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it more," added Lisbeth.

" It's a great comfort that she'll never
want a roof over her," said Olwen.

Mindful of their vows to their father,
the sisters lived at peace and held their
peace in the presence of their prattling
neighbours. On Sundays, togged in black
gowns on which were ornaments of jet, they
worshipped in the Congregational Chapel ;
and as they stood up in their pew, you saw
that Olwen was as the tall trunk of a tree
at whose shoulders are the stumps of
chopped branches, and that Lisbeth's
body was as a billhook. Once they

99



MY NEIGHBOURS



journeyed to Aberporth and they laid a
wreath of wax flowers and a thick layer
of gravel on their mother's grave. They
tore a gap in the wall which divided their
little gardens, and their feet, so often
did one visit the other, trod a path from
backdoor to backdoor.

Nor was their love confused in the joy
that each had in Jennie, for whom sacri-
fices were made and treasures hoarded.

But Jennie was discontented, puling
for what she could not have, mourning
her lowly fortune, deploring her spinster -
hood.

" Bert and me are getting married
Christmas," she said on a day.

44 Hadn't you better wait a while," said
Olwen. 44 You're young."

44 We talked of that. Charlie is getting
on. He's thirty-eight, or will be in
January. We'll keep on in the shop and
have sleep-out vouchers and come here
week-ends."

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LOVE AND HATE



As the manner is, the mother wept.

" You've nothing to worry about,"
Lisbeth assuaged her sister. " He's
steady and respectable. We must see
that she does it in style. You look after
the other arrangements and I'll see to
her clothes."

She walked through wind and rain
and sewed by day and night, without
heed of the numbness which was creeping
into her limbs ; and on the floor of a box
she put six jugs which had been owned
by the Welshwoman who was Adam's
grandmother, and over the jugs she
arrayed the clothes she had made, and
over all she put a piece of paper on which
she had written, " To my darling niece
from her Aunt Lisbeth."

Jennie examined her aunt's handi-
work and was exceedingly wrathful.

" I shan't wear them," she cried.
14 She might have spoken to me before
she started. After all, it's my wedding.
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MY NEIGHBOURS



Not hers. Pwf ! I can buy better jugs
in the sixpence-apenny bazaar."

" Aunt Liz will alter them," Olwen
began.

" I agree with her," said Charlie.
" Aunt Liz should be more considerate
seeing what I have done for her. But for
me she wouldn't have any money at all."

Charlie and Jennie stirred their rage
and gave utterance to the harshest say-
ings they could devise about Lisbeth ;
" and I don't care if she's listening out-
side the door," said Charlie ; " and you
can tell her it's me speaking," said Jennie.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday
Jennie pouted and dealt rudely and un-
civilly with her mother ; and on Monday,
at that hour she was preparing to depart,
Olwen relented and gave her twenty
pounds, wherefore on the wedding day
Lisbeth was astonished.

4 \Miy aren't you wearing my pre-
sents ? " she asked.

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LOVE AND HATE



" That's it," Jennie shouted. " Don't
you forget to throw cold water, will
you ? It wouldn't be you if you did.
I don't want to. See ? And if you
don't like it, lump it."

Olwen calmed her sister, whispering :
" She's excited. Don't take notice."

At the quickening of the second dawn
after Christmas, Jennie and Bert arose,
and Jennie having hidden her wedding-
ring, they two went about their business ;
and when at noon Olwen proceeded to
number seven, she found that Lisbeth
had been taken sick of the palsy and was
fallen upon the floor. Lisbeth was never
well again, and what time she under-
stood all that Olwen had done for her,
she melted into tears.

" I should have gone but for you," she
averred. " The money's Jennie's, which
is the same as I had it and under the
mattress, and the house is Jennie's."

" She's fortunate," returned Olwen.
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MY NEIGHBOURS



" She'll never want for ten shillings a
week which it will fetch. You are kind
indeed."

" Don't neglect them for me," Lisbeth
urged. " I'll be quite happy if you drop
in occasionally."

" Are you not my sister ? ' : Olwen
cried. " I'm having a bed for you in our
front sitting-room. You won't be lonely."

Winter, spring, and summer passed, and
the murmurs of Jennie and Charlie against
Lisbeth were grown into a horrid clamour.

" Hush, she'll hear you," Olwen always
implored. " It won't be for much longer.
The doctor says she may go any minute."

" Or last ages," said Charlie.

" Jennie will have the house and the
money," Olwen pleaded. " And the
money hasn't been touched. Same as
you gave it to her. She showed it to
me under the mattress. Not every one
have two houses."

" By then you will have bought it over
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LOVE AND HATE



and over again," said Charlie. " Doesn't
give Jennie and me much chance of
saving, does it ? "

" And she can't eat this and can't eat
that," Jennie screamed. " She won't,
she means."

Weekly was Olwen harassed with new
disputes, and she rued that she had said :
" I'll have a bed for you in our front
sitting-room " ; and as it falls out in
family quarrels, she sided with her
daughter and her daughter's husband.

So the love of the sisters became forced
and strained, each speaking and answer-
ing with an ill-favoured mouth ;. it was
no longer entire and nothing that was
professed united it together.

" I must make my will now," Lisbeth
hinted darkly.

" Perhaps Charlie will oblige you,"
replied Olwen.

" Charlie ! You make me smile. Why,
he can't keep a wife."
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MY NEIGHBOURS



" I thought you had settled all that,"
Olwen faltered.

" Did you ? Anyway, I'll have it in
black and white. The minister will do
it."

After the minister was gone away,
Lisbeth said : "I couldn't very well
approach him. He's worried about
money for the new vestry. Why didn't
you tell me about the new vestry ? It
was in the magazine."

Olwen mused and from her musings
came this : " It'll be a pity to spoil it
now. For Jennie's sake."

She got very soft pillows and clean
bedclothes for Lisbeth and she placed
toothsome dishes before Lisbeth ; and
it was Lisbeth's way to probe with a fork
all the dishes that Olwen had made and
to say "It's badly burnt," or "You
didn't give much for this," or " Of course
you were never taught to cook."

For three years Olwen endured her
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LOVE AND HATE



sister's taunts and the storms of her
daughter and her son-in-law ; and then
Jennie said : " I'm going to have a
baby." If she was glad and feared to
hear this, how much greater was her
joy and how much heavier was her
anxiety as Jennie's space grew narrower ?
She left over going to the aid of Lisbeth,
from whom she took away the pillows
and for whom she did not provide any
more toothsome dishes ; she did not go
to her aid howsoever frantic the beatings
on the wall or fierce the outcry. Never
has a sentry kept a closer look-out than
Olwen for Jennie. Albeit Jennie died,
and as Olwen looked at the hair which
was faded from the hue of daffodils into
that of tow and at the face the cream of
the skin of which was now like clay, she
hated Lisbeth with the excess that she had
loved her.

" My dear child shall go to Heaven
like a Princess," she said ; and she sat
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MY NEIGHBOURS



at her work table to fashion a robe of fine
cambric and lace for her dead.

Disturbed by the noise of the machine,
Lisbeth wailed : " You let me starve but
won't let me sleep. Why doesn't any
one help me ? I'll get the fever. What
have I done ? ' ;

Olwen moved to the doorway of the
room, her body filling the frame thereof,
her scissors hanging at her side.

" You are wrong, sister, to starve me,
Lisbeth said. " To starve me. I cannot
walk you know. You must not blame
me if I change my mind about my money.
It was wrong of you."

Olwen did not answer.

" Dear me," Lisbeth cried, " suppos-
ing our father in Heaven knew how
you treat me. Indeed the vestry shall
have my bit. I might be a pig in a pig-
stye. I'll get the fever. Supposing our
father is looking through the window of
Heaven at your cruelty to me."
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LOVE AND HATE



Olwen muttered the burden of her
care : " 4 The wife would pull through
if she had plenty of attention. How
could she with her about ? The two of
you killed her. You did. I warned
you to give up everything and see to her.
But you neglected her.' That's what
Charlie will say. Hoo-hoo. ' It's un-
heard of for a woman to die before child-
birth. Serves you right if I have an
inquest.' ..."

44 For shame to keep from me now,"
said Lisbeth in a voice that was higher
than the continued muttering of Olw r en.
44 Have you no regard for the living ?
The dead is dead. And you made too
much of Jennie. You spoiled her. ..."

On a sudden Olwen ceased, and she
strode up to the bed and thrust her
scissors into Lisbeth's breast.



109



TREASURE AND TROUBLE



111



VI
TREASURE AND TROUBLE

ON a day in a dry summer Sheremiah's
wife Catrin drove her cows to drink at
the pistil which is in the field of a certain
man. Hearing of that which she had
done, the man commanded his son :
" Awful is the frog to open my gate.
Put you the dog and bitch on her.
Teach her will I."

It was so ; and Sheremiah complained :
4 Why for is my spring barren ? In every
field should water be."

" Say, little husband, what is in your
think ? " asked Catrin.

14 Stupid is your head," Sheremiah
answered, " not to know what I throw
out. Going am I to search for a wet
farm fach."

Sheremiah journeyed several ways, and
H 113



MY NEIGHBOURS



always he journeyed in secret ; and he
could not find what he wanted. Tailor
Club Foot came to sit on his table to
sew together garments for him and his
two sons. The tailor said : " Farm very
pretty is Rhydwen. Farm splendid is
the farm fach."

" And speak like that you do, Club
Foot," said Sheremiah.

" Iss-iss," the tailor mumbled.

" Not wanting an old farm do I,"
Sheremiah cried. " But speak to good-
ness where the place is. Near you are,
calf bach, about affairs."

The tailor answered that Rhydwen is
in the hollow of the hill which arises from
Capel Sion to the moor.

In the morning Sheremiah rode forth
on his colt, and he said to Shan Rhydwen :
" Boy of a pigger am I, whatever."

" Dirt-dirt, man," Shan cried ; " no
fat pigs have I, look you."

" Mournful that is. Mouthings have I
114



TREASURE AND TROUBLE



heard about grand pigs Tyhen. No odds,
wench. Farewell for this minute, female
Tyhen."

' Pigger from where you are ? " Shan
asked.

' From Pencader the horse has carried
me. Carry a preacher he did the last
Monday."

' Weary you are, stranger. Give hay
to your horse, and rest you and take you
a little cup of tea."

" Happy am I to do that. Thirsty is
the backhead of my neck."

Sheremiah praised the Big Man for tea,
bread, butter, and cheese, and while he
ate and drank he put artful questions to
Shan. In the evening he said to Catrin :
14 Quite tidy is Rhydwen. Is she not
one hundred acres ? And if there is not
water in every field, is there not in
four ? "

He hastened to the owner of Rhydwen
and made this utterance : " Farmer very
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MY NEIGHBOURS



ordinary is your sister Shan. Shamed
was I to examine your land."

" I shouldn't be surprised," answered
the owner. " Speak hard must I to the
trollop."

" Not handy are women," said Shere-
miah. " Sell him to me the poor-
place. Three-fourths of the cost I give
in yellow money and one-fourth by-and-
by in three years."

Having taken over Rhydwen, Shere-
miah in due season sold much of his
corn and hay, some of his cattle, and
many such moveable things as were in his
house or employed in tillage ; and he and
Catrin came to abide in Rhydwen ; and
they arrived with horses in carts, cows,
a bull and oxen, and their sons, Aben and
Dan. As they passed Capel Sion, people
who were gathered at the roadside to
judge them remarked how that Aben
was blind in his left eye and that Dan's
shoulders were as high as his ears.
116



TREASURE AND TROUBLE



At the finish of a round of time Shere-

I

miah hired out his sons and all that they
earned he took away from them ; and he
and Catrin toiled to recover Rhydwen
from its slovenry. After he had paid all
that he owed for the place, and after
Catrin had died of dropsy, he called his
sons home.

Thereon he thrived. He was over all
on the floor of Sion, even those in the Big
Seat. Men in debt and many widow-
women sought him to free them, and in
freeing them he made compacts to his
advantage. Thus he came to have
more cattle than Rhydwen could hold,
and he bought Penlan, the farm of eighty
acres which goes up from Rhydwen to the
edge of the moor, and beyond.

In quiet seasons he and Aben and Dan
dug ditches on the land of Rhydwen ; " so
that," he said, " my creatures shall not
perish of thirst."

Of a sudden a sickness struck him, and
117



MY NEIGHBOURS



in the hush which is sometimes before
death, he summoned to him his sons.
" Off away am I to the Palace," he said.

" Large will be the shout of joy among
the angels," Aben told him.

" And much weeping there will be in
Sion," said Dan. " Speak you a little
verse for a funeral preach."

" Cease you your babblings, now, in-
deed," Sheremiah demanded. " Born first
you were, Aben, and you get Rhydwen.
And you, Dan, Penlan."

" Father bach," Aben cried, " not right
that you leave more to me than Dan."

" Crow you do like a cuckoo," Dan
admonished his brother. " Wise you are,
father. Big already is your giving to me."

Aben looked at the window and he
beheld a corpse candle moving outward
through the way of the gate. " Religious
you lived, father Sheremiah, and religious
you put on a White Shirt." Then Aben
spoke of the sight he had seen.
118



TREASURE AND TROUBLE



The old man opened his lips, counsel-
ling : " Hish, hish, boys. Break you
trenches in Penlan, Dan. Poor bad are
farms without water. More than every-
thing is water." He died, and his sons
washed him and clothed him in a White
Shirt of the dead, and clipped off his long
beard, which ceasing to grow, shall not
entwine his legs and feet and his arms and
hands on the Day of Rising ; and they
bowed their heads in Sion for the full year.

Dan and Aben lived in harmony. They
were not as brothers, but as strangers ;
neighbourly and at peace. They married
wives, by whom they had children, and
they sat in the Big Seat in Sion. They
mowed their hay and reaped their corn at
separate periods, so that one could help
the other ; if one needed the loan of any-
thing he would borrow it from his brother ;
if one's heifer strayed into the pasture of
the other, the other would say : " The Big
Man will make the old grass grow." On
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MY NEIGHBOURS



the Sabbath they and their children walked
as in procession to Sion.

In accordance with his father's word,
Dan dug ditches in Penlan ; and against
the barnyard which is at the forehead of
his house water sprang up, and he caused
it to run over his water-wheel into his
pond.

Now there fell upon this part of Cardigan-
shire a season of exceeding drought. The
face of the earth was as the face of a
cancerous man. There was no water in
any of the ditches of Rhydwen and none
in those of Penlan. But the spring which
Dan had found continued to yield, and
from it Aben's wife took away water in
pitchers and buckets ; and to the pond
Aben brought his animals.

One day Aben spoke to Dan in this
wise : " Serious sure, an old bother is
this."

" Iss-iss," replied Dan. " Good is the
Big Man to allow us water bach."
120



TREASURE AND TROUBLE



" How speech you if I said : ' Unfasten
your pond and let him flow into my
ditches ' ? "

6 The land will suck him before he goes
far," Dan answered.

Aben departed ; and he considered :
" Did not Penlan belong to Sheremiah ?
Travel under would the water and hap
spout up in my close. Nice that would
be. Nasty is the behaviour of Dan and
there's sly is the job."

To Dan he said : " Open your pond,
man, and let the water come into the
ditches which father Sheremiah broke."

Dan would not do as Aben desired,
wherefore Aben informed against him
in Sion, crying : " Little Big Man, know
you not what a Turk is the fox ? One eye
bach I have, but you have two, and can
see all his wickedness. Make you him
pay the cost." He raised his voice so
high that the congregation could not dis-
cern the meaning thereof, and it shouted
121



MY NEIGHBOURS



as one person : " Wo, now, boy Sheremiah !
What is the matter, say you ? ' ;

The anger which Aben nourished against
Dan waxed hot. Rain came, and it did
not abate, and the man plotted mischief
to his brother's damage. In heavy dark-
ness he cut the halters which held Dan's
cows and horses to their stalls and drove
the animals into the road. He also
poisoned pond Penlan, and a sheep died
before it could be killed and eaten.

Dan wept very sore. "Take you the
old water," he said. " Fat is my sorrow."

" Not religious you are," Aben censured
him. " All the water is mine."

" Useful he is to me," Dan replied.
" Like would I that he turns my wheel as
he goes to you."

" Clap your mouth," answered Aben.
" Not as much as will go through the leg
of a smoking pipe shall you have."

In Sion Aben told the Big Man of all the
benefits which he had conferred upon Dan.
122



TREASURE AND TROUBLE



Men and women encouraged his fury ;
some said this : " An old paddy is Dan
to rob your water. Ach y fi " ; and some
said this : "A dirty ass is the mule."
His fierce wrath was not allayed albeit Dan
turned the course of the water away from
his pond, and on his knees and at his
labour asked God that peace might come.

" Bury the water," Aben ordered, " and
fill in the ditch, Satan."

" That will I do speedily," Dan answered
in his timidity. " Do you give me an
hour fach, for is not the sowing at hand ? "
Aben would not hearken unto his brother.
He deliberated with a lawyer, and Dan
was made to dig a ditch straightway
from the spring to the close of Rhydwen,
and he put pipes in the bottom of the
ditch, and these pipes he covered with
gravel and earth.

So as Dan did not sow, he had nothing
to reap ; and people mocked him in this
fashion : " Come we will and gather in your
123



MY NEIGHBOURS



harvest, Dan bach." He held his tongue,
because he had nothing to say. His
affliction pressed upon him so heavily that
he would not be consoled and he hanged
himself on a tree ; and his body was taken
down at the time of the morning stars.

A man ran to Rhydwen and related to
Aben the manner of Dan's death. Aben
went into a field and sat as one astonished
until the light of day paled. Then he
arose, shook himself, and set to number
the ears of wheat which were in his field.



124



SAINT DAVID AND THE PROPHETS



125



VII
SAINT DAVID AND THE PROPHETS

GOD grants prayers gladly. In the
moment that Death was aiming at
him a missile of down, Hughes-Jones
prayed : " Bad I've been. Don't let
me fall into the Fiery Pool. Give me a
brief while and a grand one I'll be for
the religion." A shaft of fire came out
of the mouth of the Lord and the shaft
stood in the way of the missile, con-
suming it utterly ; "so," said the Lord,
" are his offences forgotten."

" Is it a light thing," asked Paul, " to
defy the Law ? "

" God is merciful," said Moses.

" Is the Kingdom for such as pray
conveniently ? "

" This," Moses reproved Paul, " is
127



MY NEIGHBOURS



written in a book : ' The Lord shall judge
His people.' :

Yet Paul continued to dispute, the
Prophets gathering near him for enter-
tainment ; and the company did not
break up until God, as is the custom
in Heaven when salvation is wrought,
proclaimed a period of rejoicing.

Wherefore Heaven's windows, the
number of which is more than that of
blades of grass in the biggest hayfield,
were lit as with a flame ; and Heman
and his youths touched their instruments
with fingers and hammers and the sing-
ing angels lifted their voices in song ;
and angels in the likeness of young
girls brewed tea in urns and angels
in the likeness of old women baked
pleasant breads in the heavenly ovens.
Out of Hell there arose two mountains,
which established themselves one over
the other on the floor of Heaven, and
the height of the mountains was the
128



SAINT DAVID AND THE PROPHETS

depth of Hell; and you could not see
the sides of the mountains for the vast
multitude of sinners thereon, and you
could not see the sinners for the live
coals to which they were held, and you
could not see the burning coals for the
radiance of the pulpit which was set on
the furthermost peak of the mountain,
and you could not see the pulpit from
toe to head it was of pure gold for the
shining countenance of Isaiah ; and as
Isaiah preached, blood issued out of the
ends of his fingers from the violence with
which he smote his Bible, and his single
voice was louder than the lamentations
of the damned.

As the Lord had enjoined, the inhabi-
tants of Heaven rejoiced : eating and
drinking, weeping and crying hosanna.

But Paul would not joy over that which

the Lord had done, and soon he sought

Him, and finding Him said : " A certain

Roman noble laboured his horses to

I 129



MY NEIGHBOURS



their death in a chariot race before
Caesar : was he worthy of Caesar's
reward ? '

" The noble is on the mountain-side,"
God answered, " and his horses are in
my chariots."

" One bears witness to his own iniquity,
and you bid us feast and you say ' He
shall have remembrance of me.' :

" Is there room in Heaven for a false
witness ? " asked God.

Again did Paul seek God. " My
Lord," he entreated, " what manner of
man is this that confesses his faults ? "

" You will provoke my wrath," said
God. " Go and be merry."

Paul's face being well turned, God
moved backward into the Record Office,
and of the Clerk of the Records He
demanded : " Who is he that prayed
unto me ? "

" William Hughes- Jones," replied the
Clerk.

130



SAINT DAVID AND THE PROPHETS

" Has the Forgiving Angel blotted out
his sins ? "

" For that I have fixed a long space of
time " ; and the Clerk showed God eleven
heavy books, on the outside of each of
which was written : " William Hughes-
Jones, One and All Drapery Store,
Hammersmith. His sins " ; and God
examined the books and was pleased, and
He cried: "Rejoice fourfold"; and if
Isaiah's roar was higher than the wailings
of the perished it was now more awful
than the roar of a hundred bullocks in a
slaughter-house, and if Isaiah's counten-
ance shone more than anything in Heaven,
it was now like the eye of the sun.

" Of what nation is he ? " the Lord
inquired of the Clerk.

"The Welsh; the Welsh Noncon-
formists."

" Put before me their good deeds."

" There is none. William Hughes-
Jones is the first of them that has prayed.
131



MY NEIGHBOURS



Are not the builders making a chamber
for the accounts of their disobedience ? '

Immediately God thundered : the earth
trembled and the stars shivered and
fled from their courses and struck
against one another ; and God stood on
the brim of the universe and stretched
out a hand and a portion of a star fell
into it, and that is the portion which
He hurled into the garden of Hughes-
Jones's house. On a sudden the revels
ceased : the bread of the feast was stone
and the tea water, and the songs of the
angels were hushed, and the strings of
the harps and viols were withered, and
the hammers were dough, and the
mountains sank into Hell, and behold
Satan in the pulpit which was an iron
cage.

The Prophets hurried into the Judg-
ment Hall with questions, and lo God
was in a cloud, and He spoke out of the
cloud.

132



SAINT DAVID AND THE PROPHETS

" I am angry," He said, " that Welsh
Nonconformists have not heard my name.
Who are the Welsh Nonconformists ? "
The Prophets were silent, and God
mourned : " My Word is the earth and
I peopled the earth with my spittle ;
and I appointed my Prophets to watch
over my people, and the watchers slept
and my children strayed."

Thus too said the Lord : " That hour
I devour my children who have forsaken
me, that hour I shall devour my
Prophets."

" May be there is one righteous among
us ? " said Moses.

" You have all erred."

' May be there is one righteous among
the Nonconformists," said Moses ; " will
the just God destroy him ? "

' The one righteous is humbled, and I


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