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64



EARTHBRED

44 Speak what is in you," Dai urged
quickly.

" Test your shop will I for eight weeks
as manager. I give you twenty down as
earnest and twenty-five at the finish of
the weeks if I buy her."

Dai and Rachel weighed that which
Evan had proposed. The woman said :
" A lawyer will do this " ; the man said :
" Splendid is the bargain and costly and
thievish are old lawyers."

In this sort Dai answered Evan : " Do
as you say. But I shall not give money
for your work. Act you honestly by me.
Did not mam carry me next my brother,
who is a big preacher ? Lend you will I
a bed, and a dish or two and a plate, and
a knife to eat food."

At this Mary's joy was abounding.
" Put you up the banns," she said.

" Lots of days there is. Wait until
I've bought the place."

Mary tightened her inner garments and
E 65



MY NEIGHBOURS



loosened her outer garments, and every
evening she came to the shop to prepare
food for Evan, to make his bed, and to
minister to him as a woman.

Now the daily custom at the shop was
twelve gallons of milk, and the tea packets
and flour bags which were on shelves were
empty. Evan's anger was awful. He
upbraided Mary, and he prayed to be
shown how to worst Dai. His prayer was
respected : at the end of the second week
he gave Dai two pounds more than he had
given him the week before.

" Brisk is trade," said Dai.

" I took into stock flour, tea, and four
tins of job biscuits," replied Evan. " Am
I not your servant ? '

" Well done, good and faithful servant."

It was so that Evan bought more than
he would sell, and each week he held a
little money by fraud ; and matches also
and bundles of firewood and soap did he
buy in Dai's name.

66



EARTHBRED

In the middle of the eighth week Dai
came down to the shop.

" How goes it ? " he asked in English.

44 Fine, man. Fine." Changing his lan-
guage, Evan said : " Keep her will I, and
give you the money as I pledged. Take
you the sum and sign you the paper bach."

Having acted accordingly, Dai cast his
gaze on the shelves and on the floor, and
he walked about judging aloud the value
of what he saw : " Tea, three-pound-ten ;
biscuits, four-six ; flour, four-five ; fire-
wood, five shillings ; matches, one-ten ;
soap, one pound. Bring you these to
Petersham. Put you them with the bed
and the dishes I kindly lent you."

44 For sure me, fulfil my pledge will I,"
Evan said.

He assembled Dai's belongings and
placed them in a cart which he had
borrowed ; and on the back of the cart
he hung a Chinese lantern which had in it
a lighted candle. When he arrived at

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MY NEIGHBOURS



Dai's house, he cried : ;t Here is your
ownings. Unload you them."

Dai examined the inside of the cart.
" Mistake there is, Evan. Where's the
stock ? "

" Did I not pay you for your stock and
shop ? Forgetful you are."

Dai's wrath was such that neither could
he blaspheme God nor invoke His help.
Removing the slabber which was gathered
in his beard and at his mouth, he shouted :
" Put police on you will I."

" Away must I now," said Evan.
" Come, take your bed."

" Not touch anything will I. Rachel,
witness his roguery. Steal he does from
the religious."

Evan drove off, and presently he became
uneasy of the evil that might befall him
were Dai and Rachel to lay their hands on
him ; he led his horse into the unfamiliar
and hard and steep road which goes up to
the Star and Garter, and which therefrom

68



EARTHBRED

falls into Richmond town. At what
time he was at the top he heard the
sound of Dai and Rachel running to him,
each screaming upon him to stop. Rachel
seized the bridle of the horse, and Dai tried
to climb over the back of the cart. Evan
bent forward and beat the woman with
his whip, and she leaped aside. But Dai
did not release his clutch, and because the
lantern swayed before his face he flung it
into the cart.

Evan did not hear any more voices, and
misdeeming that he had got the better of
his enemies, he turned, and, lo, the bed
was in a yellow flame. He strengthened
his legs and stretched out his thin upper
lip, and pulled at the reins, saying : " Wo,
now." But the animal thrust up its head
and on a sudden galloped downwards.
At the railing which divides two roads it
was hindered, and Evan was thrown upon
the ground. Men came forward to lift him,
and he was dead.

69



FOR BETTER



71



IV
FOR BETTER

AT the time it was said of him " There's
a boy that gets on he is," Enoch Harries
was given Gwen the daughter of the builder
Dan Thomas. On the first Sunday after
her marriage the people of Kingsend
Welsh Tabernacle crowded about Gwen,
asking her : " How like you the bed,
Messes Harries fach ? ' : " Enoch has
opened a shop butcher then ? " " Any
signs of a baban bach yet ? " " Managed to
get up quickly you did the day ? " Gwen
answered in the manner the questions were
asked, seriously or jestingly. She con-
sidered these sayings, and the cause of her
uneasiness was not a puzzle to her ; and
she got to despise the man whom she had
married, and whose skin was like parched
leather, and to repel his impotent embraces.
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MY NEIGHBOURS



Withal she gave Enoch pleasure. She
clothed herself with costly garments,
adorned her person with rings and orna-
ments, and she modelled her hair in the
way of a bob-wig. Enoch gave in to her
in all things ; he took her among Welsh
master builders, drapers, grocers, dairy-
men, into their homes and such places as
they assembled in ; and his pride in his
wife was nearly as great as his pride
in the twenty plate-glass windows of his
shop.

In her vanity Gwen exalted her
estate.

44 1 hate living over the shop," she said.
44 It's so common. Let's take a house
away from here."

44 Good that I am on the premizes,"
Enoch replied in Welsh. 44 Hap go wrong
will affairs if I leave."

44 We can't ask any one decent here.
Only commercials," Gwen said. With a
show of care for her husband's welfare,

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FOR BETTER



she added : " Working too hard is my boy
bach. And very splendid you should be."
Her design was fulfilled, and she and
Enoch came to dwell in Thornton East,
in a house near Richmond Park, and on
the gate before the house, and on the door
of the house, she put the name Windsor.
From that hour she valued herself high.
She had the words Mrs. G. Enos-Harries
printed on cards, and she did not speak of
Enoch's trade in the hearing of anybody.
She gave over conversing in Welsh, and
would give no answer when spoken to
in that tongue. She devised means con-
tinually to lift herself in the esteem of her
neighbours, acting as she thought they
acted : she had a man-servant and four
maid-servants, and she instructed them to
address her as the madam and Enoch as
the master ; she had a gong struck before
meals and a bell rung during meals ; the
furniture in her rooms was as numerous
as that in the windows of a shop ; she went

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MY NEIGHBOURS



to the parish church on Sundays ; she
made feasts. But her life was bitter :
tradespeople ate at her table and her
neighbours disregarded her.

Enoch mollified her moaning with :
" Never mind. I could buy the whole
street up. I'll have you a motor - car.
Fine it will be with an advert on the
front engine."

Still slighted, Gwen smoothed her
misery with deeds. She declared she was
a Liberal, and she frequented Thornton
Vale English Congregational Chapel. She
gave ten guineas to the rebuilding fund,
put a carpet on the floor of the pastor's
parlour, sang at brotherhood gatherings,
and entertained the pastor and his wife.

Wherefore her charity was discoursed
thus : " Now when Peter spoke of a light
that shines shines, mark you he was
thinking of such ladies as Mrs. G. Enos-
Harries. Not forgetting Mr. G. Enos-
Harries."

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FOR BETTER



44 I'm going to build you a vestry,"
Gwen said to the pastor. " I'll organise
a sale of work to begin with."

The vestry was set up, and Gwen be-
thought of one who should be charged with
the opening ceremony of it, and to her
mind came Ben Lloyd, whose repute was
great among the London Welsh, and to
whose house in Twickenham she rode in
her car. Ben's wife answered her sharply :
" He's awfully busy. And I know he
won't see visitors."

" But won't you tell him ? It will do
him such a lot of good. You know what a
stronghold of Toryism this place is."

A voice from an inner room cried :
" Who is to see me ? "

" Come this way," said Mrs. Lloyd.

Ben, sitting at a table with writing paper
and a Bible before him, rose.

" Messes Enos-Harries," he said, " long
since I met you. No odds if I mouth
Welsh ? There's a language, dear me.

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MY NEIGHBOURS



This will not interest you in the least.
Put your ambarelo in the cornel, Messes
Enos-Harries, and your backhead in a
chair. Making a lecture am I."

Gwen told him the errand upon which
she was bent, and while they two drank
tea, Ben said : " Sing you a song, Messes
Enos-Harries. Not forgotten have I your
singing in Queen's Hall on the Day of
David the Saint. Inspire me wonder-
fully you did with the speech. I've been
sad too, but you are a wedded female.
Sing you now then. Push your cup and
saucer under the chair."

" No-no, not in tone am I," Gwen
feigned.

" How about a Welsh hymn ? Come in
will I at the repeats."

" Messes Lloyd will sing the piano ? '

" Go must she about her duties. She's
a handless poor dab."

Gwen played and sang.

" Solemn pretty hymns have we," said
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FOR BETTER



Ben. " Are we not large ? " He moved
and stood under a picture which hung on
the wall his knees touching and his feet
apart and the picture was that of Crom-
well. " My friends say I am Cromwell
and Milton rolled into one. The Great
Father gave me a child and He took him
back to the Palace. Religious am I.
Want I do to live my life in the hills and
valleys of Wales : listening to the anthem
of creation, and searching for Him under
the bark of the tree. And there I shall
wait for the sound of the last trumpet."

44 A poet you are." Gwen was aston-
ished.

" You are a poetess, for sure me,"
Ben said. He leaned over her. " Spark-
ling are your eyes. Deep brown are they
brown as the nut in the paws of the
squirrel. Be you a bard and write about
boys Cymru. Tell how they succeed in
big London."

" I will try," said Gwen.
79



MY NEIGHBOURS



" Like you are and me. Think you do
as I think."

" Know you for long I would," said
Gwen.

" For ever," cried Ben. " But wedded
you are. Read you a bit of the lecture
will I." Having ended his reading and
having sobbed over and praised that
which he had read, Ben uttered : " Certain
you come again. Come you and eat
supper when the wife is not at home."

Gwen quaked as she went to her car,
and she sought a person who professed
to tell fortunes, and whom she made to
say : "A gentleman is in love with you.
And he loves you for your brain. He is
not your husband. He is more to you
than your husband. I hear his silver
voice holding spellbound hundreds of
people ; I see his majestic forehead and
his auburn locks and the strands of his
silken moustache."

Those words made Gwen very happy,
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FOR BETTER



and she deceived herself that they were true.
She composed verses and gave them to Ben.

" Not right to Nature is this," said
Ben. " The mother is wrong. How
many children you have, Messes Enos-
Harries ? "

*' Not one. The husband is weak and
he is older much than I."

" The Father has kept His most beauti-
ful gift from you. Pity that is." Tears
gushed from Ben's eyes. "If the mar-
riage - maker had brought us together,
children we would have jewelled with
your eyes and crowned with your hair."

" And your intellect," said Gwen.
" You will be the greatest Welshman."

" Whisper will I now. A drag is the
wife. Happy you are with the husband."

" Why for you speak like that ? "

" And for why we are not married ? 5:

Ben took Gwen in his arms and he kissed

her and drew her body nigh to him ; and

in a little while he opened the door

F 81



MY NEIGHBOURS



sharply and rebuked his wife that she
waited thereat.

Daily did Gwen praise and laud Ben
to her husband. " There is no one in
the world like him," she said. " He will
get very far."

44 Bring Mistar Lloyd to Windsor for
me to know him quite well," said Enoch.

4 1 will ask him," Gwen replied without
faltering.

44 Benefit myself I will."

Early every Thursday afternoon Ben
arrived at Windsor, and at the coming
home from his shop of Enoch, Ben always
said : 44 Messes Enos-Harries has been
singing the piano. Like the trilling of
God's feathered choir is her music."

Though Ben and Gwen were left at
peace they could not satisfy nor crush
their lust.

Before three years were over, Ben had
obtained great fame. 44 He ought to be
in Parliament and give up preaching

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FOR BETTER



entirely," some said ; and Enoch and
Gwen were partakers of his glory.

Then Gwen told him that she had con-
ceived, whereof Ben counselled her to go
into her husband's bed.

" That I have not the stomach to do,"
the woman complained.

" As you say, dear heart," said Ben.
" Cancer has the wife. Perish soon she
must. Smooth our path and lie with your
lout."

Presently Gwen bore a child ; and
Enoch her husband looked at it and
said : " Going up is Ben Lloyd. Solid
am I as the counter."

Gwen related her fears to Ben, who con-
trived to make Enoch a member of the
London County Council. Enoch rejoiced :
summoning the congregation of Thornton
Vale to be witnesses of his gift of a Bible
cushion to the chapel.

As joy came to him, so grief fell upon
his wife. " After all," Ben wrote to her,

83



MY NEIGHBOURS



" you belong to him. You have been
joined together in the holiest and sacred-
est matrimony. Monumental responsi-
bilities have been thrust on me by my
people. I did not seek for them, but it
is my duty to bear them. Pray that I
shall use God's hoe with understanding
and wisdom. There is talk of putting me
up for Parliament. Voters will have a
chance of electing a real religious man.
I must not be tempted by you again.
Well, good-bye, Gwen, may He keep you
unspotted from the world. Ships that
pass in the night."

Enoch was plagued, and he followed Ben
to chapel meetings, eisteddfodau, Cymro-
dorion and St. David's Day gatherings,
always speaking in this fashion : " Cast
under is the girl fach you do not visit
her. Improved has her singing."

Because Ben was careless of his call,
his wrath heated and he said to him :
" Growing is the baban."
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FOR BETTER



" How's trade ? " Ben remarked. " Do
you estimate for Government contracts ? "

" Not thought have I."

" Just hinted. A word I can put in."

" Red is the head of the baban."

" Two black heads make red," observed
Ben.

" And his name is Benjamin."

" As you speak. Farewell for to-day.
How would you like to put up for a Welsh
constituency ? "

" Not deserving am I of anything.
Happy would I and the wife be to see
you in the House."

But Ben's promise was fruitless; and
Enoch bewailed : "A serpent flew into
my house."

He ordered Gwen to go to Ben.

" Recall to him this and that," he said.
" Say that a splendid advert an M.P.
would be for the business. Be you dressed
like a lady. Take a fur coat on appro
from the shop."

85



MY NEIGHBOURS



Often thereafter he bade his wife to take
such a message. But Gwen had overcome
her distress and she strew abroad her
charms ; for no man could now suffice
her. So she always departed to one of
her lovers and came back with fables
on her tongue.

" What can you expect of the Welsh ? "
cried Enoch in his wrath. " He hasn't
paid for the goods he got on tick from the
shop. County court him will I. He ate
my food. The unrighteous ate the food
of the righteous. And he was bad with
you. Did I not watch ? No good is the
assistant that lets the customer go away
with not a much obliged."

The portion of the Bible that Enoch
read that night was this : "I have decked
my bed with coverings of tapestry, with
carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.
. . . Come, let us take our fill of love until
the morning : let us solace ourselves with
love. For the goodman is not at home,

86



FOR BETTER



he is gone on a long journey. He



" That's lovely," said Gwen.

" Tapestry from my shop," Enoch ex-
pounded. " And Irish linen. And busy
was the draper in Kingsend."

Gwen pretended to be asleep.

" He is the father. That will learn him
to keep his promise, the wicked man."

Unknown to her husband Gwen stood
before Ben ; and at the sight of her Ben
longed to wanton with her. Gwen stretched
out her arms to be clear of him and to
speak to him ; her speech was stopped with
kisses and her breasts swelled out. Again
she found pleasure in Ben's strength.

Then she spoke of her husband's
hatred.

" Like a Welshman every spit he is,"
said Ben. " And a black."

But his naughtiness oppressed him for
many days and he intrigued ; and it came
to pass that Enoch was asked to contest

87



MY NEIGHBOURS



a Welsh constituency, and Enoch im-
mediately let fall his anger for Ben.

" Celebrate this we shall with a recep-
tion in the Town Hall," he announced.
c4 You, Gwen fach, will wear the chikest
Paris model we can find. Ben's kindness
is more than I expected. Much that I
have I owe to him."

44 Even your son," said Gwen.



88



LOVE AND HATE



89



V
LOVE AND HATE

BY living frugally setting aside a por-
tion of his Civil Service pay and holding
all that he got from two butchers whose
trade books he kept in proper order
Adam Powell became possessed of Cartref
in which he dwelt and which is in Barnes,
and two houses in Thornton East ; and one
of the houses in Thornton East he let to
his widowed daughter Olwen, who carried
on a dressmaking business. At the end
of his term he retired from his office, his
needs being fulfilled by a pension, and
his evening eased by the ministrations
of his elder daughter Lisbeth.

Soon an inward malady seized him, and
in the belief that he would not be rid of it,
he called Lisbeth and Olwen, to whom
both he pronounced his will.

91



MY NEIGHBOURS



"The Thornton East property I give
you," he said. " Number seven for Lissi
and eight for Olwen as she is. It will be
pleasant to be next door, and Lissi is not
likely to marry at her age which is ad-
vanced. Share and share alike of the furni-
ture, and what's left sell with the house
and haff the proceeds. If you don't fall
out in the sharing, you never will again."

At once Lisbeth and Olwen embraced.

" My sister is my best friend," was the
testimony of the elder ; "we shan't go
astray if we follow the example of the
dad and mother," was that of the younger.

" Take two or three excursion trains
to Aberporth for the holidays," said
Adam, " and get a little gravel for the
mother's grave in Beulah. And a cheap
artificial wreath. They last better than
real ones. It was in Beulah that me and
your mother learnt about Jesus."

Together Olwen and Lisbeth pledged
that they would attend their father's

92



LOVE AND HATE



behests : shunning ill-will and continually
petitioning to be translated to the King-
dom of God ; " but," Lisbeth laughed
falsely, " you are not going to die. The
summer will do wonders for you."

" You are as right as a top really,"
cried Olwen.

Beholding that his state was the main
concern of his children, Adam counted
himself blessed; knowing of a surety
that the designs of God stand fast
against prayer and physic, he said : "I
am shivery all over."

A fire was kindled and coals piled upon
it that it was scarce to be borne, and
three blankets were spread over those
which were on his bed, and three earthen
bottles which held heated water were put
in his bed ; and yet the old man got no
warmth.

" I'll manage now alone," said Lisbeth
on the Saturday morning. " You'll have
Jennie and her young gentleman home

93



MY NEIGHBOURS



for Sunday. Should he turn for the
worse I'll send for you."

Olwen left, and in the afternoon came
Jennie and Charlie from the drapery shop
in which they were engaged ; and sighing
and sobbing she related to them her
father's will.

" If I was you, ma," Jennie counselled,
" I wouldn't leave him too much alone
with Aunt Liz. You never can tell.
Funny things may happen."

" I'd trust Aunt Liz anywhere," Olwen
declared, loth to have her sister charged
with unfaithfulness.

" What do you think, Charlie ? " asked
Jennie.

The young man stiffened his slender
body and inclined his pale face and rubbed
his nape, and he proclaimed that there
was no discourse of which the meaning
was hidden from him and no device with
which he was not familiar ; and he
answered : " I would stick on the spot."

94



LOVE AND HATE



That night Olwen made her customary
address to God, and before she came up
from her knees or uncovered her eyes,
she extolled to God the acts of her father
Adam. But slumber kept from her be-
cause of that which Jennie had spoken ;
and diffiding the humour of her heart,
she said to herself : " Liz must have a
chance of going on with some work." At
that she slept ; and early in the day she
was in Cartref.

" Jennie and Charlie insist you rest," she
told Lisbeth. " She can manage quite
nicely, and there's Charlie which is a help.
So should any one who is twenty -three."

For a week the daughters waited on
their father and contrived they never so
wittily to free him from his disorder Did
they not strip and press against him ?
they could not deliver him from the wind
of dead men's feet. They stitched black
cloth into garments and while they stitched
they mumbled the doleful hymns of Sion.

95



MY NEIGHBOURS



Two yellow plates were fixed on Adam's
coffin this was in accordance with the
man's request and the engraving on
one was in the Welsh tongue, and on the
other in the English tongue, and the
reason was this : that the angel who lifts
the lid be he of the English or of the
Welsh shall know immediately that the
dead is of the people chosen to have
the first seats in the Mansion.

The sisters removed from Cartref such
things as pleased them ; Lisbeth chose
more than Olwen, for her house was bare ;
and in the choosing each gave in to the
other, and neither harboured a mean
thought.

With her chattels and her sewing
machine, Lisbeth entered number seven,
which is in Park Villas, and separated
from the railway by a wood paling, and
from then on the sisters lived by the rare
fruits of their joint industry ; and never,
except on the Sabbath, did they shed

96



LOVE AND HATE



their thimbles or the narrow bright
scissors which hung from their waists.
Some of the poor middle-class folk near-
by brought to them their measures of
materials, and the more honourable folk
who dwelt in the avenues beyond Upper
Richmond Road crossed the steep rail-
way bridge with blouses and skirts to be
reformed.

" We might be selling Cartref now,"
said Olwen presently.

' I leave it to you," Lisbeth remarked.

" And I leave it to you. It's as much
yours as mine."

" Suppose we consult Charlie ? "

" He's a man, and he'll do the best he



can.' :



" Yes, he's very cute is Charlie."
Charlie gave an ear unto Olwen, and he
replied : " You been done in. It's dis-
graceful how's she's took everything that
were best."

" She had nothing to go on with," said
G 97



MY NEIGHBOURS



Olwen. " And it will come back. It will
be all Jennie's."

" What guarantee have you of that ?
That's my question. What guarantee ? '

Olwen was silent. She was not wishful
of disparaging her sister or of squabbling
with Charlie.

" Well," said Charlie, " I must have an
entirely free hand. Give it an agent if
you prefer. They're a lively lot."

He went about over-praising Cartref.
" With the sticks and they're not rubbish,"
he swore, " it's worth five hundred. Three-
fifty will buy the lot."

A certain man said to him : " I'll give
you two-twenty " ; and Charlie replied :
"Nothing doing."

Twelve months he was in selling the
house, and for the damage which in the
meanseason had been done to it by a
bomb and by fire and water the sum of
money that he received was one hundred
and fifty pounds.

98



LOVE AND HATE



Lisbeth had her share, and Olwen had
her share, and each applauded Charlie,
Lisbeth assuring him : " You'll never
regret it " ; and this is how Charlie
applauded himself : " No one else could
have got so much."

" The house and cash will be a nice
egg-nest for Jennie," Olwen announced.

" And number seven and mine will make


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