Caradoc Evans.

My neighbours online

. (page 2 of 8)
Online LibraryCaradoc EvansMy neighbours → online text (page 2 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

under the plagues, now he was the Pro-
digal Son hungering at the pigs' trough,
now he was the Widow of Nain rejoicing
at the recovery of her son, now he was
a parson in Nineveh squirming under
the tongue of Jonah ; and his hearers
c 33


winced or hungered, rejoiced or squirmed.
Congregations sought him to preach in
their pulpits, and he chose such as offered
the highest reward, pledging the richest
men for his wage and the cost of his
entertainment and journey. But Ben
would rule over no chapel. " I wait for
the call from above," he said.

His term at Carmarthen at an end,
he came to Deinol. His father met him

" An old boy very cruel is the Parson,"
Abel whined. " Has he not strained Gwen
for his tithes ? Auction her he did and
bought her himself for three pounds and
half a pound."

Ben answered : "Go now and say
the next Saturday Benshamin Lloyd
will give mouthings on tithes in Capel

Ben stood in the pulpit, and he spoke
to the people of Capel Dissenters.

" How many of you have been to his


church ? " he cried. " Not one male bach
or one female fach. Go there the next
Sabbath, and the black muless will not
say to you : ' Welcome you are, persons
Capel. But there's glad am I to see you.'
A comic sermon you will hear. A ser-
mon got with half-a-crown postal order.
Ask Postman. Laugh highly you will
and stamp on the floor. Funny is the
Parson in the white frock. Ach y fy,
why for he doesn't have a coat preacher
like Respecteds ? Ask me that. From
where does his Church come from ? She
is the inheritance of Satan. The only
thing he had to leave, and he left her to
his friends the parsons. Iss-iss, earnest
affair is this. Who gives him his food ?
We. Who pays for Vicarage ? W T e.
Who feeds his pony ? We. His cows ?
We. Who built his church ? We. With
stones carted from our quarries and mor-
tar messed about with the tears of our
mothers and the blood of our fathers."



At the gate of the chapel men discussed
Ben's words ; and two or three of them
stole away and herded Gwen into the
corner of the field ; and they caught her
and cut off her tail, and drove a staple
into her udder. Sunday morning eleven
men from Capel Dissenters, with iron
bands to their clogs on their feet, and white
aprons before their bellies, shouted with-
out the church : " We are come to pray
from the book." The parson was af-
frighted, and left over tolling his bell, and
he bolted and locked the door, against
which he set his body as one would set
the stub of a tree.

Running at the top of their speed the
railers came to Ben, telling how the Parson
had put them to shame.

" lobs you are," Ben answered. " The
boy bach who loses the key of his house
breaks into his house. Does an old wench
bar the dairy to her mishtress ? ' :

The men returned each to his abode, and


an hour after midday they gathered in
the church burial-ground, and they drew
up a tombstone, and with it rammed the
door ; and they hurled stones at the
windows ; and in the darkness they built
a wall of dung in the room of the door.

Repentance sank into the parson as he
saw and remembered that which had been
done to him. He called to him his
servant Lissi Workhouse, and her he told
to take Gwen to Deinol. The cow lowed
woefully as she was driven ; she was heard
even in Morfa, and many hurried to the
road to witness her.

Abel was at the going in of the close.

" Well- well, Lissi Workhouse," he said,
" what's doing then ? "

" ' Go give the male his beast,' mishtir

" Right for you are," said Abel.

44 Right for enough is the rascal. But a
creature without blemish he pilfered. Hit
her and hie her off."


As Lissi was about to go, Ben cried
from within the house : " The cow the
fulbert had was worth two of his cows."

" Sure, iss-iss," said Abel. " Go will I
to Vicarage with boys capel. Bring the
bast on, Ben bach."

Ben came out, and his ardour warmed
up on beholding Lissr s broad hips, scarlet
cheeks, white teeth, and full bosoms.

" Not blaming you, girl fach, am I," he
said. " My father, journey with Gwen.
Walk will I with Lissi Workhouse."

That afternoon Abel brought a cow in
calf into his close ; and that night Ben
crossed the mown hayfields to the Vicar-
age, and he threw a little gravel at Lissi's

The hay was gathered and stacked and
thatched, and the corn was cut down,
and to the women who were gleaning his
father's oats, Ben said how that Lissi was
in the family way.



" Silence your tone, indeed," cried one,
laughing. " No sign have I seen."

" If I die," observed a large woman,
" boy bach pretty innocent you are,
Benshamin. Four months have I yet.
And not showing much do I."

" No," said another, " the bulk might
be only the coil of your apron, ho-ho."

" Whisper to us," asked the large
woman, " who the foxer is. Keep the
news will we."

" Who but the scamp of the Parson ? '
replied Ben. " What a sow of a hen."

By such means Ben shifted his offence.
On being charged by the Parson he rushed
through the roads crying that the enemy
of the Big Man had put unbecoming
words on a harlot's tongue. Capel Dis-
senters believed him. " He could not act
wrongly with a sheep," some said.

So Ben tasted the sapidness and relish
of power, and his desires increased.

" Mortgage Deinol, my father bach," he


said to Abel. " Going am I to London.
Heavy shall I be there. None of the
dirty English are like me."

" Already have I borrowed for your
college. No more do I want to have.
How if I sell a horse ? "

" Sell you the horse too, my father bach."

" Done much have I for you," Abel said.
" Fairish I must be with your sisters."

" Why for you cavil like that, father ?
The money of mam came to Deinol.
Am I not her son ? 5:

Though his daughters murmured
" We wake at the caw of the crows," they
said, " and weary in the young of the
day ' Abel obeyed his son, who there-
upon departed and came to Thornton
East to the house of Catherine Jenkins,
a widow woman, with whom he took the
appearance of a burning lover.

Though he preached with a view at
many English chapels in London, none
called him. He caused Abel to sell cattle



and mortgage Deinol for what it was
worth and to give him all the money he
received therefrom ; he swore such hot
love for Catherine that the woman pawned
her furniture for his sake.

Intrigued that such scant fruit had come
up from his sowings, Ben thought of
further ways of stablishing himself. He
inquired into the welfare of shop-assistants
from women and girls who worshipped in
Welsh chapels, and though he spoiled
several in his quest, the abominations
which oppressed these workers were made
known to him. Shop-assistants carried
abroad his fame and called him " Fiery
Taffy." Ben showed them how to rid
themselves of their burden ; "a burden,"
he said, "packed full and overflowing
by men of my race the London Welsh

The Welsh drapers were alarmed and
in a rage with Ben. They took the opinion
of their big men and performed slyly.



Enos-Harries this is the Enos-Harries
who has a drapery shop in Kingsend sent
to Ben this letter : " Take Dinner with
Slf and Wife same, is Late Dinner I am
pleased to inform. You we don't live in
Establishment only as per printed Note
Heading. And Oblige."

Enos-Harries showed Ben his house, and
told him the cost of the treasures that were

Also Harries said : "I have learned of
you as a promising Welshman, and I want
to do a good turn for you with a speech
by you on St. David's Day at Queen's
Hall. Now, then."

" I am not important enough for that."

" She'll be a first-class miting in tip-
top speeches. All the drapers and dairies
shall be there in crowds. Three sirs shall

" I am choked with engagements," said
Ben. " I am preaching very busy now



" Well- well. Asked I did for you are
a clean Cymro bach. As I repeat, only
leading lines in speakers shall be there.
Come now into the drawing-room and
I'll give you an intro to the Missus Enos-
Harries. Inevening dress she is chik Paris
Model. The invoice price was ten-ten."

" Wait a bit," Ben remarked. " I
would be glad if I could speak."

" Perhaps the next time we give you
the invite. The Cymrodorion shall be in
the miting."

" As you plead, try I will."

" Stretching a point am I," Harries
said. " This is a favour for you to address
this glorious miting where the Welsh
drapers will attend and the Missus Enos-
Harries will sing ' Land of my Fathers.' :

Ben withdrew from his fellows for
three days, and on the third day which
was that of the Saint he put on him a
frock coat, and combed down his moustache
over the blood-red swelling on his lip ;



and he cleaned his teeth. Here are some
of the sayings that he spoke that night :

" Half an hour ago we were privileged
to listen to the voice of a lovely lady a
voice as clear as a diamond ring. It
inspired us one and all with a hireath
for the dear old homeland for dear
Wales, for the land of our fathers and
mothers too, for the land that is our
heritage not by Act of Parliament but
by the Act of God. . . .

" Who ownss this land to-day ? The
squaire and the parshon. By what right ?
By the same right as the thief who steals
your silk and your laces, and your milk
and butter, and your reddy-made blousis.
I know a farm of one hundred acres, each
rod having been tamed from heatherland
into a manna of abundance. Tamed by
human bones and muscles God's invested
capital in His chosen children. Six
months ago this land this fertile and
rich land was wrestled away from the



owners. The bones of the living and the
dead were wrestled away. I saw it three
months ago a wylderness. The clod had
been squeesed of its zweat. The land
belonged to my father, and his father,
and his father, back to countless genera-
tions. . . .

" I am proud to be among my people
to-night. How sorry I am for any one
who are not Welsh. We have a language
as ancient as the hills that shelter us,
and the rivers that never weery of
refreshing us. ...

14 Only recently a few shop-assistants
a handful of counter-jumpers tried to
shake the integrity of our commerse.
But their white cuffs held back their
aarms, and the white collars choked their
aambitions. When I was a small boy
my mam used to tell me how the chief
Satan was caught trying to put his hand
over the sun so as to give other satans a
chance of doing wrong on earth in the



dark. That was the object of these mis-
guided fools. They had no grievances.
I have since investigated the questions of
living-in and fines. Both are fair and
necessary. The man who tries to destroy
them is like the swimmer who plunges
among the water lilies to be dragged into
destruction. . . .

" Welsh was talked in the Garden of
Aden. That is where commerse began.
Didn't Eve buy the apple ? . . .

" Ladies and gentlemen, Cymrodorion,
listen. There is a going in these classical
old rafterss. It is the coming of God.
And the message He gives you this night
is this : ' Men of Gwalia, march on and
keep you tails up.' ;

From that hour Ben flourished. He
broke his league with the shop-assistants.
Those whom he had troubled lost courage
and humbled themselves before their em-
ployers ; but their employers would have
none of them, man or woman., boy or girl.



Vexation followed his prosperity. His
father reproached him, writing : " Sad I
drop into the Pool as old Abel Tybach, and
not as Lloyd Deinol." Catherine harassed
him to recover her house and chattels.
To these complainings he was deaf. He
married the daughter of a wealthy English-
man, who set him up in a large house in
the midst of a pleasure garden ; and of
the fatness and redness of his wife he was
sickened before he was wedded to her.

By studying diligently, the English
language became nearly as familiar to
him as the Welsh language. He bound
himself to Welsh politicians and engaged
himself in public affairs, and soon he was
as an idol to a multitude of people, who
were sensible only to his well-sung words,
and who did not know that his utterances
veiled his own avarice and that of his
masters. All that he did was for profit,
and yet he could not win enough.

Men and women, soothed into false


ease and quickened into counterfeit wrath,
commended him, crying : " Thank God
for Ben Lloyd." Such praise puffed him
up, and howsoever mighty he was in the
view of fools, he was mightier in his own

" At the next election I'll be in Parlia-
ment," he boasted in his vanity. " The
basis of my solidity strength is as im-
movable is as impregnable as Birds' Rock
in Morfa."

Though the grandson of Simon Idiot
and Dull Anna prophesied great things
for himself, it was evil that came to

He trembled from head to foot to ravish
every comely woman on whom his ogling
eyes dwelt. His greed made him faithless
to those whom he professed to serve :
in his eagerness to lift himself he planned,
plotted, and trafficked with the foes of his
officers. Hearing that an account of his
misdeeds was spoken abroad, he called



the high London Welshmen into a room,
and he said to them :

" These cruel slanderers have all but
broken my spirit. They are the wicked
inventions of fiends incarnate. It is not
my fall that is required if that were so
I would gladly make the sacrifise the
zupreme sacrifise, if wanted but it is the
fall of the Party that these men are after.
He who repeats one foul thing is doing
his level best to destroy the fabric of this
magnificent organisation that has been
reared by your brains. It has no walls
of stone and mortar, yet it is a sity builded
by men. We must have no more bicker-
ings. We have work to do. The seeds
are springing forth, and a goodly harvest
is promised : let us sharpen our blades
and clear our barn floors. Cymru fydd
Wales for the Welsh is here. At home
and at Westminster our kith and kin
are occupying prominent positions. Dis-
establishment is at hand. We have closed
D 49


public-houses and erected chapels, each
chapel being a factor in the education of
the masses in ideas of righteous govern-
ment. You, my friends, have secured
much of the land, around which you have
made walls, and in which you have set
water fountains, and have planted rare
plants and flowers. And you have put up
your warning signs on it * Trespassers
will be prosecuted.'

" There is coming the Registration of
Workers Act, by which every worker will
be held to his locality, to his own enormous
advantage. And it will end strikes, and
trades unionism will die a dishonoured
death. In future these men will be able
to settle down, and with God's blessing
bring children into the world, and their
condition will be a delight unto them-
selves and a profit to the community.

44 But we must do more. I must do
more. And you must help me. We
must stand together. Slander never



creates ; it shackles and kills. We must
be solid. Midway off the Cardigan coast
in beautiful Morfa there is a rock-
Birds' Rock. As a boy I used to climb to
the top of it, and watch the waters swirl-
ing and tumbling about it, and around it
and against it. But I was unafraid. For
I knew that the rock was old when man
was young, and that it had braved all
the washings of the sea."

The men congratulated Ben ; and Ben
came home and he stood at a mirror,
and shaping his body put out his

" How's this for my maiden speech in
the House ? " he asked his wife. Pre-
sently he paused. " You're a fine one to
be an M.P.'s lady," he said. " You stout,
underworked fool."

Ben urged on his imaginings : he advised
his monarch, and to him for favours mer-
chants brought their gold, and mothers
their daughters. Winter and spring



moved, and then his mind brought his
enemies to his door.

" As the root of a tree spreads in the
bosom of the earth," he said, " so my fame
shall spread over the world " ; and he
built a fence about his house.

But his mind would not be stilled.
Every midnight his enemies were at the
fence, and he could not sleep for the
dreadful outcry ; every midnight he arose
from his bed and walked aside the fence,
testing the strength of it with a hand and
a shoulder and shooing away his enemies
as one does a brood of chickens from a

His fortieth summer ran out a season
of short days and nights speeding on the
heels of night. Then peace fell upon him ;
and at dusk of a day he came into his
room, and he saw one sitting in a chair.
He went up to the chair and knelt on a
knee, and said : " Your Majesty ..."






BECAUSE he was diseased with a con-
sumption, Evan Roberts in his thirtieth
year left over being a drapery assistant
and had himself hired as a milk rounds-

A few weeks thereafter he said to Mary,
the woman whom he had promised to
wed : " How now if I had a milk-shop ? "

Mary encouraged him, and searched
for that which he desired ; and it came
to be that on a Thursday afternoon they
two met at the mouth of Worship Street
the narrow lane that is at the going
into Richmond.

" Stand here, Marri," Evan ordered.
" Go in will I and have words with the
owner. Hap I shall uncover his tricks."

44 Very well you are," said Mary.


" Don't over- waggle your tongue. Ad-
dress him in hidden phrases."

Evan entered the shop, and as there
was no one therein he made an account
of the tea packets and flour bags which
were on the shelves. Presently a small,
fat woman stood beyond the counter.
Evan addressed her in English : " Are
you Welsh ? "

" That's what people say," the woman

" Glad am I to hear you," Evan re-
turned in Welsh. " Tell me how you

was.' 1

" A Cymro bach I see," the woman
cried. " How was you ? '

" Peeped did I on your name on the sign.
Shall I say you are Mistress Jinkins ? '

" Iss, indeed, man."

" What about affairs these close
days ? "

" Busy we are. Why for you ask ?
Trade you do in milk ? '



" Blurt did I for nothing," Evan

' No odds, little man. Ach y fy, jea-
lous other milkmen are of us. There's
nasty some people are."

' Natty shop you have. Little shop
and big traffic, Mistress Jinkins ? ' :

;t Quick you are."

; ' Know you Tom Mathias Tabernacle
Street ? " Evan inquired.

" Seen him have I in the big meetings
at Capel King's Cross."

14 Getting on he is, for certain sure.
Hundreds of pints he sells. And

" Pwf," Mrs. Jenkins sneered. " Ful-
bert you are to believe him. A liar
without shame is Twm. And a cheat.
Bad sampler he is of the Welsh."

" Speak I do as I hear. More thriving
is your concern."

' No boast is in me. But don't we do
thirty gallons ? "



Evan summoned up surprise into his
face, and joy. "Dear me to goodness,"
he exclaimed. "Take something must I
now. Sell you me an egg."

Evan shook the egg at his ear. " She
is good," he remarked.

" Weakish is the male," observed Mrs.
Jenkins. " Much trouble he has in his

"Poor bach," replied Evan. " Well-
well. Fair night for to-day."

" Why for you are in a hurry ? ' :

" Woman fach, for what you do not
know that I abide in Wandsworth and
the clock is late ? '

Mrs. Jenkins laughed. "Boy pretty
sly you are. Come you to Richmond to
buy one egg ? ' :

Evan coughed and spat upon the
ground, and while he cleaned away his
spittle with a foot he said : " Courting
business have I on the Thursdays. The
wench is in a shop draper."



" How shall I mouth where she is ?
With Wright ? "

" In shop Breach she is." He spoke
this in English : " So long."

In that language also did Mrs. Jenkins
answer him : " Now we shan't be long."

Narrowing his eyes and crooking his
knees, Evan stood before Mary. " Like
to find out more would I," he said.
" Guess did the old female that I had
seen the adfertissment."

" Blockhead you are to bare your
mind," Mary admonished him.

" Why for you call me blockhead when
there's no blockhead to be ? "

;c Sorry am I, dear heart. But do you
hurry to marry me. You know that
things are so and so. The month has
shown nothing."

" Shut your head, or I'll change my
think altogether."

The next week Evan called at the dairy
shop again.



" How was the people ? " he cried on
the threshold.

Mrs. Jenkins opened the window which
was at the back of her, and called out :
" The boy from Wales is here, Dai."

Stooping as he moved through the
way of the door, Dai greeted Evan
civilly : " How was you this day ? '

" Quite grand," Evan answered.

" What capel do you go ? ' :

" Walham Green, dear man."

" Good preach there was by the Re-
spected Eynon Daviss the last Sabbath
morning, shall I ask ? Eloquent is

" In the night do I go."

" Solemn serious, go you ought in the

l< Proper is your saying," Evan agreed.
" Perform I would if I could."

" Biggish is your round, perhaps ? "
said Dai.

" Iss-iss. No-no." Evan was confused.


" Don't be afraid of your work. Crafty
is your manner."

Evan had not anything to say.

" Fortune there is in milk," said Dai.
" Study you the size of her. Little she is.
Heavy will be my loss. The rent is only
fifteen bob a week. And thirty gallons
and more do I do. Broke is my health,"
and Dai laid the palms of his hands on
his belly and groaned.

" Here he is to visit his wench," said
Mrs. Jenkins.

" You're not married now just ? '
asked Dai.

" Better in his pockets trousers is a
male for a woman," said Mrs. Jenkins.

" Comforting in your pockets trousers
is a woman," Dai cried.

" Clap your throat," said Mrs. Jen-
kins. " Redness you bring to my

Evan retired and considered.

" Tempting is the business," he told


Mary. " Fancy do I to know more of
her. Come must I still once yet."

" Be not slothful," Mary pleaded.
" Already I feel pains, and quickly the
months pass."

Then Evan charged her to watch over
the shop, and to take a count of the people
who went into it. So Mary walked in
the street. Mrs. Jenkins saw her and
imagined her purpose, and after she had
proved her, she and Dai formed a plot
whereby many little children and young
youths and girls came into the shop.
Mary numbered every one, but the number
that she gave Evan was three times
higher than the proper number. The
man was pleased, and he spoke out to
Dai. " Tell me the price of the shop,"
he said.

" Improved has the health," replied
Dai. " And not selling I don't think
am I."

" Pity that is. Great offer I have."


" Smother your cry. Taken a shop too
have I in Petersham. Rachel will look
after this."

Mrs. Jenkins spoke to her husband
with a low voice : " Witless you are. Let
him speak figures."

" As you want if you like then," said

" A puzzle you demand this one min-
ute," Evan murmured. " Thirty pounds
would "

" Light is your head," Dai cried. " More
than thirty gallons and a pram. Eighty
I want for the shop and stock."

" I stop," Evan pronounced. " Thirty-
five can I give. No more and no less."

" Cute bargainer you are. Generous
am I to give back five pounds for luck
cash on spot. Much besides is my counter

" Bring me papers for my eyes to see,"
said Evan.

Mrs. Jenkins rebuked Evan : " Hoity-


toity ! Not Welsh you are. Old English

" Tut-tut, Rachel fach," said Dai.
" Right you are, and right and wrong is
Evan Roberts. Books I should have.
Trust I give and trust I take. I have no

" How answer you to thirty-seven ? }!
asked Evan. " No more we've got, drop
dead and blind."

He went away and related all to

44 Lose the shop you will," Mary warned
him. 44 And that's remorseful you'll be."

44 Like this and that is the feeling," said

44 Go to him," Mary counselled, 44 and
say you will pay forty-five."

44 No-no, foolish that is."

They two conferred with each other, and
Mary gave to Evan all her money, which
was almost twenty pounds ; and Evan

said to Dai : " I am not doubtful "

2 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryCaradoc EvansMy neighbours → online text (page 2 of 8)