and identified itself almost with the Welsh in character, mirth and minstrelsy, dance and song, emulative games and rural pastimes were the order of the day; and, as the people worked hard all the week, it must be confessed that these sports often infringed upon the sanctity of the Sabbath.

Sundays were often entirely spent in dancing, wrestling, and kicking the foot-ball. The latter violent exercise, at this time prevalent in Cardiganshire, was performed in large parties of village against village, and parish against parish, when the country brought together its mass of population either to partake in the glories of the game or to enjoy the success of their friends, as spectators. On these occasions Carmarthen Jack loved to be present, but only as a spectator, as he was never known to take a part in the game.

Jack thought the exercise of play was waste of time and breath. He told others that he “kept his breath to cool his flummery, and his strength to make money.” Whilst the others were panting with efforts made in the game, Jack was quietly cutting and carving his wooden spoons, made out of the birch or alder which he stored all the week under his bed, for the purpose of drying it.

At fairs also, Carmarthen Jack would be equally punctual, and after having done his master’s business of buying or selling a horse or so, would be seen with a load of merchandise of his own manufacture, wooden spoons, ladles, and clog soles, in abundance, which drew about him all the rural house-keepers far and near. “No milliner could suit her customers with gloves” in greater variety than Jack with spoons to please his purchasers. He had spoons for man, woman and child, fashioned for every sort of mouth, from the tiny infant’s to the shark-jaws of the hungry ploughman, which, like his own, was said to present a gap from ear to ear. He had spoons for use, and spoons for ornament; the latter, meant to keep company with the showy polished pewter, were made of box or yew, highly polished and curiously carved with divers characters, supposed to be suns, moons, stars, hearts transfixed with the dart of cupid, and sometimes a hen and chickens; with hieroglyphics for fear of their being mistaken for a cat and mice, with other such misconstructions, Jack always explained at the time of bargaining, without any extra charge.

Nothing could more emphatically prove the excellency of Jack’s wares, than the circumstance of his being personally unpopular among the women, and yet his wares in the highest esteem. The frowns of the fair, which threw a gloom on the sunshine of his days, may be traced to a source not at all dishonourable to him. The girls at the squire’s had played him so many tricks, that once in the height of aggravation, Jack waged war against the whole sex, devoting to the infernal gods every creature that wore a petticoat, and vowing, from that day forward, not one of the proscribed race should ever enter his room, which was romantically situated over the stable, its wickered lattice commanding a full view of both the pigsty and the dunghill.

The consequence of this terrible row caused him, at first, some trouble, as, to keep it, he was obliged thenceforward to be his own chambermaid, laundress, and sempstress, offices that accorded ill with his previous habits. The laudable firmness of his nature, however, soon overcame these petty difficulties; and so far was he from backsliding from his previous determination, that he vowed to throw through the window the first woman who entered his chamber, which the satirical hussies called his den—a threat which effectually secured him from further intrusion.

Sometimes, indeed, while sitting at the door of the cow-house, or the stable, listening to the rural sounds of the cackling geese and grunting pigs, and darning his hose, or patching his leather breeches, or treading his shift in the brook by way of washing it, those eternal plagues of his, the girls, would be seen and heard behind the covert of a wall or hedge, smothering their tittering, which at last would burst out, in spite of suppression, into a loud horse-laugh, when, one and all, they would take to their heels, while Jack amused himself by pelting their rear, in their precipitate retreat, with clods of earth, small stones or anything that came in his way.

“Circumstances alter cases.” In time Jack gained the reputation of being rich. He had made spoons to some purpose, and however the fair sex may cry up their disinterestedness, we are all aware that money materially alters the position of a man in their eyes. One of the maids with this knowledge, became very suddenly enamoured of him, and tried to gain his good will. But having one day ventured to Jack’s “sanctum,” the wench was pitched into the dunghill below, and as a consequence the “pangs of despised love” raged in her bosom. The first act of her resentment was to spread about the insidious report that Jack Sheer was a woman-hater—an insinuation that rather preyed upon his mind, as he dreaded the effect such an unmerited stigma would have upon his private trade. But innocence is ever predestined to an ultimate triumph; and an event soon happened that proved the falsehood of those prevalent tales to his discredit, and convinced his greatest foes that he possessed a heart, if not overflowing with human charity, at least penetrable to the blandishments of beauty, and quick with sensibility to female merit.

On one auspicious market-day, Carmarthen Jack appeared in the streets of Tregaron where the market is held, loaded with his usual merchandise, which he spread on the ground, and sat beside them; but not meeting with a ready sale, and disdaining even momentary idleness, began with earnestness to cut and scoop away at a piece of alder, gradually forming it into a huge ladle, to correspond with the largest size three-legged iron pot. On this eventful morning Catty had occasion to perambulate the fair, to purchase a new ladle, her cross-grained sister having broken the old one, by thumping with it on the back of an overgrown hog, whose foraging propensities had led him to investigate the recesses of the schoolroom.

The notoriety occasioned by Jack’s peculiarities, and the fact of his having money, reached the ears of Catty, and our prudent tutor determined to make his acquaintance through the medium of the broken ladle. Some people say that Catty broke the ladle herself, broke it with a design and that design was an excuse for visiting and conquering one who hated all her sex. Be that as it may, she sought and found him in the fair, and fell in love with him and his ladle at the same instant. After an effort to conquer her native bashfulness, and to look as lovely as possible, she accosted him with such uncommon civility as utterly astounded the poor clownish misanthropic bachelor. She examined the ladle in his hand, and though not half finished, declared it to be the handsomest ever her eyes beheld, and paid for it without seeking the least abatement in the price. Jack gaped at her, with open mouth and staring eyes, and thought her a very interesting woman, though his first impression was, that she was mad, as he had asked double the selling price, on purpose to abate one half, according to the custom immemorial in Welsh dealings.

She next purchased half a dozen common birch-wood spoons, and, as many ornamental ones made of box, to adorn her shelf, and, as before paid him his own price. Jack thought her very lovely indeed: and when she made another purchase of a pair of clog soles, quite irresistible!—her ready money opened his heart as the best key in the world would have done a patent lock; and he was almost ready to offer them as a present, but for fear of wounding her delicacy. As she found he had no further variety, she ordered half a dozen more common spoons, and Jack, with all the amiability that he could possibly throw into his hard features, presented her with one of his most finished articles in box. She received it with that peculiar smile with which a lady accepts a welcome love-token, and replied in the softest tone imaginable, “Indeed I will keep it for your sake, John bach!”

Jack had nothing to do but wonder—he never had been called John in his life before; at any other time he would have thought she mocked him—and the endearing term of “bach” too, was equally new to his ears, which seemed to grow longer as they tingled with the grateful sound. This interesting scene was closed by Catty asking him to her house to partake of a dinner of flummery and milk, which he accepted with the best grace imaginable, and trudged off with his wares on his back and dangling from his arms and button-holes; and thus gallanting her in the most amatory style; he walked by her side to Llidiard-y-Fynon.

Unaccustomed to kindness in either word or deed, poor Jack of Sheer Gâr, met her condescensions and advances with a sheepish sort of gratitude. A cordial invitation on the part of Catty to repeat his visit as soon, and as often, as possible, affected him almost to tears; and as a proof of his unbounded confidence, he left in her care his whole stock of ready-made spoons and ladles, and almost blubbered when he shook her hand at parting.

As a proof of the beneficial effect of kindness on a churlish nature, and the contrary, of ridicule and persecution, we need but contrast this rugged man’s previous character and conduct with what followed, after the tenderness of Catty had melted the frost of misanthropy which formed a crusty coat round his heart. The adventure of the day produced a most extraordinary revolution in his habits. None of the servants of the hall, male or female, could conceive what it portended, when Jack asked one of them, his fellow husbandman, to trim his hair; and while the fellow clipped his rough red locks with his sheep-shears, once mischievously pinching his ear with them till he roared, he was surprised at his questions about the price of a new pair of leather breeches, and a red neck-cloth. Greater still was the astonishment of the whole house, when, in a few days after, he appeared changed into a complete rustic buck in those very articles of dress, and while he thought nobody saw him, endeavoured to cut a dancing caper on the green, which they mistook for a frisky bullock. Changes like these are seldom without a reason, thought his fellow servants; and when they saw Jack’s elated steps lead him towards Catty’s house, they jeered, and laughed, and winked; and nothing knew of course, although their knowledge made him all the worse. Tregaron and its neighbourhood had now food for gossip, and gossip to some people is indeed the very acme of human felicity.

Flummery and milk, named here as the food on which those lovers regaled, has been considered in Wales a very popular mess, common, but still a favourite among high and low, and might be seen on the board of the lord lieutenant of county, as well as on that of the humblest cottager. The lofty of the land whose pampered stomachs have turned with loathing from more dainty dishes in sultry seasons, have welcomed the simplicity of milk and flummery, as the advocate of native charms would greet the smilings of a rustic beauty, while the meretricious fair of fashion would be passed by, neglected.

The English reader will not be offended if I dilate a little praise of my favourite bowl or platter, (too much to call it a dish perhaps,) while I explain its nature; and if he be a bloated son of affluence, overflowing with bile and spleen, he will thank us, after adopting our recommendation of feeding on it often during his rustication among our mountains. Our candid sages of the pill and potion, also recommend it as very effective in promoting an increase of good clear healthy blood.

Flummery is made of the inner hulls of ground oats, when sifted from the meal, some of which still adheres to it, by soaking it in water till it acquires a slight taste of acidity, when it is strained through a hair sieve and boiled till it becomes a perfect jelly. When poured from that prince of culinary vessels, the large three-legged iron pot, into a vast earthen dish, it presents a smooth smiling aspect of the most winning equanimity, till destroyed by the numerous invading spoons of the company, who plunge a portion of it, scalding hot, into their bowls of cool milk. Thus much of the descriptive history is given, to illustrate the following ode to its immortal praise, with which we shall now close this long chapter.

MILK AND FLUMMERY.

Let luxury’s imbecile train, Of appetites fastidious, Each sauced provocative obtain, The draught or viand perfidious; But oh! give me that simple food, Lov’d by the sons of Cymru. With health, with nourishment imbued, The sweet cool milk and flummery.

Let pudding-headed English folk With boast of roast-beef fag us; Let Scottish Burns crack rural jokes, And vaunt kail-brose and haggis; But Cymrian sons, of mount and plain, From Brecknock to Montgomery, Let us the honest praise maintain, Of sweet cold milk and flummery.

On sultry days when appetites Wane dull, and low, and queasy, When loathing stomachs nought delights, To gulph our flummery’s easy. Dear oaten jelly, pride of Wales! Thou smooth-faced child of Cymry. On the ruddy swain regales, And blesses milk and flummery.

’Tis sweet to stroll on Cambrian heights O’er-looking vales and rivers. Where thin and purest air invites, The soul from spleen delivers; That foe of bile the light repast To bloated gout may come wry. But Nature’s child, thy mid-day fast Break thou with milk and flummery.

CHAPTER V.

ANOTHER lecture in Welsh. “Courting in bed.” Our hero’s education progresses. The Curate’s school.

Whilst our lovers were regaling themselves upon milk and flummery, Twm Shon Catty was concocting and putting into execution his first practical joke, for while they sat side by side at the goodly oak table, he fastened them together by the coat and gown with a peeled thorn spike, which before the introduction of pins, was used by the fair sex to unite about them their various articles of attire.

This freak being performed, Twm stole off unperceived, and getting on the outside of the door, he was joined by Watt the mole catcher, and a party of children instructed for the purpose, in a loud and astounding cry of mad bull! a mad bull! at the same time forcing before them into the house a little trotting calf, whose buttocks were tortured by Twm’s ox-goad till he reared and capered up to the very table where the lover’s sat. Catty screamed, and both jumped up mutually terrified, as sudden fear had magnified the little animal to the proportions of an enormous brute of an enraged bull, whose uninvited visit and uncalled for appearance at their dinner table, portending nothing less than death. When Twm and Watt’s laughter at length undeceived them, the spoon merchant, who had been so liberally assisted with spoon and meat, found to his dismay, that with his heart Catty had carried away the skirt of his coat, by the sudden jerk of rising from their seats; and had the gods made Jack poetical, he might have exclaimed with the renowned Mr. Tag,—{31}

The lovely maid on whom I dote Hath made a spencer of my coat.

The wicked urchin who caused this unsanctioned union continued with his mischievous party, their laughter long and loud, and Catty’s grumpy sister Juggy, for the first time in her life, astonished them with a grin on the occasion. Twm received a severe rebuke from his parent, and poor hapless Jack, with the view of propitiating an evil spirit that might prove troublesome to him hereafter, made him a present of a new spoon, which, because it was merely a common one he ungratefully threw into the blazing turf fire, that on this festal occasion glowed on the hearth in a higher pile and wider dimensions than usual, and demanded one of his best box-wood ware.

Jack would have given it to him immediately but for the intervention of his mother, who forbade the indulgence. No sooner, however, was he gone than Twm watched his opportunity and purloined as many of the better sort as he could conveniently take away unperceived, and sold them at the cheap rate of stolen goods, to an old woman named, or rather nick-named, Rachel Ketch, from some supposed resemblance in her character to that finisher of the law, although some persons roundly asserted that she was in fact a relict of one John Ketch, Esquire, of Stretch-neck-Place, Session Court, Carmarthen.

As no further consequence followed this act of unprovoked delinquency, it was scarcely worth mentioning, except that it stands as the first of the kind on record; and when discovered, Twm’s over affectionate parent did not punish him for it,—an omission that might have watered the root of a vast tree of after enormities, but the mirthful mind rarely produces such an upas monstrosity.

We come now to the era of his history when our hero entered another scene of life, in that of a new school, which event was ushered in by an unlooked-for circumstance, that must be first narrated.

To our English readers it may be a piece of information if we make known that in some parts of Wales, “Courting in bed” is very common. It was so, at least when the first and second editions of this work were issued, but now is confined only to a few particular districts. Some of our readers may be shocked; but when they are assured that the custom embraces nothing which is not consistent with the strictest honour, they will perhaps accord our ancient custom a little more charity. This comfortable mode of forwarding a marriage connexion prevailed very generally at Tregaron, to the great scandal and virtuous indignation of the lady of Squire Graspacre. It was amazing to witness with what energy this good gentlewoman set about reforming the people, by the forcible abolishment of what she pleased to call, this odious, dangerous, blasphemous, and ungodly custom.

Her patronage was for ever lost to any man or woman, youth or maid, of the town or country, who was related to, or connected with any person who connived at bed courtship. There was not a cottager who called at the great house for a pitcher of whey, skim milk, or buttermilk, as a return for labour in harvest time, but was closely examined on this head; and woe to those who had the temerity to assert that there was no harm in the custom; or that the wooers merely laid down in their clothes, and thus conversed at their ease on their future plans or prospects; or who denied that such a situation was more calculated for amorous caresses and endearments than sitting by a scanty fire in a chimney corner.

Mrs. Graspacre was certainly a very virtuous—a very termagant of decorous propriety. If any person dared, in her presence, to advocate this proscribed and utterly condemned mode, disdaining to argue the point, she would settle the matter in a summary manner, peculiarly her own, by protesting she would have a woman burnt alive who would submit to be courted in bed.

In the course of two years there were no less than four young men, and twice as many damsels, turned away from her service for courting in the hay-loft; and on these occasions the poor girls never escaped personal violence from the indignant and persevering Mrs. Graspacre. She also assured them in language undistinguished for choiceness or delicacy, that “they were not to try and hoodwink her by telling her it meant nothing. She knew better, she had not lived all these years to be lied to and cheated by a common w—e.” In her flaming zeal for decorum, the tongs, the poker, the pitchfork, or the hay-rake, became an instrument of chastisement. A double advantage was discovered in the terror thus created, the dignity of her sex being in the first place asserted and supported: in the next, the offenders preferred running away without payment of their wages, to standing the chance of having their heads or arms broken with a poker, or their bodies pierced by the terrible prongs of a pitchfork.

All the lowly dependents of Mrs. Graspacre found it their interest to become her spies, who soon vied with each other in giving the earliest intimation of any amorous pair who committed this most diabolical offence; and those who were least forward in bringing intelligence on this score, immediately sunk in her esteem, and were mulct of their allowance of skim milk and blue whey.

But in time the old hen-wives of the neighbourhood discovered the virtue of sycophancy and the efficacy of a little seasonable cant! and when they were not warranted by real occurrences, they contrived to conciliate their patroness by drawing upon their fertile imagination and inventions; at other times, their knowledge of Mrs. Graspacre’s failing served their own revenge. Let anybody offend them, and they immediately went to the lady with a manufactured tale, doing more credit to the imagination than the heart. Their enemy had been found courting in bed with Miss So-and-so, which was the signal for immediate condemnation without trial.

Not satisfied with these auxiliaries in the cause of virtue, the zealous Mrs. Graspacre enlisted on her side a very powerful champion, in the person of the reverend Mr. Inco Evans, the curate of Tregaron. Great was her mortification to find her attempts on the rector fail of success, as he declared it dangerous and ungenerous to interfere with the peculiarities and long-established customs of the people; especially as he conceived it was rarely that any bad consequences ensued from the mode in question; but when the evil really occurred, if the faithless swain delayed making due reparation, a gaol, exile from his native place, or a compelled marriage, was the consequence, a penalty incurred. “Besides,” quoth the worthy rector, with a hearty laugh, “that was the very way in which I courted my own wife, and many persons who are no enemies of virtue, consider it the best mode in the world, and were I young again, ha, ha, ha! egad, I think I should pursue the same fashion.”

“And I too!” cries Mr. Graspacre, “as I have no objection in the world to the custom.” The reader’s experience of the squire will certainly give him credit for speaking truth in this instance. The notions of morality would be highly forwarded by courting in bed. But as for Mrs. Graspacre, had the faces of all the foul-fiends been united in one for the purpose of producing a _ne plus ultra_ of concentrated devilry, it would not have surpassed the amiable expression upon her face. “You, Mr. Graspacre! _you_! I’m astonished; but”—(with a severe glance at the rector) “when the shepherd goes astray, no wonder the silly sheep follow his example!” With that, she bounced out of the room, and slammed the door in a high fit of indignation, aggravated by the calm looks of the rector, and the provoking tittering of her liege lord.

The rector’s honest dissent from her scheme of reformation, Mrs. Graspacre considered a direct declaration of hostilities, and therefore, by her peculiar creed of morality, she felt herself bound to vilify his name, and most piously longed for his death, that the cause of virtue might be supported by the talents of her favourite curate, who was now, she said, on a poor stipend which he increased by keeping a school in the church.

The reverend Inco Evans, the curate, played his cards well; he was a hard-featured man, with lowering brows and a complete ploughman’s gate; insolent to his poor parishioners, and a very awkward cringer to the great. But flattery, direct or covert, does much, and in time completely won him the favour of the great lady. She encouraged his patience by assuring him that the vicar, in his declined state of health, could not possibly live long; and his death, happen when it might, must appear, to all unprejudiced christians, as a judgment, for advocating, or not prosecuting, that execrable custom courting in bed.

As the living had long been promised to him, the hopes and expectations of Mr. Inco Evans were very sanguine. Waiting for dead men’s shoes is rather a wearisome thing, especially if the object of your affectionate solicitude be apparently in the best of health; but the curate was hopeful, and patient; and as he was no less ambitious than sycophantic and impervious, he looked forward with confidence to the period when he should strut forth in a fire-shovel hat, as vicar of the parish, and a magistrate in the county.

Notwithstanding that the living was promised him by the lady, he was aware that she was not always paramount, and therefore lost no opportunity of insinuating himself in the squire’s favour. He would laugh loudly to the injury of his lungs, at the squire’s most vapid jokes; praise the beauty of his snub-nosed children, and call curs, pointers; tell him where the prettiest lasses in the parish were to be found; with many such _honourable_ civilities, that Squire Graspacre at length discovered him to be a very useful sort of person.

When Sir John Wynn of Gwydir paid his before mentioned visit, his sister introduced and recommended our curate, as a right worthy divine who deserved preferment; and the baronet promised to remember her recommendation, if anything turned out, within his power, to benefit him. Much time had elapsed, and nothing followed this agreeable promise; but Inco Evans persevered in his sycophancy, and if the labour and dirty work be properly estimated, he certainly justified his claims to a good living—in his majesty’s plantations, beyond the seas; to which he ought to have been inducted at the expense of government, and, as the artful Dodger says, he should have

“Gone abroad for the good of his health, But not at his own expense!”

He soon saw the weak side of his lady patroness: and anxious to strengthen his influence by promoting her views, he gave great encouragement to those boys in his school who brought him the piquant tales of their grown up brothers and sisters. Much scandal was afloat at this time respecting the loves of Carmarthen Jack and Catty of Llidiard-y-Fynnon; he would almost have given his right hand to know how it was carried on. But Jack was wily; and though Catty possessed little book-learning, she had enough knowledge to outwit the curate. These lovers only went out at night, and took care to choose a solitary place for their meetings, so that getting information was, in their case, difficult of attainment. At length the cunning man thought he had hit upon a plan.

Little Twm Shon Catty, being the natural child of Sir John Wynn, was of course the illegitimate nephew of the great lady; a relationship which she, however, disdained to acknowledge; but the cunning curate took the liberty of observing one day, it was a great pity that the slightest drop of the noble blood of the Wynns, however perverted and polluted, should be run to waste and be neglected. Proceeding in this drift, he insinuated that if the boy Twm Shon Catty were removed to his school, he should not only be instructed and improved, but that he, the curate, might thereby learn from the youngster something of his mother’s proceedings; and especially, whether she entertained her lover in the legal or the proscribed manner. This was striking on the very string that made music to her busy, meddling, troublesome soul;—she of course warmly approved of his idea, and put it into immediate execution. Thus, the very next day, in her own and in her brother’s name, little Twm Shon Catty was ordered for the future to be sent to the curate’s school, which of course was complied with accordingly.

CHAPTER VI.

TWM progresses at the opposition school. Flogging made easy. Out of the frying-pan into the fire. Sports at Whirligoogan.

The great success of Catty’s school excited the ill-will of parson Inco; although he had far more scholars than he could possibly attend to. His indignation at his wife’s fall from her horse into the well, while passing his humble rival’s seminary, together with the humiliating consideration that many of the most juvenile deserted his rule, to submit to hers, wounded this consequential personage to the quick. Like the fox and the grapes, he sneered at that which was out of his reach, protested that the “room” of those scholars who had deserted him was much better than their company.

This new arrangement respecting Twm, they thought could not but be vexatious to Catty, and therefore Mistress Evans felt herself avenged for the tittering that she heard in her school, on her fall into the well as before mentioned. But far different was the case from what they anticipated, for Catty no sooner heard the order, than in the sincerity of her heart, she exclaimed, “Thank God! the boy will learn something from the parson, but I could teach him nothing.”

Little Twm was now in his seventh year, and as refractory a pupil as ever was spoiled by a dawdling mother. Kept aloof from his dear duck-ponds and puddles, and compelled to explore the mysteries of the horn-book, this first change in his life was acutely felt. Self-willed and stubborn, he conceived the utmost abhorrence of horn-books, cross curates, and birch-rods; he wept and sulked, struck the boys who mocked him, stayed away from school, and was flogged so often, that at length he found it much easier to learn his book than endure the consequence of neglecting it.

Once arrived at this happy mood, and being one day praised by his master, a new spirit possessed the boy; he resolved to revenge himself on those youths who formerly had made him their butt of ridicule, by getting the start of them in learning. The horn-book was soon thrown by; the Reading-made-easy and Spelling-book shared a similar fate; and the pride of a young heart sparkled in his eyes when his great lady aunt, on hearing a good account of him from his master, presented him with a bible, on the inside of the cover of which was the following couplet:—

“Take this Holy Bible book, God give thee grace therein to look.”

A specimen of poetry which was considered by everybody to be the index to a master-mind. Mount Parnassus was scaled, and that by an inhabitant of Tregaron! Poor Catty proudly showed the book and the poetry to all her neighbours, who sagely declared Mrs. Graspacre’s bounty and poetry equally fine.

Notwithstanding his rapid advancement in book learning, parson Evans was far from being satisfied with his pupil, nor was his main end answered in having brought him to his school. Twm loved his mother, and felt no great affection for his master, nor gratitude for the floggings which had enforced so much learning into his head; and never could the generous boy be brought to tell any tales to her disadvantage. The curate’s severity increased, and no longer praised or encouraged; Twm became not only indifferent to his tasks, but wanton and unjust severity had the effect of blunting his feelings; and making him stubborn and revengeful; until at length he arrived at such an extremity of youthful recklessness, as to study tricks for the annoyance of his master, and the scholars whom he found unfriendly.

In the eleventh year of his age, some decisive shoots of character made their appearance; a taste for sharp sayings, a skilful trickery in outwitting his opponents, appear to be his striking peculiarities, as well as boldness and resolution on the play-ground, where none could surpass him in robust or violent exercises. His faithful ally and constant instructor, Watt the mole catcher, taught him many useful and _striking_ lessons when the pedagogue had done with our hero for the day. Twm, under his tuition, soon became proficient in the use of cudgels and quarter-staff.

More particular in the latter he excelled; and his superiority in this ancient and national exercise was exemplified by the loud cries and broken heads of his defeated schoolfellows. A catastrophe of that kind one day, even in school-time, brought the enraged master out, who severely asked Twm what he meant by such conduct. “Why, sir,” cried the little rogue, “You always say that you never can beat anything into the head of Peter Penddwl, so I tried what I could do with the cudgel, that’s all!” For this he was booked for a future flogging. A few days after, his master sent him from the school to his house, for a book which he wanted.

Twm found the mistress and maid out, the first at the Hall, and the last had made a present of her little leisure to her sweetheart, Watt the mole-catcher. On entering the parlour, he saw there a fine bunch of grapes, which his great lady aunt had sent his master. As this was a fruit hitherto unknown to him, he deliberately tasted two or three to discover whether they were eatable. Having gradually seen the bunch grow “beautifully less,” it seemed a pity to separate the lovely fruit, so Twm thought they should all go the same way.

He therefore resolved to finish it, and lay the blame on the cat, if charged with the theft; as to dividing the spoil, and leaving a portion for the owner, the scheme was impracticable, he decided to abide by his master’s maxim, “that it was not decent for two to eat from the same dish.” Lifting up the remains of the luscious bunch with affected ceremony, he exclaimed in a lofty tone, mimicking his master, “I publish the banns of marriage between my mouth and this bunch of grapes; if any one knows just cause or impediment why they should not be joined together, let him now declare it, or hereafter forever, hold his peace!” And as no dissentient voice intervened, he abruptly cried—“silence gives consent,” and hastily consummated the delicious union.

No sooner had he gulped the grapes than his master made his appearance. Suspecting the cause of his delay, he had followed after, and witnessing the imposing ritual, he stood, rod in hand, surrounded by his scholars, whom he had called. When all was in readiness, he exclaimed, “I publish the banns of marriage between my rod and your breech; if any one knows just cause or impediment why they may not be lawfully joined together in wedlock, let him now declare it.”

“I forbid the banns!” roared Twm Shon Catty; “For what reason?” cried the awful pedant, flourishing his rod in eager preparation.

“Because,” cried the waggish urchin, “the parties are not agreed.” At this moment a servant from Graspacre Hall brought a message from the lady of that mansion, that she wished to see the Reverend Mr. Inco Evans immediately; on which Twm obtained a remission of his flogging. History does not furnish us with satisfactory particulars as to whether Twm was liberated on account of his ready wit, or because necessity demanded it, the pedagogue being in a hurry.

The boys were now thrilled to ecstasy with that magic word, a “holiday!” and away scampered each and all to their respective amusements. Briefly, however, was their gust of enjoyment, for parson Inco’s voice was soon heard, vociferating his wrath in no gentle terms; and now he appeared in his shirt sleeves, his best Sunday sable coat in his hand, divested of every button.

His face at no time prepossessing, was now terrible to look on, inflamed with anger, with a slight tint of blue-black over his native strong ground of turkey-red. Great was the terror of the poor enslaved scholars as he howled out “What villain has cut off all the buttons from my coat?” A general whimper of, “it was not I, sir,” passed among the shivering train. And upon Mr. Inco’s threat to flog them all round unless the culprit was instantly discovered, one blue-nosed wretch, upon whom Evans had seized to commence his vengeance, roared out that it was Twm Shon Catty. “Where is the young catiff?” roared the Reverend Mr. Inco Evans.

“Playing at whirligoogan on the horseblock.”

“I’ll whirligoogan him with a vengeance,” roared the Tyro, at the same time snatching up his terrific bunch of birch which he had facetiously christened the tree of knowledge. Either from having a foreboding of the cause of this bustle, or being timely warned of the approaching danger, Twm had now made good his retreat, wisely considering that “Discretion was the better part of valour,” and that “He who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day.” So that at the precise moment when the curate thought Twm’s presence desirable, that happy individual, not the least afraid, was busy sketching a caricature of his master.

The materials were blank wall, a piece of chalk, and an extensive imagination, whilst he took care to place this artistic production within the precincts of a small house never visited except when absolutely necessary, but where he knew the curate would be able to study the fine arts at his leisure, though possibly it might turn out to be the “pursuit of knowledge under difficulties.” On the horse-block, however, was found his stock of whirligigs, which the Welsh boys called the whirligoogans. These were no other than the identical button moulds, which our hero had cut from the best gala-day coat of the Reverend Inco Evans, with pegs driven through each centre hole, so that when twirled between finger and thumb, on the surface of the horse-block, they became the puerile pastime of the younger scholars, who preferred “Whirligoogan” to the more robust exercise of the ball or bandy.

Baffled in his present vengeance, parson Inco shuffled off towards the house, and covered his buttonless coat with his gown and cassock, vowing inwardly, as he adjusted his dress, future chastisement, in the superlative degree, against our hero. Unfortunately at this luckless moment, a perverse hog that seemed to enter into the spirit of this disastrous hour, having risen from his bed of mud in the horse-pond, where he had dreamed and philosophised away the whole morning, was making his way towards the feeding trough, when a lean and sour household cur which appeared to envy him his swinish beauty, and easy-life rotoundity, maliciously bit him in the breech, and drove him snorting between the legs of the newly-dressed curate; so that the reverend gentleman was thrown headlong into the mass of muck, uniting the nature of matter and fluidity.

“The son of Catty shall pay for all,” muttered the enraged Inco Evans, as the servant cleansed his soiled sables. Thus when poor Twm was flogged next morning, with the leniency that the tired arm of the pedagogue alone afforded, he had to answer for the sins of the hog and the dog as well as his own—and all for playing whirligoogan with the parson’s buttons!

CHAPTER VII.

MR. GRASPACRE upholds the national customs, and Welsh custom receives his support. A “tiff” with Lady Graspacre. The squire defends bed courtships. Newcastle Emlyn Ale. Thirsty rats.

At this time a warm altercation one day took place between the squire and his lady, which terminated in consequences little expected by either. Notwithstanding the prejudice to which Squire Graspacre’s harsh conduct had given birth, on his first settlement in Cardiganshire, he had about him certain saving points, that not only reconciled them to his rule, but really gained their esteem. He was a plain, bold, sensible man, and although entertaining a most exalted opinion of English superiority, generally, in particular instances he had the liberality to confess that he found things in this nation of mountaineers highly worthy of imitation among his more civilized brethren.

There are many exceptions like the squire, but we are sorry to add that in Wales we have more illiberal Englishmen, who sneer at all Welsh customs, because they are Welsh, than people would dream of. They forget that our usages are as dear to us, as theirs to them, and that however peculiar they may be in the eyes of an Englishman, the Welshman considers them a _sine qua non_ of his own nationality. But these instances are fast dying out. Railroads, free and continued intercourse, and a liberal spirit of toleration, enable the Englishman to see our custom and our usages in a different light.

He had formerly expressed his disapprobation of a custom prevalent among Welsh farmers of leaving their corn a long time on the ground after being cut, instead of housing it as soon as possible; but experience taught him that they were right and himself in error; among the corn was a large quantity of weeds, which required to be dried, before it could with safety be brought to the barn or the rick, otherwise the grain was sweated, and literally poisoned with the rank juice. He found the Cardiganshire mode of cropping the young mountain furze, and giving it as food for horses and cattle, worthy of his attention, and after various trials, decided on its efficacy so far as to adopt it for the future; and actually set Carmarthen Jack to gather the seed of that mountain plant, which he forwarded to England to be sown and reared on his Devonshire farms.

The planting of flowers on the graves of deceased friends, he eulogized as a beautiful and endearing custom, forming an agreeable contrast to the clumsy English tombstones with barbarous lines, often setting truth, rhyme and reason at defiance. The Welsh harp he declared the prince of all musical instruments, and Welsh weddings the best contrived, and conducted in the best manner in the world, and proved his sincerity by always giving something at the _Biddings_ of the peasantry, and patronizing all those who entered that happy state. Above all things he admired the female costume in Wales, and protested with much truth, that the poor people in England were not half so well or so neatly clothed.

His lofty lady, although a Welshwoman bred and born, entertained a very different set of ideas on these subjects. Whenever her husband related the anecdote of Polydore Virgil’s ecstacy on his first landing in Britain, when he beheld the yellow-blossomed furze, which gave a golden glow to the swelling bosom of the hills—how he knelt on the ground beside a bush of it, fervently worshipping the God of Nature, that beautified the world with the production of such a plant; she would instantly reply, “The man was a fool! for _my part_ I see nothing in the nasty prickly thing to admire, but wish the fire would burn them all from one end of the mountains to the other.”

“And yet, my dear,” he would answer, “Polydore Virgil was a native of no rude soil, but came from the land of the laurel, the cypress, and the vine, the orange, the lemon, and the citron, and many other splendid plants, the very names of which you perhaps never heard of; yet he had the liberality to admire what he justly deemed beautiful, even in a northern clime, and a comparatively harsh mountainous district.”

As to the harp, whenever he praised its melody, she declared it odious and unbearable, and gave preference to the fiddle, the bagpipes, or even the hurdy-gurdy; and the Welsh female costume she protested still more loudly against, and asked him with a sneer if he did not conceive it capable of improvement.

“Oh, certainly, my dear,” would he reply; “for instance, I would have the Glamorganshire girls wear shoes, and feet to their stockings, and convert their awkward wrappers into neat gowns; the Cardiganshire fair ones should doff their clogs, and wear leathern shoes; and the Breconshire lass, with all others who follow the abominable habit, should be hindered from wearing a handkerchief around the head; but I know of no improvement that can be suggested for the Pembrokeshire damsel, except _one_ which would be equally applicable to all Welsh girls,—namely, to throw off their flannel shifts and wear linen ones.”

Now this good gentlewoman, whose leading weakness it was to suspect her husband’s fidelity when from home, kindled with rage at this remark. “Shifts, Mr. Graspacre,” exclaimed the angered lady, “what business have you to concern yourself about such matters? You ought, at least, to know nothing about such matters, but I dare say you know too much. There’s but one woman’s shifts in the world of which you ought to know anything, but no, you seem to know the cut of every girl’s shifts, and you couldn’t get that experience without other of a different kind.”

Anxious as a seaman to turn his bark from the direction of a dangerous rock, he mildly replied, “Surely, my dear, I may exercise my eyes, when the washed clothes are bleaching on the hedge,” and then adding in the same breath, “indeed, if I were you, my dear, I would make some improvements, _such as your good taste will suggest_, among our own maids; taking care however, not to destroy the stamp of nationality on their garbs at any rate.” This was a well-judged hit on his part, and had the effect of averting the impending storm.

It should have been mentioned before, that the squire, soon after his marriage, had made a tour of South Wales, and, as his lady expressed it, taken a whim in his head of engaging a maid servant in every county through which he passed; so that in Graspacre Hall there were to be found maiden representatives in their native costumes, of all the different shires in South Wales, except Radnor, in which, the squire said, the barbarous jargon of Herefordshire, and the English cottons, had supplanted the native tongue and dress of Wales. There might you see the neat maiden of Pembrokeshire in her dark cloth dress of one hue, either a dark brown approximating to black, or a claret colour, made by the skill of a tailor, and very closely resembling the ladies’ modern riding-habit,—a perfect picture of comfort and neatness, in alliance with good taste.

There would you see the extreme contrast, the Glamorganshire lass in stockings cut off at the ankle, and without shoes; and, although a handsome brunette with fine black eyes, dressed in a slammatkin check wrapper of cotton and wool, utterly shapeless, and tied about the middle like a wheat-sheaf, or a faggot of wood; possessing, however, the peculiar convenience that it could be put on in an instant, without the loss of time in dressing tastefully, and that it would fit every body alike, as it is neither a gown nor a bedgown, but between both, and without a waist.

There would you see the young woman of Breconshire, with her pretty blushing face, half hidden in a handkerchief which envelops her head that at first you would fancy the figure before you to be a grandmother at least. Her long linsey gown is pinned up behind, each extreme corner being joined together in the centre, and confined a few inches below her waist; she has her wooden-soled shoes for every day, and leathern ones for Sunday, or for a dance, which, with her stockings, she very economically takes off should a shower of rain overtake her on a journey; and when it ceases, washes her feet in the first brook she meets, and puts them on again. Some might term this a curious method of appreciating the protective excellence of the shoemaker’s art, but a Welsh girl, or rather, a Breconshire girl studies economy quite as much as comfort, and considers her shoes to be made as much for ornament as for use, and rather more.

This fair one takes especial care that her drapery shall be short enough to discover her pretty ankle, and her apron sufficiently scanty to disclose her gay red petticoat with black or white stripes, beneath, and at the sides. Then comes the stout Carmarthenshire lass, with her thick bedgown and petticoat of a flaring brick-dust red, knitting stockings as she walks, and singing a loud song as she cards or spins.

Lastly, though not least in importance, behold the clogged and cloaked short-statured woman of Cardiganshire. She scorns the sluttish garb and bare feet of the Glamorganshire maiden, and hates the abominable pride of the Pembrokeshire lass who is vain enough to wear leathern shoes instead of honest clogs; proving at the same time that her own vanity is of a more pardonable stamp. “Thank God too, that she is not vain like the others are. Yet in her thanks shows vanity,” while she boasts with truth, that her dress costs twice as much as either of the others. The Cardiganshire woman’s dresses, in fact—generally blue, with red stripes and bound at the bottom with red or blue worsted caddis, are entirely of wool, solidly woven and heavy, consequently more expensive than those made of linsey or minco, or of the common intermixture of wool and cotton, and presenting an appearance of weighty warmth, equally independent of a comely cut and tasty neatness.

It was one of the squire’s fancies never to call these girls by their proper names, but by that of their shires, as thus, “Come here little Pembroke, and buckle my shoe: and you Carmarthen, bring me a bason of broth; Cardigan, call Glamorgan and Brecon, and tell them they must drive a harrow a piece through the ploughed part of Rockfield.”

On his return to dinner, a few days after the suggestion about the dresses of the maids, he was astonished to find that Mrs. Graspacre had used her privilege with a vengeance; having with decided bad taste, put them all, _at their own expense_, to be deducted from their wages, into glaring cotton prints.

The girls were unhappy enough at this change, as well as at the expense thus incurred, and they could not enter the town without experiencing the ridicule of their friends and neighbours; the Cardiganshire maid, who considered such a change in the light of disowning her country, and like a renegade putting on the livery of the Saxon, in something of a termagant spirit, tendered her resignation to her master rather than comply with such an innovation.

This ungenerous invasion of his harmless rules, roused his indignation; and after venting a few “damns,” _a la John Bull_, against draggle-tail cotton rags, without a word of expostulation with his rib, he desired the girls to bring all their trumpery to him, which they gladly did, and he made them instantly into a bonfire in the farm-yard. Then in a firm undertone of subdued resentment, gave strict injunctions that no further liberties should be taken with their national costume; to which his lady made the polite and submissive reply, that the girls might all walk abroad without any dress at all if he chose, and go to the devil his own way.

At this juncture little Pembroke came in with rosy smiles, and told her master that Carmarthen Jack wanted to speak to him very particularly, on which the squire laughed, and asked on what _important_ matter. “Why, sir,” said the rustic beauty, while arch smiles and blushes contended in her sweet oval face, “Parson Inco has found out that he has been courting in bed, with Catty the schoolmistress, and he has run here before the parson to say it is all a falsehood.”

“There’s an impious rascal for you!” cried the lady of the house, “to charge the clergyman with a falsehood; but I am sure ’tis true, for I long suspected it.”

“Madam, your own dignity and delicacy ought to suggest to you that the less you interfere in these matters the more creditable it will be to your own common sense,” said the squire, in a tone which was unmistakable. “I insist,” cried the imperious dame, “that he be put in the stocks, and be ducked in the river.”

“Neither shall be done,” said he firmly, “and from henceforward no person shall be annoyed or persecuted on that score, but everyone shall court as he or she pleases.” “What!” cried the indignant lady, “would you fill the country with bastards!”

“No, madam,” was the reply, “but with as happy a set of people as possible.”

Encouraged by the turn which affairs had taken, the Cardiganshire maid now asked her master for her discharge; as her mistress, she said, had thrown a slur on her brewing abilities, which had almost broken her heart; “for” said she, with a ludicrous whimper, “she says my brewing is unfit for the drinking of Christian people, and hardly worthy of the hogs!—but,” cried the sturdy little wench, raising her voice to an accusatory pitch, and at the same time a tone of triumph, “I came from Newcastle Emlyn, the country of good beer, the very home where the _Cwrw da_ of _Hen Gymru_ {50a} is bred and born, and I would rather die than be told that I can’t brew!”

“Indeed, Cardy,” said the squire, with a smile, “though your mistress may have been too severe in her censure, I must say that your two last brewings were unequal to the first.” “A good reason why, sir; who can brew without malt and hops? who can make bricks without straw? I hear some of the great London brewers do without either malt or hops, but I wouldn’t drink their brewings, I know; their brewings won’t do for us at Newcastle Emlyn! and your wheat, {50b} sir, which has grown by being cut in the wet harvest, so as to be unfit for bread, is but a poor make-shift for malt—it may do for the wish-wash paltry brewers’ ale of Haverfordwest and Fishguard, or the Swansea folk, Merthyr blacks, and Cardiff boys, but our ploughboys would turn up their noses at such stuff at Newcastle Emlyn!

“Damn Newcastle Emlyn!” cried the squire, provoked by her continual reference to her native place. “Master! master!” cried the girl, as if rebuking him for the greatest impiety conceivable, “don’t damn Newcastle Emlyn; I had rather you should knock me down than damn Newcastle Emlyn! it is the country of decent people and good home-brewed ale,—the country where”—

“You brewed good ale from the grown wheat the first time,” said the squire, not deeming it necessary to notice her observations.

“Good! was it?” retorts the girl, struggling between respect for her master and contempt for his taste in the matter of malt drink; “good was it! I tell you what, master, you are a good master, and I have nothing to say against mistress, for it would not be decent, but you never tasted beer like ours at Newcastle Emlyn! the real hearty _cwrw da_! which I could make you to-morrow, if you would give me good malt and hops, and let it stand long enough untapped.”

“But Cardy, there must be a sound reason for your two last brewings being inferior to the first. You could brew a well-flavoured, palatable beer, but you don’t now, although you have the same ingredients given you.”

“The last was better, a good deal, than the other. The first would have turned the devil’s stomach, had he known what was in it.”

“Explain yourself,” said the squire, surprised. “I will, sir, if I were to be hanged for it,” cried the girl in a tone of confidence; “it seems that rats love beer as well as any christian folks, and get drunk and die in drink, as a warning to all sober-minded rats; but that is neither here nor there, and I hate to tell a rigmarole story; the long and the short of it is, that when I came to wash out the barrels after the first brewing, I found three rats in one, and two in the other.”

“You found what?” asked the squire and his lady at the same time.

“I found three rats, sir, that had burst themselves with drinking beer, and afterwards fell in and were drowned—they were then putrid, and it was that, it seems, that made the ale so palatable; there were no dead animals in the last brewing, so that of course it wasn’t so ‘palatable’ and well-flavoured as the other. But had I known your mind I might have killed a couple of cats, or put you in a bushel of lively cockroaches.”

This explanation excited a titter among the girls, and a loud laugh from the squire, while the lady evinced the shock which her delicacy had sustained, by making wry faces, and snuffing violently at her smelling-bottle to avoid fainting.

The squire good-humouredly addressed the girl,—“now, Cardy, you are perfectly right in the praise you bestow on your own country ale, and I promise you shall have the best of malt and hops for your next attempt, when I expect it to be equal to the best _cwrw da_ of Newcastle Emlyn—and, do you hear? we shall dispense with either rats or cats in it for the future.”

This amicable settlement of differences set every one in good humour, except the haughty mistress, who, embittered with her double defeat, retired in gloom, while her husband went to give audience to Jack of Sheer Gâr.

CHAPTER VIII.

“THE manners and customs” attendant on a Welsh Wedding. The Bidding. The Gwahoddwr. The Ystavell. Pwrs a Gwregys. Pwython. In which our hero and his friend Watt play rather important parts.

Carmarthen Jack had not been long waiting for his master, before little Pembroke full of glee, ran to inform him that the embargo had been taken for ever off bed courtship; and that he was now free whether guilty or not. This happy news affected him so well that he met his master with comparative ease; and after some struggles with his native bashfulness, an important secret came out—that he was going to be married to Catty the schoolmistress; and wished to know whether he should be retained in the squire’s service after that event.

Now this was a circumstance exactly to the squire’s taste; as a Welsh wedding portrayed many national features in the character of the peasantry, that pleased him; and, as he was generally a donor on these occasions, his vanity was flattered by being looked up to as their patron. He of course acquiesced in his servant’s request, and after a little jocular and rough rallying, proposed that the _Bidding_ should be immediately commenced.

A _Bidding_ was another of the excellent customs peculiar to the Welsh, but of late years confined exclusively to the lower classes, which the squire so much admired, and considered worthy of imitation, he said, throughout the world. It signifies a general and particular invitation to all the friends of the bride and bridegroom elect, to meet them at the houses of their respective parents, or any other place appointed. Any strangers who choose to attend are also made welcome. It is an understood thing that every person who comes, contributes a small sum towards making a purse for the young pair to begin the world with. They have a claim on those persons whose weddings they had themselves attended; and at these times their parents and friends also make their claims in their favour on all whom they may have at any time befriended in a similar manner. These donations are always registered, and considered as debts, to be repaid, on the occurrence of weddings only; but there are many contributors, especially the masters and mistresses of the parties, that of course require no repayment. These returns being made only by small instalments, and only at the weddings of their donors, are easily accomplished; and the benefit derived from this custom is great, where the parties are respected.

A novel feature, to those who have been unaccustomed to the Welsh wedding, is the Gwahoddwr or Bidder, who goes from house to house, with his staff of office—a white wand embellished with ribbons. His hat, and often the breast of his coat, is similarly decorated. Thus attired, he enters each house with suitable “pride of place,” amidst the smiles of the old people, and giggling of the young ones; and taking his stand in the centre of the house, and striking his wand on the floor to enforce silence, announces the wedding which is to take place, sometimes in rhyme, but more frequently in a set speech of prose.

The banns were immediately put in, and every preparation made for the wedding. Watt the mole-catcher, as the greatest wag in the parish, was appointed by the squire to the enviable office of _Gwahoddwr_. The following homely lines, from a correct and liberal translation of those written for the purpose of giving Watt’s oratory full scope on this occasion. The Rev. John David Rhys, a young poetical clergyman, at this time a visitor with Squire Graspacre, was the author; and though they do not betoken the “unapproachable of Parnassus,” they yet suited the purpose for which they were penned.

List to the Bidder!—a health to all Who dwell in this house, both great and small; Prosperity’s comforts ever attend The Bride and Bridegroom’s generous friend.

His door may it never need a latch; His hearth a fire, his cottage a thatch; His wife a card, or a spinning-wheel; His floor a table, nor on it a meal!

On Saturday next a wedding you’ll see, In fair Tregaron, as gay as can be, Between John Rees, called Jack o Sheer Gâr, And Catherine Jones, his chosen fair.

Haste to the wedding, its joy to share! Mirth and good humour shall meet you there; Come one, come all: there’s a welcome true To master and mistress and servants too!

Stools you will find to sit upon, And tables, and goodly food thereon, Butter and cheese, and flesh and fish, (If you can catch them!) all you wish.

There many a lad shall a sweetheart find, And many a lass meet a youth to her mind, While nut-brown ale, both good and strong, Shall warm the heart for the dance and song.

Oft at the wedding are matches made, When dress’d in their best come youth and maid, And dance together, and whisper and kiss.— Who knows what wedding may rise from this.

Whoever may come to the bidding note,— There’s thanks to the friend who brings three groat; And ne’er may they hobble upon a crutch Whoe’er gives the lovers twice as much!

Whatever is given, so much they’ll restore— One shilling or two, or three, or four, Whenever in similar case ’tis claim’d, Else were defaulters ever shamed. {55}

So haste to the wedding, both great small, Master and mistress and servants all! Catty at home, Jack’s at the sign of the Cat; Now God save the king and the bidder Watt!

During this hubbub and preparation, Twm Shon Catty was granted the glorious privilege of a week’s holiday, and his friend Watt took him along with him to every house where he had to act as bidder. To see, was to learn with Twm, and to learn was to imitate. The thought soon struck him that he might be a _Gwahoddwr_; so he at once cut a stout willow wand, peeled it, and tacked a bunch of carpenter’s shavings and rush flags to the top. Forth he went, and standing in the midst of a group of admiring boys and girls, proceeded to imitate Watt in every motion. On this occasion it is said he invoked the aid of the tuneful nine, and composed the following effusion, but we suspect that he was only the mouthpiece to the real poet.

After Watt had finished, our hero struck _his_ emblem of office upon each floor, and repeated the following:—

Who’ll come to the wedding of Catty my mother? Come mother, come daughter, son, father, brother, And bring all your cousins, and uncles, and aunts, To revel the feast at our jolly courants. Haste, haste to the Bidding, ye stingy scrubs! And out with your purses, and down with your dubs.

Come Gwenny and Griffith, and Roger and Sal; Morgan, Meredith, and Peggy and Pal; Come one, come all, with your best on back, To see mother married to spoon-making Jack; He’s a spoon for his pains, as ye all shall see soon, But lucky at finding a bowl to his spoon.

Haste, haste to the Bidding! my friends, if you please, For lack of white money bring good yellow cheese, And butter, but not in your pockets alack, Bring bacon or mutton well dried on the rack. So endeth my story; come, haste we, friend Watty; Now God save the King, and his friend Twm Shon Catty!

Twm’s delivery of these lines excited much mirth and laughter, and, added to those of the real _Gwahoddwr_, drew more than ordinary attention to this Bidding. Many of the children of the different houses had been Twm’s school-fellows, and the pupils of his mother, which had the effect of influencing them, and became a sort of tie, to claim their presence at her bidding. As Jack’s friends were in Carmarthenshire, another _Gwahoddwr_ was appointed by his master to go with him to call on his at his own native place; and so liberal was the squire on this occasion, that he sent them both mounted on horses of their own.

Jack and his Bidder had no great success, as his friends reproached him for his perverse intention of marrying a strange woman in a far land; and finding but little pleasure in the subject or manner of their lectures, he made a precipitate retreat. Jack blushed for his countrymen, and he had sufficient native delicacy to see that their liberality would contrast disadvantageously with the warm generosity of Catty’s friends. He therefore bribed Ianto Gwyn, the harper, who had acted as his bidder, to silence; and brought with him to Tregaron, in a hired cart, the common contribution of a bridegroom,—namely, a bedstead, a table, a stool, and a dresser. These, he feigned had been bought with his bidding-money, received at Carmarthen. Friday is always allotted to bring home the _Yestavell_, or the woman’s furniture; consisting generally of an oaken coffer or chest; a feather-bed and blankets; all the crockery and pewter; wooden bowls, piggings, spoons, and trenchers, with the general furniture of the shelf; but as Catty was already provided with every thing of this kind, she had but little to add to her stock.

The landlord of the public-house originally called “The Lion,” but with a sign resembling a more ignoble animal, causing it to be ultimately known by no other designation than that of “the cat,” offered Jack his parlour to receive his Cardiganshire friends in. Accordingly, on the Friday before the wedding, he was busily employed in receiving money, cheese, and butter, from them, while Catty was similarly engaged at her residence, with _her_ partizans, which were not a few. This custom in Welsh is called _Pwrs a Gwregys_, or purse and girdle; and is, doubtless, of very remote origin.

At length the long-looked-for, the important Saturday arrived; a day generally fixed upon for the celebration of the hymeneal ordinances, in Wales, from the sage persuasion that it is a _lucky day_, as well as for the convenience of the Sabbath intervening between it and a working day—a glorious season of sunshine to the children of labour.

Jack was agreeably disappointed to see a great many of his Carmarthen friends had repented of their unkind treatment of his bidder, and had now come to make amends. They came mounted on their ponies, and honourably paid their _Pwython_; that is to say, returned the presents which he or his relatives or friends had made at different weddings. Jack’s resentful and sudden disappearance, had a beneficial effect on the feelings of his friends and countrymen; and a jealousy of yielding the palm for liberality to a neighbouring country, stirred a spirit of emulous contention among them, which ended in a resolution that a party should attend the wedding, and bear with them the _Pwython_ of the others, who had an aversion to travel such a very distant journey, being nearly five and twenty miles, a distance in those days which was considered no joke, but which we now, in this age of steam and locomotion, bridge over in five and twenty minutes.

After depositing their offerings, and partaking of a little refreshment, twelve of the bridegroom’s friends, headed by Ianto Gwyn the harper, mounted their ponies and called at Catty’s house, to demand the bride; and Watt the mole-catcher and _Gwahoddwr_, who added to these functions the father to Catty, expecting their arrival, at length heard without appearing, the following lines, delivered by the merry harper, from the back of his pony.

Open windows, open doors, And with flowers strew the floors, Heap the hearth with blazing wood, Load the spit with festal food The _crochen_ {58} on its hook be placed, And tap a barrel of the best! For this is Catty’s wedding day! Now bring the fair one out, I pray.

On which Watt, with the door still closed, made this reply without appearing.

Who are ye all! ye noisy train! Be ye thieves, or honest men, Tell us now what brings you here, Or this intrusion costs you dear!

Ianto Gwyn then rejoins,

Honest men are we, who seek A dainty maid both fair and meek, Very good and very pretty, And known to all by name of Catty; We come to claim her for a bride; Come, father! let the pair be tied To him who loves her ever well:—

Watt still within, answers;

So ye say, but time will tell; My daughter’s very well at home, So ye may pack and homeward roam.

Ianto Gwyn exclaims, in resolute tones,

Your home no more she’s doom’d to share, Like every marriageable fair, Her father’s roof she quits for one Where she is mistress: woo’d and won, It now remains to see her wedded, And homeward brought and safely bedded; Unless you give her up, we swear The roof from off your house to tear, Burst in the doors, and batter walls To rescue her whom wedlock calls.

Another of the bridegroom’s party then calls aloud, in a voice of authority,

Ho! peace in the king’s name, here peace! Let vaunts and taunting language cease; While we, the bridesmen, come to sue The favour to all bridesmen due, The daughter from the father’s hand, And entertainment kindly bland.

Now the great Watt, the famous entrapper of moles, with airs mighty and grand, well befitting the dignity of the occasion—and however absurd our English brethren may term the custom, it is considered of serious importance with us—throws open the door of Catty’s dwelling, sallies forth to give the querists a warm welcome, and as a preliminary helps them to dismount. After taking a little more refreshment, consisting of newly-baked oaten cakes, with butter and cheese, washed down with copious draughts of ale, they all remounted, and were joined by those of the bridegroom’s party; the whole rustic cavalcade making their way towards the church. A motley assemblage, in truth it was, but withal picturesque, and agreeable to contemplate, for every face was happy; save when now and then a cautious damsel, mounted behind her father or brother, would exhibit a touch of the dismals in the length of her features, on discovering that the _cwrw_ had any other effect but that of rendering her protector steady in his seat on the saddle. Almost every sort of animal, large or small, lame or blind, good or bad, seemed to have been pressed into the service, and reduced to the levelling system, and without regard to either size or quality, doomed to carry double.

And thus they went on at a walking pace, while the loud chat of many seemed drowned in the loud laughter and shouting of others, till now and then rebuked by some of the elders; who however, to little purpose, vociferated the words decency—propriety—sober purposes—&c. &c., the tendency of which seemed but little understood. Jack, the happy bridegroom elect, bestrode a wretched apology for a horse, whose antiquated legs trembled like an aspen leaf; as for its bones, they were painfully apparent, and the very curs seemed, as they looked upon this time worn piece of cattle, to anticipate their feast. Elevated behind her temporary father on a fleet horse of the squire’s, poor Catty was doomed to present purgatory to contrast her enjoyment of future happiness, for, unprovided with a pillion, she sat on the crupper, holding fast by Watt’s coat. The quiet pace which commenced this little journey was soon changed into rough horsemanship, for the mad-cap mole-catcher turning his steed into the Cardigan road, gave him the spur, and commenced an outrageous gallop; the wedding party followed him with all the might of their little beasts, and like valiant villagers in chase of a highwayman, strove their utmost to rescue the bride. Ianto Gwyn, the rural bard and harper, ever ready with an extempore, produced on this occasion:—

Oh yes! lost, strayed, or run away This moment from the king’s highway, A tall and sightly strapping woman, A circumstance which is a rum ’un; ’Tis said a murderer of vermin On her abduction did determine; Whoe’er will bear to gaol th’ offender, The lost one to her owner render, Shall be as handsomely rewarded, As can be readily afforded.

Having considerably distanced his pursuers, he stopped at length, at Catty’s request, who complained sadly of being sorely bumped upon the buckle of the crupper. Dexterously turning to the bye-road toward the church, he was soon perceived and followed by the party, and altogether they soon arrived at their journey’s end, and alighting, they entered the sacred fane with due decorum. Evans the curate, to enhance his own services and increase his importance, took care to damp their hilarity by keeping them waiting full three quarters of an hour, before he made his appearance; and when he came, his looks and demeanour partook more of the rigid priest of Saturn, than the heart-joining, bliss-dispensing Hymen. His cherished plans, which were to result in a discovery of dishonour to poor Catty, were terribly overthrown by this decent Welsh marriage, and the curate was in a corresponding temper. His nature was not such as would rejoice at virtue triumphant, more especially as he had calculated upon vice occupying the same position.

He very sternly rebuked their smiles and happy looks, and actually threatened not to perform the marriage ceremony, until, alarmed at the menace, they all became perfectly joyless, and most orthodoxically gloomy. The indissoluble knot was soon tied; and no longer dependent on the good offices of the magisterial churchman, their spirit of joyousness burst forth; while in the churchyard the mellow harp of Ianto Gwyn was playing the sprightly air of _Morwynion Glan Meirionydd_, or the Fair Maids of Merionethshire; while many of the party joined in the words which belong to that beautiful and animating tune. Suddenly changing the air, the eccentric harper struck up “Megan has lost her garter,” which was succeeded by “Mentra Gwen,” and a string of such national melodies, equally gay and appropriate.

After the marriage ceremony, they returned in much the same order, or rather disorder; with the difference that the bride sat behind her husband, instead of her father; the harper playing the whole time, and many sweet voices joining in the words of the airs.

Coming to Catty’s house, the company found that Juggy had been useful and hospitable. There was a first-rate dinner provided, in ample proportions, of which all could and did partake freely; every one had to pay for his own ale, but the females, by courtesy, were “treated” at the expense of males. In the course of the evening, jigs, reels, and country dances, were successfully gone through with much spirit. Catty danced with much agility; Jack, pressed on all sides, and at length compelled to make one in a country dance, showed every indication of this being his virgin attempt at “the poetry of motion;” and alternately stumping and blowing, while copious streams ran down his rugged forehead, as they every instant corrected his erratic course, and literally pushed him down the dance, he vowed that this his first, should also be his last exhibition on the “light fantastic toe.”

Young Twm, who had been playing at sweethearts, with little Gwenny Cadwgan on his knee, to the great mirth of his seniors, soon brought her out to try her foot at the dance with him. The poor little wench blushed scarlet deep, made her first essay with one equally young and inexperienced with herself; and the juvenile pair were very good-naturedly instructed in the figure of the dance, and they contributed not a little to the general harmony. Juggy, the sister of Catty, absolutely refused to sport her figure among the dancers, and treated Watt the mole-catcher with a hard favour in the face for attempting to drag her in perforce. At length, fatigued with the dancing, and alarmed for the state of their inebriated friends and companions, many, especially the females, turned their serious thoughts towards home.

It was now drawing towards the hour of retiring for the night, when the usual trick was played of concealing the bride from the bridegroom. Poor Jack, whom nature had not favoured with a great share of facetiousness, and who never mixed with such a company before, began to be seriously alarmed. Great was the mirth of the company, while, with a strange expression of countenance, he sought her up and down in every corner of the house. At length he discovered a part of her red petticoat sticking out from under the bottom of the straw arm-chair, and soon drew her out from the place of concealment.

The parting hour had now arrived; then came the general shaking of hands, and serious expressions of good wishes among the sober; while the tipsy folks vented their wit in jocular allusions to their conjugal felicity: some offering themselves for godfathers and godmothers to their future offspring, while others far gone in drink, laid bets on the probability that the first child would be either a boy or a girl. At this time considerable surprise was excited by the conduct of an individual who had been remarkably unsocial the whole evening, no person having heard him speak a word; and when asked a question, or in answer to a health being drank, he merely nodded in a hurried manner, and immediately drew hard at his pipe, and puffed forth volumes of smoke, as if to envelop himself in a cloud of invisibility.

The mysterious stranger had been evidently “taking stock” the whole of the evening, but whether pleased or displeased with the proceedings did not appear, as reticence seemed to be about the only accomplishment he possessed. Every one was too much engaged with their own pleasure to give him much attention, and thus he remained till the moment of departure, when he was observed to stagger as he rose from his seat. Somebody then observed, that it must have been with smoke and not the beer that affected his brains, as he drank but little; a remark that imputed niggardly and curmudgeon propensities to him. Determined to give him something of a roast, a young farmer asked him, with a defying air, whether he had paid his _Pwython_.

“No!” roared the hitherto silent man, “but here it is—take it ‘Catty’ my girl, and much good may it do thee!” On which he put five golden angels into her hand. With emotions of wonder and gratitude, while catching an eager glance at his face, Catty involuntarily exclaimed—“the squire!” when he darted out, mounted his horse, as did the rest of the party, rode off, and disappeared.

CHAPTER IX.

TWM SHON CATTY improves under a more able tuition. Watt’s vagaries, and the troubles and trials of a poor pedlar. Twm begins his apprenticeship to a Cardiganshire farmer.

Determined to witness the humble festivities of the “lowly train,” Squire Graspacre had been among them the whole evening, disguised like a rough mountaineer husbandman, and was heartily gratified, although his apparent incivility of conduct had nearly subjected him to harsh treatment from the jovial ale-fraught rustics, who, of course, but little relished his strange behaviour. His deficiency in the Welsh language had been concealed by alternately feigning deafness and drunkenness, which, with the aid of the pipe left him free from suspicion. The morning of Sunday after the wedding, which is called _Neithior_, being come, the happy pair stayed at home, receiving their friends who called with their good-will, which they manifested by the payment of _Pwython_. The day was drank out, but not as in every other respect, save the diminishing of ale, each seemed to recollect it was the Sabbath, and tossed off their cups in quietness.

On Monday morning the supply of ale was exhausted, tottering legs waggled homeward, and all was again quiet. Like prudent accountants, Jack and Catty reckoned up the amount of their wedding gifts, and found the amount to be twenty-seven pounds eight shillings and sixpence, besides fourteen whole, and twenty-two half cheeses, the greater part of which they soon turned into cash.

In these days, when the value of money has been so much decreased, the amount of the _Pwython_, and presents at a Welsh wedding, have been known to reach more than treble the sum here stated; especially when the friends of the party have been numerous, and headed by the patronage of a wealthy and liberal master and mistress, who generally enlist their friends and visitors under the hymeneal banners of a faithful servant, the architects of whose humble fortunes they become, by laying themselves the foundation stone.

As, from this part of our history, the hero will rise in importance, those who have hitherto stood forward, must proportionably draw back, to give him due place; especially Jack and Catty; the grand drama of whose lives has been closed by a matrimonial union; whence, henceforth, they must sink into inconsiderable personages.

In consequence of the squire’s liberality on the celebration of Catty’s wedding, and a general report prevailing that he was inclined towards the Welsh, a protector of their customs, a general good-will towards him was manifested by the country people. But his popularity reached its culminating point when he gave forth the opinion that the Welsh female costume was a useful, elegant, and picturesque one, and for once, a scion of John Bull became popular with us.

When he eulogized the Welsh harp, and gave, in addition to various pieces of silver at different times, a golden angel to Ianto Gwyn for his performances at Jack and Catty’s wedding, he gained a few steps more into their good opinion. But when he declared that bed courtship should not be abolished, there was a burst of enthusiasm in his favour in every breast, especially among the females. During this new impulse given to the reign of happiness, the great lady at the hall and her favourite curate hid their diminished heads; the former declaring that it was utterly impossible that the world could last many months longer, while such immorality and ungodliness was practiced under the auspices of a declared patron.

Whether it was the influence of this alarm, or the bitterness of baffled malignity, that preyed on her mind, certain it is, she was soon thrown on a sick bed, and considered seriously indisposed. The squire, to his honour be it said, although unfortunately married to a very disagreeable woman, allowed a sense of duty to supply the place of affection, when his attentions were so indispensably needed. During her illness, the worthy old rector, who had been ill but a single week, died; and Squire Graspacre, against his own judgment and feelings, well knowing that such an arrangement would be agreeable to his wife, inducted the curate, Evans, into the vacant living. In a fortnight after, however, she died herself; a circumstance, perhaps, that gave no real sorrow to any creature breathing.

The general report of a liberal English squire in Cardiganshire, who patronized and upheld the customs of the Welsh, penetrated to the extremities of the neighbouring counties, and became at last so strangely exaggerated, that he was represented as the patron of the learned; consequently many of the humbler sons of the church took long journeys to be undeceived. Of the many who called upon him with a view of seeking his patronage of their literary undertakings, one especially took his fancy; a young clergyman named John David Rhys, before named as the author of the Bidder’s song.

But poetry was not his forte; his energy and perseverance in the favourite study of Welshmen, British antiquities, and systemizing his native language, deserved encouragement and applause. He had been composing a Welsh grammar, and had actually commenced a dictionary. As he spoke English very well, the squire soon understood the merit of his undertakings, and promised his patronage and good offices; in the mean time requesting him to remain on the footing of a friend beneath his roof, till something could be done for him. This excellent person he now fixed upon to succeed Evans in the school and curacy; stipulating, that for his fulfilment of the latter, he was to have thirty pounds, and for the former ten pounds a-year.

Fortunate for Rhys would it have been had the old rector outlived the squire’s lady, in which case it is more than probable he would have filled the living instead of Evans, whom the squire never liked. The change was a fortunate one for Twm Shon Catty, who, as we have before seen, had already a name for composing doggerel, and had even tried his muse in the orthodox four-and-twenty Welsh measures. When he found his new master a kind young man, an historian, antiquarian, and something of a poet, the homage of the heart was immediately paid him. Twm thought he was the wisest man in the world, when he heard him speak of the battles fought by the Britons in ancient times, against the Romans, Danes, and Saxons. This was to him a knowledge the most estimable, and he longed to be enabled also to talk about battles and to write patriotic songs. Having now his information from a better source, he soon learnt to despise the jargon and misstatements of Ianto Gwyn, with whom he argued boldly, and proved to him that Geoffry of Monmouth was a fabulist, and no historian; that it was not Joseph of Arimathea who christianized Britain, but Brân ab Llyr, the father of renowned Caractacus, with various other such knotty points.

The great deference which he paid his master, his attention to every word which fell from his lips, with his close and successful application to his lessons, gained him the esteem and admiration of Rhys, with whom he became a great favourite. The amiable young clergyman found much satisfaction on discovering a youngster with taste, sufficient to appreciate his favourite pursuits, and took pleasure in explaining to him every subject of his enquiries. A thirst for information possessed the boy; and he rummaged the most dry and tedious works connected with Welsh antiquities, with an avidity that was astonishing even to his master.

It would perhaps have been fortunate for Twm had this thirst for study remained unchecked by any less noble desire. But joking and learning, “larks” and Latin, practical jests and Welsh history, are scarcely likely to agree well. Watt the mole-catcher occupied his attention, and, in the end, his acquaintance with that personage was an ill wind which blew nobody good.

About eighteen months after Rhys’s appointment to the school, one evening in the Christmas holidays, Watt asked him if he would take a share in a freak that would keep him up the greater part of the night. Twm immediately assented, without enquiring its nature; enough for him it was that it was a scheme of merry mischief, in the prospect of which his heart ever bounded.

This idle whim of Watt’s was nothing more than to pull down the signs of all the public-houses and shops; which being few, was easily done, but the greater difficulty was to suspend them from, or attach them to, the tenements of others, in which they however succeeded. This trick elicited some humour; and a satirical application was discernible in the new disposal of the boards. When the light of day discovered their handy-work, great was the astonishment of the ale-house-keepers and others, to find their signs vanished, and gracing the fronts of their neighbours’ private houses; and the anger of the reverend Inco Evans was boundless, on perceiving the “Fox and Goose” over the rectory house door, with the words proceeding from the mouth of reynard, “I have thee now;” and under the pictorial figures “Good entertainment for man or horse.”

A crowd was in consequence collected about his door, and the provoking laughter of the people stung him to the bitterest degree of resentment. A most unlucky old carl of a Scotch pedlar at this moment very innocently entered the house, taking it, as the sign imported, for a tavern, and unstrapping his huge pack, laid it on the clerical magistrate’s table, calling about, “hollow! Fox and Goose;” on which the reverend host and his spouse appeared, she laughing at the jest, and he frowning with the aspect of a demon.

“Ah ye ’re come,” said the facetious Scot, “by my saul aw never kenn’d twa that looked the characters sa weal afore—a merry guse an a sour fox! come gi us a pot of your best half and half.” The lady ran out laughing, but Inco sourly answered, “O yes! friend, thou shalt have half and half to thy heart’s content;” and turning his back, shut and locked the door, leaving the poor pedlar in gaping wonderment.

“They’re an aufu’ time coming! I’se warrant they’re brewing the beer. Hech, sirs, this is a strange place o’ ca’, and they wouldna’ find sic a vile ’yun, frae John o’Groat’s to John o’ Aberdeen’s!” But his rumination on the subject was cut short by the return of Inco, who unlocking the door, was followed in by two serving damsels, each bearing a pewter vase containing something less fragrant than the sweets of Araby, which they duly discharged in the face of the unconscious pedlar, accompanied with Inco’s exclamation “there’s half and half for you!” and the girls retreated in roars of laughter, while their poor victim cursed them for vile nanny goats of the mountains.

At this moment young Twm, humanely feeling for the stranger’s ill treatment, informed him of his error in mistaking that house, the residence of the clergyman and magistrate of the town, for a tavern. Adding that be feared the constables were sent for, to put him in the stocks. It need scarcely be added, that Sawney was soon many miles away from Tregaron. Hop-o-my-Thumb never used his legs and his seven-leagued boots to such express purpose as did Sawney, for he pushed on as though he knew terrors were behind, and the safety of the body depended upon the speed of his legs. Squire Graspacre from indolence or dislike to all business except farming, declined being in the commission of the peace himself, and put the parson in his stead. Having now attained the summit of his ambition, as rector and justice of the peace, his overweening presumption and conceit became daily more conspicuous; and therefore this slur upon his consequence was intolerable. The actor in this simple freak became at length known in consequence of the secret being intrusted, a very common case, to a _confidential friend_.

Although the twenty shillings reward which the parson offered could not induce the poorest to be base enough to become an informer, yet an idle spirit of tattling among the women brought it at length to the ears of Mistress Evans, and her husband soon became possessed of the whole particulars. He instantly made his complaint to the squire against both Twm and Watt, who were merely reprimanded, cautioned for the future, and dismissed.

The circumstances under which Twm Shon Catty was educated, now suddenly occurred to him. “What the goodness is to become of that young imp of mischief?” said he, one day, to Rhys the curate, whom he had informed of the particulars of the birth, and his deceased wife’s whim of having him well educated, in consequence of him being a slip of Sir John Wynn’s. That connection being entirely closed by the death of his wife, he no longer felt himself bound or inclined to notice him. When Rhys gave so good an account of his proficiency, he was surprised to hear the squire exclaim—“I am sorry for it, for he has no prospect in the world but labour and beggary. As he had already had too good an education for his circumstances, he must be instantly dismissed from the school. Since Sir John does not think proper to protect his son, I don’t see why I should. As the poet very properly says:—

“Too much learning makes a man a fool; I’d have no lad attend too long at school: Give him a taste, then turn him out adrift; In knowledge, at the least, he’s had a lift.”

Twm and his master parted with mutual regret, for latterly they were more like companions than master and scholar; and the generous Rhys could not restrain a tear on beholding a youth of so much promise destined to the uncertain wilderness of a hard and cold world, especially after having evinced a superiority of taste and intellect, that under favourable auspices would have entitled him to shine and flourish in his day. Twm remained awhile at his mother’s, a big boy of fifteen, idling away his days without any view to the future. Greatly concerned on his account and her own inability to support him, Catty went one day to the squire, and implored him to do something for her son; and he at last _generously_ decided to send him as a parish apprentice to a farmer, whose grounds were situate in the neighbouring mountains.

CHAPTER X.

THE family of the Welsh farmer. Not a bright look-out for our hero.

Morris Greeg, the farmer to whom the parish had consigned our hero, as an apprentice, possessed a small freehold farm, fourteen miles up the mountain; and thither, in the company or custody of Watt the mole-catcher, Twm was now marched. Dull and joyless was their journey, unenlivened either by incident or the charms of scenery. On their arrival at the destined spot, Twm could scarcely forbear shuddering at the prospect before him. The farm-house was a low long building, under the same roof as the cow-house and stable, and as the whole was covered with a black mass of rotten thatch, composed of varied patches of half-perished straw and fern, the only signs of its being inhabited by humanity were a chimney, with two or three farm implements lying at the hovel door.

The farm, called Cwm y Gwarm Ddu, (Black marsh dingle,) was abbreviated usually to Gwern Ddu; the latter word, be it known to our English readers, is pronounced _Thee_. The land of which it was composed, had been anciently cribbed from the mountain, according to the Havod un-nôs {72} system. Being too remote from any other settlements to be noticed by any of the parishioners but the shepherds, who were bribed to silence by occasional refreshment as they passed that way, the appropriation remained long unquestioned. And when of later years some of the nearest farmers became troublesome busy-bodies on the occasion, a few days’ labour given gratis in harvest time by Morris Greeg’s grandfather and father, made all quiet again, till latterly, the farm of Gwern Ddu became incontestably a freehold property.

Twm felt no great wonder that its existence, as narrated by Watt, remained so long unknown, and wished an earthquake had been so good as to swallow it before he had been destined to enter its precincts.

“It was in sooth a landscape harsh. On one side rock, and three sides marsh: With naught to please the restless eye, A scene to cause a weary sigh.”

The farm occupied one side of a dreary dingle, being one field’s breadth only from the rocky mountain above, and divided from a swampy turbary marsh by a roaring torrent-like brook. The house and the farm appertainments, with a view to shelter at the expense of a healthier foundation, were situated on the marsh-side of the brook, the waters of which were crossed by a rustic bridge formed of a fallen tree, that led towards the fields, and by a short lane and a path through the wood, to the mountain above them. Instead of the hawthorn, willow, birch, and the nut-bearing pleasant hazel, that usually form the hedges in more favoured lands, these poor little fields had their boundary ditches surmounted by that rude bantling of barrenness, the prickly gorse, more poetically called the yellow-blossomed furze; intermingled here and there, as in the adjoining mountain, with its brunette sister, the purple-flowering heath, immortalized in Scottish literature as the mountain heather.

Above the rustic bridge, the bright pure water, yet unpolluted by the touch of man, rolled in a small cascade over the smooth black rock, contrasting by its foaming whiteness, with the sable bed from which it sprung. This little water-fall was called—Y Pistyll, or the spout; from which was obtained the water destined for household uses. From its side the farm lasses scooped the gravel wherewith they scoured their milk-pails, hoops and staves, rivalling by their whiteness, the nectarious stream within. Below the bridge, the brook had been widened by human art, so as to form a considerable pool, wherein the aquatic members of the farm-yard, the stately silent geese and the noisy ducks, at times floated gravely, with their young yellow brood, at others, ploughing and gambolling merrily and undisturbed; save when the horses, cows, or oxen were driven across; for the upper part of the pool formed part of the regular road.

Through this wood, ran an oblique path, that after turning the corner of an angular rising whose upper end was bounded by a terrific precipice of no less than ninety feet perpendicular height, and known by the name of Allt y Craig Llwyd, or Acclivious Forest of the Grey Rock, which indicated that trees at some period clothed the scene now defaced by hideous nakedness. On winding round and gaining the summit of the peak above this quarry, an extensive tract of level mountain appeared in one direction; in another, the dreary monotony was broken by the appearance of petty lakes or mountain pools, on which floated at times certain families of migratory aquatic birds, that here made their temporary resting place, in their hasty journeys to more favoured regions. Ravines, and caves, the reputed bed-chambers of evil spirits, long-maned unbroken horses, and numerous flocks of wild-looking small sheep, were the other objects that diversified the scene; and the horizon was closed by the distant mountain peaks, one above another, wildly strange, but most grandly clustered.

On Watt’s presenting Twm to a tall, gaunt, swarthy-faced man, who proved to be Morris Greeg himself, as the apprentice which the parish had sent him, his brows contracted, and his sunken eyes threw out their fires in a flash of indignation.

“Ha!” cried the old man, after eyeing our hero with the contempt which a sordid clown might evince towards a puny insect, as he wondered, in the dulness of his conception, why heaven should trouble itself in creating a thing incapable of hewing wood or carrying burdens—“a pretty help they have sent me truly! Of what service will a weak creature like this be to me?”

“None!” screamed a thin hag of a yellow-faced woman, “but to eat up all the victuals; I warrant, by his thin carcass and long crane neck, that he has the stomach of a hound. This neck looks as if it had been stretched already. But if it hasn’t, it soon will be by the looks of him.”

Four damsels, the daughters of the house, now made their appearance, and scrutinized our hero over each other’s shoulder, as if he had been a reptile of some unquestionable species, whom it was not safe to approach too near. A sturdy ploughman in a white frock sat at the table, silently, but sullenly, descanting on the merits of the food before him, by alternately sneering and masticating what appeared to be more necessary to his stomach than agreeable to his palate. On the left of the ploughman sat a singular-looking thin parrot-nosed boy, the only one that appeared to greet him with a look of welcome; his small black eyes actually laughed with satisfaction.

“Well, Moses, thou hast now a companion to help thee to devour food, and do nothing,” said farmer Greeg, as he motioned to Watt and Twm to sit and eat.

“Yes, thee hast now a companion to help thee to eat and do nothing,” repeated the farmer’s eldest daughter Shaan, whose habit it was to echo all the sayings of her father and mother, so as to publish herself as one of the authorities of the house. Moses said nothing audibly, but a rueful expression of countenance gave it the lie to the insinuation most pointedly, and Twm fancied that he brushed away a tear with his sleeve, as he rose hastily and walked out of the house.

Watt had been busy “taking stock” of the ploughman’s countenance; a compliment apparently by no means appreciated by the object of his regard. The ploughman hastily finished his dinner, and was about to beat a retreat, when Watt enquired, “Is’nt thy name Abel Prosser?”

“No!” cried the man.

“Yes,” cried Shaan, “what does thou deny thy name for?”

“Then, I have a warrant against thee, as the runaway father of Palley Bais Wen’s bantling,” cried Watt; “help to secure him in the king’s name!”

The man made a dart from the house, and Watt after him. The event of the chase remained long unknown as neither were seen again by the present party for many a month.

“The devil take that Watt Gwathotwr!” screamed Sheeny Greeg the farmer’s wife, “for he brings us nothing but trouble. Two years ago he brought us this Moses, the deserted bantling of a rascally Jew, who deceived the silly wench of a hedge-ale-house maid, where he lodged; and now he has brought another of no more strength than a grey-hound puppy; and worse than all, he has scared away Abel Prosser. What are we to do now?”

“Do!” cried Shaan scornfully, “we shall do very well; make these two fellows do Abel’s work, and their own.” With this very comfortable prospect before him, Twm went to rest with the Jew boy in the hay-loft, this first night after his arrival in the alpine region of Cwmny Gwern Ddu.

CHAPTER XI.

MOSES has many youthful yearnings. The exploits of the lads in fasting and feasting.

Some say it is a comfort to have a brother in affliction, visited by similar trials, and persecuted rigour. Now Moses and Twm could be sympathetic enough, for they had to endure labour enough and too much, but quite the opposite quantity of eatables; they, therefore, in their misery, became firm and attached companions. Twm at first found much to disgust him with his fellow sufferer, as he seemed disposed to talk of nothing but culinary matters; the roast and boiled, the stewed, the fried, were his darling topics. When Twm dilated on some of the festal doings at Graspacre-hall, the prematurely sunken eyes of this wretched starveling would glisten with a lambent flame that threatened the immediate extinction of his senses, he exclaimed, “O Lord, how I should like to make one of them!—I heard a strange man once talk of an ox being roasted whole—can such a thing be? what a—what a sight! O Lord, how I should like to tear two, three, four, hot ribs out of a roasting ox—I would get into the carcass, and roast with it, so that I might tug, tear, and eat my fill first. If I knew my way to any great town from this awful place, I’ll tell thee Twm, how I should like to get my living—I would eat for wagers—I have heard of such doings, and I know I could die contented, if I had once my stomach full of flesh—ha! ha! ha! I would tear it, and ha! ha! ha! Oh! how I would tear and swallow it!”

Twm felt horror-struck to hear these frantic ravings of this poor famished being, his eyes starting from their sockets, and his thin talon-like hands clutching vacantly at imaginary food. He strove to comfort him with future hopes, but the wretch had now sunk into a fit of weeping despondency, and as the tears ran down his young emaciated face, he exclaimed, in a tone of utter hopelessness, “no, no, I shall sleep on these mountains, and never have my fill of any thing but work and sorrow, work and sorrow till I die!” Suddenly starting from his reclining posture to his feet, and as suddenly changing his querulous tones to those of maniac rapture that was alarming from the startling transition—“Canst thee eat raw eggs, Twm? I have a store of them hid away in the barn—we’ll have a feast of them to-night, boy!”

Previous to this scene, they had been thrashing together till over fatigued they sat themselves down on the straw. The silence of their flails informed the quick ears of old Sheeny of this pause in their labour. Hastening with stealthy steps towards the barn, she unluckily arrived the moment when Moses vaunted of the intended feast of eggs. With the soundless steps and savage purpose of the taloned cat, that marks the moment to dart upon the heedless bird, she reached over the latch; unlatching it, she burst into the middle of the barn, and seizing the first flail in her way, she vowed with a tremendous oath to break every bone in his body with it unless the eggs were immediately produced. As she had once broke his leg, which Evans the blacksmith had imperfectly set for him, poor Moses made a virtue of necessity, and at once took her to his little hoard. Poor lad; it was like drawing his blood, to take away this prospect of a feed, and his eyes filled with tears as Sheeny gathered them all in her apron and marched off triumphantly. The loss of the eggs, valuable as they were in their hungry circumstances, was trivial to the daily annoyances of the female tongues that trimmed and stung them both within and without doors for many a day after, on this subject.

Old Sheeny was certainly a notable manager, an economist to the back bone. Abstemious moralists, those excellent friends of the human race, have declared, that the new-fangled improvements in modern cookery have inclined mankind to devour twice the quantity of food requisite or beneficial for the health and happiness of our species. Sheeny Greeg, the careful mistress of this mountain mansion, had no idea of inflicting such an evil on those favoured beings confided to her protection. Therefore, in a pure philosophic spirit, as an antidote to gluttony and intemperance, she took care, like an ancient Spartan dame, that the food and drink of her providing should be neither too rich nor too savory. Consequently gout and plethora were never found among the maladies of her inmates. She had an admirable contrivance that did honour to her inventive powers, of substituting durability for the dangerous quality of palatableness, in the food she administered.

For instance, in the article of bread, her custom was to bake an enormous batch at once; so that it soon got hard, musty and mouldy, it must be admitted that the temptation to gluttonize on it and its accompaniments, was diminished. In preparing that standing dish of the Welsh farm, the flummery, she would steep for a considerable time, a large portion of the oaten commodity for that purpose, till thoroughly soured to the acidity of crab-juice. The skim milk, in which this mess was soused, she considered as too gross for their unsophisticated stomachs, till diluted with the pure element from the brook.

The whey and butter-milk underwent the same process; and the cheese kept for home consumption was manufactured of that fang-defying, heart of oak, sort of toughness, which answers the patriotic purpose of cannon-balls, to repel invaders, should their cupidity ever be inflamed by the reported felicities of Cwmny Gwern Ddu: in which alarming supposition it is some satisfaction to reflect, as a point to our moral, that the crime would carry the punishment along with it. Whenever those rare and almost denounced strangers to the table, the beef or bacon made their appearance, the greedy fangs that seized them would suddenly relax their tenacious grip, like the blind dog that mistook a red-hot poker for a bone, in evident alarm, lest a portion of Lot’s wife had accidentally fallen in their way; a cannibal impression that seemed to haunt them long after, till washed away by many a copious draught of the fluid that cost nothing. Morris Greeg himself was a fine example to his household, as a scorner of unnecessary dainties. Doubtless it was very edifying to Twm and Moses, to hear him descant on the enormities of gross feeding, enlivened by anecdotes of people who had eaten themselves to death.

He would tell tales about the dreadful troubles brought upon a man by being over fat—obesity was, to hear him, a state of existence only equalled in horror by the pains and penalties of the lower regions. He narrated a veritable instance of a Daniel Lambert, who got so fat, and so immovable, that he rolled himself into a large trough of water, and voluntarily died the death of a suicide. Moses, the young infidel, would gape incredulously at such an intimation, and evidently doubted the probability of such a death; and if it were possible, impious cormorant as he was, he would have no objection to martyrdom on such a score.

“Plain food, and as little of it as possible,” quoth Morris, “is a fine thing,” grinding as he spoke a mass of black-eyed winter-dried beans with rusty bacon. “And leaven,” cried the sage of the mountains, “is far better in the bread than barn; it warms the stomach with its generous acid, and makes me content with little.”

Our hero, however, had a bold heart; and if a little better fed, would have endured all with that indifference and vein of whim which were natural to him. As it was, with the wild companionship of Moses, he turned misery herself into a scarecrow of mirth rather than of terror. Together those mischievously merry boys dispatched their breakfasts of highly watered milk and porridge, thickened with mouldy bread, with hungry yet loathing stomachs, and indulged in under currents of laughter, as either of them aped some peculiarity of gait or visage in their amiable hostess.

And when the rusty bacon liquor was enlarged for repeated messes of broth, their wry faces gave indications of their inmost feelings, whilst the latter manifested themselves by a waterspout movement generally supposed to indicate disquietude of the stomach. Their patience was severely tried; often when they felt a conviction that this species of drenching was over, they had the unexpected mortification to find a quantity of water added, to spin it out for another meal. This was truly a sad change to Twm, compelled as he was daily to embrace his antipathies, and disconnect himself from all that he had learned to love. He loved ballad lore, rural festivities, rambling, and all those light modes of passing his time that were most allied to idleness.

But in this dreary house, not a book was to be seen nor the sound of mirth, harp, or song, ever heard; still Twm did not despond; his good humour had the effect of brightening, by many a shade, the desponding apprehensions of Moses; and more than once he actually won a smile from one or two of the younger daughters of the house, who, however, soon rebuked themselves for descending to be pleased with anything that a parish apprentice boy could advance.

In the long winter evenings, when no one could possibly invent a task or job for them, Twm and Moses would be allowed to sit a little by the turf fire; when the latter would venture to narrate some hungry tale of gastronomic heroism, in which his fancy revelled, Twm would recite ghost stories that terrified the damsels; and war tales of olden times that he had heard from Ianto Gwyn, or his master, Rhys, that astonished and amused his auditors, at least part of them, for Sheeny Greeg and her echo Shaan disdained to be among the number, but cried shame on him for repeating such audacious lies.

Miserly people often overshoot their mark, and it was so in this farm-house. Old Elwes would have called Morris Greeg a worthy disciple, whilst other misers of even greater note would have looked upon the farm-house and its ways as the very acme of human felicity. But “greed” begets greater evils; and when Morris was by chance called away, the girls indulged themselves in the best way they could find. Theft was largely patronized, and as we should charitably think not without very reasonable excuse. One fair, day when Morris and Sheeny had betaken themselves to a distant corn and cattle mart, the girls, as usual, commenced their preparation for a regular junketing. Twm and Moses, whom they kept at the humble distance of lowly menials, were out together, mending some gaps in the hedges, when Moses sniffing the wind that blew from the direction of the house, with the gifted nose of a dog of the chase, called out with ecstacy, “Twm, I smell pan-cake!”

“So do I, Moses,” returned our little hero, expanding his nostrils with jocular comicality, “Ha!” cried Moses, with an envious snarl, “The selfish wenches of the house are treating their dainty chops with something nice.”

“Aye!” retorted Twm, quoting from some learned Theban, “when the cat’s away the mice will play. But stop thee here, Moses, and see if I don’t bring thee a share of what is going, in five minutes.” Moses grinned and licked his lips in eager anticipation as Twm hurried off. He entered the house with a sudden startling step, and a bundle of firewood under his arm as an excuse for the intrusion. All was panic within an instant. Two of the girls dashed their jug of sweetened small beer into the pail of hog’s wash, as they heard the first rattle of the wooden latch on Twm’s entrance; Shaan turned pale as the unfried pancake before her, so great was their fear that their parents had returned in the midst of their underhand clandestine doings. “It is only that devil Twm Shon Catty,” cried Shaan, who was the first to recover from the general terror; “Never mind, girls, go and sweeten more beer, for father and mother can’t be home before night.”

“Aye, go and sweeten more beer, and let poor Moses and I have a share of your beer and pancakes,” cried Twm, pointedly eyeing a raised heap of them in a wooden platter before the fire;—“let _us_ have a part, and we won’t tell.”

“Get along to thy work, thou saucy cur!” cried Shaan, striking him with all her strength with the hot frying-pan. “Not till I have our share to take with me,” cried our hero, making a grasping snatch at the heaped pancakes, which he bore off in spite of the united efforts of the lasses to re-capture them. His manner of bestowing them was more commendable on the score of security than of delicacy, as the greater portion was thrust into his shirt-breast and breeches pockets; off he ran over the wooden bridge and along the path through the wood.

In this chase the great heat against his breast gave him considerable pain, and almost arrested his steps, half persuaded to throw away the larded delicacy; St. Vitus never danced faster nor more spasmodically under his pains, than did our hero under the effects of his hot pancakes. They gave him shocks equal in intensity to those from the voltaic pile; in fact he may be said to have been a Salamander enduring the scorchings of heat, but with this difference.—Twm Shon Catty could not well bear them, whereas the Salamander was represented as rather enjoying them than otherwise.

But, like the Spartan boy, Twm heroically determined to bear the self-inflicted torture, and endure to the last. However, it must be confessed, to the minoration of his fame, that not having been favoured with so stoical an education as the aforesaid Lacedemonian, he yielded to nature, and ran and roared, and roared and ran, till he outran his pursuers, who returned breathless home, and he as breathless joined young Moses, where, in their secret haunt, they enjoyed the fruit of his dexterity.

The spot they occupied was one of the discoveries of Moses, before Twm’s arrival, the craggy recesses of which became the depositaries of his filching achievements, and which recurring to in after years, he called his larder. It was situated above the torrent, beside the mountain, at the extreme end of the farm—just where the wilderness had refused to yield another patch to add to former accumulation. But these gormandizing youths were at present too busily engaged to remark on either the beauties or the horrors of the scene.

CHAPTER XII.

STUDIES piscatorial and fleshy, and certain tricks connected therewith. Pork capers—a new dish.

Emboldened by the impunity with which they had foraged for themselves during the last three months that had followed the doings in our last chapter, both Twm and Moses grew somewhat daring in their gastronomical speculations. Moses, among his restless peerings for something to gratify appetite, had peeped into one of the mountain pools, and joyfully detected the existence of a certain sizeable fish there. This was a discovery which made the young Jew’s mouth water, and his eyes distend with visions of future work for the jaws! Here was an El Dorado of good food, and Moses went into proportionate rapture at the prospect. Twm annoyed him not a little, by laughing at his futile attempts to spear a pike with the dull and clumsy prongs of a dungfork.

Our hero was more successful in his warfare on the trout and eels that abounded in a brook which ran through one of the tarns. Without any contrivance that resembled fishing-tackle in the most remote degree, he remarked a sweeping curve, of a horse-shoe shape, in one part of the brook, and determined, with the assistance of Moses, on sporting his engineering skill, in cutting a new channel for the water, so that it might for the future, run a straight course, and leave the horseshoe portion of it dry. This at different intervals, with no small labour, they at last effected; and when the flood ran along the new channel, its deserted curve became a mess of slimy mud. Into this, with naked feet, they soon waded, and groping cautiously about, succeeded in gathering an abundant harvest of trout and eels. Moses was noisy in his raptures at the result, and so anxious to have them immediately cooked, that he could scarcely wait for that tedious progress.

However, they soon kindled a fire by rubbing together some rotten wood, and with the aid of some dry turf, the quarry under the precipice of Allt y Craig became a temporary heath of blazing beauty. Utterly void of any culinary utensils, they resolved on the primitive mode of broiling their fish on hot stones, and Moses, all alacrity, proceeded on the task of preparing them.

But, alas, for the sequel of their adventure! Before they could realize their project, the dark countenance of Morris Greeg paralyzed their efforts, as the serpent’s gaze is said to fascinate its victim. The angry farmer gruffly demanded where they had been, how they had dared to idle away their time, and what was the meaning of that wasteful fire against the rock. The ready lie, or presence of mind as it is favourably called, of Twm and Moses soon supplied answers, such as they were. Twm said, that hearing the good woman of the house complain of a visit from the old enemy the cholic, he determined to catch a dish of fish for her, to drive it away, pointing triumphantly to his piscatory store; thus beating a retreat with all the diplomacy and tact of a good general, who when he finds he cannot obtain a victory, at any rate manages to gain credit for a wise ‘retrograde.’

Moses followed up Twm’s assertion by declaring that the fire was to frighten away the crows and the kites that might take fancy to the young lambs, or the wheat in the neighbouring field; a manifestation of care over his master’s property, which had, at any rate, the claim of originality to back it. Morris was as great an economist of his words as in matters of worldly goods, and therefore, whatever he thought, he did not waste breath with reply; but suddenly ordered Moses to carry the fish into the house, and Twm to give some hay to the cows. “And be sure,” quoth the careful farmer, “that you give most hay to the cow that gives most milk.”

“I will be sure of it!” replied Twm pointedly, and with sulky asperity. The next moment, to the great astonishment, and greater anger of Morris Greeg, he threw as much hay as his two arms could embrace, under the water-spout. “There,” cried the redoubted son of Catty, “that is the cow which gives me most milk, for that cursed broth and porridge is almost wholly made from this never-failing animal.”

A precipitous retreat of course, followed this explanation, and Morris Greeg was left alone to chew the cud of his resentment. At dinner the next day, the wrath of Morris having evaporated, all grew smooth again. While Twm and Moses bolted their insipid mess of dovery, otherwise called burgoo, the gratification was rather questionable in having as their share merely the smell of the fried fish, on which Sheeny and Shaan with the younger daughters were regaling, and praising the flavour at every mouthful they swallowed. Moses ground his teeth, and would have impaled them in the excess of his rage, for the loss of his expected feast. Twm said nothing, but inwardly resolved on faring better, and that very speedily. Shaan grinned like a hyena as she treated her dainty gums with fish after fish, and spitefully enjoyed their mortification, as she whispered to Twm, “now we are even for the pancakes.”

Just at the finishing of this mid-day meal, the barking of a strange dog drew Twm and Moses out to the yard. There they saw a half-starved cur, belonging to a cottager who was cutting turf in the adjoining turbary. This wretched animal, evidently a cut-throat leveller in principle, was disputing with one of the pigs his right to engross the whole trough to himself, which the bristly conservative at length resented by snapping in two one of the hind legs of his canine enemy.

The dog set up a dismal howl as a requiem for the loss of the fourth part of his understanding, which was soon silenced by Moses striking him on the head with a large stone, which killed him on the spot. The cottager hurried home, frightened by Twm, who told him would be sued for the damages done by his dog. Our hero, with the assistance of Moses, to whom he imparted the scheme he had now in hand, immediately bathed the buttocks of the pig with the dog’s blood; and then pouring some dry sand in his ear, drove him howling down the yard. Annoyed with the freedom thus taken with his auricular organ, the offended gentleman of the sty rushed to and fro, at a rate as violent as some of his celebrated ancestors, when they sought to drown both themselves and the devils within them in the sea. Morris lifted his hands amidst the assembled household, and ruefully exclaimed, “the devil is in the pig!” His gambols were certainly most extraordinary, and far surpassed the evolutions’ of the bull’s frisky wife, commonly called the cow’s courante. He sometimes aimed to stand on his hind legs, to emulate the figure, intimating in pantomime, “I am as good a man as the best of you!”

While in this position, he would toss his head as loftily as an envious beauty that heard her rival praised; and then, as if to evince his unrivalled versatility, he aimed to reverse his position, and stand on his head.

Thus did he enliven the farm-yard, and cut sundry unusual capers, not at all in keeping with the hitherto grave tenor of all his modest life; at which Morris was scandalized, the women astonished, and the two mischievous imps that caused this torture, amused as if a party of mountebanks had exhibited before them. “Such things have been in the days of old,” cried Morris, with a pious whine, “the pig is possessed of a devil.”

“Of a legion of devils!” screamed Sheeny and Shaan, in the utmost alarm; “the pig is mad!” cried Moses; “the dog was mad that bit the pig!” cried Twm. This remark, which assigned a natural cause for the frisky gambols of the tortured grunter, had the effect of sobering every one from their wild supernatural speculations, to the no less alarming fact that poor porker was the victim of hydrophobia. Morris all at once turned pious, and remarked that “this might be one of the signs which were to precede the end of the world.”

“Ah!” whispered Twm to Moses, “it is a sign which certainly precedes the end of the pig.”

Convinced by the reiteration of Twm and Moses, that the pig was really stark staring maliciously and mischievously mad, Morris seemed more grieved at his prospect of worldly loss in so much hog’s flesh, than as if his first suggestion had been verified about the dissolution of the world. He pathetically lamented the loss it would be, to kill him before he was duly fattened. “He must be killed and eaten fresh,” whined Morris, “as he is too lean to be salted and baconed.”

“He shall be killed and buried like a dog!” cried Sheeny, “or we shall all be maddened and biting one another, if we swallow a bit of him, fat or lean—Oh! the pity to lose this precious griskin!” “I won’t eat mad pork!” cried Shaan; “nor I,”—“nor I!” cried the younger lasses, deeply horrified at the idea of being smothered between two feather-beds, which Twm assured them, with a very grave and serious face, was an easy and comfortable death, and such as was always allotted by law to those who got mad by the bite of a mad dog, or by eating what was venomed by his bite. “I will never touch a bit of him,” cried all the girls at once; “but I will!” muttered both Twm and Moses, to themselves, glowing with the thought of future feasting.

Morris in the deepest tribulation pondered on the perversity of his household, and at last decided on waiting till next morning before he would give his ultimatum as to how the pig was to be disposed of, in the meantime locking him up in a stable. It was a night of trial for Morris. To lose an entire porker at one fell swoop, and the household to be so very unaccommodating as not to eat him, was a really serious thing. He mentally prayed for the renewed health on the part of the pig, or else that some kind pig-drover would fall from the clouds and be the saving angel of him. The said Morris Greeg’s conscience did not see further than his own acts. If the imaginary drover bought the pig, and others were made mad, why it was none of Morris’s concern. So much for his refined morality. Thus he comforted himself by reflecting, that whoever got mad with eating him, that was _their_ concern, not _his_; as it would be unbecoming in him to dictate to others what they were to buy or to eat. And as to mentioning his faults, as some unreasonable readers require, he defied any one to prove _that_ to be a fault, which was evidently his misfortune.

Boundless was the mirth of Twm and Moses, as in their season of rest they agitated the question as to what report they were to make in the morning. “Suppose,” said the waggish Jew-boy “that we let the pig out, and say that he escaped into the yard, and bit a goose, (which we can kill and eat;) that the goose got mad and bit the wheel-barrow; that the wheel-barrow dashed itself frantically against the dung-cart; and that both together they rolled and rattled all night about the yard, like the capering of ten thousand devils.” Twm over-ruled this wild suggestion, and gave a report more consonant with probabilities that the animal was more mad than ever, and that he feared his malady would infect the stable, so as to make it unsafe to put the horses there again till the walls were white-washed and every part of it purified.

This was a grave and plausible position in which to place the affair, and quite fell in with Morris’s own way of thinking; and at last he determined on having the maddened monster, as he called him, killed and buried. This was at last carried into effect by our young worthies, with the assistance of Mike the mat-man, who inhabited a wretched hovel in the neighbourhood, and maintained himself, a wife, and one child, by making rush mats, and coarse willow baskets, which he hawked over the country. Mike, of course, was let into the secret, and in the night the worthy trio commenced their avocations of body-snatchers. The much injured porker was disinterred, and more honours were paid him after death, than had ever been conferred upon him in life. But this is the way with human beings, sometimes, as well as with the denizens of the sty; and if we choose to moralize, we have an excellent opportunity given us—but we forbear.

Many and merry were the evenings spent over the remains of the pork, by Twm and Moses, under the humble roof of Mike the mat-man and his wife, who were equal partakers of the feast. These promising youths, on pretending to retire to their nightly rest, made a point of hastening to the place of goodly food and pleasant smells, where they spent the greater part of the night, and thus acquired their earliest taste for dissipation.

CHAPTER XIII.

MOSES displays his inventive power in catching mutton. The storm bursts, and the tricks of Twm and Moses are discovered. Hukin Heer informs, and receives his reward. The house is in an uproar.

As the material of their feasting was waning, like a pleasant moon that declines towards the latter quarter, Moses grew more and more uneasy, as foul food or starvation was staring him in the face, night and day. As he utterly failed to sleep, he employed the silent hours of midnight to hatch a scheme for the procurement of future provender. “Twm,” quoth the young schemer one morning, “you love mutton, and so do I; and as you provided the pancakes and the pigs, as well as the fish, (a quinsey fill the throats that swallowed them!) it is now my turn to be founder of the feast. I will not only find the feast, but I will manage matters so well, that Sheeny Greeg herself shall cook it for us.”

Then he related, as Morris had informed him, how in former years the sheep had repeatedly fallen headlong from the height of Allty Craig, and been killed, and how since those times he had made a thick hedge to keep them from the edge of the precipice. “But we won’t be so particular now,” said Moses, “for I mean to get up an accident for one of the sheep. Then we may eat and be happy again; we’ll have a change this time. It was pork before, and now we’ll have mutton.”

“With all my heart,” said Twm, “only do it all yourself, then we shall see what you can do without my assistance.” Thus challenged, Moses felt it as a point of humour to proceed in the affair alone.

Explanatory of what follows, it is here necessary to quote the observation of one of our best South Wales tourists, on the subject of the Welsh hilly sheep. “I was much struck,” says Malkin, “with the difference between the hilly sheep and those of the vale; the former are not only smaller, but infinitely more elegant and picturesque in figure. They seemed to have all their wits about them, so that one would think the race had acquired its proverbial character for silliness by feeding on rich and artificial pastures, without having inherited it originally in the state of nature. When we got into the lane, we met with a flock of several hundred, which live among the rocks all the year round, only coming down in shearing time. They had us in front, and their shepherd and his dog in the rear. _The bounds many of them made in avoiding us_, _were equally powerful and lofty with those of wild goats_.”

Even such was the woolly tribe, from which the insatiate Jew was now preparing to select a victim. Ambitious of the sole credit of the enterprise, he desired Twm to stay below and leave him to follow his own plan. Scarcely thinking of the matter in hand, Twm took his seat on a gate, opposite to the lofty cliff of Allty Craig Llwyd, pondering in his mind about his distant home, the loved scenes which he had left for these, and above all, his mother, from whom he had been so long separated. Moses wound up the hill, and attained the top at the back of the cliff.

With the assistance of the farm-dog he soon drove one of the finest of the wethers into the angular nook formed by the hedge of the adjoining wood, and that which screened from the edge of the terrific cliff. The dog, being set on, barked and bit incessantly, while Moses shouted and bellowed with waving arms, till, worried by stupidity at last, the sheep bounded up, and sprang far over the hedge, and downward in the yielding air—ignorant of the yawning gulf behind the hedge, and the snare laid for his life! Moses set up a triumphant yell like that of a wild Indian, as he peered over the precipice and saw the downward movements of the poor sheep. Startled with the shout of Moses, at this moment Twm looked up, and saw the animal describing a rainbow sweep, and turning over and over in its descent through the air, and its ultimate fall into the quarry beneath, where it dropped lifeless.

So little did our hero relish this cruel affair that he would scarcely speak to Moses, when the latter expected high applause for his handywork. But the Jew-boy, nothing daunted, ran to the farmer, whom he found cobbling up an old plough in the yard, to save expense of paying a wheelwright.

“Oh dear! Oh dear!” whined Moses, with the greatest appearance of heart-touched concern, “a terrible accident has happened—one of the sheep—the fattest and finest of the whole flock—has just sprung over the hedge above Allty Craig, and broke its beautiful neck.” Morris threw down the axe he was using, and looked nearly as sorry, angry, and despondent as he felt. “Nothing but misfortunes!” cried he at last, “nothing but misfortunes for me, wretched man that I am!” his thoughts dwelling at that moment on the fine pig that he lately lost. “First a fine pig, and now my finest sheep. Verily, this must be the end of the world, such judgments could not come without reason!”

“Hadn’t we better cut his throat to save his life,” inquired Moses in the most compassionate and tender tone that he could assume, forgetting the slight anomaly which his suggestion presented; “and then, sir, hadn’t we better skin him too?” continued the young slip of Judaism. “If he isn’t bled directly, and nothing said about the accident, the women will vote him to be buried in the same grave with the hog, considering his beautiful mutton as no better than so much carrion. You know the women are so shamefully dainty in such matters.”

This wily speech won the entire approbation of Morris Greeg, and patting Moses’s shoulder, he thanked Providence that he had so faithful a servant; adding in the same breath, “be sure you don’t cut the skin.”

This gave Twm and Moses full employment for the rest of the evening, while Morris entered the house, and delivered the startling intelligence to his household that he had determined to give them all a treat, and that for this purpose he had ordered one of the finest sheep to be slaughtered, that they might have fresh mutton.

It was just as the first dinner from this promised feast was finished, on the day following, that Hukin Heer, that tall lanky cottager, whose dog had been killed by Moses, under the imputation of madness, called on Morris and Sheeny; and in a self-sufficient mysterious manner, informed them that he had a long story to tell them. As he cast a furious look at Moses, that worthy felt an inward conviction that his long story boded him no good; so taking up his hat in a hurried manner, he prepared to depart. Hukin Heer, however, told Morris, that as his tidings concerned the whole household, and that he was a man who scorned to criminate any one behind his back, he particularly wished that Moses and Twm should be present, to hear all that he had to urge against them. Moses treated his insinuations with a bold look of defiance as his insignificant features could possibly assume, yet trembling with dread that some important discoveries to his disadvantage were to be made.

Twm’s only amusement at that moment consisted in watching the terrified expression upon the countenance of the young Israelite, and in mentally commenting upon the probable consequences of Heer’s information. Now all the family were seated round; Hukin occupying a chair that commanded the passage, in case the culprits aimed to escape, and Sheeny with her female brood, bursting with curiosity to hear what diableries Hukin had to unfold.

It turned out that this unlucky cottager, on the destruction of whose cur, by the relentless hand of Moses, fled in the utmost alarm at the supposed damages done by him, according to the insinuations of Twm, under the influence of canine madness. This, Hukin knew to be a fabrication, and suspecting the rest to be so, indulged in bitter feelings of resentment against the insignificant Jew whelp, as he called him, who on false pretences had destroyed his poor dog. Brooding over his wrongs, he at times revenged himself, in the early dark winter evenings, by tearing the hedges of Morris Greeg, by which amiable pastime he repaired the deficiency of his own fuel, and gave endless labour to those parish apprentices to repair them.

One eventful evening he caught up the clue which furnished him with the means of revenge. He was returning home, after despoiling the hedges, when he heard the sound of footsteps; at once he concealed himself and his load of faggots, and like a stealthy spy, awaited the results. While in this position, by the imperfect light of a dull moon, he caught a full view of Twm and Moses. Abandoning his load of wood, he dogged their steps till they were housed in the hovel of Mike the mat-man. He then saw the inmates enjoying the lingering remains of the pig, gloating over it, and making sundry comments which might, to say the least, be considered suspicious. For several nights Heer followed them, and saw the same scene enacted; he had at last gathered a full and connected narrative of the whole affair, and it was an intense satisfaction to have these sweet means of revenge in his possession.

On the day previous to the present, in the full glow of triumphant malice, he called on Mike, and informed him that his midnight feastings were discovered. Poor Mike trembled with apprehension of the evil consequences that might accrue to him; and in the hope of propitiating the angry spirit of his revengeful neighbour, confessed all he knew, which was everything, about the matter. It seemed as if the spirit of vengeance had yielded a favourable ear to Hukin’s desires; for on this same evening, as he lurked in the wood adjoining Allty Craig, and only separated from it by the hedge, it was his lot to witness the last enormity of Moses, in driving the sheep, on which they had been feeding, over the dreadful precipice.

All these particulars, with the exception of his own part in despoiling the hedges, he narrated before the present assembled party, with the most enlarged minuteness, while the different members of the family were agitated with various feelings as they listened to his exaggerated account of the affair.

Vain would be the attempt to seek words that could do adequate justice in describing the effects of this discovery on the countenance of the economic Morris, and that amiable provider of short commons, his wife. If one groaned forth her unutterable grief, the other ground his teeth; and in the vehemence of his wrath could not help thinking that the penal statutes required amendment—that it was an infamous interference on the part of the law to call the sacrifice of a parish apprentice or two, in the way of just resentment, by the hideous name of murder; while to his thinking, it was much less criminal than clandestinely killing a pig or a sheep, that would fetch so much more money. Almost delirious with his troubles, he paced the house to and fro, at the frantic rate of five miles to the hour, muttering to himself a complete summary of the evils that had befallen him.

“Pig not mad—tickled by the sand in his ear—all eaten by the boys and the mat-man—curse their stomachs!—sheep driven over the precipice—worth ten shillings—Oh!—villainy unheard of—the world was innocent till now—all former villainy child’s play to this—the latter day is coming fast—signs like these are not given for nothing! The prophets have said”—

“What’s become of all the fine lard, you cut-throat villains?” whined Sheeny, in the most touching accents, thinking of the _tesian vroy_, or short cake, that was lost to her forever; while the younger lasses looked bewildered at the prophetic passage alluded, and wondering where it was to be found. As nobody answered her interesting inquiry, Sheeny continued to bite her nails and drum the devil’s tattoo with the heel of the wooden shoe; while Hukin Heer grinned like a demon at the mischief which he had made.

Both Morris and Sheeny were at length roused from their stupor by the inquiry of Hukin,—“Well, what be you going to do with them? I have a couple of hairy halters in my pockets here, that I brought for the purpose; we had better tie their hands behind them, and send them at once in a cart to jail, where they will be hanged, drawn, and quarted, as a warning to all rogues who take away the lives of innocent dogs,”—“and pigs!” roared Griffith; “and sheep!” shrieked Sheeny, as a climax to the whole.

Twm and Moses were on the alert, and in less time than it takes us to narrate the fact, Moses threw a three-legged stool at the informer, and that with such force that it fractured the elbow-bone of his right arm. In an instant Hukin recovered himself, and was about to rush on the young Jew. But Twm Shon Catty was ready, his “soul was in arms and eager for the fray.” As Hukin advanced, Twm launched a heavy oaken stool at his head, which laid his lank carcass on the floor, bathed in blood. The scene was almost taking a tragic turn when Sheeny changed its spirit by attacking Moses with a birch broom, while one of the younger was pricking him in the breech with a toasting-fork, till he blared like a beaten calf. In the confusion of the fray, Shaan attacked her father with a dirty flummery ladle, that whitened and disfigured his black beard and whiskers, as if a barber had commenced his operations, while the good man stood open-mouthed marvelling whether these were not additional signs of approaching doom.

Aware that these ladle-bastings were intended for himself, Twm caught Shaan behind, and holding her elbows fast to her sides, gave her a twist round, and inflicting a tremendous kiss on her fat blubbery lips; then pouting with passion, he loosened his hold, and springing over the prostrate carcass of Hukin Heer, retreated through the doorway in good order. Moses followed, but with considerable confusion; dodging his head, and rubbing his seat of honour in his retreat, as the visions of birch-brooms and toasting-forks haunted him long after he was far beyond their reach, whilst seating himself was made a painful operation, and he mentally thought he had undergone the same punishment as he had seen somewhere in an old print, where his satanic majesty was impaling an old witch in that portion of her body, _for the convenience of which_, _chairs were originally invented_.

CHAPTER XIV.

THE flight of the Israelite and Mike. Mirth changed to grief. Killing by kindness, and saving by neglect. A bright vision, and a supernatural seánce. The end of the miserly household.

On Twm’s rushing out of the house, he sought his bed in the hay-loft, and laying himself down, laughed incessantly, at the thought of the scene just passed; at the same time wondering what had become of his luckless fellow in mischief, whom he momentarily expected to follow him. Moses, however, was so confused by his head-drubbings from the broom of Sheeny, and tail-piercing from the fork of little Gwenny, that failing to see Twm in his retreat, he ran straight forward, without knowing whither. But the very legs of Moses without the guidance of his head, seemed to have a predilection for the favourite road which led to the house of feasting; as in this instance they bore him without pause, till housed in the hovel of Mike, the mat-man.

Poor Mike, he found busied in packing up, and loading his pony with a cargo of mats, and preparing for immediate departure, fearing that day-light would send somebody to take cognizance of the share which he had taken in devouring Morris Greeg’s swine-flesh. Moses related all that had passed, and entreated that he might become his companion in his present excursion; assuring him that he had as sweet a voice for crying mats as he could meet with in a month’s march.

Mike assented, and told him to fortify his stomach with what his hut afforded, against the dangers of the midnight air, a hint which was seldom thrown away upon him. The good-natured wife of the mat-man earnestly requested her husband to divide the head of the pig (the only part left!) between himself and Moses. That youth seconded the motion; observing it was dangerous to leave any portion of it behind, as, though dead, it might tell tales, and be claimed by some of the Greeg family; feelingly remarking, “if you have any more pork, rather than you should get into a scrape, I’ll risk it, and take it all myself.—I am not so selfish as to begrudge to carry it.”

Mike winked at his wife, intimating that he _knew_ his customer. Next morning our hero called at the mat-man’s house, with the laudable desire of putting him on his guard, intending to communicate the adventures and disclosures of the preceding day. But he was doomed to disappointment. Mike had “cleared out” three hours before, escorted by the Israelite, whilst the wife had been left behind to “take care of the things,” and to be the link that should join them to more auspicious times. This breach of good-fellowship on the part of Moses, in leaving him so abruptly, piqued and fretted him not a little. With a commendable spirit that disdained to act the paltry part of a run-away, he entered the house of Morris Greeg at the usual breakfast hour, and took his meal in silence. Sheeny kept her bed this morning, overcome by the tumults of the preceding evening, and Shaan officiated in her place.

The absence of Moses was very slightly commented upon, both father and daughter declaring it would have been well for them if he had taken himself off much sooner; yet, under all this feigned indifference, it was very perceivable to Twm that his loss was much felt by them. Under a couple of old sacks on the settle by the fire lay the damaged body of Hukin Heer, where he had been groaning all night. Without the slightest reference to the past, Twm was told that his first job that morning would be to take Hukin home in a dung-cart, charging him to put plenty of clean straw under him, so that he might ride in style and comfort.

Thus Twm had to perform an office for an enemy, who the day before volunteered to do the same for him,—under different circumstances, that he was to be pinioned like a felon, bound hand and foot, and escorted to the county jail, a reversion of the scene which Twm liked rather than otherwise. It reminded him of the gallows which the scriptural Jew had made for some one else, but eventually took his position there himself.

On Twm’s return, after depositing Hukin with his wife, whose inquiries he cut short, by urging his haste, he was surprised to find that although it was the dinner hour, no food was prepared, nor was any one member of the family to be seen or heard. This unusual stillness he considered as strangely contrasting with the bustle and agitation of the previous day, nor could he in any way account for it. At length the deep silence was feebly broken by some voices upstairs, in the softened tones of pitying condolement, succeeded by the heavy sobbing of a female, amidst the earnest and agonized prayer of a gruff broken voice, which he at once knew to be that of Morris.

At length he recognized the well-known voice of Sheeny, amidst the loud wailing of her daughters, passionately exclaiming, “It is—O God, it is—that murderous disorder, the white-plague pest!” Such was the expressive name by which that awful visitor since known by the name of small-pox, was announced to be in the house. An indescribable vague feeling of terror thrilled through his whole frame, as the dreadful fact became known to him. As in those days scarcely any one knew how to treat this remorseless enemy of the race of man, its very existence in the neighbourhood was deemed a certain messenger of doom, and even in those rare cases where the life of the infected was spared, the envious demon stamped fearful foulness on the face of beauty, and hideously scarified the smoothest cheek, so that the parent knew not the features of his child.

The first hasty thought that crossed our hero’s mind, was to fly, and escape while yet clear of the contagion; but in an instant his nobler though mistaken feelings abjured the thought, bad as they had been to him, of deserting this afflicted family in the dark day of their heavy visitation. However, his presence was no more noticed than his absence would have been. Day after day, things remained in a similar state; at length the lower part of the house was absolutely deserted, or inhabited by him alone. Even the fire was extinguished, and the house might have been uninhabited for anything to be seen to the contrary. There were no sounds, except the occasional groans of Morris, and the cries of the frightened females. The family assembled together upstairs, almost courting infection by their presence, and Twm was therefore left to provide for his own wants.

Rarely could he meet with any one to enquire, as his feelings prompted, who were the sufferers, and how they fared. The third day since the commencement of the sickness, as he sat lonely and languidly, from the disordered state of his stomach, unable to partake of the dry food before him, a shriek of women announced some fatality to have taken place. Morris came down, with streaming eyes and agitated face, and for the first time in his life grasping his hand in friendly wise, emphatically proved how suffering had subdued his selfishness, and humanized his hard heart. At length, with broken voice, he said, “She is gone—my youngest girl is gone,—and I fear my little Gwen will follow soon.”

Even while commiserating with Morris, Twm complained of a head-ache, and a loathing sickness, with a feverish burning of the whole frame, that was overwhelming him. Morris immediately saw that he was infected, and told him to go and lie down; informing his family of the feeling evinced by him for their suffering, and that he was decidedly in the disorder. Then taking his staff he hurried to the different cottages that were thinly scattered among the lonely mountain cwms or dingles, with the hope that either kindness or considerations of interest would induce an elderly female or two to engage with him as nurses, to watch and attend the sick.

Accordingly, two that had gone through the ordeal of the _frech wen_, or the white pest, as the small-pox was called, accompanied him home. They commenced their office by making a regular, roasting fire, and feasting themselves in the best manner the house afforded, attending to number one first, as it behoved all nurses to do, their patients for the time being of course quite a secondary consideration. Feasting to inaugurate their arrival, they averred was an ancient custom, and must be adhered to. He knew not whether it was an ancient one; but that it is a _convenient_ one, none could deny. Twm soon found himself at the height of the malady. Well for him was it, that the fever and other accompaniments of this fearful disorder removed from him all desire for food—for none was brought to him; none called to offer their kindly offices, nor to inquire how he fared; and he had to feel in the acutest degree the abandoned lot of that “no man’s child,” the sick and suffering parish apprentice. His bed in the hay-loft was an old hop-sack, half filled with the chaff of oats; and his covering an old tattered blanket, and a musty rug that had served several offices for horses.

Thus, with the whistling of the wind through the numerous crevices of the crazy walls, and the rain dripping on him at times, through the imperfect rotten thatch, he remained hours, days, and dreary nights, groaning away his time, impatiently longing for death, or speedy recovery. When daylight dawned, his mind wearied by aches and pains of the body, and by a complete absence of the power of thought, would seek some occupation and amusement in speculation on the formation of the dark heavy folds of the numerous cob-webs that waved to and fro over his head, from the mouldy beams and rafters, like the triumphant flags of squalid penury; while the squeaking of mice, that ran in troops about him, became the miserable music that served to vary the monotony of his heavy hours.

One night, while doubly darkened, both by the deep shades of midnight, and his eyes scaled by the glutinous adhesion of the putrid “pest,” lonely and uncared for, he was cheered and comforted in a manner as mysterious as it was delightful. In after years, when referring to the circumstances about to be detailed, marvellous and incredible as it may appear, he always protested with a solemnity that he deemed the subject called for, that he was neither absorbed in slumber at its occurrence, nor under the influence of the slightest delirium, but wakeful and sensible as ever he was during his healthful mid-day avocations.

Turning upon his humble bed, wearied by the long and continued gloom, weakened by continual aches and pains, a chorus of sweet voices broke upon his ear, ravishing from the beauty of its strains. In an instant afterwards, the wretched gloom was dispersed by a brilliant light which burst into the loft, and made all the old familiar objects radiant with a most unearthly brilliance. Simultaneously with the sight and sound, pleasant sensations sprang within his breast, and every pain had vanished. While striving with the efforts of reason to account for what he had felt and mentally beheld, to his unutterable wonder, a tall female form appeared beside his lowly bed, in full glow of youth and beauty, arrayed in costly attire.

She had nothing about her allied to what he called the supernatural—all seemed perfect reality—and although exceedingly lovely, and benevolent in aspect, she was nothing more nor less than a living “lady of the land,” in widow’s weeds of the costly habiliments of the present time. As he sank abashed from her fixed and smiling gaze, she extended one of the finest hands he had ever beheld, and pointed to two marriage rings, one above the other, on the third finger of the left hand. He gazed steadfastly on the rings, and, as he thought, he saw a third one above the others, of a much paler hue; but on viewing it closer, it appeared simply a white narrow silken ribbon, tied in that peculiar fashion, called a true-lover’s knot. Twice he looked from the finger to the face, struggling to give utterance to the question that was trembling on his lips, as to the meaning indicated, when a shriek from the house thrilled through his heart; the glorious vision with the heavenly accompaniments of light and music, were in an instant gone.

The lovely picture vanished, leaving poor Twm more chagrined than ever was Tantalus. Like the mirage, it vanished and faded away, leaving the weary gazer disappointed and dispirited. But still the heart of Twm was comforted with high, though baseless hopes, that fortune had some precious gift in store for him, which time would yet bring forth.

The pleasurable sensations excited in the breast of our worthy, by what he ever after called his “glorious vision,” in healing the mind, had the auspicious effect in cicatrizing his body. But as he recovered his sight, and found the fever abandoning him, his appetite increased, and he became at length tremendously hungry, with apparently nothing within his reach to appease his inward cravings; and he was yet too weak to quit his loft in search of any food.

At times, indeed, somewhat nerved, or rather maddened by his rage for food, his weak hands would rustle in the pea-straw that was heaped between his bed and the wall; and occasionally, after a long search, to his great joy, he would discover an unbroken pea-shell that had escaped the searching of the flail, while in the act of thrashing in the barn. He had heard tales of shipwreck and disaster, when lots had been cast between the mariners as to which should be killed to furnish food for the rest. He could believe them all now, whatever doubt he might have had before. If he could now discover a neglected pea-shell, in spite of the soreness of his hands and mouth, he would open it and devour it with the utmost avidity. Just as this wretched resource was failing him, one day, after a vain and heart-aching search for another pea-pod, a sudden rustle in the straw startled him, and in great alarm he drew back his hand, in the dread of coming in contact with a rat.

From this feeling he was agreeably relieved by the clucking of a hen, that in the same moment descended through a hole in the floor of the loft into the stable below. This homely “household fowl” now became his “bird of good omen,” which in after years he adopted as his crest; for after a short search he discovered no less than three of her eggs. This was indeed “manna in the wilderness” to his declining hopes. A spring in the desert to the parched pilgrim; a port and safety to the shipwrecked mariner; wealth unexpected to the victim of poverty. Not one of those electrifying “God-sends” was ever welcome with greater heartfelt thankfulness, than the humble prize presented to our hero. But this assistance, however welcome at the time,—and wildly welcome it most truly was,—proved after all but temporary.

Thus, although recovering fast from the horrors of the small-pox, he was in the perilous jeopardy of becoming a victim to starvation. Yet hope was strong within him, and wild, young, and thoughtless as he was, he was no stranger to the comfort to be derived from a dependence on Providence.

While the cravings of hunger assailed the poor parish apprentice with unrelenting wolfishness, very different was the treatment of the suffering children of the house. The neglect visited upon the poor parish apprentice, was avenged by the attention paid to the children of Morris. Twm’s neglect proved his salvation, while the unremitting kindness (mistaken though it was), shown to the farmer’s offspring, proved their destruction, for Morris literally _killed them with kindness_. Without judgment, or advice, except from those self-interested conceited nurses, who were more ignorant than herself; Sheeny Greeg sought every delicacy to coax the waned and pampered appetites of her afflicted ones.

Every breath of pure air studiously excluded from their room, they were almost suffocated by the quantity of clothes in which they were wrapped. She gave them the most delicate cakes that the homely hands of her assistants could contrive, with spiced and sugared ale, and even wine; so thoroughly was the accumulating spirit of avarice swallowed up by the nobler and more powerful passion of affection for their perishing young ones; a feeling after all, more eulogized than it really merits, as it is but another mortification of human selfishness.

Three victims had already succumbed to the ravages of the disease, and their fourth child now lay at the door of death. Lamentations and groans were continual, but no proper means for the recovery of the patients were adopted. A poor hedge carpenter came from the distant village of Mawn Dee, and brought with him the last covering of the victims of disease, placing them, with assistance, in the slight alder coffins; the parents took their heart-rent final look, and sank insensible with excessive grief;—and yet the nurses feasted. They continued to roast and boil, piously hoping their valuable services would be long wanted; and although none of the family could partake of their cookery, yet, the nurses feasted! These good ladies, however, were rather disturbed at this time in their comfortable doings, as some of the Mawn Dee women, like the vulture which smells the warfield and the human gore afar off, followed in the wake of the carpenter, hoping by a little canting condolement with the family, to be engaged; but finding the field occupied, they were guilty, as their opponents said, of the heinous offence of offering their services gratis, to sit up in their turn and watch the sick.

This, it must be said, was ever a welcome office to persons of this description, especially at a substantial house; as on such occasions as watching the sick, and laying out the dead, feasting is as prevalent as at weddings. As the paid nurses who assumed the consequence of regulars, failed to eject the volunteers, who were more numerous, they revenged themselves by giving them all the work to do except what appertained to swilling and mastication; their own veteran talents bearing the full brunt of that important piece of service, which was not to be trusted to mere mercenary recruits.

Superstition was rampant amongst these old hen-wives. All sorts of intimations concerning future events were made out of very simple occurrences. No one must go under a ladder, if they would enter the matrimonial noose. Salt was a very unfortunate article of diet, whilst candlewicks were made a medium for the discovery of a coming death. Some of these old grannies dilated upon corpse candles seen by them previous to the deaths of the young women of the house; others dilated on the awfulness of a spectral burial, where shadows of the living supported the bier of the departed towards the church-yard.

One night, between twelve and one, while the three coffins and their contents presented a woeful sight, lying side by side on the oak table, Morris, afflicted as he was, assisted his wife in supporting by the fireside his fourth daughter, whose death they also deeply dreaded, as an old cottage woman, while she basted a loin of mutton roasting before the fire, dwelt much on the certainty of supernatural appearances, illustrating her convictions by instances of her own experience. All at once, the current of her discourse was arrested by a shudder that overcame and struck her dumb, on hearing a rumbling and irregular noise, as of falling furniture, which also terrified the group about the fire. The noise increased, and at last seemed as if somebody was stumbling in his way in the dark.

Some shrieked, some rose and ran to remote corners, covering their head with their aprons, while others sat breathless, as if nailed to the bench, and dissolved in streams of perspiration, their eyes starting from their sockets—when a figure with the air and rush of a maniac darted in, tore the roasting meat from the string, and disappeared with it, uttering in a dismal hollow tone,

“O God, I am famished by these wretches!” The consciences of the farmer and his wife were dreadfully wrung, as they recollected the poor apprentice Twm, whom they had left in the depth of the malady which had deprived them of three of their children, to live or to die, as he might; nor would Morris allow anybody to rescue the meat, but snatching a loaf from the shelf, he entreated Twm to come in and eat his fill at the fire. But the youngster having secured the bread, re-entered his hay-loft, and with the ravenousness of a starved hound devoured his precious prey in darkness. That was the sweetest meal ever eaten by our hero.

In narrating this event in after life, he used to say that the theft of this joint saved his life. He was then as ravenous as a wolf, and was only endowed with supernatural strength for the moment, to effect his purpose. While yet the farmer, with tears of real penitence, was calling out to him, a loud scream from his wife convinced him that his fourth child was also dead.

With wild and insupportable agony, Morris fell upon his knees, and with interrupting sobs exclaimed, “I see the hand of Heaven in this, and a heavy judgment has befallen us for our cruelty to the poor boy; but he will live! he! the lad whom we treated fouler than the beast! he will outlive this pest, while I and mine perish.”

The suffering of the unhappy man was pitiable and heart-rending to witness; and on the very day of his children’s burial, with loud cries of remorse and sorrow, he expired.

Twm recovered, according to the farmer’s prediction, which was further verified, inasmuch as the remainder of his children did not live to see the end of the year; and his wife, losing her senses, was ever after a wretched moping idiot.

CHAPTER XV.

THE return of our hero to Tregaron. His welcome from old friends, cronies, and acquaintances. Is engaged by Squire Graspacre, and is elevated socially and physically.

After setting out early in the morning, and walking all day over the rugged mountain road, the heart of Twm Short Catty thrilled with delight, and the tears filled in his eyes, when, late in the evening, his own native place, the humble town of Tregaron appeared before him. Each object that met his eager gaze was familiar; not a shrub but Twm knew it, not a spot but was remembered in Twm’s mind by some vagary or other practised either by himself or the renowned Watt; and although his feet were so blistered that he could scarcely move, he attempted to make his limbs partake of the new vigour which sprung up in his heart, and essayed to run, but failing in his aim, fell down completely mastered by exhaustion and fatigue. Whether, like Brutus, he was re-nerved by breathing awhile on the bosom of his mother earth, or that the thoughts within, of home and its association, gave him strength, he rose much refreshed, but with considerable pain continued the short untraced portion of his journey.

Entering the town, at length, just as the darkness began to veil every object, he came to his mother’s door, which was open, and cast an inquiring look before he entered. Catty had long dismissed her scholars, and sat in the chimney corner with her back towards the door; whilst Carmarthen Jack was busily engaged upon an artistic combination upon the handle of a ladle. He was a thoroughly business man, as far as spoons and ladles were concerned, and on this occasion he sat sullenly busy in scooping out the bowl of a new ladle.

Twm’s merry trick-loving soul is not to be subdued by his troubles; having drawn his flat-rimmed old hat over his eyes, he leaned over his mother’s hatch, and in a feigned voice, begged for a piece of bread and cheese, saying that he was a poor boy, very hungry and tired, who was making his way home to Lampeter. “We are poor folk ourselves, and have nothing to give,” said Carmarthen jack, rather gruffly. “Stop!” cried Catty, “he’s a poor child, Jack, a bit of bread and cheese is not much, and somebody might take pity on my poor Twm, and give him as much, if he should need it.”

The affectionate heart of Twm could no longer contain itself, but opening the latch, he burst forward, dashing his hat on the ground, and falling on her neck, giving the most ardent utterance to the word “mother,” and after the tender pause of nature’s own embrace, he cried with streaming eyes, “My good, kind, charitable mother! you shall never want bread and cheese while your poor Twm has health and strength to earn it.” Warmly returning his embrace and kisses, Catty long clasped her boy, and was quite terrified to see his pale lean cheek, and altered looks. Ashamed of the exposure of his pitiless nature, Jack now came up, shook hands and condoled with him, but Twm _had seen the man_, _and loved him not_.

Twm was an excellent judge of human nature, and he knew well the duplicity and cunning of his father-in-law, and shunned him accordingly. Twm would never fraternize harmoniously with those he did not like. In this, he was invariably honest.

After being refreshed, Catty eagerly enquired of all that had happened to him since he left home, and wept much as he detailed his narrow escape from starvation and the small-pox. By twelve o’clock next day, his tale was known to everybody at Tregaron.

The catastrophe at Morris Greeg’s, of course, was considered a judgment from heaven for his miserly propensities; and Ianto Gwyn again set his poetical muse at work, and after a slight effort wrote a pathetic ballad, to the great edification of old women and tender-hearted damsels, giving a _true and particular_ account of the whole affair; to which was attached a moral on the cruelty of mal-treating parish apprentices, and stuffing them with mouldy bread and sour flummery. This interesting ballad was daily sung by Watt, the mole-catcher, to the English tune of Chevy Chase, which gained the good-will of all those old cronies who had taken deep offence at his numerous tricks.

Carmarthen Jack, although so careful of his bread and cheese, was determined not to be outdone on this occasion, but brought the graphic art to perpetuate his stepson’s tale; that is to say, he carved on a wooden bowl the figures of four beings, well-attended, in bed, with the scythe of death across their throats, while in the distance a meagre boy was snatching a joint of meat from the fire. The effort, artistically regarded, was not calculated to carry away the Royal Academy’s prize; the idea perhaps was better than the execution; but altogether it gained Jack very great applause.

Right glad were all Twm’s cronies to see him again at Tregaron; but dearer than all to him was the welcome of the curate Rhys, with whose books he was again permitted to make free, while he profited by his instructions and conversation. He had now been at home about three months, and recovered his health, strength and spirits to perfection; when his mother fancied he had become an eye-sore to her husband, who she thought looked at him with the scowling brow of a step-father, which Twm’s conduct, she might imagine, justified, as his behaviour towards Jack had been very unconciliating, ever since the bread and cheese adventure.

With this impression, Catty once more waited on Squire Graspacre, to solicit that some employment should be found for her boy, as she could not afford to keep him in idleness. The tale of his sufferings at _Gwern Ddu_, interested the squire in his favour; and he felt some reluctance to send him again as a parish apprentice. The worthy curate, Rhys, had also spoken a kind word in his late pupil’s favour; and Carmarthen Jack, gaping, hat in hand, looked as if he would say much to get rid of his step-son, could he hit on words to his purpose. Amused by his simplicity and awkward gestures the squire asked him,

“Well, Jack, what would you advise me to do with Catty’s boy?” This plain question met with as blunt an answer, “Make him your servant boy, sir, if you please.” “And so I will, old hedgehog!” cried the squire, slapping him on the shoulder, “Your oratory has settled the matter.”

Accordingly, our hero next appears as the squire’s man at Graspacre-Hall. This was an agreeable change in life to him, where he lived, as they say in clover; and by his good temper and turn for mirth, gained the good-will and admiration of his fellow-servants, particularly the girls, with whom he became an especial favourite. Behold him now in the seventeenth year of his age, with his looks and habits of twenty, gay, happy, and as mischievous as an ape; kissing and romping with the girls, caring for none of them, but showing attentions to all, while he jeered and mocked the cross-grained and disagreeable, and whenever he could, raised a laugh at their peculiarities. His employments at the squire’s were various, among which, waiting at table every day, neatly dressed, and carrying his master’s gun, and attending him during his shooting excursions, formed the principal.

To these, Squire Graspacre, who since the death of his wife was ever wench-hunting, aimed to add the noble office of pimp, which Anglicized, means, the honourable office of wench-procurer, to satisfy the lustful appetite of the squire. Twm, however, had been swayed too long by the counsels of Rhys the curate, to lend himself to any such service; and having by his conversations with him, and by the tenor of his readings, imbibed a taste for romantic honour, he was not without a secret hope that his great father might some day own him, and destine him to a very different sphere in life. With the growth of these notions, rose in his mind a distaste for servitude, and an ardent longing to shine in a sphere allied to literature and respectability.

CHAPTER XVI.

TWM goes the way of all flesh, and “falls in love.” So does the Squire, with Twm’s maiden. Twm defeats his master’s scheme. The adventures of farmer Cadwgan’s ass. Twm makes his exit from Squire Graspacre’s “local habitation.”

The squire and his man Twm returning one evening from grousing on the hills, in their descent towards the valleys had to pass by a small farm-house, inhabited by a tenant of the squire’s, who whispered Twm, “This is the keep, the close, that contains better game, and can afford livelier sport than any I have had to-day.” Twm by his silence testified his ignorance of his drift; but he resumed, “What! you don’t understand me? haven’t you seen this farmer’s plump partridge of a daughter, the pretty Gwenny Cadwgan, you young dog! I am determined to have that bird down, some way or other, and you must help me. She is fine game, and well worth bringing down. She will take time, I know, but if she should be shy why then

“I’ll weedle, coax, and try my arts, For I can play a thousand parts; When she shall weep, I’ll laugh and sing: The devil to my aid I’ll bring. She’ll ne’er resist me long, I ween, For many a victory I have seen; The wench will kick, but what of that? I’ll bear the brunt: she’s plump and fat.”

Before Twm could reply, the squire alighted and entered the cottage, at the door of which the farmer and Gwenny Cadwgan, now grown a fine and blooming young woman, met and welcomed their landlord. Some oaten bread, butter, and cheese, and a cup of homely-brewed ale were put before him; and while he ate, the pretty Gwenny carried a portion to Twm, as he held the horses in the yard. While he received the welcome food from the hand of the happy smiling girl, he perceived the blush with which she gave it, and felt in his breast certain sensations no less new than agreeable.

Thus, while each other made brief allusions to their days of childhood, a tear started in the eyes of Twm, on seeing which the bright eyes of Gwenny were also suffused, till the pearly drops over-ran her fresh ruddy cheeks. Her father then calling her in, she suddenly shook hands with, and left our hero, who in that hour became a captive to her charms, while the innocent girl herself then felt the first shooting of a passion that daily grew, in sympathy with his own.

The squire having finished his hasty lunch, he remarked to his tenant Cadwgan in a hurried manner, that he should have company the next day to entertain at his house, and would thank him to let his lass come to the hall to assist in attending on them. The farmer of course, assented in words, for what small farmer would dare to deny his landlord such a favour, though his heart might tremble with apprehensions?

After the squire’s departure, Cadwgan became deeply distressed at the predicament in which he found himself; to deny his landlord, was probably to lose his farm; and to assent to his specious proposal, was to endanger, if not utterly ruin the innocence of his darling daughter; as since the death of Mistress Graspacre, more than one of the neighbouring damsels had to rue their intimacy with the squire, who inveighled them to the hall with all sorts of arts, pretences, and excuses, and then contriving that he should be alone with the object of his lust, had paid them a little of that “delicate attention” which he had previously recommended to the father of Twm. The poor farmer passed a restless night of bitter reflection, and saw daylight with an agonized spirit; but the active mind imbued with honourable ideas, never fails in due season to work its own relief.

When Twm appeared next morning on horse-back before his door, with a pillion behind, Cadwgan’s terrors had vanished, his indignation at the premeditated injuries intended him, was roused, and with braced nerves, and a firm heart, he determined to deny the squire, and abide the consequences, be what they might. But honest nature was elsewhere at work in Cadwgan’s favour, and unknown to him, had raised a friend to save him from the impending perils, to the preservation of both his farm and his more precious daughter, in the person of young Twm Shon Catty.

On his journey home the last evening, while listening to his master’s commands, and hearing his plan to inveigle the innocent Gwenny, Twm was mentally engaged in studying some mode to preserve her from his clutches; and at length heroically determined to save the object of his admiration, even at the risk of losing his place, and being cast again on the wide world. He fed his fancy all night in dwelling on her beauty, and the merit of preserving her, while he ardently enjoyed in anticipation the sacrifice he was about to make for her sake.

The morning came, and the squire gave the dreaded order, “Take the horse Dragon, put a saddle and pillion on him, and bring the farmer’s lass behind you here; tell Cadwgan not to expect her back to-night, but she shall be brought to-morrow, and by that time, Twm, we shall have shot the plump partridge, and found her good game, I doubt not.” Although Twm had been preparing himself to give a doughty reply, and so commence the heroic character he had modelled, yet when the moment came, his resolution failed him, and the high-sounding words were not forthcoming; although the determination to disobey remained as strong as ever. He rode off, through Tregaron, and up the hills, in a melancholy mood, without any settled purpose, except that of straightforward resistance to the orders he had received. As he jogged on listlessly, he was suddenly roused from his reverie by the braying of Cadwgan’s ass, that was grazing in a green lane, which he was about to enter. Such an animal being a rarity in the country, Twm, with surprise, audibly muttered, “What the devil is that!”

An old woman at that moment opening the gate, which she civilly held for our hero to pass into the lane which she was leaving, hearing his words, replied, “It is only Cadwgan’s _ass_.” Twm, whose thoughts ran entirely on the farmer’s fair daughter, mistaking what she said, rejoined, “Cadwgan’s _lass_, did you say?” “You are very ready with your mocks and pranks, Master Twm,” cried the old woman, slamming the gate against the buttocks of the horse, “but you know very well that I said Cadwgan’s _ass_, and not _lass_! for I should be very sorry to compare the good and pretty Gwenny Cadwgan to such an ugly ill-voiced animal.” Twm was amused at the error he had made, made the good dame the _amende honourable_, bade her good day, and rode forward with new spirits, for this little adventure had furnished him with the means of deliverance for little Gwenny, and a defeat to his master’s unlawful desires.

The farmer’s mind being made up, as before observed, to refuse the attendance of his daughter at his landlord’s, he was astonished to hear Twm say, “Master Cadwgan, it was Squire Graspacre’s order to me, that I should saddle this horse, come to your house, and, with your consent, bring your _ass_ to him, on the pillion behind me.” Cadwgan stared doubtfully, and Twm resumed, “I hope you are too sensible to question or look into the reasonableness of his whims, and will be so good as to catch the strange animal, which I passed on the road, that we may tie him across the pillion.”

Cadwgan immediately concluded this to be a providential mistake of the young man’s, that might have the most desirable effect of relieving him from his apprehended trouble, and with a ready presence of mind said, laughing, “To be sure it is no business of mine to look into the oddness of his fancies, and he shall have my ass by all means.”

“Put an L to ass, and ’twill be _lass_,” said Twm seriously, and with emphasis, “and such is the squire’s demand; but,” said the youth with, rising enthusiasm, “I will risk my life to save your daughter from his snares, and will feign that I thought he said _ass_ instead of _lass_, to be brought on the pillion.” Affected by this instance of generosity, the farmer, as well as his lovely daughter, burst into tears, thanking and blessing him; whilst the former told him that if he lost his place through the adventure, his home was always open to him. Twm was not slow in thanking them for their kindness, but a smile from Gwenny rewarded him more than anything said, or anything promised could do.

While Cadwgan went out to catch the long-eared victim, Twm spent a delicious half-hour in the company of fair Gwenny; and took that opportunity to protest the ardour of his affection for her, and vowed that whatever fortune favoured him with the means of getting a livelihood independent of servitude, it would be the glory of his life to come and ask her to be his own. The maiden heard him with streaming eyes and heaving breast, nor withdrew her cheek when her lover imprinted on it affection’s first kiss; she considered it as a sacred compact, the seal of a true lover’s faithful covenant; one never to be broken by the intrusion of another.

Cadwgan at length returned, with his charge in a halter, grumbling and abusing the beast at every step, in consequence of having led a pretty dance in chase of her. With the assistance of Twm and a neighbouring cottager, he now tied the animal’s legs and lifted her into the seat of the pillion, a situation that her struggling and resistance indicated to be more elevated than comfortable. Twm, however, rode on slowly with his grotesque companion, without the occurrence of an accident, till they arrived at Tregaron; when the whole town, men, women, and children, came to enjoy the strange sight, amidst roars and shouts of laughter. The ass either was not comfortable, or she felt her asinine dignity assailed, and therefore “he haw’d” her disapproval of the proceedings. She further manifested her displeasure by making a strong attempt to reach terra firma, eventually thinking it unjust to make her ride when she was perfectly able and willing to walk.

Straining every nerve to liberate her captive limbs, she at length succeeded in breaking the cord by which she was fastened to the pillion, and tumbled in a heap to the ground, where she struggled hard, and soon shook off every remnant of her hempen gyves; and in all the pride of high achievement and newly acquired freedom, ran with all her might through the town, brandishing her heels to right and left whenever any person approached to impede her career, till through a long narrow lane she reached the mountains. Here she seemed to defy her numerous pursuers; but after a long chase, which lasted till dusk, she was surrounded, secured, and placed in her former situation behind our hero on the pillion.

At length he reached Graspacre Hall, and made his approach at the back of the house. His step-father assisted him and his companion to alight, leading the latter to the stable, while Twm went to inform his master of his arrival, and the cause of his long delay. A tremor suddenly seemed to paralyze poor Twm, well knowing the wrath his disappointed master would shower down upon his devoted head. He mentally thought he should be thankful to anybody who could liberate him out of this dilemma; but after his fit of apprehension had lasted a few minutes, he plucked up his courage and his breeches at the same time, exclaiming, “Well! he can’t kill me for it:” and thus self-comforted he entered the house.

The squire at this time was seated at the head of the table, pushing down the bottle among his friends, principally consisting of the neighbouring gentry.

In the course of the day he had sent several times to know whether Twm had arrived. When little Pembroke at length went in to announce his return, he desired he should be immediately sent in, and Twm approached him with a burning cheek and an agitated heart. He questioned him in an undertone, asking _if he had brought her_, and where he had been so long; to which Twm replied, “Yes, sir, I have brought her, and much trouble I had with her, for she didn’t like to come, thinking perhaps you meant her foul play; and once she escaped off the pillion into the mountain.”

“The devil she did!” cried the squire; “but you caught her again?”

“Oh yes, sir, after losing much time, I have brought her at last, and she is now much tamer than at first; and you can do what you like with her.”

“That’s very well,” said the squire; “I like the notion that she is very tractable.”

“Oh! you’ll find she’ll do anything now, though I had to make her know her right position. She rolled off the pillion in Tregaron, and showed her legs most dreadfully.”

“Fie! fie!” said the squire, “I hope you did not look at them?”

“Faith, but I did then, and very pretty they looked. But you’ll be able to give your own opinion, sir, by and bye.”

“A good lad, Twm, a good lad, remind me to give you a golden angel for this day’s work; but what have you done with her? where is she?”

“Why, sir,” cried Twm. “I tied her up to the manger and locked the door, to prevent her escape.”

“Shame, Twm, shame! you ought not to have done that, for she will think it was by my orders, and hate me perhaps for my supposed cruelty,” quoth the squire, thinking all the time that Cadwgan’s _lass_, and not his ass was the subject of discussion.

“No, sir,” replied Twm, “but it is likely though, that she will have an ill-will towards me, as long as she lives, for it.”

“Well, well,” said his master hastily, “take her from the stable into the housekeeper’s room, and tell Margery to comfort her and give her a glass of wine.”

This was too much for Twm, and the smothered laugh burst out in spite of his efforts; on which, his master with a severe brow, asked how he dared to laugh in his presence. “Indeed I could not help it,” cried Twm, “but I don’t think she ever drank a glass of wine in her life, and perhaps might not like it.”

“Why, that’s true; then tell the butler to give out a bottle of the sweet home-made wine for her—let it be a bottle of the cowslip wine, and say that I am very sorry for the trouble and vexation she has had.”

“Yes, sir,” cried Twm, who made his bow and retired to the servants’ hall, where he made them acquainted with the squire’s freak of having farmer Cadwgan’s ass brought there on a pillion behind him; and that it was his master’s orders that she was to be brought into the house-keeper’s room, and a glass of wine given to her, and that Margery was to make her comfortable.

They were all aware of their master’s occasional eccentricities, and that he was as absolute in demanding obedience to his wildest whims, as to the most important matter in the world. With one accord they therefore brought the ass, not without great trouble and opposition on the part of the poor animal, into the housekeeper’s room, where Glamorgan Margery spread a small carpet for her to lie on, and amidst the side-aching laughter of the servants, offered a glass of wine, which no persuasion could induce her to accept.

The squire had given orders that no person was to answer the bell the rest of the evening but Twm. It was now rung, and in went our hero, when he was asked, “How is she now?” “Rather fatigued sir; she doesn’t like wine, nor would she touch a drop of it.” “Well, well,” said the squire, “if she likes ale better let her have some, with a cold fowl and something of the nicest in the house, though perhaps she would prefer a cup of tea to anything. After she has taken the refreshment she chooses, tell Margery to put her to bed, in the green chamber, then lock the door and bring me the key. I can then visit her when I am ready, you know Twm, and depend upon it I will reward you in the morning.” Here Twm’s risible faculties were again oppressed to bursting, but a look from his master checked him, though he bit his lip till the blood started in the aid to check his laughter.

Squire Graspacre now secretly anticipated the completion of his scheme, anxiously waiting for the departure of his guests, who by their noisy hilarity had long given notice that a little more devotion to the bottle would lay them under the table. The wily squire however desisted, before he had passed the boundary of what topers call _half and half_, considering in the mean time, that his plan would best succeed by not appearing before Gwenny Cadwgan till midnight, when all his household would be asleep, and himself supposed to have retired to his room.

After some trouble, which was heightened by their forced suppression of laughter, that however, broke out in spite of them, the servants got the donkey up stairs, having previously fed her with bread, oaten cakes, and oats, on her rejection of ale, wine, fowl, and tea, which to their great amusement they had successively offered her in vain. Having brought the poor animal into the green room, the best chamber in the house, and kept only for particular guests, they placed her on the fine handsome bed; the legs being already tied, they fastened them also to the bed-posts. Twm heightened the drollery of the scene by cutting two holes in a night-cap, drawing through the donkey’s ears, and slitting it at the edge, he drew the cap down carefully towards the eyes. The bed-clothes were then carefully drawn up to the ass’s neck, the curtains half drawn, and the first ass that ever slept in a feather bed was then left to enjoy its slumbers as best it could. They bade her good night, locked the door, and gave the key to their master.

The guests at length dispersing, they all rode off as well as their muddled heads would let them, to their respective homes; the squire, as was his custom, locked the door himself, and saw every light in the house out before he retired. At length he gained his chamber, and all was still in Graspacre-Hall. The amorous squire, chuckling at his luck as he thought of the fair lass in the green-room, grew too impatient to wait till the proposed hour of midnight, and leaving his candle on his own table, took off his shoes, and softly approached the casket that he deemed contained his precious jewel.

Applying the key, he opened the door very gently, and cautiously approaching the side of the bed, said in a whisper towards the pillow, “Don’t be alarmed, Gwenny, my dear, ’tis I, the squire; fear nothing, my girl, this will be the making of your fortune, my dear; and if you are as kind and loving as I could wish you to be, you may soon become the second Mrs. Graspacre.”

Hearing no reply, he considered that according to the old usage, _silence gives consent_, and proceeded to bend his face down to kiss the fair one, when a severe bounce inflicted by his _incognita’s_ snout, knocked him backwards off the bed to the floor, and set his nose a-bleeding.

After recovering himself a little, though labouring under the delusion that the blow had been struck by the hand of the fair maiden, he exclaimed in an under-tone, “You little wixen! how dare you treat me in this manner?” The answer received was a loud and repeated “he-haw,” with the clattering of hoofs against the bedposts. Now hoofs are suggestive, and the squire rather believed in the supernatural. He again proceeded towards the bed, but was completely horror-struck at the loud bray which the terrified ass sent forth; while the poor terrified animal, after a hard struggle, liberating her limbs, struck him a severe blow on the forehead with her hoof, and getting off the bed, made a terrible clatter with her shod feet over the boards of the room. The unfortunate squire, although hitherto a loud decrier of superstition, now felt a thrill of the utmost horror pervade him, while he decreed himself ensnared by the enemy of man, as the punishment of his guilty intentions; and after a clamorous outcry fell senseless on the floor.

The servants having but concealed the light, expecting some _denouement_ of this sort, now rushed in, and saw their fallen master ghastly pale, with streams of perspiration running over his forehead, while his wildly-staring eyes alternately looked at, and turned from, the monster of alarm. When he had sufficiently recovered to learn the real state of affairs, from little Pembroke, who had been made Twm’s confidante in this matter—how that wight had brought the farmer’s ass according to his orders behind him on the pillion, although he had been in some doubt whether he had said Cadwgan’s _ass_ or Cadwgan’s _lass_, the squire’s rage was boundless.

Squire Graspacre’s rage can be better imagined than described, and all the dormant fiends of evil were at once awakened in his bosom, and the feeling which first actuated him was that of revenge upon Twm, and secondly shame at having been duped, and that with the knowledge of all his household. Exasperated at the trick put upon him by a mere youngster, and a menial, and scarcely less provoked at the exposure he had made of himself before his servants, down he rushed into the hall, and snatched a heavy horsewhip, unlocked the door, and made his way towards our hero’s chamber over the laundry; but when he reached the bedside, prepared to inflict the severest punishment that the thong of a whip was capable of, how great was his mortification to find the bird had flown! His chagrin and resentment were anything but lessened, when he took a piece of paper off the bed, on which, in a large hand, were written these pretty lines:—

If from lass you take the letter L. Then lass is ass if I have learnt to spell; Yes ass and lass methinks are coupled ill. Though human asses follow lasses still! An ass were I too—could I so arrange ill, If now I stay’d to claim my promised angel.

CHAPTER XVII.

TWM finds that his father-in-law is as churlish as ever, but Carmarthen Jack comes to grief in consequence. The Squire turns reformer. His children arrive at the hall. A tender Devonian. Twm satirizes the cook. Thrashes the young squire, and then “disappears.” Calls upon Cadwgan and Rhys. An adventure on the hills.

Twm reached his mother’s at Tregaron about one o’clock in the morning, and alarmed her greatly by the account he gave of his flight from the squire’s, and the cause which led to it. Jack consoled poor Catty by assuring her that her son would go to the devil, and that ruin would come upon them through his tricks, to a certainty. Number one again, as the reader will see, with very little affection for his wife’s offspring. It is a selfish world, and Jack did as Rome did, none the less eagerly because it always suited his own convenience. He concluded by saying that they ought to turn poor Twm adrift, and leave him to himself in order to conciliate the squire. While Jack beneath the bed-clothes, was grunting these suggestions of worldly wisdom, Catty half-dressed, was sitting dejectedly in the chimney corner.

Having caught the drift of his father-in-law’s mutterings, he rose abruptly, snatched up his hat, and while striding to the door, cried, “Good night, mother.” Alarmed at his precipitate movement, and the tone in which he spoke,—“Where are you going, Twm?” said Catty. Turning around, while he held the door in his left hand, he replied, “Anywhere mother—the world is wide—and I’ll go headlong to the devil, rather than stay here, where I am not welcome.” With that he closed the door, and was in a moment out of sight, notwithstanding the cries and entreaties of his mother, who ran after, and earnestly sought to bring him back.

Catty, with a bitter conscience, now found that her son had a step-father, and she a husband, who was a rude and churlish tyrant. To give him his due, Jack was far from being regardless of her sorrow, but showed the tenderness of a husband in comforting her, in a manner most natural to himself. “What signifies crying for such an imp of a devil as that?” said this kind step-father: “if he starves in the field by being out to-night, it will save him from dying at the gallows, where he would be sure to come some day or other.”

This tender-hearted speech had the unexpected effect of immediately curing Catty’s grief, which turned to a desperate fit of rage, and without a word to signify the transition wrought by his oratory, she snatched up a stout broom-stick from the floor, and be-laboured him with all her strength, as he lay beneath the bed-clothes, till he roared like a baited bull. When the strength of her arm failed, the energy of her tongue commenced; and after rating him soundly, she concluded her harangue with eloquent pithiness, hoping that she had left him a shirtful of bones; and expressing a devout hope that he would eventually arrive at that elevated position in society which he had described as the probable fate of her darling son. After which exertion and speechifying, she thought proper to disappear.

Jack, although he received some hard blows, by dodging under the bed-clothes, escaped better than his help-mate intended he should; he soon rose, dressed himself and went to his master’s sauntering sullenly about the outhouses till daylight, when a servant informed him, after narrating Twm’s trick on his master, that he was to take Cadwgan’s ass home.

Squire Graspacre, since the death of his wife, gave such free range to his licentious pleasures, as placed him, especially at his years, in a most unseemly light. His only son had been two years at Oxford, returning only occasionally during the vacations; while his two daughters on the death of their mother, were sent to a boarding-school at Exeter. Thus in his own family he had no witnesses of his vices and follies. He soon found, however, that in Wales, his offences against religion and morality were not to be committed with impunity. The respect in which he was formerly held by the country people gradually declined, while those who had daughters became extremely shy, and sent their female inmates out of the way whenever he approached.

The squire was not slow to discover these changes, and all the pride of his nature, that pride which loved ambition and power, which demanded implicit obedience, and loved to sway the sceptre of power, had aroused him within; determined to subdue the glaring insolence, as he deemed it, of his neighbours. Never deficient in penetration, he was not long in discovering this change in the bearings of his tenants and neighbours, which to a mind like his, proud, fond of domineering, and being looked up to as the superior—the grand central luminary of his sphere, round which all others moved as silent and respectful satellites—was a very hell.

The minds of men, however, are not to be overruled, and with a wisdom rare as effective, he immediately resolved, as the only mode of re-establishing his credit and happiness, to retrace his steps—to which end he sent for his daughters home, at a time when his son was about to return from Oxford—and thus, by the presence of his children, place a restrictive guard upon his future conduct. With this change in his ideas, it will be no wonder that Twm Shon Catty was again taken into favour, and replaced in his former situation.

At length the merry bells of Tregaron announced the arrival of the heir, and the young ladies of Graspacre Hall, which mansion soon became a scene of festivity. The meeting of the squire with his daughters was ardently affectionate; but his son Marmaduke had nothing of cordiality in his nature. His figure was tall and thin, with loose joints and ill-knit bones, while his countenance indicated both phlegm, and a fidgetty, nervous peevishness. He bore the marks of late and dissipated hours upon his countenance. His face was sallow, and his eyes sunken; he had the unmistakable air and _tout ensemble_ of a rouè and a libertine.

He was by no means prepossessing, whilst his pride and self-sufficiency made him an object of dislike to all who approached him. He scrupled not to say openly that he hated Wales and Welshmen. He condescended, however, to say, that until he could get a clever English servant, in the place of the last, who ran away from him, he must put up with one of the Welsh savages. Accordingly, our hero was appointed to be his temporary valet, and ordered to attend exclusively on the young squire.

With the ladies came their aunt, the squire’s younger sister, a very affected fantastical spinster from Exeter; who gave every fashion its Devonshire latitude in her conformation to it, carrying the mode to an extreme that left London absurdity far in the back-ground. The Misses Graspacre were neither imitators nor very ardent admirers of their aunt, whose silly affectation of excessive delicacy became their standing-point of ridicule, which they put in practice on the evening of their arrival.

The hearty girls wanted something substantial for their supper, after travelling their long journey; but their aunt intimated her desire to have something that would be light upon the stomach. The poet expresses the old lady’s opinion when he wrote in homely phrases:—

Sup on dainty calf-foot jelly, Never sleep with well-filled belly; Sup upon the lightest food, Rice; or anything that’s good. Mind you never eat cold meat! If you’d sleep, that is no treat! The nightmare black you’ll have, be sure! But suppers light are just the cure.

But great was the aunt’s dismay on finding a duck and green peas brought to the table. She resolved, however, even on this fare, to show her superior Devonshire breeding; and while the young ladies lifted their peas from their plates to their mouths in half-dozens or more at a time, she, delicate soul, cut every pea in four, and swallowed a quarter at a time!

Another circumstance of note happened at this supper, which, as it relates to our hero, must be told. It seems that during Twm’s disgrace, and consequent absence from the hall, the servants there indulged themselves in making remarks on his conduct, and its probable consequence. This discussion displayed their various dispositions. Some spoke of him with charity, and dwelt upon his rare qualities of good nature and cheerfulness; while others took a malignant pleasure in speaking of his satirical and mischievous propensities. Among the latter was the cook. Twm, on his return, heard of her _kindness_, and determined to take the first opportunity of showing his sense of the obligations she had laid him under. On the removal of the remains of the duck and its accompaniments, the company having just been helped round with tart or pie, their attention was suddenly arrested by the voice of Twm in the passage, who loudly sung the following distich:—

“Apple pie is very rich, And so is venison pasty; But then our cook has got the itch, And that is very nasty.”

Ye gods! what sounds for ears polite! The young ladies laughed immoderately on perceiving the distress of their aunt, who showed a wry-faced consciousness of having partaken food prepared by unclean hands; her countenance underwent various contortions, and she mentally thought of the old proverb about the obligatory rule set down upon each member of humanity, that we must all eat a peck of dirt in our lifetime, but she devoutly hoped that all her share was not to be eaten at one meal. Those awful thoughts had a tragic ending, for they terminated in the grand climax of a shriek and a fit. The squire’s anger was instantly kindled against Twm, probably from an unquenched spark of his former resentment, which he evinced by telling his son to “give that rascal a good thrashing.”

Proud of his commission, out ran Marmaduke; and finding Twm in the hall, ran up and struck him a blow in the face; but great was the amazement of the servants to see the young man turn upon him like a lion, and with the most dexterous management of his fists overpowering their young master in an instant, whom he left groaning with pain, and covered with bruises, and then made a precipitate retreat.

While walking to Tregaron, it occurred to Twm, that for that night at least, he should be favoured with a lodging by his constant friend, Rhys, the curate. Thither he went, and found the worthy man by the parlour fire, with a book in his hand, and papers before him, busily employed in preparing for the press a new edition of his Welsh Grammar. He was received by him with his usual kindness; and when Twm told him his tale, with the important addition that he must leave his native place for ever, and that immediately, he showed the goodness of his heart by assuring him of a retreat for the present, and a little pecuniary aid on his departure. He however gave him a friendly lecture on the impropriety of his conduct; observing that if he must be satirical, he ought to choose the subject for his lash from the famous among the great and wealthy, and not the puny and defenceless, to attack whom, he said, evinced a paltry and most dastardly spirit; concluding with the pithy injunction, “while you live, whatever your state while on earth, act the generous and manly part; and never, never, either manually, or with the lash of satire, war with the weak.”

These words formed in a great measure the leading rule in Twm’s after life. He never forgot them, and all the more because they came from the lips of one whom he revered and loved; and however reprehensible the after vagaries of Twm’s life may have been, their harsher features were considerably modified by the remembrance of the words, “War not against the weak!” Our hero was heartily pleased with his preceptor, inasmuch, that amidst all his observations and lectures he imputed to him but slight blame for his retaliation on young Graspacre; but when he vowed further vengeance, should he ever meet him alone in the mountains remonstrated with him on the risk he ran, urged the necessity of self-preservation, and advised him not to endanger himself needlessly.

The next morning Rhys assured Twm that he had reflected on the peculiarity of his case, and found it by no means so bad as he had imagined. “As to leaving this place,” said he, “I see no necessity; merely keep out of the way awhile, and in due time make your submissions to the squire; as he is by no means a hard man, I have no doubt but all will speedily be well again.” Twm adopted this idea, though he ill-stomached the thought of submission, or of asking pardon for an act of manliness which he would on a similar case of aggravation repeat.

Thus matters rested for the present; and in the dusk of the evening he crossed the hills towards Cadwgan’s, and soon had the grateful satisfaction of seeing once more his beauteous mistress, sitting by her father before a cheerful fire. Her mild kind face was unusually pale, but brightened on his approach; and when he related his new mishap, and that he thought of immediately quitting the country in consequence, her cheek assumed an ashy paleness, and she nearly fainted in her father’s arms. Cadwgan dissuaded him from the thought of quitting his native place for such a trifle, and advised him by all means to follow up the worthy curate’s suggestion; and when the fair Gwenny repeated her father’s wishes as her own, Twm at once acquiesced, and resolved not to quit.

Thus time passed on pleasantly, for some days, when our hero said he longed exceedingly for a day’s coursing on the neighbouring mountains. Cadwgan remarked that the squire had shown no desire to pursue him, as he had heard at Tregaron and he conceived there would be no danger; and so in accordance with his opinion, he lent him his dog and gun, both great favourites, and never before entrusted to any one breathing. He advised him to confine his excursion to a certain remote hill called Twyn Du (_Black Hill_) which being rugged of ascent and marshy, seldom invited the steps of the sons of pleasure in the character of sportsmen.

Thus with dog and gun, and accoutred with a shot-belt, our hero felt himself another and superior being to what he had ever been before, especially as Gwenny assured him that the sportsman’s paraphernalia became him exceedingly. He shook Cadwgan’s hand, kissed the lips of his fair mistress, and gallantly sallied forth. Having gone a few yards, he turned his face back to assure them, that he should return and well loaded with game.

Twm enjoyed himself thoroughly. There was a complete sense of freedom and independence in his sport which more than pleased him; with light heart, cool head, and steady aim, he brought down bird after bird, filling his bag, and carolling old Welsh airs the while. He had been on Twyn Du about an hour and a half, and in that time had killed several birds, when the report of his gun attracted others to the spot. He could hear several persons on the hill contiguous, and saw one well mounted, descending into the deep dingle that, like a gulf, yawned between the two hills, and making his way up the steep side of Twyn Du.

He now felt a presentiment that this visit portended him no good; but scorning an ignominious flight, he carelessly paced the brow of the hill till the sportsman approached, when, to his great amazement, who should present himself before him but his inveterate foe, Marmaduke Graspacre. He approached Twm with the fury of a demoniac, asking how he dared fire a gun on those grounds, and after a few harsh words of abuse, which our hero returned with interest, he took an aim at Cadwgan’s pointer, and instantly shot him on the spot.

This butcherly, cowardly act, aroused the indignation of our hero. He felt his Welsh blood course madly through his veins. The thought too, that this was Cadwgan’s dog, his favourite pointer, the animal petted and nursed by his own sweet Gwenny, drove Twm furious, and he was further aggravated by the young squire demanding his gun, and laughing the while at his distress and rage. The youth was not formed of stuff so tame as to endure his insolent triumph. Snatching up his loaded gun with desperate rapidity, he in a moment lodged the contents in the head of the squire’s fine hunter, on which his enemy sat taunting him. No sooner had Marmaduke reached the ground, disengaged himself from his fallen horse, and stood up, than Twm flew at him, and disregarding his threats, with his dexterous fists inflicted the most perfect chastisement; leaving him in a far worse predicament than after their first encounter.

By this time the men who attended the young squire, hearing the report of the guns, and fearing that their young master had fallen in with poachers, made best of their way down across the dingle, and up the sides of Twyn Du.

Roused by their shouts, Twm left his vanquished foe groaning on the ground by the side of the dead hunter, and darting down the opposite side he made a safe retreat. This was an adventure which constituted the turning point of our hero’s life. The magnitude of the consequences it involved, he scarcely dreamt of at that moment.

CHAPTER XVIII.

TWM is “wanted.” Hides himself in a wood. Love takes him to Cadwgan’s house, where he is welcomed. Parson Evans acting as “detector.” Twm escapes in the disguise of a female. Affectionate parting with the farmer and Gwenny.

No sooner was Marmaduke Graspacre taken home, and the affair made known by him to his father, with some little exaggeration against the assailant, such as the trifling mis-statement that the blows inflicted on him were by the butt-end of the fowling-piece, instead of the fist, than the squire’s indignation was roused.

“As this is not the first offence, and my forbearance has encouraged his atrocious conduct, I am now determined to make an example of him,” said he, and immediately sent a servant for Parson Evans, who, in the capacity of magistrate, was ordered to take cognizance of the affair, and send constables in all directions to arrest the culprit. This was an office that well accorded with this malignant man; he had not the generosity enough to forget and forgive the follies of youth; and had a bloodhound been set upon Twm’s track, he would not have scented him out with more pleasure than Parson Evans.

The hue and cry instantly was raised and spread abroad, and excited as great a commotion throughout the country as if a convicted murderer were chased through the land. All Twm’s haunts were searched, especially his mother’s and farmer Cadwgan’s; in each of which places there was heaviness and wailing for his misfortunes; and Parson Evans, who went there in person, took care to assure them, that when caught, all the world could not save him from the gallows, as he had attempted to murder the young squire of Graspacre-Hall.

But with all the vigilance of his enemies, Twm’s retreat remained undiscovered and those who were friendly disposed towards him began to wonder among themselves what had become of him. Some thought that, in a fit of despondency, he had drowned himself; and others, that he had escaped into the neighbouring counties of Pembroke, Carmarthen, or Brecon; or that he had shipped himself in some vessel at Aberayon, or Aberystwyth, and got off in safety. The constables, however, had visited each of these places, and at length returned without any further intelligence than that their journey had been in vain.

While the search was most hot, our hero concealed himself in a small patch of marshy underwood, a spot on which the keen eye of suspicion never glanced, his pursuers having passed the edge of it many times without a thought occurring of seeking him there. In this retreat he fed himself on nuts and blackberries, and in the night roved about for recreation, but returned to his green-wood shelter before day-light. Even here, Twm’s love of mischief was as prominent as ever.

One night, while the moon gave a good light, he found a large deep hole, close by his retreat. Knowing that his pursuers would very probably pass that way shortly, he covered over the opening with sticks and a thin layer of earth and leaves. Presently came Parson Evans, who had separated himself from the rest of the searchers, and coming to the trap, immediately sunk over-head, to the depth of twelve feet, giving a wild and very unparsonic yell as he descended. He bawled loudly for help, but Twm bounded from his retreat, and shouting down the hole, “Ha! ha! Evans the fox is trapped at last,” made best of his way to another part of the forest.

His concealment and life in the woods continued four days, when, exceedingly tired of his solitude, he one midnight ventured to Cadwgan’s door, and both surprised and gratified the farmer and his kinder daughter, when they heard the lost one’s voice once more. They rose and let him in immediately, made a fire, gave every necessary refreshment, and then persuaded him to go to bed.

Twm remained hidden here a week, when suspicion fixed upon Cadwgan’s house, although searched before, as the probable place of concealment. One day, Gwenny ran in a fright to tell her father to conceal Twm immediately, as the constables, headed by Parson Evans, were coming. Twm started up and said, “Bolt the door for ten minutes, and I shall be safe.” Gwenny replied that they could not be there in that time, as they were then descending the opposite side of the Cwm, which was three long fields off, and that they approached slowly, with fox-like cunning, so as to excite no suspicion of their purpose.

With that, at Twm’s request, they both went up stairs with him, for a purpose which he said he was there to explain to them, as neither of them could conceive in what manner he was going to preserve himself. They all remained above ’till the loud summons of authority, in the raven voice of old Evans, brought Cadwgan down, when the cleric magistrate told him, in no gentle terms, that there was a suspicion attached to his house, as the place where the young villain, Twm Shon Catty, was concealed.

The farmer replied, “I must say this is very hard usage, as I have no one with me but my daughter and my eldest sister, who has come on a few weeks’ visit; but, as you are come, you may search in welcome.” After a brief scrutiny below, they all went up stairs, where sat, busily employed at their needles, the fair Gwenny Cadwgan and the ingenious Twm Shon Catty, excellently disguised in the dress of Cadwgan’s late wife; which having been the property of a tall women fitted him very well. His face was slightly coloured with the juice of blackberries; beneath his chin was pinned a dowdyish cap, which in the scant light of a small window, by the aid of a pair of spectacles he appeared a complete old granny.

On the entrance of these amiable visitors, he turned his full spectacled face on Parson Evans, muttering, in the tone of an old woman, which he mimicked well, “lack a day! lack a day! this is sad usage;” then whispered Gwenny, who took the hint, and, while they were searching, laid some hog’s lard on different parts of the stairs, so that, on their descent, the precious party, with their rascally leader, slipped and fell headlong down from top to bottom, to the great amusement of those above. On being charged with this contrivance, each denied all knowledge of, and the quick witted Gwenny accounted for the cause of their accident by saying that they had been carrying butter and lard to the store, up stairs, the whole morning.

In addition to this, Twm emptied the contents of a certain piece of crockery upon the devoted heads of the searchers, just as they emerged from the doorway, and when he discovered the splutterings and surprise manifested by the parson, shouted down from the upper window, “Dear! dear! I thought you lazy folk would be half a mile from the house before now. Well well! ye’ll get a washing for nothing.” The parson muttered something very like a curse, while the constables “d—d” the old woman unceremoniously.

They were no sooner gone than Twm assured Cadwgan that he saw there was no safety for him except in flight, which must take place that very night. His plan, he said, was matured, that he had no fear but he should do well, and that his only regret was in parting with them. He purposed, he said, to make his way towards Carmarthenshire, or perhaps farther and seek employment among the farmers; or, what was more agreeable to him, he might, perhaps, get to some village where he could set up a school; so that after saving a sum of money to begin life with, he should return and make Gwenny his wife. With tearful eyes Cadwgan expressed his admiration of his plan, while poor Gwenny wept herself almost into fits, at the thought of his perils, and sudden departure.

“At any rate, my boy, thou shalt not go penniless to wander the wide world,” said Cadwgan, and put an old pocket-book, containing several angels, and near twenty shillings in silver, which Twm reluctantly took, promising its return doubly when fortune favoured him. “I have two favours more to ask,” said he; “the first is, that you will make the best of my affair when you tell my poor mother and the worthy Mr. Rhys of my flight, and my future plans in life; and my next request is, that you will give me this old woman’s dress, with the red cloak belonging to it, as it will answer for a disguise should I be troubled before I get far enough off.” Cadwgan kindly acquiesced, though he smiled at the latter whimsical fancy. At length, thus attired to avoid observation, with his own clothes in a bundle, he took an affecting leave of them, and made a hasty departure from their friendly door.

CHAPTER XIX.

TWM risks another visit to Tregaron. Alarms his friend Watt. Danger of betrayal by him. His cunning is more than a match for Watt, Parson Evans, and his wife. Escapes, and with a good booty. Disappearance of the Parson’s horse, great coat, and cash.

It was a dull heavy night, in which fog and darkness contended for precedence, and the moon gleamed as if about to retire altogether, when Twm Shon Catty shaped his course over the mountain, in the direction which led to Lampeter; he looked instinctively towards his dear native town, which a fashionable tourist would perhaps have called the most wretched village in the universe; but, to him, it was full of sweet associations, and recollections the most agreeable; the scene of his childhood, the home of his mother:

Dear to all their natal spot, Although ’twere Nature’s foulest blot; For, wherever we may roam, There’s ne’er a place like Home, sweet Home.

He stopped, and looked wistfully towards Tregaron; the lights were glistening in their various humble casements, and he fancied that among them all he could distinguish his mother’s—his kind fond mother’s—whom, perhaps, he was never to see again,—and now he recollected many instances of her tenderness, which had long slumbered in his recollection. His eyes filled with tears, and the softness of his heart was put at once into mournful harmony.

A sudden thought, no less eccentric than daring, now took him, that thus disguised, he might safely pass through Tregaron, and perhaps see his mother before his departure. This idea was no sooner started than acted upon; and, before an hour had expired, he found himself once more in the long and almost only street in Tregaron. He met two or three old women whom he knew well, but there was no recognition on their part, only a long, vacant stare of astonishment, no doubt wondering who the stranger could be, venturing into Tregaron at that late hour. His mother’s door was closed for the night, and he durst not call to her, as Jack was not to be trusted. He moved on, looking earnestly to every door. The whole street seemed still as death, except that various snores, here and there, reminded Twm of the sweet sleep enjoyed by others though denied to him; while the stray villagers whom he had met were busy locking their doors, or barring them with the wooden sash.

He sauntered slowly along, meditating on the circumstance that made him afraid to face those who knew him, till opposite to the cottage of his old companion and elder brother in mischief, Watt the mole-catcher. Watt had long lived with a widowed mother, who had recently died, and now sojourned alone in her solitary hut; it was even reported that he had forsaken all his wicked ways, grown serious, and was consequently likely to do well. It occurred to Twm that he had often heard Watt deny the existence of ghosts and hobgoblins, and vaunt that nothing of that description could in the least frighten him; and now, thought Twm, I’ll put his courage to the trial.

Peeping through the casement, he saw Watt in bed, at the farther end of the cottage, and the fire burning through the peat heaped up to preserve it for the night, so that the white walls within were brightened by the gleams cast on them from the hearth. Softly lifting the latch, he opened the door, entered, and, walking quietly towards the hearth, sat on the three-legged stool, took up the old snoutless bellows, and began blowing the fire with all his might. Watt awoke in extreme terror, and seeing the figure of a tall woman in the chimney corner, deeming it no other than his mother’s spirit, his fright increased.

Trembling and almost dissolved in perspiration, he at last burst out into a roar of “Lord have mercy on me! oh, mother’s dear spirit, pity me!” Twm laughed out, and ran to his bed-side to stop his roaring cries, exclaiming, “Silence, man, ’tis I, Twm, your old friend, Twm Shon Catty.” Watt slowly awoke to the consciousness that his theory did not stand the test of practice, and that this had been proven by one who had often heard him vaunting as to his fearlessness of the supernatural.

Convinced of his identity, and having heard our hero’s story, he said, “’Twere better you were at the bottom of a river, Twm, than here, for I have been compelled, by Parson Evans, to make an oath that if you came here, I would immediately either send or run myself to inform him of your arrival; and I can’t break, an oath, Twm, for anybody.”

“I did not think,” said our hero coolly, “that you, who have broken so many laws, would scruple much about breaking a forced oath; but old companionship pleads weakly, opposed to the reward that will be given for my apprehension; I thought, though the whole town were to turn against me that you, Watt would have been my friend, for you have led me into many troubles, and I never laid a jot of blame to your charge, but took all to myself, and have often suffered on your account.”

Watt, who by this time had nearly dressed himself, was much affected by this appeal, and said, “No, Twm, I will never betray you, but, if I were known in the least to favour you it would ruin all my hopes of success in life. I am, next week, to be married to Betsy Gwevelheer, {140} Parson Evan’s maid that I have courted these ten years; and the parson has promised to do great things at the bidding: and more than that, I am to be the parish clerk and grave-digger when old Morgan Meredith dies, and he can’t live long, as I have made him a present of a good church-yard cough, by breaking a hole in the thatch over his bed, by which he has gained a great hoarseness, and nearly lost his voice; so that I expect to be called in to officiate for him next Sunday.”

“I see you are still my friend,” said Twm, who had been lost in a reverie during part of Watt’s remarks, “and I give you joy of your fair prospects, which I would not destroy on any account; you shall serve me, and, at the same time keep your oath. You know my talent at mimicry, and see how well this dress becomes me; aye, I become the dress equally as you shall see. Had I not already disclosed myself, I could have discoursed to you a whole hour at mid-day, fearless of a discovery; but let us see how this cloak becomes you, Watt.” With that he took off the cloak and put it on Watt, and, after a little jesting on the subject, Twm suddenly exclaimed, “Only sit down here with the cloak on your shoulders for ten minutes, while I step out, and, with the assistance of my bundle, I will astonish you with my transformation.”

All this was uttered with the gay rapidity of an anticipated freak, and Watt taken by surprise, immediately acquiesced, without knowing what he was about. Twm ran immediately to the Rectory House, and making a great clatter, roused Parson Evans, who opened the window and asked what was the matter; when, assuming Watt’s voice, he said hastily, “Mister Evans! Mister Evans! Twm Shon Catty is now in my cottage, dressed in a cloak, and sitting at the fire. You had best be quick and secure him. He wanted me not to betray him, but I could not break my oath, you know; so pray you, Parson, make haste if you would have your desire.”

Delighted with this intelligence, Evans awakened the whole house, especially two strapping fellows, whom he called his bull-dogs, sometimes employing them as husbandry servants, at others, on account of their large size, and muscular power, as constables. Both these fellows were first sent to saddle his horse, in case he should have to take Twm to Cardigan gaol,—and then to attend him to Watt’s cottage, where the trio soon went.

Peeping through the casement, Evans discovered a tall figure wrapped in a cloak, as described. “There he is sure enough,” quoth he in a whisper; “now get your cords ready for binding his hands, and stay here till I call you in; be sure that you watch the door well.” With that he lifted the latch and went in. Watt, who, in the interim of our hero’s absence, had made up a good fire, now stood up, and, as he saw the clerical magistrate before him, exclaimed, “Well done, Twm, my boy! I now give you credit; well, well, well, this is indeed strange; a wonderful disguise; you look the old rascal to the life; if you had not told me before-hand of your intended transformation, I could have sworn you were old Evans himself; you look now just as he did when he promised to make me parish clerk.”

Evans remained petrified with astonishment till the last words were uttered, when he replied, “Parish devil! you infernal scoundrel, have you roused me out of my bed at midnight to hoax and insult me in this manner? but you shall dearly repent your insolence.”

Watt stared with wonder, and replied, “Well, well, well! I never did hear such a thing in my life; you have just the old villain’s voice and swaggering way; I wish I may die if you don’t so frighten me; and I could almost swear the spiteful old Evans himself stood before me; hang him, I hate his very looks, and I am only holding a candle to the devil, in hopes of the parish clerkship, by seeming so civil to him.” Evans thought him certainly either mad or drunk; and without any further explanation, he called the two men in, and ordered them to secure him. The light at length broke in on Watt’s mind; Twm’s trick on him, and the real state of the case appeared; and he struggled hard before the fellows could secure him.

At length he cleared up his confused and chagrined countenance, and said, in an undaunted tone, “Well, well, well, I see the worst; farewell to mole-catching; farewell to parish-clerkship, and Bessy Gwevelheer; and you, you evil-minded old scourge, may bid farewell to all hopes of having me to father your brat, of which your maid Bessy is big. I will make the country ring with the stories of your rascalities if you dare to send me to the round house; but if you liberate me at once, I shall leave Tregaron for ever, in the course of a few days, and go abroad, to see the world and seek my fortune.”

To the great surprise of the men, and, perhaps, of Watt himself, Evans seemed cowed by his threats, and, after a little show of parleying, gave him that freedom of which he had no right to deprive him. Leaving him alone in his cottage, he shuffled home, accompanied by his worthless followers.

While Watt’s cottage became the theatre of the above-described scene, Twm Shon Catty had a performance of his own elsewhere—a dance if you will—to which the same reverend gentleman was doomed to pay the piper. Having watched the party to Watt’s door, Twm hastened to the parson’s, calling loudly in the assumed voice of one of the fellows who accompanied, “Mistress Evans! Mistress Evans! make haste and send master his pocket-book with his money, immediately; Twm Shon Catty is taken, and we are going off with him to Cardigan gaol.”

Mrs. Evans sleeping in a front room, heard him instantly, and with unusual alacrity jumped off bed; she soon threw down the pocket-book, which was caught by Twm, and asked him, “Doesn’t he want his weather-proof great coat also?” Our hero replied, “Yes, but, dear me, I did forget that,” and immediately received the great coat likewise. Mrs. Evans wishing them safe home from Cardigan, shut the window. The saddled horse was already at the gate, and Twm, well coated and cashed, instantly mounted and rode off, glorying in his triumph over his old rancorous enemy. “Here,” thought Twm, “is tangible revenge for all the trouble and persecution this reverend gentleman has brought upon me.” A full pocket-book, a good horse, and a warm great coat, after all, were not bad equivalents for Twm’s injuries. Some philosophers might consider that outraged feelings could not be solaced in this way. But in Twm’s case, at any rate, they were mistaken.

CHAPTER XX.

TWM is robbed by a highwayman. His meditations. Again is despoiled by a gipsy and a ballad-singer at Aberayon. He adopts the musical profession at Cardigan Fair.

Twm took a circuitous route over the mountains towards Lampeter, and, when he felt himself secure from pursuit, his first thought was to change his feminine attire for his own, as more convenient for riding, which was soon accomplished, and the suits changed places in the bundle. In his ignorance of the world, he scarce knew whither to direct his course after reaching Lampeter, where he arrived between one and two o’clock in the morning. He recollected that this was a central place, from which different roads led to Aberystwith, Llandovery, Carmarthen, Aberayon, and Cardigan; but found a difficulty in deciding which way to take.

It suddenly occurred to him that there was a fair at Cardigan the next day, and he determined to go there and sell the parson’s horse. The whole town being wrapped in slumbers, he was now at a stand, not knowing the road which led through Aberayon to Cardigan; but, rousing a cottager, he soon gained the necessary information, and proceeded on.

As he approached Aberayon, for the first time in his life, the distant roaring of the sea struck upon his ear, still increasing as he neared the ocean side. Wonder, awe, and even terror, were the successive sensations that agitated our hero. The saddening sobs of the mighty waters as they retreated from the shore, and the fearful fury of their rallying and re-assaulting the repulsing beach, with their successive wailing retreats, to gather the powers of the advancing tide, came on his soul like an accusing spirit that seemed to reproach him for his late misdeeds.

Severe self-accusing reflection on the atrocity of his last act, succeeded the triumphs of enmity that had first given a gust to its perpetration. Consciousness of guilt and terror of punishment at once assailed him, for he was yet young in crime. On the impulse of the moment, he determined to leave the parson’s nag behind him, and then return his cash and coat as early as possible.

While these bitter agitations were racking his breast, the clatter of a galloping horse increased his terrors, and he discerned both horse and rider making briskly towards him. Strange as it may appear, notwithstanding the opposite quarter from where the danger proceeded, in the wildness of his apprehensions he conceived it could be no other than Squire Graspacre, Parson Evans, and their party. He was actually glad when made to understand that the horseman was a highwayman. His unwelcome assailant quickly approached him and presenting his pistol, with a loud oath, to oblige “Dio the Devil” with all his cash and valuables, or prepare for immediate death.

The name of this terrific freebooter, who had, among many other descriptions of persons, robbed half the farmers in the country, and was supposed to have committed more than one murder, had its full effect upon Twm. He instantly resigned the parson’s purse, assuring him it was all he possessed and begged that he would allow him to retain a single angel; these terms, the robber, in a manner, acceded to, doubling his quest by giving two; but in return insisted on having his horse and great coat, which Twm gave up. Dio (whose name, by the way, is a familiar diminutive of David,) then with sarcastic politeness wished him good morning, and a pleasant journey! and galloped off in the direction of Lampeter, having the rein of the parson’s horse over his left arm.

No sooner had the highwaymen disappeared, than Twm was struck with a full conviction of the folly of the fears he had entertained, which by depressing his mind, he thought, led to confusedly yielding his property too easily: vowing to himself, after some reflection, that if possessed of a pair of pistols, no highwayman in the world should make him stand. His thoughts taking their course through this channel, wandered and diverged, till his mind rested on new, but perilous prospects.

“What a life,” thought he, “this Dio the Devil leads—a gentleman of the road—the terror of wealthy scoundrels, who are themselves the scourge of the hapless poor, that are starved into crime—famed, feared, and mained at the general cost, while many an honest fool toils like the gulled drudge-horse, crawls through the world half-starved, and is despised for meanness!” The weight and magnitude of his reflections were such as for a few moments to reduce him to absolute silence, when recovering himself, he continued, “What does it matter to me what others do? I shall please myself, and I don’t like hard work, nor do I care for coarse fare, and still less for great folk’s abuse and buffets; and if I had a pistol, why, I shouldn’t mind if—”

At this moment a countryman was about to pass him on the road, in whose hand he recognized his bundle, containing his feminine attire, which in his terror he had dropped, and it rolled from the side of the road, it seems, into the ditch, previous to the halt of the highwayman. Twm immediately claimed his property, but the fellow seemed disinclined to attend to him, until vehemently insisting on his right, he evinced an inclination to battle with him; when satisfied with this very convincing sort of logic, the clown made restitution.

His little affray with the would-be-dishonest countryman, had not obliterated the thought of our hero with respect to highwaymen, and their independent style of existence, and with his mind still occupied, with the gentlemen of the road, he came to a small public-house near Aberayon, but which was so inconveniently crowded that he could scarce find a seat.

With the exception of two or three fishermen and other seafarers, these were people who made a temporary halt on their way to Cardigan fair; low booth-keepers, fruit and gingerbread sellers, and suchlike. Twm called for beer and refreshment, and while eating, observed the habits of these strange people with much curiosity. He had contrived to squeeze himself into a window-seat between two females who sat apart and civilly made room for him, and pressed his acceptance of the place.

Twm was delighted with his new position, and he was not a little surprised with the contrast which the kindness and affability of his fair companions offered to the rude gestures and uncouth speech of the remainder of the party. He did not think worse of them when he discovered that one was a gipsy fortune-teller, and the other a ballad-singer. He could not do less, he thought, than ask them to partake of his cup, and they found themselves bound in honour, in their great devotion to his health, to return it empty each time he handed it to them full.

Such gallantry on the one hand, and confidence and affability on the other, begot a sudden friendship between them; the gipsy insisting upon telling his fortune gratis, and the ballad-singer on the acceptance of two or three favourite songs; while Twm reciprocating in the warmest style, their affectionate attentions, ordered indefinite supplies of “nut-brown,” on which he and his fair ones regaled to their hearts’ content.

While Twm was busily employed in looking over the bundle of ballads, among which he met many old friends, which he had frequently sung, one of the friendly nymphs was beckoned to, by a man at the opposite end of the kitchen, with whom they went out, and the gipsy soon followed them.

Our hero having selected the songs that pleased him, waited impatiently the return of the damsels. No sign of their re-appearance being visible, and all the fair people having left one by one, until Twm found himself quite alone, he inquired of the landlord if he knew where the young women had gone to. He said he did not, but that the whole party having paid him were gone off, and he had no further business with them.

Twm thought the ballad-singer a singular good-natured young woman, as she had left her bundles of melody with him, doubtless as a present, and merely taken herself away thus modestly, instead of ostentatiously proclaiming her gift, and receiving his thanks. His opinion was slightly changed, when wishful to pay the landlord, he found he had not a halfpenny in his pocket. His vexation and confusion were evident to mine host, who declared that his face was turned as white as the wall. Having searched every pocket over and over, at length the doleful tale came out that he had lost his money, and could not tell how.

“Why, as to that,” said the landlord, with bitter coolness, “if it is any satisfaction to know _how_ you lost your money, I can tell you; it was by sitting between two thieves—a gipsy and a ballad-singer and what could you expect else from mixing with such cattle?” Poor Twm remained silent, in a miserable mood, with his elbows resting on the table, and with his temples in the palms of his hands, for a full half hour; when the landlord disturbed his meditations by asking payment for his fare; good-naturedly adding, “If you have no money, I don’t wish to be hard with you, you can merely leave your jacket with me instead.” “My jacket!” quoth he indignantly; “why that is ten times the value of what I owe you.” “That’s just as people think; but those are my terms, and you should be glad that I’ll take it in place of good hard cash,” was the reply of the uncompromising old fellow. The fishermen in the mean time passed on him their rough and scurvy jokes, one observing, “You can sing ballads without a jacket, so I advise you to go to the fair at Cardigan, where you may perhaps meet your old friends.”

Twm was too despondent to be much effected by these feeble attempts at wit, but he determined to accept the suggestion of the last speaker, and make his first appearance as a public vocalist in Cardigan, so without more ado he took off his jacket and gave it to the host, muttering a curse on his cruelty, and commenced his journey. The dress of Cadwgan’s wife was again put on, not only as a fit disguise for his minstrel vocation, but a more perfect guard against the weather than his own, since deprived of his upper-garment; and thus equipped he once more took to the road, his late experience having completely sobered him, and left him depressed in spirits, as he glanced at the scene in which he had been thoroughly victimized.

CHAPTER XXI.

TWM’S appearance as a “fair” ballad singer at Cardigan. A sudden alarm. Poor Parson Inco. Twm’s hasty flight.

“The longest lane has a turning,” and the weariest journey has an end, and at length Twm found himself in Cardigan, and prepared himself at once to commence his whimsical vocation. Although naturally bold, and more full of confidence than beseemed the modesty of youth, it was not without considerable efforts in struggling with some remains of diffidence that he at length ventured to sing in the public street; but he had fortified himself with a draught of strong beer, and his voice, in his own opinion, being almost unequalled in the country, he thought it foolish to hesitate. He fixed himself in rather an obscure part of the fair; but his musical voice and humorous execution of a comic song soon drew a crowd about him, and put his ballads in speedy request.

Adapting the usual gait and manner of street-vocalists, holding his hand to his mouth to secure increased power, he introduced each song with a whimsical description of its matter, in a strain of drollery that set the grinning rustics in high glee; “Here, my merry men and maidens,” quoth he, “is a pretty song about a young damsel, who was taken in by a false lover, that courted her for what he could get, and having wheedled her out of her heart and money, ran away and left her to wear the willow.”

THE SLIGHTED MAID’S LAMENT. {149}

In comfort and in credit, By the side of Pen-y-vole I lived:—all knew and said it, None could my will control; Until a worthless lover Did try my heart to move: Ah, soon my joys were over! I listened to his love.

From far he travelled to me, Full many and many a night, I thought he came to woo me— My heart was all delight: My cash he thought of gaining, It was not me he sought, E’er mourning and complaining For clothes—and clothes I bought.

A pair of shoes I placed him Between his soles and ground, With stockings then I graced him, With hat his head I crown’d; Red garters then I bought him, At fair the best I saw, To bind his hose, od rod him! Instead of bands of straw.

I bought him leather breeches Strong as a barley sack, And laid out half my riches To clothe the beggar’s back; I gave him money willing, (Vexation now upbraids!) With which the thankless villain Soon treated other maids.

When thus he had bereft me Of cash, and ah, my heart! The cruel rover left me, It grieved me then to part; Those clothes will rend in tatters, They cannot last him long: A curse attends such matters, False lovers curse is strong!

His coat will rend in creases, His stockings break in holes, His breeches go to pieces, His shoes part from their soles; His hair, like garden carrot, Full soon will want a hat; How soon, indeed I care not,— The devil care for that!

His listeners appreciated his first song so much that all his copies were soon disposed of; so he selected another, before singing which he said: “Now this, my friends, is about a Welsh boy, who was so foolish as to leave old Cymry and go to London, from which place, I warrant you, he would have been glad enough to return, as they have neither leeks, cheese, nor flummery, nor anything else there fit for a Christian people.”

WHEN a wild rural Welsh boy I ran o’er the hills, And sprang o’er the hedges, the gates, brooks, and rills, The high oak I climb’d for the nest of the kite, And plung’d in the river with ardent delight! Ah, who then so cheerful, so happy as me, As I skipp’d through the woodlands and meads of Brandee?

How oft have I wander’d through swamp, hedge, or brake, While fearful of nought but the never-seen snake, And gather’d brown nuts from the copses around, While ev’ry bush echoed with harmony’s sound! Oh, gladness then thrill’d me! I bounded as free As a hart o’er the lawn through the meads of Brandee.

Whenever I wander’d to some neighb’ring farm, How kindly was tendered the new milk so warm, O’er her best loaf as butter-or-honey she’d spread, The farm wife so friendly would stroke my white head, And sure that she shortly again would see me Whenever my rambles led forth from Brandee.

How oft have I run with my strawberry wreath To rosy young Gwenny of fair Llwyn-y-neath, And help’d her to drive the white sheep to the pen! Oh! still I think how joyously sung little Gwen! The old folks, oft chuckling, vow’d sweet-hearts were we, Then Llwyn-y-neath maiden and boy of Brandee.

At the fair of Devynnock, o’ertaken by night, Returning, I’ve dreaded the corpse-candle light, The wandering spirit, the hobgoblin fell, Of which cottage hen-wives so fearfully tell: I’ve ran, with my eyes shut, ghosts dreading to see, Prayed, whistled, or sang as I flew to Brandee.

Pleasure and innocence hand in hand went, My deeds ever blameless, my heart e’er content, Unknown to ambition, and free from all care, A stranger to sorrow, remorse, or despair; Oh bless’d were those days! long departed from me, Far, far’s my loved Cambria! far, far is Brandee!

This did not take so well as the first, but Twm, now thoroughly interested in his new vocation, commenced a fresh ditty, which he announced as a sequel to the last.

ROSY GWEN.

Rosy Gwen, Rosy Gwen, Beloved of maids, beloved of men: Aye, dearly loved of grave and gay, In youth’s early day—ah, what cheer’d me then? ’Twas her voice so sweet, Her person neat, Her form so sleek, Her spirit meek, And the cherry-merry cheek of Rosy Gwen.

Gentle girl, gentle girl, Coral lipp’d, with teeth of pearl, On either cheek a vivid rose, And raven tresses graced thy brows! Ah, thou wert my love and playmate then! Happy lass of smiles, Unvers’d in wiles, Of guileless breast— Of minds the best. Oh my merry-cheek’d young Rosy Gwen!

Years have flown, years have flown, And Gwenny thour’t a woman grown, While Time, that bears for most a sting, Has fann’d thy beauties with his wing; Yet brighter thou canst not be than when O’er the mountain steep Thou drov’st thy sheep, And sang in glee A child with me, Oh my cheery-merry-cheek’d young Rosy Gwen.

As the last was but tolerated, the singer soon found that a merry strain was most congenial to their fancies. He therefore gave them the old and popular duet of “Hob y deri dando,” rendered more comical by his singing alternately shrill and gruff, for male and female’s parts.

HOB Y DERI DANDO. {153}

_Ivor_. The summer storm is on the mountain, Hob y deri dando, my sweet maid!

_Gweno_. And foul the stream, though bright the fountain, Hob y deri dando for the shade.

_Ivor_. Let my mantle love protect thee, Gentle Gweno dear;

_Gweno_. Ivor kind will ne’er neglect me Faithful far and near;

_Both_. Through life the hue of first love true, Will never never fade.

* * * * *

_Ivor_. Thus may the frowns of life pass over, Happy then our lot,

_Gweno_. And the smile of peace be bright as ever In our humble cot!

_Both_. Through life the hue of first love true Will never never fade!

_Ivor_. The rain is past, the clouds are gone too, Hob y deri dando, far they spread;

_Gweno_. The lark is up, and bright the sun too, Hob y deri dando, on the mead!

He sang the last three tunes, and sold a dozen copies; but just as he was going to favour his audience with _Nos Galan_, the malignant face of Parson Evans presented itself before him.

As our hero wore petticoats, many gallant swains offered their treats of cake and ale, some of which was accepted; and presuming on that circumstance, they amusingly put in their claims to further notice, and seemed inclined to quarrel, as for a sweetheart.

With this phalanx of protectors, beaus, and chaperons, Twm resolved to employ them in a new scheme of vengeance on the unpopular parson. “You see that old fellow in black,” said he, directing their attention to him as he passed, “he is a bumbailiff, and the greatest villain in all the country I come from; and at this very moment, I’ll be bound for it, he is hunting out some poor fellow to put him in prison. He wanted to be a lover of mine, but only intended to ruinate me; but if he had loved me ever so much I would not have had him, if his old yellow skin was stuffed with diamonds. The villainous old catchpole! it was owing to refusing him for a sweetheart, that he grew as spiteful as a snake, and by telling a parcel of falsehoods he got me turned out of my place without a character, so that I am now brought to this—to sing ballads in the streets.”

Here, assuming a whimpering tone, Twm was compelled to smother a fit of laughter, which emotion was taken for sobbing, and consequently drew much on the sympathy of those now addressed! but suddenly withdrawing the apron that veiled the features, he exclaimed, with the vehemence of a young termagant, “I’d give the world to see that old fellow tossed in a blanket!” Mark Antony’s effort of eloquence to rouse the Roman citizens to avenge the death of Cæsar, was not more effective than our hero’s appeal.

Every one of those swains manifested the usual predilection for the smiles of a handsome young woman; being “full of distempering draughts” and ripe for a freak, their zeal became inflamed to a ferment; each felt himself the leading hero to avenge the wrongs of the fair ballad singer, in the manner suggested by himself.

One of the young men, a native of the town, and son to the innkeeper, immediately procured a blanket, when, watching their opportunity as the supposed bailiff passed along, one tripped up his heels, while the rest received him in the extended blanket, and proceeded to the work-like play of giving the Black Kite an airing; or as Ready Rosser, a cunning clod of the party, expressed it, playing the wind-instrument to the tune of the Bumbailiff’s courante. The athletic employments of grasping the plough-handles, as they guided it through a stubborn soil, and the no less powerful exertions of wielding the axe, or hedge-bill, had their due effect in nerving the brawny arms of those youths of the farm and woodlands for this rough exercise.

Drawing the extended blanket as tight as a drumhead, with their united efforts, up they tossed, re-tossed, and received into what threatened to be his winding-sheet, the quivering and terribly-frightened body of the Rev. and very worshipful Inco Evans. Whatever it might be to the parson, (and we do not venture to assert that it was agreeable to him,) the spectator of this singular and unexpected entertainment could not but enjoy it for the comical revolutions of the right rev. gentleman were, to say the least of them, very mirth-inspiring. As he flew upward, all legs and wings, and descended in the same sprawling style, one compared him to a cat shot from a cannon; another to a staked toad tossed in the air; while the hapless victim of their frolic foamed at the mouth with rage, and uncouthly floundered in his attempt to grasp the blanket in his fall. If for a moment he seized its edge, and shouted his threats of vengeance, a terrific bump against the stony street loosened his hold, and up he bounced, again like the rebounding ball, struck on the flag-stone by the eager hand of a merry schoolboy.

Wearied by their arduous labours, and tempted by the shining handful of silver which the woe-begone parson eagerly offered as a conciliatory bribe, they at length desisted, each venting his jest on the crest-fallen Evans, “hoping it would be a warning not to prosecute again a poor friendless girl.” Inco answered not; but finding himself unable to walk, he was carried to the Inn, where he remained some days before he was able to remount his horse.

The knot of swains now separated, and ran in different directions to avoid being recognized as the perpetrators of the “freak;” but soon met again at an appointed place, where they had left our hero, between the empty carts of the ware vendors.

On their arrival at the place, they searched in vain for their enchantress, in whose service they had wrought so gallantly, but no traces of the fair one could they find. There was a general smelling of a trick put upon them, and consequent “curses on all jilting jades, and biting ballad-singers,” uttered by the unlucky clods.

A brilliant idea suddenly struck Ready Rosser. He had taken off his coat and left it in the careful custody of the injured damsel. Where was she? Could she have disappeared? All doubts were soon removed, for on ascertaining the precise spot where he had left her, he found her complete feminine attire, made into a bundle and fastened to a cart with a band of straw, left as a love-gift for him, while she kept his as a similar token of affection; having inscribed with chalk on the side of the cart.—“An exchange is no robbery;” a motto in which our rustic could not see, in its present application, any principles of justice whatever.

CHAPTER XXII.

ESCAPE of Twm from Cardigan. Meets an old friend. The heiress of Maes-y-velin, a most tragical legendary ballad.

The addition to his wardrobe pleased Twm exactly, and he had no qualms of conscience to prevent him from using it, for he remembered how easily he had been despoiled of his own. Not being fastidious about a dressing-room, Twm retired to a stable, and soon came out fully clad in his male attire; of which a coat only was before wanting.

Bent on a precipitate retreat, as the urgency of his case demanded, he bolted down St. Mary’s Street, and soon found himself on the turnpike road, with the good town of Cardigan some miles behind him. In little more than two hours he reached the small town of Dinas Emlyn, now called New-castle-in-Emlyn, on a romantic part of the Teivy, dividing the counties of Cardigan and Carmarthen, and occupying its banks on each side. Entering a small public-house, he regaled himself on the fine potent ale for which that place has been so long famous.

After addressing himself steadily for a good half hour to the pleasures of the table, he commenced a little private conversation with himself regarding his present and future prospects, and came to the conclusion that, on the whole, they were not worth much. Although the most serious cogitations on the subject might have availed little or nothing, chance very unexpectedly decided him, and relieved his apprehensions for the present.

He could hear, in the adjoining room, a pig-drover, whose potations had not only loosened his tongue, but invested it with unusual power, boasting of his roaring trade at Cardigan fair, and he determined to take the same route, wherever it might lead, and on inquiry, found he was going to Llandovery.

The inebriated dealer in cattle, glad of company, stretched out his hand at once and welcomed him as a fellow traveller. About ten o’clock that night they arrived together at Lampeter, which Twm now visited for the second time. The geography of the country being but little known to him, he felt some alarm on finding himself so contiguous to his own native place.

Twm and the pig-drover were getting thoroughly jolly and comfortable over a pot of foaming ale, when Twm caught sight of an old friend. It was worthy Rhys the curate, who had spied him from the little parlour where he had been sitting before his arrival, and now cordially welcomed him to partake of his supper, which was then preparing.

Shaking hands with the elated pig-jobber, from whom he had heard all the mysteries of his calling, and bidding him good night and wishing him success in his future dealings, Twm joyously accepted the curate’s invitation to partake of his evening repast. Supper dispatched, Mr. Rhys informed him that he had left Tregaron for ever, disgusted with the treatment he had met with from old Evans, and was on his way to Llandovery to take possession of the curacy of Llandingad, to which he had been just appointed by the vicar, the reverend Rhys Prichard.

In return, Twm recited his late adventures, colouring them in such a manner as to create a favourable impression on the curate, who laughed heartily at many points of his story, and finished by saying that he had also determined to visit Llandovery in quest of his fortune, which, somehow or another, he thought he should find there.

“Well,” said he, “your fortunes are altogether romantic, and fortitude such as yours is a virtue that becomes us all. Whatever I can do to get you into employment, when you are there, rest assured shall not be wanting.” With this understanding Twm’s hopes were buoyed up to the highest pitch, and to his sanguine mind, became already certainties, which presented themselves in dreams of various felicitous shapes.

They were both early astir the following morning, and were soon on the road, the curate leading his horse by the bridle, that (generous and considerate soul) he might be on a level with Twm. They had nearly reached the top of Pen-y-garreg hill, over which the road leads from Lampeter to Llandovery, while a bright prospect of the newly-risen sun attracted their mutual attention, when the clergyman thus addressed his companion:

“We are now on the spot to be yet immortalized, perhaps, by the legendary muse, for a deed of blood perpetrated here in our own times; when the banks of the impetuous Teivy, now before us, became the scene of a lamentable tragedy. The towers in the distance, are all that now remain of the family mansion of MAES-Y-VELIN, the fair seat of the ancient family of the Vaughans, once of considerable note in this part of the principality. Ten years ago, a young lady and her three brothers, the last of that race, were its possessors. The lady named Ellen, was exceedingly beautiful, and beloved by the son of the venerable Rhys Prichard, the present vicar of Llandovery, whose curate I am now become.

“On the very place where we now stand, the young man tied his handkerchief to the end of a rod, that he held as a flag-staff, which was immediately seen by the heiress of Maes-y-velin; and when she could succeed in getting her brothers out of the way, the signal of love was answered by hoisting her own handkerchief to a branch of a tree above the house, on which, both ran down from their respective hills, till they stood face to face on either side of the Teivy, when the fond lover, whenever the stream was unfordable, dashed into the river, crossed over, and caught the fair one in his arms. Perhaps you would like to hear the tragical story at further length; if so, I have employed my leisure time lately in versifying it, and will now read it to you.”

Twm signifying his willing assent, they took their seats on the side of the hill, when Rhys drew a manuscript from his pocket and read to his attentive auditor

THE HEIRESS OF MAES-Y-VELIN AND THE FLOWER OF LLANDOVERY.

WHAT is amiss with the maiden fair, What is the sweet one ailing?— Why pale her cheek, and her spirits low And why up the hill doth she daily go, The heiress of Maes-y-velin?

Why are the brows of her brothers dark? Nor mother nor sire hath Ellen;— Her brothers whisper—her steps they watch— The heart of her mystery eager to catch, The maiden of Maes-y-velin.

The parents of Ellen her merits knew, And frown’d on her brothers’ vices: Her brothers are disinherited, And Ellen is heiress in either’s stead; Thereat all the land rejoices.

Her brothers one day went out to hunt, And alone at home left Ellen; She watch’d them away, then flew to her bower, And cried “Oh now for Llandovery’s Flower! Right welcome to Maes-y-velin.”

She hoisted her silken kerchief red, To the highest branch of her bower, To Pen-garreg hill then strained her eyes, And the flag of her hope was seen to rise, ’Twas thine, oh Llandovery’s Flower!

Long had he watch’d—the faithful youth! His wish each day unavailing. At length he sees with wild delight, His true love’s signal, the lady bright, The heiress of Maes-y-velin.

The signal that was chosen between the twain, When absent her stern proud kindred; And then would they rush from either hill, The lovers true, with a right good-will, Till the waters of Teivy sunder’d.

Now as ers’t they rush’d, and as ers’t they paused, When arrived on the banks of Teivy, They gazed at each other across the stream, And gestured affection’s high glow supreme, Till the two hearts grew less heavy.

In plung’d the youth with most anxious speed, The flower of fair Llandovery, The maiden trembling with wild alarms— She brightens—she sinks in her true lover’s arms, Deem’d lost her past recovery.

Oh nature hath many warm generous glows— But they say love’s joys are fleeting; Most dear to her mother her new-born son, And sweet is the fame that’s fairly won, To the blind restor’d, oh the summer’s sun Less sweet than the lovers meeting!

Sweet to the donor the generous deed, That serves merit’s child, unweeting; Healing is sweet when gashed by the sword; To the wounded heart, the benevolent word: Oh sweet is the breeze to the sick restored; But sweeter true lover’s greeting.

Each flower that flaunts in vanity’s cap, And sets youthful hearts a gadding, Has its charms, its zest,—but the whole above, Is the magical thrill of sweet woman’s love, That drives heart and brain a madding.

And fondly loved this youthful pair, The heiress of Maes-y-velin, And he to whom they called Llandovery’s Flower; Oh frequent their meeting and parting hour, Their moments of joy and wailing.

Once when they met on Teivy’s banks, Canopied o’er by the wild wood, Mid fragrance of flowers that graced the shade, The youth sung his song, of true lovers betrayed, An ominous song—that drew tears from the maid, For her heart was as simple as childhood.

“‘Oh come to the banks of the Teivy with me, To the deep woodland glade, ’neath the shady green tree, Fearless of foemen, of guile, or of might, In the face of the day and the bright eye of light, That God and his angels may witness our troth, That God and his angels may favour us both.

“‘I’ll go the green-wood,’ the lady replied, ‘Fore God and his angels be fairly affied, Fearless of foemen, of guile, or of might, In the face of the day and the bright eye of light; That God and his angels may witness our troth, That God and his angels may favour us both.

“So sung a young chief to his lady love, At the base of her tower—she answered above— Vile vassals espied them, and flew to their lord, The lady’s true lover soon fell ’neath his sword; She hurled herself headlong, fulfilling her troth, And Death was the priest that united them both.”

PART II.

OVER the hill of Pen-garreg road Is seen that leads from Llandovery, Maes-y-velin’s green hill is opposite, The mansion below—oft on either height, The lovers are making discovery.—

But envious eyes were on the watch, And the genius of evil hover’d; The brothers who wish’d their sister unmatch’d, For any approach of a lover watch’d, At length their flags discover’d.

They hatch’d a scheme to enmesh the youth, And see him at length on the mountain; His flag they answer—he runs down the hill— Now forth rush the wretches resolved to kill, And waste his youth heart’s warm fountain.

Like prey-beasts they hide on the Teivy’s banks, In the covert of thick-leaved bushes; The youth he dashes across the river, And ardent to seek his fond receiver, He seeks her form in the rushes—

He deems she plays him at hide and seek, Her heart he knew was gayful— “Oh come from thy covert, my Ellen dear? Oh come forth and meet thy lover here!” He cries in soft accents playful.

No Ellen appears—rustling steps he hears— Perhaps some perfidious stranger;— He quits the rushes, and steals to a copse, But there not an instant for breathing stops, Peril’s presentiment suddenly drops, And he flies for his life from danger.

He knew not his foes, up the hill he goes, With the speed of the hart that’s hunted: The brothers pursue, till fatigued they grew To Maes-y-velin his course they knew, And eager revenge is blunted—

They saw him enter—“the foe is snared!” Exclaimed the elder brother; “To kill him surely be firmly prepared, Accursed be the arm by which he is spared! Let’s stab him, or drown, or smother.”

“Let’s do him dead, and no matter how, And our sister’s fortune is ours; No brats of her’s shall supplant our hope: Prepare we a dagger, a sack, and rope, For brief are the stripling’s hours.”

Now rush’d the youth through the mansion door, And fell at the feet of Ellen; Ere he could speak the brothers appear, The maiden shrieks with terrific fear, The heiress of Maes-y-velin.

She fell in a swoon, the brothers soon Gag and proceed to bind him, His hands they fasten’d behind his back, And over his head they drew a sack, They jump on his body—his rib bones crack, Till a corpse on the ground they find him.

Oh God! ’twas a barbarous, bloody deed; ’Twas piteous to hear him groaning; A demon’s heart might relent to hear The sobs of death, and convulsions drear— Oh Christ! is no merciful angel near, Call’d down by this woeful moaning!—

Oh murderous fiends! the eye of God Hath flamed on this tearless murder! They grasp at his throat to check his breath— With knees on his breast—oh merciful death! Thou sav’st him from anguish further.

And dead in the sack his body they bore, And sunk in a pool of the Teivy; After many days when the corpse was found, No tongue could tell whether smother’d or drown’d, Or crush’d by men’s buffets heavy.

Thus fell in its bloom the blameless youth; Insanity seized on Ellen, The lovely maniac! with bosom bare, And eyes of wildness, and streaming hair, Roved frantic o’er Maes-y-velin.

She said he was thrown in the Teivy’s stream, The flower of fair Llandovery; She cross’d o’er the hills to his father’s town, And he bless’d the maid like a child of his own; But Ellen was past recovery.

Rhys Prichard wept long o’er his murder’d son And buried the hapless Ellen; He curs’d her brothers—the land of their birth— He curs’d their mansion, its hall and hearth, And the curse is on Maes-y-velin.

Strong was the curse on the savage race, The murderers and their kindred; Their bosoms possess’d by the furies of hell, Oft vented the scream, the curse, and the yell; All men stood aloof and wonder’d.

They quarrell’d and stood forth in mortal strife, Each one oppos’d to the other: They never, oh never! are doom’d to agree, While sharing poor Ellen’s property, To murder their elder brother.

And yet the murderers still are foes, Furious and unrelenting; Each coveting all his sister’s share; At length one falls in the other’s snare, Ere yet of his crimes repenting.

Now lived the survivor, a man forbid, For murder his brow had branded— Shunn’d by all men, none bade him God speed, But solitude work’d wild remorse for his deed, In madness he seiz’d on a poisonous weed, And in a suicide’s grave he landed.

Maes-y-velin became a deserted spot, The roof of the mansion tumbled; The lawns and the gardens o’er-ran with weeds, And reptiles, vile emblems of hellish deeds, Bred there, and the strong walls crumbled.—

They crumbled to dust, and fell to the earth, And strangers bought Maes-y-velin; Vain, it is said, their attempts to rebuild, Vain was their labour in garden or field. Snakes, toads, baneful weeds alone they yield. Not a stone to another adhering.

The possessors fled, and oft others came, But all their aims unavailing; The peasants protest that at midnight hour, The spirit of Ellen is seen in her bower. While on Pen-gorreg stands Llandovery’s Flower, And shrieks burst from Maes-y-velin.

Twm had listened with the most earnest attention to the terrible account, and rivetted his eyes on Maes-y-velin, the two hills, the banks of the Teivy, and scenes now subordinate to the modern grandeur of the new college of Lampeter; and still remaining silent, seemed, by the force of his imagination, to bring before his eyes the whole action of this domestic tragedy. Rhys assured him that all the particulars of the murder, as narrated in the ballad, were well authenticated, both by the evidence of the unhappy young lady herself, and that of a countryman who beheld the murderers bearing the body by night, and who distinctly saw, as the moon shone upon them while in the act of casting their burden into the river, the shining spurs of the murdered youth, projecting from the end of the sack which contained his body. But in so disorderly a state was the country at the time, from the civil wars between the king and the parliament, that no cognizance was taken of the atrocious circumstance. {165} After these remarks, they got up from their grassy resting-place, and re-commenced their walk to Llandovery.

CHAPTER XXIII.

A SERMON on mountains and country labourers. Twm retaliates upon Dio the devil, with whom he returns in triumph to Llandovery. The lady of Ystrad Feen, and Twm’s gallant service in her behalf.

As they advanced on their journey, which was amongst a most mountainous country, Twm expressed his wonder at seeing the turf-cutters and haymakers following their avocations almost side by side in this wild district. “Well,” cried he, “I know that much has been said, sung and written, in praise of mountain scenery; and where ’tis truly romantic as well as wild, I am a great lover of it myself; but this is not to my liking—it is too dead in its deserted appearance for me. Here no sound salutes the ear but the lonely cry of a few melancholy kites, hungry enough to prey upon one another; and no object strikes the eye but the flat, tame desert, and a few wretched cottages thinly scattered over this desolate region, whose inhabitants are miserably employed in scooping peat from the marsh for their fires, or cutting their bald thin crop of hay from the unenclosed mountain—_the gwair rhos cwtta_, or moor hay, which dispensing with the incumbrance of a cart or sledge, the women carry home in their aprons, as the winter maintenance of a half-starved cow. To me, there is nothing that associates more with squalid poverty than turf fires: the crackling faggot and the Christmas log, have their rustic characteristics; coal has its proud and solid warmth; the clay-and-culm fires of Cardigan and Pembrokeshire, formed of balls, and fantastically arranged by the industrious hands of fair maidens, are bright and durable, revealing the gay faces of the cheerful semi-circular group—and above all, the smokeless cleanly stone coal; but turf, smoky, ill-savoured, ash-creating, dusty turf—recalls the marsh and moor, rain-loaded skies, and fern-thatched cottages, whose battered roofs swept by the blast, discover the rotten rafters grinning like the bare ribs of poverty; worse than all, the joyless faces of the toil-bowed children of the desert. The old stanza is quite to my mind when it says—

“How gay seems the valley with rich waving wheat, Fair hands and fair houses, with shelters so neat; While the whole feather’d choir to delight us conspires, There’s nought on the mountain but turf and turf fires.”

“And besides that,” added Twm, “I can give you a few rhyming lines of my own, bearing in the same direction. Here they are,

Three things—to my mind each with loveliness teems; A vale between mountains that’s threaded by streams; A neat white-wall’d cottage, ’mid gardens and trees; And a young married pair that appreciate these.”

“Well,” replied Rhys, “do not let us find too much fault with these scenes, for the recollection of what our mountain land has been, would induce me to kiss the sod of its dullest region, when I remember how it became the refuge of our war-worsted fore-fathers in the days of old, as the star of liberty seemed to vanish for ever from our sphere.” The curate grew warm with his subject, and his eyes kindled with enthusiasm as he proceeded. “I could as soon twit my beloved mother with the furrows which Time has ploughed on her honoured brows, as censure the homeliest part of our dear mountains, hallowed of old by the tread of freemen, when the despot foreigner usurped the valleys.

“Freedom, amid a cloudy clime, Erects her mountain throne sublime, While natives of the vales and plains Are gall’d with yokes and slavish chains— Then shrink we ne’er, unnerved as bann’d In the cloudy clime of the Mountain Land.

Turban’d in her folds of mist Our Mountain Land the sky has kiss’d, While on her brow the native wreath Of yellow furze and purple heath The rural reign her vales command, And the freeman’s sword of the Mountain Land.”

Twm accepted the remarks of Rhys as rebukes, for his own depreciatory observations on his native country, and was about to clear himself from all suspicion of lack of nationality; when the latter, looking up at the sun, declared the day so far advanced that he must instantly mount his horse and ride with speed, so as to meet the vicar of Llandovery at the place appointed; on which, directing Twm on the route he was to take, he rode off and left him to pursue his way at leisure.

Thus left alone, Twm prepared for a lengthened walk, and pursued his way in thoughtful silence for many miles, but was at length brought to a stand by the discovery that the way he trod had ceased to be either a road or beaten path; and that he was actually pacing the trackless mountain, with the disagreeable conviction that he had gone wrong, without a clue to recover the right way.

Taking a careful and critical view of the surrounding country, he came to the conclusion that there must be a road through _bwlch_, or gap, which he perceived dividing the mountains at some distance. He entered it, and hastened on with the utmost alacrity, till he came to a cottage on the road side, opposite to which was an immense rick of turf, that at a distance looked like a long black barn. He called at the cottage, and asked if he was right in his route to Llandovery, “Right!” squeaked a thin old man who met him at the door, “God bless you young man, you could not be more wrong, as your back is to Llandovery, and you are making straight for Trecastle.”

Twm’s face indicated his deep chagrin, as he listened to the response, and the old man seeing him vexed, asked him to walk in and rest himself, an invitation that he gladly accepted. “What, I suppose you thought to be at Llandovery to hear the great preaching there to-day?” said the man’s wife, a little fat woman who was carding wool by the fire. “No,” replied Twm, “I never heard of any preaching that is to be there.” “That’s very odd,” rejoined the old man, “as the whole country has been crowding there to hear the good Rhys Prichard, the great vicar of Llandovery.” “I have heard he is very popular,” said Twm.

“Popular!” screamed the weazon-faced old man, as if indignant at the coldness of our hero’s eulogy, “he is the shining light of our times, and hardly less than a prophet; wisely has he called his divine book the _Welshman’s Candle_, for it blazes with exceeding brightness, and men find their way by it from the darkness of perdition. When it is known that his health permits him to preach, the country hereabouts is up in swarms, to the distance of two score miles and more. Then, the farmer forsakes his cornfield, the chapman his shop, and every tradesman and artizan quits his calling, to listen to the music of his discourse. Infirmity alone has kept me from going to hear him to-day; but my wife is no better than an infidel, and would rather listen to a profane fiddler, or a vagrant harper, than the finest preacher that ever breathed out a pious discourse.”

This was too much for any woman to listen quietly to, without saying a word or two in reply, and his spouse assured Twm that he was a miserable dreamer, whose brains had been turned by the ravings of fanatical preachers; that some months ago he ran three miles, howling, thinking he was pursued by the foul fiend, when it turned out to be only his own shadow; and that when a patch of the mountain furze was set on a blaze to fertilize the land, nothing could convince him that the world was not on fire, and the day of judgment come, till he caught an ague by hiding himself up to the chin in the river for twelve hours.

“Facts are stubborn things,” and as these were most unpleasant ones to be served up at his cost, for the entertainment of a stranger, the old man’s reply was angry and indignant, and the war of words seemed likely to degenerate into one of actual blows, when the violent galloping of a horse drew their attention, and in an instant a steed and rider passed the door; but suddenly checking his speed he returned, and calling at the cottage door, asking in a tone of authority if a lady had passed that way towards Llandovery within the last half hour.

The old man, trembling as he spoke, protested that no lady had passed for many hours; on which the bluff horseman told him as he valued his life, that neither he nor his wife should appear on the outside of the cottage door till he gave them leave. The old man assured him of his entire obedience, when the fellow quietly crossed the road, and effectually concealed himself and horse behind the opposite turf-stack.

This scene had received all attention from Twm, who had recognized in the despotic horseman, his late dearly-remembered friend, Dio the devil. He suspected Dio’s intentions and prepared forthwith to take part in some approaching business in which his presence had not been reckoned upon. He asked the timorous old cottager if he possessed such a thing as a long-handled hedge bill-hook, to which the poor dotard, his teeth chattering the while, replied in the negative. On searching the cottage, with the assistance of his mistress, to his great vexation he could find no weapon, but a blunt old hatchet, and a rusty reaping hook.

While they were yet seeking, Twm’s ear, sharpened to the utmost by the excitement and impending danger, heard another horse approaching, his heart caught fire at the sound, and with almost fierce vehemence he called to the people of the cottage, “Give me some weapon in the name of God! to defend you and myself from having our throats cut;” but it only increased their terror and confusion.

As he still spoke, there stopped opposite the cottage, a lady on a beautiful white horse, and the horseman darted forward from behind the turf-rick, and producing pistols demanded her money. The lady protested, in the most piteous and earnest tone, that she had accidentally left her purse behind and must be indebted to a friend at Llandovery, should she fail to meet her husband there, for some small change.

A momentary thrill, mysteriously strange and unaccountable, overcame our hero, as he caught a view of the lady’s face, and recognized one that he felt certain he had seen before; and when, or where, he could not recollect; and the enquiring thought was checked in its birth by the consideration of her present danger. “I’ll not be disappointed for nothing,” cried the ruffian, “Dio the devil is not to be fooled, and my pretty lady of Ystrad Feen, I have depended on a good booty from you to-day, so that unless in two minutes you strip, and give me every article in which you are clothed, a pistol bullet shall pass through your fair and delicate body.”

The fair horseman begged for consideration, and promised a liberal reward for any mercy shown to her. But the scoundrel laughed scornfully in her face, and cocked his pistol, on which she uttered a loud scream and fainted, when he immediately approached to dismount, strip, and rifle her.

Our hero whose blood was boiling with honest indignation, now started up from behind the lady’s horse, and struck the highwayman an astounding blow on the temples, with a stout hedge-stake grasped with both hands, and repeated that delicate treatment till it brought the desperado senseless to the ground. After the first terrible blow, confused as he was, he instinctively presented his pistol at random, but Twm struck him heavily on the extended arm, which caused it to fall like a withered oak branch smote by the thunderbolt.

In a few minutes the lady began to recover under the kind and attentive treatment of the old woman, who bathed her face with water. How Twm was rewarded by the deeply grateful expression on her countenance! Truly he had delivered her from peril, but into what a difficulty had he brought himself! He was in love; over head and ears. The fair one appeared to be still in dread of other dangers, but Twm, in the gentlest manner, assured her of her entire safety, and that he would have the happiness of conducting and protecting her to Llandovery, where he intended to bring the highwayman dead or alive, and deliver him, with an account of the whole affair, to the magistrate.

Poor Twm! The lady praising his courage, informed him that she was the wife of Sir George Devereaux, and that her husband would not allow his services to pass without pecuniary reward. Poor Twm! in love with another man’s wife, and that man with an aristocratic handle to his name. “For my own part,” continued she, “as I assured the merciless highwayman, I am at present without my purse, having left it accidentally at the house of a poor sick person, whom I relieved, and stayed with many hours this morning, by which delay I have missed hearing the sermon preached to-day by the Rev. Rhys Prichard.”

Twm declared he did not in the least feel himself entitled to any reward; sufficient for him was the approval of so beautiful and amiable a lady; but that he had another gratification in the action he had performed, as it was his fortune to have punished the man who had once stopped him on the highway and robbed him of his little all. Our hero felt quite sure he had seen the lady before, and in endeavouring to remember where, he fell into a silent reverie; from which, however, he was suddenly roused by the loud groaning of his wounded captive.

The fears of the old man had driven him beneath the rickety old bedstead, and no threat nor offer of reward could induce him to leave his retreat, where he lay exclaiming, “Oh Lord! oh dear! I shall surely have my throat cut.” The lady of Ystrad Feen, however, alighted and lent an active hand in binding the thief, still insensible, with old halters contributed by the fat woman of the cottage, who also gave all possible assistance; so that with their united aid Twm soon got him across his own horse, like a sack of barley, and secured him by tying him neck and heels under the horse’s belly. Our elated hero leaped into the saddle, and rode side by side with the lady of Ystrad Feen, and conversing freely with her, no longer embarrassed with his former bashfulness, till they reached Llandovery.

The good people of the town were just leaving Llandingad church, and were considerably astonished with what they saw, and Twm and his fair companion were soon surrounded by a large and curious crowd. Sir George Devereaux, a ruddy and hearty fox-hunting Baronet, came up and assisted his lady to alight, Mr. Rhys the curate approached Twm, and each in a few minutes was in possession of the whole story. The baronet eagerly grasped our hero by the hand, and assured him of his protection and favour to the utmost of his power; declaring at the same time that no possible reward could equal his deserts or repay his services.

All were delighted to hear of the defeat and capture of Dio the Devil, as, with very few exceptions, the farmers of that district had suffered from the highwayman’s depredations, and a subscription was immediately raised, to reward the captor; so that our hero was soon in possession of a sum of no less than ten pounds, in addition to five more that the county awarded.

Twm and Mr. Rhys received an invitation to dinner for the following day, at Ystrad Feen, where Sir George promised them good entertainment, and added that they would decide in what manner our hero’s gallant service could be best repaid. As for Dio the Devil, when the constables advanced to unloose him, it was discovered that he was dead. “Dead as a fox within the jaws of Juno!” exclaimed Sir George, as the lifeless robber fell heavily on the ground, amid the crowd of spectators.

CHAPTER XXIV.

TWM remains at Ystrad Feen. The vicar of Llandovery. A famous run with the hounds. An enthusiastic hunter’s leap.

Twm took up his abode, for the time, at a tavern recommended by Mr. Rhys, where, being decidedly the hero of the day, he was surrounded by a large company, all anxious to minister to the bodily wants of so brave a fellow, and wishful to hear the details of his desperate encounter with the famous robber, from the lips of Twm himself. Cautioned by the worthy curate, however, his potations were rather limited; and urging his fatigue as an excuse for retiring, he soon left his admirers, and slept on a bed of roses.

At an early hour Mr. Rhys awoke Twm, and told him that they were invited to breakfast with the Rev. Rhys Prichard, who had expressed a desire to see the brave young man that had captured the highway robber. This invitation was the more acceptable to Twm, as he was exceedingly anxious to see so celebrated a character as the vicar of Llandovery; though no less for his pious than his poetical celebrity, and more especially the association of his name with his own family calamity, in the death of his son Samuel, poetically called the “Flower of Llandovery,” at the murderous hands of the young men of Maes-y-velin, as before related.

Twm was desirous to change his country suit for something better, and commenced negotiations with Mr. Rhys, for the purchase of one of the latest clerical cut from him. The worthy curate, however, cut him short, and generously presented him with one a little the worse for wear, that as the mass of mankind were apt to judge by external appearances, an appropriate garb would aid even a man of merit in making a favourable impression.

The house of the vicar of Llandovery was among the best in the town; a well built strong mansion, distinguished from all others by a neat small cupola on the top, for a bell, to call the boys to school. Twm and Rhys waited in the breakfast parlour about half an hour, filling up the time by noticing and remarking on the well-waxed oaken floor and furniture, that, with the prints of some of the English martyrs, with which the room was hung, gave it something of a gloomy appearance; and in skimming over some dusty old volumes of divinity, till the clock struck six.

The worthy vicar received his visitors with a few brief but courteous sentences, in which he quietly yet earnestly expressed his gratification at their presence. Breakfast was preceded by prayers; after which came in bowls of milk and hot cakes, with cold meat, butter and cheese, and ale. Twm looked at his venerable host with awed reverence. This eminent character was of a tall, stately figure; his hair white as wool, his face pale, and rather long, with a countenance beaming with sedate benignity. He regarded Twm for some time with silent attention, and afterwards made a few enquiries respecting his recent feat, which when answered, he indulged in some pious ejaculations on the fortunate event.

Their host compared the physical capacity and appearance of Twm to the well developed and robust figure of Dio the Devil, and referred to the scriptural records of the combat between David and Goliah; strictly charging the fortunate youth to take no credit to himself for the achievement, as he was but an humble instrument in a mighty hand, and for a special purpose unknown to the actors of the scenes themselves.

All justice having been done to the good things before them, grace was said, and Twm received some excellent advice from the celebrated divine, who placed twenty shillings and a copy of his “Welshman’s Candle” in the hand of Twm; and after shaking him warmly by the hand, he saw the pair to the door and bade them farewell.

In an hour or so afterwards, Rhys and Twm prepared for departure to Ystrad Feen, the latter mounting the noble hunter which Dio the Devil had so lately bestrode in all his arrogant pride. The road was entirely over the mountains, through diversified scenery of much interest. At times it ran above the edge of a deep ravine; at others, hills overtopped them, in peaks of various, fantastic forms; till a length succeeded the tame and flat moorland, abounding with wild ducks and various aquatic and mountain fowl. These scenes were soon left behind, and others of a different character succeeded, tamed to softer beauty by the indefatigable hand of industrious man.

Passing through a small ravine at the base of a well-wooded hill, they emerged suddenly upon a view which embraces the rural chapel of Boiley, the ornamented estate of Ystrad Feen, the hill of Dinas, and a glimpse of the river Towey. The ancient mansion of Ystrad Feen they found most romantically situated, terminating a sloping descent from the mountain, with a roaring alpine brook falling headlong through its rocky bed, at the back; while the high conical hill of Dinas stood, an object of singular beauty, in front; and the background was occupied by an almost endless perspective of forest, vale and mountain.

They entered the farm-yard, which occupied one side of the house, in which stood several large elms and oaks, and, here and there, a huge hollow yew, that associated well with the antique appearance of the house.

They were expected, for the baronet and his lady were awaiting their arrival, and hastened, as they appeared, to give them hearty welcome. It wanted about a couple of hours to dinner time, which interim Sir George wished to fill up by introducing them to his fox-hounds and pigs, while his lady urged the superior attractions of the lawn and flower-garden, to the terror of the sporting baronet, who seemed to consider her taste not only questionable, but absolutely depraved. Sir George shook his comical head in a comical manner, inferring a protest against their choice, when the young men decided on seeing the garden first, and the kennel and pig-stye after; a preference that seemed to involve an absolute inversion of the order of things, apparently, to his thinking.

What a contrast there was between the lady of Ystrad Feen and her lord and master! Twm’s attention was almost entirely taken up with the sweet and unaffected grace of the lady; but we must be impartial and take some notice of her husband. Sir George was a spare and somewhat tall figure, the erectness of which was frequently disturbed by what at first appeared some constitutional fidgetiness—a habit of perpetually drawing up, and letting down, his right shoulder; while he conversed in jerking short sentences, never standing still an instant when speaking. These peculiarities, at first sight, gave him the appearance of a man afflicted with St. Vitus’s dance; and affected the observer with the repulsive sensations endured by those who, from delicacy towards the afflicted, aim to conceal their notice of a personal blemish or deformity.

But this strange habit had its source in a fox-hunting accident that occurred in a chase wherein Sir George, in the heat and ardour of the pursuit, leapt down a terrific precipice in which the fox had sought cover. His noble hunter, named Dare-devil, was killed by the achievement of this feat, his own neck nearly broken, and his shoulder so dislocated and otherwise injured, that no surgical skill could cure him of the nervous affection which caused the continual restlessness alluded to.

Sir George, however, gloried in his dearly-bought triumph, and boasted like a veteran detailing the particulars of a famous battle in which he had figured; winding up his narrative with—“glorious and remarkable hunt—the world never saw the like—and I was solus in at the death—in a hell-hole that none but myself dared approach.”

His face was no less curious than his figure. He was rather small featured, with very light blue eyes; indeed so exceedingly light that they were often described as literally white; and when he gazed, with the wildness of imperfect consciousness, caused by indulgence in the potent cup, might give no inapt idea of Pygmalion’s marble statue, on its first wild stare when imbued with inward light and life; although his merry neighbour, Squire Prothero, summed their description up, less classically, as the nearest approach to a boiled salmon’s eyes, or the lack-lustre dullness of a couple of baked gooseberries. His face was fair, and much freckled in the upper part; while a shock head of closely-curling red hair, and white, or rather sandy eyebrows, concludes the description of this strange piece of eccentric manhood.

The walk through the garden was by no means to his taste. He did not understand flowers, and could not restrain his expression of impatience, protesting that there was nothing worth seeing there. “Besides,” added he, with the gravity of a philosopher who aimed to eradicate a vulgar error, and instil a superior principle, “flowers are bad—a great evil—showy nuisance—bank of violets often a snare to the hounds—like beauty to the boy, to lure him from the paths of duty;—but come and see my kennel—finest dogs in the world—no false charms there—they say truth’s hid in a well—all a mistake—she’s hid in the snouts of my fox-hounds;—strong as bulls, and swift as hell—a cannon ball’s a fool to them—deadly as the doctor wherever they rush—but what’s your name, my young Cæsar of the Welsh mountains, hey?”

Twm was too busy with the lady of Ystrad Feen to listen to the rattling tongue of Sir George, and Mr. Rhys hastened to give the story of Twm’s parentage, dwelling with much emphasis on the cruel neglect of his father, Sir John Wynn of Gwydir; and, in conclusion, he said his friend’s name, derived from his humble mother as well as from his stately father, was Thomas ap John a Catty, familiarized into Twm Shon Catty; but that which he intended to adopt, and desired to be known by, was Thomas Jones.

The promenade had, in the fox-hunter’s opinion, been unreasonably prolonged, and he hailed with delight their approach to his sanctum sanctorum, the dog-kennel, where he anticipated the delight of his visitors, when—how shall we express the intensity of his disappointment!—a voice struck on his ear, like the croak of the bird of ill-omen with the intelligence of “dinner waits!”

Fain would he have horse-whipped the intruding messenger, and expatiated with his friends on the absurdity of eating dinners, when the sublimer pastime of entering a kennel of fox-hounds was offered to them. But before he found words to his purpose he had the mortification to see his auditors accompany his lady wife into the house, where, musing on their questionable taste, he followed them.

We need not dwell on the delicacy of the viands, the rarity of the wines, the jocularity of Squire Prothero, the laughing magistrate, who dropped in and joined them after dinner; the beauty and fascination of Miss Meredith, the lady’s companion, who almost made a conquest of the heart of poor Rhys—and, above all, the captivating sweetness of our heroine, the young hostess! and other interesting details. But we must find space to say that a short hunt was got up, contrary to usual custom, in the evening, to save the baronet from dying of chagrin for his failure of exhibiting his animal treasures to his guests before dinner.

A young fox being started, our hero acquitted himself so amazingly to the satisfaction of his host by the most daring feats of leaping and yelling out, in the fox-hunter’s strain, “yoy, yoy, hark forward, wind him Juno!” and many other such expressions, that Sir George in the ecstacy of his feelings almost wept in the contemplation of such a promising genius, vowing that a year’s tuition under his first whipper-in would make him a truly great man, and a fit companion of princes. Grasping his hand with the tenacity of a blacksmith’s vice, he vowed that from that moment he had engrossed his name upon his heart, high on the list of his most choice friends.

Sir George was not one who limited his friendship to profession only; and, having learned from Twm his position in life, he became desirous to aid him permanently, and put him on the road to fortune, knowing right well that if he had only a glimpse of it, that he was wide awake enough never again to lose sight of it. He lost many nights’ rest in striving to settle this knotty point, and at last determined that he should live with him on the footing of a friend; indeed so necessary had he become to him in his hunts, that he at length declared it was impossible to part with him.

Thus, as an inmate of Ystrad Feen, Twm spent some of the happiest days of his life, for the best part of this, and the following year. Alternately hunting with the baronet and reading with his lady, who called him her hero, and made him an absolute show lion among her friends, Twm could not but feel this, as a remarkable contrast to the wretched life passed at the house of Morris Greeg.

Twm also enjoyed many happy hours with his staunch friend Rhys, at the houses of the surrounding rural potentates, where, on account of his brave reputation, and for his ready wit, so unsparingly lavished by him wherever he went, he speedily became a favourite. We shall close this somewhat long chapter with the relation of one of these adventures which gave universal satisfaction to his friends, and became the subject of remark and wonderment for many a year.

Llandovery was just at this time honoured by a visit from a London buck, who, thoroughly convinced of the utter darkness and benighted state of that retired district, had charitably come to reside amongst the miserable inhabitants thereof, that they might know and understand what civilization meant, as evinced in his own proper and illustrious person. He took a very ungracious way of teaching the important fact, for he did nothing but boast of the immense superiority of everything appertaining to his glorious self, and depreciate that which belonged to others.

Mr. Tomkins (that was his euphonious title) insisted that his gun, his fishing tackle, his boots, the cut of his coat, and everything that was his, was better than those belonging to any body else. But if there was one object above all others that engrossed his volubility, it was the praise of his horse; daily did he ring the changes on his wonderful animal, his feats, his beauty, blood, and pedigree, at every house where he visited.

One day after dinner at Ystrad Feen, in company with the baronet, Squire Prothero, our hero, and the ladies, he rudely asserted the superiority of his own horse to any in that country, when both our baronet and the squire seemed nettled at his disparaging remarks, which, had he not been his guest, it is probable Sir George would have resented.

He offered to wager fifty pounds that his horse should surpass the best of theirs in running or leaping, be the given feat what it might. Great and gratifying was their surprise when our hero, with much emphasis cried “done!” Adding, “I have a mare of no very splendid exterior that shall perform a feat, with myself on her back, that you and your boasted hunter dare not follow for your lives.”

“Done! for fifty pounds,” cried the London buck; “I’ll back him for a hundred, without knowing what he is at,” exclaimed the baronet; “And so will I,” roared and laughed the excited Squire Prothero. With unusual alacrity up rose all four, bent on having the bet lost or won instanter. “Now hasten all together up the hill towards Craig Ddu, and I will be with you in the cracking of a whip,” said Twm, as he hurried off in another direction. The two neighbours looked at each other, and wondered what would be the upshot of this adventure; but, having all faith in Twm, they attended the boastful Londoner to the place appointed.

The summit of Craig Ddu (the Black Rock) was soon reached, where they waited Twm’s arrival. The town-bred buck expressed impatience at the delay; adding with great complacency, “I intend, gentlemen, to teach this youngster a lesson that he will not forget as long as he lives.” “Ho, ho, ho!” laughed the portly Squire Prothero, “take care that he does not teach you one!” Scarcely were these words uttered when our hero appeared among them; but what was their dismay, and the sneers of his antagonist, when they beheld him mounted on a sorry old blind mare, scarcely worth a dozen shillings!

“You’ll do as I do?” asked our hero, addressing the Londoner, “or forfeit fifty pounds?” “That I will, and something more too!” cried the buck, vauntingly, “in which case the forfeit of that sum will be yours.”

“Agreed!” replied Twm; and gradually facing his animal towards a rising sward or ditch, that had been raised to prevent the cattle from falling over the almost perpendicular side of a deep ravine; “Now for it then,” cried he, imitating the sound of a trumpet, and spurring his sorry jade, “neck or nothing for the fifty pounds!” and at the word the blind mare reached the ditch, and obedient to the spur and rein, sprung over, and was out of sight in an instant.

“Good God, he has gone to a sure death!” cried Prothero; the stout heart of the baronet (accustomed as he was to such mad freaks,) seemed to have leapt to his throat and choked his utterance, as he expanded his singular white eyes in a chalky stare towards the spot of his disappearance. The party rode forward, and, with the most thrilling anxiety looked down the precipice.

Down at the bottom of the ravine, lay the poor old mare, evidently having concluded a hard life by an equally hard death. But they had no time for sympathy with the unfortunate beast; they were too anxious about its daring rider to waste much consideration on it. Their phrenzied eyes at length rested on the object of their search; scarcely six feet beneath their standing place lay the redoubted son of Catty, sound in wind and limb!

The baronet yelled a terrific _view halloo_ that made the old rocks echo with his dissonance, and the kind-hearted old Prothero was so over-joyed at his safety that he actually failed to laugh. Our hero, who had dexterously thrown himself off at the critical instant that the mare sprung over, and fell, as he had calculated, on a projecting ledge, which was thickly covered with a mass of heath and long grass; so that, although rather stunned, he was but little hurt. An instant’s delay in throwing himself off would have precipitated him to the bottom, and the fate of the poor mare would have been his own.

Great was the delight of his friends to see him rise, and wave a handkerchief in token of his safety, and in a few minutes he stood before his disconcerted antagonist, who had calculated, from the appearance of the ground, that a race was the thing in contemplation; but when the feat here narrated took place, the pallid hue of his countenance evinced his inward feelings. “Now, sir, it is your turn,” cried our hero, bowing courteously to Mr. Tomkins, who looked paler and paler as he peered down the declivity; and as his eye for a moment rested on the dead mare in the bottom, his teeth chattered, and he turned away shuddering.

“I have no notion of such mad doings,” muttered the crest-fallen Mr. Tomkins. “Then you lose the bet,” cried Prothero; “which I can afford to pay, as well as any one here,” replied the Londoner, in a tone of haughty sulkiness, as he witnessed the applause bestowed on our hero by the admiring baronet and his friend the squire.

Mr. Tomkins rightly arguing that he had lost caste by this little transaction, had sense enough to leave the district and take his departure for town, dispensing with the ceremony of bidding farewell to any of those country friends, of whose hospitality he had so often partaken.

CHAPTER XXV.

THE Land of Dreams. Twm’s journey to London. A bet upon a bull. Ready Rosser outwitted, and Squire Prothero’s fright.

When Twm had any leisure or reflection, his mind was occupied with but one subject, so that at this period of his life he could hardly be said to be a man of many ideas. This remark applies only to the time when he indulged in retired country rambles, or when he was in the solitude of his own apartment. Confront him with any specimen of male humanity extant, and his faculties returned in all their natural vigour, and success generally attended his enterprises.

As before related, the moment he first set his eyes on the remarkable and pleasing countenance of the lady of Ystrad Feen, he felt a conviction that it was not the first time that he experienced the pleasurable sensation that then pervaded his whole soul. His continued intercourse with her during his prolonged stay stubbornly maintained his first conviction that they had met before; but when, where, and under what circumstances, he could not discover. At length, when the mind had been repeatedly fatigued with these vain tuggings at the nerve of memory, although compelled by exhaustion to give up the point, it was only for a season, to be resumed on the first opportunity for putting his powers of recollection again into practice.

After analyzing these mental enquiries with the closest precision, he came to the successive negative conclusions, that he could not possibly have seen her either at Graspacre Hall, at Inco Evan’s, nor, most assuredly, at the cottage of his mother. “Then, where on earth else?” muttered he, wiping his moist brow, which was a little fevered by the intensity of his labours in this mental research. Determined, for his future ease, to dismiss the thought altogether, he answered himself peevishly, “nowhere, surely, but in the land of _dreams_.”

Yes, indeed, this chance thought provided him with the key so long sought, to his remembrance of the face and form of his charming hostess, for scarcely had he uttered those talismanic words than they acted on his memory like Ithuriel’s spear;—the sentence fell like a flash of fire on the touch-spring of the whole mystery, and flashed in full effulgence, illuminating fully his long-darkened powers of recollection!

Little had he thought of putting to himself what appeared so vain a query, whether it was at Morris Greeg’s home of misery that he had beheld the never-to-be-forgotten face of beauty and intellect—but at length he traced it! And, of all places in the world, the most unfitting to be associated with it—the murky hay-loft of Cwm y Wern Ddu: in short mysterious still as the inference gave out, Lady Devereaux, in every glance, feature, and movement, was indeed the spirit of his glorious vision—the lady of his dream!

Thoroughly absorbed by this unexpected and most interesting discovery, he forgot altogether the lapse of time, and was startled by the sudden appearance of Sir George by his bed side. The friendly baronet inquired with much concern, if he was unwell, as they had been waiting breakfast for him full half an hour. On being assured of the contrary, and that he had only overslept himself, Sir George hastened down with the glad tidings, as the whole family feared the consequence of his temerity on the day before.

Our hero was soon among them, tendering his apologies, and parrying the graceful banterings and rallyings of the ladies, who rated him playfully for a sluggard and a lie-abed. The baronet soon recurred to the punishment inflicted by our hero on the intolerable vanity and presumption of the London buck. A knock at the parlour door checked the current of his discourse, and, on permission being given, in walked that little comical undersized fellow, familiarly called Tommy Thomas, the second whipper-in, with a face of ruefully long dimensions.

After a very worshipful bow, accompanied with many a bodily turn and twist, while his fingers wandered among the regions of his head and his whiskers, it turned out that honest Tom Thomas came to report a calamitous visitation that had befallen this very respectable house. During this worthy functionary’s absence at Llandovery, yesterday, (of course his stay was not prolonged by his curiosity to examine the quality of the different taps there!) he said that some audacious villain had been to the stable, and stolen all the food which he had purchased for the hounds.

“What food—what food?” inquired the baronet; for everything was important to him that was in any way connected with his darling hounds. “Why look you now, I wass py an oil plind mare for ten shillings and two quarts of beer from a travelling packman that wass sold off his goots, and not want her agen; so I did pargen for hur, see you now, and wass paay for hur, and dit put hur in te stapples, for foots for te hounce; and look you now, some loucey peggar wass steal hur.”

All the party except the baronet laughed heartily at this intimation; but our hero soon relieved both Sir George and honest Tommy Thomas, by informing the latter that his bargain was to be found at the bottom of the Craig Ddu ravine; on which the poor fellow joyfully withdrew. Twm immediately called him back, and astonished him with the present of a broad piece, in company with divers smaller silver coins, in acknowledgment that his precious bargain had enabled him to win his bet from the Londoner.

This was another piece of information for the baronet and his friends, and the cause of another explosion of triumphant laughter, at the expense of their late nuisance, the bragging Mr. Tomkins,—Sir George declaring that he had repeatedly thought of asking the question as to how he had possessed himself of the wretched animal; and now the mystery was amusingly explained.

One long winter’s morning, when the weather was so stormy as to forbid all hope of being able to stir out for the day, the baronet broke an unusually protracted silence by saying, “Mr. Jones, I have a favour to ask you.”

“Glad in my heart,” replied Twm, “for some change to make any return for the favours I have received.”

“Fiddle-de-dee with your favours! you talk like a mountainer, lad,” cried Sir George; “balance against us—owe thee much—Joan’s life—thy merry company; but how the devil to part with thee!—joy to thee, this London—death to me—no fox-hunting, all smoke and devilment!”

Lady Devereaux came out and explained that Sir George had a pressing necessity which he had long put off, of sending to London a considerable sum, due to a certain Mr. Martyn, being the last instalment of the purchase-money for some land bought of him by our baronet.

Having just received an application for the cash, Sir George was startled to find how much time had elapsed in the delay caused by his aversion to going personally to London; for nothing less would do in those days, except by a trusty messenger. “Thou’rt a lad of mettle, Twm, head as well as heart,” resumed Sir George—“arms to fight, and legs to run—roads full of thieves—can’t fight them all—out-wit them!”

Twm was at no loss to discover that the baronet was loth to leave his family residence, his fox-hunting, and his neighbours’ society, to encounter the perils and discomforts of a journey to the metropolis, and that he was wishful that Twm should go there as his representative, and accordingly he declared himself ready to commence his journey whenever Sir George might please.

“Let us have a little fine weather first,” replied his engaging hostess, “and in the meantime we will make the necessary preparations for your departure.”

Our hero gazed on her animated friendly face, with an admixture of the romantic gallantry of the knights of old, and the religious veneration of a devotee towards his patron saint; for he felt that his fate was somehow mysteriously connected with her influence, and never forgot that she was the spirit of his glorious vision, the lady of his dream.

Squire Prothero’s hearty laugh disturbed somewhat these gentle reflections. He had just bought a bull and hired a servant, and was in high glee at what he considered the accomplishment of a favourable bargain. The bull, he said, was a large and glorious white creature of the Herefordshire breed, and the man a small black one, of the true Cardiganshire runt description; but cunning as a fox, and keen as a kite. A fellow, the worthy squire said, who was proverbially known in the neighbourhood of Aberteivy for his exceeding shrewdness, by no other cognomen than Ready Rosser.

Twm chuckled inwardly at his recollection of the swain whom he had outwitted at Cardigan; and, in the hair-brain spirit that often possessed him, longed to break a lance with this worthy once more. As robbing the fields and hills was the prevalent villainy of the period, and as Prothero, as well as some of his neighbours, had been a considerable loser in numerous instances, he was the more elated with his present acquisition. “I have now,” quoth he, with the usual accompaniment of a hearty laugh, “a guardian for my ox and my ass, my bull, and my bulwarks, and I defy the most cunning thief in the country to ferret away my live things from the custody of Ready Rosser of Aberteivy.”

“Well, I’ll undertake to walk off with your bull, in spite of Ready Rosser, if you’ll leave it out three nights, let him do what he pleases,” said Twm, with a confident air.

“Done!” roared the merry Prothero, with a loud ho, ho! that shook the room; but recollecting himself, he added—“but hark ye, my buck of bucks; my bull shall not be left out to starve of these cold winter nights; he shall be secured within the shelter of the cow-house, and if thou canst abduct him from thence, within the three days and nights, welcome shalt thou be to his carcase, and twenty pounds to reward thy cleverness.”

“Done!” cried the baronet, “and I’ll pay forty pounds for him if he fails.”

“Remember, three days and three nights is the time given,” cried Twm, “as it will take two to get all in train.”

The squire lost no time in communicating his wager to the members of his household, and putting them on their guard. “Now mind,” he exclaimed, “our friendly antagonist is a sharp fellow, and you must sleep with your eyes open during the next three days. Look out, Ready Rosser.”

The worthy thus addressed merely laughed at the impudence of any one that could venture on such a bet. The emphasis which Twm laid upon the period of three days was merely a _ruse de guerre_ of his, to throw his opponents off their guard, as he fully intended commencing operations soon as darkness came on.

The snow was thick on the ground; therefore, as the nearest approach to invisibility, our hero arrayed himself in a white frock and a cloth cap of the same colour, and sallied forth at eight o’clock in the evening, on a march of observation. Having arrived at Llwyn-mawr, the residence of Prothero, crossing the garden hedge, he coolly leaned over the gate, and listening to the squire and his party in the adjoining farm yard heard the whole plan of defence, as laid down by that skilful Cardiganshire engineer, Ready Rosser. The white bull the hero of the present wager, had been placed in his stall for the night, the door of the cow-house duly locked; and now the whole party of farm servants, under the command of Rosser, were busily employed by lantern light in forming the outward fortification.

In the first place, four harrows were laid one upon the other, across the entrance to the cow-house; on the upper harrow was placed a heavy roller, then a new implement in Welsh farming, and beside it two ploughs; the whole being surmounted by a sledge, used in those days for a harvest cart. To make this sledge, which was placed across the ploughs and roller, still more unmovable, Rosser had it heaped with hay, duly trodden down, carefully, as if intended for the foundation of a rick. His last stroke of masterly management was to suspend to one of the shafts of the sledge a large bell, which the squire, at the request of vicar Prichard, had procured from Bristol, to ornament the dome of his school, and to call the boys to their meals and studies. Rosser shrewdly remarked that any movement of these barricades, would be announced by its peal in the night.

By nine o’clock the whole party, including, the squire, were wrapt in sound slumber, and the field was open to the operations of our hero, who, in the meantime had returned to Ystrad Feen, and brought back from thence the tools that he required for the purpose. These consisted of an iron crow-bar and a saw, a bag containing something, and little Tommy Thomas for his _avante courier_, or look out, in case of surprisal. Twm had observed that the cow-house was formed of two pine-ends, substantially built of stone, while the back and front, were on planks, nailed across horizontally. The cunning Rosser had effectually fortified the front, where there was a door, but entirely neglected the back, where there was none; considering perhaps that the duck-pool or horse-pond, which ran parallel the length of the lowly edifice, would prove a sufficient rear-guard. But greatly did that scheming wight err in his estimation of the ingenious daring of his adversary; for although three feet deep, black, and full of frogs and their spawn, it was through the middle of this domestic lake, our Twm, shouldering his crow-bar, made his way to commence the attack, while Tommy Thomas occupied his post of observation on the top of an old blighted oak stump.

To the great satisfaction of our hero, his onset was auspicious; he succeeded without noise in wrenching off numerous planks, and in a short time entered the building. He made up at once to the grand object of his enterprise, and approached the mighty brute with deference; then patting him kindly with a patronizing air, he called familiarly by his name, which he had learnt was Bishop, from the fair resemblance perhaps, of his outward bull to the outward man of the lord of the lawn sleeves; or, in his dignified rotundity, to some specimens of that princely priest of our favoured land. Bishop having sniffed and snorted a little, wondering at the temerity of the two-legged animal that so daringly sought his acquaintance treated his advances as due homage, and resumed his easy contemplative posture, like a politic Autocrat that condescendingly gives audience to a loyal peasant. Guessing the yearning of his mighty mind, and no less mighty carcase, our hero presented him with a small bag of oats, to conciliate his good-will, which being graciously received, gave goodly omen of the magnanimity of his disposition.

Twm now proceeded to his task of enlarging the opening for his egress. After having heaved up, with his crowbar, two of the uprights which formed the ribs of the old cow-house, from which he had removed its sinews the planks, just as he was enjoying his conquest over his worst obstructions, he found to his dismay, that he had reckoned without his hostess, as Lady Fortune claimed more from his exertions than he thought due. A strong square heart-of-oak piece of timber ran along, horizontally, the whole length of the building, which nothing but a saw could remove. As the bull, Bishop, was too lordly and unaccustomed to diminish his lofty altitude by dropping on his knees, like the meek docile camel, and too stiff and heavy to spring like the active dog, nothing remained but to remove in some way, the stout wood that formed a bar across his furious-looking forehead.

As he considered the noise of sawing would rouse the Philistines of Llwynmawr, for an instant Twm’s inventive powers were at a stand; but they soon rallied, and he how had to strike a bold stroke, that promised anything but success, while certain failure would otherwise be his lot. From the bag he took two pairs of top-boots which he had provided, and drew them, one at a time, with the toes pointing backward, on the feet of the bull, Bishop, who seemed at first modestly to decline such an unusual honour. But as Twm was very pressing, he meekly submitted, like a bashful maid to don her wedding robes, or like King Richard, to have fortune buckled on his back; for he in fact endured to have his boots corded above his knees.

Twm now took the crow-bar to the front of the house, and fixed it firmly through an old-fashioned iron ring in the farm-house door, so as utterly to prevent the opening of it from the inside. Fastening next a halter to the bell attached to the sledge-shaft, he instructed Tommy Thomas to ring and roar “fire” with all the strength of his arms and might of his lungs; applying as he spoke, a candle to the hay on the sledge, while he retreated to saw, amid this din, the stubborn wood that barred alike the bull’s departure and the progress of the enterprise.

Whiz, crick, crack went the blaze! ding, dong! went the clapper of the bell! fire, fire! roared the scare-crow voice of little Tommy Thomas; Twm’s saw being unheard through the prevalence of these mightier sounds. The squire was the first awakened by the unusual noise, and terrible was the fat man’s fright on seeing the blazing pyramid that illumined the whole house inwardly, and all over the yard, while he beheld some little devil ringing the bell and roaring “fire!” like a sergeant major while drilling a battalion.

The activity of a fat man in a fright is truly ludicrous. The nimbleness of the thinnest frightened tailor that ever hid himself behind a fishing-rod, was mere sluggishness compared to the flea-hopping trips of Squire Prothero, although almost too large to conceal himself behind a church, in some mountain parishes of Wales. Down stairs he rolled, ten steps at a time, and tried in vain to open the outward door. Up he rushed again, as if his unbreeched hams and shirted shoulders had wings appended to them, to assist his upward flight, bellowing “fire! fire!” till hoarseness silenced him.

Just as he lost his voice, he found a deputy for it in a broomstick, with which he ran into the men’s room, cudgelling Ready Rosser and the rest through the bed-clothes, till they roared a dissonant chorus to the hoarse bass of “fire, fire!” “get up and be d—ned to you, or be fried in your own tallow!”

Still the bell rung, and still Tommy Thomas lustily roared “fire!” Ready Rosser, overwhelmed with fear and stupidity, proved his name to be henceforth a misnomer, having, with the rest of the clowns, utterly failed to open the door. Running up stairs again, they met the squire at the top, flourishing his cudgel like a flail about their heads. In his extremity, to give poor Rosser his due, he tried the notable plan of rising above his troubles by climbing up the chimney; but when he had nearly attained the top, like many other ambitious aspirants, he lost his footing, and tumbled down to the bottom, blackened with soot, and smarting with his bruises. At length this scene of confusion received a turn by the adventurous daring of Gaby Snipe, a parish apprentice boy, who, squeezing himself through a narrow casement, dropped to the ground, and ultimately succeeded in removing the crow-bar and opening the door.

During this scene of dire confusion, Twm’s enterprise had progressed swimmingly, and he had his worship the bull out of the cow-house, through the horse-pond, over the snow-clad field, and into a lane that led to the parish road, which brought them to a sheep-cot on the high mountain top, that almost overhung the mansion Ystrad Feen. Just as he had bestowed his precious charge within the aforesaid shelter, he was joined by little Tommy Thomas, terribly out of breath with running and laughing. Our hero had also his full share of laughter, daylight having now pretty well advanced, in noting the paces of the mighty brute as he stamped it along in his top-boots, with, the toes reversed, being the first of the family, as he deemed, that ever was honoured with such a dashing leg and heel trimmings.

Tommy Thomas related that on the descent of Gaby Snipe, he quitted his bell-rope and hid himself awhile to witness the result of the outpouring from the house. The rush was whimsical to witness, for fear, as usual, had exaggerated the danger, and when in the yard they ran to and fro like scared rabbits, not knowing what to do, nor what was required of them. The hay being all consumed, and the fire self-extinguished, Ready Rosser called out, “water, water!” which, in their confusion and imperfect state of wakefulness, they dashed, by pailsful, at one another, till at length a general fight commenced in the farm-yard; and when the squire came and parted them, not one could tell how the fray began, any more than they could account for the stirring incidents that had frightened them all out of their senses.

CHAPTER XXVI.

PHILOSOPHY of smiles. Twm sets out for modern Babylon. New use of a pack-saddle. A gentleman of the road, and how Twm borrowed his horse.

Laughter was the order of the morning at Ystrad Feen. Grief causes the loss of the appetite, but mirth produced the same effect in a different way on this particular occasion, as no one seemed to have strength nor leisure to attack the tempting delicacies spread before them in such profusion. Laughter, loud, strong, boisterous, hearty ringing laughter, burst forth again and again as Twm, in the drollest manner, excited their risibility by a relation of what had passed the preceding evening.

“A bull in boots!” chuckled the Baronet, laughing till the tears ran down his florid countenance. “A bull in boots!” cried the lady of Ystrad Feen, till a sweet glow diffused itself over her whole countenance, developing, by the effort a pair of the finest dimples that ever lent their attraction to a female face. “A bull in boots!” cried the Reverend John David Rhys, whose excited countenance bore animated contrast to the “pale cast of thought” that usually distinguished him, and with whom laughter was not habitual.

“A bull in boots!” tittered Miss Meredith, with something more than a simper, or small grin, used to exhibit a fine set of teeth (which Parson Rhys thought peerless;) for honest, hearty, spleen-dispersing laughter, was not voted to be vulgar in those days; nor gentility and insipidity considered as synonymous terms.

“A bull in boots!” muttered a tall elderly gentleman with a long saturnine nose, that seemed to curl away, half disdainfully, from the mouth beneath it, which laughed, however, in spite of the nose, inclining to extend itself from ear to ear, in revenge for never having so indulged itself before. “A bull in boots!” repeated he sneeringly; “how ridiculous! I should have as soon thought to see a pig in pattens.”

In the midst of this merriment, Tommy Thomas made his appearance, to announce something; but catching the exclamation of “a bull in boots,” and “a pig in pattens,” was immediately infected with the general contagion, and laughed and snorted like a pig in a hay-field, when a cunning cur has suddenly seized him by the buttocks. The new arrival promised additional fun, and all were prepared to enjoy it. At length he explained himself in a brief sentence, “Mr. Prothero is coming!”

Twm now made a hasty retreat for some unexplained purpose; and in a few minutes the portly figure of Squire Prothero was seen in the yard, sitting on his horse, and laughing till too convulsed to alight. The company ran out and greeted him, while the good-natured squire co-mingled with their mirthful peals as hearty a “ho, ho, ho!” as ever shook his jolly fat sides.

“Laugh away, ho, ho, ho! laugh away,” cried he, “I know I look an ass, after bragging up such a nincompoop as my fellow against this young wag of yours. But where is he? where is the young dog? I suppose my noble bull is slaughtered by this time.”

“Tough steaks he gave us for breakfast,” cried the baronet, “tough as an alligator with his scales on.”

“Fine fun if he had choked you all! but never mind!” returned the squire, “a joke is a joke, and a bet is a bet; and I have come to pay mine.”

Scarcely had he uttered these magnanimous sentiments, that proved him worthy of the Grand Master’s chair in a society of laughing philosophers, than the booted bull, Bishop, gravely approached, with our hero on his back. A fresh explosion now burst from the party, to note the stately and apparently conceited paces of the buskind king of the kine, who now wore his boots with toes foremost, like any other gentleman; but none laughed so heartily as Prothero himself, who seemed in raptures to find his bull unbutchered.

“This fellow would tame a fiery dragon,” quoth he, “aye, and ride him through the air, too, without fear, or he could never have coaxed Bishop into such a good humour as to become a steed for him.”

The whole party now entered the house, and Prothero narrated, to their boundless amusement, their ultimate discovery of the bull’s abduction. Rosser and his fellows had been sent in a body to trace the foot-prints of the bull in the snow, and recapture him if possible; but as such signs were utterly invisible, Rosser returned in the utmost dismay, with a face half a yard long, from the effect, he said, of a new light that had just broken in upon him. With great solemnity, he declared his conviction that the supposed bull was no beast at all, but the devil in disguise, as not a print of his hoof was to be found anywhere, although four set of human feet were traceable, backwards and forwards.

“That was no bull,” said the wise Rosser; “it was a devil which, after kicking down the cow-house, and firing the hay with his brimstone breath, flew away in a clap of thunder, which indeed I heard myself, as plainly as I hear my own voice at this moment.”

“For all these abominable bounces,” quoth the squire, “I called him a liar and a fool, when the fellow turned upon me with ‘the devil take the bull! you didn’t think I could keep him in my pocket!’ Now the whimsicality of the idea of a fellow’s pocketing a bull, tickled me so much that I forgave him everything!” Another chorus of the trebles and bass aforesaid burst out again, and, at the conclusion, the ladies declared they had almost laughed themselves into illness.

“Never mind, fair ones, let the stay-laces crack—cut them asunder, and give the lungs and laughter fair play!” cried the squire; closing his period with as hearty a “ho, ho, ho!” as usually formed the climax of his sayings and doings. In the present instance the elderly gentleman chimed in with him, and exclaiming, “droll as ever, Prothero, but now outwitted by a mere boy.”

“True, Sir John, (your pardon for the omission of my respects thus long),” cried the squire, as he cordially shook his hand, “but such a boy as our combined manhood here never met with before.”

The worthy here referred to, and before noticed as the gentleman with the saturnine nose, was no less a personage than Sir John Price, Baronet, of Priory House, Brecon, the highly respected father of Lady Devereaux. He had arrived the preceding evening, about the time that Twm commenced his attack upon the bull.

Lady Devereaux explained to her father the great and gallant services which she had received at Twm’s hands, and her statement was made in the most earnest and impassioned manner, as if her gratitude was as great as on the day she was attacked by Dio the Devil, and rescued by our hero. Sir John Price at once rose from his chair, in a way that strongly contrasted with his usual cold and ceremonious habit, and extending his white, diamond-ringed, aristocratic hand to Twm, assured him of his friendship and protection in all things wherein he could serve him.

Twm would not accept the money which Prothero tendered in liquidation of his bet. “No,” said the successful champion, “it was all for fun and amusement, and you will allow that we have had some enjoyment out of it, and all I ask is that, when I am far away, and you are brought face to face with your well-prized bull, Bishop, you will think of me.”

The generosity of his sentiments met with the encomiums of all present; and the worthy squire reluctantly consenting to receive back his bull without fee or fine, absolutely insisted on leaving the forfeited twenty pounds in the hands of Lady Devereaux, who received it accordingly. Recollecting the manner in which he had been hunted from Tregaron, it was truly gratifying to his feelings, and flattering to his pride, to hear persons of the rank of the present company express their regret that he was to leave them the next morning.

The following day was the one appointed for Twm’s departure to London, and he arose with a sorrowful heart, (for he was thinking of the lady of his dream,) to make a preparation for his departure. The baronet having presented him with a sum of money for his expenses, insisted on his leaving behind him, with Lady Devereaux, whatever cash he possessed, till his return; while the lady herself, playfully promising to be a faithful banker, threw on his neck a heavy golden chain, as her present. Twm had often seen her wear it; and fervently kissing the splendid article, returned it to her keeping till his return.

If anything could add to his satisfaction, it was to experience the attention of his two fast friends, Rhys and the Squire, who even at this early hour had hastened to bid him farewell. Right glad was he of the opportunity of sending some cash to his mother, and to remit what he had borrowed from his friend, Cadwgan. In the yard, he had to receive the good wishes and parting civilities of every man and maidservant in the establishment, particularly of the huntsman and the whippers-in, with whom he had become an amazing favourite.

It had been concerted that his best mode of travelling _incog._ would be on a mean horse, with a pack-saddle, and disguised as a lowly country lad. Thus mounted and accoutred, behold him at length disappearing through the yard-gate of Ystrad Feen; the cash and papers entrusted to his care having been studiously concealed about his person. Although but ill-contented with his homely harness, he found his mountain pony, like his race in general, far better than his looks promised; so that he rode on with a heart full of glee, proud of the honours which he had gained, and glowing with bright anticipations of the future.

Through his native principality, his journey was interesting enough, so we need not note the scenes, which, however charming in their rural beauty and romantic wildness to Twm, would lose most of their attraction in mere description. He jogged on steadily and perseveringly till he had left Bristol behind, and he had even passed through Bath and Chippenham before a single adventure occurred worthy of record.

Riding late one evening, between the last-named town and Marlborough, he found it necessary to put up at a small public-house on the road-side, distinguished by the sign of the “Hop-pole,” the obscurity of which he considered favourable to his safety.

Having fed his beast and eaten his supper, he went immediately to bed; and, with a view of preserving his treasure in the best manner, slept without divesting himself of his clothes. He had slept some hours, and day was just breaking, when he was aroused by the trampling of a horse, and the gruff voice of a traveller whom he heard alight and enter the house.

A strong impulse of curiosity determined him to rise from his bed; and, as the large treble-bedded room which he occupied was over the parlour, to which the guest was introduced, he listened, to learn whether anything portended danger to himself. He found, to his surprise and dismay, that he was the subject of conversation between the landlady and her guest, whom he discovered to be no other than the very character of which he stood most particularly in peril—a highwayman.

He had heard himself described to him by the landlady, as an uncouth booby of a countryman from the Welsh mountains, miserably mounted on a piece of animated carrion, for which the crows cawed as it limped along; and what booty was to be expected from such a beggar inquired she?

“You are wrong, mistress, you are quite wrong,” cried the stranger; “from your account I expect much from him. I have robbed more than one such, dressed like a scarecrow, while making for London, and bearing with him the twelvemonth’s rent of half-a-dozen of his neighbours to pay the landlord in town. I shall be at this fellow as soon as he quits your roof; I have no doubt but what he is a prize, and if he is, you of course come in for shares.”

Having learnt thus much, Twm, in some trepidation, retired to his bed, and began to consider how he should contrive, in order to preserve the property in his possession. He rose again, thinking to escape through the window, but found it too small to admit his egress, and therefore gave up the idea.

As he looked out through the miserable casement, busily plotting to hatch a scheme of deliverance, he could perceive no favourable object to aid his purpose except a large pool on the road-side, in which he thought of dropping his cash if he could reach it, and do the act unobserved, so that he might recover it at his leisure.

As nothing better offered, he determined to adopt his plan immediately; and therefore, after making a studied clattering in putting on his shoes, he went down stairs, and called for a jug of beer and toast for his breakfast. The freebooter did not show himself, but the landlady and her daughter, who seemed to be in the habit of sitting up all night to receive and entertain such guests, scrutinized our hero very closely.

The worthy hostess asked him some apparently careless questions respecting his business in travelling the country, to which he replied he was trying to overtake a brother pigman, who was driving their joint charge to London.

While at breakfast, Twm’s brain showed him another project for securing his valuables, which he considered an improvement upon the pond scheme. To give a more clownish character to his manners, the night before, he had carried the old pack-saddle up stairs, brought it down in the morning, and while at breakfast sat on it before the fire, instead of a stool.

It occurred to him that this peculiarity of his would have been attributed to other motives, and that, no doubt, the honest inmates of the place thought that he would not have exhibited such care for his pack-saddle if it were not worth more than it looked. He was ultimately convinced that they had decided that all his treasure was contained therein.

Indeed, it was not a bad idea, for he could then sit on it all day and make a pillow of it by night. He determined to encourage their suspicions; accordingly, bursting a hole in the fore end of it, he called the landlady to receive her reckoning, and in her presence, pushing his fist into the straw cushion of the pack-saddle, he drew out several pieces of gold, and asked her if she could give him change; but she answered in the negative, on which he again thrust his hand into the pack-saddle, and brought out more gold and silver intermixed; and with the latter settled his bill, and went to the stable for his horse.

Securing all his money about his person, he mounted his Rosinante. Having cut away the girths from the pack-saddle, he bade the landlady farewell, and rode with all his might towards the pool, which was about a quarter of a mile forward on the road. He soon heard the highwayman brushing forward in his rear, with many oaths calling on him to stop, a summons that increased our hero’s speed, till, being opposite the pond, his pursuer overtook him.

Twm rode to the edge of the water, and threw the pack-saddle, with all his strength, towards the centre of the pool; but in bustling to regain a steady seat as he made towards the road, he fell headlong from his horse. The free-booter cursed him for a Welsh fool, and with a thundering voice ordered him to hold his horse, or he would blow his brains out, (brandishing his pistol all the while,) that he might go into the water to recover the booty.

Twm appeared to be frightened out of his senses, and trembled with very visible terror as he approached to do the robber’s bidding; but no sooner had the highwayman reached the centre of the pool, and began groping about for the object of his search, than Twm, with one spring, mounted his fine tall horse, and rode away with all his might.

So far all went well; but, to Twm’s unspeakable horror, the knight of the road, finding himself thus tricked, placed his fingers in his mouth and gave a loud whistle, on which his horse immediately stopped quite still.

Twm, in real terror, as he was within pistol-shot, roared “murder!” with all his might; when the horse, to his great amazement, took his exclamation of terror for a counter order, and again started into a gallop. The freebooter repeated his whistle, and again the horse stood still as a mile-stone: Twm reiterated “murder!” with all the power of his lungs; and the well-taught horse instantly resumed his gallop.

Thus the highwayman’s whistle and Twm’s roaring of “murder!” had an alternate effect on the noble animal, till at length, our hero got completely out of hearing of the baffled robber. As he rode on triumphantly, he sang the old Welsh pennill or stanza—{203}

“No cheat is it to cheat the cheater No treason to betray the traitor: Nor is it theft, but just deceiving, To thieve from him who lives by thieving.”

As he rode into Marlborough, in the highest spirit, one of the church chimes was playing “See the conquering hero comes!” which appeared to him to be a singularly appropriate greeting, and which he accepted as a personal tribute to his ingenious trickery upon the highwayman, whom, Twm secretly hoped, had not yet got out the old pack-saddle from the pool.

How Twm laughed when he pictured to himself the rage and dismay of the villain when he discovered its contents! That was a thought to chuckle over and enjoy. It would extort many a boisterous “ho, ho, ho!” from old Squire Prothero, when he should have the pleasure of giving him the story.

He received great commendation at the inn where he stayed for the night, when he related his adventure; and many of the inhabitants were loud in their congratulations to the young Welshman, who had so cleverly outwitted the English highwayman.

CHAPTER XXVII.

WATT, the mole-catcher, in a pleasant mood. Twm hears of his old love, Gwenny Cadwgan. Tom Dorbell, and his feats. Another adventure with a knight of the road.

Twm had reason to be satisfied with his progress on his road to London, for he had met danger, and his wit and ingenuity had proved equal to any emergency. But success did not make him over-confident, and consequently careless; but, on finding himself yet seventy-four miles from his journey’s end, he prepared for more trials of his skill and courage. He was sent for next morning by the mayor of Marlborough, who had heard of his adventure, and required to bring the horse with him, which he had so adroitly won.

Many gentlemen having assembled at the entrance to the town-hall, our hero appeared in all the pride of a conqueror, mounted on his goodly steed; although so humbly clad, their hats were doffed, and loud shouts of applause were immediately given. It was soon ascertained by the mayor and the gentlemen present, that the horse was regularly bred to the road, and instructed by a highwayman, therefore, not, as at first conjectured, the property of any person deprived of it by one of these free-faring gentry; consequently, his worship, with many comments on his cleverness and courage told our hero that the horse was his own by right of conquest; but that if he were inclined to part with it, he would give forty pounds for it Twm directly assented; and the money was paid to him the same morning.

Being now in want of an animal on which to continue his travel, Twm determined to walk on to Hungerford, and purchase one nearly like the one he had set out upon at the commencement of his journey, as he was still of the same opinion, that the less temptation in his outward appearance to the gentlemen of the road, the less likely were they to interfere with him.

About three miles out of Hungerford, he saw before him a pig-drover, with a large herd of porkers, that he alternately cursed in his ancient British tongue, and cut up with a whip; while at intervals between these amusing recreations he loudly sang, or roared, certain scraps of Welsh songs. Twm’s ear was quick in recognizing the well-known voice, and he soon stood side by side with his old friend Watt the mole-catcher. After mutual expressions of wonder and congratulation, Twm immediately asked him how his mother was, as well as farmer Cadwgan and his daughter Gwenny.

Watt replied that his mother and her husband were well; but instead of answering the latter question, enquired his adventures since he left Tregaron. Twm, with animated vanity, ran over that bright portion of his history, occasionally heightening the colour of events, according to the general practice of story-tellers, from time immemorial; dwelling particularly on his fortunate preservation of the lady of Ystrad Feen, and the benefits which accrued to him in consequence, from the liberality of Sir George Devereaux, whose confidential agent he then was, on business of the utmost importance, to London.

These extraordinary events were intended by Twm to astonish the sulky-looking mole-catcher, Watt, who was not in an impressionable mood; but Twm, nothing daunted, still ran on, saying, in allusion to his “friend” Sir George,—“Well, Watt, were he ten times as rich and happy as he is, I should never envy him any thing he possessed, but one lovely piece of property.” “And what might that be?” asked Watt. “Why,” replied the other, “could I once forget poor Gwenny Cadwgan, which I never can, I should envy him the possession of his charming young wife, the beautiful lady of Ystrad Feen—the finest, the handsomest, and cleverest woman I ever saw! and although now married to a second husband, she is little more than one-and-twenty years of age. But I was asking of my old sweet-heart Gwenny, poor Gwenny Cadwgan.”

“Poor Gwenny Cadwgan indeed!” echoed Watt.

The sneering manner in which the mole-catcher spoke this, alarmed our hero; “What of her, Watt?” cried he eagerly; “is anything the matter? tell me quickly, for Heaven’s sake!” Watt replied evasively, that great trouble had come to both her and her father, in consequence of their having harboured him when the hue and cry was up. That fact, he said, was discovered a few days after his disappearance, by old Rachel Ketch, who sold the secret to the Squire for the highest price she could get; and would have sold her own soul on similar terms to the Devil himself.

Twm observed Watt writhing as he spoke, and struggling inwardly, with some terrible feeling, that for awhile deprived him of utterance. He noticed with regret the deep furrows of worldly care on his cheek, so lately ruddy and mirthful; and thought he observed a sinister expression in his sunken eye and trembling lips, that now were paler than his sallow face. Fiercely resenting the closeness of our hero’s scrutiny by an assumption of rude abruptness, he said “but why do I waste time in talking here, when—but I must be off—good-bye!”

“But you have not told me of Gwenny and her father,” quote Twm, in amazement at his demeanour.

“That is soon told,” replied Watt, pettishly; “the squire turned him out of his farm, and made so many claims one sort or other, that Cadwgan was beggared, and left him so poor that he could scarcely take a cottage for himself and daughter. If I hadn’t let him mine, he would have had none.” “Good heavens!” exclaimed Twm, “thy hovel for farmer Cadwgan and the gentle Gwenny!”

“Why not?” replied Watt, with a lowering brow; “is he not a day labourer? it served me _when I was one_, for many a bitter day. His daughter too, the dainty Gwenny, she was too good for me—turned with scorn from poor Watt the mole-catcher—but never mind! she was a bit of a sweet-heart of thine too, Twm, I remember; but set thy heart at rest, lad, if she won’t be mine, she will never be thine, at any rate.”

All this was uttered in a tone of bitter sarcasm, that both surprised and enraged our hero; especially when he thus learned from his own mouth that Watt had sought to win the affections of the fair and generous Gwenny Cadwgan. He replied—“Well, the devil take thee when he will, for he must have marked thee for his own, long since, or thou wouldst never have had the impudence to court Gwenny Cadwgan!”

“Ha! ha!” laughed Watt, with a bitter snarl; “she will never be thine nor mine! so don’t burden thy memory with one who has already forgotten thee. Farewell! and better luck with thy next sweet-heart!” With that he cracked his whip and drove on his herd of swine, with an air of excited fierceness that was actually fearful to witness.

So much hurt was Twm at the bearing and conduct of Watt that he allowed him to go without asking more questions. His sorrow to hear of the change in the fortunes of Cadwgan and his lovely daughter, threw a heavy cloud over his mind; and he regretted that his remittance to him, by the hand of his friend, was so small. He felt rather relieved by the reflection that however small the sum was, it would be deemed a “God-send” to them under present circumstances; and at the same time prove to friends that he was not unmindful of them, nor ungrateful for their boundless kindness in his dark days of peril. However, he felt somewhat embittered by the insinuations of Watt, that the fair Gwenny’s regard for him was on the wane, if not altogether given to another; and right glad would he have been to learn the exact bearing of the whole affair, at which the mole-catcher’s hints but darkly hinted.

Twm was detained at Hungerford for some days, by starving weather; and while looking about for another animal, was taken by an old pedlar, down a green lane, to a creature of his, left there to graze. He was not a little surprised to find it to be his own pony, left in exchange with the highwayman, having on his back the identical pack-saddle in which he had formerly concealed his money. Twm made a purchase of both, and the next morning took his departure from Hungerford.

His enforced leisure at Hungerford had not been unprofitably spent, for he had listened attentively to the conversation of the different drinking parties at the tavern where he stayed; and found the dangers of the road to be the general theme. The great hero of the turnpikes at this time, was a certain knight of the road called the Gallant Glover, alias Tom Dorbell, originally a leather-breeches maker and glover. It appeared that he was a man who, by his shrewdness in general, as well as particular instances of cunning, combined with his dauntless daring, had become so much an object of admiration to those who had nothing to lose, as of terror to the men of money, who had become the victims of his audacity.

The following anecdote of him, told by one of these tavern worthies, interested our worthy much, and had the effect of putting him on his mettle, in case of an accidental meeting with him during his journey.

It seems, a gentleman’s son was taken for robbing on the highway; and as he had been formerly pardoned, he despaired of mercy a second time. Upon this, Tom Dorbell opened a treaty with his wealthy relatives, and undertook, for five hundred pounds, to bring him off. It was stipulated and agreed to, that one half of that sum be paid in hand, and the other half when the deliverance was effected. On the trial of the young gentleman, he was found guilty; but just as the judge was about to pass sentence, Tom Dorbell cried out “Oh! what a sad thing it is to shed innocent blood!” and continuing to reiterate the expression, he was apprehended, and the judge asked him what he meant by such exclamations, he answered,—“May it please your Lordship, it is a dreadful thing for a man to die wrongfully; but one may see how hard-mouthed some people are, by the witnesses swearing that this gentleman now at the bar robbed them on the highway, at the time stated in the indictment, when, indeed, my Lord, I was the person who committed that robbery.”

Accordingly the “Gallant Glover” was taken into custody, and the young gentleman liberated. Being brought to trial the following assizes, to the astonishment of the court, he pleaded not guilty. “Not guilty!” exclaimed the judge in a voice of thunder, “did you not at the last assizes own yourself guilty of the robbery in question?”

“I don’t know,” replied Tom Dorbell, as meek as a mouse, “how far I was guilty then, but, upon my word, I am not guilty now; therefore, if any person can accuse me of committing such a robbery, I desire them to prove the same.” No witnesses appearing, the Gallant Glover was of course acquitted.

What Twm had heard about the Gallant Glover and his achievements, warned him that fresh trials on the road awaited him; but he was no “Bob Acre,” and, “screwing his courage to the sticking-point,” he manfully resumed his journey.

He had got within ten miles of Reading, in Berkshire, anxiously hoping to reach it without disaster, when the sudden discharge of a pistol, close to his ear, convinced him that he was in the centre of danger. Instantly a horseman, well mounted, rode fiercely down a lane that entered the road, and ordered him to stop and deliver in a minute, or have his brains scattered on the hedge beside him.

“Catch a weasel asleep!” You might do that, but to surprise Twm Shon Catty when he had reason to be on the alert, was almost impossible. Assuming an air of clownish simplicity, he replied, “Lord bless ye master, I ha gotten nothing to deliver but an old testament, a crooked sixpence, and a broken fish-hook, and—and—” “And what, you prevaricating young scoundrel!” roared the highwayman. “Why, this purse,” continued Twm, “which uncle Timothy gave I to market for him, and pay his bills at Reading to-morrow;” producing at the same time an old stocking, which he had stuffed with old nails and cockle shells, in order to make a jingle. {210} The robber made a grasp at the supposed well-stocked purse, which Twm dexterously evaded, and flung it over the hedge into the adjoining field, riding on; while the former instantly alighted, blustering out a string of oaths and threats as he made his way to the field to search for the coveted treasure.

Twm was, of course aware that as soon as the robber had discovered how he had been tricked, that he would doubtless ride after him, and in his rage, shoot him on the spot. As Twm’s poor pony would have no chance in a race with the highwayman’s high-spirited charger, he determined that a daring act, if carried out successfully, would both ensure his safety and prove profitable to him likewise. The knight of the road, when he alighted, had thrown his bridle over a hedge-stake; so Twm, abandoning his pony for the second time, watched the robber into the field, crawled along the ditch till he reached his horse, which he instantly seized by the bridle, mounted and rode off in a hot gallop, till he got safe into the ancient town of Reading, as the clear-toned bells of St. Lawrence were chiming their last evening peal.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

A GRACIOUS Lawyer. Twm determines to “pedestrianize” a bit. Watt’s horrible tale. A fair bevy of lasses from Cardigan. Guilt and the punishment.

Next morning, Twm had the horse which he had taken from the robber, cried through the town of Reading, in the honest hope that he should find the rightful owner. He was right in his conjecture that it would prove to be the property of some one in that town, for a wealthy attorney claimed it, with a considerable degree of hauteur and insolence. So far was this limb of the law from either allowing our hero anything for the loss of his own humble beast, or even thanking him for his instrumentality in recovering a valuable horse, that he told him he might think himself very lucky he was not prosecuted for its being found in his possession. Our worthy did think himself so, and took a precipitate departure accordingly.

Being now within eight-and-thirty miles of London, he resolved to throw off his disguise, and walk the rest of the journey. Accordingly, he bought a suit of clothes at Reading, in which he concealed his money and valuables, with a pair of pocket pistols; and thus provided he resumed his journey to the metropolis. Having walked twelve miles, he attained the town of Maidenhead.

On a seat outside the Bear Inn, he beheld a jovial company of topers, and in the midst of them, Watt the mole-catcher. It turned out that he had sold his pigs without going to London, and was now sauntering from tavern to tavern, squandering the money that was not his own. The moment he recognized our hero, he started on his legs, and offered him his hand.

“Twm, I take shame to myself for the manner in which we met and parted last, but I was sober then! and in my grave and sober moods all the evil and bitterness of my heart come out; now I am rather mellow, there’s nothing but good in me.” On being asked when he intended to return to Tregaron, Watt ground his teeth and exclaimed—“never!” adding, “it is not from fear of old Inco Evans, for I stayed there as long as I pleased, in spite of him, notwithstanding my promise to the contrary. But for other reasons Tregaron has been made too hot for me.”

The whole of the drinking party having gradually dropped off, Watt and our hero were left alone, when the latter with much feeling asked his old companion what was the meaning of the extraordinary change of manner, and of character, which he perceived in him.

“I’ll tell thee, lad, what’s the meaning—it means that instead of the frank merry fellow I was in the dear gone days, I now am—call it what you like, but,”—cried Watt, laughing with wet eyes, “some of my dear friends who scorn flattery, would say a d—ed rascal, and I quite agree with them. But never mind—I belong to the strongest party after all.”

Our hero here pressed him for something of a connected account of his adventures since he left Tregaron; on which Watt immediately assented, and ran them over in the following off-hand strain.

“You remember, I dare say, Twm, that when you were only a child, that I was famed throughout the village as a wit and joker; in short, that I was the funny fellow of Tregaron, and my ambition was to retain this title. The comical tricks and humorous saying of Watt the mole-catcher, made mirth at every farmer’s heath, and their tables were spread with food for me whenever I called. As I grew older, my pleasures and antipathies acquired a stronger cast; and there were but few in our adjoining parishes who were subject either to execration or ridicule, and dreaded my satire and exposure.

“I formed attachments more than once among the daughters of the farmers, whom I had frequently entertained at the social evening hearth; but although my jests were relished, my overtures were rejected. In short, I found that while mirth, innocence and harmless wit were my companions, parents generally disposed of their daughters to young men of characters directly opposite to mine—the stupidly grave, and thrifty, no matter how knavish. My eyes were at length opened; and I found that the funny man, however amusing as an acquaintance, was coveted by none as a relative, but considered as a mere diverging vagabond at best. Well, thought I, this will never do; but since gravity is the order of the day, I will be as grave and roguish as the most successful of my fellow-men. Having come to this conclusion, I studied knavery, that is to say, thrifty rascality like a science.

“As the first step I went immediately to my grandmother, who had often exhorted me to quit my sinful mirth and become serious, when I assured her of my conversion, in token of which I threw myself on my knees, and entreated her blessing. She afterwards took me to a puritanic chapel, and in that assembly, where I had often pinned the skirts and gown-tails of the elect together, the poor old doting soul in the pride of her heart exhibited her convert to the gaze of the saints; but neglected to inform them that I had robbed her that same evening of half the contents of her pocket, as she lay asleep. I was not long in discovering that a sedate aspect was a goodly mask for the most profitable villainy, and therefore determined to wear it for life. Laughter, jest, and mirthful humour, and all those thriftless indications of the light and harmless heart, I abjured for ever.

“I now gave a respite to the rats and moles, and set up as a butcher at Tregaron; and for one sheep that I bought of the farmers, I stole three, and slaughtered them either by moonlight on the hills, or by candle-light in my own cottage. Although I daily bettered my condition, I considered this but a slow and creeping course of thrift; and therefore, as conscience no longer stood in my way, I meditated some bolder way of leaping into property at once.

“You know that wrinkled old she-usurer of Tregaron, Rachel Ketch, who made money, Heaven knows how, and increased it by lending out to country people, at a higher rate than city usurers dared to ask. In the bitterness of my heart, after losing all hope of a girl, whom I had long doated on, I went to the old Jezabel and sought her hand in marriage; aye, and would have taken her were she ten times as loathsome, in the anxious hope of her speedy death, and of succeeding to her golden hoards. I strove to recommend myself by assuring her I was the most finished scoundrel in existence; and that when gain was my object, theft, perjury, and even murder, however hideous to silly innocents, had no power to scare me from my pursuit. This avowal of my noble qualifications I thought would have won her heart forever, but I was mistaken. The keen-eyed hag, who was never seen to smile before, laughed outright at my proposal.

“‘What! you want the old woman’s gold, master cut-throat of the muttons, do you? to slit her weasand also, and make away with her a month after marriage, like a troublesome old ewe;’ screamed she, as her spiteful black and broken snags grinned defiance, and her shrill tones broke out in laughs of mockery. I never saw mirth so damnable before! I felt myself the butt of her ridicule, humbled and degraded; and as my anger rose against the beldame, I resolved that since I could not wed her, to rob her would answer my purpose full as well. Accident supplied an opportunity; the little boys who had formerly been my favourites, and who in their innocence failed to recognize my change of character, I found it difficult to drive from me.

“A neighbour’s child one day asked me to lift him up to Rachel Ketch’s thatch, to take from it a wren’s nest, which he had long watched, and said he was sure that the young ones were on the eve of flying. It was a winning little urchin that made the request, and I could not refuse him. The moment that I raised him to a standing position on my shoulders, he eagerly thrust his little hand into the thatch, and cried, ‘Dear, dear, how cold!’ when a snake which he had felt, that had destroyed the young birds, coiled itself round in the nest, darted out into his face, and the youngster shrieked and fainted in my arms. I carried him home, where he soon died of the fright, for it appeared he was not stung.

“Supposing there was a nest of these reptiles in the old rotten straw thatch, I poked it in all directions with a long hooked stick, and at last felt something attached to it. As I drew it forward and examined it, to my great astonishment, I found it to be an old woollen stocking, closely stuffed with various golden coins. Here was a discovery! I felt myself a man for ever! The old woman was at this time in Carmarthenshire, where she had gone to enforce her claims to certain debts among her former neighbours; and therefore, having no fear of detection, I pushed back the golden prize and went away, intending to return for it at night. As I anxiously watched the hours and minutes pass away, reflecting on my newly-acquired wealth, a raging savage spirit of avarice so possessed me, that I determined to plunder old Rachel’s cottage of all the money I could find.

“Night came, and with breathless haste I made an entrance through the thatch, on the side furthest from the street, and at midnight went away with a heavy booty, the greater part of which I buried beneath the floor of my own cottage, determined to seek an opportunity of quitting Tregaron for ever. Fortune seemed to favour me beyond my hopes; Squire Graspacre having a numerous herd of fine pigs, engaged me to drive them to England, and sell them at a good price; I have done so, and pocketed the cash, not one farthing of which will the squire ever handle. To relate all my rogueries since I became a grave man, would take too much of your time; so here ends my story.”

Twm had heard Watt’s tale with sorrow and regret, and his spirits were fast sinking below zero, when a party of Cardiganshire lasses, who were making their annual journey to weed the gardens in the neighbourhood of London, passed opposite the tavern door where our worthies were sitting. With heart-touched delight, our hero recognized the comfortable and not unpicturesque costume of his native country; and his satisfaction was still increased when he found among the rural damsels, two Tregaron girls; one of whom, named Martha Gwyn, was a fast friend of Gwenny Cadwgan’s. These poor girls expressed their gladness to see their long-lost “neighbour’s child,” as their homely but touching phrase went; but their recognition of Watt amounted to such terror and abhorrence that the rose of health and innocence faded on their cheeks, while their expanded eyes were fearfully fixed on his countenance, as if something unearthly met their stony stare.

At length they found words to say that he was charged, not only with the robbery of Rachael Ketch’s cottage, but with murder; that the constables were out to search for him in all quarters, and that Squire Graspacre had sent out a man to supersede Watt in the care of his pigs.

This unexpected news, and the evident horror evinced by the fair maidens for him, quite overcame Watt, and he showed unmistakable signs of the fear which had taken possession of him. From Martha Gwyn, Twm learned that poor Gwenny’s affection for him was unchanged, but it was thought, for all that, said the candid girl, that she will be married to a Breconshire farmer’s son, who met her in Herefordshire, when she went a hop-picking there.

“But if Gwenny has him,” said Martha, “it will be for the sake of making a home for her poor father.”

Twm’s generous heart prompted him to give each maiden a piece of silver; and, having made them eat heartily of a good homely, substantial meal of cheese and bread and ale, he dismissed them on their journey. Watt, in great agony of mind, exclaimed—

“Oh God, where shall I fly! all my supposed security I find but a dream, and misery alone awaits me! When I told you the tale of my enormities, I kept back the relation of one crime—a dreadful one—which, lost as I am, I felt averse to acknowledge, and too heart-smote with the consciousness of its atrocity, to turn to it my most secret thought—’twas a deed of blood, the crime of murder!

“You remember a tall, thin, skeleton-like man, generally dressed in a suit of grey, who lived in a cottage on the mountain, in the neighbourhood of Tregaron, known by the nickname of Stalking Simon the Mooncalf, from his wandering by moon-light over the hills. This man was known to be a spy, employed and paid by all the neighbouring farmers. His habits were, to sleep all day and to spend the night on the hill, watching to identify the hedge-pluckers and sheep-stealers. Many poor persons who depended on their nightly excursions for fuel, while they deemed themselves unobserved of any human being, cutting down a tree, or drawing dry wood from an old hedge, would suddenly find themselves in the presence of Stalking Simon. So instantaneous was his appearance, as to startle his victims with the idea of an apparition suddenly sprung up through the ground, as his approach was never seen till close upon them.

“‘’Tis only me, neighbour,’ would be the hypocrite’s reply, ‘searching for my stray pony:’ but when two persons had been executed and three transported, on his evidence, the nature of his employment became known, and he was execrated by the whole country.

“One moon-light night, as I was skinning a fine weather, which I had suspended and spread out on an old storm-beaten thorn, in a field adjoining the mountain, easy in mind, and so fearless of danger, that I whistled in a half hushed manner, as I followed my illicit occupation, a circumstance took place that wrought a violent change in the tone of my mind. My thoughts ran on the whimsicality of the idea of selling this very mutton to the rightful owner, on the morrow, which was market-day, and laughing inwardly at the thought: all at once, Stalking Simon, with a single stride, moved from behind a mossy dwarf thorn, gray as his own suit, and stood before me. My blood curdled with terror; but when the old stone-hearted wretch made the old Judas-like reply—

“‘It is only me, searching for my pony,’ I knew my danger, and my terror changed to savage ferocity against the vile informer, who had ruined so many of my friends and neighbours. I darted on him, grasped his collar with one hand, and with the other stabbed him to the heart.”

Watt’s tale was now ended, and he seemed to be terribly agitated at the recollection of old Simon’s murder, and of the dreadful position into which his crime had brought him.

“O God! what shall I do; where shall I fly?” he exclaimed, “I cannot return, for that road leads straight to the gallows, and in London I should be in hourly danger of being seen by somebody from the country. Since the perpetration of this deed of blood, I have not known an hour’s peace. Heaven is my witness, I could be content with slavery, and smile beneath the man-driver’s whip—could strip myself and wander the world in nakedness, or herd with beasts, to regain my former peace and innocence! Oh, I could labour till my bones ached, and my exhausted body dropped to the earth with fatigue, to be once more free from the keen stings of a guilty conscience!”

Twm was but a poor comforter; for his strict ideas of justice and retribution made him look upon Watt’s terrible agony as part of the punishment which he was called upon to pay for the awful crime of murder.

After all, Watt’s distress was due quite as much to the fear of the gallows, which he now saw to be in close proximity to him, as to regret and repentance for his unwarrantable deed.

Twm hardly recognized Watt as he sat there, his face blanched with fear, large drops of sweat rolling down his pale checks, with quivering lips and staring eyes, all showing the effect which his knowledge of the dreadful penalty which, from every prospect, speedily awaited him.

A grey-coated man now approaching the tavern, brought dreadful associations to Watt’s terrified conscience, and, in the utmost trepidation, he darted out at the back door of the inn, and ran across the fields with the speed of a pursued murderer.

CHAPTER XXIX.

TWM encounters Tom Dorbell. The quick encounter of their wits, in which our hero has the advantage. Twm rescues a high dignitary of the church. Twm’s triumphal entry into London in a bishop’s carriage.

It was yet only four o’clock the following morning, when our hero was once more upon the road. The stars were bright as at midnight, and the fine bracing frost, the glory of our northern clime, seemed to have purified his blood, and at the same time excited his fancy, so that both mind and body were sweetly attuned, and in the full glow of enjoyment. It might be thought the knowledge he had gained of Gwenny’s coquettings would have disheartened him; but his residence at Ystrad Feen, with his communion with the “lady of his vision,” had a little tinged his mind with something of romantic forebodings, that overshone the rusticity of earlier impressions.

Elastic and lusty were his healthy limbs, as they bounded to the music of his heart, while he strode forward on the highway, exulting in the thought that the day had at length arrived on which his eyes were to be regaled with a sight of the far-famed city of London.

In this happy spirit, he successively passed through Langley Broom and Colnbrook, anxiously hoping to reach Hounslow by mid-day. Thus, light of heart, and full of brilliant anticipations, he continued to bound along the road.

In this overweening fit of enthusiasm, he considered danger of every sort entirely out of the question; and this, too, if he knew the truth, while he wandered over the very hot-bed of robbers, both foot-pads and equestrians! Deluded by such a course of cogitation, he began to jeer himself on his simplicity in keeping his pistols loaded, and considered whether he had best fire them off for amusement or not.

Before he had formed his resolution, he was startled to hear a rude and heavy tread close at his heels. Sudden as the thought, he turned round, and reeled some steps backward at the sight that presented itself! In the advanced light of the morning, he beheld a villainous-looking powerful man, with a long black-beard, who might have passed for the high-priest of a Jewish synagogue. He grasped a pistol that was levelled at his head, while his forefinger seemed actually pressing on the trigger. By his ominous silence, and the fierce glare of his eye, Twm conceived that murder and not robbery was his object, till the ruffian roared, “Garnish or die!”

“Wha—what is garnish?” stuttered Twm.

“Money, and be d—d to you, or here goes!” replied the bearded man, without the slightest touch of the dialect of the people whose chin-trimmings he had assumed. Our hero saw at once that this prepared ruffian was not to be trifled with, and that an instant’s delay might cost him his existence; therefore, he immediately produced from his bosom the packet entrusted to him by Sir George Devereaux.

As the robber reached to snatch it, Twm’s wits were at work; assuming the dialect and foolery which he knew passed among the English for Welsh, “Here wass the money, look you now, but God tam! it wass not mine, but you shall haf it in the tifel’s name, only let master see I wass praave, and show fight for it, look you, and not gif it up like a craaven.” With that he gave it into the fellow’s hand, saying, “Now, her begs, and solicits, and entreats you to be so kind ass to shoot some holes in hur cott lappets, just a pounce or two, look you, to prove hur hard fight and praavery.”

“Aye, with the greatest pleasure in life!” cried the ruffian, laughing. Here Twm put off his coat in an instant, and threw it over a bush on the roadside. When the robber fired at it, Twm leapt up, laughing with idiotic glee, crying, “Got pless hur for a praave marksman! that was a noble pounce, look you! But now another pounce for tother lappet, and I wass have great praise for praavery!”

So the foot-pad, apparently amused, fired again, and Twm leapt and laughed as before, exclaiming, “That was another nople pounce, look!” He now ran to the bush, and snatching up his coat, put it on, seemingly as delighted with its perforations as a warrior of his vaunted scars. “Now, one pounce more through my hat, look you, and all will be right!” added he, appealingly.

“Why, as to that!” replied the robber, commencing to break open the parcel with great eagerness, “I have no more pounces, as you call them, to give you.”

“But I have!” thundered our hero, holding a pistol in each hand to the robber’s breast, “return the packet and garnish!” continued he, “or I will pounce your rascal prains apout the road, look you—and that wass not goot for your health, look you, this fine morning.”

The robber was no bad judge of circumstances, so immediately returned the packet. “Garnish!” roared Twm, laughing, and holding the pistols nearer to his head; “I must have a new suit for the one you pounced for me, look you now!” The robber handed him a heavy purse, with a couple of splendid watches, exclaiming “the devil’s luck to you with them!” on which Twm snatched off his false beard, as he laughingly said, “So much for a shallow knave whose length of beard is greater than his brains!” No sooner was the beard removed, than Twm saw a deep scar on his left jaw, which cleared all doubt as to the identity of his antagonist.

“Never was Tom Dorbell so humbugged before!” cried the baffled ruffian, as he tore his hair up by the roots in resentment against Fortune, that allowed such an inauspicious day to dawn on him.

“What! Tom Dorbell, the Gallant Glover?” queried Twm, with amazement. “The same,” growled the knight of the road, “till my luck turned; but now I am nobody.”

“By that blushing witness on your jaw-bone, I perceive we once met before,” quoth Twm, jeeringly; “I think, on the other side of Reading. I think, too, that, in token of friendship, we exchanged horses on that occasion, a Welsh pony for a gallant grey; and, I think, also, but perhaps I am mistaken, that I threw thee a long purse full of something _that uncle Timothy gave I to market for him at Reading_.”

By the well mimicked simplicity of the latter words, the freebooter knew him at once, and laughing in his turn, vowing that he was now satisfied that he was outdone by no common ’un, “but a d—ned clever fellow, whoever thee bee’st” Quick as the fox who hears the hounds and hunters long before the sound can reach indifferent ears, Tom Dorbell started—gave a hasty farewell, dashed through the hedge, over a field, and was soon out of sight.

The Gallant Glover’s well-trained ears had heard the sound of horses’ feet, and, taking all things into consideration, he had thought it best to decline any fresh interview with travelling humanity until he had recovered his serenity of mind, and was in a position to enforce any demands it might please him to make.

As the approaching horse and rider neared him, Twm perceived the latter to be a wounded man, evidently so much disabled as to be scarcely capable of sitting on his horse. With courteous but hurried accents, the stranger addressed our hero, lifting his hat as he spoke.

“Your pardon, sir; if you are armed and inclined to act a brave and generous part, you have now an opportunity of doing so.” Twm declared his readiness. The stranger dismounted, with pain; “Take this horse,” cried he, “ride forward as fast as you can, and a quarter of a mile on you will find a couple of robbers rifling a coach. Other assistance may arrive—on! on, sir! in heaven’s name! the party assaulted are of no common rank or estimation—profit and reputation will attend their liberator, and”—Twm was out of hearing before he could finish his sentence.

Never did a young medical practitioner, called on an emergency to the bedside of a wealthy patient, whom he never thought to have the honour to approach, ride forth with a more excited imagination. Fire flashed from the stones, ground to powder by his horse’s hoofs, and brief was the gallop that brought him in sight of the scene of villainy.

The first object that struck his view were three or four horses, with their harness cut, one dead, and the others struggling on the road-side, while the centre was occupied by an un-horsed coach. As he came nearer, he distinctly made out a man at each door of the vehicle, their feet resting on the steps, while their heads, and the greater portion of their bodies, were invisible, implying their activity in the work of depredation. So intently devoted were they to this grand undertaking, that Twm’s approach seemed either unnoticed or mistaken, perhaps, for the wounded and unharmed gentleman’s, who had apprised him of this nefarious business. With that happy forethought given by indulgent Providence to the self-dependent, and which forms one of the grand ingredients in the chalice of success, our hero turned his horse from the thundering road to the soundless green beside it, and silently gained upon his object.

He arrived within twenty paces of the coach, when the green altogether ceased. Dismounting with the alacrity of the occasion, silent as the mole, and swift as the greyhound, he made a rush forward, and, contrary to his expectation, he found himself, unchallenged or unnoticed, close to the coach. He heard one of the amiable threatening instant death to his “Lordship’s reverence” unless his watch accompanied his purse into the hands of his “solicitors.”

The opposite worthy was equally polite to a lady, after his own fashion, declaring that he had shot one of her sex lately for less provocation than she had shown, in withholding his fair demands, which was merely all her cash and jewels.

Twm’s instantaneous action was to catch the nearest gentleman by the ankles. With a powerful drag backwards, his feet were jerked off the coach-steps, and his full face literally _scraped_ an ungentle acquaintance with their iron edges, in its rapid descent to the frosty road, which was flooded with his blood.

“Hollo! where are you, Bill?” enquired his active partner, thinking that he had merely lost his footing and falling accidentally.

“Here!” cried Twm, firing at the word, when the robber fell backward from his perch, a lifeless corpse. Before he could recover himself, our hero was grappled at the throat by the powerful hands of the first robber. In the struggle, Twm managed to strike him twice with his discharged pistol on his blood-covered face; but the strong ruffian’s tenacious grip tightened notwithstanding; and our tale must have terminated here, with the death of its hero, but for an unexpected relief.

The venerable and aged gentleman in the coach with his daughter, looking out on this deadly struggle with intense anxiety, snatched up a pistol which had been dropped in the carriage, seized a critical moment, and discharged it at the ear of the freebooter, whose head was perforated by the bullet, so that his grasp relaxed, and he fell backward, with his eyes glaring on his intended victim, and, with a ferocious oath in his mouth, he expired.

The aged gentleman now called to the lady, who sprang from the coach, declaring he feared that the villain had succeeded in destroying their deliverer. Well, indeed, might he have thought so, as Twm had sunk senseless on the road, the stagnant blood blackening in his face, and his eyes projecting from their sockets.

On recovering a little, he found a young lady bathing his temples, and applying her scent-bottle, while the venerable old gentleman was busied in rubbing his neck to restore the circulation of the blood, which now happily took place.

On his recovery, our hero learnt that the party whom he had succoured were the venerable Doctor Morgan, Bishop of St. Asaph, translator of the Scriptures into Welsh, and his only daughter; and that the wounded gentleman who sent Twm to their rescue, and who had now rejoined the party, was his lordship’s chaplain.

This spirited clergyman had manfully opposed the depredators, when they first attacked the coach, but was sadly wounded by a bullet in the right arm. In the midst of the congratulations, compliments, and explanations that followed, the spirit of the scene became suddenly changed to one that is patronized by the comic muse.

Alarmed by the report of the bishop’s servants, who liberated themselves, having been tied to a tree by the thieves, the town of Hounslow evinced its heroism by sending forth its constabulary force, with the principal inn-keeper, who was also a farmer, and his farm-servants.

A motley assemblage, in truth, it proved! Some were on foot, and some on horse or ass-back, and one fellow was seen bestriding a large horned ox, that reluctantly yielded the speed required of him; while each and all were as whimsically armed as mounted. The valiant joskin on the ox, flourished a flail, threatening annihilation to the rogues of the road, but lucklessly struck his own sconce by exercising the weapon. The ostler and waiter, who was also the plough-boy, was mounted on a superannuated blind mare, and grasped a dung-fork with the consequence of a Neptune’s trident. Among the others were seen bill-hooks, a scythe, three spades, an awfully long spit, and a ponderous wooden beetle.

But the most amusing figure in the group was the old landlady and farm-wife, who had hastily mounted a donkey, and was riding it in a more masculine style than is usual to the fair sex, and thumping the restive brute with a vast wooden ladle, with which, for she led the van, she was prepared to battle with the highwaymen. Finding them already conquered, her heroic spirit vented itself in discontent, that she had had no hand in the great event.

“Dang un!” quoth the doughty dame, “I would ha baisted the chops o’un noicely!”

“Shame on thee, dame! cover thy garters—whoy dusten roide like a christen woman,” cried her lord and master, who rode a high horse, and bore a huge cavalry sword.

At this rebuke, the bishop’s daughter, his lordship, and the chaplain, laughed most heartily; while our hero, now pretty well recovered, joined in their glee.

The fallen being consigned to the care of the landlord, and the coach somewhat righted, our hero was seated by the chaplain, and facing his lordship, who, with his amiable daughter, cordially acknowledged his services; which the worthy prelate declared were not to be requited with mere words.

Twm, with truth, averred he was indebted for his life to the promptitude with which his lordship brought the ruffian down; and therefore the services he received, he said, far over-balanced any that he had rendered. The modest position in which he had thus placed himself, worked well in his favour, and was fully estimated. After having refreshed at Hounslow, and the chaplain’s arm dressed, depositions having been made, before the judicial authorities, of the attack and rescue, the party filled his lordship’s carnage again, and all were driven off towards London, well guarded by a rustic patrol sent from Hounslow.

On the way, Twm explained that he was an agent of Sir George Devereaux’s to a Mr. Martyn’s in Holborn, and the bearer of a sum of money to him. The bishop seemed surprised, and declared that Mr. Martyn was his very good friend, and chosen by him to be an umpire on the following day, in a matter of great importance.

“To-morrow, then,” added the bishop, “I shall see you at my friend’s house, and learn from you in what manner I can serve your interests.”

Our hero bowed.

“Your lordship will have your long deferred explanation with the fiery old baronet, Sir John Wynn, then, to-morrow?” asked the chaplain.

“Yes,” replied the old bishop, “and heaven send me scatheless from a contest with that self-willed man! In our interview I can only repeat what I have objected in my letters; and right well I know, he can only reiterate his former ill-grounded assertions.”

Our hero was thunderstruck with these observations and became silent and thoughtful.

Many were the villages and suburbs through which they passed, before the lady, breaking a silence which had endured some time, exclaimed, “The stones of London, at last, my Lord.”

The worthy prelate directed his coachman to drive to Mr. Martyn’s; and, in a brief space, the carriage stopped at a large, lofty, and many gabled house, opposite to St. Andrew’s Church, in Holborn, where Twm was put down, and kindly received by Mr. Martyn, who helped him from the bishop’s coach. His lordship observed that he was waited for by his brother, the Bishop of London, at Lambeth Palace; briefly referred to the business of the morrow, kindly shook hands with our hero, as did the young lady and the chaplain, each repeating their acknowledgments, and when the carriage drove off, Twm Shon Catty was ceremoniously ushered into the fine town-house of Mr. Martyn.

CHAPTER XXX.

TWM, at last, face to face with his paternal parent. A little scene between a Baronet and a Bishop. Twm’s particular star brightens.

When it became known that Twm was the bearer of money from the baronet to Mr. Martyn, that he had rescued the bishop of St. Asaph and party, and that he was the hero of many other encounters with daring highwaymen, he became quite a lion in the house, was regarded as a fine specimen of a Welshman, and, in homely language, was “made much of.”

Previous to the sound slumber that soon overcame his softly-pillow’d head, he pondered much on what he had heard of his reputed father, and felt his mind strongly impressed with the idea that the coming morrow teemed with events that would cast their shade or sunshine on his future days.

In a dream that followed, he found himself in the presence of a passionate little gentleman who threatened him with terrible vengeance, unless he returned to the house of Morris Greeg, and gave his hand in marriage to the amiable daughter Shaan; and he thought he discovered in a murky recess, a parrot-nosed sprite, resembling Moses, who was grinning at his dilemma; when the lady of his former dream appeared suddenly, and smiled like an angel on the churlish old man, who forthwith smiled again, when Ianto Gwyn stood forth with his harp; on which he joined her in a Welsh jig. Then came a long and dreamless sleep, which at length was broken by the numerous clocks of London, clamorously informing its citizens of the seventh hour of a new day.

The letters borne by our hero to Mr. Martyn from Sir George Devereaux spoke most highly of his abilities and good qualities; and the trust reposed in him by the baronet was fully evinced by his being trusted with such an important pecuniary mission as that which had brought him to London.

In addition, his introduction by the Bishop of St. Asaph, with the details of his acknowledged services to that venerable prelate, insured our hero the most marked consideration among his present friends, who vied with each other in their attentions to him. The whole family expressed their hope that his stay would be long in town; and Mrs. Martyn insisted that he would make their house his home the while.

After breakfast, Twm requested a private conversation with his host; when he explained, with straightforward candour, that, although unlooked-for circumstances had placed him in his present favourable position, he was, in reality, the most friendless of human beings; inasmuch that he was a natural son, unacknowledged by his father.

Mr. Martyn kindly commiserated him; and our hero continued,—“I learnt yesterday evening that the Bishop of St. Asaph is to-day engaged to meet the man, who, of all others, I wish, yet dread to see—my father, Sir John Wynn of Gwydir.”

“Sir John Wynn, your father!” exclaimed Mr. Martyn, in great astonishment. “The same,” replied Twm, “yet he knows me not, nor have I a single document or a witness to prove it. Yet did I hope, ardently hope, that some chance would turn up in my favour, to avail myself of the meeting of this day, between Sir John and the good bishop.” Mr. Martyn said, with much concern, that, although their mutual friend, he saw great difficulties to oppose the introduction of such a matter.

“This conference,” continued he, “cannot end amicably; one party is bent on urging a claim, while the other is resolved to reject it, and they will part bad friends at last; while I, their umpire, cannot prevent it. Sir John, ruffled by disappointment, will be in no cue to listen to any claims on his kindness, especially one of a nature so serious, more especially as the very existence of such a complaint, criminates his past conduct.”

It struck our hero, that it would be well to make the benevolent bishop acquainted with his tale, and take his advice; with which suggestion, Mr. Martyn entirely agreed.

“The Bishop,” observed the latter, “is an early man, generally, and will, no doubt, be the first to call this morning.” While they were yet speaking, a servant announced Sir John Wynn’s carriage; and before Mr. Martyn could reply, or rise from his chair, Sir John Wynn entered. Martyn, rising with a bland countenance, met the Baronet’s advances with courtesy, if not cordiality. Our hero having retired to the window, was unseen by Sir John, although Twm seized the opportunity of exercising all his powers of observation.

“Well, I am the first in the field, I see,” observed the Baronet; “and now, my dear Mr. Martyn, let me again impress you with the sense of the wrongs I endured from this ungrateful Priest, this Bishop of my own making.” “My dear Sir John,” replied Martyn, “he may arrive this instant, and then see how unseemly it will be to find you touching on the case before his arrival, and me your unbiassed umpire.”

“Oh, Martyn, Martyn!” replied the Baronet, disregarding the delicacy of the appeal, “there is no grief like the grief of unkindness; he rewarded me with evil for good, to the great discomfort of my soul. I may well say so, and justly complain to you of my Lord of St. Asaph, who, besides what his ancestors received of mine, is in many matters beholden to me. My mind is eased by opening to you his hard dealings with me, and my benefits towards him;—but who is that?”

Our hero, feeling the awkwardness of his situation, had coughed gently, to inform the gentleman of his presence, and while making towards the door, was not ungracefully apologizing for his presence. He stopped as Mr. Martyn took his hand, and replied, “A young countryman of yours, Sir John; or, I should say, a South Walian, whom I beg leave to introduce to you as my friend.”

“Ha, ha!” cried Sir John, with his constitutional heartiness, “a young Welshman, a countryman of my own; your hand, Sir!” and the old gentleman shook it with a friendly feeling towards his country, if not the individual. “I could have sworn,” continued Sir John, “he was a native of our glorious mountain land, by his frank open countenance, and healthy look, unlike your suet-pudding-faced cockneys here.”

A servant answering the bell, Mr. Martyn desired that his son should show his guest to the picture gallery, on which our hero withdrew, with a tear in his eye which he found it impossible to suppress, when he felt the pressure of his father’s hand.

The parlour door being closed, Martyn recounted briefly our hero’s adventures, in bringing him a considerable sum of money, from Carmarthenshire. Sir John gave one of his most loud and hearty laughs, when he heard how he outwitted the notorious Tom Dorbell. But when he related his part in the rescue of the Bishop, at the imminent peril of his life, the Baronet grew serious; but giving way to his spleen against the prelate, he replied, “I wish he had saved some one more worthy of his bravery!—but, Martyn, I must be better acquainted with this gallant. A brave young Welshman like this, should be known, noted, and patronized! but perhaps he has abundance of friends without my thought of him.”

“Not so, Sir John, he is a stranger in London, and almost friendless anywhere,—he is a natural son; but you may hear his history hereafter,” replied Mr. Martyn, almost pointedly, as he fixed his eyes on the Baronet.

This was not unobserved by him, as he smiled, and said, “You mean something, Martyn; but let it pass for the present; so let us proceed with this matter of mine.”

“In honour and truth, I can hear no more till his lordship arrives,” was the reply.

“Well, why doesn’t he come, then,” said Sir John, with the unamiable frown that at times distinguished him; adding, rather superciliously, “is it fitting Mr. Martyn, that the head of the house of Gwydir should be waiting the leisure of this parson lord,—I shall drive out a little, and let him wait for me in his turn.”

Sir John took a quick turn towards the door, but, stopping suddenly, said he would join the young men in the picture gallery, where, accompanied by Mr. Martyn, he went. With the younger Martyn, the Baronet was well enough acquainted; and now his aim was to chat with our hero.

Twm became a little agitated as he found himself in close contact with his father, and a something like an equality in society, since they were both friends in the same family. True, this was really owing to the accident of circumstances, but Twm was there fairly upon his own merits, and not by imposition. Sir John asked him particulars concerning his adventures on the highway, and Twm, throwing all his natural wit into the account, made a favourable impression on his father.

The Martyns, father and son, being summoned down stairs, the stately baronet was left alone with his humble and unknown son. Twm looked towards the walls, with some feelings of awkwardness. The old-fashioned gallery was hung with numerous paintings: portraits by Holbein and Vandyke, with interesting and humorous pieces by foreign masters. Sir John pointed out and warmly expatiated on the merits and peculiarities of the various schools, fixing his eyes more on our hero’s face than on the paintings, to measure the extent of his taste and intellect by the effect they might produce on him; for the Baronet was quite an enthusiast in the fine arts, and would be quick in discovering whether or not he was throwing away his observations on a blockhead. He was not slow in observing the evidence of mind in his auditor, from the deep interest which he took in his details; but he especially remarked that his fancy was principally taken by the drolleries and homeliness of the Dutch and Flemish pictures, in one of which Twm fancied he saw a resemblance to Carmarthen Jack, his aunt Juggy, of hump-backed peculiarity, and even a counterpart to the starveling Moses. Apologizing for the rusticity of his taste, he owned his admiration of the boors and the lowly damsels, as they reminded him of some such, the familiars of his childhood in Wales.

“And where might that be passed?” enquired the Baronet, smilingly.

“In the humble town of Tregaron, in Cardiganshire,” replied Twm.

“Who are the principal gentry in that neighbourhood?” enquired the Baronet. When Twm mentioned Squire Graspacre and his late lady, Sir John looked him hard in the face; then, silently fixing his eyes on the floor, he recollected a certain passage in his life, that prevented him visiting Graspacre-Hall, from the dread he entertained of the censures and lectures of his decorous and straight-laced sister, Mrs. Graspacre.

“Did you know the lady you mentioned, Mrs. Graspacre?” enquired the baronet. “Very well, Sir John,” was Twm’s reply, “I have great reason, for, to that lady’s benevolence I am indebted for the little education I have received.”

Now, Sir John knew very well that his sister was anything but benevolent, so that by this assertion our hero lost a little in his opinion, and he suspected him of a little cant.

“If she sent you to school, she had some motive; what was it?” “I am a natural son, Sir John, which, perhaps Mr. Martyn informed you of: the lady sent me to school, because one of her great relations was said to be my father,” replied Twm, fixing his eyes on the baronet’s face, which he had the satisfaction of seeing quail beneath his riveting gaze.

Recovering himself, however, he cast a severe look on our hero, and, in a harsh tone and manner, said, “Now must I doubt all your assertions, as one falsehood is apparent to me. The lady you named was my sister, and certain it is that no relation of hers could be your father.”

Here the lion in our hero’s heart was roused, and he indignantly repelled the charge of falsehood, saying that he expected neither truth nor honour from his father, since he was known to him.

“And what may be your father’s name then?” asked the Baronet, biting his lip, to prevent the laughter that seemed ready to burst out. “Sir John Wynn of Gwydir!” exclaimed Twm in a dare-devil strain, that made the Baronet start at his vehemence. Admiring the fire that flashed in his eyes, his honest, fearless, and energetic behaviour, Sir John opened his arms, and received him in his embrace!

When Mr. Martyn came to announce the arrival of the bishop, he found our hero sobbing on his father’s neck, who soothed him by promises, that the neglect of years should now be remedied, and that he was glad and proud of the original, which he found in Mr. Martyn’s picture gallery.

The interview had ended very differently to what Twm and Mr. Martyn had expected, and our hero felt grateful to a protecting Providence which had so ordered events.

Sir John and Mr. Martyn descended, and our hero was left alone in the picture gallery. They joined the worthy Bishop at the table in the old-fashioned saloon, which, being overlooked from the rails of the gallery, Twm saw and heard all that passed, by the particular invitation of his worthy host.

The Bishop commenced addressing Mr. Martyn:—

“We are here met to-day, Mr. Martyn,” said he, “to submit to your arbitration, a matter in dispute between Sir John and myself. Sir John has expressed himself to you with reference to me, in an unfriendly manner, yet I have every confidence in your impartial judgment.” Here Mr. Martyn bowed, and Sir John, coughing to keep down his choler, of which he had as good a share as ever fell to the lot of a Cambro Briton, flourished his laced cambric handkerchief about his face, as he added, “His lordship cannot be more glad of an unbiassed umpire than I am myself, Mr. Martyn.”

The Bishop continued:—“Sir John’s request to me, was, that I would confirm a lease for three lives, upon the rectory of Llanrwst, at the yearly rent of fifty pounds; the same being worth one hundred and forty pounds, and is of my patronage. This request much perplexed my mind, for it grieved me to deny Sir John anything, yet my conscience cried aloud against such a grant, so prejudicial to the church itself, and especially to the next incumbent, whom I should have grievously wronged by beggaring the See, and injuring the living for future Clergymen.”

Here the Bishop resumed his seat, and the Baronet with great assumption of stateliness, rose and spoke in a slow and acrimonious strain.

“The sower went out to sow; and some of his seed fell in stony ground, where it withered, because it took not root; the seed was good, but the land nought. I may justly say so by you, my lord. I have in all things showed myself a friend, my lord; inasmuch that if I had not pointed the way with my finger, whereof I have yet good testimony, your lordship would have been still humble vicar of Llaurhaiader.”

The Bishop, without rising, mildly replied, “You have done me much kindness, Sir John, but no dishonest kindness; nor do I mean to deny you any of your fair requests.”

“I am really much obliged to your lordship, for your present good opinion,” replied the Baronet, with sneering courtesy, “more particularly that you express your opinion before Mr. Martyn. But the words you have just uttered agree only indifferently with others you have at various times used in reference to me.”

“Good Sir John,” replied the Bishop, “you do wrong me very much to say so.”

Sir John replied with much warmth, “I have good proof, my lord, that you protested to your late servant, Thomas Vaughan, that all the good I ever did you, when vicar of Llaurhaiader, was to go to Llandda Church, and with my family add so much to your scanty congregation there; and, forsooth! that I had once on a time sent you a fat ox, on your installation in the See of Asaph; truly, my lord, this is to strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.”

The good Bishop’s reply was mild and conciliating. “Good Sir John, you wrong yourself as much as me, to believe such idle sayings. If this were not a case of conscience, you should not need to ask me twice; remembering ancient kindness, your request is of great force to me.”

“You plead conscience when you should give, and make no pains to receive courtesy of your friends,” replied Sir John. Then, changing from the sarcastic tone in which this was uttered to one of vehemence, he proceeded. “But I appeal to Him who searches the consciences of all men, whether you have used me well; and whether conscience, which you have ever in your mouth, be the sole hindrance of my request. I will avow and justify it before the greatest divines in England, that has always been the usage, now is, and ever will be, that a man may with a safe conscience be a farmer of a living, paying in effect for the same as much as it is worth. I stand on your word, my lord of St. Asaph, your sacred word of promise, the confirmation of my lease and the advowson.”

Temperate and patient still was the Prelate’s reply. “I made no such promise; my words were ‘that I would be very loath to confirm any lease upon any presentative benefice; that I would do as much, and more for you, than for any other; that if I would confirm any lease, yours would be the first.’ In conclusion, I never did confirm any, nor do I mean so to do; therefore is such conditional promise void, and my honour and word sufficiently vindicated.”

The Baronet tenaciously urged,—“It is well known that your Lordship has favoured others in such a matter.”

“Not so,” replied the Bishop, rather more impatiently; “you well know there is a difference between granting a lease of our own, and confirming the lease of another; between a presentative benefice and an impropriation; between a public usage and a private one: still you refuse to note these distinctions, and exclaim that I have confirmed the lease, and will not, according to my promise, confirm yours.”

The last remark of the Bishop’s appeared to be unanswerable, and Sir John seemed to think so too, as, instead of replying to the argument directly, he began to beg the question, and give way to the overbearing petulance of a spoiled child of fortune.

“It is not,” replied he, “the loss of the thing that I regard a dobkin, but your unkind dealing; it shall lessen me hereafter to expect no sweet fruit from so sour a stock. But my lord of St. Asaph, you know my stand in the world. I never have been a man to make requests and be denied; therefore having never failed before in my requests, my grief is the greater.”

“Pray Heaven, Sir John, that your grief of missing be not like Ahab’s grief for Naboth’s vineyard,” was the Bishop’s pithy and characteristic reply.

Here Sir John sprang to his feet, exclaiming almost fiercely, “My lord, my lord, I am not of a nature to put up with wrongs; for as I have studied for your good, and wrought the same, so be assured of me as bitter an enemy as ever I was a steadfast friend!”

“A fiery little father have I found to-day,” thought Twm, as he noticed the vehemence of the baronet.

“I am ashamed of you,” continued he, “almost forgetting the courtesy of a gentleman, and the firm, but mild and patriachal character of the Bishop. I am ashamed for you, that you have hereby given cause to your enemies and mine to descant on the ingrate disposition. You have made use of gentlemen when they serve you, and afterwards discard them, on the pretence of conscience, forsooth! I laboured in your cause, my lord, as if it had been to save the life of one of my children.”

These hard uncompromising words did not exasperate the venerable prelate, whose command of temper under trying circumstances, and unjust aspersions, was worthy of his reputation. He rose with dignified demeanour, and said, “Amongst other kindnesses, Sir John you gave good testimony of me; I pray you let me continue worthy of it; so many chips have been already hewed from the church, that it is ready to fall; you ought rather to help than to despoil it. Thus it stands with us, Sir John, which I pray you Mr. Martyn note. You ask of me certain leases—you ask me to injure my successor in my diocese, to benefit you! you urge the favours I have received at your hands, and claim from me rewards that are not mine to give. Were I to grant your desires I should prove myself a dishonest, unconscionable, irreligious man, a sacrilegious robber of the church, a perfidious spoiler of my diocese, and an unnatural foe to preachers and scholars. I do verily think it were better to rob on the highway than to do the thing you request. However hard you may take my denial, be it known to you, if the father and mother whom I loved and honoured were alive and made such requests, I should have the grace to say nay.”

The Bishop took his seat, and began to repeat his regrets, when the Baronet started from the table, and in a furious mood began to pace the saloon to and fro; but stopping suddenly he exclaimed, “Your verbal love I esteem as nothing! I have ten sons—(eleven interrupted the Bishop, with quite jocoseness;) I say I have ten sons,” repeated the Baronet; and “if ever they forget this,”—“Eleven sons and the last as good as the best;” interrupted the Bishop again. “But where is this gallant deliverer?”

Mr. Martyn beckoned our hero down, while Sir John suddenly resumed his seat at the table. On the good Prelate’s pressing Twm to name in what manner he could reward his services, he at last replied, “By yielding to Sir John’s request as far as your Lordship sees right.”

The whole party stared with amazement at the unexpected reply. The Baronet was softened to tears, and but for compromising his dignity, would have embraced him before them all. The Bishop smiled, and shaking his hand very cordially replied, “The request is as graceful in you to make as in me, to deny; that question is disposed of. In a few days I will call again, when you may decide in what I can be of service to you.”

He then took a courteous leave of Mr. Martyn and of our hero, with a ceremonious bow to Sir John, and departed. Right glad was Martyn to be relieved, by the temper of the Baronet, from the unpleasant office of an arbitrator of their differences.

CHAPTER XXXI.

TWM meets one of his best friends from Wales. Death of Sir George Devereaux. Hopes and fears. Interruption of happy hours. Lady Devereaux’s forced return to Wales. Twm follows her.

Our hero was now living amongst the _elite_ of the metropolis, and his daily communion with men of taste, feeling, and education, produced a quick and remarkable change for the better in his manners and personal appearance. His new-found father assisted him largely in his finances, and a handsome pecuniary present from the worthy bishop, accompanied with a complimentary letter, which was doubly gratifying to him, as emanating from so respectable a source.

When he had been eight months in London, he was sitting alone one morning in Mr. Martyn’s picture gallery, intently pondering on his future plans of life, considering whether to return to his friends at Ystrad Feen, or seek employment in town. His reverie was disturbed by a servant’s informing him that a gentleman was waiting to see him.

On his descent to the parlour, great and gratifying was his surprise to meet there his old friend Rhys. The cordiality of their mutual greetings but faintly echoed the ardour of their feelings. News from the country was our hero’s first inquiry, and Rhys assured him he had an abundance to relate. Gwenny Cadwgan is married, and living with her husband and father on a fine farm at Kevencoer-Cummer, near Merthyr. Walt the mole-catcher is transported, having narrowly escaped the gallows. Your mother and step-father are well. “So much for Tregaron news,” said Rhys; “and now for Ystrad Feen and Llandovery. A singular coincidence,—in the same week we lost the venerable Vicar Prichard, and your friend Sir George Devereaux.”

“The last is a climax indeed to your budget; but is it really a fact that Sir George is no more?” enquired Twm, looking hard in his friend’s face.

“Fact as deeth! as the Scotchman says,” replied Rhys; “He threw his life away in one of his foolish fox-hunting leaps.”

“Well, well! I am truly sorry,” exclaimed Twm, “for he was a kind being.” “He was so; but tell me truly,” said Rhys, looking archly in his friend’s eyes, “is it for death, or his lady’s being left so young a widow, that your sorrow is most intense?” Twm looked grave, but finally smiled, as Rhys, with great archness, added, “It somewhat strikes me that this is a sorrow which you will soon get over; and, if I mistake not, so will the widow too.”

Here Twm took his hand, and said, “You look deeper into the hearts of men than I thought; but listen to a mystery and expound the dream that has so long haunted me.”

Here he related the particulars of the “glorious vision” in the hay-loft of Morris Greeg, and of its repetition since he came to London; “and strange to say,” added he, “it was in widow’s weeds the fair spirit each time appeared. What can be the meaning or end of such dreams?” “I’ll tell thee,” answered Rhys, leaning on his shoulder and looking in his face; “Dreams long nursed, especially waking dreams, in time become realities—so will yours; you will marry this young widow, Twm!”

“Me! impossible!” cried Twm, blushing from the chin to the forehead. “Oh, very well, I’ll court her myself, then!” cried Rhys; on which they both burst into a most hearty laugh.

Our hero was growing silent and meditative, when Rhys, striking him a hearty smack on the shoulder, asked, “What would you say now, if the fair widow was herself in town at this moment?”

“What!” cried Twm, starting up, with an expression of interest that nothing could repress. Rhys in a most serious strain, assured him that her father, being chosen a knight of the shire for the ancient county of Brecon, was now in town with his widowed daughter. That he had ridden to town in their company, by which he had availed himself of a safe escort from the dangers of the road. Rhys added, that he had frequently conversed with the Lady Devereaux, both at home and on the journey, and that he, Master Thomas Jones, had always been the subject of her conversation and eulogy.

Very shortly after this conversation, in fact as shortly after as sufficed to take Twm and his friend Rhys to the town-house of Sir John Price, which was situated in Derby-street, Westminster, our hero was shaking hands and exchanging hearty good-wishes and congratulations with the “lady of his dream.” His recollection of his dearly-cherished vision was now stronger than ever, in consequence of the widows’ cap which she had lately assumed.

On the part of Sir John, our hero’s reception was more ceremonious than friendly, but the feeling evinced in his daughter’s eyes, and the speaking pressure of her hand, made ample amends for the baronet’s stately coldness.

Having dined together, Sir John retired early on a more ceremonial visit, and the three friends were left together; for Lady Devereaux held Rhys in great esteem for his high professional character, and unassuming manners; and, in truth, we must add, more than all, for the friendship evinced by him for our hero, and the friendly way in which he spoke of him in his absence. It was with surprise and regret they heard the announcement of Rhys’ intention (being now superceded in his curacy by the new incumbent,) of quitting his country and entering a foreign university, to seek in a far land that consideration and advancement not attainable in his own.

Lady Devereaux being only in the fifth month of her widowhood, the conversation, although kindly in the extreme, was of a melancholy cast. Rhys having to embark in the morning, urged the necessity of retiring early, and took his final leave of the fair widow, who expressed the kindest wishes for his prosperity and success in all undertakings.

Accompanying his friend, Twm bade her adieu for the evening, and gained her leave to repeat his visit on the morrow. The permission to repeat his visits was eagerly seized by Twm, and not once a day only, but many times did he trouble Sir John’s stately domestic to open the door to him. That he was welcome by the fair enchantress, he could not doubt, and pleasant were the mid-day walks in the Park or Mall, their indoor conferences, and the evening parties at which they shone as twin-stars; but trebly pleasant to our hero was the hour in which he ventured to break to her his tender feelings and his darling hopes.

With the utmost candour, and without the least reservation, he told the humbleness of his origin, the blemish in his birth, his wretched bringing-up, and withal, the mysterious matter of his glorious vision. The assertion that the moment he beheld her, on rescuing her from the robber, he identified her face and figure with the lady of his dream, called forth her deepest blushes, and she audibly whispered “Incredible!” His repeated assertions, passionately urged, of the truth of his assertion, silenced and perhaps convinced her.

Certain it is that, like the gentle Desdemona, “She gave him for his pains a world of sighs;” and time evinced to him that the lady had a tale to tell also, which proved that although highly born, and affluent as she was, her lot had not been entire sunshine.

“I am yet hardly twenty-one,” replied she, “although I have been twice married. To neither of these husbands have I been able to give my entire heart. My first union was at my father’s _command_, when solicitations proved useless, to his contemporary and old schoolfellow, who was old-fashioned enough to restore the long-exploded _abs_ in his name, vaunting himself as Thomas ab Rhys ab Thomas Gock, of Ystrad Feen; who could carry on the antique and rusty chain of _abs_, without a broken link, through several centuries up to the patriarch of his tribe, Elystan Glodrydd.

“Poor old gentleman! I fed him with a pap-spoon, in his large gothic arm-chair, when a stroke of paralysis had withered his right hand; but in six months after our marriage (marriage!) he fell a victim to his ruling passion, which I will not name to his disparagement, and died of apoplexy. My year’s mourning for him had barely expired, when my mother claimed her right of choosing my next husband; and, in the course of time, poor Sir George (peace to the memory of a harmless man!) became my second husband. Had I lived to these days unwedded,” said she, with a look and tone of resolute firmness, almost foreign to her usual gentleness, “it is more than probable that I should not have become the victim of either of my parents’ whims.”

“My poor mother has been long deceased; but well I know my father’s future aim respecting me—to have me united to some other choice of his own; but no! the sapling may bend to the storm, but, springing up again, who shall re-bend the youthful oak that time matures? If my good father inclines to play the tyrant with me, he will find some difference between the woman and the child.” Applauding her resolution, Twm, kissed her hand with rapture; and, she added in a tone of gaiety, “if ever I change my state, I shall become the votary of a different shrine to any that I have yet bowed to;”

“The little god shall shoot the porch, Ere faithful Hymen waves his torch.”

With that expressive couplet, she rose, and our hero, with enlarged hopes, took a tender, but restrained and respectful leave of her.

If Twm was heartily welcomed by Lady Devereaux, he was no less heartily disliked by her father. Sir John had learnt that he was a natural son of Sir John Wynn of Gwydir’s, and no earthly merit could compensate, in his estimation, the bar of bastardy in his escutcheon. He sternly desired his daughter to break off all intercourse with our hero, as he had discovered, he said, the baseness of his origin. Although Twm appeared no more in his house, he had the mortification to learn that at the play, the ball, and in the Park and Mall, their meetings had been frequent. In a bitter spirit of resentment against his daughter, without the least previous warning, he one morning compelled her roughly to enter a coach at the door, which soon drove off, taking her she knew not whither.

Our hero’s surmises became numerous and agonizing, when for three long weeks he had neither seen nor heard from his charmer, although he had not missed one opportunity of encountering her at any of their accustomed places of meeting, and his days became burdensome, and his nights sleepless. Just as he was sinking into a state of despondency, he one evening received a note in the hand of Lady Devereaux, informing him of her forcible conveyance to, and safe arrival at Ystrad Feen. His father having long since returned to North Wales, he took an affectionate but hasty leave of the hospitable family of the Martyns, and commenced his journey to his native principality.

CHAPTER XXXII.

TWM in Wales again. His meeting with the “lady of his dream.” “The course of true love never did run smooth,” which Twm ruefully acknowledges.

The dangers of the road had been somewhat reduced by the vigorous prosecution of highwaymen and robbers, many of whom had been lately convicted and executed. Travellers could pursue their way in comparative security, so Twm encountered no “hair-breadth escapes by flood or field” and his journey home, consequently added no exciting incident to swell his gallant reputation. At Reading, he heard of the late execution there of his former antagonist Tom Dorbell.

Our hero’s impatience towards the close of his journey was so great that he rode all night, that he might reach Ystrad Feen a day earlier. How would the “lady of his dream” receive him? With what delight would he not gaze upon her dear face again! When Twm, mounted on a goodly steed, dashed into the court-yard, Lady Devereaux, who witnessed his arrival sprang from her seat and hurried to meet him as he reached the entrance hall. We fear, for the honour of prudery, that her resistance was not very great.

When our gallant hero caught her in his arms, and impressed a certain number of kisses somewhere about the region of the cheeks and lips, both of which looked many degrees redder than when, a few minutes before, she complained to Miss Meredith of his strange delay in town.

“Kiss her also, so that she can’t tell tales of me!” said the gay young widow; so Twm, somewhat less ardently, kissed Miss Meredith, and seemed to look about to see if there were any more business of that kind on hand.

“My dear Mr. Jones, you are welcome, most welcome, back to Wales, and trebly welcome to me, and the lonely walls of Ystrad Feen,” were the kind Lady Joan’s first words. Neither of the ladies was slow in discovering the change for the better which had taken place in his address, his former diffidence and indecision of manner being supplanted by easy confidence, and high animal spirits.

Twm was now, indeed, happy with the “lady of his dream;” for he was on much more intimate terms with her than he had, at one time, ever hoped to be. She told him that when her father so suddenly forced her into the coach, to be hurried towards the country, she was joined by two lofty ladies, his maiden sisters, who literally became her jailors in the travelling vehicle. Our hero remembered them well, from seeing them at cards one evening at their brother’s; and he did not fail to describe them to young Martyn, as ugly as heartless pride, ill-temper, long saturnine noses, yellow ribbons and slippers, could make them.

The ancient gentlewomen had chosen the state of ceaseless virginity, they said, to keep up the dignity of the family, which, in their persons, they proudly added, should never be lowered by an unworthy alliance. During their homeward journey, they entertained their victim with ingenious reproaches and disparaging observations respecting “the strange young man who had obtruded himself into their brother’s house—the unknown Mr. Jones.”

“Why, the creature has no family,” observed the long-waisted Miss Felina Tomtabby Price. “Then,” replied our heroine, “he is never likely to be pestered with the claims of poor relations, nor the persecution of rich ones.” “No, he is of no stock,” said Miss Euphemia Polparrot Price, following up her sister’s remark; “the creature was only born yesterday.” “Then he is singularly young and harmless,” answered the lady of Ystrad Feen. “And, above all blemishes, he is base-born,” added Miss Felina Tomtabby Price. “That is less his fault than his misfortune, as the Irishman said who warranted his blind mare free from faults,” answered their merry niece.

The young lady was evidently more than a match for the two elder ones, and so these ancient gentlewomen kept a dignified silence, or spoke only to each other, during the rest of the journey; which terminated at length by their seeing her to Ystrad Feen, and betaking themselves to the Priory House at Brecon.

In the course of many private conversations between Miss Meredith and the young widow, the subject of which discourses, strange to say, being invariably Twm himself; she declared herself delighted with him, and Twm, it was easy to see, returned the compliment with interest. At her invitation, he became an inmate of the house, until, as she said, he could put himself to rights. The golden chain and sum of money left to her care, were delivered up to him with considerable additions, in return for his services by a journey to London and from her own private bounty.

With the evident encouragement vouchsafed to him by the lady of Ystrad Feen, Twm was soon madly and irrecoverably lost in his warm affection for her, and there is nothing to surprise any reasonable being when he is told that Twm, with energetic enthusiasm, protested that he admired—nay, loved her! If the lady chided him, it was with such winning gentleness that it seemed to say, “Pray, do so again.” If she turned aside her head to conceal her blushes, smiles ever accompanied them, in coming and retreating; or if she frowned, it was so equivocally, that, for the life of him, our hero could not help considering each transient bend of the brow as so many invitations to kiss them away, which the gallant Twm never failed to accept and obey.

These golden days were too rich in delight to last long. As the _good-natured and most virtuous world_ discovered that they were very happy, and pleased with each other, it breathed forth its malignant spirit, and doubted whether they had a legitimate right to be so; of course, deciding negatively, and consequently awarding to the lovers the pains and penalties of persecution and mutual banishment.

When they had become for some time, undivided companions, and walked, rode, danced at Brecon balls, and resided under the same roof together, although under the strict guidance of moral propriety, as daily witnessed by the lady’s female friend; it will be no wonder that scandal at last became busy with the lady’s fame. An additional incentive for raising these evil reports was that she had rejected the attentions of several of the rural noblesse, who had endeavoured to recommend themselves to her good graces.

All at once like the inmates of a hornet’s nest, the various members of her family, the proud Prices of Brecon, buzzed about her ears and stung her with their reproaches. She bore all with determined patience, until assured that her fame had been vilified, and that she had been described as living a life of profligacy and dishonour. Conscious of rectitude, however indiscreet she might have been, the haughtiness of her spirit now rose, as she indignantly repelled the infamous charges; in the end, requested her _dear friends and relations_ to dismiss their tender fears for her reputation, and keep to their own homes for the future, or at least not to trouble hers.

Although she had treated her officious friends with the contumely they deserved, she could not afford to set at nought, altogether, the opinions of the little world in which she lived; and, tired, irritated, and vexed, by hearing the same tale from day to day, she at last consented to send away her deliverer and friend, as she called him, from the protection of her roof. Our hero, however, could never be brought to distinguish between her real kind feelings towards him, and the constrained appearance which her altered conduct made in his sight.

Free as the air, as he felt himself, he could not understand why a great and wealthy lady was not equally unshackled and independent. Explanations and excuses were entirely thrown away upon him, as he could not, or would not, understand aught so opposed to his happiness and pre-conceived notions.

When, at length, it was made known to him that the separation was inevitable, and the season of it arrived, he received the astounding intelligence like a severe blow of fortune, that struck him at once both sorrowful and meditative. Pride and resentment, from a supposed sense of injury at last supplanted every other feeling; and, starting up with a frenzied effort, he ordered his horse to be got ready, and gave directions for his things to be forwarded to Llandovery; after which, he wrote a note, and sent it to the lady’s room requesting a momentary interview with her alone, before he took his departure.

She came down with a slow, languid step, and met him in the parlour. Her eyes were red with weeping; and, before she uttered a syllable, our hero’s much-altered looks affected her so much, that she burst out into a heavy fit of sobbing. “Do not think hardly—do not feel unkindly towards me, Jones,” were her first words! “I entreat you to give me the credit due to my sincerity, when I assure you that the sacrifice I made on consenting to part with you, was—yes! although I have buried two husbands who loved me tenderly, it was the heaviest of my life.”

Twm replied in a tone and manner that evinced both his pride and his suffering; “I have but few words, madame, and they shall not long intrude upon your leisure. I came here a stranger, and had some trifling claims, perhaps, on your attention. Those claims have been more than satisfied—noble has been your remuneration of my humble services, your beneficence generous and princely.

“A change took place in your destiny; you honoured me beyond my merits, and bade me stand to the world in a new character. You called me friend, your sole friend, in a faithless world; nay, lady, your lover; I loved, and love you with a pure but unconquerable flame! Blame me not if I am presumptuous;—it was your own condescension, your own encouragement, that made me so, and elevated me to an equality with yourself. You gave me hopes to be the future, the only husband of your choice. You stretched forth your hand to aid my efforts, as I eagerly climbed towards the darling object of my aim; but before I attained the summit, you, madame, in the spirit of caprice or treachery, dashed me headlong downwards, to perish in despair.

“Your great and wealthy friends will praise you for this, while the mincing madames and the insipid misses of Brecon shall learn a noble lesson by your conduct, and emulating you, become in their day as arrant coquettes and tramplers on manly hearts, as their limited powers and vanity will permit. But enough! you shall have your generous triumph,—and from this hour I tread the world without an aim, a wanderer in the wilderness, reckless of everything. Advancement, estimation, I here abjure; nor, from this hour, would I raise my hand to save from annihilation the being I am—for life is henceforth hateful to me.

“Lady, farewell!—never more will I cross your path; but you may hear of my wayward steps,—and if in me you are told of a wretched idiot, a being whose mind had perished while his frame was strong, remember that it was yourself who wrought that mental desolation. Or, if they name me as a lawless being, plunged head-long into deeds of guilt, remember it is you, you, madame, who are the authoress of my crimes and sorrows, and, may be, of an ignominious death. And now, madame, farewell!” On which he darted out, mounted his horse, and rode off; while the unhappy lady of Ystrad Feen, whose agitation choked her utterance, caught a last glimpse of him, and fell on the parlour floor in a swoon.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

FINE Arts at a discount. Hungry Moses, whose appetite was his ruin. New tricks and jokes on Ready Rosser. Parson Inco once more.

Twm left Ystrad Feen in no enviable state of mind. He was in a similar temper to that of a child when deprived of a favourite toy, and as he urged his horse with speed in the direction of Llandovery, he determined never to place faith in woman again,—a resolution which underwent some slight modification before he reached the “Cat and Fiddle,” a diminutive-looking ale-house, where for the present he decided to take up his quarters.

Notwithstanding his chagrin, he could not help smiling at this whimsical sign, then newly painted,—a droll-faced creature of the feline race, drawn, as an enthusiast in melody, erect on her hind feet, her eyes turned up in ecstacy, while her open mouth seemed to be mewing music, or tow-rowing harmony at a fine rate, in concord with the fiddle that she handled with the most artist-like taste, and professional gravity. If the sign was to his taste, a sort of homely snuggery in the form of a small parlour, and a good-humoured-looking fat landlady, were no less so.

Dinah Dew, the widowed mistress of the Cat and Fiddle informed him that she owed her sign to the skill of a poor tramping painter, who had run into her debt, to the enormous amount of five shillings and sevenpence half-penny, for board, washing, lodging, and drinking: and the poor fellow being penniless and without work, “I let him free,” said she, “for the sign, and gave him a shilling and a brown loaf over.”

This liberal patronage of the fine arts, (for the sign included music, poetry, and painting,) gave Twm a favourable opinion of his hostess. She apologized to him for the absence of her hostler, and said he was a poor ragged fellow with a pregnant wife, and two children; by trade a mat and basket maker; also a waiter at two other taverns; and an occasional husbandry servant with several farmers, who employed him in their busy times. “The fellow is well enough,” said the little round woman, “but for his cormorant appetite; and eat what he may, he never looks better for it. Indeed your horse would scarcely be safe with him, but that this is not the most hungry time of year.”

“I knew such another once,” thought Twm, his mind reverting to the hungry house of Morris Greeg; as he went forward on his walk over the fields. The said “hostler” soon overtook him, to ask his commands about his horse. Twm looked with compassion on the ragged Guy Fawkes figure before him, and conceived that he might earn a fair livelihood by merely walking over the farmer’s grounds, as all the kites and crows must inevitably flap their departing wings at his approach. Twm looked into a keen pair of ferret eyes, that glistened above a high-bridged parrot nose, and found no difficulty in identifying the miserable Moses of past days.

Twm’s spirit of joking was rampant within him, notwithstanding the morning’s vexations, and he determined upon having a little fun, in refreshing Moses’s memory regarding a few incidents which were best forgotten. Assuming an attitude of tremendous importance, and overwhelming authority, he commenced:

“You are the very fellow I have been long seeking. You ran away from the comfortable and very plentiful house of Morris Greeg, in Cardiganshire; after having in concert with a young scamp, named Twm Shon Catty, eaten all his pork and mutton.” Moses started and looked blue as indigo. “I’ll have thee put in stocks, and taken back to the house of that generous and most injured man,” cried Twm, in the tone of a jack-in-office.

Compassionating the perplexity of the poor devil, he caught his hand and cried, “Don’t you know me?—Twm, your former fellow-starveling.” “Well, well! who could have thought it!” cried the astonished Moses; “dear, dear, what a many good dinners you must have had to make you look so well.”

Twm assured him, he should have dinners too, if he behaved himself, but charged him to be silent as to their former acquaintance. Moses so bounced and bounded up, in token of his rapture, that Twm feared the wind would bear away the poor creature like a paper kite from him.

Poor fellow! anticipating warmth and comfort from such a proceeding, he married a very fat widow of a butcher, who was accomplished in her husband’s calling. Moses had often sought the pleasant shelter of her slaughter-house, and amusingly admired the dexterous and delicate manner in which she cut the throats, and flayed the hides off the subjects that she operated on; inasmuch that he conceived the creatures themselves ought to be delighted at being so skilfully finished. After he had wooed and won the widow, oftentimes, when she was almost broken-hearted at her failing to sell certain joints towards the close of the market-day, Moses would be in raptures, as he feelingly observed, they would eat the unsold portion themselves. Somehow their trade gradually declined, till latterly it ceased altogether, and the widow was no longer a butcher, owing, as she protested, to her husband’s being a “huge feeder,” and the mysterious disappearance of various joints that she suspected him of devouring in secret.

Where were now the lover’s despair and tears, his dedication to a life of solitude, nay, his refusal even of life? True, for some days, Twm stalked about in the neighbourhood of the “Cat and Fiddle” as if his earthly mission had been brought to a sudden termination; as if, like Othello, his occupation was gone, and there was no likelihood of any other suitable employment turning up. Alas for the consistency of the lover!—days we repeat, and not weeks nor months, much less years, of seclusion of this kind. He soon illustrated the Shaksperian adage, “Men have died, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” But by him everything was to be done by strokes of impulse. To banish his cares, he plunged at once into intemperance; and from merely tolerating a little cheerful company, he entered the society of the greatest topers and madcaps to be found, till he emulated and outdid the highest, and became the very prince of wags and practical jokers.

He was of course recognized as the conqueror of the tremendous Dio the Devil, and the acknowledged preserver of the lady of Ystrad Feen, which, with his relation of many freaks and vagaries in England, together with the assured fact that he had been once to London, and spent a year there, gained him no inconsiderable share of celebrity.

The good-humoured Justice Prothero, he found as merry, and as much a friend as ever. “Fear not for the fair widow, boy!” would he exclaim, slapping him heartily on the back; “she’ll have thee yet, in spite of the long-nosed Prices and their pedigrees.”

To divert him from his frequent fits of melancholy, and dangerous freaks of folly among his newly-made companions at Llandovery, Prothero would keep him a week at a time under his friendly roof, and make trifling bets, to amuse him, by which freaks he secured some enjoyment for himself also.

Ready Rosser again became his antagonist in these rustic feats and stratagems. The first wager that Prothero laid, was of twenty shillings, that Twm would not by his cunning decoy a sheep out of the safe keeping of this worthy, as he was to fetch one home for butchering on the morrow; but if he succeeded, the mutton and the money would both become his own; otherwise he would forfeit that sum and resign the woolly victim to its owner. To all this our hero agreed, and prepared accordingly.

Ready Rosser was as loud in bidding defiance to our hero, now as he had been on a former occasion, where the result had scarcely justified his extravagant bragging. He shouldered his sheep, vowing before his grinning fellow-servants, who grouped round to crack their jests on him, that the devil himself should not deprive him of his burden. As he proceeded along a part of the high road, up a slight ascent, he discovered with surprise, a good leathern shoe lying in the mud. A shoe of leather, be it known, in a country where wooden clogs are generally worn, is no despicable prize. Rosser looked at the object before him with a longing eye; but reflecting that one shoe, however good, was useless unmatched with a fellow, spared himself the trouble of stooping, for troublesome it would have been with such a weight on his shoulders, and passed on without lifting it. On walking a little farther, and going round a bend in the road, great was his surprise on finding another shoe, a fellow to the former, lying in the sledge mark, which like the rut of a wheel, indented the mud with hollow stripes. In the height of his joy he laid down the sheep, with its legs tied, beside the shoe, and ran back for the other; when Twm Shon Catty, watching his opportunity, sprang over the hedge, and seized his prize, which he bore off securely; won his bet, and ate his mutton undisturbed.

The termination of this sheep wager did not add to Ready Rosser’s reputation, and that worthy was nearly beside himself with rage, on finding himself again beaten. His master, Squire Prothero, although the most good-humoured of country gentlemen, was rather angry with Rosser, whose shrewdness always became questionable when opposed to Twm’s. It was admitted, in excuse, that the most cunning at times may be accidentally over-reached by his inferior in wit. On this plea the merry magistrate was conciliated, and induced into another wager, precisely like the former, when a similar sum, against our hero, and in favour of his servant, was laid and accepted. The man of shrewdness, as before, determined to use the utmost vigilance and caution to preserve his charge and redeem his reputation. He grasped his load, which was a fine fat ewe, most manfully, and swore violent oaths in answer to his master’s exhortation to chariness, that human ingenuity should never trick him again; but

“Great protestations do make that doubted, Which we would else right willingly believe.”

In his way to Llangattock, he had to pass through a wood, which he had scarcely entered, when the bleating of a sheep attracted his attention, and he came to a dead stand, as he intently listened to what he conceived a well-known voice. “Baa—baa!” again saluted his ear. A sudden conviction rushed across his mind, that this was the very sheep he had before lost, which he imagined might have been concealed by Twm in the recess of the woody dingle.

What a glorious chance, thought he, of recovering his lost credit with his master, and depriving his antagonist of his laurels! He instantly deposited his burden beneath a tree; and eagerly forcing his way through the copse and bushes, he followed the bleating a considerable way down the wood, when to his great dismay it ceased altogether. A thought now struck him, though rather too late, that the bleating proceeded from no sheep, but a more subtle ram, in the presence of Twm Shon Catty; he hurried back in a grievous fright, and found his surmises but too true—the second sheep, and his high reputation for shrewdness, had both taken flight together.

Moses’s face and figure began to improve, for he received the greater proportion of the winnings both of money and mutton, and he secretly thanked the good fortune which had brought him into Twm’s service.

Squire Prothero, not yet being tired of our hero’s witty genius and cunning cleverness, offered to oppose to his cunning, the collective vigilance of his husbandmen and maidens; laying a bet with him that he should not steal a white ox, with which a black one was to be yoked to the plough. The plough to be held by Rosser and driven by another servant; while two girls, driving each a harrow, should also be on their guard, to prevent his aim if possible.

There could be no doubt that Twm would accept this wager as he had done the others, and accordingly he very obligingly undertook to convey away the white ox, as he had formerly done the bull Bishop; and to eat the gentleman’s beef, provided it turned out sufficiently tender; protesting with a half yawn, and the perfect ease of a modern Corinthian, that he was absolutely tired of mutton, which he had too long persisted in eating, against the judgment and advice of his physician.

The morning at length dawned, when the test of Twm’s sagacity, the most severe to which it had yet been exposed, was to be applied. The plough was guided and the cattle driven, while two bare-footed maidens giggled and laughed till the rocks echoed, as they whipped the horses and ran by their sides, till the harrows bounced against the stones, and sometimes turned over; their mirth was excited by the idea of Twm’s folly in accepting such a bet, and thinking to steal the white ox from under their noses, the impossibility of which was so evident.

The two servants at the plough also cracked and enjoyed their clumsy jokes at the thought of our hero’s temerity, at the same time keeping a wary eye in every direction, armed against surprisals, and exulting in the thought that for once, at least, the dexterous Twm would be baffled in his aim. Time went on; the day waned away towards the evening, and as their fatigue increased, their vigilance gradually lessened.

Such was the state of matters when Moses, who seemed to be loitering about without any particular purpose in view, encountered them, and, laughing loudly at the cautious and careful way in which they continued to guard their prize, assured them that Twm had given up the idea of outwitting such a wary and clever party, and was at that moment drinking his wine with their master, whom he allowed to win the wager.

“Allowing, indeed!” quoth a sharp-tongued lass, as she stopped her harrow to listen, “pretty allowing, when he could not help himself!” “Aye,” cried the other girl, “so the fox allowed the goose to escape, when she took to flight and escaped his clutches!”

Rosser and the plough-boy exulted in their anticipated reward of a skin-full of strong beer. Thus the whole party was excited to a high pitch of triumphant mirth. Moses was, of course, a decoy, and his report had really the effect of throwing them off their guard, which another circumstance contributed to aid. The rural party had rested, sitting on their ploughs and harrows, at one end of the field, while they listened to their informant; and now were about to resume their labours, when a hare started from the adjoining thicket, crossing the ground towards the opposite hedge.

Suddenly the halloo arose; away ran the ploughman and girls, over hedges and ditches, and away ran the yelping sheep-dog, amid the clamour of shouting and barking; but the wondering oxen stood still, and their grave looks of astonishment gradually changed to a more animated expression of alarm on the arrival of Twm Shon Catty.

Having loosed his captive hare to decoy the clowns, he availed himself of their absence to dress the black ox in a white morning gown,—that is to say, a sheet, which became him much, and contrasted with his complexion amazingly; and the white ox he attired in a suit of mourning, formed of the burial pall which he had borrowed from the clerk of Llandingad church for that express purpose; and, having unloosened his fair friend from the yoke, they suddenly disappeared through a gap in the hedge.

Although busily engaged in the gentlemanly pastime of the chase, the husbandry worthies now and then glanced towards the plough, but seeing, as they thought, the white ox safe, returned to it at a leisurely pace, till quickened, as they neared it, by the singular sight before them; and their petty vexation at losing the hare was now swallowed up by the terrible circumstance of their loss of their especial charge. A suitable lamentation followed, of course, which was succeeded by fear and trembling, from a conviction that Twm Shon Catty dealt with the devil; and that the hare which they had chased was no other than the foe of man in disguise. This reasonable and self-evident assumption quite satisfied their merry master, who deemed himself quite compensated for his loss by the hearty laugh he enjoyed.

Twm and his singular charge entered Llandovery in triumph, the white ox being gaily decorated with ribbons, and the half-starved, but trustworthy, Moses seated on its back. Loud were the huzzas and laughter by which he was received by the juvenile part of the population of Llandovery; not one of whom enjoyed the sight more than the good-humoured Prothero, who cheerfully paid the bet, and from a tavern window had full view of the scene, which he declared excited his laughter till his heart and sides ached with the agreeable convulsion.

Twm did not confine himself to love of beef and mutton. He had higher aspirations which evinced a very ardent passion for horse-flesh; and pursued it with all the fiery zest of a first-love, when impeded by difficulties the most insurmountable.

The lady of Ystrad Feen, still sitting on his heart like a night-mare, and pinching it with pain rendered him, however amusing to others, miserable enough within himself. Lassitude, chagrin, and bitterness, often betrayed themselves in his countenance and manners, and were only transiently removed by the hilarity of the company with which he mixed, or the freaks which he played, in his ill-combined humours of mirth and sorrow. Reckless of consequences, he now entered into the follies less innocent than hitherto detailed; led to them, however, more by a spirit of youthful wildness than by any really criminal intention.

In one of his many walks he found himself one day at Machynlleth, in Montgomeryshire, and who should he see but his old enemy Inco Evans of Tregaron, riding into the town on a fine grey horse? “Ho, ho!” quoth he, “my dear friend still alive! Now is that horse to be mine or his?” said he to himself, as he produced a copper coin; “now heads for Inco, and tails for Twm,” added he, as he tossed the penny high up in the air. On its fall to the ground he found that fortune had declared against the parson.

With the utmost coolness he made himself known to the amiable Inco, whose features underwent various contortions at the recognition; nor did they settle to serenity when Twm with provoking laughter told him that he must journey homeward on foot, as it was a settled thing fixed by fate, that he was to have the gallant grey himself. Inco started and stared; but, without answering a word, he hurried to the innkeeper and the hostler, charging them to lock the stable, and assist him to secure a daring delinquent whom he had discovered in the street. On reaching the stable, the grey, like the grey mist of morning, had dissolved from view, and our hero was equally invisible in the ancient town of Machynlleth.

This last transaction sat uneasily on Twm’s conscience. He thought that it hardly came within the legitimate bounds of a joke, although the free and unlicensed spirit of the times permitted a long tether in this respect; he therefore promised himself some mirth in returning the grey horse to Inco, if he could be found in a Welshpool fair, which was probable, as the accumulating clerical magistrate was a great trafficker in farm stock of all kinds. Thither proceeded the gallant Twm, on a fine Monday morning, in the following week; but the purpose of his better thoughts was unluckily thwarted.

On entering this little wool-combing town, a certain countenance burst upon his recollection; the owner of the face made known to him as a stranger, and made overtures for the purchase of the steed. It struck our hero that there would be some fun in selling it to this personage—no other than young Marmaduke Graspacre—as it could not but cause a whimsical altercation with Inco Evans. Accordingly a bargain was struck, and Twm received the amount in hard cash.

Both parties were highly pleased with their transaction, and Twm praised the grey steed still more warmly now that he had pocketed the money. He spoke quite enthusiastically of the animal’s points, remarking that its merits were far away in excess of what he had represented them to be. “I protest to you in honesty and truth,” he exclaimed with much earnestness, “you have a greater bargain than you imagine. As I was not anxious to sell him, I have omitted to inform you of half his good qualities; he is capable of performing such wonderful feats as you never heard of.”

“You don’t say so!” exclaimed the elated Marmaduke, staring alternately at his horse and at our hero. “In fact, I assure you,” cries Twm, with the most sober face imaginable; “and if you don’t believe me, I’ll convince you in a moment, if you will allow me to mount him.” “Oh, certainly, with many thanks,” quoth the delighted heir of Graspacre Hall. Twm very leisurely mounted, and after a variety of postures and curvetings, gradually got out of the fair into the high-road; suddenly giving spur and rein to the “gallant steed,” he astonished Marmaduke by his disappearance.

The “green” one had to confess with bitterness of heart, that the jockey had certainly kept his word, as he showed him such a trick as he never before saw, or heard of. But when he received a note informing him that the horse-dealer was his old “friend” Twm, his wrath was boundless.

The fame of Twm’s cunning and adroitness spread through the whole country round, and his wide-spread reputation brought him many country people to consult him respecting their difficulties.

One morning, while sitting in his favourite corner at the Cat and Fiddle, a person called, who described himself as a small farmer in the neighbourhood, his name Morgan Thomas; and having heard so much of his cleverness, he came to ask his advice on an affair of great weight. He had been annoyed, he said, by the continual trespassing of a certain squire’s pigeons on his ground, which had made such a havoc amid his wheat yearly, that the loss was grievous to him; he had computed his damages, and applied for the amount, for the last four years; reckoning that the forty pigeons would devour at least a bushel of wheat each annually. The squire only laughed at his claims and complaints, telling him he might pound them and be d—d, if he liked when he would pay the alleged damages and not till then.

“Now, to pound them, I should like vastly,” quoth Morgan Thomas, “but without the squire’s polite invitation to be d—ned, at the same time. But,” added the poor farmer, “pounding pigeons, I look upon as impossible; yet as you have done feats no less wonderful, if you will pound those mischievous pigeons for me, I will engage to give you half the amount of my claims.” “Agreed?” cried Twm, and grasped his hand, in token that he undertook the task.

He sent a quantity of hot grains from the brewing, to the farmer, next morning, which he afterwards scattered about the farm-yard. The pigeons came, as usual; and eagerly devouring the grain, each and all soon appeared as top-heavy as the veriest tress-pot in Carmarthenshire; and, like the said fraternity incapable of returning home, they fell in stupor on the ground. Our hero, assisted by the farmer, picked them up, tied their legs, and put the whole party in the pound. The squire, who was no other than Prothero, the laughing magistrate, ever pleased with a jest, especially when cracked by our hero, immediately paid the farmer’s demand; and Twm generously refused the proffered remuneration for his very effective assistance.

Our hero never used the money acquired by his art for his own requirements, and we must not forget to say here that the cash our hero received for the parson’s horse, was cast into the parish poor-box.

CHAPTER XXXIV.

TWM’S poetical address to his “lady love.” “A gipsy’s life is a joyous life.” Dinas and a singular natural cave. Faithless woman.

Twm’s thoughts were not often forgetful of Ystrad Feen, and its inhabitants: the lady “of the ilk” seldom indulged in silent reverie, without making the absent Twm the principal figure in her day-dream. She had not known a day’s peace since his absence, and was daily waving between a resolution to send for him back, to bestow on him her hand, and a deference for her father and proud relatives, who insisted that if she ever married again, it should only be to a title and fortune; by which they themselves might share in the honour.

Information was brought to her of his wild excesses, which gave her the greatest concern, as she conceived herself in part the authoress of his misfortunes. Twm, at the same time, felt that his tedious absence from the fair widow was no longer to be endured; and as he knew her to be watched by her father’s spies, he determined on paying her a visit in disguise. Previous to putting his design into execution, he composed and sent her the following poem, in which he dwells on, and exaggerates, his own misfortunes, in a strain calculated to move her tenderness in his favour.

CYWYDD Y GOVID. {264}

THE outcast’s forced ally is mine And Govid is his name; It is a ruthless savage mate, And like a foe that’s pale with hate, To crush me is his aim: His cruel shafts are fiercely hurl’d, He forced me friendless on the world.

If forward, seeking good I wend, My eager steps outstrip the fiend; If backward I retreat from ill, My cruel foe arrests me still:

I seek the flood to end despair, Relentless Govid meets me there, And tells of endless pangs of pride, The wages of the suicide.

Fell Govid’s mighty in the land, His children are a horrid band, Who joy in hapless man’s distress, Lo, one in debt—one nakedness:— And need against me doth combine; (Fierce Govid’s loveless concubine;) And care, that knows not how to yearn, Is Govid’s consort, keen and stern: And thus this family of ill, E’er bruise my heart and curb my will.

Though lost to me the tranquil day, My vanquisher I hope to slay; The fierce enormous giant fiend No more the heart of Twm shall rend, If thou, my lady-love! but smile, Thou gentle fair, devoid of guile— Thou darling object of my choice, Oh bless me with assentive voice, And soon shall Govid lay his length, A curse! struck down by Rapture’s strength.

The Lady of Ystrad Feen did not read the pathetic poem without being deeply affected, and tears ran down her fair cheeks as she sobbingly perused it for the fourth time. She still bowed her head in grief, when her maid entered her chamber, and in a tone of complaint informed her mistress that there was a very important and troublesome gipsy in the kitchen, who, after having told the fortunes of all the servants in the house, insisted on seeing her also.

“I am not in a mood to relish such foolery now, so send her about her business,” answered the lady, in a tone more sorrowful than angry. “It is quite useless,” replied the girl, “to attempt to send her away; big Evan the gardener tried to take her by the shoulders, and turn her out by force, but she whirled round, grasped him by his arms, tripped up his heels, and laid him in a moment on the floor. There she sits in the kitchen, and vows she will not budge from thence for either man or woman, till she sees the Lady of Ystrad Feen, whom she loves, she says, dearer than her life, and would not for millions harm a hair of her head.”

Although too deeply absorbed in sorrow to have curiosity much excited, she went down stairs, and approached the sybil, who had now taken her station in the hall, asking her, “What do you want, my good woman?”—“To tell you,” answered she, “not your fortune, but what may be your fortune if you choose.” “Let me hear then,” said the Lady Joan, with a faint incredulous smile, walking before her, at the same time, into a little back parlour. Before she could seat herself, the apparent gipsy caught her right hand wrist, and looking round, whispered in her ear,—

“To heal your torn bosom, and ease every smart, Oh take—he’s before you—the youth of thy heart.”

The colour fled from the fair widow’s cheeks, and in a moment she sank into a swoon in her lover’s arms. Soon recovering, she desired her maid to deny her to every body that called, “as,” added she, with a smile, “I have particular business with the gipsy.”

A scene of tears and tenderness ensued; when Twm, with the utmost fervour, urged his suit. She replied that her father had insisted on, and received her promise that she should wed no being but who either bore a title or stood within a prospect of one.

“You did well,” replied our hero, with the most easy confidence, “and your promise, so far from militating against me, would really be in my favour, for am I not the son of a baronet? his nature child, ’tis true, but still his son; and you would break no promise to your father in marrying me; but if you did, so much the better broke than kept. I have friends at this moment who are doing their utmost to move my father, Sir John Wynn, of Gwydir, to own me publicly, for his right worthy son; and if he does not, the loss is his, not mine, for I shall certainly disown him else for a father, and claim parentage of some greater man.”

In this interview, Twm pleaded his affection with such persuasive vigour and tender persistence, that the old “lady of his dream” resisted the promptings of her own heart no longer, and promised to be his in spite of every obstacle. The joy of our hero knew no bounds, nor did the lady very strenuously resist his rapturous embraces; but seemed to find her heart relieved by the resolution she had come to, that now for ever put an end to the conflicting doubts as to her future course, which had so long torn her heart, and banished her peace.

It was now time for the pretended gipsy to depart, as the sun was descending rapidly, and Twm was chary of the fair widow’s reputation. He would not have the faintest breath of slander associated with her name and so he unwillingly left. She directed him to wait for her, and her confidential friend Miss Meredith, at the entrance to the ancient cave on the top of Dinas, which was the name of the conical hill exactly fronting the mansion of Ystrad Feen. He accordingly took his departure; and winding round the base of Dinas, he crossed the river Towey, which, being then in summer, was there little more than a brook.

After walking over a couple of fields, and a piece of rough common, he had to cross the Towey once more, when he commenced his ascent at the only part of this very steep hill where it was possible to climb.

During his former stay at Ystrad Feen, this wildly-romantic height had been his favourite haunt, as the cave in its side was the greatest wonder. It was in fact a mighty mound, that bore all the appearance of having been, at the period of its formation, convulsed by an earthquake, and in the height of nature’s tremendous heavings, suddenly arrested and becalmed, even while the huge crags were in the act of tumbling down its steep sides.

A narrow valley encircled its base, and the mountains around of equal height with itself, separated only by this deep and scanty dell, seemed as if rent from it, during the convulsions of the earth, and Dinas left alone, an interesting monument of the memorable event. The surface of the acclivity was so speckled with huge loose stones, that it was dangerous to hold by them in ascending, as the slightest impetus would roll them downward.

Once in poetical mood, when accompanied by his mistress, while tenderly and lovingly protecting her during their ascent at this very spot, he had said, that no doubt an earthquake had turned the bosom of the hill inside out, so that no secret could be therein concealed: archly insinuating that he trusted the time would soon come, when, without so violent a process, her own fair bosom would be equally open to him, while it rejected the stony barriers that then stood between him and her heart.

But let us proceed with our description, while Twm awaits the arrival, according to promise, of the Lady of Ystrad Feen.

The approach to this curious place was as romantic as the cave itself. It was through a narrow aperture, formed of two immense slate rocks that face each other, with the space between them narrower at the bottom than the top, so that the passage could be entered only side-ways, with the figure inclined forward, according to the slant of the rocks, a thin person being barely able to make his way in, while a man of some rotundity might also succeed, rising on his toes, forcing himself upwards. Between these rocks of entrance a massive stone block was wedged at the top, so that it formed a rude resemblance to an arch.

After _sideling_ so far through a comparatively long passage, it was a great surprise that it led to so small a cave; for it was scarcely large enough to shelter three persons huddled close together. What it wanted in breadth, it possessed in height, as it ran up like a chimney, to the attitude of forty-five feet, and was opened at the top to the very summit of the mount, forming a skylight to the _room_ below. Although the little cave was void of a solid roof, a very rural one was formed by the large tufts of heather and fern, which sprung through the crevices of the rocks; the whole being surmounted by the pendant branch of a dwarf oak, that with many other trees stood like a crown on the elevated head of Dinas.

However singular the interior of this cave might appear to our hero, he had great pleasure in examining the grand combination that graced its exterior. There he saw, with never-satisfied delight and wonder, objects of the most romantic character, curiously united, near the junction of the three counties. The rocky Dinas, with its many inaccessible sides, besides the loose crags before mentioned, was partially covered with aged dwarfish trees, all bending in the same direction; many with their heads broken by tempests, but still throwing out branches, while others, stark, sere, and shrouded in green moss, were things to which seasons brought no change.

From the mouth of the cave a beautiful view was obtained of the well-wooded mountain of Maesmaddegan, while the junction of the rivers Towey and Dorthea {269} enlivened the gloom caused by the deep gulf which separated Dinas.

Twm was, however, careless for this once of the extremely attractive character of the scenery around him. One of the most interesting pages in the Book of Nature lay open before him, but it remained unperused, unnoticed at his feet. His eager eye was fixed steadily on the spot where it would catch the earliest glimpse of his approaching mistress. Out of all patience at her long delay, he now began to wonder at the cause of it; when at length, to his great dismay, he saw _one_ female hurrying on, and her not the one, although the faithful Miss Meredith.

Having reached the side of the river, which separated her from the base of Dinas, and finding that he was watching her, she placed a paper on the rock, and a stone upon it, then kissing her hand sportively, turned about and hastened homeward with the utmost precipitation. In his eagerness to overtake her, Twm attempted to run down the declivity, but soon lost his footing, sliding and rolling down several yards, by which he was for a few moments rather stunned. Losing all hope of overtaking his mistress’s confidante, he applied to the paper on the rock, which he found to be a note hastily scrawled with a pencil, containing merely these words:—

“My father has unexpectedly arrived, with several of his friends—can’t see you at Llandovery on the Fair day. Yours ever.” “By the Dood!” muttered Twm to himself, “if this is a coquette’s trick which she put on me, it shall avail her nothing;—mine she is, by promise, and mine she shall be, in spite of the devil, and all her Brecknockshire friends to boot!” Determined to bring his affairs to a speedy crisis, he changed his clothes, and soon made his way to Llandovery.

CHAPTER XXXV.

TWM assumes various disguises, and accomplishes many clever things at Llandovery fair. A strange scene in a court of justice. Twm flies and is pursued.

Twm set off to Llandovery fair with a fluttering heart and hopeful anticipations of seeing his mistress, and planned another little drama, in which he intended the grey horse should have an important part.

Much to their credit, the neighbouring gentry had recently opened a subscription for rebuilding between thirty and forty poor people’s houses, which had unfortunately been burnt down; and our hero resolved that every farthing henceforward gained by the grey horse, or otherwise, clandestinely, should be appropriated to this laudable purpose. It was no small satisfaction to him to find that, while it mortified the purse-proud vanity of the haughty squires to see so large a sum attached to his name, it had the good effect of increasing their contributions, resolved not to be outdone, in money matters at least, by so obscure a personage as Twm.

It was necessary for him to disguise himself thoroughly, for he intended, in the first place, to offer the horse for sale. He decided to dress as a country booby; and after he had finished, his most intimate friend would have been puzzled to recognize him. Twm Shon Catty, (we beg his pardon,) Mr. Thomas Jones was effectually concealed in the rough garb of a Welsh country ploughman. His feet got thrust into a very heavy pair of clogs, or wooden-soled shoes, which being stiff and large, maintained such a haughty independence of the inmates, as to need being tied on by a hay-band. His legs were enveloped in a pair of wheat-stalk leggings, or bands of twisted straw, winding round and round, and covering them from the knee to the ankle.

A raw hairy cow-hide formed the material of his _inexpressibles_, which were loose, like trowsers cut at the knee; and his jerkin was of a brick-dust red, with black stripes, like the faded garb of the Carmarthenshire women. A load of red locks, straight as a bunch of carrots, hung dangling behind, but in front rather matted and entangled, quite innocent of the slightest acquaintance with that useful article, a comb; the whole surmounted with a soldier’s cast-off Monmouth cap, so highly varnished with grease, as to appear waterproof.

Without any apology for a waistcoat, he wore a blue flannel shirt, striped with white, opened from the chin to the waistband, to contain his enormous cargo of bread and cheese and leeks, which, as he was continually drawing upon his store, stood a chance of all becoming wholly inside passengers. Added to this, his booby gait and stupid vacant stare was such that he might have passed muster anywhere for what he pretended to be.

He took up his post on the outskirts of the town, preferring that position to elbowing his way through the busy crowd in the middle of the fair. He did not appear anxious for a customer, and munched his bread and cheese and onions with quiet perseverance. Many persons, in passing by, gazed with wonder at this piece of cloddish rusticity, and asked if the horse was for sale; but receiving such drivelling and dolt-like answers, that it became a matter of wonder who could have trusted their property to such an oaf.

When Twm had stood some time, patiently bearing the ridicule of many bystanders, who cracked jokes at his expense, a gentlemen, well-mounted on a chestnut-coloured hunter, entered the town, and cast an eager eye at the grey horse. Twm recognized him at a glance as a Breconshire magistrate, named Powell, one of the many rejected admirers of the lady of Ystrad Feen. Riding up to our hero, he asked if the horse was for sale. Twm answered in broken English, imitating the dialect of the lower class, “I don’t no but it iss, if I cann get somebody that is not wice, look you, somebody that was fools to buy him.”

“But why,” asked the gentleman, “don’t you take him into the horse-fair?”

“Why inteed to goodness,” answered Twm, “I was shame to take him there; for look you, he has a fault on him, and I do not find in my heart and my conscience to take honest people in with a horse that has a fault on him, for all master did send me here to sell him.”

“Well, and what is this mighty fault?” asked the stranger, smiling.

“Why inteed to goodness and mercy,” replied Twm, “it was a fault that do spoil him—it was a fault that—”

“But what is the fault?” asked the Breconshire magistrate impatiently: “give it a name, man.”

“Why inteed to goodness,” replied the scrupulous horse-dealer, “I will tell you like an honest christian man, without more worts about it; I will make my sacrament and bible oaths”—“I don’t ask your oath,” cried Powell, almost out of humour, “merely tell me in word, what ails the horse?”

“Inteed and upon my soul and conscience to boot, I can’t say what do ail him.” “You can’t?” cried Powell in an angry tone, and looking as surprised and wrath as might be expected from a proud Breconian; “Confound me if I do,” replied Twm, “but I will tell you why he was no good to master; it wass thiss—Master iss a parson, a gentleman parson, not a poor curate, one mister Inco Evans, rector of Tregaron, and the white hairs do come off the grey horse here, and stick upon his best black coat and preeches; and that was his fault.”

This was a curious reason for disposing of so good-a-looking animal as that Twm held by the bridle, and one that did not deter Powell from buying him without further parley, and paying for him there and then. He disappeared with his prize, wondering at the stupid dolt from whom his purchase had been made.

Twm retired now to a small public-house, where having asked for a bed-room, he contrived, after making a total change in his garb, to slip out again unperceived, not wishing, for various reasons, to appear before his mistress _in propria personæ_. He now wore a grey sober suit, shining black buckles, stockings of the wool of a black sheep, and a knitted Welsh wig, of the same, that fitted him like a skullcap, and concealed every lock of his hair. Thus arrayed, he presented the appearance of a grave puritanical farmer, from the remote district of Cardiganshire.

After gazing awhile at the motley crowd that constitutes a fair, in a Welsh country town, he noticed a well-known crone, who had the reputation of being exceedingly covetous. Lean, yellow, and decrepid, her ferret-eyes glanced eagerly about for a customer, as she held beneath her arm a large roil of stout striped flannel. Twm, unobserved, took his stand behind her, and dexterously stitching her bale to his coat, he, with a sudden jerk, transferred it from the old woman’s grasp to his own. Her wonder and dismay was unutterable.

Elbowed and tossed about by the bustling crowd who were passing to and fro, she knew not who to vent her spleen upon; but, in utter despair, set up a tremendous howl, as a requiem for her beloved departed. Instead of seeking the assistance of a light pair of heels, Twm scarcely moved a yard, but drew from his pocket a little black tobacco-pipe, and puffed a cloud with admirable coolness, while his right arm lovingly embraced the bale of flannel.

Roused by the old beldame’s outrageous expressions of grief and fury, he asked in a very pathetic tone, the cause of her sorrow, which she related with many curses, sobs, and furious exclamations. Shocked at her impiety, and want of resignation, Twm took upon him to rebuke her, and edified her much, by a discourse on the virtue of patience; assuring her she ought to thank heaven that she was not a neglected being. In conclusion, he remarked, that fairs and markets in these degenerate days were so sadly infested with rogues and vagabonds, that an honest person was completely encompassed by dangers.

“Now for my part,” continued he, “I never enter such places without previously sewing my goods to my clothes, which you ought also to have done, in this manner.”—showing at the same time, the roll beneath his arm, which he thought the old crone’s eyes had glanced on, with something like a light of suspicion, that instantly vanished, on this notable display and explanation.

Our hero’s appetite only grew by what it fed upon, and the taste of fun he had as yet been able to snatch only made him wish for more. He did not wait long for an opportunity; it was his habit to be so; he either met “opportunity” half-way or entirely created his chance, making circumstances, in a measure, contribute to his especial purposes.

Casting a sharp glance around, he saw making towards him, a man of the cadaverous aspect, one who was an entire stranger to substantial creature comforts, or, if not, one who “shamed his pasture” considerably.

On closer scrutiny, Twm saw it was his old friend Moses, whose hungry stomach had kept him hopelessly poor. Moses advanced and tried to bargain for a few yards of his flannel; but on reckoning his money found he could not come up to the price, as he said he had to buy a three legged iron pot, in addition to a winter petticoat for his wife: “and,” observed the man of tatters, with a grin of miserable mirth, “it will be better for her to go without flannel than our whole family to want a porridge pot.”

Twm liked Moses, but not his logic; which implied a want of courtesy and due deference to his better half, whose indisputable right to warm petticoats claimed precedence to all the pots, pans, and every earthly consideration.

“Here take this bale, take it all, for I have lost my yard and scissors, and pay me when you grow rich;—confound your thanks! away with you, bestow it safe, then return here; perhaps I may get thee an iron pot at as cheap a rate as the flannel.”

Moses did not want twice bidding to induce him to avail himself of his good fortune, but entering into the spirit of the scene at once, appeared to understand our hero’s joking propensities, although he had no suspicion that it was the veritable Twm himself. Off Moses ran with his enormous present, and immediately returned; when our hero accompanied him to the shop of an old curmudgeon of an ironmonger, whose face, hardly distinguishable behind his habitual screen of snuff and spectacles, seemed of the same material as his own hardware.

The man of rags was quite in luck, and as instructed, followed his benefactor into the shop in silence. Twm examined the culinary ware, with all the caution of an old farm-wife, asking the prices of various articles, and turned up the whites of his eyes in the most approved puritanic fashion, expressive of astonishment at such excessive charges. Old hammerhead repelled the insinuation, and swore that cheaper or better pots were never seen in the kitchen of a king. “Then you must mean the king of the beggars,” quoth Twm, “for you have nothing here but damaged ware.”

“Damaged devil! what do you mean?” roared the enraged ironmonger. “I mean,” replied Twm Shon Catty, with provoking equanimity, “that there is scarcely a pot here without a hole in it; now this which I hold in my hand for instance, has one.” “Where! where!” asked the fiery old shop keeper, holding it up between his eyes and the light: “if there is a hole in this pot, I’ll eat it: where is the hole that you speak of?” “Here!” bawls the inexorable hoaxer, pulling it over his ears, and holding it there, while Moses took the wink from his patron, and walked off with a most choice article, which he had selected from the whole lot.

Here was a predicament for a respectable old tradesman! Our hero fairly held his sides with laughter as the old curmudgeon sprawled about, vainly endeavouring to free himself from the pot, in which his terrible shouts for help were entirely lost. Having tied his hands behind his back, Twm left him howling and sweating beneath his huge extinguisher, and made as he took his departure, this consolatory speech—“Had there not been a hole in it how could that large stupid knob of yours have entered such a helmet?”

Twm left the enraged ironmonger to get out of his dilemma as best he could, having very little sympathy with him in his distress. When once more in the street, he found that the people were all moving in one direction, and Twm discovered shortly that there was some unusual attraction at the Town Hall. As the assemblage increased, the way, like a choaked mill-dam, became more and more impeded, until the whole restless mass was consolidated, and stood still perforce.

Our hero had forced his way till near the entrance of the hall, where he ventured to ask what cause had drawn together such a crowd; but he got no immediate answer, as many came there, like himself, drawn by the powerful influence of curiosity.

At length he heard his own name buzzed about; one said that Twm Shon Catty whose humorous tricks were the themes of every tongue, was discovered to be a great thief: and that he who had fought against highwaymen, had at last become one himself, and committed all the robberies which had taken place in that country for years past. One said that he could never be taken; and a third contradicted that assertion, declaring that he was then fettered in the hall, and waiting to be conveyed to Carmarthen gaol. One assigned him to the gallows as his due, while another tenderly replied that hanging was too good for him. Opposing the sentiments and opinions of all these, more than one declared that the hemp was neither spun nor grown that would hang Twm; and pity it should, as he was a friend of the poor, and an enemy to none but the stupid, the cruel, and the oppressive.

The disputed argument was disposed of summarily by the appearance of an important functionary, resplendent in the gorgeous dress which he wore in virtue of his exalted office. This individual, who was the town crier, obtaining silence, informed the assembled multitude that the magistrates who were now sitting, required that any “_person or persons_” who might have been defrauded in the fair, should now come forward, so as to form a clue towards the identity of the robber, which it was generally believed was no other than the notorious Twm Shon Catty. The crier retired, and in a few minutes re-appeared, and read the court’s proclamation, offering a reward of twenty pounds to any person who would apprehend the said Twm Shon Catty; which was answered with loud hisses by the majority of the crowd, and effectually drowned the applause of the rest.

This was a most flattering ovation for Twm, and his spirits rose accordingly; while, at the same time, he felt himself aggrieved by this public proclamation concerning him by the authorities, who, he considered, had, in this instance, somewhat exceeded their vocation. He resolved to “beard the lion in his den,” or in other words, to enter the hall and give the lie to any base-minded cur who should dare to associate his name with common robbers and felons.

Softly, Twm, softly, my boy! On second thoughts he came to the conclusion that that would not be quite prudent—he would make his way into the Hall of Justice, and preserving his disguise, see how matters were progressing, and try if he could not secure a little personal entertainment for himself.

Daring Twm! thy genius adapted itself to circumstances; many people would be doubtless astonished that our hero should venture on such cause, but when enthusiasm, and the pride of achievement, even in a worthless cause, actuates the passion-fraught breast, supplanting the place of reasoning calculation, the wonder vanishes. The desperate outlaw, whose temerity is applauded, feels the gust of heroism in as warm a degree as the generous patriot whose claim to renown is better founded and graced with national approbation. Twm soon found himself in the hall; for it was his own native energies stood him in better stead than the fabled cap of Fortunatus: he wished, and obtained; hated, and was revenged; desired to tread a difficulty under foot, and gained his purpose; while the generality of men would be analyzing every shadow of obstruction that impeded their aim.

He took his stand in a conspicuous place near the bench, the “awful judgment-seat,” which was at this time filled by three magistrates including his laughter-loving friend Prothero, whose ruddy happy round face deprived law itself of half its terrors. Before him, he found his old _friend_ Evans of Tregaron, who had been sputtering a confused account of our hero’s gracelessness from his childhood, to the last trick he had played him, by stealing his grey horse at Machynlleth. How he had cheated the heir of Graspacre-Hall of the horse at Welshpool; and how the same horse was traced into the possession of a simple fellow in straw boots and cow-hide breeches, who that very day had sold it to his friend Mr. Powell; which sale, he contended, could not stand good, as the stolen horse was his property to all intents and purposes, which he could prove by credible witnesses.

This recapitulation of Twm’s tricks tickled the gravity of Prothero amazingly; and at every pause which Evans made in his narration, he was answered by the loud “ho, ho, ho!” of that merry magistrate.

Mr. Powell then told his story, and, in conclusion, said he was in the commission of the peace in the town of Brecon. “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, “here we are, three magistrates, ho, ho, ho! three magistrates, and all fooled by Twm Shon Catty.—Clever fellow, ho, ho, ho! wild dog, ho, ho, ho!—means no great harm—never keeps what he steals—gives all to the poor fellows that want—ho, ho, ho! Never mind, gentlemen, the fun of the thing repays the loss, which can be shared between you. Let Mr. Evans take the horse, on paying Mr. Powell what he gave young cow-breeches, ho, ho, ho! better than lose all.”

Mr. Powell immediately acceded to the arrangement, but the unaccommodating Evans insisted on having the horse without the payment, and made some tart remarks on conniving at a rascal’s tricks and villanies. “For my part, I’d shoot him dead like a dog!” cried the reverend preacher of peace and concord; drawing at the same time, a pair of pistols from his pocket, and replacing them, in a fiery fit of passion. “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, “but you’d catch him first, brother, ho, ho, ho!—too cunning for you, for me, and all of us—might be here this moment, laughing in his sleeve at us, for what we know, ho, ho, ho!”

Twm thought it was now time to be taking a more active part in the scene, so taking out a small book, while appearing to be deeply absorbed in its perusal, he gave a deep groan as if much moved by what he read, and the mourning sound at once attracted notice.

Prothero, alive to everything allied to comicality, burst out into a loud ho, ho, ho! Evans arrayed his naturally gloomy brows in a magisterial frown, and Powell smiled, with an expression of wonder. “What are you reading, friend?” asked Prothero, chuckling as he surveyed the black Welsh wig. “The wisdom of Solomon,” quoth the man of solemnity, drawing the muscles of his face most ludicrously long; “but mark you, worshipful gentlemen, I mean not the Solomon of the scriptures, but our own Cambrian Solomon—that is to say, Catwg the Wise, the excellent and erudite abbot of Llancarvan, and teacher of the Bard Taliesin.”

“That’s all right enough. Catwg was doubtless a clever man, but why do you bring him here?” enquired Prothero, with a broad smile on his face. “Wherever I go, I have resolved to make his wisdom known, and to reprove all deviators from it, in the sage’s own words,” quoth Twm. “Poor man, poor man, he’s crazy, his brain turned, perhaps by too much study,” observed Prothero. “An impudent fellow!” cried Evans; “but you are strangely lenient here in Carmarthenshire; were I the king, I would have such fellows put in Bedlam.”

Twm looked at the clerical magistrate, then read from the book, “If a crown were worn by every fool, we should all of us be kings.” “Gentlemen, he calls us all fools!” cried Evans. Twm, without raising his eyes from the book, read on, “were there horns on the head of every fool, a good sum might be gained by showing a bald man.” “Gentlemen, he makes us all cuckolds!” cried Evans, in his usual sputter; “however it may fit you, gentlemen, I can safely say, that no disgrace as a horn belongs to my brow.”

Twm read on:—“If the shame of every one were written on his forehead, the materials for masks would be surprisingly dear.” “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, till the hall echoed with his loud laughter, which the Cardiganshire magistrate seemed to take as a personal affront, and sulkily observed, that this was no place for foolery, but for gravity, wisdom, and truth.

Twm read on:—“If no tongue were to speak other than truth and wisdom, the number of mutes would be astonishingly great.” The consequential Inco, mumbled something about his own mode of doing business at Cardigan, and declared that he would commit such a fellow to gaol for three months, at least, for disturbing a court of justice. Twm cut him short with another passage from Catwg:—“Were the talkative to perceive the folly of his chattering, he would save his breath to cool his broth.”

Here Powell of Brecon entered a little into the spirit of the scene, by quoting also from the well-known aphorisms of Catwg, applying the passage to Twm himself;—“If the buffoon were to see the vanity of his feat, he would leave it off for shame.” This feeble hit excited the applause of the good-humoured Prothero, who clapped the speaker heartily on the back, and, amid his eternal ho, ho, ho! exclaimed, “Well said, brother, well said; better silence him with wit than by authority; well done, well done.”

Twm was not slow in taking up the gauntlet which the Breconshire magistrate had thrown at his feet, and so turning pointedly to him, he read;—“If the lover were to see his weakness, terror would drive him to a premature end.” A general laugh at the expense of Powell, instantly followed. To him that passage was considered peculiarly applicable, as the unsuccessful woer of the gay widow of Ystrad Feen. It was a tender string to touch so roughly. Losing his ease and temper at the same instant, he cast a most ungracious frown at the utterer of proverbs, and said in an undertone of threatening energy, “Whoever you may be, it were not wise of you to repeat such conduct towards me again.” “Again?” said Twm, pretending to misunderstand him, “Oh, certainly, I’ll give you the passage again, or any other, to you; ‘If the lover—’” here Powell’s face blazed with anger, as he clenched his fist, and cried, “You had better not.”

Twm began again,—“If the lover—of war, were to see his cruelty, he would fear that every atom in the sunbeam might stab him as a sword.” The dexterous evasion, with the point given to the words “of war,” had its full effect in restoring the good humour, so suddenly disturbed; but that beautiful passage from the aphorisms of the old Welsh abbot failed to elicit the applause which its moral merits deserve.

At this moment the attention of all present was attracted by the noisy entrance of the ex-proprietress of the flannel, who almost deafened them by the vehemence of her complaints; which, however, were too incoherently expressed to be immediately understood.

“Oh! my roll of flannel, my fine, my excellent flannel! all of my own spinning too,—eight and twenty good yards, and a yard and a half wide—my wooden shoe too, that I lost in the crowd—and my poor corns trod off by the villains—my dear sweet flannel, all of my own carding and spinning—nobody but the devil himself, or his first cousin Twm Shon Catty, could have taken it in such a manner—it was whisked from me as if a whirlwind had swept it away.”

At length she paused for want of breath, and Twm approached her with the air of a comforter, and read from his book,—“Were a woman as quick with her feet as with her tongue, she would catch the lightning to kindle her fire in the morning.” It is probable that she did not perfectly hear this passage, as on perceiving Twm, she gave a shout of joy, and then as incoherently as before, appealed to the magistrate; “This honest man, your worship, knows it all. I told him, the moment I lost my flannel—this worthy man, your worship—a good man, a man who reads books, your worship, he can witness.”

This vehement outburst of eloquence was brought to a sudden termination, and the old woman’s wordy complaint effectually strangled by the laughter and applause which greeted the appearance of a more ridiculous applicant for justice and his right.

Supported by two constables, who rather dragged forward, than led him, came Twm’s friend the hardwareman, crowned with the identical iron pot before named, which the officers, as a matter of official formality, or to indulge their own facetiousness, refused to remove, till in the presence of a magistrate. When his laughter had a little subsided, Prothero ordered the pot to be removed, and his hands untied. The hardwareman then told his lamentable tale in a few words; in conclusion, he declared, that having overheard certain words between the robber and his accomplice, he had learned that the thief was no other than Twm Shon Catty. His eye now caught on the figure of our hero, and with a yell as astounding as if the eternal enemy of man stood before him, he cried, “There he is! there he is! As heaven shall save me, there stands the man, or devil, who crowned me with the iron pot, while his accomplice ran off with the other.”

“And who robbed me of my flannel!” roared the old woman, who now changed her opinion, as her earliest suspicions became thus suddenly confirmed.

“And who stole my grey horse!” bawled Evans of Tregaron.

“And who sold it to me when disguised in straw boots and cow-hide breeches!” cried Powell of Brecon, who had now closely examined his features.

Things looked desperate as far as Twm was concerned, as an attack was now made upon him by three or four of his most determined enemies; but Twm eluding their eager attempts to grasp him, sprang upon the table before the bench, and drawing a couple of pistols from his coat pockets, held one in each hand, and kept them all at bay, protesting he would shoot the first who would advance an inch towards him. Loud was his laughter when they all started back: but Prothero, now sat silently on the bench, alarmed for his safety, which he had thought to secure by giving him warning of his danger, in the feint of his proclaimed reward for his apprehension.

As he stood in this manner, with extended arms, watchful eyes, and grasping the pointed pistols with a finger to each trigger, Powell of Brecon exclaimed, “Thou art a clever fellow, by Jove, Twm! very clever for a Cardy; but wert thou with us, the quick-witted sons of Brecon, thou wouldst soon find thyself overmatched. I dare thee to enter Brecon, to trust to thy cunning—come there, and welcome, and thou shalt stand harmless of me, in the affair of the grey horse.” Twm smiled, and nodded, in token of having accepted his challenge.

Rather daunted by the failure of their first attempt to seize Twm, his assailants had held back awed by his resolute and defiant attitude, but recovering their courage on reflecting upon the odds against him, they now, headed by Evans of Tregaron, got behind him, and clung to his right arm, but with one violent effort Twm shook them away, as the mighty bull throws off the yelping curs that dare to attack him. Then, with a single leap, he sprang from the table into the crowded court, where a lane was formed for him, and rushed out of the door unimpeded, and pursued by his accusers. They soon lost sight of him among the moving multitude, some of whom dispersed from fear of accidents, while others followed him as spectators.

To the great astonishment of his pursuers they next caught a view of him mounted on that grand subject of contention, the grey horse. He took the route of Ystrad Feen, followed by several constables in the employ of Evans of Tregaron, and many disinterested persons from the fair. Loud were the shouts of the numerous riders; loud the tramp of galloping horses; and wild the disorder and terror created, as Twm at different intervals turned on his pursuers, and fired his pistols. This caused a powerful retrograde movement among them, by which the foremost horses fell back to those behind them, unhorsing some who lay groaning and crying with fright on the ground, and frightening others altogether from the pursuit.

It was on this occasion that a bard of that day wrote the stanza which appears on the title page, thus translated by the late Iolo Morganwg:—

“In Ystrad Feen a doleful sound Pervades the hollow hills around; The very stones with terror melt, Such fear of Twn Shon Catty felt.”

Fortune still favoured Twm, who reaching the foot of Dinas somewhat in advance of his motley train of pursuers, dismounted, sprung from stone to stone, that formed the ford of the Tower, and climbed the steep side of that majestic mount, with the utmost ease. Like a prudent sea-captain, Twm was chased in his small boat by a fleet of rovers, till he reaches his own war-ship, and springs up her fort-like side, and treads his deck in the ecstasy of surmounted peril, conscious strength, and superiority.

Thus Twm now attained the summit of a prominent knoll, and waved his hand triumphantly, in defiance of his foes below. Evans of Tregaron, with his crew of catchpoles, made an attempt to climb also; Twm permitted them to advance about twenty yards above the river, when he ended the warfare, by rolling down several huge stones, that swept them in a mass into the bed of the river Towey, sadly bruised, but more frightened, from whence they were extricated by the amazed and terrified spectators.

Evans of Tregaron met with an accident, which during the remainder of his life reminded him of his hasty chase after Twm Shon Catty. In starting aside to avoid the dreadful leaping crags that threatened to crush him, his pistols went off in his pockets, and carried away, besides his coat skirts and the rear of his black breaches, a large portion of postern flesh, that deprived him forever after of that agreeable cushion which nature had provided.

Amusing to the population of Tregaron was the singular sight of their crest-fallen magistrate and his hated gang, brought home in woeful plight, as inside passenger of a dung-cart, which had been hired for the purpose; and more than all, that his discomfiture should have been caused by their long-lost countryman Twm Shon Catty.

Our hero was clearly in an unassailable position, and his enemies were not so stupid as to be entirely blind to that important fact. So, like a princely chieftain of the days of old, enthroned upon his native tower of strength, marking in his soul’s high pride the awkward predicament of his baffled foes, perceiving them all depart; leaving him the undisputed lord of his alpine territory, the glorious height of Dinas.

After witnessing, with his limbs stretched upon his mountain couch, the glorious beauty of the setting sun, he entered the cave, tore from its top a sufficiency of fern and heather to form his bed, threw on it his fatigued, over-exerted frame, and slept soundly until morning.

CHAPTER XXXVI.

TWM at Brecon. An angling feat. Twm in a musical character. Wins the prize offered for a poem. A new style of marriage—and some other little “odds and ends.” Conclusion.

With the earliest rays of the morning’s sun Twm was astir, and during a long ramble on the hills, was busily turning over in his mind the exciting-incidents of the previous day. Unable to account for his second disappointment of seeing his mistress, according to promise, he gave way to despondency, and conjectured the worst—that she was no longer true to his vows, but had yielded to the persuasions of her haughty relative, and become a renegade both to love and to honour. He was now, however, so near her residence, he would at least ascertain how matters stood; and, after many efforts of resolution, he descended the hill for that purpose.

On crossing the Towey, he was surprised to find that the “gallant grey” was still left for him; he was busily feeding in an adjoining field, and the saddle and bridle hung dangling from a storm-stricken old thorn. He felt this, directly, as a handsome piece of attention to him, on the part of Powell of Brecon, who, doubtless, had left it there for convenience.

On examining further, he found a note, tied to the bridle, from that generous individual, inviting him to be present at the Eisteddvod, the Races and the Ball, which were to take place successively in the gay town of Brecon.

He was doomed to disappointment; for on reaching Ystrad Feen he found nobody but the servants, who informed him that their lady, Miss Meredith, and the late visitors, were all gone to Brecon, and would not return for some days. This intelligence determined him to go there also; and recollecting a trunk of clothes of his, which had been left ever since his sojourning there, he called for it; and having dressed himself, and placed with other things, in his saddle-bags, an elegant suit which he had brought from London, he mounted his horse, and rode off for Brecon.

About a couple of miles beyond Trecastle, he overtook a poor fellow driving an ass, laden with coarse crockery ware, who turned out to be no other than Ready Rosser. Having long been married to a Cardiganshire lass, they both, pretending to be single, entered Squire Prothero’s service at the same time; but the circumstance being at length discovered, they were both discharged a few days since, and now commenced the crockery business for a livelihood. After a few jests on the white bull, ox, and sheep, Twm spurred on, but not before he had purchased the whole of Rosser’s stock, which, however, that worthy was to take to Brecon, for a purpose to be hereafter described.

At Brecon he took lodgings at the Three Cocks’ inn, to which he gave a preference, on account of the sign being the armorial bearings of the celebrated David Gam, (Shakespeare’s Captain Fuellin,) the hero of Agincourt.

Crowds still poured into the town from all points of the compass, until it seemed impossible that the streets would hold them. While our hero looked through the window to observe Rosser, who arranged his crockery in front of the inn, his attention was suddenly caught by the sound of a harp, which proceeded from the kitchen. To his great surprise, he found the performer to be his old friend the venerable Ianto Gwyn of Tregaron.

The old man was very glad to see him, and after learning the particulars of the fortunes he had met since he left his native town, proceeded to inform him of the Tregaron news. His mother was well three weeks ago, and had received the various sums which he had sent her at different times, and was in daily hopes of burying her churl of a husband. Rachael Ketch was now dead; having broken her heart for the loss of her money, which had been stolen by Watt the mole-catcher, who was transported.

In conclusion, the old man said that he had come to the Eisteddvod rather as a spectator than a candidate for the prize, having accidentally hurt his right hand, which nearly disabled him altogether from playing. “That circumstance is now the more provoking,” said the old man, “as I am convinced that were my hand well, I should certainly win the noble silver harp, which is to be the meed of the best player.”

Twm took his musical friend upstairs, and, after dining together, began coquetting with the harp, which with the hand of a ready player, he soon tinkled into alternate fits of grief and laughter, as he ran over many of our most popular airs.

The old man jumped up from his seat, and embraced him with rapture, protesting that he could not fail to win the harp, if he chose to be a candidate. Our hero, having practised but little on the harp since he left London, felt considerable diffidence in becoming a competitor among proficients in music, but resolved, at any rate to avail himself of the instructions of his friend Ianto Gwyn.

Intensely anxious to meet his mistress once more, he sought an early opportunity of a walk through the streets; but instead of the desired one, it was his lot to meet Powell the magistrate, who gave him a jocular and right hearty welcome. They were soon joined by two other high bloods of the town, one a wealthy attorney, named Phillips, and the other a reverend and right-portly son of the church, who shone more at the punch-bowl than in the pulpit. They all adjourned to the parlour of the Three Cocks, where the best of wine was soon in request, and a gay scene of conviviality and good fellowship ensued.

Twm’s fame had of course preceded him, for Powell’s tongue had been busy in his praise, although he had done him no more than justice, and those four worthies soon understanding each other, they spent a pretty jolly time of it. Being all lads of the turf, the practice of betting was familiar to them; and the lawyer offered to oppose Twm in a match of angling for five pounds; and the bet should be, that “_whoever fished the largest weight_, _no matter of what kind_, _in half an hour_, _should be declared the winner_.” Our hero, although a poor angler, accepted the wager, and Powell, as the umpire, wrote down the terms of it, which was signed by each.

Possessing himself of angling paraphernalia, he repaired with them to the bridge, and had the upper side of it assigned to him, while Phillips had the lower. The latter displayed a grand morocco pocket-book, filled in the neatest order with the most choice artificial flies, of every description, and soon had his handsome rod in order; while the former had nothing better than what could be procured at a shop. The lawyer landed fish after fish, with great rapidity, and when half the given time had expired, Twm found himself much in arrears, and the continued good fortune of his antagonist left him, apparently, no chance of ultimate success.

“Confound these good-for-nothing flies! fetch me a beef steak!” cried he at last, and gave money for that purpose to a by-stander, who immediately brought the article wanted.

“There’s a Cardy angler, fishing for trout with a beef steak!” cried the Breconians, with an exulting laugh. Twm made no reply, but fastened several hooks in different parts of a strong line, to each of which he attached a small piece of beef; and, watching the movement of a flock of ducks that floated in luxurious ease down the Usk, he threw the whole among them.

Loud was the clamour of the aquatic crew, as they hustled each other, in their eagerness to partake of the showered feast, which they soon gobbled, and were drawn up to the top of the bridge by the singular angler above, amid the shouts of laughter of the numerous spectators.

This feat was greeted by the by-standers with shouts of derision, as they thought that Twm, in thus trifling, had practically confessed his inability to win the wager. Powell called time, saying that the half hour had struck. Phillips, as the conscious winner, produced a goodly show of trout, and, as Twm had caught but four small fish, said it would be idle to weigh them.

“Not so,” replied our wag, “let the written terms of the bet be read, and you will find that my ducks have a right to be weighed against your boasted trout, aye! and shall make them kick the beam.”

Phillips started at such an assertion made in earnest, and Powell read, “Whoever fished the largest weight, no matter of what kind, would be declared the winner,” and as umpire, awarded the five pounds to our hero.

Some merriment at the expense of Powell was caused by his declaring himself the unlucky proprietor of the said flock of ducks; but with his usual good-humour, he proposed that the ducks and the trout should be cooked at his house for their supper, in which Phillips acquiesced.

After dinner, when the bottle had passed pretty freely, and all were prepared for any fun which might fall in their way, our hero contrived to bring Powell, who had hitherto fought shy, into a bet with him. He declared that a stranger as he was to Brecon, he firmly believed that he could command, and be obeyed there, with greater promptitude than himself, although a justice of the peace and one of the quorum.

“I’ll lay you twenty pounds to the contrary,” cried the magistrate.

“Done!” replied Twm, “and we can prove it without quitting this room, by opening the window, and practising on some of those people opposite.”

“Let it be yon crockery-wareman, who is the most conspicuous,” said Powell, and Twm, of course, could have no possible objection.

The magistrate opened the window, and called in a tone of authority, “Come here, you fellow; go directly to the Black Lion, and tell the landlord to let you have Justice Powell’s black mare, and bring her here to me.”

“I can’t quit my goods, sir,” said Rosser, “or I would willingly oblige you.”

“I tell you, fellow, do as I order you, or I shall kick you and your ware out of the town,” said Powell in a blustering tone, and with a look the most terrifying that he could assume.

Rosser repeated his former answer; and when the magistrate increased his threats, he burst out into a rude laugh, and, without further difference, said he really believed that his worship was drunk: this was enough, and the worthy magistrate felt himself completely put down.

Our wag now took his turn, and commenced with him: “I say, fellow, did’st thou ever see or hear of Twm Shon Catty?”

“Yes,” replied Rosser, “often at Llandovery; once at Cardigan; and now I see him before me at Brecon.”

“Well then,” continued Twm, “I order thee to give us a dance in the middle of the crockery.”

“With all my heart, if _you_ order it, for I should dread to disobey Twm Shon Catty more than twenty times my loss.” On which he jumped, capered and danced, in the midst of his brittle commodities, kicking and treading the dishes, pans, basins, and other articles, to powder beneath his feet.

“By the Lord, thou art a strange fellow!” said Powell, as he paid him the amount of his forfeit; “and I foresee that there’s much more luck for thee than thou dreamest of: and I confidently anticipate what will come in thy favour, my Cardiganian hero.”

Twm was much surprised to hear Powell speak thus, as his manner implied much more than his words; but his astonishment was considerably augmented when, in a subsequent conversation, our hero discovered that Powell knew all his affairs and connections with the lady of Ystrad Feen.

“She once,” said he, “played me a jade’s trick; but no matter, we are now friends, and she has even assisted me in my suit with her amiable friend, Miss Meredith. In heart and soul, she is attached to you, Jones; but she is a weak yielding woman beneath the terrors of her father’s frown, and in some evil hour might again sacrifice herself, if you are too long out of her sight. She is proud of you and of your wild achievements, and even finds excuses for your most blameable courses. Now, my advice is, that you will endeavour to distinguish yourself during the races, and start for the gold plate: the grey horse, I suspect, has blood in him, and will beat the best that is to run.”

“But why,” asked Twm, “did she not keep her promise to meet me at Llandovery fair?”

Powell replied that she was prevented by her father’s sudden illness; and great is her sorrow for the disappointment she must have caused.

On the following day the town speedily put on its gala dresses, and flags waved from every corner. Bells were rung and guns fired in honour of the festival, which consisted of a rather extensive programme, namely the Eisteddvod, Races, and Ball. Between eleven and twelve o’clock, our hero, with other musical and literary competitors, entered the Town-Hall, in bardic trim, with the harp of his friend Ianto Gwyn, slung by a blue ribbon, and attached to his shoulder.

The audience included all the intellect, taste, and fashion of the district, and the competitors were greeted on their appearance, with hearty and long-continued applause.

At length the business of the meeting was begun by a speech from the president, who occupied a central seat on the raised platform. He dwelt emphatically on the laudable object of the Eisteddvod; “to preserve from annihilation one of the most ancient languages spoken by mankind, remarkable for its perspicuousness, energy, and expression; that, like a perpetual living miracle, kept its firm stand in this solitary nook of country;—to revive and preserve the beautiful melodies which had been the delight of our gallant and patriotic forefathers;—and lastly by emulation, to keep alive the brilliant blaze of the native Awen, the darling poesy of the land, which yielded their fragrant and refreshing blossoms, lovely sacrifice on the altar of Taste.”

Penillion singing succeeded; in which the minstrels of Merionethshire excelled. The rest went on in rotation, minutely according to the description given by the ever-faithful Drayton, to whose pages we refer the reader.

There was a surprise awaiting Twm. Among the given subjects for the Cowydd, or Poem, was “Govid,” or Affliction, for which it turned out that there was but one who had written on it; and, to his unutterable astonishment, he heard his own poem on that title recited, and more than all, a prize awarded to it by the umpires.

Lady Devereaux, who had attached her name to this effusion, was called upon to receive the meed of her talents. That lady, who sat by her father, as one of the audience, now rose, and said, with some emotion, that the poem so highly honoured was not of her composition, but had been sent to her by its author, a person of taste and ingenuity, whom she was bound ever to esteem; as to his valour and courtesy she had once been indebted for the preservation of her life. Then naming Mr. Thomas Jones as the author, she pointed him out; and, amid loud and long applause, a handsome silver medal was placed round his neck.

We will not occupy more space in relating what the reader can so readily imagine. Our hero was the most successful competitor at the Eisteddvod, and at the Races. At the Ball too he won the admiration of the ladies, and withal, the wonder and esteem of the Breconians. But alas! the buoyancy of spirits, and the exultation of heart, which owed their evanescent existence to these distinction, were soon doomed to give way to feelings of contrasted severity.

Now, while in the zenith of his glory, confidently anticipating, as the final crown of his happiness, the willing hand of his mistress, a note for him arrived at the inn, from the fair widow, that threw him into absolute despair. She told him in plain terms, that unless he could outwit her, all his hopes of her hand would be utterly in vain. This intimation he could understand only as a formal _permit_ to wear the willow as soon as he pleased; that she was otherwise engaged, and had altogether done with him.

His reasoning and conclusions in this argument received absolute and entire confirmation by the tantalising conduct of Miss Meredith, who accidentally meeting him one day, did nothing but laugh and jest at his anxious-looking face and restless behaviour. She would give no answers to his eager, importunate questioning, and ran away and left him, half wild and desperate. The next hour, at least, was spent by Twm in railing bitterly the “vile caprice and inconsistency of woman.”

Hearing that her company had preceded her in the way home, next evening, and that she was about to follow them alone, he resolved to way-lay and put her under contribution, at any rate; which he conceived would be one way, at least, of out-witting her, and perhaps the right one.

He hastily assumed a dress which thoroughly disguised him, for his features were almost altogether concealed by a large hairy travelling cap, which he wore well down over his ears, and his figure was equally lost amongst the ample folds of a great coat, which had never been made for him.

His preparations made, he took his stand by the gate that in those days led from the town into the mountains, through which the road ran to Llanspyddyd, Trecastle, and Llandovery.

At length the gay widow arrived, and Twm immediately caught hold of her bridle, and, in an assumed snuffling tone of voice, demanded her money. She begged hard for mercy on her pocket, but in vain; and gave at last a considerable sum, which, she said, was the whole contents of her pocket. Our hero, having placed the booty in the crown of his cap, declared himself quite satisfied; “And so am I!” cried the spirited widow; and, at the same moment, grasping his cap and its whole contents, laughing aloud as she galloped away from him, she cried, “Thus the widow outwits and triumphs over Twm Shon Catty!”

Had Fortune determined to spite poor Twm Shon Catty as much as she had previously favoured him? It looked most unpleasantly like; for he had never been in such a deplorable condition as now, standing there in the road, glancing wistfully at the fast retreating figure of the widow. He was shorn of his laurels completely, and at once a bankrupt in love and fortune; as the cap contained the whole of the money he brought with him to Brecon, as well as what he had gained there.

This inauspicious adventure, although it damped his spirits for a time, had the ultimate effect of rousing his latent energies to the highest pitch. He was not long in hatching a scheme to forward his purposes, which, however, required the aid (which was soon offered to him) of Powell and his two friends.

Twelve o’clock the next morning saw him dismounting at the door of Ystrad Feen, accoutred in a military undress; originally used by him in London, as at present, for masquerading purposes. In this disguise, he expected immediate admittance as a stranger; but to his unutterable dismay, instead of finding the door fly open to his knock, it appeared to have been doubly barricaded against him.

After his repeated summons, the lady of the mansion, with pompous formality, appeared at the window, like the warder of a fortress holding a parley at the outpost. In a gay spirit of bantering, she declared that the military uniform became him exceedingly, and begged to know what rank he held in the army. Our hero parried these home-thrusts but with an ordinary degree of grace, and, in a bowed spirit, entreated admission to the inner walls. The lady Joan was quite peremptory in her refusal, declaring, that having lately heard so much to his disadvantage, she had decided on breaking off all future acquaintance with him as a lover; “especially,” added she, “as, instead of the witty person I thought you, I find you quite a dull animal, that any school-girl might outwit.”

Here she indulged in a provoking laugh, and bade him “good bye,” as she turned to close the window.

“Nay then,” said Twm in a desponding key, “if we are indeed to be henceforth strangers, as we have been friends, true and warm friends, you will give me your hand, at least, in parting.” She slowly stretched out her hand through the window, and our hero, with the eager spring of a hungry tiger, darted forward, grasped her wrist with his left hand, and drawing his sword with the right, exclaimed in a tone of affected fury, “Revenge at least is left me—by yon blessed sky above us, I’ll be trifled with no longer—off goes your hand unless you consent to our union this instant, and on this very spot.”

“Lord! don’t squeeze so hard and look so fierce,” cried the lady of Ystrad Feen.

Twm, with increased boisterousness, resumed, “On your answer will depend, whether, for the remainder of your life, you have a single hand or a pair of them—for on the pronouncing of a negative, this hand, this soft white hand, beautiful as it is, will instantly fly, severed from the wrist; and only think now, my gentle lady Joan, how dreadful you would look with a stump.”

Twm looked determined enough, and what could a lady do in respectable society with only one hand? The idea was preposterous. In her vexation, she stretched her pretty neck out, and endeavoured to make her tormentor relax his grasp by inflicting a bite on the back of his hand. Twm seized this opportunity of imprinting a very decisive kiss on her check, on which she drew back her head, her face glowing radiantly with blushes.

“You villain!” cried she, “I suspected you were about to bite my ear off.”

“No, only your hand, Joan,” replied Twm; “and that I _will_ have, unless you consent to be mine this instant.”

“I would not so much care,” cried the lady of Ystrad Feen, “but your horrid name; I could not endure to be called Mrs. Twm Shon Catty.”

“I have protested bitterly, and will not be foresworn,” cried Twm, “that here, even here, with your hand stretched through the window, the marriage ceremony shall be performed; and so your answer at once without evasion.”

“The parson of our parish has gone to a christening,” said the lady of Ystrad Feen.

“Yes or no!” roared the terrific Twm, menacing the threatened blow.

“Well then, as I could not handle a knife or fork, or play my spinnet, or give you a box on the ear when I want pastime, I may as well say—Yes!”

“Bless thee for that,” cried Twm in ecstacy, and eagerly kissed the captured hand. Sticking his sword in the ground, he drew forth a small bugle, and blew a loud blast that was re-echoed by the surrounding mountains. Immediately a party of ten persons, wearing masks, appeared, one of which was arrayed in a clerical habit, who drawing forth his book, at once commenced the marriage ceremony, Twm the while holding her hand through the window.

The Lady of Ystrad Feen had never calculated upon being married in this unceremonious fashion; but she was fairly at a loss, and therefore came to the conclusion to endure her fate, patiently and with resignation, yet in her heart very glad that she was under such a pleasant pressure of circumstances.

The ceremonial was nearly half over, when four windows of the first floor were suddenly opened, and several highly-dressed ladies and gentlemen put out their heads and displayed most mirthful countenances, the fair ones waving their whitest cambrics above their heads; and with shaking peals of laughter, looked down upon this singular wedding. The “ho, ho, ho!” of the merry Prothero, was heard with surpassing loudness; and “Well done, Twm!” were the first words that the spirit of titillation permitted him to utter.

Notwithstanding this interruption, the ceremony was finished, and parson Hughes pronounced them man and wife. Unwilling to loosen the hand which he now considered his own, our hero held it fast till he entered the house through the window.

Once within the mansion that now called him master, an amazing change of circumstances took place. The lady endearingly asked for forgiveness for her latter conduct, while Twm entreated the same for himself. Squire Prothero had been the author of many good offices for our hero; having conciliated Sir John Price, who, although a proud man, was also something of a humorist, as he proved himself in this instance. A plan was concerted to throw every impediment in the way of Twm’s union, for him to surmount them as he could, to afford sport for the old baronet and his merry friend Prothero, in which trickery the lady herself was by promise compelled to join, which accounts for her latter conduct.

Being ushered by his bride into the drawing-room, our hero was introduced to, and warmly greeted by two most unexpected personages, his lady’s father and his own! Sir John, who had been a visitor at the Priory-House for a week, was the gayest of the gay on this occasion. Placing an elegant tiara of jewels on her brow, the northern Baronet embraced her tenderly; and handing her to our hero, said, “Here, you lucky dog! prove thyself worthy of the blood of the Wynns, and that shall warm to thee yet.”

This most unexampled wedding was followed in a few days by another ceremony more befitting the social position of Lady Devereaux, and at the same time Miss Meredith gave her hand to the delighted Justice Powell. Somehow, it did not occur to any of the parties that its brilliance was much impaired by the absence of Miss Felina Tomtabby Price, and her high-minded sister. These stately spinsters determined to punish their family for this unprecedented proceeding, by withdrawing their countenance from them, and the degenerate world for ever.

Some of the _great_, (great fools!) that is to say, the most eminently useless residents of the then proud town of Brecon, were in the most embarrassing state of dilemma on this occasion. They entertained very serious doubts as to the possibility of admitting our hero into their exquisitely select circle, on account of his left-handed origin; and more than all, his former questionable doings:—certain malignant spirits having insinuated suspicions of his once figuring in London as a black-leg, if not a thief. But as the patronizing influence of Sir John Price was scanned, they condescended to overlook these supposed peccadilloes; as it was decidedly proved to them that he had never vulgarized himself by any practice of usefulness in the world, by what they deemed worse than witchcraft in the debasement of gentility—the following of a trade or profession.

Our tale is almost ended; we have only to add a word or two with respect to our principal characters, as it would hardly be respectful to dismiss them without some appearance of attention.

Reparation having been made to all parties who were sufferers by our hero’s faults and follies, the Graspacres, father and son, by the good offices of Sir John Wynn and the friendly Prothero, were in time conciliated. The luckless Inco Evans had soon after to add to his other losses, that of his clerical gown, on account of a certain complaint preferred against him to his diocesan, by Miss Bessy Gwevel-heer: and his magisterial function was also numbered with the things that were, but are not. When despised and impoverished, in his old age, Twm stepped forward with timely aid, that more than compensated for the injuries he had ever done him.

Twm showed most kindly consideration for hungry Moses and his ever starving family, and made a praiseworthy attempt to fatten them up. All was in vain, and Moses was struck with wonder and admiration when he saw an unusually stout specimen of humanity.

The venerable Ianto Gwyn was installed as the family harper; while each and all of the humbler companions of his wild days, were acknowledged, befriended, and aided in their views in life.

The landlady of the Cat and Fiddle was so greatly benefited by the association of our hero’s name in her house, that her increased wealth and charms gained her another husband, in the person of little Tommy Thomas, the late under whipper-in of Ystrad Feen; and their sign underwent a change to “The Twm Shon Catty Inn.”

One day, many years after all these things had been so happily and comfortably settled, to the satisfaction of the principal parties concerned, an old friend called upon Twm in the person of Doctor John David Rhys, who had acquired great fame and honour in far-off Continental cities. Their meeting was most joyous; and when he reminded his old pupil of his prophecy respecting his union with the lady of his dream, a friendly pressure of her hand accompanied by an inexpressibly sweet smile, acknowledged her pleasure in the truth of his foresight.

Poetical justice and fact, are unhappily at variance in our closing notice of this most excellent character. During his residence abroad, he changed his profession of a Protestant Divine, and became a Catholic, and a physician; practising among princes and nobles, he soon realized an ample fortune. For the enjoyment of a further intercourse with these, his friends, in preference to his own native Anglesea, he fixed his residence at Llanllwch, in the neighbourhood of Brecon.

Here our hero’s friendship stood him much in stead; for when the _enlightened_ Protestant mobs of the time persecuted him for his faith, forcibly entering his house to search for the Pope in the cavity of his porridge pot, and a legion of Friars in his night-chair and warming-pan, Squire Jones was the magistrate that stood forward to check their lawlessness. His great popularity and known Protestant principles were all sufficient warrants for his word, when he assured the many-headed monster of the groundlessness of such suspicions.

Our hero, who, the reader must be aware, has shown no little power in poesy, set to work to write the history of the Gwydir family, when he discovered that his father was devoting himself to the same purpose. The old man candidly declared that among his ten sons, not one of them possessed a literary taste, or evinced a congenial feeling with him in his pursuits. But his left-handed eleventh seemed to justify the adage respecting luck in odd numbers, which drew on him his affections accordingly.

Squire Jones never forgot the humble way in which he spent the earliest portion of his life; his was a nature as little likely to be unduly elevated by prosperity as unnecessarily cast down by adversity.

When he built a mansion at Tregaron, beside the cottages of his childhood, he would never suffer the homely fabric to be removed, but kept it as a private appendage to his house; the interior containing all its rude characteristics, as left at his mother’s death, which took place a week before his union; although poor Catty survived both her sister Juggy and her husband. There, once a year he made a lonely visit of many hours; and felt his heart soften as he surveyed the rude shelves and wooden bowls and piggins; platters and trenchers; and even the spoons and ladles manufactured by the coarse hand of his late step-father. The unflattering reminiscences awakened by the annual visits were better than sackcloth to the skin of kings, as an antidote to worldly pride, and a check to the overweening heartiness and want of sympathy with our humbler brethren in their struggles for a little firmer feeling on the earth; which is ever the result of the undisputed despotism of prosperity.

Thomas Jones, Esq., filled many most honourable offices in the good town of Brecon, and in such a manner as to prove that fortune for this once had not showed her favours upon one unworthy of them. His early friend, Dr. John David Rhys, mentions him with respect as an accomplished antiquary, and testifies to the general excellence and worth of his character. For many years he was Mayor and Sheriff of Brecon, and we will close our chronicle of his various achievements by one more anecdote.

“Bless me!” cried the lady mayoress one day to her husband, as they passed arm in arm through the street from church, “the people are always laughing to think of my marrying you.” “I don’t wonder,” replied the hero of these adventures, “for whenever I think of it, I laugh myself.”

APPENDIX.

THE Triads referred to, as the collection made by Thomas Jones, of Tregaron, (Twm Shon Catty,) are translated from a series in the second volume of the Welsh Archæology, p. 57. The series bear the following title. “These are Triads of the Island of Britain—that is to say, Triads of memorial and record, and the information of remarkable men or things which have been in the Island of Britain; and of the events which befell the Race of the Cymry, from the age of ages.”

To the copy, from which the transcript was made for the London edition, the following note is annexed.

(Translation.) “These Triads were taken from the book of Caradoc of Nantcarvan, and from the book of Jevan Brechva, by me, Thomas Jones, of Tregaron—and those are all I could get of _the three hundred_—1601.”

I. The three pillars of the Race of the Island of Britain.

The first _Hu Gudarn_, who first brought the Race of the Cymry into the Island of Britain; and they came from the land of _Hav_ called _Defrobani_, [where Constantinople stands,] and they passed over Mor Tawch (the German ocean) to the Island of Britain, and to Llydaw where they remained.

The second, _Prydain_, the son of _Aedd-Mawr_, who first established regal government in the Island of Britain. [Before this, there was no equity but what was done by gentleness, nor any law but that of force.]

The third, _Dyfnwal Moelmud_, who first discriminated the laws and ordinances, customs and privileges of the land and nation. [And for these reasons they were called the three pillars of the nation of Cymry.]

II. The three benevolent tribes of the Island of Britain.

The first was the stock of the _Cymry_, who came with Hu Gadarn, into the Island of Britain; for _He_ would not have lands by fighting and contention, but of equity, and in peace.

The second was the race of the Lloegrwys, who came from the land of Gwas-gwyn, and were sprung from the primitive stock of the Cymry.

The third were the Britons. They came from the land of Llydaw, and were also sprung from the primordial line of the Cymry.

[And they are called the three peaceful tribes because they came by mutual consent and permission, in peace and tranquillity. The three tribes descended from the primitive race of the Cymry, and the three were of one language and one speech.

III. Three tribes came, under protection, into the Island of Britain, and by the consent and permission of the nation of Cymry, without weapon, without assault.

The first was the tribe of the Caledonians, in the North.

The second was the Gwyddelian Race, which are now in Alban (Scotland.)

The third were the men of the Galedin, who came in their naked ships (canoes) into the Isle of Wight, when their country was drowned, and had lands assigned them by the Race of the Cymry.

And they had neither privilege nor claim in the Island of Britain, but the land and protection that they granted, under specified limits. And it was decreed, that they should not enjoy the immunities of the native Cymry, before the ninth generation.

IV. Three usurping tribes came into the Island of Britain, and never departed out of it.

The first was the _Coranied_, who came from the land of Pwyl.

The second were the Gwyddelian Fichti, who came into Alban, over the sea of _Llychlyn_ (Denmark).

The third were the Saxons.

[The Corained are _about_ the Humber, and on the shore of Mor Tawch, and the Gwyddelian Finchti are in Alban, on the shore of the sea of Llychlyn. The Coranied united with the Saxons, and being partly incorporated with them, deprived the Lloegrwys of their government, by wrong and oppression; and afterwards, they deprived the Race of the Cymry of their crown and sovereignty. All the Lloegrwys became Saxons, except those who are found in Cornwall, and in the Commot of _Carnobun_, in _Deria_ and _Bernicia_.

The primitive Race of the Cymry have kept their land and their language; but they lost their sovereignty of the Island of Britain, through the treachery of the protected tribes, and the violence of the three usurping tribes.]

V. The three awful events of the Island of Britain.

First, the bursting of the lake of waters, and the overwhelming of the face of all lands; so that all mankind were drowned excepting Dwyvan and Dwyvach, who escaped in a naked vessel, (without sails), and of them the Island of Britain was re-peopled.

The second was the consternation of the tempestuous fire, when the earth split asunder, to Annwn, (lower region,) and the greatest part of all living was consumed.

The third was the scorching summer, when the woods and plants were set on fire, by the intense heat of the sun, and multitudes of men and beasts, and all kinds of birds, and reptiles and trees and plants irrecoverably lost.

VI. The three chief master works of the island of Britain.

The ship of _Nevydd Nav Neivion_, who carried in it a male and a female of all living, when the lake of waters burst forth.

The drawing of the _avanc_ to land out of the lake, by the branching oxen of _Hu Gadarn_, so that the lake burst no more;

And the stones of Gwyddon Ganhebon, on which were read the arts and sciences of the world.

VII. The three great Regulators of the Island of Britain.

Hu Gadarn, bringing the Race of the Cymry out of the land of Hav, which is called Defrobahi into the Island of Britain.

Prydain, the son of Aedd-Mawr, establishing government and law over the Island of Britain.

And Rhitta Gawr, who made himself a robe of the beards of kings, whom he caused to be shaved (reduced to vassalage) for their oppressions and contempt of justice.

VIII. The three happy controllers of the Island of Britain.

Prydain, the son of Aedd-Mawr, suppressing the Dragon tyranny. [This was a tyranny of pillage and contempt of Equity, that sprung up in the Island.]

Caradog, the son of Bran, the son of Llyr, checking the oppression of the Cæsars;

And Rhitta Gawr, controlling the tyranny and pillage of the tumultary kings.

IX. The three benefactors of the Race of Cymry.

The first, Hu Gadarn, who first showed the Race of the Cymry the method of cultivating the ground, when they were in the land of Hav [namely, where Constantinople now stands] before they came into the Island of Britain.

Coll, the son of Coll-Frewi, who first brought wheat and barley into the island of Britain, where, before, there had only been oats and rye;

And Elldyd the knight, [a holy man of Cor Dewdws,] who improved the manner of cultivating the ground, taught the Cymry a better method than had been known before, and showed the art of ploughing which now prevails. [For before the time of Elldyd, land was cultivated only with a mattock and a spade, after the manner of the Gyddelians.]

X. The three primary Sages of the Race of the Cymry.

Hu Gadarn, who first collected the Race of the Cymry, and disposed them into tribes.

Dyvnwal-Molemud, who first regulated the laws, privileges, and institutions of the country and the nation.

And Tydain tad Awen, who first introduced order and method into the memorials and preservation of the Oral art (poetry) and its properties.

And from that order, the privileges and methodical usages of the Bards and Bardism (Druidism) of the Island of Britain, were first devised.

XI. The three primary Bards of the Island of Britain.

Plennydd, Alwan, and Gwron.

These were they who devised the privileges and usages which belong to Bards and Bardism.

[Yet there had been Bards and Bardism before; but they were not completely methodized, and they enjoyed neither privileges nor established customs, but they were obtained through gentleness and civility, and the protection of the country and the nation, before the time of these three.

Some say they were in the time of Prydain, the son of Aedd Mawr, others, that they were in the time of his son, Dyvnwal-Molemud, whom some of the old books call Dyvnvarth, the son of Prydain.

XII. The three elementary masters of Poetry and Memorial, of the Race of the Cymry.

Gwyddon Ganhebon, the first man in the world who composed poetry;

Hu Gadarn, who first adapted poetry to the preservation of records and memorials;

And Tydain Tad Awen, who first developed the art and structure of poetry, and the due disposition of thought.

And, from the labours of these three personages, sprang Bards and Bardism, and the regulation of their privileges and established discipline, by the three primary Bards, Plenvydd, Alwan, and Gwron.

XIII. The three primary baptized (or christian) Bards.

Merddyn Emrys; Taliesin, the chief of the Bards, and Merddin, the son of Madawc Morvyn.

XIV. The three mighty Labours of the Isle of Britain.

Erecting the stone of Ketti. Constructing the work of Emrys. And heaping the pile of _Cyvrangon_.

The three happy astronomers. (_Serenyddion_, _Suronides_) of the _Island_ of _Britain_. _Idris Gawr_. _Gwyddion_ the son of the _Don_. And _Gwyn_ the son of _Nudd_.

So great was their knowledge of the stars, and of their nature and situations, that they could foretell whatever might be desired to be known to the day of doom.

XVI. The three masters of mysterious and secret science, of the _Island_ of _Britain_.

_Math_, the son of _Mothanwy_, and he disclosed his secret to _Gwyndion_ the son of _Don_.

_Mengw_, the son of _Teiagmaedd_, who taught his secret to _Uthyr Bendragon_.

And _Rhuddlwm Gawr_, and he learned his mystery of _Eddic Gor_ and _Coll_, the son of _Coll Frewi_.

XVII. The three great modellers of the _Island_ of _Britain_.

_Corvinwr_, the Bard of _Ceri Hir_ of _Llyngwyn_, who first made a ship, with a sail and a helm, for the race of the _Cymry_.

_Mozdial Gwr Gweilgi_, the architect of _Ceraint_, the son of _Greidial_, who first taught the race of the _Cymry_, the work of stone and lime, [at the time _Alexander the Great_ was subduing the world.]

And _Coll_, the son of _Cylin_, [the son of _Caradawr_, the son of _Bran_,] who first made a mill with a wheel, for the race of _Cymry_.

* * * * *

W. NICHOLSON AND SONS, LIMITED, PRINTERS, WAKEFIELD.

Footnotes

{9a} The truth against the world.

{9b} The English pronunciation of Twm Shon Catty, is Toom Shone Cutty; instead of which the Londoners call it TWIM JOHN KATTY, which seemed doubly ludicrous as the name of a tragedy hero.

{10} A small cup, so called from its contents being able merely to damp the clay of a genuine toper.

{31} In the farce of the Spirit Child.

{50a} The good ale of old Wales.

{50b} Wheat that may have been left out too long unharvested from the prevalence of rain, when found to sprout, is sometimes used in Wales instead of malt in brewing beer.

{55} In addition to the _Gwahoddwr’s_ address, there is another mode prevalent in the present day, of inviting to the Bidding, by a printed circular, which in some parts of the principality supersedes that merry personage altogether, a thing to be regretted, as it deprives the rural Welsh wedding of one of its most pleasing features, and cuts off its alliance with romance, and the manners of _oulden tyme_. The following is a specimen of a Bidding circular.

_October_ 183–.

As we intend to enter the matrimonial state, on Saturday, the 10th November next, we are encouraged by our friends to make a Bidding on the occasion, the same day, at the young woman’s house, called Tynant, at which place, the favour of your agreeable company is most respectfully solicited; and whatever donation you may be pleased to bestow upon us then will be thankfully received, and cheerfully repaid whenever called for on the like occasion.

Your obedient Servants, A. B. C. D.

*** The parents of the young man, and his brothers and sisters, desire that all gifts of the above nature due to them, be returned to the young man on the above day, and will be thankful for all favours granted. Also, the young woman’s parents and her brothers and sisters, desire that all gifts of the above nature due to them, be returned to the young woman on the above day, and will be thankful for all favours granted.

{58} A large three-legged iron pot used for cooking.

{72} Havod un-nôs, signifies _one summer night_. A poor wandering family pitching their tent on a common, building a hearth, and boiling their pot thereon, in the course of one Summer’s day and night, claimed from ancient usage their right to the spot. Thus a hut so built, was gradually made into a decent cottage; the surrounding ground, from a mere yard of scant dimensions, would become a yard and a garden; and patch after patch being cribbed and inclosed, in the course of a few years a little farm was created, in the midst, or on the margin of a dreary common. These practices were often _winked_ at by the parish, in favour of a poor industrious large family, who were thus provided for, instead of becoming objects of parochial relief. If the intrusion remained unnoticed for sixty years, it became a freehold property!

{140} Anglice, Bessy Blubberlip.

{149} Translated from a very popular Welsh ballad, by John Jones, of Glangors, author of many humorous songs in the same language.

{153} Hob y deri dando signifies “away my herd to the oaken grove.” Mr. Parry, for whose Welsh Melodies the modern words were written, remarks, “There is something very quaint and characteristic in this ancient air, and it is popular in Wales.”

{165} The victim of the sons of Maes-y-velin was Samuel, the son of Rhys Prichard, the celebrated author of “Canwyll y Cymry,” (the Welshman’s candle,) a volume of religious poems, the most popular, and said to have done the most good, of any that ever was printed in the Welsh language. To this favourite son the pious author addressed many of his poems, exhorting and directing him, by name, to the most minute acts in his devotion. On hearing of his murder, the old man is said to have burst out in the wildest strain of prophetic phrenzy, with the following CURSE on the murderers of Maes-y-velin.

Melldith Duw a fyddo’n dilyn Pob rhyw ach o’ Vaes y Felin, Am daflu blodeu plwyf Llanddyvri Ar ei ben i Deifi foddi.

The translation of which runs thus—

May God with heavy curses chase All Maes-y-velin’s villain race, Since they have drown’d in Teivy’s tide Llandovery’s flower—Cymry’s pride!

{203} In the original—

“Nid twyll twyllo twyllwr, Nid brad bradychu bradwr; Nid lladrad mi wn yn dda, Lladrada or ladratwr.”

{210} Should it be asked why this trick (a similar one being related of the Friar of Gil Blas) is attributed to Twm Shon Catty, his Editor can attest that this is not the only incident of the kind that he would willingly have related if he had dared. But as this, and others, have long been on record, both in the memories of the country people, and in the Welsh Jest Books, any omission of incident or anecdote on the score of being property claimable by others, would be scouted, as a poor-spirited compromise of their rights: it being utterly out of the pale of possibility that the said good things could have belonged originally, to any other than their own redoubted Twm Shon Catty! This explanation, once for all, must answer every similar objection on the part of the English reader.

{264} Signifying “_The Poem of Affliction_.” The original Welsh Poem, in recitative measure, of which the above is rather a condensed paraphrase of the late Mr. Jenkins, of Llwynygroes, Cardiganshire.

{269} Between these rivers, before they unite, is an angular slip of lowland, being the last of Cardiganshire; Dinas, and all the interesting height here described, are in Carmarthenshire; while the boundary of Breconshire is about half a mile off. The reader, who if a Welshman, will hence recognize the etymology of Ystrad Fin, which signifies, “The vale of the boundary.”