Caradoc Evans.

My neighbours online

. (page 5 of 8)
Online LibraryCaradoc EvansMy neighbours → online text (page 5 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

have warned him to keep my com-

" The sown seed brought forth a


prayer," Moses pleaded ; " will not the
just God wait for the harvest ? "

" My Lord is just," Paul announced.
" They who gather wickedness shall not
escape the judgment, nor shall the blind
instructor be held blameless."

Moreover Paul said : " The Welsh
Nonconformists have been informed of you
as is proved by the man who confessed
his transgressions. It is a good thing for
me that I am not of the Prophets."

"I'll be your comfort, Paul," the
Prophets murmured, " that you have
done this to our hurt." Abasing them-
selves, they tore their mantles and howled ;
and God, piteous of their howlings, was
constrained to say : " Bring me the prayers
of these people and I will forget your

The Prophets ran hither and thither,
wailing : " Woe. Woe. Woe."

Sore that they behaved with such
scant respect, Paul herded them into the


Council Room. " Is it seemly," he re-
buked them, " that the Prophets of God
act like madmen ? '

" Our lot is awful," said they.

" The lot of the backslider is justifiably
awful," was Paul's reminder. " You have
prophesied too diligently of your own

" You are learned in the Law, Paul,"
said Moses. " Make us waywise."

" Send abroad a messenger to preach
damnation to sinners," answered Paul.
" For Heaven," added he, " is the know-
ledge of Hell."

So it came to pass. From the hem of
Heaven's Highway an angel flew into
Wales ; and the angel, having judged by
his sight and his hearing, returned to
the Council Room and testified to the
godliness of the Welsh Nonconformists.
" As difficult for me," he vowed, " to
write the feathers of my wings as the
sum of their daily prayers."


" None has reached the Record Office,"
said Paul.

" They are always engaged in this
bright business," the angel declared,
" and praising the Lord. And the
number of the people is many and
Heaven will need be enlarged for their

"Of a surety they pray ? ' asked

" Of a surety. And as they pray they
quake terribly."

" The Romans prayed hardly," said
Paul. "But they prayed to other gods."

4 Wherever you stand on their land,"
asserted the angel, " you see a temple."

' I exceedingly fear," Paul remarked,
ic that another Lord has dominion over

The Prophets were alarmed, and they

sent a company of angels over the earth

and a company under the earth ; and

the angels came back ; one company



said : " We searched the swampy marges
and saw neither a god nor a heaven nor
any prayer, and the other company said :
' We probed the lofty emptiness and we
did not touch a god or a heaven or any

Paul was distressed and he reported
his misgivings to God, and God upbraided
the Prophets for their sloth. " Is there
no one who can do this for me ? " He
cried. " Are all the cunning men in
Hell ? Shall I make all Heaven drink
the dregs of my fury ? Burnish your
rusted armour. Depart into Hell and cry
out : 4 Is there one here who knows the
Welsh Nonconformists ? ' Choose the most
crafty and release him and lead him here."
Lots were cast and it fell to Moses to
descend into Hell ; and he stood at the
well, the water of which is harder than
crysta 1 , and he cried out ; and of the
many that professed he chose Saint David,
whom he brought up to God.


" Visit your people," said God to the
Saint, " and bring me their prayers."

" Why should I be called ? "

" It is my will. My Prophets have
failed me, and if it is not done they shall
be destroyed."

David laughed. " From Hell comes a
saviour of the Prophets. In the middle
of my discourse at the Judgment Seat the
Prophets stooped upon me. ' To Hell
with him,' they screamed."

" Perform faithfully," said the Lord,
" and you shall remain in Paradise."

" My Lord is gracious ! I was a Prophet
and the living believe that I am with the
saints. I will retire."

" Perform faithfully and you shall be of
my Prophets."

Then God took away David's body
and nailed it upon a wall, and He put
wings on the shoulders of his soul ; and
David darted through a cloud and landed
on earth, and having looked at the


filthiness of the Nonconformists in Wales
he withdrew to London. But however
actively he tried he could not find a man
oi God nor the destination of the fearful
prayers of Welsh preachers, grocers, drapers,
milkmen, lawyers, and politicians.

Loth to go to Hell and put to a nonplus,
David built a nest in a tree in Richmond
Park, and he paused therein to consider
which way to proceed. One day he was
disturbed by the singing and preaching
of a Welsh soldier who had taken shelter
from rain under the tree. David came
down from his nest, and when the mouth
of the man was most open, he plunged
into the fellow's body. Henceforward
in whatsoever place the soldier was there
also was David ; and the soldier carried
him to a clothier's shop in Putney, the
sign of the shop being written in this
fashion :


The Little (Gents. Mercer) Wonder.



Crossing the threshold, the soldier
shouted : ' How you are ? '

The clothier, whose skin was as hide
which has been scorched in a tanner's yard,
bent over the counter. " Man bach," he
exclaimed, " glad am I to see you. Pray
will I now that you are all Zer Garnett."
His thanksgiving finished, he said :
" Wanting a suit you do."

" Yes, and no," replied the soldier.
" Cheap she must be if yes."

" You need one for certain. Shabby
you are."

" This is a friendly call. To a low-class
shop must a poor tommy go."

" Do you then not be cheated by an
English swindler." The clothier raised his
thin voice : " Kate, here's a strange boy."

" A pretty young woman, in spite of her
snaggled teeth, frisked into the room like
a wanton lamb. Her brown hair was
drawn carelessly over her head, and her
flesh was packed but loosely.


" Serious me," she cried," Llew Eevans !
Llew bach, how you are ? Very big has
the army made you and strong."

" Not changed you are."

" No. The last time you came was to
see the rabbit."

" Dear me, yes. Have you still got her ? "

" She's in the belly long ago," said the

" I have another in her stead," said
Kate. " A splendid one. Would you like
to fondle her ? "

" Why, yez," answered the soldier.

" Drat the old animal," cried the clothier.
'' Too much care you give her, Kate.
Seven looks has the deacon from Capel
King's Cross had of her and he hasn't
bought her yet."

As he spoke the clothier heaped gar-
ments on the counter.

" Put out your arms," he ordered Kate,
" and take the suits to a room for Llew
to try on,"



Kate obeyed, and Llew hymning
" Moriah " took her round the waist
and embraced her, and the woman, hunger-
ing for love, gladly gave herself up. Soon
attired in a black frock coat, a black
waistcoat, and black trousers, Llew stepped
into the shop.

" A champion is the rabbit," he said ;
" and very tame."

" If meat doesn't come down," said the
clothier, " in the belly she'll be as well."

" Let me know before you slay her. Per-
haps I buy her. I will study her again."

The clothier gazed upon Llew. " Tidy
fit," he said.

" A bargain you give me."

" Why for you talk like that ? " the
clothier protested. " No profit can I
make on a Cymro. As per invoice is the
cost. And a latest style bowler hat I
throw in."

Peering through Llew's body, Saint
David saw that the dealer dealt treacher-


ously, and that the money which he got for
the garments was two pounds over that
which was proper.

Llew walked away whistling. " A
simple fellow is the black," he said to
himself. "Three soverens was bad."
' On the evening of the next day that
day being the Sabbath the soldier wor-
shipped in Capel Kingsend ; and betwixt
the sermon and the benediction, the
preacher delivered this speech : " 4 Very
happy am I to see so many warriors here
once more. We sacrificed for them quite
a lot, and if they have any Christianity
left in them they will not forget what
Capel Kingsend has done and will repay
same with interest. Happier still we are
to welcome Mister Hughes -Jones to the
Big Seat. In the valley of the shadow
has Mister Hughes-Jones been. Earnestly
we prayed for our dear religious leader.
To-morrow at seven we shall hold a prayer
meeting for his cure. At seven at night.


Will everybody remember ? On Monday
to-morrow at seven at night a prayer
meeting for Mister Hughes-Jones will be
held in Capel Kingsend. The duty of
every one is to attend. Will you please
say something now, zer ? '

Hughes-Jones rose from the arm-chair
which is under the pulpit, and thrust out
his bristled chin and rested his palms on
the communion table ; and he said not
one word.

" Mister Hughes- Jones," the preacher

" I am too full of grace," said Hughes-
Jones ; he spoke quickly, as one who is
on the verge of tears, and his big nostrils
widened and narrowed as those of one
who is short of breath.

" The congregation, zer, expects

" Well- well, I've had a glimpse of the

better land and with a clear conscience

I could go there, only the Great Father

has more for me to do here. A miracle



happened to me. In the thick of my
sickness a meetority dropped outside the
bedroom. The mistress fainted slap bang.
' If this is my summons,' I said, ' I am
ready.' A narrow squeak that was. I will
now sit and pray for you one and all."

In the morning Llew went to the One
and All and in English that is the tongue
of the high Welsh did he address Hughes-

" I've come to start, zer," he said.

' Why wassn't you in the chapel yezter-
day ? "

" I wass there, zer."

" Ho-ho. For me there are two people
in the chapel me and Him."

4 Yez, indeed. Shall I gommence now ? "

" Gommence what ? "

" My crib what I leave to join up."

' Things have changed. There has been
a war on, mister. They are all smart young
ladies here now. And it is not right to sack
them and shove them on the streets."
K 145


" But-

" Don't answer back, or I'll have you
chucked from the premizes and locked up.
Much gratitude you show for all I did for
the soders."

" Beg pardon, zer."

" We too did our bits at home.
Slaved like horses. Me and the two
sons. And they had to do work of
national importance. Disgraceful I call
it in a free country."

" I would be much obliged, zer, if you
would take me on."

" You left on your own accord, didn't
you ? I never take back a hand that leave
on their own. Why don't you be patriotic
and rejoin and finish up the Huns ? "

Bowed down, the soldier made himself
drunk, and the drink enlivened his dis-
mettled heart ; and in the evening he stole
into the loft which is above the Big Seat
of Capel Kingsend, purposing to disturb
the praying men with loud curses.


But Llew slept, and while he slept the
words of the praying men came through
the ceiling like the pieces of a child's
jig-saw puzzle ; some floated sluggishly
and fell upon the wall and the roof, and
some because of their little strength did
not reach above the floor ; and none went
through the roof. Saint David closed his
hands on many, and there was no sound-
ness in them, and they became as though
they were nothing. He formed a bag of
the soldier's handkerchief, and he filled it
with the words, but as he drew to the
edges they crumbled into less than dust.

He pondered ; and he made a sack out
of cobwebs, and when the sack could not
contain any more words, he wove a lid
of cobwebs over the mouth of it. Jealous
that no mishap should befall his treasure,
he mounted a low, slow-moving cloud,
and folding his wings rode up to the Gate
of the Highway.





A WOMAN named Madlen, who lived
in Penlan the crumbling mud walls of
which are in a nook of the narrow lane
that rises from the valley of Bern
was concerned about the future state of
her son Joseph. Men who judged them-
selves worthy to counsel her gave her
such counsels as these : " Blower bellows
for the smith," " Cobblar clox," " Booboo
for crows."

Madlen flattered her counsellors, albeit
none spoke that which was pleasing unto

" Cobblar clox, ach y fy," she cried to
herself. " Wan is the lad bach with
decline. And unbecoming to his Nuncle
Essec that he follows low tasks."

Moreover, people, look you at John


Lewis. Study his marble gravestone in
the burial ground of Capel Si on : " His
name is John Newton - Lewis ; Paris
House, London, his address. From his
big shop in Putney, Home they brought
him by railway." Genteel are shops for
boys who are consumptive. Always dry
are their coats and feet, and they have
white cuffs on their wrists and chains on
their waistcoats. Not blight nor disease
nor frost can ruin their sellings. And
every minute their fingers grabble in the
purses of nobles.

So Madlen thought, and having acted
in accordance with her design, she took
her son to the other side of Avon Bern,
that is to Capel Mount Moriah, over which
Essec her husband's brother lorded ; and
him she addressed decorously, as one
does address a ruler of the capel.

" Your help I seek," she said.

" Poor is the reward of the Big
Preacher's son in this part," Essec


announced. "A lot of atheists they


" Not pleading I have not the rent am
I," said Madlen. " How if I prentice
Joseph to a shop draper. Has he any
odds ? "

" Proper that you seek," replied Essec.
" Seekers we all are. Sit you. No room
there is for Joseph now I am selling

" Like that is the plan of your head ? "
Madlen murmured, concealing her dread.

" Seven of pounds of rent is small.
Sell at eighty I must."

" Wait for Joseph to prosper. Buy
then he will. Buy for your mam you
will, Joseph ? "

" Sorry I cannot change my think,"
Essec declared.

" Hard is my lot ; no male have I to
ease my burden."

" A weighty responsibility my brother
put on me," said Essec. " ' Dying with


old decline I am,' the brother mouthed.
4 Fruitful is the soil. Watch Madlen
keeps her fruitful.' But I am generous.
Eight shall be the rent. Are you not the
wife of my flesh ? ' :

After she had wiped away her tears,
" Be kind," said Madlen, " and wisdom
it to Joseph."

" The last evening in the seiet I com-
manded the congregation to give the
Big Man's photograph a larger hire,"
said Essec. " A few of my proverbs I
will now spout." He spat his spittle and
bundling his beard blew the residue of
his nose therein ; and he chanted : " Re-
member Essec Pugh, whose right foot is
tied into a club knot. Here's the qlub to
kick sinners as my perished brother tried to
kick the Bad Satan from the inside of his
female Madlen with his club of his bast on.
Some preachers search over the Word.
Some preachers search in the Word.
But search under the Word does preacher


Capel Moriah. What's the light I find ?
A stutterer was Moses. As the middle of
a butter cask were the knees of Paul. A
splotch like a red cabbage leaf was on
the cheek of Solomon. By the signs
shall the saints be known. c Preacher
Club Foot, come forward to tell about
Moriah,' the Big Man will say. Mean
scamps, remember Essec Pugh, for I shall
remember you the Day of Rising."

It came to be that on a morning in the
last month of his thirteenth year Joseph
was bidden to stand at the side of the
cow which Madlen was milking and to
give an ear to these commandments :
" The serpent is in the bottom of the
glass. The hand on the tavern window
is the hand of Satan. On the Sabbath
eve get one penny for two ha'pennies for
the plate collection. Put money in the
handkerchief corner. Say to persons you
are a nephew of Respected Essec Pugh
and you will have credit. Pick the white


sixpence from the floor and give her to
the mishtir ; she will have fallen from
his pocket trowis."

Then Joseph turned, and carrying his
yellow tin box, he climbed into the craggy
moorland path which takes you to the
tramping road. By the pump of Tavarn
Ffos he rested until Shim Carrier came
thereby ; and while Shim's horse drank
of barley water, Joseph stepped into the
waggon ; and at the end of the passage
Shim showed him the business of getting
a ticket and that of going into and coming
down from a railway carriage.

In that manner did Joseph go to the
drapery shop of Rees Jones in Car-
marthen ; and at the beginning he was
instructed in the keeping and the selling
of such wares as reels of cotton, needles,
pins, bootlaces, mending wool, buttons,
and such like all those things which
together are known as haberdashery.
He marked how this and that were done,


and in what sort to fashion his visage and
frame his phrases to this or that woman.
His oncoming was rapid. He could mea-
sure, cut, and wrap in a parcel twelve
yards of brown or white calico quicker
than any one in the shop, and he under-
stood by rote the folds of linen table-
cloths and bedsheets ; and in the town
this was said of him : " Shopmen quite
ordinary can sell what a customer wants ;
Pugh Rees Jones can sell what nobody

The first year passed happily, and the
second year ; and in the third Joseph was
stirred to go forward.

" What use to stop here all the life ? ' :
he asked himself. " Better to go off."

He put his belongings in his box and
went to Swansea.

" Very busy emporium I am in," were
the words he sent to Madlen. " And the
wage is twenty pounds."

Madlen rejoiced at her labour and


sang : " Ten acres of land, and a cow-
house with three stalls and a stall for
the new calf, and a pigstye, and a house
for my bones and a barn for my hay and
straw, and a loft for my hens : why should
men pray for more ? ' : She ambled to
Moriah, diverting passers-by with boastful
tales of Joseph, and loosened her ima-
ginings to the Respected.

" Pounds without number he is earn-
ing," she cried. " Rich he'll be. Swells
are youths shop."

" Gifts from the tip of my tongue fell
on him," said Essec. " Religious were
my gifts."

44 Iss. indeed, the brother of the male

44 Now you can afford nine of pounds
for the place. Rich he is and richer he
will be. Pounds without number he

Madlen made a record of Essec's
scheme for Joseph ; and she said also :


" Proud I'll be to shout that my son bach
bought Penlan."

14 Setting aside money am I," Joseph
speedily answered.

Again ambition aroused him. " Footling
is he that is content with Zwanssee. Next
half-holiday skurshon I'll crib in Cardiff."

Joseph gained his desire, and the
chronicle of his doings he sent to his
mother. " Twenty-five, living-in, and
spiffs on remnants are the wages," he
said. ;c In the flannelette department
I am and I have not been fined once.
Lot of English I hear, and we call ladies
madam that the wedded nor the unwedded
are insulted. Boys harmless are the eight
that sleep by me. Examine Nuncle of
the price of Penlan."

' I will wag my tongue craftily and
slowly," Madlen vowed as she crossed
her brother-in-law's threshold.

" I Shire Pembroke land is cheap," she
said darkly.



" Look you for a farm there," said
Essec. " Pelted with offers am I for
Penlan. Ninety I shall have. Poverty
makes me sell very soon."

" As he says."

" Pretty tight is Joseph not to buy her.
No care has he for his mam."

" Stiffish are affairs with him, poor

Madlen reported to Joseph that which
Essec had said, and she added : " Awful
to leave the land of your father. And
auction the cows. Even the red cow
that is a champion for milk. Where shall
I go ? The House of the Poor. Horrid
that your man must go to the House of
the Poor."

Joseph sat on his bed, writing : " Taken
ten pounds from the post I have which
leaves three shillings. Give Nuncle the
ten as earnest of my intention."

Nine years after that day on which he
had gone to Carmarthen Joseph said in


his heart : " London shops for experi-
ence " ; and he caused a frock coat to
be sewn together, and he bought a silk
hat and an umbrella, and at the spring
cribbing he walked into a shop in the
West End of London, asking : " Can I
see the engager, pleaze ? " The engager
came to him and Joseph spoke out :
4 I have all-round experience. Flannel-
ettes three years in Niclass, Cardiff, and
left on my own accord. Kept the
coloured dresses in Tomos, Zwanssee.
And served through. Apprentized in
Reez Jones Carmarthen for three years.
Refs egzellent. Good ztok-keeper and

" Start at nine o'clock Monday morn-
ing," the engager replied. " Thirty
pounds a year and spiffs ; to live in.
You'll be in the laces."

" Fashionable this shop is," Joseph
wrote to Madlen, " and I have to be smart
and wear a coat like the preachers, and
L 161


mustn't take more than three zwap lines
per day or you have the sack. Two
white shirts per week; and the dresses of
the showroom young ladies are a treat.
Five pounds enclosed for Nuncle."

" Believe your mam," Madlen an-
swered : " don't throw gravel at the
windows of the old English unless they
have the fortunes."

In his zeal for his mother's welfare
Joseph was heedless of himself, eating
little of the poor food that was served
him, clothing his body niggardly, and
seldom frequenting public bath-houses ;
his mind spanned his purpose, choosing
the fields he would join to Penlan, count-
ing the number of cattle that would
graze on the land, planning the slate -
tiled house which he would set up.

" Twenty pounds more must I have,"
he moaned, " for the blaguard Nuncle."

Every day thereafter he stole a little
money from his employers and every


night he made peace with God : " Only
twenty-five is the wage, and spiffs don't
count because of the fines. Don't you let
me be found out, Big Man bach. Will you
strike mam into her grave ? And disgrace
Respected Essec Pugh Capel Moriah ? ' :

He did not abate his energies howso-
ever hard his disease was wasting and
destroying him. The men who lodged
in his bedroom grew angry with him.
" How can we sleep with your dam
coughing ? " they cried. " Why don't
you invest in a second-hand coffin? '

Feared that the women whom he served
would complain that the poison of his
sickness was tainting them and that he
would be sent away, Joseph increased
his pilferings ; where he had stolen a
shilling he now stole two shillings ; and
when he got five pounds above the sum
he needed, he heaved a deep sigh and said :
"Thank you for your favour, God bach.
I will now go home to heal myself."


Madlen took the money to Essec,
coming back heavy with grief.

" Hoo-hoo," she whined, " the ninety
has bought only the land. Selling the
houses is Essec."

" Wrong there is," said Joseph. " Probe
deeply we must."

From their puzzlings Madlen said :
" What will you do ? "

" Go and charge swindler Moriah."

" Meddle not with him. Strong he is
with the Lord."

" Teach him will I to pocket my honest

Because of his weakness, Joseph did
not go to Moriah ; to-day he said : "I
will to-morrow," and to-morrow he said :
"Certain enough I'll go to-morrow."

In the twilight of an afternoon he
and Madlen sat down, gazing about, and
speaking scantily ; and the same thought
was with each of them, and this was the
thought: "A tearful prayer will remove the


Big Man from His judgment, but nothing
will remove Essec from his purpose."

44 Mam fach," said Joseph, " how will
things be with you ? "

" Sorrow not, soul nice," Madlen en-
treated her son. " Couple of weeks very
short have I to live."

"As an hour is my space. Who will
stand up for you ? ' :

44 Hish, now. Hish-hish, my little heart."

Madlen sighed ; and at the door she made
a great clatter, and the sound of the clatter
was less than the sound of her wailing.

44 Mam ! Mam ! " Joseph shouted.
" Don't you scream. Hap you will soften
Nuncle's heart if you say to him that my
funeral is close."

Madlen put a mourning gown over her

1 2 3 5 7 8

Online LibraryCaradoc EvansMy neighbours → online text (page 5 of 8)