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Title: The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shôn Catti - Descriptive of Life in Wales: Interspersed with Poems
Author: Prichard, T. J. Llewelyn, -1862
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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SHON CATTI***


Transcribed from the 1828 John Cox edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org



                                   THE
                         ADVENTURES AND VAGARIES
                                    OF
                             TWM SHÔN CATTI,


                              DESCRIPTIVE OF

                              LIFE IN WALES:

                         Interspersed with Poems.

                                * * * * *

                       BY T. J. LLEWELYN PRICHARD.

                                * * * * *

   Mae llevain mawr a gwaeddi
   Yn Ystrad Fîn eleni
   A cherrig nadd yn toddi ’n blwm
   Rhag ovn Twm Shôn Catti.

   In Ystrad Fîn this year, appalling
   The tumult loud, the weeping, wailing,
      That thrills with fear and pity;
   The lightning scathes the mountain’s head,
   The massy stones dissolve like lead,
   All nature shudders at the tread
      And shout of Twm Shôn Catti.

                                * * * * *

                               ABERYSTWYTH:
                   PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR, BY JOHN COX.

                                   1828

                                * * * * *



CHAP. I.


The popularity of Twm Shôn Catti’s name in Wales.  The resemblance of his
character to that of Robin Hood and others.  An exposition of the
spurious account of our hero in the “INNKEEPER’S ALBUM,” and in the drama
founded thereon.  The honor of his birth claimed by different towns.  A
true account of his birth and parentage.

THE preface to the once popular farce of “Killing no Murder” informs us,
that many a fry of infant Methodists are terrified and frightened to bed
by the cry of “the Bishop is coming!”—That the right reverend prelates of
the realm should become bugbears and buggaboos to frighten the children
of Dissenters, is curious enough, and evinces a considerable degree of
ingenious malignity in bringing Episcopacy into contempt, if true.  Be
that as it may in England, in Wales it is not so; for the demon of terror
and monster of the nursery there, to check the shrill cry of infancy, and
enforce silent obedience to the nurse or mother, is Twm Shôn Catti.  But
“babes and sucklings” are not the only ones on whom that name has
continued to act as a spell; nor are fear and wonder its only attributes,
for the knavish exploits and comic feats of the celebrated freebooter Twm
Shôn Catti, are, like those of Robin Hood in England, the themes of many
a rural rhyme, and the subject of many a village tale; where, seated
round the ample hearth of the farm house, or the more limited one of the
lowly cottage, an attentive audience is ever found, where his
mirth-exciting tricks are told and listened to with vast satisfaction,
unsated by the frequency of repetition: for the “lowly train” are
generally strangers to that fastidiousness which turns, disgusted, from
the twice-told tale.

Although neither the legends, poetry, nor history of the principality,
seems to interest, or accord with the queasy taste of our English
brethren, the name of Twm Shôn Catti, curiously enough, not only made its
way among them, but had the unexpected honor of being woven into a tale,
and exhibited on the stage as a Welsh national dramatic spectacle, under
the title, and the imposing _second_ title, of Twm _John_ Catti, or the
Welsh Rob Roy.  The nationality of the Welsh residents in London, who
always bear their country along with them wherever they go or stay, was
immediately roused, notwithstanding the great offence of substituting
“John” for “Shôn,” which called at once on their curiosity and love of
country to peruse the “Innkeeper’s Album,” in which this tale first
appeared, and to visit the Cobourg Theatre, where overflowing houses
nightly attended the representation of the “Welsh Rob Roy.”  Now this
second title, which confounded the poor Cambrians, was a grand expedient
of the author’s, to excite the attention of the Londoners, who naturally
associated it with the hero of the celebrated Scotch novel; the bait was
immediately swallowed, and that tale, an awkward and most weak attempt to
imitate the “Great Unknown,” and by far the worst article in the book,
actually _sold_ a volume, in other respects well deserving the attention
of the public.  “It is good to have a friend at court,” is an adage no
less familiar than true; and Mr. Deacon’s success in this instance
clearly illustrates this new maxim—“it is good to have a friend among the
critics,” by most of whom his book has been either praised, or allowed
quietly to pass muster, adorned with the insignia of unquestionable
merit.

Great was the surprise of the sons of the Cymry to find the robber Twm
Shon Catti, who partially resembled Bamfylde Moore Carew, Robin Hood, and
the humorous but vulgar footpad, Turpin, elevated to the degree of a
high-hearted, injured chieftain;—the stealer of calves, old women’s
flannels, and three-legged pots, a noble character, uttering heroic
speeches, and ultimately dying for his _Ellen_ {3a} a hero’s death!

“This may do for London, but in Wales, where ‘_Y gwir yn erbyn y byd_’
{3b} is our motto, we know better!” muttered many a testy Cambrian, while
he felt doubly indignant at the author’s and actors’ errors in
mis-writing and mis-pronouncing their popular outlaw’s “sponsorial or
baptismal appellation,” {4} as Doctor Pangloss would say: and another
source of umbrage to them was, that an English author’s sacrilegiously
dignifying a robber with the qualities of a hero, conveyed the villainous
inference that Wales was barren of _real_ heroes—an insinuation that no
Welshman could tamely endure or forgive.  In an instant recurred the
honored names of Rodri Mawr, Owen Gwyneth, Caswallon ab Beli, Owen
Glyndwr, Rhys ab Thomas, and a vast chain of Cambrian worthies, not
forgetting the royal race of Tudor, that gave an Elizabeth to the English
throne; on which the mimic scene before them, and the high vauntings of
Huntley in the character of Twm Shôn Catti, sunk into the insignificance
of a Punch and puppet show, in comparison with the mighty men who then
passed before the mental eye.

If the misrepresentation of historical characters, re-moulded and
amplified, to suit the fascinating details of romance, be a fault
generally, it is particularly offensive in the present case, where the
being treated of, is so well known to almost every peasant throughout the
principality; so that a real account of our hero, if not exactly useful,
may at least prove amusing, in this age of inquiry, to stand by the side
of the fictitious tale; and if this detail is found also to partake
occasionally of the embellishments of fancy, it will at least be
characteristic.  Little, it is true, of his life is known, and that
little collected principally from the varying and uncertain source of
oral tradition.  Some anecdotes and remarks respecting him have of late
years been committed to record, in the writings of Theophilus Jones, the
Breconshire historian, and in the “Hynafion Cymreig,” (Cambrian Popular
Antiquities,) which Dr. Meyrick has quoted in his “History of
Cardiganshire;” but his rover’s exploits and vagaries I met with
principally in a homely Welsh pamphlet of eight pages, printed on
tea-paper, and sold at the moderate price of two-pence.

Twm Shôn Catti was the natural son of Sir John Wynne, of Gwydir, bart.
author of that quaint and singular work, the “History of the Gwydir
Family,” by a woman whose name was Catherine.  Of her condition little
has hitherto been made known; but as surnames were not then generally
adopted in Wales, her son became distinguished only by the appellation of
Twm Shôn Catti; literally, Thomas John Catherine, though it implied
“Thomas the son of John and Catherine.” {5}

Like the immortal Homer, different towns have put forth their claims to
the enviable distinction of having given our hero birth; among which
Cardigan, Llandovery, and Carmarthen, are said to have displayed
considerable warmth in asserting their respective pretensions.  A native
of the latter far-famed borough town, whose carbuncled face and rubicund
nose—indelible stamps of bacchanalian royalty—proclaimed him the
undisputed prince of topers, roundly affirmed that no town but
Carmarthen—ever famed for its stout ale, large dampers, {6} and
blustering heroes of the pipe and pot—could possibly have produced such a
jolly dog.  It is with regret that we perceive such potent authority
opposed by the united opinions of our Cambrian bards and antiquaries, who
place his birth in the year 1590, at Tregaron—that primitive, yet no
longer obscure, Cardiganshire town, but long celebrated throughout the
principality for its pony fair; and above all, as the established
birth-place of Twm Shôn Catti.  He first saw the light, it seems, at a
house of his mother’s, situate on a hill south-east of Tregaron, called
Llidiard-y-Fynnon, (Fountain Gate,) from its situation beside an
excellent well, that previous to the discovery of other springs, nearer
to their habitations, supplied the good people of Tregaron with water.
That distinguished spot is now, however, more generally known by the more
elevated name of Plâs Twm Shôn Catti, (the mansion of Twm Shôn Catti,)
the ruins of which are still pointed out by the neighbouring people to
any curious traveller who may wish to enrich the pages of his virgin tour
by their important communications.

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



CHAP. II.


A glance at Twm’s grandfather.  Squire Graspacre.  Sir John Wynne.  The
adventure that foreran our hero’s birth.

CATTI, the mother of Twm, lived in the most unsophisticated manner at
Llidiard-y-Fynnon, with an ill-favored, hump-backed sister, who was the
general drudge and domestic manager, and who at other times assisted at
her usual daily avocations.  Their mother had long been dead, and their
father, the horned cattle, a small farm and all its appurtenances, had
been lost to them about two years.  This little farm was their father’s
freehold property, but provokingly situate in the middle of the vast
possessions of Squire Graspacre, an English gentleman-farmer, who
condescendingly fixed himself in the principality with the laudable idea
of civilizing the Welsh.  The most feasible mode of accomplishing so
grand an undertaking, that appeared to him, was, to dispossess them of
their property, and to take as much as possible of their country into his
own paternal care.  The rude Welsh, to be sure, he found so blind to
their own interests, as to prefer living on their farms to either selling
or giving them away, to profit by his superior management.  His
master-genius now became apparent to every body; for after ruining the
owners and appropriating to himself half the country, the other half also
became his own with ease, as the poor little freeholders found it better
to accept a small sum for their property, than to have all wasted in
litigation, and perhaps ultimately to end their days in prison.  Twm’s
maternal grandfather was the last of those who daringly withstood the
desires of the squire, but at last, after having triumphantly gained his
cause, being unable to pay the costs, he was arrested by his own
attorney, and died a prisoner in Cardigan county gaol, as the neighbours
said, of a broken heart.  The philanthropic improving squire, then, of
course, gained his end.  The old farm-house, alienated from the land,
became the residence of the old farmer’s two daughters; not exactly a
gift, indeed, as they paid the annual rent of two guineas, which was
generally considered about one too much.

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

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

“Very!” observed the baronet; “I wonder if she is come-at-able?”

“How can you wonder at any such thing, my dear Sir John?” quoth the
improvement-loving squire: “the girl’s as poor as a rat, and has lately
lost her father.  It would really be a charity, my dear Sir John, if you
were to call and comfort her.  Improvement, Sir John, is my motto, and I
fancy this poor girl’s state is very capable of _improvement_.”

The latter part of this _amiable_ suggestion, given with a significant
leer, was perfectly well understood.  The amorous baronet amply availed
himself of the _honorable_ squire’s hint, and called several successive
evenings at Llidiard-y-Fynnon; but some doubts may be entertained of the
_improvements_ he introduced there.  The sequel of the adventure soon
grew notorious, and the maiden Catti became the mother of our redoubted
hero, thence, with an allusion to his father, named Twm Shon Catti.



CHAP. III.


Early indications of Twm’s antiquarian propensities.  His mother becomes
the very paragon of schoolmistresses.  The originality of her system.
Twm becomes her pupil.

AS the period of early infancy rarely contains incidents worthy of the
recording pen of history, we shall bring our hero at once to his fourth
year.  The biographers of great men have generally evinced a predilection
to present their readers with certain early indications of the peculiar
genius that has distinguished their heroes in after life; and far from us
be the presumption of deviating from such a popular and legitimate rule,
by any radical attempt at innovation or improvement.  Pope’s lispings in
numbers, West’s quaker daubings in childhood, with many such instances,
not to mention Peter Pindar’s waggery on Sir Joseph Banks’s spreading
spiders on his bread and butter, are cases in point, which are familiar
to every reader; and it will not appear strange to those already
acquainted with his fame, that we have to add to these eminent names that
of our long-neglected hero.  It is true he became neither a poet, a
painter, nor a natural historian, but, according to the unbiassed
opinions of geniuses of the same caste with himself, who could not be
suspected of either egotism or partiality, a superior character to
either—an eminent antiquary—to which may be added, though perhaps it
ought to take the lead—a no less eminent thief.  Such is the prejudice of
these degenerate times that the latter designation has grown unpopular;
but according to _Bardolph’s_ hint, it might be profitably exchanged, on
the score of respectability, to “conveyancer:”—

    “Steal! a fico for the phrase!
    The wise call it convey.”

It is to be hoped that none of our readers will be infidels enough to
doubt the fact, when they are assured, on the indubitable testimony of
his mother, that our hero’s earliest propensity was to grub up old trash
and trumpery from the gutters of Tregaron—“filth,” as his parent wisely
observed, “which had better have been left alone;” and we may safely
appeal to any candid mind, and boldly ask whether this trait did not in
the most decided manner bespeak the future antiquary.  Not a puddle could
be found but its depth and contents were duly examined by the
indefatigable Twm; and the curious urchin was always distinguishable from
the rest of his playmates by certain crusts of mud that adorned his tiny
woollen garb from top to bottom.  As in these little fancies he spent the
greater part of his time, it became a wonder to his mother that he seldom
ran home for food; but it was soon discovered that he had a mode peculiar
to himself of raising contributions on the little public of which he was
a member, by forcing them to part with a portion of their bread and
butter—a praiseworthy act, and trebly commendable, as in the first place
it shewed his filial piety, in saving his mother the expence of his
victuals; in the next, it taught courtesy to the churlish, who in time
anticipated his demand by voluntary offerings; and thirdly, it engendered
the principle of honesty in their tender minds, by marking the propriety
of paying for their curiosity in gaping over the treasures of his puddles
and gutters.  This, it will also be observed, was another feature that
announced his future character, which, it will be seen, “grew with his
growth, and strengthened with his strength.”

Here we must return again to our hero’s mother.  On learning the event of
his amour, Sir John Wynne bought of the squire, and gave to Catti as her
own for ever, her paternal cottage of Llidiard-y-Fynnon.  This fortunate
circumstance gave her no small importance in her neighbourhood.  As the
house was large, and not overstocked with inhabitants, it occurred to the
good people of Tregaron, that a day-school might be established within
its walls; and having with their own consent found a school-room, by the
same indisputable right they fixed on Catti for its mistress, and
instituted her governess, to rule their tender progeny.  Catti, with a
huge grin of approbation at her unexpected promotion, immediately
ratified their election, and declared both her house and self ready for
the reception of pupils at the moderate terms of a penny a week.  Her
ill-favored sister clouded her brow, and elevated her hump on the
occasion, and asked very indignantly, who was going to clean the house
every day after such a grubby fry.  Catti made no reply, but in the pride
of her heart hummed a gay song, scratched the mud off her boy’s clothes
with an old birch broom, which being hardened by sweeping the house,
answered the purpose better than a brush, and had some old coffers
converted into benches for the service of her scholars.  She then, with
singular alacrity, proceeded to cut from the hedge, with her own fair
hand, one of the most engaging looking birch rods that ever was wielded
by rural governess.  This premature display of the sceptre of severity
was far from fortunate, and nearly ruined the undertaking at the outset.
The tender mothers of Tregaron were startled at so unexpected a
proceeding, and pathetically declared they had rather that their dear
babes should be brought up like the calves and pigs, in the most bestial
ignorance, than have knowledge beaten into them at the nether end with a
birch rod.  Catti immediately quieted their fears, by protesting that she
entertained the utmost abhorrence of the flagellation system, and that
the bunch of birch was cut and bound together for a very different
purpose, namely, to be suspended as a sign over her door.  After a debate
of some hours among the amiable matrons, however, it was decided that the
birch should not be exalted even as an external symbol, over the door of
the school, as the very sight of it might strike a terror into the little
lubberly loves, and frighten them into fits.  As Catti was all compliance
with their requisitions, every thing was set to rights; and without more
ado children were sent from every house where the affluence of the
inmates enabled them to give their offspring the first rudiments of
education.  The mother of Twm became the very pink and paragon of
schoolmistresses.  ’Tis true, the noise and uproar in her school was so
great, that the curate’s wife, who rode an ill-tamed horse, was thrown
headlong into the well, when passing the academy, from the animal taking
fright; but that was no fault of Catti’s; people should break in their
horses properly, and curates’ wives should learn to ride and keep their
seats better.  Besides, the alledged uproar was the greatest evidence in
her favor, as it proved the tenderness of her heart in not correcting her
scholars—a quality more valued by their maternal parents than any other
that could possibly be substituted; and in their appreciation of this
prime desideratum, they omitted to enquire too minutely into her other
qualifications for a governess.  Fastidious parents, to be sure, might
have insisted that she could read, at least; while others more lenient,
would have suggested the necessity of being able to spell, or at any
rate, to know her letters: but poor Catti could not have passed such a
rigid ordeal in either instance, had she been put to it.  Yet that very
deficiency which might have troubled a weaker mind, was to her a great
source of satisfaction, as she always hugged herself warmly in the
gratifying recollection that no person could accuse her, in the words of
Festus to Paul, “Too much learning has made thee mad:” and with
unexampled liberality she determined that the rising generation entrusted
to her care, should participate to the utmost in these her negative
felicitous attainments.

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

Teachers, like all other scientific persons, must have their own systems;
and as our heroine’s was very original, though perhaps not entirely
peculiar to herself, with a view of communicating a benefit to others
less enlightened, who follow her avocations, we shall treat the reader,
once for all, with a solitary specimen of her method.

“Come here, little Gwenny Cadwgan,” said Catti one day, “Come here, my
little pretty buttercup, and say your lesson, if you can, but if you
can’t never mind, I won’t beat or scold you.”  Gwenny came forward,
bobbed a curtsey, and, while her mistress broomed the mud from little
Twm’s breeches, and combed his head on the back of the bellows, began her
lesson.

_Gwenny_.—a, b, hab.

_Catti_.—There’s a good maaid!

_Gwenny_.—e, b, heb.

_Catti_.—There’s a good maaid!

_Gwenny_.—o, b, hob.

_Catti_.—There’s a good maaid!

_Gwenny_.—i, b,—I can’t tell.

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

_Gwenny_.—u, b, cub.

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAP. IV.


The bad effects of scholarship among servants.  The opinions of a fine
lady on the subject.  A horse milliner.  Jack o Sîr Gâr, a very original
character.  His manufacture and merchandize.  His tender interview with
Catti.  A suspicion of her coquettings.

PERHAPS our modern governesses who possess the vain accomplishment of
reading and writing, may feel disposed to undervalue the acquirements of
our rural Welsh governess.  But let them not triumph; and be it
recollected that tastes differ, and that many of our living patricians,
as well as wealthy plebians, who are considered the great, the mighty,
and the respectable of the land, deprecate with becoming vehemence the
prevailing mania for educating the poor.  We have heard ladies, and great
ones too, attired in silks and velvets, pall and purple, and “that fared
sumptuously every day,” declare most positively they never knew a servant
good for anything, that could read and write.  No sooner were they
capable of wielding a goose quill, than the impudent hussies presumed to
have a will of their own, and in their opinions mounted a step nearer to
the altitude of their mistresses.  And on men, they said, education had a
worse effect, as thereby they became the idle readers of books, and
newspapers, which made them saucy to their superiors, and sometimes the
most villainous cut-throat radicals.  Now it will be readily admitted, we
should think, that there was but little danger of Catti’s scholars ever
becoming such pernicious characters; and therefore, let not illiberal
envy withhold from her the well-merited meed of applause.  Alas for the
good old days—we see no such schoolmistresses now-a-days! those days of
the golden age of simplicity are gone for ever.  Days approved of by the
great, and therefore good; when the humbler sons of industry looked up to
them as gods, and they returned the compliment by looking down on their
worshippers as good and well-taught dogs, that earned their bones and
scraps.—Days when country squires handled a pitchfork better than a
pen—when good boys learnt their catechism and read their bible against
their will, and forgot it as soon as possible after leaving school.—Days
when “simplicity and harmlessness” were the names that dignified boorish
ignorance and passive stupidity—when a sycophantic subserviency paved the
way to wealth and honors—when the gross vice of manly independence was
unknown, and no class acknowledged among men, but the high and low, or
the rich and poor.—Days that—(to finish this retrospective eulogy,) that,
alas! are no more.

Although our hero’s mother could not be called a woman of letters, she
certainly possessed qualities more original than generally fell to the
lot of persons in her station.  At carding wool or spinning it, knitting
stockings or mittins, the most envious admitted her superiority to every
woman in Tregaron.  She moreover had gained no small consideration in
another character, which her jealous neighbours satirically denominated a
hedge milliner, whose province it was to make hedging gloves and coarse
frocks for ploughmen, to darn the heels of their stout woollen stockings,
and also to make and mend horses’ collars; the latter branch of her
occupation, which required a delicate hand to cut the slender sewing
thongs from the raw bull hides, caused her to be called a horse milliner,
which after all, was not much more applicable than if she had been
described as a bull tailor.  This malignant waggery, however, was unable
to disturb the tranquil soul of Catti; she loved horses, and in her
juvenile days had often whiled away her mornings and evenings in the
rural pastimes driving of them, both in the plough and barrow, while
carolling some rural ditty, till the rocks and mountains echoed with the
cadence of her harmony.

It will not be a matter of much wonder that with all these
accomplishments Catti should be importuned in the way of courtship,
notwithstanding the injury her fame had suffered from the adventure with
Sir John Wynne.  But the schoolmistress, elated with the success of her
academy, turned a deaf ear to all the praises and protestations of the
swains, until, as the village sages say, the right man came.  Like all
her amiable sex, she professed the utmost abhorrence of mercenary motives
in marriage, though many insinuated that she learnt the value of property
from never having possessed any.  It was observed that she treated with
indifference, if not aversion, those unprofitable lovers who had nothing
but their goodly persons to recommend them.  Certain inuendoes were even
thrown out respecting a suspicion of her coquettings with one of the most
ugly, miserly, and repulsive of clowns;—one who was not only a clown, but
a red-haired one;—not only red haired, but knock-kneed;—not only
knock-kneed, but squint-eyed;—not only squint-eyed, but a woman-hater;
and worse than all, a foreigner!—being a native of a distant part of the
adjoining county of Carmarthen, and known only by the nick-name of Jack o
Sîr Gâr, or Carmarthenshire Jack.  This amiable and interesting personage
certainly possessed all those graces here enumerated, with many others,
which were attached to peculiarities of character that rendered him so
far like our great national hero Owen Glendower, that he “was not in the
roll of common men.”  He was at this time the chief husbandman and
bailiff at the squire’s, an office which, as he had others under his
command, did not aid his personal recommendations to much popularity in
the squire’s kitchen.  Perhaps no being that ever breathed had so fair an
excuse for becoming a misanthrope.  His coarse and repulsive exterior,
with his churlish manners, and one unchangeable suit of old patched
ill-looking clothes, combined to make him an object of distaste to the
girls, to whom, and the young men, he became a general butt of ridicule
yet only among themselves, for they were fully aware, that it would be a
less dangerous experiment to catch a mad bull by the horns, than to rouse
the choler of Jack o Sîr Gâr.  The standing jest against him was, his
qualifications as a trencherman, and his reputation as a “huge feeder”
was certainly unrivalled.  As there was not a single pastime under the
head of amusement, that the ingenuity of man has ever devised for the
entertainment of his fellows, save eating, that possessed a charm for
him, it might be expected that this solitary recreation would be indulged
in the proportion that he excluded all others.  He not only performed all
the functions of the gross glutton, but as the actors say, “looked the
character” to perfection.

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

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

As the squire’s lady was not the most liberal in supplying the servants’
table, those wags, male or female, who were in the habit of committing
the silent satire of mimickry against Jack, were soon taught a severe
lesson at the expence of their bowels.  It was discovered that, whenever
enraged at their treatment, instead of spending his breath in vain
reproaches, or taking to the more violent proceeding of fisty-cuffs, Jack
revenged himself by eating most outrageously, so that the scoffers,
deprived of their shares, often found their stomachs minus.  His power of
mastication increased with his anger; and the flaming energy that was
mentally inciting him to give an enemy a fierce facer, or a destructive
cross-buttock, was diverted from his knuckles to his teeth; and in every
mouthful which he ground in his relentless mill, he felt the glowing
satisfaction of having annihilated a foe.  Woe to those who were his next
neighbours at table, and sat too close to his elbows at those hours of
excitement; sly punches in the ribs, as if by accident, were among the
slightest consequences; and those who were thus taught manners, to keep
at a respectful distance, declared that the fear they entertained was
only of his knife.  That, it is true, was saying too much; Jack had no
such bloody propensities, although the glare of his unequal eyes was
enough, when much annoyed, to frighten them into such conclusions.
Although a most unseemly clown, his worst enemies would confess that,
unprovoked, he was a very harmless man.  Squire Graspacre knew his value
as a faithful and industrious servant, and therefore disregarded the
constant tattle about his repulsive peculiarities.

Before methodism spread its puritanic gloom over Wales, and identified
itself almost with the Welsh character, mirth and minstrelsy, dance and
song, emulative games and rural pastimes, were the order of the day; and,
as the country people worked hard all the week, it must be confessed that
these sports often infringed upon the sanctity of the sabbath.  Sundays
were often entirely spent in dancing, wrestling, and kicking the
foot-ball.  The latter violent exercise, at this time prevalent in
Cardiganshire, was performed in large parties of village against village,
and parish against parish, when the country brought together its mass of
population either to partake in the glories of the game, or to enjoy the
success of their friends, as spectators.  On these occasions Carmarthen
Jack loved to be present, but only as a spectator, as he was never known
to take a part in any game.  While others were panting with the rough
exercise, swearing at disappointments, hallooing their triumph, or
wincing over a broken shin, Jack would be found seated on some rising
tump that overlooked the field, busily employed with a scooping knife,
hollowing out the bowls of spoons and ladles, or shaping out soles for
wooden shoes, which at every moment that he could call his own, he
manufactured out of the logs of birch, or more frequently alder, with
which he amply provided himself during the week, and stored under his bed
to dry.  At fairs also, Carmarthen Jack would be equally punctual, and
after having done his master’s business of buying or selling a horse or
so, would be seen with a load of the merchandize of his own manufacture,
wooden spoons, ladles, and clog soles, in abundance, which drew about him
all the rural housekeepers far and near.  “No milliner could suit her
customers with gloves” in greater variety than Jack with spoons to please
his purchasers.  He had spoons for man, woman, and child, fashioned for
every sort of mouth, from the tiny infant’s to the shark-jaws of the
hungry ploughman, which, like his own, presented a gap from ear to ear.
He had spoons for use, and spoons for ornament, the latter, meant to keep
company with the showy polished pewter, were made of box or yew, highly
polished and curiously carved with divers characters, principally suns,
moons, stars, hearts transfixt with the dart of cupid, and sometimes a
hen and chickens, which hieroglyphics of his own for fear of their being
mistaken for a cat and mice, with other such misconstructions, Jack
always explained at the time of bargaining, without any extra charge.
Nothing could more emphatically prove the excellency of Jack’s wares,
than the circumstance of his being personally unpopular among the women,
and yet his wares in the highest esteem.  The frowns of the fair, which
threw a gloom on the sunshine of his days, may be traced to a source not
at all dishonorable to him.  The girls at the squire’s had played him so
many tricks, that once, in the height of aggravation, Jack declared war
against the whole sex, devoting to the infernal gods every creature that
wore a petticoat, and vowing, from that day forward, that not one of the
proscribed race should ever enter his room, which was romantically
situated over the stable, with its glassless window commanding a full
view of both the pigsty and dunghill.  The consequence of this terrific
vow caused him, at first, some trouble, as, to keep it he was obliged
thenceforward to be his own chambermaid, lawndress, and sempstress,
offices that accorded ill with his previous habits.  The laudable
firmness of his nature, however, soon overcame these petty difficulties;
and so far was he from backsliding from his previous determination, that
he vowed to throw through the window the first woman who entered his
chamber, which the satirical hussies called his den—a threat which
effectually secured him from further intrusion.  Sometimes, indeed, when
he would be sitting at the door of the cowhouse, or the stable, listening
to the rural sounds of cackling geese and grunting pigs, while darning
his hose or patching his leather breeches, or treading his shirt in the
brook by way of washing it, these eternal plagues of his, the girls,
would be seen and heard behind the covert of a wall or hedge, smothering
their tittering, which at last would burst out, in spite of suppression,
into a loud horse laugh, when one and all, they would take to their
heels, while Jack amused himself by valiantly pelting their rear, in
their precipitate retreat, with clods of earth, small stones, or anything
that came in his way.  Jack o Sîr Gâr, however, in time gained the
reputation of being rich, by the success of his wooden-ware merchandize,
and consequently one of the fair ones who had once been his tormentor,
became suddenly enamoured of him, and incessantly endeavoured to gain his
good will; but being one day thrown headlong out of the window into the
dunghill below, as a gentle hint that she was not wanted, her milk of
tenderness was turned into gall, and she became revengeful as a tigress.
The first act of her resentment was to spread about the insidious report
that Jack o Sîr Gâr was a woman-hater—an insinuation that at first rather
preyed on his mind, as he dreaded the effect such an unmerited stigma
would have upon his private trade.  But innocence is ever predestined to
an ultimate triumph; and an event soon happened that proved the falsehood
of those prevalent tales to his discredit, and convinced his greatest
foes that he possessed a heart, if not overflowing with human charity, at
least penetrable to the blandishments of beauty, and quick with
sensibility to female merit.

On one auspicious market-day, Carmarthen Jack appeared in the street of
Tregaron where the market is held, loaded with his usual merchandize,
which he spread on the ground, and sat beside them; but not meeting with
a ready sale, and disdaining even momentary idleness, began with
earnestness to cut and scoop away at a piece of alder, gradually forming
it into a huge ladle, to correspond with the largest size three-legged
iron pot.  On this eventful morning Catti had occasion to perambulate the
fair, to purchase a new ladle, her cross-grained sister having broken the
old one, by thumping with it on the back of an overgrown hog, whose
foraging propensities led it to investigate the recesses of the
school-room.  The reputation of Jack’s ware, and the general supposition
that he had saved money, soon reached the ears of our prudent
schoolmistress; and the pardonable ambition of wishing to conquer the
stern heart of one who despised her whole sex was supposed to be the
secret object of her present walk; and evil tongues were not wanting, to
insinuate that she broke the ladle herself, which was only cracked
before, for an excuse to introduce herself to Jack o Sîr Gâr, by buying
another.  Be that as it may, she sought and found him in the fair, and
fell in love with him and his ladle at the same instant.  After an effort
to conquer her native bashfulness, and to look as lovely as possible, she
accosted him with such uncommon civility as utterly astounded the poor
clownish misanthropic bachelor.  She examined the ladle in his hand, and
though not half finished, declared it the handsomest ever her eyes
beheld, and paid for it without seeking the least abatement in the price.
Jack gaped at her, with open mouth and staring eyes, and thought her a
very interesting woman, though his first impression was, that she was
mad, as he had asked double the real selling price, on purpose to abate
one half, according to a custom immemorial in Welsh dealings.  She next
purchased half a dozen common birch-wood spoons, and as many ornamental
ones made of box, to adorn her shelf, and, as before, paid him his own
price.  Jack thought her very lovely, and when she made another purchase
of a pair of clog soles, quite irresistible!—her ready money opened his
heart like the best manufactured key, and he was almost ready to offer
them as a present, but for a fear of wounding her delicacy.  As she found
he had no further variety, she ordered half a dozen more common spoons,
and Jack, with all the amiability that he could possibly throw into his
hard features, presented her with one of his most finished articles of
box.  She received it with that peculiar smile with which a lady accepts
a welcome love-token, and replied in the softest tone imaginable, “indeed
I will keep it for your sake John bach!”—Jack had nothing to do but
wonder—he never had been called John in his life before; at any other
time he would have thought she mocked him—and the endearing term of
“bach” too, was equally new to his ears, which seemed to grow longer as
they tingled with the grateful sound.  This interesting scene was closed
by Catti’s asking him to her house to partake of a dinner of flummery and
milk, which he accepted with the best grace imaginable, and trudged off
with his wares on his back and dangling from his arms and button holes;
and thus gallanting her in the most amatory style, he walked by her side
to Llidiard y Ffynnon.  Unaccustomed to kindness in either word or deed,
poor Jack o Sîr Gâr met her condescensions and advances with a sheepish
sort of gratitude.  A cordial invitation on the part of Catti to repeat
his visit as soon, and as often, as possible, affected him almost to
tears; and as a proof of his unbounded confidence, he left in her care
his whole stock of ready-made spoons and ladles, and almost blubbered
when he shook her hand at parting.

As a proof of the beneficial effect of kindness on a churlish nature, and
the contrary, of ridicule and persecution, we need but contrast this
rugged man’s previous character and conduct with what followed, after the
tenderness of Catti had melted the frost of misanthropy which formed a
crusty coat round his heart.  The adventure of the day produced a most
extraordinary revolution in his habits.  None of the servants at the
hall, male or female, could conceive what it portended, when Jack
condescended to ask one of his fellow husbandmen to trim his hair; and
while the fellow clipped his rough red locks with his sheep-sheers, he
was surprized at his questions about the price of a new pair of leathern
breeches, and a red neck-cloth.  Greater still was the astonishment of
the whole house when, in a few days after, he appeared in those very
buckish articles of dress, and while he thought nobody saw him,
endeavouring to cut a dancing caper on the green, which they mistook for
an imitation of a frisky bullock.  His walking as well as dancing steps,
were now watched; and when it was found that the former led to the house
of Catti, the nods, winks, horse-laughs, and innuendoes, mentioned in the
commencement of this chapter, took place, and gave food for scandal to
the whole gossiping circle of the town of Tregaron and its vicinity for
many miles around.

Flummery and milk, named here as the food on which these lovers regaled
themselves, has been considered in Wales a very popular national mess,
common, but still a favorite among high and low, and might be seen on the
board of the lord lieutenant of the county, as well as on that of the
humblest cottager.  The lofty of the land whose pampered stomachs have
turned with loathing from more dainty food in sultry seasons, have
welcomed the simplicity of milk and flummery, as the advocate of native
charms would greet the smilings of a rustic beauty, when the meretricious
fair of fashion would be passed by, neglected.  The English reader will
not be offended if I dilate a little in praise of my favorite food, while
I explain to him its nature; and if he is a bloated son of affluence,
overflowing with bile and spleen, he will thank us, after adopting our
recommendation of feeding on it often during his rustication among our
mountains.  Medical men also recommend it as very effective in promoting
an increase of good clear healthy blood.  Flummery is made of the inner
hulls of ground oats, when sifted from the meal, some of which still
adheres to it, by soaking it in water till it acquires a slight taste of
acidity, when it is strained through a hair sieve and boiled till it
becomes a perfect jelly.  When poured from that picturesque prince of
culinary vessels, the large three-legged iron pot, into a vast brown
earthen dish, it presents a smooth smiling aspect of the most winning
equanimity, till destroyed by the numerous invading spoons of the
company, that plunge a portion of it, scalding hot, into their bowls of
cool milk.  Thus much of its descriptive history is given, to illustrate
the following ode in its immortal praise, with which we shall now close
this long chapter.

                              MILK AND FLUMMERY.

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

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

    On sultry days when appetites
       Wane dull, and low, and queasy,
    When loathing stomachs nought delights,
       To gulp thee flumm’ry! ’s easy:
    Dear oaten jelly, pride of Wales!
       Rude child of the vales of Cymru;
    On thee the ruddy swain regales,
       And blesses milk and flummery.

    ’Tis sweet to stroll on Cambrian heights,
       O’erlooking vales and rivers,
    Where bird-song sweet, with breeze unites,
       Each, sunshine rapture givers!
    To crown their gust the light repast—
       So cool—can never come awry,
    Oh sweet! to break the mid-day fast
       On sweet new milk and flummery.



CHAP. V.


An essay on courting in bed.  Our hero removed to the curate’s school.

THE scene so lightly touched upon in the last chapter, between our
schoolmistress and her beau, called forth the mischievous talents of
little Twm Shôn Catti, who, while they sat side by side at the goodly oak
table, fastened them together by the coat and gown with a peeled thorn
spike, which, before the introduction of pins, was used by the fair sex
to join together their various articles of attire.  When his mother rose
suddenly to help her spoon-merchant with more spoon meat, she rather
surprized him by carrying away, with his heart, the greater part of the
tattered skirt of his old coat, so that Jack might have said, with Tag
the author,

    “The lovely maid on whom I doat,
    Has made a spencer of my coat.”

The wicked urchin who caused this unsanctioned union, set up a loud
laugh, and Catti’s grumpy sister Juggy, for the first time in her life,
astonished them with a grin on the occasion.  Twm received a severe
rebuke from his parent, and the hapless Jack, with the view of
propitiating an evil spirit that might prove troublesome to him
hereafter, made him a present of a new spoon, which, because it was
merely a common one, he ungratefully threw into the blazing turf fire,
which glowed on the hearth in a higher pile and wider dimensions than
usual, and demanded one of his best box-wood ware.  Jack would have given
it to him immediately, but for the intervention of his mother, who
forbade the indulgence.  No sooner, however, was he gone than Twm watched
his opportunity and purloined as many of the better sort as he could
conveniently take away unperceived, and sold them at the cheap rate of
stolen goods, to an old woman named, or rather nick-named, Rachel Ketch,
from some supposed resemblance in her character to that of the finisher
of the law, so surnamed, although some persons roundly asserted that she
was in fact a relict one of those celebrated law officers, one John Ketch
esquire, of Stretch-neck Place, Sessions Court, Carmarthen.  As no
further consequence followed this act of unprovoked delinquency, it was
scarcely worth mentioning, except that it stands as the first of the kind
on record; and when discovered, Twm’s over affectionate mother did not
punish him for it,—an omission much censured by rigid people, who
construed this petty act into the slight root from which sprung the huge
tree of his after enormities;

    “But maudlin mothers, all, have tender hearts,
    Too kind to root an early shoot of vice
    By wholesome chastisement.  The little darlings!
    Who could punish them, whate’er their faults?”

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

It may not be unknown to our readers that there has existed a custom, in
some parts of Wales, time out of mind, of courting in bed; this
comfortable mode of forwarding a marriage connexion prevailed very
generally at Tregaron, to the great scandal and virtuous indignation of
the lady of Squire Graspacre.  It was amazing to witness with what energy
this good gentlewoman set about reforming the people, by the forcible
abolishment of what she was pleased to call, this odious, dangerous,
blasphemous, and ungodly custom.  Her patronage was for ever lost to any
man or woman, youth or maid, of the town or country, who was most
distantly related to, or connected with any person who connived at bed
courtship.  There was not a cottager who called at the great house for a
pitcher of whey, skim milk, or buttermilk, as a return for labour in
harvest time, but she closely examined on this head; and woe to the
wretch who had the temerity to assert that there was no harm in the
custom; or that that the wooers merely laid down in their clothes, and
thus conversed at their ease on their future plans or prospects; or who
denied that such a situation was more calculated for amorous caresses and
endearments than sitting in the chimney corner.  Mrs. Graspacre was
certainly, most outrageously virtuous—a very termagant of decorous
propriety! if any person dared, in her presence, to advocate this
proscribed and utterly condemned mode, disdaining to argue the point, she
would settle the matter in a summary manner, peculiarly her own, by
protesting she would have any woman burnt alive who would submit to be
courted in bed.  To such a fiery argument no reply could possibly be
made; and in time she found her account in this silencing sort of logic
which gave her her own entire unimpeded way in every thing, which
wonderfully restored her equanimity, and saved both time and temper to
the parties concerned, who otherwise might have spent their precious
hours, and more precious patience, in idle and irritable discussions on
the subject.

In the course of two years there were no less than four young men, and
twice as many damsels turned away from her service for courting in the
hay-loft; and on those occasions the poor girls never escaped personal
violence from the indignant and persevering Mrs. Graspacre.  In her
flaming zeal for decorum, the tongs, the poker, the pitchfork, or the
hay-rake, became an instrument of chastisement; a double advantage was
discovered in the terror thus created, the dignity of her sex being in
the first place asserted and supported, and in the next, the offenders
preferred running away without payment of wages, to standing the chance
of having their heads or arms broken with a poker, or their bodies
pierced by the terrible prongs of a pitchfork.

All the lowly dependants of Mrs. Graspacre found it their interest to
become her spies, who soon vied with each other in giving the earliest
intimation of any amorous pair who committed this most diabolical
offence; and those who were least forward in bringing intelligence on
this score, immediately sunk in her esteem, and were mulct of their
allowance of skim milk and blue whey.  But in time the old hen-wives of
the neighbourhood discovered the virtue of sycophancy, and the efficacy
of a little seasonable cant; and when they were not warranted by real
occurrences, they contrived to conciliate their patroness by drawing upon
their own fertile inventions; or at other times hinted their suspicions
of certain offending parties, always taking especial care to echo her
language and blazon their abhorrence of all those imps of the devil who
made love beneath a rug and blanket.

Not satisfied with these auxiliaries in the cause of virtue, the zealous
Mrs. Graspacre enlisted on her side a very powerful champion, in the
person of the reverend Mr. Evan Evans, the curate of Tregaron.  Great was
her mortification to find her attempts on the rector fail of success, as
he declared it dangerous to interfere with the peculiarities and long
established customs of the people; especially as he conceived it was
rarely that any bad consequence ensued from the mode in question: but
when the evil really occurred, if a faithless swain delayed making due
reparation, a gaol, exile from his native place, or a compelled marriage,
held the young men in terrorum.  “Besides,” quoth the worthy old rector,
with a hearty laugh, “that was the very way in which I courted my own
wife, and many persons who are no enemies of virtue, consider it the best
mode in the world, and were I young again, ha, ha, ha! egad I think I
should pursue the same fashion.”  “And I too!” cries Mr. Graspacre, “as I
have no objection in the world to the custom.”  Had the foe of man
appeared at that moment, as popularly identified,—in sooty nakedness,
with bloodshot eyes, and arrayed with hoofs and horns,—the stare of
horror which distinguished the amiable countenance of Mrs. Graspacre,
could not be more strongly marked.  “_You_, Mr. Graspacre! _you_!  I’m
astonished, but”—(with a severe glance at the rector) “when the shepherd
goes astray, no wonder that the silly sheep follow his example;” with
that she bounced out of the room, and slammed the door in a high fit of
indignation, aggravated by the calm looks of the rector, and the
provoking tittering of her own liege lord.

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

The reverend Evan Evans, the curate, played with his cards well; he was a
harsh-featured man, lowering brows and a complete ploughman’s gait;
insolent to his poor parishioners, and a very awkward cringer to the
great.  But flattery, direct or covert, does much, and in time completely
won him the favor of the great lady.  She encouraged his patience by
assuring him that the vicar, in his declined state of health, could not
possibly live long; and his death, happen when it might, must appear, to
all unprejudiced christians, as a judgement, for advocating, or not
prosecuting, that execrable custom, courting in bed.  As the living had
long been promised to him, the hopes and expectations of Mr. Evan Evans
were very sanguine; and as he was no less ambitious than sycophantic and
imperious, he looked forward with confidence to the period when he should
give up school-keeping, and strut forth in a fire-shovel hat, as vicar of
the parish, and a magistrate in the county.  Notwithstanding that the
living was promised him by the lady, he was aware that she was not always
paramount, and therefore lost no opportunity of insinuating himself into
the squire’s favor.  With the most ludicrous efforts to humanize those
harsh features of his, and to twist them into frequent grins, he would
laugh loudly to the injury of his lungs, at his most vapid jokes; praise
the beauty of his snub-nosed children, and his pointers; tell him where
the prettiest lasses in the parish were to be found; with many such
_honorable_ civilities, that Squire Graspacre at length discovered him to
be a very useful sort of person.  When Sir John Wynne of Gwydir paid his
before-mentioned visit, his sister introduced and recommended our curate,
as a right worthy divine who deserved preferment; and the baronet
promised to remember her recommendation, if anything turned out, within
his power, to benefit him.  Much time had elapsed, and nothing followed
this agreeable promise; but Mister Evans persevered in his sycophancy,
and if the labour and dirty work be properly estimated, he certainly
earned a good living—in his majesty’s plantations! to which he ought to
have been inducted at the expence of government.

He soon saw the weak side of his lady patroness, and ever anxious to
strengthen his influence by promoting her views, he gave great
encouragement to those boys in his school, who brought him the most
piquant tales of their grown up brothers and sisters.  Much scandal was
at this time afloat respecting the loves of Carmarthen Jack and Catti of
Llidiard-y-Fynnon; and right anxious was he to learn in what manner it
was carried on; but as this interesting pair met only at those hours when
bats and owls were on the wing, and no human witnesses abroad, his wishes
were difficult of attainment.  At length his wily brain hit upon a
notable expedient, that offered fairly to increase his good footing with
the squire’s lady.

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



CHAP. VI.


Twm improves in the curate’s school.  His wit saves him from a flogging.

THE great success of Catti’s school excited the ill will of Parson Evans,
although he had far more scholars than he could possibly attend to.  His
indignation at his wife’s fall from her horse into the well, while
passing his humble rival’s seminary, together with the humiliating
consideration that many of the most juvenile deserted _his_ rule, to
submit to _her’s_, wounded this consequential personage to the quick.
With an awkward attempt at a smile, he feigned to consider the seceders
as a good riddance, and that it was not worth his while to teach babies
to walk as well as to instruct them in their letters; this in fact, ought
to have been the case, but it was not; for Evans, “like the turk, could
bear no rival near the throne.”  This new arrangement respecting Twm,
they thought could not but be vexatious to Catti, and therefore Mistress
Evans felt herself avenged for the tittering that she heard in her
school, on her fall into the well as before mentioned.  But far different
was the case, from what they anticipated, for Catti no sooner heard the
order, than in the simple sincerity of her heart, she exclaimed, “Thank
God! the boy will learn something from the parson, but I could teach him
nothing.”

Little Twm was now in his seventh year, and as refractory a pupil as ever
was spoiled by a dawdling mother.  Kept aloof from his dear duck-ponds
and puddles, and compelled to explore the mysteries of the horn-book,
this first change in his life was acutely felt.  Self-willed and
stubborn, he conceived the utmost abhorrence of horn-books, cross
curates, and birch-rods; he wept and sulked, struck the boys who mocked
him, stayed away from school, and was flogged so often, that at length he
found it much easier to learn his book, than endure the consequence of
neglecting it.  Once arrived to this happy mood, and being one day
praised by his master, a new spirit possessed the boy; emulation was
kindled, and he resolved to revenge himself on those youths who formerly
had made him their butt of ridicule, by getting the start of them in
learning.  The horn-book was shortly thrown by; the reading-made-easy and
spelling book soon shared a similar fate; and the pride of his young
heart sparkled in his eyes when his great lady aunt, on hearing a good
account of him from his master, presented him with a bible, on the inside
of the cover of which was the following couplet,—

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

These lines were not only written by her own fair hand, but actually of
her own composition; and as poor Catti shewed the book to all her friends
and neighbours as a proud proof of the good footing on which her son
stood at Graspacre Hall, the great lady’s lines procured her the general
fame of being a great poetess.

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

In the eleventh year of his age some decisive shoots of character made
their appearance; a taste for sharp sayings, and skilful trickery in
outwitting his opponents, appear to have been his striking peculiarities,
as well as boldness and resolution on the play ground, where none could
surpass him in robustuous or violent exercises.  Wat the mole-catcher,
his constant instructor when out of school, among other accomplishments
had taught him to play at cudgels, and not a boy in the school could
stand before him at the quarter staff.  His pre-eminence in this ancient
and national art was often exemplified by the loud cries and broken heads
of his defeated schoolfellows.  A catastrophe of that kind one day, even
in school time, brought the enraged master out, who severely asked Twm
what he meant by such conduct; “Why sir,” cried the little rogue, “you
always say that you never can beat anything into that boy’s head, so I
tried what I could do with the cudgel, that’s all!”  A few days after,
his master sent him from the school to his house, for a book which he
wanted.  Twm found the mistress and maid were out, the first at the hall,
and the last had made a present of her little leisure to her sweetheart,
Wat the mole-catcher.  On entering the parlour he saw there a fine bunch
of grapes, which his great lady aunt had sent his master; as this was a
fruit hitherto unknown to him, he deliberately tasted two or three, to
discover whether they were eatable.  Having diminished the bunch by a
repetition of this experiment, he found a difficulty in quitting while
any remained, so resolved to finish it, and lay the blame on the cat, if
charged with the theft; as to dividing the spoil, and leaving a portion
for the owner, the scheme was impracticable, so he decided to abide by
his master’s maxim, “that it was not decent for two to eat from the same
dish.”  So lifting up the remains of the luscious bunch with affected
ceremony, he exclaimed in a lofty tone, mimicking his master, “I publish
the banns of marriage between my mouth and this bunch of grapes; if any
one knows just cause or impediment why they should not be joined
together, let him now declare it, or hereafter forever hold his peace!”
and as no dissentient voice intervened, he abruptly cried “silence gives
consent,” and hastily consummated the delicious union.  No sooner had he
gulped the grapes than his master made his appearance—suspecting the
cause of his delay, he had followed after, and witnessing the imposing
ritual, he stood, rod in hand, surrounded by his scholars, whom he had
called; when all was in readiness he exclaimed, “I publish the banns of
marriage between my rod and your breech; if any one knows just cause or
impediment why they may not be lawfully joined together in hot wedlock,
let him now declare it.”

“I forbid the banns!” roared Twm Shôn Catti; “For what reason?” cries the
awful pedant, flourishing his rod in eager preparation; “Because,” cries
the waggish urchin, “the parties are not yet agreed.”  Although Evans was
generally too crabbed and selfish to enjoy and estimate a witty reply in
any one except his superiors, who seldom possessed a legitimate claim to
his applause, it is but justice to him to record, that this unexpected
and ingenious answer procured Twm a remission of his flogging, when on
the very brink of execution.



CHAP. VII.


The squire favors Welsh customs and female costumes.  Offended with his
lady.  Protects the system of bed courtship.  An eulogy on the ale of
Newcastle Emlyn.  Toping rats.

AT this time a warm altercation one day took place between the squire and
his lady, that terminated in consequences little expected by either.
Notwithstanding the prejudice which Squire Graspacre’s harsh conduct had
given birth to, on his first settlement in Cardiganshire, he had about
him certain saving points, that not only reconciled them to his rule, but
really gained their esteem.  He was a plain, bold, sensible man, and
although entertaining a most exalted opinion of English superiority,
generally, in particular instances he had the liberality to confess that
he found many things in this nation of mountaineers, highly worthy of
imitation among his more civilized countrymen.  Unlike any of the
half-bred English gentlemen who literally infest Wales, and become
nuisances and living grievances to the people—building their pretensions
to superiority and fashion, on a sneering self-sufficiency, and scorn of
customs and peculiarities merely because they are Welsh—he gave them all
credit for what was really estimable.

He had formerly expressed his disapprobation of a custom prevalent among
Welsh farmers of leaving their corn long on the ground after being cut,
instead of housing it as soon as possible; but experience taught him that
they were right and himself in error; as, among the corn was a large
quantity of weeds which required to be dried before it could with safety
be brought to the barn or rick, otherwise the grain was sweated and
literally poisoned with the rank juice.  He found the Cardiganshire mode
of chopping the young mountain furze, and giving it as food for horses
and cattle, worthy his attention, and after various trials, decided on
its efficacy so far as to adopt it for the future; and actually set
Carmarthen Jack to gather the seed of that mountain plant, which he
forwarded to England to be set on his Devonshire farms.  The planting of
flowers on the graves of deceased friends, he eulogized as a beautiful
and endearing custom, forming an agreeable contrast to the clumsy English
tombstones with barbarous lines, often setting truth, rhyme, and reason
at defiance.  The Welsh harp he declared the prince of all musical
instruments, and Welsh weddings the best contrived and conducted in the
world, and proved his sincerity by giving something always at the
_Biddings_ of the peasantry, and patronizing all those who entered that
happy state.  Above all things he admired the female costume in Wales,
and protested, with much truth, that the poor people in England were not
half so well, or so neatly, clothed.  His lofty lady, although a
Welshwoman bred and born, entertained a very different set of ideas on
these subjects.  Whenever her husband related the anecdote of Polydore
Virgil’s extacy on his first landing in Britain, when he beheld the
yellow-blossomed furze, which gave a golden glow to the swelling bosom of
the hills—how he knelt on the ground beside a bush of it, fervently
worshipping the God of Nature, that beautified the world with the
production of such a plant; she would instantly reply, “The man was a
fool! for _my part_ I see nothing in the nasty prickly things to admire,
but wish the fire would take them all from one end of the mountains to
the other.”  “And yet, my dear,” would he answer, “Polydore Virgil was a
native of no rude soil, but came from the land of the laurel, the
cypress, and the vine, the orange, the lemon, and the citron, and many
other splendid plants, the very names of which you perhaps never heard
of; yet he had the liberality to admire what he justly deemed beautiful,
even in a northern clime, and a comparatively harsh mountainous
district.”  As to the harp, whenever he praised its melody, she declared
it odious and unbearable, and gave preference to the fiddle, the
bagpipes, or even the hurdy-gurdy; and the Welsh female costume she
protested still more loudly against, and asked him with a sneer if he did
not conceive it capable of improvement.  “Oh, certainly, my dear,” would
he reply, “for instance, I would have the Glamorganshire girls wear
shoes, and soles to their stockings; and convert their awkward wrappers
into neat gowns; the Cardiganshire fair ones should doff their clogs, and
wear leathern shoes; and the Breconshire lass, with all others who
followed the same abominable habit, should be hindered from wearing a
handkerchief around the head; but I know of no improvement that can be
suggested for the Pembrokeshire damsel, except _one_—which, indeed, would
be equally applicable to all Welsh girls—namely, to throw off their
flannel shifts, and wear linen ones.”

Now this good gentlewoman, whose leading weakness it was to suspect her
husband’s fidelity when away from home, kindled with rage at this remark.
“Shifts, Mr. Graspacre,” exclaimed the angered lady, “what business have
you to concern yourself about such things?  You ought, at least, to know
nothing about such matters, but I dare say know too much.”  Anxious as a
seaman to turn his bark from the direction of a dangerous rock, he mildly
replied, “Surely, my dear, I may exercise my eyes, when the washed
clothes are hanging on a line;” and then adding in the same breath,
“indeed, if I were you, my dear, I would make some improvements, _such as
your good taste will suggest_, among our own maids; taking care, however,
not to destroy the stamp of nationality on their garbs at any rate.”
This was a well-judged hit on his part, and had the effect of averting
the impending storm.

It should have been mentioned before, that the squire, soon after his
marriage, had made a tour of South Wales, and, as his lady expressed it,
taken a whim in his head of engaging a maid servant in every county
through which he passed; so that in Graspacre Hall there were to be found
maiden representatives in their native costumes, of all the different
shires of South Wales, except Radnor, in which, the squire said the
barbarous jargon of Herefordshire, and the paltry English cottons, had
supplanted the native tongue and dress of Wales.  There might you see the
neat maiden of Pembrokeshire, in her dark cloth dress of one hue, either
a dark brown approximating to black, or a claret colour, made by the
skill of a tailor, and very closely resembling the ladies’ modern riding
habits,—a perfect picture of comfort and neatness, in alliance with good
taste.  There would you see her extreme contrast, the Glamorganshire
lass, in stockings cut off at the ankle, and without shoes; and, although
a handsome brunette with fine black eyes, dressed in a slammakin check
wrapper of cotton and wool, utterly shapeless, and tied about the middle
like a wheat-sheaf, or a faggot of wood: possessing, however, the
peculiar conveniences that it could be put on in an instant, without the
loss of time in dressing tastefully, and that it would fit every body
alike, as it is neither a gown nor a bedgown, but between both, and
without a waist.—There would you see the young woman of Breconshire, with
her pretty blushing face half hidden in a handkerchief which envelopes
her head, that at first you would fancy the figure before you to be a
grandmother at least.—Her long linsey gown is pinned up behind, each
extreme corner being joined together in the centre, and confined a few
inches below her waste; she has her wooden-soled shoes for every day, and
leathern ones for sunday, or for a dance, which, with her stockings, she
very economically takes off should a shower of rain overtake her on a
journey; and when it ceases, washes her feet in the first brook she
meets, and puts them on again.  This fair one takes especial care that
her drapery shall be short enough to discover a pretty ankle, and her
apron sufficiently scanty to disclose her gay red petticoat with black or
white stripes, beneath, and at the sides.  Then comes the stout
Carmarthenshire lass with her thick bedgown and petticoat of a flaring
brick-dust red, knitting stockings as she walks, and singing a loud song
as she cards or spins.  Lastly, though not the least in importance,
behold the clogged and cloaked short-statured woman of Cardiganshire.
She scorns the sluttish garb and bare feet of the Glamorganshire maiden,
and hates the abominable pride of the Pembrokeshire lass who is vain
enough to wear leathern shoes instead of honest clogs; proving at the
same time that her own vanity is of a more pardonable stamp, while she
boasts with truth, that her own dress cost twice as much as either of the
others.  The Cardiganshire women’s dresses, in fact—generally blue, with
red stripes, and bound at the bottom with red or blue tape—are entirely
of wool, solidly woven and heavy, consequently more expensive than those
made of linsey or minco, or of the common intermixture of wool and
cotton, and presenting an appearance of weighty warmth more desirable
than either a comely cut or tasty neatness.

It was one of the squire’s fancies never to call these girls by their own
proper names, but by that of their shires, as thus, “Come here little
Pembroke, and buckle my shoe; and you Carmarthen, bring me a bason of
broth: Cardigan, call Glamorgan and Brecon, and tell them they must drive
a harrow apiece through the ploughed part of Rockfield.”  On his return
to dinner, a few days after the suggestion about the dresses of the
maids, he was astonished to find that Mrs. Graspacre had used this
privilege with a vengeance; having, with decided bad taste, put them all,
_at their own expence_, to be deducted from their wages, into glaring
cotton prints.  The girls were unhappy enough at this change, as well as
at the expence to which they were put, and they never could enter the
town without experiencing the ridicule of their friends and neighbours;
the Cardiganshire maid, who considered such a change in the light of
disowning her country and like a renegade putting on the livery of the
Saxon, in something of a termagant spirit, tendered her resignation to
her master rather than comply with such an innovation.  This ungenerous
invasion of his harmless rules, roused his indignation; and after venting
a few “damns” _a la John Bull_, against draggle-tail cotton rags, without
a word of expostulation with his rib, he desired the girls to bring all
their trumpery to him, which they gladly did, and he made them instantly
into a bonfire in the farm yard.  He then in a firm under tone of subdued
resentment, gave strict injunctions that no further liberties should be
taken with their national costume; to which his lady made the polite and
submissive reply, that the girls might all walk abroad without any dress
at all if he chose, and go to the devil his own way.

At this juncture little Pembroke came in with rosy smiles, and told her
master that Carmarthen Jack wanted to speak to him very particularly, on
which the squire laughed, and asked her on what _important_ matter.  “Why
sir,” said the rustic beauty, while arch smiles and blushes contended in
her sweet oval face, “Parson Evans has found out that he has been
courting in bed, with Catti the schoolmistress, and he has run here
before the Parson to say it is all a falsehood.”  “There’s an impious
rascal for you!” cries the lady of the house, “to charge the clergyman
with falsehood; but I am sure ’tis true, for I long suspected it.”  “The
less you interfere in these matters, the more it will be to your credit
Mrs. Graspacre,” said the squire in a quiet tone, but accompanied with an
emphatic look.  “I insist,” cried the imperious dame, “that he be put in
the stocks, and she ducked in the river.”  “Neither shall be done,” said
he, firmly, “and from henceforward, no person shall be annoyed and
persecuted on that score, but every one shall court as he or she
pleases.”  “What!” cried the indignant lady, “would you fill the country
with bastards?”  “No madam,” was the reply, “but with as happy a set of
people as possible.”

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

“Indeed Cardy,” said the squire, with a smile, “though your mistress may
have been too severe in her censure, I must say your two last brewings
were unequal to the first.”  “A good reason why sir; who can brew without
malt and hops? though I am told some of the town brewers are mighty
independent of those articles—but their brewings won’t do for us at
Newcastle Emlyn! and your wheat sir, which has grown by being out in the
wet harvest, so as to be unfit for bread, is but a poor make-shift for
malt—it may do for the wish-wash paltry ale of Haverfordwest and
Fishguard, but our plough boys would turn up their noses at such stuff at
Newcastle Emlyn!”  “Damn Newcastle Emlyn!” cried the squire, provoked by
her continual reference to her native place.  “Master! master!” cried the
girl, as if rebuking him for the greatest impiety conceivable, “don’t
damn Newcastle Emlyn, I had rather you should knock me down than damn
Newcastle Emlyn! it is the country of decent people and good ale! the
country where”—

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

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

“But let me ask you my good woman,” said the squire, “what is the reason
that your two last brewings were so far inferior to the first, when you
had the same materials to work on?”

“’Twas better sir! ten times better! the first would have turned the
devil’s stomach, had he known what was in it.”  “Explain yourself,” said
the squire, surprized.  “I will sir, if I was to be hanged for it,” cried
the girl in a tone of confidence; “it seems the rats love beer as well as
any christian folks, and can get drunk and die in drink, as a warning to
all sober-minded rats; but that is neither here nor there, and I hate to
tell a rigmarole story; the long and short of it is, that when I came to
wash out the barrels after the first brewing, I found three rats in one,
and two in the other.”

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

“I found three rats sir, that had burst themselves with drinking beer,
and afterwards fell in and were drowned—they were then putrid, and it was
that, it seems, that made the ale so palatable; there were no dead
animals in the last brewing, but if I knew your taste before, I would
have killed a couple of cats, to please you.”

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

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

This amicable settlement of differences set every one in good humour,
except the haughty mistress, who embittered with her double defeat,
retired in gloom, while her husband went to give audience to Jack o Sîr
Gâr.  Cardy stayed behind a full quarter of an hour longer, to edify the
servants while treating, in her cackling style, of the extraordinary
merits of the fat ale of Newcastle Emlyn.



CHAP. VII.


A Welsh wedding, with all its preliminaries, and attendant circumstances.
The Bidding.  The Gwahoddwr.  The Ystavell.  Pwrs a Gwregys.  Pwython.
In which Twm Shôn Catti and Wat the mole-catcher play conspicuous parts.

CARMARTHEN Jack had not been long waiting for his master, before little
Pembroke, full of glee, ran to inform him that the embargo had been taken
forever off bed courtship; and that he was now free, whether guilty or
not.  This happy news affected him so well that he met his master with
comparative ease; and after some struggles with his native bashfulness,
an important secret came out—that he was going to be married to Catti the
schoolmistress; and wished to know whether he should be retained in the
squire’s service after that event.  Now this was a circumstance exactly
to the squire’s taste; as a Welsh wedding pourtrayed many national
features in the character of the peasantry, that pleased him; and, as he
was generally a donor on these occasions, his vanity was flattered by
being looked up to as their patron.  He of course acquiesced in his
servant’s request, and after a little jocular and rough rallying,
proposed that the _Bidding_ should be immediately commenced.

A _Bidding_ was another of the excellent customs peculiar to the Welsh,
but of late years confined exclusively to the lower classes, which the
squire so much admired, and considered worthy of imitation, he said,
throughout the world.  It signifies a general and particular invitation
to all the friends of the bride and bridegroom elect, to meet them at the
houses of their respective parents, or any other place appointed.  Any
strangers who choose to attend are also made welcome.  It is an
understood thing that every person who comes contributes a small sum
towards making a purse for the young pair to begin the world with.  They
have a claim on those persons whose weddings they had themselves
attended; and at these times their parents and friends also make their
claims in their favor on all whom they may have at any time befriended in
a similar manner.  These donations are always registered, and considered
as debts, to be repaid, on the occurrence of weddings only; but there are
many contributors, especially the masters and mistresses of the parties,
that of course require no repayment.  These returns, being made only by
small instalments, and only at the weddings of their donors, are easily
accomplished; and the benefit derived from this custom is very great,
where the parties are respected. {56}  Another agreeable feature in the
rural festivities on these occasions is the appointment of a _Gwahoddwr_,
or Bidder, whose business it is to go from house to house, bearing a
white wand decorated with ribbons, and his staff of office; while his
hat, and sometimes the breast of his coat, is similarly adorned.  Thus
attired, he enters each house with suitable “pride of place,” amidst the
smiles of the old people, and the giggling of the young ones; and taking
his stand in the centre of the house, and striking his wand on the floor
to enforce silence, announces the wedding which is to take place,
sometimes in rhyme, but more frequently in a set speech of prose.

The banns were immediately put in, and every preparation made for the
wedding.  Wat the mole-catcher, as the greatest wag in the parish, was
appointed by the squire to the enviable office of _Gwahoddwr_.  The
following homely lines are a literal translation of those which were
written purposely for this occasion, by the reverend John David Rhys, a
young poetical clergyman, at this time on a visit with Squire Graspacre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Whatever is given, as much they’ll restore—
   One shilling, or two, or three, or four;
   Whenever in similar case ’tis claim’d,
   Else were defaulters ever shamed. {57}

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

During these preparations for his mother’s wedding, little Twm Shôn
Catti, by the squire’s orders given at the bridegroom’s request, was
gratified by a whole week’s absence from school; and Wat the mole-catcher
took the happy youngster along with him, during his pleasant excursion,
to every house where he had to perform the functions of the _Gwahoddwr_.
Here the boy was in the height of his happiness, and soon bedecked
himself as a mock _Gwahoddwr_; having cut and peeled a willow wand, and
attached to the end of it a bunch of rush flags and carpenter’s shavings,
in the place of ribbons, thus grotesquely accoutred, he sallied forth
with his protector, and winking to his companions who were lookers on,
burlesqued every action and peculiarity of the mole-snarer.  It was on
this occasion that he sported the first effusions of his virgin muse, as
it is said, to the following effect, although it has been suspected that
the delivery only was his own.  Like a little clown mimicking the adroit
performances of the harlequin, his speech each time followed the more
important oration of Wat.

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

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

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

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

Jack and his Bidder had no great success, as his friends reproached him
for his perverse intention of marrying a strange woman in a far land; and
therefore finding but little pleasure in the subject or manner of their
lectures, he made a precipitate retreat.  Blushing for his countrymen,
and ashamed to own his failure in his own land, he bribed Ianto Gwyn the
harper, who was his Bidder, to silence; and brought with him to Tregaron,
in a hired cart, the common contribution of a bridegroom—namely, a
bedstead, table, stools, and a dresser.  These, he feigned to have bought
with his Bidding-money, received at Carmarthen.  Friday is always
allotted to bring home the _Ystavell_, or the woman’s furniture;
consisting generally of an oaken coffer, or chest; a featherbed and
blankets; all the crockery and pewter; wooden bowls, piggins, spoons, and
trenchers; with the general furniture of the shelf: but as Catti was
already provided with every thing of this kind, she had but little to add
to her stock.

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

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

Contrary to Jack’s expectations, a considerable number of his
Carmarthenshire friends, mounted on their ponies, made their appearance
this morning, and honorably paid their _Pwython_; that is to say,
returned the presents which he and his relatives or friends had made at
different weddings.  Jack’s resentful and sudden disappearance, it seems
had a beneficial effect on the feelings of his friends and countrymen;
and a jealousy of yielding the palm for liberality to a neighbouring
county stirred a spirit of emulous contention among them, which ended in
a resolution that a party should attend the wedding, and bear with them
the _Pwython_ of the others, who had an aversion to travel such a very
distant journey.

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

    Open windows, open doors,
    And with flowers strew the floors.
    Heap the hearth with blazing wood,
    Load the spit with festal food.
    The _chrochon_ {62} on its hook be placed,
    And tap a barrel of the best!
    For this is Catti’s wedding day;
    Now bring the fair one forth I pray.

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

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

Ianto Gwyn then rejoins,

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

Wat, still within, answers,

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

Ianto Gwyn resolutely exclaims,

    Your home no more she’s doom’d to share,
    Like every marriageable fair
    Her father’s roof she quits, for one
    Where she is mistress: woo’d and won.

    It now remains to see her wedded,
    And homeward brought and safely bedded;
    Unless you give her up we swear
    The roof from off your house to tear,
    Burst in the doors, and batter walls,
    To rescue her whom wedlock calls.

Another of the bridegroom’s party then called aloud in a tone of
authority,

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

Now the important ensnarer of moles, with the air of an ancient chieftain
who throws wide his castle gates for the hospitable reception of his
retainers, opens the door, struts forth, and with a smiling face gives
the welcome, while, with his party, he assists them to alight.  After
taking a little more refreshment, consisting of newly-baked oaten cakes,
with butter and cheese, washed down with copious draughts of ale, they
all remounted, and were joined by the rest of the bridegroom’s party; the
whole rustic cavalcade making their way towards the church.  A motley
assemblage, in truth it was, but withal picturesque, and agreeable to
contemplate, for every face was happy; save when now and then a cautious
damsel, mounted behind her father or brother, would exhibit a touch of
the dismals in the length of her features, on discovery that the _cwrw_
had any other effect than that of rendering her protector steady in his
seat on the saddle.  Almost every sort of animal, large or small, lame or
blind, good or bad, seemed to have been pressed into the service, and
reduced to the levelling system, and without regard to either size or
quality, doomed to carry double.  And thus they went on at a walking
pace, while the loud chat of many seemed drowned in the louder laughter
and calling of others, till now and then rebuked by some of the elders;
who, however, to little purpose, vociferated the words
decency—propriety—sobriety—sober purpose—&c. &c. the tendency of which
seemed but little understood.  Jack was doomed to bestride a wretched
begalled Rozinante which the dogs could scarce pass without anticipating
their approaching feast, and looked like an equestrian knave of clubs ill
mounted; and if not very merry himself, was certainly “the cause of mirth
in others.”  Elevated behind her temporary father on a fleet horse of the
squire’s, poor Catti was doomed to present purgatory to contrast her
enjoyment of future happiness, for, unprovided with a pillion, she sat on
the crupper, holding fast by Wat’s coat.  The quiet pace which commenced
this little journey was soon changed into rough horsemanship, for the
mad-cap mole-catcher turning his steed into the Cardigan road, gave him
the spur, and commenced an outrageous gallop; the wedding partly followed
with all the might of their little beasts, and like valiant villagers in
chase of a highwayman, strove their utmost to rescue the bride.  Ianto
Gwyn the rural bard and harper, ever ready with an extempore, produced
one on this occasion.

    Lost, stray’d, or ran away
    This moment from the king’s highway,
    A tall and sightly strapping woman,
    A circumstance not very common;
    ’Tis said a murderer of vermin
    On her abduction did determine;
    Whoe’er will bear to gaol th’ offender,
    The lost one to her owner render,
    Shall be as handsomely rewarded
    As can be readily afforded.

Having considerably distanced his pursuers, he stopped at length, at
Catti’s request, who complained sadly of being sorely bumped upon the
buckle of the crupper.  Dexterously turning to a bye-road towards the
church, he was soon perceived and followed by the party, and altogether
they soon arrived at their journey’s end, and alighting, they entered the
sacred fane with due decorum.  Evans the curate, to enhance his own
services and increase his importance, took care to damp their hilarity by
keeping them waiting full three quarters of an hour, before he made his
appearance; and when he came, his looks and demeanor partook more of the
rigid priest of Saturn, than of the heart-joining, bliss-dispensing
Hymen.  Although the conduct of every individual was perfectly decent, he
very sternly rebuked their smiles and happy looks, and actually
threatened not to perform the marriage ceremony, until, alarmed at the
menace, and indignant at his conduct, they all became perfectly joyless,
and most orthodoxically gloomy.  The indissoluble knot was soon tied; and
no longer dependant on the good offices of the magisterial churchman,
their spirit of joyousness burst forth, while in the churchyard the
mellow harp of Ianto Gwyn was playing the sprightly air of _Morwynion
Glân Meirionydd_, or the Fair Maidens of Merionethshire; while many of
the party joined in the words which belong to that beautiful and
animating tune.  Suddenly changing the air, the eccentric harper struck
up “Megen has lost her garter,” which was succeeded by “Mentra Gwen,” and
a string of such national melodies, equally gay and appropriate.  After
the marriage, they returned in much the same order, or rather disorder;
with the difference that the bride sat behind her husband, instead of her
father: the harper playing the whole time, and many sweet voices joining
in the words of the airs.  They soon entered Catti’s house, where her
sister Juggy had provided a good dinner, of which all partook, cost free,
except that every one had to pay for their own ale, the females of course
being treated.  In the course of the evening, jigs, reels, and country
dances, were successively gone through with much spirit.  Catti danced
with considerable agility; but Jack, pressed on all sides, and at length
compelled to make one, in a country dance, shewed every indication of
this being his virgin attempt at “the poetry of motion;” and alternately
stumping and blowing, while copious streams ran down his rugged forehead,
as they every instant corrected his erratic course, and literally pushed
him down the dance, he vowed that this his first, should also be his last
exhibition on the “fantastic toe.”  Young Twm, who had been playing at
sweethearts, with little Gwenny Cadwgan on his knee, to the great mirth
of his seniors, soon brought her out to try her foot in the dance with
him.  The poor little wench, blushing scarlet deep, made her first essay
with one equally young and inexperienced as herself; and the juvenile
pair were by many good naturedly instructed in the figure of the dance,
and they contributed not a little to the general harmony.  Juggy, the
sister of Catti, absolutely refused to sport her figure among the
dancers, and treated Wat the mole-catcher with a hard favor in the face
for attempting to drag her in perforce.  At length, fatigued with
dancing, and alarmed for the state of their inebriated friends and
companions, many, especially the females, turned their serious thoughts
towards home.  It was now drawing towards the hour of retiring for the
night, when the usual trick was played of concealing the bride from the
bridegroom.  Poor Jack, whom nature had not favored with a great share of
facetiousness, and who never mixed with such a company before, began to
be seriously alarmed.  Great was the mirth of the party, while, with a
strange expression of countenance, he sought her up and down in every
corner of the house.  At length he discovered a part of her red petticoat
sticking out from under the bottom of the straw armchair, and soon drew
her out from the place of concealment.  The parting hour was now arrived;
then came the general shaking of hands, and serious expressions of good
wishes among the sober; while the tipsy folks vented their wit in jocular
allusions to their conjugal felicity: some offering themselves for
godfathers and godmothers to their future offspring, while others far
gone laid bets on the probability that the first child would be either a
boy or a girl.  At this time considerable surprize was excited by the
conduct of an individual who had been remarkably unsocial the whole
evening, no person having heard him speak a word; and when asked a
question, or in answer to a health being drank, he merely nodded in a
hurried manner, and immediately drew hard at his pipe, and puffed forth
volumes of smoke, as if to envelope himself in a cloud of invisibility.
Every one was too much engaged with his own pleasures to give him much
attention, and thus he remained till the moment of departure, when he was
observed to stagger as he rose from his seat; somebody then observed,
that it must have been the smoke and not the beer that affected his
brains, as he drank but little: a remark that imputed niggardly and
curmudgeon propensities to him.  Determined to give him something of a
roast, a young farmer asked him, with a defying air, whether he had paid
his _Pwython_; “No!” roared the hitherto silent man, “but here it is—take
it Catti my girl, and much good may it do you!” on which he put five
guineas into her hand.  With emotions of wonder and gratitude, while
catching an eager glance at his face, Catti involuntarily exclaimed “the
squire!” when he darted out, mounted his horse, as did the rest of the
party, and disappeared.



CHAP. VIII.


Twm’s great improvement under his new master.  His attachment to Welsh
literature.  Wat’s freak.  Twm is taken from school, and sent as a parish
apprentice to a farmer in the Cardiganshire mountains.

DETERMINED to witness the humble festivities of the “lowly train,” thus
Squire Graspacre had been among them the whole evening, disguised like a
rough mountaineer husbandman, and was heartily gratified, although his
apparent incivility of conduct had nearly subjected him to harsh
treatment from the jovial ale-fraught rustics, who of course, but little
relished his strange behaviour.  His deficiency in the Welsh language had
been concealed by alternately feigning deafness and drunkenness, which,
with the aid of the pipe, left him free of further suspicion.  The
morning of Sunday after the wedding, which is called _Neithior_, being
come, the happy pair stayed at home, receiving their friends who called
with their good will, which was manifested by the payment of _Pwython_.
The day was drank out, but not as before, as in every other respect, save
the diminishing of ale, each seemed to recollect it was the Sabbath, and
tossed off their cups in quietness.  It was not till late on Monday
evening that the drink was exhausted, when Jack and Catti cast up the sum
of their wedding donations, which they found amounted to twenty seven
pounds eight shillings and sixpence, besides fourteen whole, and
twenty-two half cheeses, the greater part of which they soon turned into
cash.  In these days, when the value of money has been so much decreased,
the amount of the _Pwython_ and presents at a Welsh wedding has been
known to reach more than treble the sum here stated; especially when the
friends of the parties have been numerous, and headed by the patronage of
a wealthy and liberal master and mistress, who generally enlist their
friends and visitors under the hymeneal banners of a faithful servant,
the architects of whose humble fortunes they become, by laying,
themselves, the corner stone.

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

In consequence of the squire’s liberality on the celebration of Catti’s
wedding, and a general report prevailing that he was well inclined
towards the Welsh, a protector of their customs, and no scorner of their
languages or peculiarities, a general good will towards him was
manifested by the country people.  When he gave his opinion in favor of
the female national costume, they considered him, for an Englishman, a
very reasonable man.  When he eulogized the Welsh harp, and gave, in
addition to various pieces of silver at different times, a guinea to
Ianto Gwyn for his performances at Jack and Catti’s wedding, he gained a
few steps more into their good opinion.  But when he declared that bed
courtship should not be abolished, there was a burst of enthusiasm in his
favor in every breast, especially among the females.  During this new
impulse given to the reign of happiness, the great lady of the hall and
her favorite curate hid their diminished heads; the former declaring that
it was utterly impossible that the world could last many months, while
such immorality and ungodliness was practised under the auspices of a
declared patron.  Whether it was the influence of this alarm, or the
bitterness of baffled malignity, that preyed on her mind, certain it is,
she was soon thrown on a sick bed, and considered seriously indisposed.
The squire, to his honor be it said, although unfortunately married to a
very disagreeable woman, allowed a sense of duty to supply the place of
affection, when his attentions were so indispensably needed.  During her
illness the worthy old rector who had been ill but a single week, died:
and Squire Graspacre, against his own judgement and feelings, well
knowing that such an arrangement would be agreeable to his wife, inducted
the curate, Evans, into the vacant living.  In a fortnight after,
however, she died herself; a circumstance perhaps, that gave no real
sorrow to any creature breathing.

The general report of a liberal English squire in Cardiganshire, who
patronized and upheld the customs of the Welsh, penetrated to the very
extremities of the principality; and became at last so strangely
exaggerated, that, he was represented as the patron of the learned:
consequently many of the humbler sons of the church took long journeys to
be undeceived.  Of the many who called upon him with a view of seeking
his patronage of their literary undertakings, one especially took his
fancy; a young clergyman named John David Rhys, before named as the
author of the Bidder’s song.  But poetry was not his forte; his energy
and perseverance in the favorite study of Welshmen, British antiquities,
and systemizing his native language, deserved encouragement and applause.
He was then composing a Welsh grammar, and had actually commenced a
dictionary.  As he spoke English very well, the squire soon understood
the merit of his undertakings, and promised his patronage and good
offices; in the mean time requesting him to remain on the footing of a
friend beneath his roof, till something could be done for him.  This
excellent person he now fixed upon to succeed Evans in the school and
curacy; stipulating, that for his fulfilment of the latter, he was to
have thirty pounds, and for the former ten pounds a year.  Fortunate for
Rhys would it have been had the old rector outlived the squire’s lady, in
which case it is more than probable he would have filled the living
instead of Evans, whom the squire never liked.  This change in the
mastership of the school was a fortunate event for young Twm Shôn Catti,
who had caught the mania for rhyming, among the wandering harpers and
_bards_, as they called every rhymester who could manufacture verses in
either of the four-and-twenty legitimate Welsh measures.  When he found
his new master a kind young man, an historian, antiquarian, and something
of a poet, the “homage of the heart” was immediately paid him.  Twm
thought him the wisest man in the world, when he heard him speak of the
battles fought by the Britons in ancient times, against the Romans,
Danes, and Saxons.  This was to him a knowledge the most estimable, and
he longed to be enabled also, to talk about battles and to write
patriotic songs.  Having now his information from a better source, he
soon learned to despise the jargon and misstatements of Ianto Gwyn, with
whom he argued strongly, and proved to him that Geoffrey of Monmouth was
a fabulist, and no historian; that it was not Joseph of Arimathea who
christianized Britain; and that the Britons were no descendants of Brute,
nor of Trojan origin; with various other such knotty points.  The great
deference which he paid his master, his attention to every word which
fell from his lips, with his close and successful application to his
lessons, gained him the esteem and admiration of Rhys, with whom he
became a great favorite.  This amiable young clergyman found much
satisfaction on discovering a youngster with taste sufficient to
appreciate his favorite pursuits; and took pleasure in explaining to him
every subject of his enquires.  A thirst for information possessed the
boy; and he rummaged the most dry and tedious works connected with Welsh
antiquities, with an avidity that was astonishing even to his master.

Well would it have been for Twm had he continued his diligence in this
honorable course, but in his breast the love of learning was shared by
his love of mischief, and his admiration of his master divided with his
predilection for the comical vagaries of Wat the mole-catcher: and in the
end, his acquaintance with that worthy proved anything to him but
fortunate.  About eighteen months after Rhys’s appointment to the school,
one evening in the Christmas holidays, Wat asked him if he would take a
share in a freak that would keep them up the greater part of the night.
Twm immediately assented, without enquiring its nature; enough for him
that it was a scheme of merry mischief, in the prospect of which his
heart ever bounded.  This idle whim of Wat’s was nothing more than to
pull down the signs of all the public houses and shops, which being few,
was easily done, but the greater difficulty was to suspend them from, or
attach them to, the tenements of others, in which they however succeeded.
This trick elicited some humour; and a satirical application was
discernible in the new disposal of the boards.  When the light of day
discovered their handy-work, great was the astonishment of the
alehouse-keepers and others, to find their signs vanished, and gracing
the fronts of their neighbours’ houses; and the anger of the reverend
Evan Evans was boundless, on perceiving the “Fox and Goose” over his
rectory house door, with the words proceeding from the mouth of Reynard,
“I have thee now;” and under the pictorial figures “Good entertainment
for man and horse.”  A crowd was in consequence collected about his door,
and the provoking laughter of the people stung him to the bitterest
degree of resentment.  Squire Graspacre, from indolence or dislike to all
business except farming, declined being in the commission of the peace
himself, and put the parson in his stead.  Having now attained the summit
of his ambition, as rector and justice of the peace, his overweening
presumption and conceit become daily more conspicuous; and therefore this
slur upon his consequence became intolerable.  The actors in this simple
freak became at length known, in consequence of the secret being
intrusted, a very common case, to a _confidential friend_.

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

The circumstances under which young Twm Shôn Catti was educated, now
suddenly occurred to him.  “What the devil is to become of that
mischievous young rascal?” said he, one day, to Rhys the curate, whom he
then informed of the particulars of his birth, and of his deceased wife’s
whim of having him well educated, in consequence of his being a slip of
Sir John Wynne’s.  That connexion being entirely closed by the death of
his wife, he no longer felt himself bound or inclined to notice him.
When Rhys gave so good an account of his proficiency, he was surprized to
hear the squire exclaim “I am sorry for it, for he has no prospect in the
world but labour or beggary.  As he has already had too good an education
for his circumstances, he must be instantly dismissed from school.  Since
Sir John does not think proper to protect his son, I don’t see why I
should.”  Twm and his master parted with mutual regret, for latterly they
were more like companions than master and scholar; and the generous Rhys
could not restrain a tear on beholding a youth of so much promise
destined to the uncertain wilderness of a hard and cold world, especially
after having evinced a superiority of taste and intellect, that under
favorable auspices, would have enabled him to shine and flourish in his
day.  Twm remained awhile at his mother’s, a big boy of fifteen, idling
away his days without any view to the future.  Greatly concerned on his
account and her own inability to support him, Catti went one day to the
squire’s, and implored him to do something for her son; and he at last
_generously_ decided to send him as a parish apprentice to a farmer,
whose grounds were situate in the neighbouring mountains.



CHAP. IX.


Twm’s new master and mistress, with their daughters.  His pranks and
buffetings at Cwm du.  This humorous-beginning chapter ends tragically.

THE farmer to whom Twm had been assigned, was named Morris Grump, who
possessed a considerable farm, freehold property, consisting of small
fields occupying either side of a deep narrow mountain dingle, the centre
of which was threaded by a large brook, that in winter aped the
boisterousness of a river, and was, near the farm, crossed by a fallen
tree, answering the purpose of a rustic bridge, worn flat by the feet of
passengers.  This cultivated defile extended about three miles, and, with
the farm, was called _Cwm du_, {77} signifying the Black vale, or dingle,
from the deep shade which the acclivious sides of the mountains threw
over it, a great part of the day.  This lonely ravine was poorly wooded,
but many objects combined to array it with a hue of the romantic.
Instead of thorn, or other coppice, the hedges were of furze, always
green, and in summer with a rich yellow blossom, intermixed, here and
there, with the purple-flowered heath, which in Scotch literature has
been immortalized as the mountain heather.  The trees were stunted, of
stubby, dwarfish, yet fantastic growth, with the heads generally snapped
off in the winter storms, and the branches spreading afar.  The large
loose stones, that had parted from their parent rocks, and rolled to the
banks, and into the bed of the brook, were covered, or rather patched,
with a grey and yellow lichen, as were the bare hungry-looking ribs of
the mountains, which, unfleshed with soil, shewed, repulsively gaunt;
strongly contrasting with the small corn fields and green meadows below.
The brook, on a continual descent, was broken by many small, and some
large, falls, down its rocky bed, chafing to a white foam against its
various impediments, and roaring with the futile rage of a petty torrent.

At the upper end of _Cwm du_ stood the farm house, so called, of Morris
Grump, with its barn, ricks, and the group of outhouses usually
appertaining to such a place.  At the further extremity, the dingle
terminated in a vast flat patch of black mountain marsh, where all the
people of the neighbouring country repaired to cut their turf for firing.
All else, on either side the valley of _Cwm du_, was mountain—a wild
uncultured wilderness; the surface of which was diversified with pretty
lakes or alpine pools, on which floated various aquatic fowl; flocks of
sheep; long-maned untamed horses; furze and heath; quarries; caves;
gulfs; intersecting brooks; and the horizon closed with the distant
mountain peaks, one above another, strangely but most grandly clustered.

In this secluded place, with a wife, six grown-up daughters, and one
man-servant, Morris Grump lived, in the most penurious manner, scarcely
allowing himself or family the common necessaries of live.  This was to
Twm a most grievous change, where he was continually compelled to embrace
his antipathies, and disconnect himself from all the felicities most dear
to him.  He loved books, rural festivities, rambling, and all those modes
of passing his time which were most allied to idleness; but in this house
not a book was to be seen, nor the sound of mirth, harp, or song ever
heard; nothing but work, hard work, seasoned with the shrill tones of
scolding women, and the deep growls of the farmer.  The state of a slave,
in a more agreeable climate, was enviable compared to poor Twm’s.

It has been complained that the improvements in modern cookery have
caused the human race to devour more than twice the quantity of food
requisite or beneficial; Molly Grump, the mistress of this mountain
mansion, had no idea of inflicting such an evil on her kind, and
therefore as an antidote to gluttony and intemperance, took care that her
food and drink should be neither too savory nor gustful.  Her habits
were, to bake a large quantity of bread at once, so that it might soon
get hard and mouldy; steep an immense portion of the matter for flummery,
until as sour as verjuice; mix water with the milk, buttermilk, and whey;
and make the cheeses for home consumption hard enough to answer the
purpose of cannon balls, in case the felicities of _Cwm du_ should ever
tempt our foreign enemies to invade it.

Our hero, however, had a bold heart, and if a little better fed, would
have endured all, and with that indifference and vein of whim which were
natural to him, turned Misery herself into a scarecrow of mirth rather
than terror.  His wretched scanty meals did much to tame him, and he ate
his breakfast of highly-watered milk porridge, with a hungry, and at the
same time loathing, stomach.  His dinner was either of very sour flummery
and skim-milk watered, or for variety, broth, made of rusty bacon, or
equally rusty dried beef or mutton; which being made in large quantities,
was generally warmed and served up three or four succeeding days: and
when Twm and his fellow servant (a half idiot lout,) vainly hoped that
this species of drenching was over, they had the mortification to find a
quantity of water added, to spin it out for another meal.  When spared
from out-door work, Twm became a drudge for the women; after the work of
the day was over, and each resting in the chimney corner, there was
always a job for him, of some kind or other.  By the time he had been
there six months, it was pitiable to see him, in the depth of winter, in
his wooden clogs without stockings, and his happy laughing face rendered
pale and sorrowful.  Yet with all these drawbacks he preserved his turn
for mirth, and in the evening would recite either ghost-stories or
war-tales of old times, which he had heard from Ianto Gwyn or his master
Rhys, that astonished and amused his auditors, at least part of them, for
Molly Grump told him ’twas more fitting he should mind his work than give
his time to telling lies and idling; and her eldest daughter Shân always
echoed and imitated her mother, both in scolding and uttering wise
_saws_.

The employment which they found for him in-doors, sometimes gave him an
opportunity of repairing the deficiency of his stomach and warming his
icy hands.  One day, having brought in some turf and furze which he had
chopped for baking plank, or bakestone, bread, while Shân had turned her
back a little, he snatched up the last cake taken from the fire, and
doubling it up, thrust it into his breast, and attempted to make a hasty
retreat to devour it.  The great heat against his stomach, however, gave
him infinite pain, which, like the Spartan boy he had determined to
endure rather than be detected; but not having been favored with so
stoical an education, he at length gave way to nature, and roared most
loudly as he ran out and across a field, while Shân and her two younger
sisters followed in full chase, to rescue the bread which the former
immediately missed.  Twm soon gained the mountain, when the girls gave up
the pursuit, and he sat down and ate his bread undisturbed, hiding what
remained beneath some stones, for a future meal, determined to abide the
consequence of his theft rather than that of starvation.  A severe
thrashing from the farmer, some blows from his wife, much scolding from
both as well from the echo Shân, with deprivation from dinner, were the
attendants of this feat; and instead of being permitted to sit with the
rest, to partake of a meal, he was ordered to give some hay to the cows:
“and mind,” cried Farmer Grump, “that you give more hay to the cow that
yields you most milk, than to the cow that gives but little.”  “I will,
be sure of it!” said Twm, pointedly and in a sulky tone; and immediately
carried his two arms full of hay and threw it under the water spout.
“There!” cried he, as the farmer came out and looked with astonishment,
“_that_ is the _cow_ which gives me most milk, for your cursed broth and
porridge is almost wholly made from this never-failing udder.”  This cost
him another beating, but it was the last, for the farmer received a hint
that it would not be safe to repeat the experiment, as Twm vowed to his
fellow servant, that if again struck he would fell his assailant to the
ground, like an ox: while his resolute and altered look convinced him
that he meant to keep his word.

In the early part of the next summer, that dreadful malady, the small
pox, made its awful visitation to Morris Grump’s house, and like a
terrific fiend laid its talons alike on young and old, and remorselessly
swept them off to the grave.  The two younger daughters were the first
infected; and in a few days after, two more were taken ill, and Morris’s
house presented the appearance of an hospital.  Morris’s wife, as well as
himself, from the excessive anxiety natural to parents in such unhappy
circumstances for the preservation of her offspring, took, like thousands
of others, the wrong course, and literally killed them with kindness;
while the humbler inmates of the house, who had no share in her affection
or concern, were as truly saved by absolute neglect.  Thus, while without
judgement or advice, except of those who were as ignorant as herself, she
sought every delicacy to indulge and pamper the appetites of her own
afflicted ones, giving them spiced ale sugared, and even wine, in her
terror of losing them, she suffered the poor apprentice Twm, who was also
deep in the small pox, to languish unattended, without enquiring after
him, or sending him the common necessaries of life, utterly indifferent
whether he lived or died.

On the first appearance of this disorder, the farmer’s ploughman left him
and went home, so that except Grump’s own family, there were none in the
house but Twm, who, if preserved from the small pox ran great danger of
starvation.  His bed was an old hop-sack half filled with oat-chaff, and
his covering an old tattered blanket and a musty rug, which had filled
similar offices for the horses.  His bed-chamber being a portion of the
hay-loft, poor Twm remained hours and days without food, groaning away
his time, and until blinded by his malady, amusing himself by counting
the number, and pondering on the formation, of the cobwebs that hung like
sorrow’s garlands from the mouldy beams and rafters, while the squeaking
of the mice in the rotten thatch, served for music.  At other times,
somewhat nerved by the cravings of his stomach, his weak hands would
rustle in some pease-straw that happened to be placed there, and now and
then, to his infinite joy, find an unbroken pea-shell that had escaped
the searching of the flail, which, in spite of the soreness of his hands
and mouth, he would open, and with avidity devour its contents.

As in those days there were none who knew how to treat this disorder, in
general it was looked upon as the certain harbinger of death, when the
terror and confusion which took place on its appearance, was deplorable
in the extreme.  Two of the farmer’s children, which had first been taken
ill, now died; and a third in a day after, when Morris himself was
discovered to be infected.  Loud cries and lamentations became incessant
day and night; and some of the neighbouring old cottage wives who offered
their services came there to assist—and this to some of them was a
welcome office, as on such occasions as watching the sick, or laying out
the dead; feasting is as prevalent as at weddings.

Among these old hen-wives and grannies, tales of superstition prevailed
in abundance; some spoke of the corpse candles seen by them previous to
the deaths of the young women of the house; others dilated on the
awfulness of a spectral burial, where shadows of the living supported the
bier of the departed towards the churchyard.

One night, between twelve and one, while the three coffins and their
contents presented a woeful sight, lying side by side on the long oak
table, Morris, afflicted as he was, assisted his wife in supporting his
fourth daughter, whose death they also deeply dreaded, as an old cottage
woman, while she basted a loin of mutton roasting before the fire, dwelt
much on the certainty of supernatural appearances, illustrating her
convictions by instances of her own experience.  All at once, the current
of her discourse was arrested by a shudder that overcame and struck her
dumb, on hearing a rumbling and irregular noise, as of falling furniture,
which also terrified the group about the fire.  The noise increased, and
at last seemed as of somebody stumbling in his way in the dark; groans,
mutterings, and approaching human steps succeeded:—some shrieked, some
rose and ran to remote corners, covering their heads with their aprons,
while others sat breathless, as if nailed to the bench, and dissolved in
streams of perspiration, their eyes starting from their sockets—when a
figure with the air and rush of a maniac darted in, tore the roasting
meat from the string, and disappeared with it, uttering in a dismal
hollow tone “O God, I am famished by these wretches!”  The consciences of
the farmer and his wife were dreadfully wrung, as they now recollected
the poor apprentice boy Twm, whom they had left in the depth of the
malady which had deprived them of three of their children, to live or
die, as he might; nor would Morris allow anybody to rescue the meat, but
snatching a loaf from the shelf, he entreated Twm to come in and eat his
fill at the fire: but the youngster had entered his hay-loft, and with
the ravenousness of a starved hound devoured his half raw prey in
darkness.  While yet the farmer, with tears of real penitence, was
calling out to him, a loud scream from his wife convinced him that his
fourth child was also dead.  With wild agony that seemed to have
humanized his hard heart by the bitter arrows of affliction, Morris fell
on his knees, and with interrupting sobs, exclaimed “I see the hand of
God in this, and a judgement, a heavy judgement has befallen us for our
cruelty to the poor boy; but he will live! he! the lad whom we treated
fouler than the beast! he will outlive this pest, while me and mine will
perish!”

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

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



CHAP. X.


Twm returns to his mother’s at Tregaron.  His reception there, and
amongst his old friends and cronies.  Enters the service of Squire
Graspacre, and lives in clover.  Becomes a great reader, hates servitude,
and grows melancholy and romantic.

AFTER setting out early in the morning, and walking hard all day over a
rugged mountain road, the heart of Twm Shôn Catti thrilled with delight,
and the tears filled in his eyes when, late in the evening, his own
native place, the humble town of Tregaron appeared before him; and
although his feet were so blistered that he could scarcely move, he
attempted to make his limbs partake of the new vigour which sprung up in
his heart, and essayed to run, but failing in his aim, fell down
completely mastered by exhaustion and fatigue.  Whether, like Brutus, he
was re-nerved by breathing awhile on the bosom of his mother earth, or
that the thoughts within, of home and its associations, gave him
strength, he rose much refreshed, but with considerable pain continued
the short untraced portion of his journey.

Entering the town, at length, just as the darkness began to veil every
object, he came to his mother’s door, which was open, and cast an
enquiring look before he entered.  Catti had long dismissed her scholars,
and sat in the chimney corner with her back towards the door, while her
husband occupied the other side, and sat silently busy in scooping out
the bowl of a new ladle.  Twm’s merry, trick-loving soul was not to be
subdued by his troubles; having drawn his flat-rimmed old hat over his
eyes, he leaned over his mother’s hatch, and in a feigned voice begged
for a piece of bread and cheese, saying that he was a poor boy, very
hungry and tired, who was making his way home to Lampeter.  “We are poor
folk ourselves, and have nothing to give,” said Carmarthen Jack, rather
gruffly.  “Stop!” cried Catti, “he’s a poor child Jack, a bit of bread
and cheese is not much, and somebody might take pity on my poor Twm, and
give as much, if he should ever need it.”  The affectionate heart of Twm
could no longer contain itself, but opening the hatch he burst forward,
dashing his hat on the ground, and falling on her neck, giving ardent
utterance to merely the word “mother;” and after the tender pause of
nature’s own embrace, he cried, with streaming eyes, “My good kind
charitable mother! you shall never want bread and cheese, while your poor
Twm has health and strength to earn it.”  Warmly returning his embrace
and kisses, Catti long clasped her boy, and was quite terrified to see
his pale lean cheek, and altered look.  Ashamed of the exposure of his
pitiless nature, Jack now came up, shook hands and condoled with him, but
Twm _had seen the man_, _and loved him not_.  After being refreshed,
Catti eagerly enquired of all that happened to him since he left home,
and wept much as he detailed his narrow escape from starvation and the
small pox.  By twelve o’clock next day, his tale was known to every body
at Tregaron.

The catastrophe at Morris Grump’s, of course, was considered as a
judgement from heaven for his miserly propensities; and Ianto Gwyn wrote
a pathetic ballad, to the great edification of the old women and
tender-hearted damsels, giving _a true and particular_ account of the
whole affair; to which was attached a moral, on the cruelty of
mal-treating parish apprentices, and stuffing them with mouldy bread and
sour flummery.  This interesting ballad was daily sung by Wat the
mole-catcher, to the English tune of Chevy Chase, which gained him the
good will of all those old crones, who had taken deep offence at his
numerous tricks.

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

Right glad were all Twm’s cronies to see him again at Tregaron; but
dearer than all to him was the welcome of the curate Rhys, with whose
books he was again permitted to make free, while he profited by his
instructions and conversation.  He had now been at home about three
months, and recovered his health, strength, and spirits to perfection,
when his mother fancied he had become an eye-sore to her husband, who she
thought looked at him with the scowling brow of a step-father, which
Twm’s conduct, he might imagine, justified, as his behaviour towards Jack
had been very unconciliating, ever since the bread and cheese adventure.
With this impression, Catti once more waited on Squire Graspacre to
solicit that some place or employment should be found for her boy, as she
could not afford to keep him in idleness.  The tale of his sufferings at
_Cwm du_, interested the squire in his favor; and he felt some reluctance
to send him as a parish apprentice; particularly as Catti declared he
would rather die than be such again.  The worthy curate, Rhys, had also
spoken a kind word in his pupil’s favor; and Carmarthen Jack, gaping hand
in hand, looked as if he would say much to get rid of his stepson, could
he hit on words to his purpose.  Amused by his simplicity and awkward
gestures, the squire asked him, “Well Jack, what would you advise me to
do with Catti’s boy?”  This plain question met as blunt an answer, “Make
him your servant boy sir, if you please.”  “And so I will old hedgehog,”
cried the squire, slapping him on the shoulder, “Your oratory has settled
the matter.”  Accordingly, our hero next appears as the squire’s man at
Graspacre Hall; this was an agreeable change in life to him, where he
lived, as they say, in clover; and by his good temper and turn for mirth,
he gained the good will and admiration of his fellow servants,
particularly the girls, with whom he became an especial favorite.  Behold
him now then, in the seventeenth year of his age, with the looks and
habits of twenty, gay, happy, and as mischievous as an ape; kissing and
romping with the girls, caring for none of them but shewing attentions to
all, while he jeered and mocked the cross-grained and disagreeable, and
whenever he could, raised a laugh at their peculiarities.  His
employments at the squire’s were various, among which, waiting at table
every day, neatly dressed, and carrying his master’s gun and attending
him during his shooting excursions, formed the principal.  To these,
Squire Graspacre, who since the death of his wife was ever wench-hunting,
aimed to add the office of pimp.  Twm, however, had been swayed too long
by the counsels of Rhys the curate, to lend himself to any such unworthy
services; and having by his conversations with him, and by the tenor of
his readings, imbibed a taste for romantic honor, he was not without a
secret hope, if not presentiment, that his great father might some day
own him, and destine him to a very different sphere in life.  These ideas
were no sooner born than they daily expanded in his breast, and filled
his imagination so far as to induce him to seize every opportunity to
improve his mind, and qualify himself for the best chances of Fortune.
With the growth of these notions, rose in his mind a distaste for
servitude, and an ardent longing to shine in a sphere allied to
literature and respectability.

By the time he had been a twelvemonth in his situation, from a merry
happy youth he became pensive, and sometimes deeply melancholy.  His
bed-room was over the lawndry, a building detached from the house; in
which he had shelves put up to hold his books, a small stock, but which
he continually increased by laying out every farthing which he received
from visitors, or saved from his wages, in the purchase of more.  On
retiring at night, his habits were to cover closely his window, to
conceal the light of his candle, while he generally sat up more than half
the night luxuriating over his darling volumes; and as he was directed in
his choice of them by Rhys, who made him presents of many, he soon
acquired no inconsiderable share of information: this blessing, however,
became partially a curse to him, for, as he could not be persuaded to
give his attention to books of a religious tendency, the light that
gleamed upon his mind had the effect of shewing him his destitution, and
making him discontented with his lot in life.  Sometimes, he talked to
his late school-master on the subject of travelling to England to seek
his fortune, which wandering predilections that worthy man always
discouraged, but events soon occurred to shew our hero in a new
character, in which most men appear at some period of their lives—that of
a lover.



CHAP. XI.


Twm Shôn Catti falls in love, and preserves his mistress from the
squire’s clutches.  The adventures of Farmer Cadwgan’s she ass.  Twm
escapes from the squire’s.

THE squire and his man Twm returning one evening from grousing on the
hills, on their descent towards the valleys had to pass by a small farm
house, inhabited by a tenant of the former, who whispered Twm, “This is
the keep, the close, that contains better game, and can afford livelier
sport than any I have had to day.”  Twm by his silence testified his
ignorance of his drift; but he resumed “what you don’t understand me?
haven’t you seen this farmer’s plump partridge of a daughter, the pretty
Gwenny Cadwgan, you young dog!  I am determined to have that bird down,
some way or other, and you must help me.”  Before Twm could reply, the
squire alighted and entered the cottage, at the door of which the farmer
and Gwenny Cadwgan, now grown a fine and blooming young woman, met and
welcomed their landlord.  Some oaten bread, butter and cheese, and a cup
of homely ale was put before him; and while he ate, the pretty Gwenny
carried a portion to Twm, as he held the horses in the yard.  While he
received the welcome food from the hand of the happy smiling girl, he
perceived the blush with which she gave it, and felt in his breast
certain sensations no less new than agreeable; thus, while each made
brief allusions to their days of childhood, a tear started in the eyes of
Twm, on seeing which the bright eyes of Gwenny were also suffused, till
the pearly drops over-ran her fresh ruddy cheeks.  Her father then
calling her in, she suddenly shook hands with, and left our hero, who in
that hour became a captive to her charms, while the innocent girl herself
then felt the first shootings of a passion that daily grew, in sympathy
with his own.

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

After the squire’s departure, Cadwgan became deeply distressed at the
predicament in which he found himself; to deny his landlord, was probably
to lose his farm; and to assent to his specious proposal, was to
endanger, if not utterly ruin the innocence of his darling daughter; as,
since the death of Mistress Graspacre, more than one of the neighbouring
damsels had to rue their intimacy with the squire.  He passed a sleepless
night of bitter reflection, and saw daylight with an agonized spirit; but
the active mind imbued with honorable ideas, never fails in due season to
work its own relief.  When Twm appeared next morning on horseback before
his door, with a pillion behind, for the reception of Gwenny, Cadwgan’s
terrors had vanished, his indignation at the premeditated injuries
intended him, was roused, and with braced nerves, and a firm heart, he
determined to deny the squire, and abide the consequences, be what they
might.  But honest Nature was elsewhere at work in Cadwgan’s favor, and
unknown to him, had raised a friend to save him from those impending
perils, to the preservation both of his farm and his more precious
daughter, in the person of young Twm Shôn Catti.

On his journey home the last evening, while listening to his master’s
commands, and hearing his plans to inveigle the innocent Gwenny, Twm was
silent and meditative, mentally engaged in seeking some mode to preserve
her from his clutches; and at length heroically determined to save the
object of his admiration, even at the risk of losing his place and being
cast again on the wide world.  He fed his fancy all night in dwelling on
her beauty, and the merit of preserving her, while he ardently enjoyed in
anticipation, the sacrifice he was about to make for her sake;
considering he should feel himself amply repaid if favored by the sweet
girl with a smile of approbation.

The morning came, and the squire gave the dreaded order, “Take the horse
Dragon, put a saddle and pillion on him, and bring the farmer’s lass
behind you here; tell Cadwgan not to expect her back to-night, but she
shall be brought home to-morrow.”  Although Twm had been preparing
himself to give a doughty reply, and so commence the heroic character he
had modelled, yet when the moment came, his resolution failed him, and
the high-sounding words were not forthcoming; although the determination
to disobey remained as strong as ever.  He rode off, through Tregaron,
and up the hills, in a melancholy mood, and without any settled purpose,
except that of straight-forward resistance to the orders he had received.
As he jogged on listlessly, he was suddenly roused from his reverie by
the braying of Cadwgan’s ass, that was grazing in a green lane which he
was about to enter.  Such an animal being a rarity in that country, Twm,
with surprise, audibly muttered, “What the devil is that?”  An old woman
at that moment opening the gate, which she civilly held for our hero to
pass into the lane which she was leaving, hearing his words, replied “It
is only Cadwgan’s _ass_.”  Twm, whose thoughts ran entirely on the
farmer’s fair daughter, mistaking what she said, rejoined “Cadwgan’s
_lass_, did you say?”  “You are very ready with your mocks and pranks,
Master Twm,” cried the old woman, slamming the gate against the buttocks
of the horse, “but you know very well that I said Cadwgan’s _ass_, and
not his _lass_, for I should be sorry to compare the good and pretty
Gwenny Cadwgan to such an ugly ill-voiced animal.”  Twm laughed at his
mistake, made his apology, and rode on with revived spirits, having now,
from this very ludicrous circumstance, hatched the trick which he
intended to play off on his master.

The farmer’s mind being made up, as before observed, to refuse the
attendance of his daughter at his landlord’s, he was astonished to hear
Twm say, “Master Cadwgan, it was squire Graspacre’s order to me, that I
should saddle this horse, come to your house, and with your consent,
bring your _ass_ to him, on the pillion behind me.”  Cadwgan stared
doubtfully, and Twm resumed “I hope you are too sensible to question or
look into the reasonableness of his whims, and will be so good as to
catch the strange animal, which I passed on the road, that we may tie him
across the pillion.”  Cadwgan immediately concluded this to be a
providential mistake of the young man’s, that might have the most
desirable effect of relieving him from his apprehended troubles, and with
a ready presence of mind said, laughing, “To be sure it is no business of
mine to look into the oddness of his fancies, and he shall have my ass by
all means.”  “Put an L to ass, and ’twill be _lass_,” said Twm seriously,
and with emphasis, “and such is the squire’s demand: but,” said the youth
with rising enthusiasm, “I would risk my life to save your daughter from
his snares, and will feign that I thought he said _ass_ instead of
_lass_, to be brought on the pillion.”  Affected by this instance of
generosity, the farmer, as well as his lovely daughter, burst into tears,
thanking and blessing him; the former assuring him, that if in
consequence of this undertaking, he should be dismissed from his place,
_his_ roof, hearth, and table should be at his service.

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

Cadwgan at length returned, with his charge in a halter, grumbling and
abusing the beast at every step, in consequence of having been led a
pretty dance in chase of her; for, as if conscious of her coming
troubles, the moment he approached, she scampered off through the lane,
and right through the river, nor stopped until fairly fast in a bog, from
whence, with much trouble, the farmer roughly rescued her.  With the
assistance of Twm and a neighbouring cottager, he now tied the animal’s
legs and lifted her into the seat of the pillion, a situation that her
struggling and resistance indicated to be more elevated than comfortable.
Twm, however, rode on slowly with his grotesque companion, without the
occurrence of an accident till they arrived at Tregaron; when the whole
town, men, women, and children, came out to enjoy the strange sight,
amidst roars and shouts of laughter.  Whether the principal figure in the
group felt her dignity hurt, or her modesty offended, by such an
exhibition of her charms to the rude ribaldry of a mob, or whether
instigated by the rational motive of seeking ease by change of position,
it may not be an easy matter to determine, but certain it is, that
straining every nerve to liberate her captive limbs, she at length
succeeded, bursting the cord by which she was fastened to the pillion,
and tumbled in a heap to the ground, where, as if inspired by the genius
of perseverance she again struggled hard and soon shook off every remnant
of her hempen gyves; and in all the pride of high achievement and newly
acquired freedom, ran with all her might through the town, brandishing
her heels to right and left, whenever any person approached to impede her
career, till through a long narrow lane she reached the mountains.  Here
she seemed to defy her numerous pursuers, but after a long chase which
lasted till dusk, she was surrounded, secured, and placed in her former
situation behind our hero on the pillion.  At length he reached Graspacre
Hall, and made his approach at the back of the house.  His stepfather
assisted both him and his companion to alight, leading the latter to the
stable, while Twm went to inform his master of his arrival, and the cause
of his long delay.  A sudden terror arrested his steps awhile, he felt
himself in a peculiar dilemma, out of which he would have been right glad
to be delivered; but after his fit of apprehension had lasted a few
minutes, he plucked up his courage and his breeches at the same time,
exclaiming, “Well! he can’t kill me for it, a beating and a dismissal
will be the worst of it:” and thus self-comforted he entered the house.

The squire at this time was seated at the head of the table, pushing
about the bottle among his friends, principally formed of the
neighbouring gentry.  In the course of the day he had sent several times
to know whether Twm had arrived.  When little Pembroke at length went in
to announce his return, he desired he should be immediately sent in, and
Twm approached him with a burning cheek and an agitated heart.  He
questioned the youngster in an under tone, asking _if he had brought
her_, and where he had been so long; to which Twm replied “Yes sir, I
have brought her, and much trouble I had with her, for she didn’t like to
come, thinking perhaps you meant her foul play; and once she escaped off
the pillion into the mountain.”  “The devil she did!” cried the squire,
“but you caught her again?”  “Oh yes sir, after losing much time, I have
brought her here at last, and she is now much tamer than at first.”  “A
good lad Twm, a good lad, remind me to give you a guinea for this day’s
work; but what have you done with her? where is she?”  “Why sir,” cried
Twm, “I tied her up to the manger and locked the stable door, to prevent
her escape.”  “Shame Twm, shame, you ought not to have done that, for she
will think it was by my orders, and hate me perhaps for cruelty,” quoth
the squire, thinking all the time that Cadwgan’s _lass_, and not his ass,
was the subject of discussion.  “No sir,” replies Twm, “but it is likely
though, that she will have an ill will towards me, as long as she lives,
for it.”  “Well well,” said his master hastily, “take her from the stable
into the housekeeper’s room, and tell Margery to comfort her and give her
a glass of wine.”  This was too much for Twm, and the smothered laugh
burst out in spite of his efforts; on which, his master, with a severe
brow, asked how he dared to laugh in his presence.  “Indeed I could not
help it,” cried Twm, “but I don’t think she ever drank a glass of wine in
her life, and perhaps might not like it.”  “Why that’s true; then tell
the butler to give out a bottle of the sweet home-made wines for her—let
it be a bottle of the cowslip wine, and say that I am very sorry for the
trouble and vexation she has had.”  “Yes sir,” cried Twm, who made his
bow, and retired to the servant’s hall, where he made them acquainted
with the squire’s freak of having Farmer Cadwgan’s ass brought there on a
pillion behind him; and that it was his master’s orders that she was to
be brought into the housekeeper’s room, and a glass of wine given to her,
and that Margery was to make her comfortable.

They were all aware of their master’s occasional eccentricities, and that
he was as absolute in demanding obedience to his wildest whims as to the
most important matter in the world; and therefore, one and all, they
assisted in bringing the ass from the stable, and with much trouble
forcing her into the housekeeper’s room, where Glamorgan Margery spread a
small carpet for her to lie down on, and amidst the side-aching laughter
of the servants, offering her a glass of wine, which no persuasions could
induce her to accept.

The squire had given orders that no person was to answer the bell the
rest of the evening but Twm, and as it was now rang, in went our hero,
when he was asked “How is she now?”  “Rather fatigued sir; she doesn’t
like wine, nor would she touch a drop of it.”  “Well well,” said the
squire, “if she likes ale better, let her have some, with a cold fowl,
and something of the nicest in the house, though perhaps she would prefer
a cup of tea to anything.  After she has taken the refreshment she
choses, tell Margery to put her to bed, in the green chamber, then lock
the door and bring me the key.”  Here Twm’s risible faculties were again
oppressed to bursting, but a look from his master checked him.

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

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

The guests at length dispersing, they all rode off as well as their
muddled heads would let them, to their respective homes; the squire, as
was his custom, locked the door himself, and saw every light in the house
out before he retired himself.  At length he gained his chamber, and all
was still in Graspacre Hall.  The amorous squire, chuckling at his luck
as he thought of the fair lass in the green chamber, grew too impatient
to wait till the proposed hour of midnight, and leaving his candle on his
own table, took off his shoes, and softly approached the casket, that he
deemed contained his precious jewel.  Applying the key, he opened the
door very gently, and cautiously approaching the side of the bed, said in
a whisper towards the pillow, “Don’t be alarmed Gwenny, my dear, ’tis I,
the squire; fear nothing my girl, this will be the making of your fortune
my dear; and if you are as kind and loving as I could wish you to be, you
may soon become the second Mrs. Graspacre.”  Hearing no reply, he
considered that according to the old adage, _silence gives consent_, and
proceeded to bend his face down to kiss the fair one, when a severe
bounce inflicted by a toss of his _incognita’s_ snout, knocked him
backwards off the bed to the floor, and set his nose a-bleeding.  After
recovering himself a little, though labouring under the delusion that the
blow had been struck by the hand of a fair maiden, he exclaimed in an
under tone, “You little vixen, how dare you treat me in this manner?”
Proceeding more roughly again towards the bed, he was completely
horror-struck at the loud bray which the terrified ass sent forth; while
the poor animal, after a hard struggle, liberating her limbs, struck him
a severe blow on the forehead with her hoof, and getting off the bed,
made a terrible clatter with her shod feet over the boards of the room.
The unfortunate squire, although hitherto a loud decrier of superstition,
now felt a thrill of the utmost horror pervade him, while he deemed
himself ensnared by the enemy of man, as the punishment of his guilty
intentions; and after a clamorous outcry fell senseless on the floor.

The servants, having but concealed the lights, expecting some
_denouement_ of this sort, now rushed in, and saw their fallen master
ghastly pale, with streams of perspiration running over his forehead,
while his wildly-staring eyes alternately looked at and turned from the
monster of alarm.  When he had sufficiently recovered to learn the real
stand of the affair, from little Pembroke, who had been made Twm’s
confidante in this matter—how that wight had brought the farmer’s ass
according to his orders behind him on the pillion, although he had been
in some doubt whether he had said Cadwgan’s _ass_, or Cadwgan’s _lass_,
the squire’s rage was boundless.  Exasperated at the trick put upon him
by a mere youngster, and a menial, and scarcely less provoked at the
exposure he had made of himself before his servants, down he rushed into
the hall, and snatched a heavy horse-whip, unlocked the door, and made
his way towards our hero’s chamber over the lawndry; but when he reached
the bed-side, prepared to inflict the severest punishment that the thong
of a whip was capable of, how great was his mortification to find the
bird flown! his chagrin and resentment were anything but lessened, when
he took up a sheet of paper off the bed, on which in a large hand were
written these pretty lines.

   If from _lass_ you take the letter L,
   Then lass is ass if I have learnt to spell;
   Yet ass and lass methinks are coupled ill,
   Though human asses follow lasses still;
   An ass were I too—one yclept a ninny—
   If now I stay’d to claim my promised guinea.



CHAP. XII.


Carmarthen Jack’s churlishness to Twm.  His mishap in consequence.
Squire Graspacre reforms his conduct.  Sends for his son and daughters
home.  A delicate Devonshire lady, Twm’s satire on the cook.  Gives the
young squire a thrashing, and runs away.  Visits Rhys and Cadwgan.  About
to be married to Gwenny.  A dreadful adventure on the hills that ruins
all his prospects.

TWM reached his mother’s at Tregaron about one o’clock in the morning,
and alarmed her greatly by the account he gave of his flight from the
squire’s, and the cause which led to it.  Jack made the best of the
affair, in his own manner, by assuring his wife that her son had been the
absolute ruin of both himself and her, unless they did their utmost to
conciliate the squire by turning Twm adrift, and refusing him a temporary
shelter.  While Jack beneath the bedclothes was grunting these
suggestions of worldly wisdom, Catti, half-drest, was making up a bed for
her son, who, the while, was sitting dejectedly in the chimney corner.
Having caught the drift of his father-in-law’s mutterings, he rose
abruptly, snatched up his hat, and while striding towards the door,
cried, “Good night mother.”  Alarmed at his precipitate movement, and the
tone with which he spoke, “Where are you going Twm?” said Catti.  Turning
round, while he held the door in his left hand, he replied, “Any where
mother—the world is wide—and I’ll go headlong to the devil rather than
stay here, when I am not welcome.”  With that he closed the door, and was
in a moment out of sight, notwithstanding the cries and entreaties of his
mother, who ran after, and earnestly sought to bring him back.

Catti, with a bitter consciousness, now found that her son had a
stepfather, and she a husband, who was a rude and churlish tyrant.  The
severity of this reflection preyed heavily on her mind; nor could she be
persuaded to go to bed again, but sitting at the fireless hearth she
loudly wept and lamented her hard fate.  To give him his due, Jack was
far from being regardless of her sorrow, but shewed the tenderness of a
husband in comforting her, in the manner most natural to himself.  “What
signifies crying for such an imp of the devil as that,” said this kind
stepfather, “if he starves in the field by being out to-night, it will
save him from dying at the gallows, where he would be sure to come some
day or other.”  This tender-hearted speech had the unexpected effect of
immediately curing Catti’s grief, which turned to a desperate fit of
rage, and without a word to signify the transition wrought by his
oratory, she snatched up a stout broom-stick from the floor, and
be-laboured him with all her strength, as he lay beneath the bedclothes,
till he roared like a baited bull: had she taken a wager for thrashing a
given quantity of corn in a certain number of minutes, she could not have
laid on her blows more briskly or vigorously.  When the strength of her
arms failed, the energy of her tongue commenced, and after rating him
soundly, she concluded her harangue with eloquent pithiness, hoping that
she had left him a shirtful of broken bones; after which exertion she
thought proper to disappear.

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

Squire Graspacre, since the death of his wife, gave such free range to
his licentious pleasures, as placed him, especially at his years, in a
most unseemly light.  His only son had been two years at Oxford,
returning only occasionally during vacations; while his two daughters, on
the death of their mother, were sent to a boarding school at Exeter.
Thus in his own family he had no witnesses of his vices and follies.  He
soon found, however, that in Wales, his offences against religion and
morality were not to be committed with impunity.  The respect in which he
was formerly held by the country people gradually declined, while those
who had daughters became extremely shy, and sent their female inmates out
of the way whenever he approached.  Never deficient in penetration, he
was not long in discovering this change in the bearings of his tenants
and neighbours, which to a mind like his, proud, fond of domineering, and
being looked up to as the superior—the grand central luminary of his
sphere, round which all others moved as silent and respectful
satellites—was a very hell.  The minds of men, however, his knowledge of
mankind told him, were not to be over-ruled, and with a wisdom rare as
effective, he immediately resolved, as the only mode of re-establishing
his credit and happiness, to retrace his steps—to which end he sent for
his daughters home, at a time when his son was about to return from
Oxford—and thus, by the presence of his children, place a restrictive
guard upon his future conduct.  With this change in his ideas, it will be
no wonder that Twm Shôn Catti was again taken into favor, and replaced in
his former situation.

At length the merry bells of Tregaron announced the arrival of the heir,
and the young ladies of Graspacre Hall, which mansion soon became a scene
of festivity.  The meeting of the squire with his daughters was ardently
affectionate; but his son Marmaduke had nothing of cordiality in his
nature.  His figure was tall and spare, with loose joints and ill-knit
bones, while his countenance indicated both phlegm and a fidgetty,
nervous peevishness.  A curious eye might also discover in it decisive
marks of late hours and dissipated habits.  Proud, rash, and
self-sufficient, his dislike of Wales and Welshmen surpassed his father’s
partiality for them.  He condescended, however, to say, that until he
could get a clever English servant, in the place of the last, who ran
away from him, he must put up with one of the Welsh savages.
Accordingly, our hero was appointed to be his temporary valet, and
ordered to attend exclusively on the young squire.

With the ladies came their aunt, the squire’s younger sister, a very
affected fantastical spinster from Exeter; who gave every fashion its
full Devonshire latitude in her conformation to it, carrying the mode to
an extreme that left London absurdity far in the back ground.  The Misses
Graspacre were neither imitators nor very ardent admirers of their aunt,
whose silly affectation of excessive delicacy became their standing point
of ridicule, which they put in practice on the very evening of their
arrival.  The hearty girls wanted something substantial for their supper,
after travelling their long journey; but their aunt intimated her desire
to have something that would be light on he stomach: but great was her
dismay on finding a duck and green pease brought to the table.  She
resolved however, even on this fare, to shew her superior Devonshire
breeding; and while the young ladies lifted their pease from their plates
to their mouths in half-dozens or more at a time, she, delicate soul, cut
every pea in four, and swallowed a quarter at a time!  This display of
refinement excited stares of wonder from the squire and some of his
friends, whom he had invited on the occasion, but in her nieces, nothing
but smothered laughter.

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

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

Ye gods! what sounds for ears polite!  The young ladies laughed
immoderately on perceiving the distress of their aunt, who shewed a
wry-faced consciousness of having partaken of food prepared by unclean
hands; her countenance underwent various contortions, which terminated in
the grand climax of a shriek and a fit.  The squire’s anger was instantly
kindled against Twm, probably from an unquenched spark of his former
resentment, which he evinced by telling his son to “give that rascal a
good thrashing.”  Proud of the commission, out ran Marmaduke, and finding
Twm in the hall, ran up and struck him a blow in the face, but great was
the amazement of the servants to see the young man turn upon him like a
lion, and with the most dexterous management of his fists overpowering
their young master in an instant, whom he left groaning with pain, and
covered with bruises, and then made a precipitate retreat.

While walking to Tregaron, it occurred to Twm, that for that night at
least, he might be favored with a lodging by his constant friend, Rhys
the curate.  Thither he went, and found the worthy man by his parlour
fire, with a book in his hand, and papers before him, busily employed in
preparing for the press a new edition of his Welsh Grammar.  He was
received by him with his usual kindness; and when Twm had told him his
tale, with the important addition that he must leave his native place for
ever, and immediately, he shewed the goodness of his heart by assuring
him of a retreat for the present, and a little pecuniary aid on his
departure.  He however gave him a friendly lecture on the impropriety of
his conduct; observing, that if he must be satirical, he ought to choose
the subjects for his lash from the infamous among the great and wealthy,
and not the puny and defenceless, to attack whom, he said, evinced a
paltry and most dastardly spirit; concluding with the pithy injunction,
“while you live, whatever your state while on earth, act the generous and
manly part; and never, never, either manually or with the lash of satire,
war with the weak.”  These words were never forgotten by Twm, and however
reprehensible his erratic courses in after life, they were much less so
from his reception of this noble sentiment, which became his standing
rule of conduct.  Had it been Twm’s lot to have lived in a loftier sphere
and in the days of chivalry, he would doubtless have had inscribed on his
shield those words so deeply written on his memory “War not with the
weak.”  Our hero was heartily pleased with his preceptor, inasmuch, that
amidst all its observations and lectures he imputed to him but slight
blame for his retaliation on young Graspacre; but when he vowed further
vengeance, should he ever meet him alone in the mountains, remonstrated
with him on the risk he ran, urged the necessity of self-preservation,
and advised him not to endanger himself needlessly.

The next morning Rhys assured Twm that he had reflected on the
peculiarity of his case, and found it by no means so bad as he had
imagined.  “As to leaving this place,” said he “I see no necessity;
merely keep out of the way awhile, and in due time make your submissions
to the squire, and as he is by no means a hard man, I have no doubt but
all will speedily be well again.”  Twm in a manner adopted this idea,
though he ill stomached the thought of submission, or asking pardon for
an act of manliness which he would on a similar case of aggravation
repeat.  Thus matters rested for the present; and in the dusk of evening
he crossed the hills towards Cadwgan’s, and soon had the grateful
satisfaction of seeing once more his beauteous mistress, sitting by her
father before a cheerful fire.  Her mild kind face was unusually pale,
but brightened on his approach, and when he related his new mishap, and
that he thought of immediately quitting the country in consequence, her
cheek assumed an ashy paleness, and she nearly fainted in her father’s
arms.  Cadwgan dissuaded him from the thought of quitting his native
place for such a trifle, and advised him by all means to follow up the
worthy curate’s suggestion; and when the fair Gwenny repeated her
father’s wishes as her own, Twm at once acquiesced, and resolved not to
quit.

Cadwgan daily witnessed the affection of the young pair, and at length
thus addressed the young man.  “You are a brave and generous lad; you
love my daughter—”  “In my heart and soul I do,” said he,
enthusiastically interrupting him; “And I am sure my Gwenny is not behind
hand with you in affection: are you my girl?”  Poor Gwenny blushed
deeply, then shed tears, and sobbed heavily, in the midst of which, she
gave her hand to her lover, which he pressed, shed tears upon, and kissed
ardently.  Cadwgan continued “And therefore my boy, as nobody deserves
her so well, you shall have her before the best in the county; and you
know how many sweethearts she has refused for you.”  Twm grasped his hand
in silence, and before an hour had expired since the commencement of this
discourse, the wedding day became the subject of discussion, but which
could not be fixed until Twm had made his peace with the squire.  Thus
time passed on pleasantly, for some days, when our hero, who was
constitutionally formed for active life, felt the effect of being immured
day and night within doors, and said he longed exceedingly for a day’s
coursing on the neighbouring mountains.  Cadwgan remarked that as the
squire had shown no desire to seek or pursue him, as he had heard at
Tregaron, he conceived there would be no danger; and in accordance with
his opinion, he lent him his dog and gun, both great favorites, and never
before entrusted to any one breathing.  He advised him to confine his
excursion to a certain remote hill called Twyn Du (_Black hill_) which
being rugged of ascent and marshy, seldom invited the steps of the sons
of pleasure in the character of sportsmen.

Thus with dog and gun, and accoutred with a shot-belt, our hero felt
himself another and superior being to what he had ever been before,
especially as Gwenny assured him that the sportsman’s paraphernalia
became him exceedingly.  Flattered with the joint encomiums of the father
and daughter, and with a consciousness that they were not without good
foundation, in full health and high spirits, with an eye sparkling with
happiness, he shook Cadwgan’s hand, kissed the lips of his fair mistress,
and gallantly sallied forth; having gone a few yards, he turned his face
back to assure them, as they looked anxiously after him, that he should
soon return, and well loaded with game.

While the buoyancy of youth uplifted his gay heart, and dazzled his
perception with bright dreams of the future, little thought he of the
sorrows so soon to overtake him, or that the sombre hill of Twyn Du was
to colour with its gloom the closing scene of his innocent hopes, and
form the most important epoch of his life.

Twm had been on Twyn Du about an hour and a half, and in that time had
killed several birds, when the report of his gun attracted others to the
spot.  He could see several persons on the hill contiguous, and one well
mounted, descending into the deep dingle, that, like a gulf, yawned
between the two hills, and making his way up the steep side of Twyn Du.
He now felt a presentiment that this visit portended him no good, but
scorning an ignominious flight, he carelessly paced the brow of the hill
till the sportsman approached, when, to his great amazement, who should
present himself before him but his inveterate foe, Marmaduke Graspacre.
He approached Twm with the fury of a demoniac, asking how he dared fire a
gun on those grounds, and after a few harsh words of abuse, which our
hero returned with interest, he took an aim at Cadwgan’s pointer, and
instantly shot him on the spot.

Aware of the regard in which Cadwgan held his excellent dog, this outrage
drove Twm furious, and he was further aggravated by the young squire’s
demanding his gun and laughing the while at his distress and rage.  The
youth was not formed of stuff so tame as to endure his insolent triumph;
snatching up his loaded gun with desperate rapidity, he in a moment
lodged the contents in the head of the squire’s fine hunter, on which his
enemy sat taunting him.  No sooner had Marmaduke reached the ground,
disengaged himself from the fallen horse, and stood up, than Twm flew at
him, and disregarding his threats, with his dexterous fists inflicted the
most perfect chastisement; leaving him in a far worse predicament than
after their first encounter.

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

Roused by their shouts, he left his vanquished foe groaning on the ground
by the side of the dead hunter, and darting down the opposite side he
made a safe retreat.



CHAP. XIII.


A hue and cry after Twm.  He conceals himself in a wood.  Ventures to
Cadwgan’s house and is kindly received.  Sought there by Parson Evans.
Escapes, disguised as a woman.  Affectionate parting with Cadwgan and his
daughter.

NO sooner was Marmaduke Graspacre taken home, and the affair made known
by him to his father, with some little exaggeration against the
assailant, such as the trifling mis-statement that the blows inflicted on
him were by the butt end of the fowling-piece, instead of the fist, than
the squire’s indignation was roused.  “As this is not his first offence,
and my forbearance has encouraged his atrocious conduct, I am now
determined to make an example of him,” said he, and immediately sent a
servant for Parson Evans, who, in his capacity of magistrate, was ordered
to take cognizance of the affair, and send constables in all directions
to arrest the culprit.  This was an office that well accorded with the
feelings of this malignant man, and well pleased was he to set the
myrmidons of justice abroad to hunt an unfortunate young man, whom he
hated for the trifling offences of youth, that at a distant period, it
seems, stung his consequence.  The hue and cry instantly was raised and
spread abroad, and excited as great a commotion throughout the country,
as if a convicted murderer was chased through the land.  All Twm’s known
haunts were searched, especially his mother’s and Farmer Cadwgan’s; in
each of which places there was heaviness and wailing for his misfortunes;
and Parson Evans, who went there in person, took care to assure them,
that when caught, all the world could not save him from the gallows, as
he had attempted to murder the young squire of Graspacre Hall.  But with
all the vigilance of his enemies, Twm’s retreat remained undiscovered,
and those who were friendly disposed towards him, began to wonder among
themselves what could have become of him.  Some thought that in a fit of
despondency he had drowned himself, and others that he had escaped into
the neighbouring counties of Pembroke, Carmarthen, or Brecon, or shipped
himself in some vessel at Aberaeron or Aberystwyth, and got off in
safety.  The constables, however, had visited each of these places, and
at length, like heavy war-ships that vainly chaced a smart privateer,
returned without any further intelligence than that their journey had
been in vain.

While the search had been most hot, our hero had concealed himself in a
small patch of marshy underwood, a spot on which the keen eye of
suspicion had never glanced, his pursuers having passed the edge of it
several times, without a thought occurring of seeking him there.  In this
retreat he fed himself on nuts and blackberries, and in the night roved
about for recreation, but returned to his green-wood shelter before
daylight.  This continued four days, when exceedingly tired of his
solitude, he one midnight ventured to Cadwgan’s door, and both surprised
and gratified the kind farmer and his kinder daughter, when they heard
the lost one’s voice once more.  They rose and let him in immediately,
made a fire, gave every necessary refreshment, and then persuaded him to
go to bed.

Twm remained hidden here a week, when suspicion fixed upon Cadwgan’s
house, although searched before, as the probable place of his
concealment.  One day, Gwenny, in a fright ran in to tell her father to
conceal Twm immediately, as the constables, headed by Parson Evans were
coming.  Twm started up and said, “Bolt the door for ten minutes, and I
shall be safe.”  Gwenny said they could not be there in that time, as
they were then descending the opposite side of the Cwm, which was three
long fields off, and they approached slowly, with fox-like cunning, so as
to excite no suspicion of their purpose.  With that, at Twm’s request,
they both went up stairs with him, for a purpose he was there to explain
to them, as neither of them could conceive in what manner he was going to
preserve himself.  They all remained above, till the loud summons of
authority, in the raven voice of old Evans, brought Cadwgan down, when
the cleric magistrate told him, in no gentle terms, that there was a
suspicion attached to his house, as the place where the young villain,
Twm Shôn Catti was concealed.  The farmer replied, “I must say this is
very hard usage, as I have nobody with me but my daughter and my eldest
sister, who has come on a few week’s visit.  But as you are come, you may
search and welcome.”  After a brief scrutiny below, they all went up
stairs, where sat, busily employed at their needles, the fair Gwenny
Cadwgan and the ingenious Twm Shôn Catti, excellently disguised in the
dress of Cadwgan’s late wife, which, having been the property of a tall
woman, fitted him very well; his face was slightly coloured with the
juice of blackberries; beneath his chin was pinned a dowdyish cap, which,
in the scant light of a small window, by the aid of a pair of spectacles
he appeared a complete old granny.  On the entrance of these amiable
visitors, he turned his full spectacled face on Parson Evans, muttering
in the tone of an old woman, which he mimicked well “lack a day! lack a
day! this is sad usage,” then whispered Gwenny, who took his hint, and
while they were searching, laid some hog’s-lard on different part of the
stairs, so that on their descent the precious party, with their rascally
leader, fell headlong down from top to bottom, to the great amusement of
those above.  On being charged of this contrivance, each denied all
knowledge of it, and the quick-witted Gwenny, accounted for the cause of
their accident by saying they had been carrying butter and lard to the
store, up stairs, the whole morning.

They were no sooner gone than Twm assured Cadwgan, that he saw there was
no safety for him, except in flight, which must take place that very
night.  His plan, he said, was matured, that he had no fear but he should
do well, and that his only regret was in parting with them.  He purposed,
he said, to make his way towards Carmarthenshire, or perhaps further, and
seek employment among the farmers; or what was more agreeable to him, he
might, perhaps, get to some village, where he might set up a school: so
that after saving a sum of money, to begin life with, he might return,
and make Gwenny his wife.  With tearful eyes Cadwgan expressed his
admiration of this plan, while poor Gwenny wept herself almost into fits,
at the thought of his perils, and sudden departure.  “At any rate, my
boy, thou shalt not go pennyless to wander the wide world,” said Cadwgan,
and put an old pocket book containing three guineas and near twenty
shillings in silver, which Twm reluctantly took, promising its return
doubly, when fortune favored him.  “I have two favors more to ask,” said
he, “the first is, that you will make the best of my affair when you tell
my poor mother and the worthy Mr. Rhys of my flight, and my future plans
in life; and my next request is, that you will give me this old woman’s
dress, with the red cloak belonging to it, as it will answer for a
disguise, should I be troubled before I get far enough off.”  Cadwgan
kindly acquiesced, though he smiled at the latter whimsical fancy.  At
length, thus attired, to avoid observation, with his own clothes in a
bundle, he took an affectionate and affecting leave of them, and made a
hasty departure from their friendly door.



CHAP. XIV.


Twm ventures to Tregaron in the night.  Frightens Wat the mole-catcher.
In danger of being betrayed by him.  Outwits Wat, Parson Evans, and his
wife.  Escapes, with the Parson’s horse, great coat, and money.

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

    Dear to all their natal spot,
    Although twere Nature’s foulest blot.

He stopped, and looked wistfully towards Tregaron; the lights were
glistening in their various humble casements, and he fancied that among
them all, he could distinguish his mother’s—his kind fond mother, whom
perhaps he was never to see again—and now he recollected many instances
of her tenderness, which had long slumbered in his recollection.  His
eyes filled with tears, and the softness of his heart was put at once
into mournful harmony, from thus accidentally touching its first string,
thrilled by reminiscences of maternal tenderness.  He sat on a stone and
gave his excited feelings full vent, till at length his heart-pangs
subsided to a calm and sensitive melancholy.  A sudden thought, no less
eccentric than daring, now took him, that thus disguised, he might safely
pass through Tregaron, and perhaps see his mother before his departure.
This idea was no sooner started than acted upon; and before an hour had
expired, he found himself once more in the long, and almost only street
in Tregaron.  His mother’s door was closed for the night, and he durst
not call to her, as Jack was not to be trusted.  He moved on, looking
earnestly to every door, but saw no signs of people being up, any where;
the whole street seemed still as death, except that various snores here
and there, reminded Twm of the sweet sleep enjoyed by others, though
denied to him.  He sauntered slowly along, meditating on the
circumstances that made him alone a watcher, till opposite to the cottage
of his old companion and elder brother in mischief, Wat the mole-catcher.
Wat had long lived with a widowed mother, who had recently died, and now
sojourned alone in her solitary hut; it was even reported that he had
forsaken all his wicked merry ways, grown serious, and was consequently
likely to do well.  It occurred to Twm that he had often heard Wat deny
the existence of ghosts and hob-goblings, to the great horror of the
elect, who considered such a declaration scarcely less impious than the
denial of his creed; and vaunt that nothing of that description could in
the least frighten him: and now, thought he, I’ll put his courage to the
trial.  Peeping through the casement, he saw Wat in bed, at the further
end of the cottage, and the fire burning through the peat heaped up to
preserve it for the night, so that the white walls within were brightened
by the gleams cast on them from the hearth.  Such a wonder as a lock, or
even a bolt, Twm knew was rarely to be found in Tregaron, and therefore
softly lifting the latch, he opened the door, entered, and walking
quietly towards the hearth, sat on a three-legged stool, took up the old
snoutless bellows, and blew the fire with all his might.  Wat awoke in
extreme terror, and seeing the figure of a tall woman in the chimney
corner, deeming it no other than his mother’s spirit, his fright
increased, trembling and almost dissolved in perspiration, he at last
burst out into a roar of “Lord have mercy on me! oh mother’s dear spirit
pity me!”  Twm laughed out and ran to his bed-side to stop his roaring
cries, exclaiming, “Silence man, ’tis I, Twm, your old friend Twm Shôn
Catti.”

Convinced, at length, of his identity, and having heard of our hero’s
story, he said, “Twere better you were at the bottom of a river Twm, than
here, for I have been compelled by Parson Evans to make oath that if you
came here I would immediately either send or run myself to inform him of
your arrival, and I can’t break an oath, Twm, for any body.”  “I did not
think,” said our hero, coolly, “that you, who have broken so many laws,
would scruple much, about breaking a forced oath; but old companionship
pleads weakly opposed to the reward that will be given for my
apprehension; and I thought, though the whole town might turn against me,
that you Wat, would have been my friend, for you have led me into many
troubles, and I never laid a jot of blame to your charge, but took all to
myself, and have often suffered on your account.”

Wat, who by this time, had nearly dressed himself, was affected by this
appeal, and said, “No Twm, I will never betray you, but if I was known in
the least to favor you, it would ruin all my hopes of success in life.  I
am next week to be married to Bessy Gwevel-hîr, Parson Evans’s maid, that
I have courted these ten years; and the Parson has promised to do great
things at the bidding: and more than that, I am to be parish clerk and
grave-digger, when old Morgan Meredith dies, and he can’t live long, as I
have made him a present of a good churchyard cough by breaking a hole in
the thatch right over his bed, by which he has gained a great hoarseness,
and nearly lost his voice; so that I expect to be called in to officiate
for him next Sunday.”  “I see you are still my friend,” said Twm, who had
been lost in a reverie during part of Wat’s remarks, “and I give you joy
of your fair prospects, which I would not destroy on any account; you
shall serve me, and at the same time keep your oath.  You know my talent
at mimickry, and see how well this dress becomes me; aye, I become the
dress equally as you shall see.  Had I not already disclosed myself, I
could have discoursed to you a whole hour at mid-day, fearless of a
discovery, but let us see how this cloak becomes you Wat.”  With that he
took off the cloak, and put it on Wat, and after a little jesting on the
subject, Twm suddenly exclaimed, “Only sit down here with the cloak on
your shoulders for ten minutes, while I step out, and with the assistance
of my bundle I will astonish you with my transformation.”

All this was uttered with the gay rapidity of an anticipated freak, and
Wat being taken by surprise, immediately acquiesced, without knowing what
he was about.  Twm ran immediately to the Rectory House, and making a
great clatter, roused Parson Evans, who opened the window and asked what
was the matter; when, assuming Wat’s voice, he said hastily “Mister
Evans!  Mister Evans! make haste, Twm Shôn Catti is now in my cottage,
dressed in a cloak, and sitting at the fire.”

Delighted with this intelligence, Evans wakened the whole house,
especially two strapping fellows whom he called his bull-dogs, sometimes
employing them as husbandry servants, and at others, on account of their
large size and muscular power, as constables.  Both these fellows were
first sent to saddle his horse, in case he should have to take Twm to
Cardigan gaol, and then to attend him to Wat’s cottage, where the trio
soon went.  Peeping through the casement, Evans discerned a tall figure
wrapped in a cloak, as described.  “There he is sure enough,” quoth he,
in a whisper, “now get your cords ready for binding his hands, and stay
here till I call you in; be sure that you watch the door well.”  With
that he lifted the latch and went in.  Wat, who in the interim of our
hero’s absence, had made up a good fire now stood up, and as he saw the
clerical magistrate before him exclaimed, with a hearty laugh, “Well done
Twm, my boy!  I now give you credit; well, well, well, this is indeed
strange, a wonderful disguise? you look the old rascal to the life: if
you had not told me before-hand of your intended transformation, I could
have sworn you were old Evans himself; you look now just as he did when
he promised to make me parish clerk.”  Evans remained dumb with
astonishment till the last words, when he replied, “Parish devil! you
infernal scoundrel, have you roused me out of my bed at midnight to hoax
and insult me? but you shall dearly repent your insolence.”  Wat stared
with wonder, and replied, “Well, well well!  I did never hear such a
thing in my life, you have just the old villain’s voice and swaggering
way, I wish I may die, if you don’t frighten me, and I could almost swear
the spiteful old Evans stood himself before me; hang him, I hate his very
looks, and I am only holding the candle to the devil, in hopes of the
parish clerkship, by seeming so civil to him.”  Evans thought him
certainly either mad or drunk; and without any further explanation he
called the two men in, and ordered them to secure him.  The light at
length broke on Wat’s mind; Twm’s trick on him, and the real state of the
case appeared: and he struggled hard before the fellows could secure him.
At length he cleared up his confused and chagrined countenance, and said
in an undaunted tone, “Well, well, well, I see the worst, farewell to
mole-catching, farewell to parish-clerkship, and Bessy Gwevel-hîr; and
you, you evil-minded old scourge, may bid farewell to all hopes of having
me to father your brat, of which your maid Bessy is big, I’ll make the
country ring with the stories of your rascalities, if you dare to send me
to the round-house; but if you liberate me at once, I shall leave
Tregaron forever in the course of a few days, and go abroad to see the
world and seek my fortune.”

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

While Wat’s cottage became the theatre of the above-described scene, Twm
Shôn Catti had a performance of his own elsewhere—a dance if you will—to
which the same reverend gentleman was doomed to pay the piper.  Having
watched the party to Wat’s door, Twm hastened to the parson’s, calling
loudly, in the assumed voice of one of the fellows who accompanied him,
“Mistress Evans!  Mistress Evans! make haste, make haste, and send master
his pocket-book with his money, immediately; Twm Shôn Catti is taken, and
we are going off with him to Cardigan gaol.”  Mrs. Evans sleeping in a
front room, heard him instantly, and with unusual alacrity jumping out of
bed, she soon threw down the pocket-book, which was caught by Twm, and
asked him, “Doesn’t he want his weather-proof great coat also?”  Our hero
replied “Yes, but dear me I did forget that,” and immediately received
the great coat also, Mrs. Evans wishing them safe home from Cardigan,
shut the window.  The saddled horse was already at the gate, and Twm,
well coated and cashed, instantly mounted and rode off, glorying in his
triumph over his old rancorous enemy.



CHAP. XV.


Twm’s remorse and terror on the perpetration of his first crime.
Determined to make restitution of the stolen property.  Stopped by a
highwayman and robbed.  His reflections.  Robbed again by a gypsy and
ballad-singer, at Aberayron.  Determined to sing ballads at Cardigan
fair.

TWM took a circuitous route over the mountains towards Lampeter, and when
he felt himself secure from pursuit, his first thought was to change his
feminine attire for his own, as more convenient for riding, which was
soon accomplished, and the suits changed places in the bundle.  In his
ignorance of the world, he scarce knew where to direct his course after
reaching Lampeter, where he arrived between one and two o’clock in the
morning.  He recollected that this was a central place, from which
different roads led to Aberystwyth, Llandovery, Carmarthen, Aberayron,
and Cardigan; but found a difficulty in deciding which way to take.  It
suddenly occurred to him that there was to be a fair at Cardigan the next
day, and he determined to go there to sell the parson’s horse.  The whole
town being wrapped in slumbers, he was now at a stand, not knowing the
road which led through Aberayron to Cardigan, but rousing a cottager, he
soon gained the necessary information and proceeded on.

The distant roaring of the sea gave him notice of his approach to
Aberayron, and the awful sound struck an indescribable dread into his
mind, that seemed unaccountable.  Severe self-accusing reflections on the
atrocity of his last act, succeeded the triumphs of enmity that had at
first given a gust to its perpetration: consciousness of gilt and terror
of punishment at once assailed him, for he was yet young in crime.  To
give immediate ease to the agony of his mind, he determined on
dismounting and leaving the parson’s horse behind, and to return him, by
the first opportunity, his coat and money.

While these first, and consequently bitter, agitations of remorse and
terror were racking his breast, the clatter of a distant galloping horse
increased his terrors; and the day beginning to break he discerned both
horse and rider, and making briskly towards him.  Strange as it may
appear, notwithstanding the opposite quarter from whence the danger
proceeded, in the wildness of his apprehensions he conceived it could be
no other than Squire Graspacre, Parson Evans, and their party.  He was
actually glad when made to understand that the horseman was a highwayman.
When the desperado approached within a few yards, he stopped his horse,
levelled a pistol, and commanded him, with a tremendous oath, to
surrender his money to “Dio the devil!” {129} or take his death at once.

The name of this terrific freebooter, who had among many other
descriptions of persons, robbed half the farmers in the country, and was
supposed to have committed more than one murder, had its full effect on
Twm.  He instantly resigned the Parson’s purse, assuring him it was all
he possessed, and begged that he would allow him to retain one guinea;
these terms the robber in a manner, acceded to, giving him two guineas,
but in return, insisting on having his horse and great coat, which Twm
gave up.  Dio the devil, then insolently bade him good morning, rode off
towards Lampeter, holding the parson’s horse by the bridle.

No sooner had the highwayman disappeared, than Twm was struck with a full
conviction of the folly of the fears he had entertained, which, by
depressing his mind, he thought, led to confusedly yielding his property
too easily: vowing to himself, after some reflection, that if possessed
of a pair of pistols, no highwayman in the world should make him stand.
His thoughts taking their course through this channel, wandered and
diverged, till his mind rested on new, but perilous prospects.  “What a
life,” thought he, “this Dio the devil leads—a gentleman of the road—the
terror of wealthy scoundrels, who are themselves the terror of the
hapless poor that are starved into crime—famed, feared, and maintained at
the general cost, while many an honest fool toils like the galled
drudge-horse, crawls through the world half starved, and is despised for
his meanness.”  Thus he pondered and soliloquised, and after being silent
for a while, he continued “Let others do as they please, but for me, I
have no taste for buffetings or drudgery, and had I but a good horse and
pistols—”  At this moment a countryman was about to pass him on the road,
in whose hand he recognized his bundle, containing his feminine attire,
which in his terror he had dropped, and it rolled from the side of the
road, it seems, into the ditch, previous to the halt of the highwayman.
Twm immediately claimed his property, but the fellow seemed but little
disposed to attend to him, until vehemently insisting on his right, he
evinced an inclination to battle with him; when satisfied with this very
convincing sort of logic, the clown made restitution.

With his mind full of pistols and highwaymen, he trudged on at a slow
ruminating pace, till he reached a humble public house at Aberayron.
This lowly tavern he found so full that he could scarcely get a seat.
With the exception of two or three fishermen and other sea-farers, these
were people who made a temporary halt on their way to Cardigan fair, low
booth-keepers, fruit and gingerbread sellers, and such like.  Twm called
for beer and refreshment, and while eating, observed the habits of these
strange people with much curiosity.  He had contrived to squeeze himself
into a window seat between two females who sat apart and civilly made
room for him, and pressed his acceptance of the place.  This act of
good-breeding won upon him amazingly, and he could not help contrasting
their politeness with the rude indifference of the rest of the party; nor
was his opinion of them changed when one turned out to be a
fortune-telling gypsy, and the other a ballad singer.  He could not do
less he thought than ask them both to partake of his cup, and they felt
themselves bound in honor, in their great devotion to his health, to
return it empty each time he handed it to them full.  Such gallantry on
one hand, and confidence and affability on the other, begot a sudden
friendship between them; the gypsy insisting upon telling his fortune
gratis, and the ballad singer on his acceptance of two or three favorite
songs, while our hero, not to be behind-hand in disinterested kindness,
insisted that they would continue to partake of his cup.

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

Our hero having selected the songs that pleased him, waited impatiently
for the return of the damsels.  Having waited about an hour and a half,
by which time all the fair people had dropped off, he discovered some
symptoms of surprise, and asked the landlord if he knew what had become
of the young women.  He said he did not know, but that the whole party
had paid him and gone off, and that he had no further business with them.
Twm thought the ballad singer a singular good natured young woman, as she
had left her bundle of melody with him, doubtless as a present, and
merely taken herself away thus modestly, instead of ostentatiously
proclaiming her gift, and receiving his thanks.  Putting his hand into
his pocket to settle his account, he was confounded on finding his two
guineas gone; his terror, agony, and confusion was manifested to the
landlord, by his sudden change of manner and appearance, who declared
that his face was turned as white as the wall.  Having searched every
pocket over and over, at length the doleful tale came out that he had
lost his money, and could not tell how.  “Why as to that,” said the
landlord with cool bitterness, “if it is any satisfaction to know _how_
you lost your money, I can tell you; it was by sitting between two
thieves—a gypsy and a ballad singer, and what could you expect else from
mixing with such cattle?”  Poor Twm remained silent in a miserable mood,
with his elbows resting on the table, and his temples in the palms of his
hands for a full half hour, when the landlord disturbed his meditations
by asking payment for his fare; good-naturedly adding, “If you have no
money, I don’t wish to be hard with you, you can merely leave your jacket
with me instead.”  “My jacket!” quoth he indignantly, “why, that is ten
times the value of what I owe you.”  “May be so, but if you can’t pay you
must leave it, and be thankful that I condescend to take it instead of
cash;” replied the old gruffy.  The fishermen in the mean time passed on
him their rough jokes, one observing “You can sing ballads without a
jacket, so I advise you to go on to the fair at Cardigan, where you may
perhaps meet your old friends.”  This advice, given in ridicule, Twm at
once determined to take in earnest, and literally sing the ballads so as
to turn them into money.  So without more ado he took off his jacket and
gave it to his host, muttering a curse on his cruelty, and commenced his
journey to Cardigan.  The dress of Cadwgan’s wife was again put on, not
only as a fit disguise for his minstrel vocation, but as a more perfect
guard against the weather than his own, since deprived of his upper
garment; and in this garb, very low in spirits, and with no cheering
prospects before him, he trod the miry road towards the county town.



CHAP. XVI.


Twm, disguised as a woman, sings ballads at Cardigan fair.  Is alarmed on
seeing an unexpected person.  Takes a sudden departure from thence.

TWM at length reached the end of his dreary journey, the latter part of
which was rendered more cheerful from having fallen into company with a
party of drovers, who gallantly treated the apparent fair one with bread
and cheese and ale.  Thus he entered Cardigan in comparative good
spirits, and prepared to commence his whimsical new vocation.  Although
naturally bold, and more full of confidence than beseemed the modesty of
youth, it was not without considerable efforts in struggling with some
remains of diffidence that he at length ventured to sing in the public
street; but the beer which he had drank was strong, and his voice he knew
was almost unequalled in the county of Cardigan; and with this persuasion
he thought it foolish to hesitate.  He fixed himself in rather an obscure
part of the fair, but his musical voice and humorous execution of a comic
song soon drew a crowd about him, and put his ballads in speedy request.

According to the general custom with street melodists, he introduced each
song with a whimsical argument of its matter, in a strain of drollery
that set the grinning rustics in high glee: “Here my merry men and
maidens,” quoth he, “is a pretty song about a young damsel, who was taken
in by a false lover, that courted her only for what he could get, and
having wheedled her out of her heart and money, then ran away and left
her to wear the willow.”

                       THE SLIGHTED MAID’S LAMENT {134}

                                      1

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

                                      2

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

                                      3

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

                                      4

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

                                      5

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

                                      6

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

This pleased his auditors so well that he was soon left without a copy of
it, on which, he began another, preluding it with the observation “Now
this my friends is about a Welsh boy, who was so foolish as to leave old
Cymru and go to London, from which, I warrant you, he would have been
glad enough to return, as they have neither leeks, flummery, nor anything
else there fit for a christian people.”

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

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

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

    How of I have I run with my Strawberry wreath {136a}
    To rosy young Gwenny of fair Llwyn-y-neath,
    And help’d her to drive the white sheep to the pen, {136b}
    Oh! I still think how joyously sung little Gwen
    The old folks oft chuckling, vow’d sweet-hearts were we,
    The Llwyn-y-neath maiden and boy of Brindee.

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

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

This was not so successful as the former, but Twm, nothing daunted, sung
the following which he called a sequel to the last.

                                  ROSY GWEN.

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

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

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

He gave them next a love canzonet, of two verses; the first slow and
mournful, and the last with contrasting animation and cheerfulness.

    Her cheek was a rose lowly crush’d by the dew,
    Now bleach’d by despair to the lily’s pale hue
          For the death of young Morgan the brave;
    Fame widely reported sea-mews scream’d his knell.
    As in a dread sea-fight with glory he fell,
       And was buried beneath thy salt wave.

    But false was the tale, for a victor was he,
    Triumphant return’d from the wild roaring sea,
       Now to seek with his dear maid repose;
    He flew to his Sina with extacy’s zest,
    Enraptured he press’d the lorn maid to his breast.
       And then kiss’d off the dew from the rose.

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

                            HOB Y DERI DANDO {138}

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

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

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

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

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

                                  * * * * *

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

    _Gweno_.  The lark is up, and bright the sun too,
                Hob o’r deri dando, on the mead;

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

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

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

Having sung the last thrice over, he sold about a dozen ballads; and was
about to treat his auditors with the old and national song of _Nôs
Galan_, or New Year’s Eve, when, to his great surprise, the malignant
visage of Parson Evans presented itself before him.

Judging of our hero’s sex by his assumed attire, several young men in the
course of the day, offered their treats of cake and ale, some of which
was accepted; and presuming on that circumstance, they amusingly put in
their claims to further notice, and seemed inclined to quarrel, as for a
sweetheart.

Thus possessed of beaux and champions, Twm resolved to employ them in a
new scheme of vengeance on the unpopular parson.  “You see that old
fellow in black,” said he, directing their attention to him as he passed,
“he is a bum-bailiff, and the greatest villain in all the country I come
from; and at this very moment I’ll be bound for it, he is hunting out
some poor fellow to put him in prison.  He wanted to be a lover of mine,
but only intended to ruinate me; but if he loved me ever so much I would
not have had him if his skin was stuffed with diamonds.  The villainous
old catchpole! it is to him that I owe all my misfortunes; refusing him
for a sweetheart, he grew as spiteful as a snake, and by telling a parcel
of falsehoods he got me turned out of my place without a character, so
that I am now brought to this—to sing ballads in the street.”  Here,
assuming a whimpering tone, Twm was compelled to smother a powerful fit
of laughter, which emotion was taken for sobbing, and consequently drew
much on the sympathy of those now addressed; but suddenly withdrawing the
apron that veiled his features, he exclaimed, with the vehemence of a
young termagant, “I’d give the world to see that old fellow tossed in a
blanket!”  Mark Antony’s effort of eloquence to rouse the Roman citizens
to avenge the death of Cæsar, was not more effective than our hero’s
appeal.

With a natural hatred to a bailiff, and as natural a predilection for the
smiles of a handsome young woman, being “full of distempering draughts”
and ripe for a freak, their zeal became inflamed to a ferment, each felt
himself the leading hero to avenge the wrongs of the fair ballad singer,
in the manner suggested by herself.  One of the young men, a native of
the town and son to the innkeeper, immediately procured a blanket, when,
watching their opportunity as the supposed bailiff passed along, one
tripped up his heels, while the rest received him in the extended
blanket, and tossed him most vigorously in the air for about ten minutes.
Exhausted at length with their labours, and allured by the fair handful
of silver displayed by their victim, they accepted his bribe and
desisted, each venting his jest on the crest-fallen Evans, “hoping it
would be a warning not to persecute a poor friendless girl again.”

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

Great was their dismay on discovering, after a long search in various
parts of the fair, that the fair ballad-singer was no where to be found.
Here was a general smelling of a trick put upon them, and consequent
“curses on all jilting ballad-singers” uttered by the unlucky clods.

It occurred to one bright youth named Johnny Wapstraw, that he had
entrusted his best holiday coat to the custody of the injured damsel,
that he might toss the “catchpole” with the greater vigour; but on
ascertaining the precise spot where he had left her, he found her
complete feminine attire made into a bundle and fastened to a cart with a
band of straw, left as a love-gift for him, while she kept his coat as a
similar token of affection; having inscribed with chalk on the side of
the cart “An exchange is no robbery.”



CHAP. XVII.


Twm escapes from Cardigan.  Meets Parson Rhys at Lampeter.  The tragical
tale of the heiress of Maes-y-velin and the flower of Llandovery.

HAVING thus possessed himself of a coat without the tediousness and
expence of giving measure to a tailor, and no more fastidious about a
dressing room, retired to a stable, and soon came out fully dressed in
his male attire; of which, a coat only was before wanting.  Bent on a
precipitate retreat, as the urgency of his case demanded, he bolted down
St. Mary’s Street, and soon found himself on the turnpike road, with the
good town of Cardigan some miles behind him.  In little more than two
hours he reached the small town of Dinas Emlyn, now called
Newcastle-in-Emlyn, on a romantic part of the Teivy dividing the counties
of Cardigan and Carmarthen, and occupying its banks on either side.
Entering a small public house, he regaled himself on the fine potent ale
for which that place has been so famous.  Being refreshed with a little
rest and food, he now, for the first time, began to enquire of himself
whither he was going, and what his aims were to be; questions which he
found very difficult to be resolved.  Although the most serious
cogitations on the subject might have availed little or nothing, chance
very unexpectedly decided him, and relieved his apprehensious for the
present.

Perceiving a very loquacious beer-inspired pig-drover, who vaunted his
successful sale at Cardigan fair, preparing to depart, he suddenly
determined to take the same route wherever it might lead, and on inquiry,
found he was going to Llandovery.

Glad of company, the pig-drover received Twm’s information that he was
also going to the same town with a hearty shake of the hand and a welcome
to become his fellow traveller.  About ten o’clock that night they
arrived together at Lampeter, which Twm now visited for the second time.
The geography of the country being but little known to him, he felt some
alarm on finding himself so contiguous to his own native place.

While drinking a quiet pint with his companion at a tavern, and thoughts
of danger occupying his mind, a friendly face appeared in smiles before
him, and dissipated every feeling of unhappiness; it was the worthy Rhys
the curate, who had spied him from the little parlour where he had been
sitting before his arrival, and now cordially welcomed him to partake of
his supper which was then preparing.

Our hero bade a merry farewell to his friend the drover, who had
endeavoured to initiate him into the mysteries of pig-dealing, the latter
declaring his resolution to travel all night until he reached Llandovery.
Supper ended, and having heard as many of Twm’s adventures as he chose to
relate, newly modelled, to suit his peculiar ear, Mr. Rhys informed him
that he had also left Tregaron forever, disgusted with the treatment he
had met with from old Evans, and was on his way to Llandovery to take
possession of the curacy of Llandingad, to which he had been just
appointed by the vicar, the reverend Rhys Prichard.  The good-natured
Rhys could scarce forbear smiling, when Twm informed him of the
circumstance that had first led his thoughts to visit Llandovery also,
and that he was determined to go there to seek his fortune, and felt a
sort of presentiment that he should be successful: “Well,” said he, “your
fortunes are altogether romantic, and fortitude such as yours is a virtue
that becomes us all.  Whatever I can do to get you into employment, when
you are there, rest assured shall not be wanting.”  With this
understanding Twm’s hopes were buoyed up to the highest pitch, and, to
his sanguine mind, became already certainties, which presented themselves
in dreams of various felicitous shapes.

Rhys rose with daylight, and rousing Twm, they both sallied forth, the
former leading his horse by the bridle, to be more on a par with his more
humble companion.  They had nearly reached the top of Pen-y-garreg hill,
over which the road leads from Lampeter to Llandovery, while a bright
prospect of the newly-risen sun attracted their mutual attention, when
the clergyman thus addressed his companion.  “We are now on a spot to be
yet immortalized, perhaps, by the legendary muse, for a deed of blood
perpetrated here in our own times; when the banks of the impetuous Teivy,
now before us, became the scene of a lamentable tragedy.  Yonder stands
what remains of the once goodly mansion of MAES-Y-VELIN, the fair seat of
the ancient family of the Vaughans, once of considerable note in this
part of the principality.  Ten years ago, a young lady and her three
brothers, the last of that race, were its possessors.  The lady, named
Ellen, was exceedingly beautiful, and beloved by the son of the venerable
Rhys Prichard, the present Vicar of Llandovery, whose curate I am now
become.

“It was customary with the young man whenever he reached this spot, to
tie his hankerchief to the end of a rod, that he held as a flag-staff,
which was immediately seen by the heiress of Maes-y-velin; and when she
could succeed in getting her brothers out of the way, the signal of love
was answered by hoisting her own kerchief to the branch of a tree above
the house, on which, both ran down from their respective hills, till they
stood face to face on either side of the Teivy, when the fond lover soon
dashed into the river, crossed over and caught the fair one in his arms.
But as these things sound better perhaps in verse, I shall submit to you
a specimen of my skill at Ballad writing, in one that I have written on
this occasion.”  With that they took their seat on a huge stone on the
side of the hill, when Rhys drew a manuscript from his pocket and read to
his attentive auditor.

                       THE HEIRESS OF MAES-Y-FELIN,
                                   AND
                        The flower of Llandovery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Now as erst they rush’d, and as erst they paused,
       When arrived on the banks of Teivy,
    They gazed on each other across the stream,
    And gestured affection’s high glow supreme,
       And gayer their hearts, long heavy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                   PART II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    They quarrell’d and stood forth in mortal strife,
       Each one opposed to the other;
    They never, oh never! are doom’d to agree,
    While dividing poor Ellen’s property—
       Two murder their elder brother.

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

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

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

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

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

When Rhys had finished reading his ballad, Twm riveted his eyes on the
ruins of Maes-y-velin, the two hills, the banks of the Teivy, and scenes
now subordinate to the modern grandeur of the new college at Lampeter:
and still remaining silent, seemed, by the force of his imagination, to
bring before his eyes the whole action of this domestic tragedy.  Rhys
assured him that all the particulars of the murder, as narrated in the
ballad, were well authenticated, both by the evidence of the unhappy
young lady herself, and that of a countryman who beheld the murderers
bearing the body by night, and who distinctly saw, as the moon shone upon
them while in the act of casting their burthen into the river, the
shining spurs of the murdered youth, projecting from the end of the sack
which contained his body.  But in so disordered a state was the country
at the time, from the civil wars between the king and the parliament,
that no cognizance was taken of the atrocious circumstance.  The cursing
of Maes-y-velin, and the perpetrators of the bloody deed, by the youth’s
father, he said was no fiction; it was set forth in a pathetic and
nervous poem, in his volume of Divine Carols, entitled “Canwyll y Cymry,
or the Welshman’s Candle,” one of the most popular books ever published
in the Welsh language.  With this explanation they both rose from their
stony seats, and pursued their way to Llandovery.



CHAP. XIX.


A discourse on mountains.  Turf-cutters, and Moor haymakers.  Twm rescues
the lady of Ystrad Ffîn, and captures a highwayman, whom he brings in
triumph to Llandovery.

HAVING travelled together a few miles further into the mountain, Twm
expressed his wonder at seeing the turf-cutters and haymakers following
their avocations almost side by side in this wild district.  “Well,”
cried he, “I know that much has been said, sung, and written, in praise
of mountain scenery; and where ’tis truly romantic as well as wild, I am
a great lover of it myself; but this before us is my aversion.  Here no
sound salutes the ear but the lonely cry of a few melancholy kites,
hungry enough to prey upon one another; and no objects strike the eye but
the flat tame desert, and a few wretched cottages thinly scattered over
this desolate region, whose inhabitants are miserably employed in
scooping peat from the marsh for their fires, or cutting their bald thin
crop of hay from the uninclosed mountain—_the gwair rhos cwtta_, or moor
hay, which, dispensing with the incumbrance of a cart or sledge, the
women carry home in their aprons, as the winter maintenance of a
half-starved cow.  Even the shepherds and their flocks are wise enough to
keep from this gloomy seat of starvation; but the dull plodding
turf-cutters are numerous enough.  To me there is nothing that associates
more with squalid poverty than turf fires: the crackling faggot and the
Christmas log, have their rustic characteristics; coal has its proud and
solid warmth; the clay-and-culm fires of Cardigan and Pembrokeshire,
formed of balls, and fantastically arranged by the industrious hands of
fair maidens, are bright and durable, revealing the gay faces of the
cheerful semicircular group—and above all, the smokeless cleanly stone
coal: but turf, smoky, ill-savored, ash creating, dusty turf—recals the
marsh and moor, rain-loaded skies, and fern-thatched cottages, whose
battered roofs swept by the blast, discover the rotten rafters grinning
like the bare ribs of poverty; and worse than all, the joyless faces of
the toil-bowed children of the desert.  I heartily agree with the
sentiment of the old Pennill {152a}

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

“And let me add,” cried Twm, with vivacity, “as indicative of my own
taste on the subject, a Triban {152b} of my own composition.—

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

“The mountains, like the plains and vallies,” replied Rhys, “have of
course their rough and unsightly portions; but so very dear to me are the
sensations connected with our _Mountain Land_, that I could kiss the sod
of its dullest region, when I remember how it came the refuge of our
war-worsted forefathers in the days of old, as the waned star of liberty
seemed to have vanished forever from our sphere.”  Rhys’s patriotic
enthusiasm rose as he proceeded.  “I could as soon twit my beloved mother
with the furrows which time has ploughed on her brows, as censure the
homeliest part of our dear mountains, hallowed of old by the tread of
freemen, when the despot foreigner usurped the vallies.

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

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

Twm felt the observations of the curate as a rebuke for his flippancies,
and was about to clear himself from all suspicion of lack of nationality;
but the latter at that moment looking up at the sun, declared the day so
far advanced that he must of necessity instantly mount his horse and ride
with speed, so as to meet the vicar of Llandovery at the place appointed;
on which, directing Twm in the route he was to take, he rode off and left
him to pursue his way at leisure.

After thus parting with Mr. Rhys, Twm made his way alone, wrapped in
thought, and looking neither to the right or left, for several miles, but
was at length brought to a stand by the discovery that the way he trod
had ceased to be either a road or beaten path; and that he was actually
pacing the trackless mountain, with the disagreeable conviction that he
had gone wrong, without a clue to recover the right way.

Observing a _bwlch_, or gap, parting the mountains in the distance, where
they rose to a considerable elevation, he naturally concluded that the
road ran through it.  Acting on this opinion, he hurried on, and was much
gratified to find his conjecture realized, as a good beaten road
presented itself to him.  He entered it, and hastened on with the utmost
alacrity, till he came to a cottage on the road side, opposite to which
was an immense rick of turf, that at a distance looked like a long black
barn.  He called at the cottage, and asked if he was right in his route
to Llandovery, “Right!” squeaked a thin old man who met him at the door,
“God bless you young man, you could not be more wrong, as your back is to
Llandovery, and you are making straight for Trecastle.”

This was mortifying intelligence; and the old man seeing Twm’s chagrin,
asked him to walk in and rest himself, an invitation that he gladly
accepted.  “What, I suppose you thought to be at Llandovery to hear the
great preaching there to day?” said the man’s wife, a little fat woman
who was carding wool by the fire.  “No,” replied Twm, “I never heard of
any preaching that was to be there.”  “That’s very odd,” rejoined the old
man, “as the whole country has been crowding there, to hear the good Rhys
Prichard, the great vicar of Llandovery.”  “I have heard he is very
popular,” said Twm.  “Popular!” screamed the weazon-faced old man, as if
indignant of the coldness of our hero’s eulogy, “he is the shining light
of our times, and hardly less than a prophet; wisely has he called his
divine book the _Welshman’s Candle_, for it blazes with exceeding
brightness, and men find their way by it from the darkness of perdition.
When it is known that his health permits him to preach, the country
hereabouts is up in swarms, to the distance of two score miles and more.
Then, the farmer forsakes his corn-field, the chapman his shop, and every
tradesman and artizan quits his calling, to listen to the music of his
discourse.  Infirmity alone has kept me from going to hear him to-day;
but my wife is no better than an infidel, and would rather listen to a
profane fidler, or a vagrant harper, than to the finest preacher that
ever breathed out a pious discourse.”

Here the little round woman retorted on her spouse, assuring Twm that he
was a miserable dreamer, whose brains had been turned by the ravings of
fanatical preachers; that some months ago he ran three miles, howling,
thinking he was pursued by the foul fiend, when it turned out to be only
his own shadow: and that when a patch of the mountain furze was set on a
blaze to fertilize the land, nothing could convince him that the world
was not on fire, and the day of judgement come, till he caught an ague by
hiding himself up to the chin in the river for twelve hours.

All this the old man very indignantly repelled, and vowed that his
courage was equal to that of any man breathing.

At this moment the violent galloping of a horse attracted their
attention, and in an instant a horse and rider passed the door, but
suddenly checking his speed he returned, and calling at the cottage door,
asking in a tone of authority if a lady had passed that way towards
Llandovery within the last half hour.  The old man, trembling as he
spoke, protested that no lady had passed for many hours; on which the
bluff horseman told him as he valued his life, neither he or his wife
should appear on the outside of the cottage door, till he gave them
leave.  The old man assured him of his entire obedience, when the fellow
quietly crossed the road, and effectually concealed himself and horse
behind the opposite turf-rick.

Twm, unseen himself, caught a full view of this burley horseman, and
instantly knew him.  He felt a conviction that in a few minutes a scene
was to be acted, in which he was determined to perform himself a
conspicuous, if not a principal, part.  He asked the timorous old
cottager if he possessed such a thing as a long-handled hedge bill-hook,
to which the poor dotard, his teeth chattering the while, replied in the
negative.  On searching the cottage, with the assistance of his mistress,
to its great vexation he could find no weapon, but a blunt old hatchet,
and a rusty reaping-hook.

The canter of a light horse now struck his ear; his heart caught fire at
the sound, and with almost fierce vehemence he called to the people of
the cottage, “Give me some weapon in the name of God: to defend you and
myself from having our throats cut;” but it only increased their terror
and confusion.

In an instant, a lady on a slight white horse was opposite to the
cottage, when the horseman, darting forward from behind the turf-rick,
and producing pistols, demanded her money.  The lady protested, in the
most piteous and earnest tone, that she had accidentally left her purse
behind, and must be indebted to a friend at Llandovery, should she fail
to meet her husband there, for some small change.  “I’ll not be
disappointed for nothing,” cried the ruffian, “Dio the devil is not to be
fooled, and my pretty lady of Ystrad Fîn, I have depended on a good booty
from you to-day, so that unless in two minutes you strip, and give me
every article in which you are clothed, a pistol bullet shall pass
through your delicate body.”

The lady, with tears entreated him to be merciful, promising a future
recompence; but the scoundrel laughed scornfully in her face, and cocked
his pistol, on which she uttered a loud scream and fainted, when he
immediately approached to strip and rifle her.

Our hero, whose blood was boiling with honest indignation, now started up
from behind the lady’s horse, and stood on a small bank raised to
separate the cottage yard from the road, struck the highwayman an
astounding blow on the temples, with a stout hedge-stake grasped with
both hands, and repeated the violent action till it brought the desperado
senseless, and covered with blood, to the ground.  After the first
terrible blow, confounded as he was, he instinctively presented his
pistol at random, but Twm struck him heavily on the extended arm, which
caused it to fall, and swing dead by his side, like a withered oak branch
smote by the thunderbolt.

The good woman of the cottage bathed the lady’s temples and soon brought
about her recovery; and great was her surprize and satisfaction to
witness the result of our hero’s courage and dexterity.  While tears of
gratitude suffused her beautiful eyes, and ran down her bright ruddy
face, Twm in the gentlest manner assured her of her entire safety, and
that he would have the happiness of conducting and protecting her to
Llandovery, where he intended to bring the highwayman dead or alive, and
deliver him, with an account of the whole affair, to the magistrates.

The lady of Ystrad Fîn, smiling as she spoke, uttered many expressions of
her gratitude, and admiration of his courage, assuring him that her
husband, Sir George Devereux, would not allow him to go unrewarded for
such a signal piece of service: “but for my own part,” continued she, “as
I truly assured the merciless highwayman, I am at present without my
purse, having left it accidentally at the house of a poor sick person,
whom I visited, relieved, and stayed with, many hours this morning, by
which I have missed hearing the sermon preached to-day by the rev. Rhys
Prichard.”  Twm declared he did not in the least feel himself entitled to
any reward, sufficient for him was the approval of so beautiful and
amiable a lady; but that he had another gratification in the action he
had performed, as it was his fortune to have punished the very man who
had once stopped him on the highway and robbed him of his little all.

It was in vain that Twm summoned the old man of the cottage to assist in
placing the robber on horseback, as he had hid himself beneath the bed,
roaring all the while “Oh lord! oh dear!  I shall surely have my throat
cut.”  The lady of Ystrad Fîn, however, alighted and lent an active hand
in binding the thief, still insensible, with old halters contributed by
the fat woman of the cottage, who also gave all possible assistance; so
that with their united aid Twm soon got him across his own horse, like a
sack of barley, and secured him by tying him neck and heels under the
horse’s belly.  Our elated hero leaped into the saddle, and rode side by
side with the lady of Ystrad Fîn, and conversing freely with her,
unincumbered with his former bashfulness, till they reached Llandovery.

They entered the town just as the sermon was over, and the dense swarm,
as they issued from Llandingad church, stopped and gazed with
astonishment at the sight presented to them.  At the same instant that
Sir George Devereux came up and assisted his lady to alight, Mr. Rhys the
curate approached Twm, and each in a few minutes was in possession of the
whole story.  The baronet eagerly grasped our hero by the hand, and
assured him of his protection and favor to the utmost of his power;
declaring at the same time that no possible reward could equal his
deserts or repay his services.

As soon as it was known among the farmers that the terrible Dio the
devil, who had robbed many of them at different times, was captured, a
subscription was immediately raised, to reward the captor; so that our
hero was soon in possession of a sum little less than ten pounds, in
addition to five more that the county awarded for the taking of a
highwayman.

Sir George and his lady invited our hero and Mr. Rhys to dine with them
the next day at Ystrad Fîn, where the baronet said they would discuss in
what manner he could repay the services of the brave deliverer of his
lady.

The constables were now called to bring their hand-cuffs, and take
possession of the robber, but in vain;—for when he was uncorded and taken
from the horse, it was discovered he was dead.



CHAP. XX.


Twm visits the vicar of Llandovery.  Visits also at Ystrad Fîn.  Fortune
smiles on him.  Undertakes to bear a sum of money to London for Sir
George Devereux.

TWM retired that evening to a tavern which he had been directed to by Mr.
Rhys; and many of the good people of Llandovery eagerly sought the
company of the wonderful young man who had had the courage to attack and
conquer a highwayman; evincing their kindness by insisting on their right
to treat him with whatever liquor he might be inclined to drink, on
account of the benefit conferred by him on their community.  Cautioned by
the worthy curate, however, his potations were very limited; and urging
his fatigue as an excuse for retiring, he soon left his admirers, and
slept that night on a bed of roses.

Rather early in the morning he was awoke by his friend Rhys, who said
that, by appointment, they were both to breakfast with the rev. Rhys
Prichard, who had expressed a desire to see the brave young man that had
captured the highway robber.  This invitation was the most acceptable to
Twm, as he was exceedingly anxious to see so celebrated a character as
the vicar of Llandovery; though less for his pious than poetical
celebrity, and more especially the association of his name with his own
family calamity, in the death of his son Samuel, poetically called the
“Flower of Llandovery,” at the murderous hands of the young men of
Maes-y-velin, as before related.

Ashamed of the rustic cut of his coat, Twm proposed to purchase a
clerical one from his friend Rhys, who willingly made him a present of
his second best; observing that this was the day of his entrance into the
world, and as the mass of mankind were apt to judge of all by the
external appearance, an appropriate garb would aid even a man of merit in
making a favorable impression.

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

Punctual to the moment, in came the worthy vicar, who received the pair
courteously, but with very few words.  Breakfast was preceded by prayers;
after which came in bowls of milk and hot cakes, with cold meat, butter,
cheese, and ale; of which, after grace, each was desired to take his
choice.  Twm looked at his venerable host with awed reverence.  This
eminent character was of a tall, stately figure; his hair white as wool,
his face pale, and rather long, with a countenance beaming with sedate
benignity.  He regarded Twm for some time with silent attention, and
afterwards made a few enquiries respecting his recent feat, which, when
answered, he indulged in some pious ejaculations on the fortunate event.

In the comparison suggested by the slight figure of Twm opposed to the
bluff rotundity of the robber, whose corpse he had seen the night before,
he referred to the scriptural records of the combat between David and
Goliah; strictly charging the fortunate youth to take no credit to
himself for the achievement, as he was but an humble instrument in a
mighty hand, and for a special purpose, unknown to the actors of the
scenes themselves.

After a long grace, and a profusion of good counsel to our hero, the
visitors rose to depart; but ere they left, the worthy churchman placed
twenty shillings and a copy of his “Welshman’s Candle” in the hand of
Twm, and after shaking him warmly by the hand, he saw the pair to the
door and bade them farewell.

About nine o’clock Rhys mounted his nag, and Twm, the noble hunter, which
had become his property by the right of conquest, and rode towards the
fair mansion of Ystrad Fîn.  The road was entirely over the mountains,
through diversified scenery of much interest.  At times the road ran
above the edge of a deep ravine of perilous declivity; at others, hills
overtopped them, in peaks of various fantastic forms; till at length
succeeded the tame flat moorland, abounding with wild ducks and various
aquatic and mountain fowl.  These scenes were soon left behind, and
others of a different character, succeeded, tamed to softer beauty by the
indefatigable hand of industrious man.

On reaching the cultivated lands, they passed through a wood at the base
of a hill, on leaving which, the rural chapel of Boiley, the ornamented
estate of Ystrad Fîn, the hill of Dinas, and a glimpse of the river
Towey, were the clustered objects before them.  The ancient mansion of
Ystrad Fîn, they found most romantically situate, terminating a sloping
descent from the mountain, with a roaring alpine brook falling headlong
through its rocky bed, at the back; while the high conical hill of Dinas
stood, an object of singular beauty, in front.

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

The baronet and his lady, who had been waiting their arrival, gave each a
friendly welcome.  It wanted about a couple of hours to dinner time,
which interim Sir George determined to employ on their immediate
business; to that end, accompanied by his lady, he introduced them into
the lawn and garden, where they conversed awhile on different subjects.
At length he began by declaring he had not yet learned the name of his
lady’s preserver; on which, Mr. Rhys told the whole story of his
parentage, dwelling with much emphasis on the unprincipled and cruel
neglect of his father, Sir John Wynne of Gwydir; and in conclusion, he
said his friend and late pupil’s name, derived from his mother, was
Thomas Jones: but that from his childhood he was familiarly called Twm
Shôn Catti.

On the baronet’s inquiry respecting his views and prospects in life, Twm,
with becoming frankness said, that prospects he had none, but he would be
happy to undertake any employment which was not of a menial description;
adding, that as he had some little scholarship, he thought himself
qualified to become a tutor of children in a genteel family, or to take a
preparatory school in some town.  The baronet smiled, and replied, that
he had no children, or he would be most happy to engage him in the former
capacity.  “But,” cried he, with a sudden turn of jocularity, “allow me
to remark, young man, you surprize me much by your choice of an
occupation; I should have thought that a spirited young fellow like you,
would be more in your element with a commission in the army.”  Twm glowed
at the mention of a soldier’s life, and replied with ardour, “You have
named, sir, the dearest sphere on earth in which I would desire to move;
but, friendless and unknown as I am, the very thought of such a thing
would be worse than vain.”  “I make no specific promise _now_ on that
head,” returned Sir George, “but I shall not forget your predilection for
a career of arms, nor when communicating with those in power, shall I
ever fail to promote your interests, to the utmost of my power: but I
have now a proposal to make to you, which you can either accept or reject
as you may feel disposed.  Were it not for my consciousness that I speak
to a youth of tried courage, animated by a brave enterprising spirit, I
should never think of naming it, but as it is, thus the affair stands.
The roads between Bristol and London are sadly infested by
highway-robbers; I want to send a considerable sum of money to the
metropolis; and I conceive that a lad of mettle and address like you
might bear it in safety, while absolute veterans in the ways of the world
would fail.  I would give you a sufficient sum to bear your expenses; and
on your return here, after accomplishing your undertaking, reward you
handsomely, and do my utmost to place you in a situation agreeable to
your wishes, where you may gain an honorable livelihood.”

Twm, in a moment, agreeably to the decision of his character, acceded to
the proposal, and declared he was ready to commence his journey to London
next morning.  While the baronet was about to reply, a servant came to
the garden gate, and announced dinner; to which the party paid immediate
attention, and entered the hospitable dinner parlour of Ystrad Fîn.



CHAP. XXI.


Twm made a shew lion among the great.  Benefits flow to him.  Commences
his journey.  The adventure of the pack-saddle.  Outwits a highwayman and
rides off with his horse.

RHYS slept the first night after his arrival, at Ystrad Fîn; but his
avocations calling him to Llandovery, he took his leave next morning,
after an affectionate parting with his former pupil, wishing him all
possible success in his journey to London.  Twm, at the particular and
pressing invitation of his host and fair hostess, continued there,
enjoying their hospitalities, many days.  Indeed he became a kind of shew
lion, and was daily exhibited by Lady Devereux to her friends, male and
female, whom she invited by scores to see her hero, as she called him.
The importance thus attributed to him by others, our hero soon took to
himself; and as many of the simpering lady visitors declared him to be no
less handsome than brave, he felt no difficulty in persuading himself
that there was more truth than flattery in the eulogies.

Previous to the day of his departure, the baronet evinced his liberality
by presenting him with the sum of forty pounds; and gave him as much more
in payment for the hunter taken from the freebooter; while his lady took
from her neck a golden chain, and placed it on his, as a token, she said,
of her gratitude for the preservation of her life, and of her sense of
her preserver’s merit.  Twm accepted these favors with a grace little to
have been expected from his previous habits of life; but he possessed an
innate pride and self consideration that soon burst through his native
bashfulness, and his mind ever rose with his good fortunes, nay,
sometimes even took the lead, so that he would boldly look Success in the
face, and wonder that the sum of his congratulations was not greater.

The day of his departure at length arrived; and it was concerted that his
best mode of travelling would be, on a mean horse, with a pack-saddle,
and disguised as a labouring country lad.  Thus mounted and accoutred,
behold him at length disappear through the yard gate of Ystrad Fîn;
having concealed in various parts of his dress the sum of money entrusted
to his care, and made Lady Devereaux his banker till his return, leaving
with her the whole of his lately gained property.  Although ill contented
with the slow pace of the worn-out beast beneath him, he rode on with a
heart full of glee, proud of the honors which he had gained, and glowing
with bright anticipations of the future.

We shall pass over the uninteresting portion of his journey; nor need we
dwell on the sensations natural to a young high-spirited mountaineer on
his continual change of scene, and view of novel objects, till he had
left behind him all the towns and villages of his native principality,
and at length the ancient city of Bristol itself.  He had even passed
through Bath and Chippenham before a single adventure occurred worthy of
record.  Riding late one evening, between the last named town and
Malborough, he found it necessary to put up at a small public house on
the road side, distinguished by the sign of “the Hop-pole,” the obscurity
of which he considered favorable to his safety.  Having fed his beast and
eaten his supper, he went immediately to bed; and with a view of
preserving his treasure in the best manner, slept without divesting
himself of his clothes.

Just as day was about to break, he was roused from his slumbers by the
trampling of a horse, and the gruff voice of a traveller whom he heard
alight and enter the house.  A strong impulse of curiosity determined him
to rise from his bed, and, as the large treble-bedded room which he
occupied was over the parlour to which the guest was introduced, to
listen, and learn whether anything portended danger to himself.  On the
first application of his ear to the aperture between the boards, he
found, to his surprise and dismay, that he was the subject of
conversation between the landlady and her guest, whom he also discovered
to be no other than the very character of which he stood most
particularly in peril—a highwayman.  He heard himself described to him by
the landlady, as an “uncouth looby of a countryman from the Welsh
mountains, miserably mounted on a piece of animated carrion, for which
the crows cawed as it limped along; and that no booty was to be expected
from such a beggar.”  “You are wrong, mistress, you are quite wrong,”
cried the stranger, “from your account I expect much from him.  I have no
doubt but that he is a Welsh squire in disguise, as I have robbed more
than one such, dressed like a scarecrow, while making for London, and
bearing with him the twelvemonth’s rent of half a dozen of his
neighbours, to pay to the landlord in town.  I shall be at this fellow as
soon he quits your roof; I have no doubt but he’s a prize, and if he _is_
you of course come in for shares.”  Having learnt thus much, Twm in some
trepidation retired to his bed, and began to consider how he should
contrive, in order to preserve the properly in his possession.  He rose
again, thinking to escape through the window, but found it too small to
admit his egress, and therefore gave up the idea.  As he looked out
through the miserable casement, busily plotting to hatch a scheme of
deliverance, he could perceive no favorable object to aid his purpose,
except a large pool on the road side, in which he thought of dropping his
cash, if he could reach it and do the act unobserved, so that he might
recover it at his leisure.  As nothing better offered, he determined to
adopt this plan immediately; and therefore, after making a studied
clattering in putting on his shoes, he went down stairs, and called for a
jug of beer and toast for his breakfast.  The freebooter did not shew
himself, but the landlady and her daughter, who seemed to be in the habit
of sitting up all night to receive and entertain such guests, scrutinized
our hero very closely.  The worthy hostess asked him some apparently
careless questions respecting his business in travelling the country, to
which he replied he was trying to overtake a brother pigman, who was
driving their joint charge towards London.

A new idea of arrangement struck him while at breakfast, which quite
altered his fore-constructed plan, and he began to act upon it as soon as
conceived.  To give a more clownish character to his manners, the night
before, he carried the old pack-saddle up stairs, brought it down in the
morning, and while at breakfast sat on it before the fire, instead of a
stool.

Reflecting on the whimsicality of the circumstance, and the probable
construction that would be put on the care thus evinced of so homely an
article, he deemed they would guess that his money was concealed in it, a
fancy that it now suited him to humour.  Accordingly, bursting a hole in
the fore end of it, he called the landlady to receive her reckoning, and
in her presence, pushing his fist into the straw cushion of the
pack-saddle, he drew out several pieces of gold, and asked her if she
could give him change: but she answered in the negative, on which, he
again thrust his hand into the pack-saddle, and brought out more gold
with silver intermixed; and with the latter settled his bill, and went to
the stable for his horse.  Securing all his money about his person, he
mounted his rozinante; having cut away the girths from the pack-saddle,
he bade the landlady farewell, and rode with all his might towards the
pool, which was about a quarter of a mile forward on the road.  He soon
heard the highwayman brushing forward in his rear, and heard him with
many oaths call loudly to stop, a summons that increased our hero’s
speed, till, being opposite to the pond, his pursuer overtook him.  Twm
rode to the edge of the water, and threw the pack-saddle with all his
strength towards the centre of the pool; but in bustling to regain a
steady seat as he made towards the road, he fell headlong from his horse.
The freebooter cursed him for a Welsh fool, and with a thundering voice
ordering him to hold his horse, or he would blow his brains out,
(brandishing his pistol the while) that he might go into the water and
recover the booty.  Twm feigned great terror, and with ludicrous
whimpering took the bridle in his hand; but the moment the highwayman
reached the water, he with one spring mounted his fine tall horse, and
rode away with all his might.

Our hero soon found that he had reckoned without his host, in fancying
his achievement now complete; for the knight of the road finding himself
thus tricked, placed his fingers in his mouth and gave a loud whistle, on
which, his horse in the full career of speed, immediately stopped quite
still.  Twm, in real terror, as he was within pistol shot, roared
“murder!” with all his might; when the horse, to his great amazement,
took his exclamation of terror for a counter order, and again started
into a gallop.  The freebooter repeated his whistle, and again his horse
stood still as a milestone: Twm reiterated “murder!” with all the power
of his lungs; and the well-taught horse was instantly again on his
greatest effort of speed.  Thus the highwayman’s whistle and Twm’s
roaring of “murder” had their respective efforts on the noble animal,
till at length our hero got completely out of hearing of the baffled
robber.  As he rode on triumphantly, he sang the old Welsh Triban {172}.—

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

With the good prize of a valuable horse, he entered the town of
Marlborough; the merry peals of its bells were quite in unison with his
feelings, and as the tune changed to “See the conquering hero comes,” it
almost seemed to him a personal greeting, which, with his natural good
animal spirits, elated him to the highest pitch.

Telling his tale at the inn where he put up, it was soon known throughout
the town; many of the inhabitants of which, were loud in their
congratulations and applause to the young Welshman, who so cleverly
outwitted the English highwayman.



CHAP. XXI.


Twm overtakes an old acquaintance.  Sad news from Tregaron.  Outwits
another highwayman, and rides off with his horse.

TWM, though naturally elated with his good fortune, did not suffer it to
overcome his caution for the rest of the journey; and as he found himself
no less than seventy-four miles from London, he calculated on many more
attacks before he should reach it.  He was sent for next morning by the
mayor of Marlborough, who had heard of his adventure, and required to
bring the horse with him, which he had so adroitly won.  Many gentlemen
having assembled at the entrance of the town-hall, our hero appeared in
all the pride of a conqueror, mounted on his goodly steed; their hats
were doffed, and loud shouts of applause immediately given.  It was soon
ascertained by the mayor and the gentlemen present, that the horse was
regularly bred to the road, and instructed by a highwayman, therefore,
not as first conjectured, the property of any person deprived of it by
one of these free-faring gentry: consequently, the mayor, with many
compliments on his cleverness, told our hero that the horse was his own
by right of conquest; but that if he was inclined to part with it, he
would give fifty pounds for it.  Twm directly assented, and the money was
paid to him the same morning.

Learning there was to be a fair next day at Hungerford, a town ten miles
further on, he resolved to walk there with a view of purchasing a
substitute for his lost pony, as he judged his original mode of
travelling, although the least comfortable, the most secure that he could
adopt.  About three miles out of Hungerford, he saw before him a
pig-drover with a large herd of porkers, that he alternately cursed in
the ancient British tongue, and cut up with a whip, while at intervals
between these amusing recreations he loudly sang or roared certain scraps
of Welsh songs.  Twm’s ear was quick in recognizing the well-known voice,
and he soon stood side by side with his old friend Wat the mole-catcher.
After mutual expressions of wonder and congratulation, Twm eagerly asked
him how his mother was, as well as Farmer Cadwgan and his daughter
Gwenny.  Wat replied that his mother and her husband were well; but
instead of answering the latter part of his question, enquired his
adventures since he left Tregaron.  Twm, with animated vanity, ran over
that brief portion of his history, occasionally heightening the colour of
events, according to the general practice of story-tellers from time
immemorial; dwelling particularly on his fortunate preservation of the
lady of Ystrad Fîn, and the benefits which accrued to him in consequence,
from the liberality of Sir George Devereux, whose confidential agent he
then was, on business of the utmost importance, to London.

After practising to his utmost to astonish Wat with the riches and vast
consideration of his “friend” Sir George, Twm very conceitedly observed,
“Well Wat, were he ten times as rich and powerful, I should never envy
him anything he possessed, but one lovely piece of property.”  “And what
might that be?” asked Wat.  “Why,” replied the other, “could I once
forget poor Gwenny Cadwgan, which I never can, I should envy him the
possession of his charming young wife, the beautiful lady of Ystrad
Fîn—the finest, the handsomest, and cleverest woman I ever saw! and
although now married to a second husband, she is little more than
three-and-twenty years of age.  But I was asking of my old sweetheart
Gwenny, poor Gwenny Cadwgan.”—“Poor Gwenny Cadwgan indeed!” sighed Wat,
interrupting him.  The pathetic and mysterious manner in which the
mole-catcher spoke this, alarmed our hero and produced an instant change
in his manner; “What of her Wat,” cried he eagerly, “is any thing the
matter? tell me quickly, for heaven’s sake!”  Wat answered in a tone of
greater feeling than any one would have believed him to possess, “She is
dead, Twm—dead, and in her cold grave, these four months past.  God
forgive you, if you have sent her to it, but you alone have the blame of
it at Tregaron.”  This intelligence was a thunderbolt to our hero; his
agony appeared insupportable, as he sat on the road side to indulge it,
till tears came to his relief, which at length flowed abundantly.  It was
not till after they were lodged for the night at Hungerford that Twm
found himself capable of questioning his friend further on this unhappy
subject, when he was informed that the fair Gwenny Cadwgan had declined
in health from day to day, pining, it was said, with secret grief, the
cause of which she refused to discover, even to her father; but it soon
came out, for Death hastened to her relief, and she died a mother: a
premature mother, it is true, and her infant was buried in the same grave
with its ill-used broken-hearted, youthful parent.

Hitherto, mental suffering had never been a long guest with our hero; but
now, in proportion to his affection for the departed fair one, was his
remorse, his self-accusing reflections for his neglect of the fond heart
he had won, and the ruin he had brought on one whom he had found so
happy.  He became ill, and incapable of pursuing his journey the next
day, when Wat left him, expressing a hope that he would soon be able to
overtake him, that they might enter London together.

He remained three days at Hungerford before he was sufficiently recovered
to pursue his journey; at the end of which time, being still at a loss
for a horse, on enquiring for an animal of a humble description, he was
directed to an old pedlar, who had failed to dispose of a wretched thing
of his at the fair.  On going with him down a green lane where he had
left it grazing, he was not a little surprized to find the creature
offered to him for sale to be no other than his own mountain pony, left
in exchange with the highwayman, having on its back the identical
pack-saddle, in which he had formerly concealed his money.  Too depressed
in spirits to enter into any detail on the subject, having merely learnt
that the pedlar had taken it in exchange for goods from a traveller, Twm
purchased both pony and pack-saddle for the small sum of twelve
shillings, and immediately set off on his journey.

Alive to the importance of the trust reposed in him, and the danger he
ran of being robbed, these considerations had the effect of dissipating
his melancholy, and setting him somewhat on his mettle.  Well for him it
was, that he could so rouse his dormant energies, for by the time that he
was within ten miles of Reading, in Berkshire, anxiously hoping to reach
it without disaster, the sudden discharge of a pistol, close to his ear,
convinced him he was in the centre of danger.  Instantly a horseman well
mounted rode fiercely down a lane that entered the road, and ordered him
to stop and deliver in one minute, or have his brains scattered on the
hedge beside him.

Our hero’s presence of mind never forsook him, and now stood his friend
in an especial manner.  Assuming an air of clownish simplicity, he
replied, “Laud bless ye master, I ha gotten nothing to deliver, but an
old testament, a crooked sixpence, and a broken fish-hook, and—and—”
“And what, you prevaricating young scoundrel!” roared the highwayman,
“why this purse,” continued Twm, “which uncle Timothy gave I to market
for him and pay his bills at Reading to-morrow;” producing at the same
time, an old stocking, which he had stuffed with old nails and
cockle-shells, in order to make a jingle.  The robber made a grasp at the
supposed well-stocked purse, which Twm dexterously evaded, and flung the
purse over the hedge into the adjoining field, and riding on, while the
former instantly alighted, blustering out a fund of oaths and bullying
threats, as he made his way to the field to search for the coveted
treasure.

Aware that on his poor pony he could not but be soon overtaken, and
perhaps shot, by the disappointed freebooter, Twm felt that a daring act
requiring the firmest resolution was to be instantly performed to ensure
his safety, and proceeded immediately to its achievement.  The knight of
the road, when he alighted, threw his bridle over a hedgestake; Twm
abandoning his pony for the second time, watched the robber into the
field, crawled along the ditch till he reached his horse, which he
instantly seized by the bridle, mounted and rode off in a hot gallop,
till he got safe into the ancient town of Reading, as the clear-toned
bells of St. Lawrence were chiming their last evening peal.



CHAP. XXII.


Twm becomes a pedestrian.  Adventures of Wat the mole-catcher.  The
Cardiganshire lasses.  Tragic relation.  Stalking Simon murdered.  Twm is
stopped by a footpad, whom he out-generals and shoots.  Arrives in
London.

TWM was not so fortunate with this steed as the former, which, being
white, and otherwise very remarkable, he had the precaution to have cried
next morning, when a wealthy attorney of Reading came forward and claimed
it.  On hearing Twm’s story, he very handsomely made him a present of ten
pounds, partly in consideration of the loss of his own beast, which he
had sustained by the adventure.

Being now within eight-and-thirty miles of London, he resolved to throw
off his rustic disguise, and walk the rest of his journey.  Accordingly,
he bought a neat suit of clothes at Reading, in which he concealed his
money and a pair of small pocket pistols; and thus provided, he resumed
his journey to the metropolis.  Having gone twelve miles further, which
brought him to Maidenhead, the first person that he met in the street was
Wat the mole-catcher, who had sold his pigs to great advantage to a
London dealer; and was now sauntering about from tavern to tavern,
spending money that was not his own.  Twm at first thought of
commissioning him to be the bearer of some cash to his mother, but soon
found sufficient reason for banishing such an idea.  On asking him when
he intended to return to Tregaron, the mole-catcher with strong emphasis
exclaimed “never!” adding that he had made the place too hot ever to hold
him again.  On being pressed to relate his adventures since our hero left
him at Tregaron, he ran them over in the following off hand strain.
“When you were a child, Twm, I was a merry happy lad; and you know, had
the reputation as the _funny fellow_ of Tregaron, a distinction that it
was my highest ambition to attain.  The comical tricks and humorous
sayings of Wat the mole-catcher, made mirth at every farmer’s hearth, and
their tables were spread with food for me whenever I called.  As I grew
older, my pleasures and antipathies acquired a stronger cast; and there
were but few in our adjoining parishes who were subject either to
execration or ridicule, but dreaded my satire and exposure.  I formed
attachments more than once among the daughters of the farmers whom I had
frequently entertained at the social evening hearth; but although my
jests were relished, my overtures were rejected.  In short, I found that
while mirth, innocence, and harmless wit were my companions, parents
generally disposed of their daughters to young men of characters directly
opposed to mine—the stupidly grave, and knavish.  My eyes were at length
opened; and I found that the _funny man_ however amusing as an
acquaintance, was by none as coveted as a relative, but considered as a
merry unthrift, a mere diverting vagabond at best.  Well, thought I, as I
saw the world in the nakedness of its opinion, this will never do, but
since gravity is the order of the day, I will be grave and roguish as the
most successful of my fellow men.  Having once come to this conclusion, I
studied knavery, that is to say, thrifty rascality, like a science.  You
had a specimen of my skill when you played me that pretty trick that lost
me the parish clerkship, and the fair hand of Bessy Gwevel-hîr.  As a
first step I went immediately to my grandmother, who had often exhorted
me to quit my sinful mirth and become serious, when I assured her of my
conversion, in token of which, I threw myself on my knees, and entreated
her blessing.  She afterwards took me to a puritanic chapel, and in that
assembly, where I had often pinned the skirts and gown-tails of the elect
together, the poor old doting soul in the pride of her heart exhibited
her young convert to the gaze of the saints; but neglected to inform them
that I had robbed her that same evening, of half the contents of her
pocket, as she lay asleep.  I was not long in discovering that a sedate
aspect was a goodly mask for the most profitable villainy, and therefore
determined to wear it for life.  Laughter, jest, and mirthful humour, and
all those thriftless indications of the light and harmless heart, I
abjured forever.  I now gave a respite to the rats and moles, and set up
as a butcher at Tregaron; and for one sheep that I bought of the farmers,
I stole three, and slaughtered them either by moonlight on the hills, or
by candle in my own cottage.  Although I daily bettered my condition, I
considered this but a slow and creeping course to thrift; and therefore,
as conscience no longer stood in my way, I meditated some bolder way of
leaping into property at once.  You know that wrinkled old she-usurer of
Tregaron, Rachel Ketch; in the bitterness of my heart, after losing all
hope of a fair girl, whom I had long doated on, I went to the old Jezebel
and sought her hand in marriage; aye, and would have taken her were she
ten times as loathsome, in the anxious hope of her speedy death and of
succeeding to her golden hoards.  I strove to recommend myself by
assuring her I was the most finished scoundrel in existence; and that
when gain was my object, theft, perjury, and even murder, however hideous
to silly innocents, had no power to scare me from my pursuit.  This
avowal of my noble qualifications I thought would have won her heart
forever, but I was mistaken.  The keen-eyed hag, who never was seen to
smile before, laughed outright at my proposal.  ‘What, you want the old
woman’s gold, master cut-throat of the muttons, do you? to cut her throat
also, and make away with her in a month after marriage, like a
troublesome old ewe!’ screamed she, as her spiteful broken snags grinned
defiance, and her shrill tones broke out in laughs of mockery.  I never
saw mirth so damnable before!  I felt myself the butt of her ridicule,
humbled and degraded; and as my anger rose against the beldame, I
resolved that since I could not wed her, to rob her would answer my
purpose full as well.  An opportunity was not long wanting; the little
boys who had formerly been my favorites, and who in their innocence
failed to recognize my altered character, I found it difficult to drive
from me.  A neighbour’s child one day asked me to lift him up to Rachel
Ketch’s thatch, to take from it a wren’s nest which he had long watched,
and said he was sure that the young ones were on the eve of flying.  It
was a winning little urchin that made the request, and I could not refuse
him.  The moment that I had raised him to a standing posture on my
shoulders, he eagerly thrust his little hand into the thatch, and cried,
‘Dear dear, how cold!’ when a snake which he had felt, that had destroyed
the young birds, and coiled itself round in the nest, darted out in his
face, and the youngster shrieked and fainted in my arms.  I carried him
home, where he soon died of the fright, for it appeared he was not stung.
I suspected there was a nest of those detestable reptiles in the old
rotten straw thatch, and therefore poked it in all directions with a long
hooked stick, and at last felt something attached to it; as I drew it
forward and examined it, to my great astonishment I found it to be an old
woollen stocking, closely stuffed with various golden coins.  Here was a
discovery!  I felt myself a made man forever!  The old woman was at this
time in Carmarthenshire, where she had gone to enforce her claims to
certain debts among her former neighbours; and therefore having no fear
of detection, I pushed back the golden prize and went away, intending to
return for it at night.  As I anxiously watched the hours and minutes
pass away, reflecting the while on my newly-acquired wealth, a raging
savage spirit of avarice so possessed me, that I determined to plunder
old Rachel’s cottage of all the money I could find.  Night came, and with
breathless haste I made an entrance through the thatch on the side
furthest from the street, and at midnight went away with a heavy booty,
the greater part of which, I buried beneath the floor of my own cottage,
determined to seek the first opportunity of quitting Tregaron forever.
Fortune seemed to favor me beyond my hopes; Squire Graspacre having a
numerous herd of unusually fine hogs, engaged me to drive them to England
and sell them at a good price; I have done so, and pocketted the cash,
not one farthing of which will the squire ever handle.  To relate all my
rogueries since I became a grave man would take too much of your time, so
here ends my story.”

Twm’s observations on this remarkable narrative were very brief.  “I know
my own numerous faults too well to blame you highly for anything you have
done, except robbing the poor helpless old woman: that was a villainous
affair Wat, and will not stand the test of my friend Rhys’s noble
precept—_War not with the weak_.  I have a mother, Wat, who is also an
old woman, and who but a dastardly villain could ever think of robbing
her.”  “Very true,” replied Wat, “but she whom I plundered was a _rich_
old woman; and to steal from her who had robbed hundreds by her
over-reaching usury will never lie much on my conscience.  Perhaps in
time I may form a plan to recover the cash buried under my cottage floor;
if not, I can make myself very happy with what I already have, in
addition to the squire’s pig-money; so that I shall be quite safe and
unmolested in England, and while I have money, nobody will dare to
question my respectability.”

At this moment, a party of Cardiganshire lasses, who were making their
annual journey to weed the gardens in the neighbourhood of London, passed
opposite the tavern door, where our worthies were sitting; Twm recognized
two Tregaron girls, and called to them by name, when they all went up
together.  The two rural damsels were right glad to see their long lost
countryman; Twm Shôn Catti, but their reception of Wat was very
different, as it amounted to terror and abhorrence.  They said he was
charged not only with the robbery of Rachel Ketch’s cottage, but with
murder; that the constables were out to search for him in all quarters,
and that Squire Graspacre had sent out a man to supersede Wat in the care
of his pigs.

Here Wat’s spirit of bravado entirely deserted him, and evident terror
was depicted in his countenance, while his emotion was too great to make
any remark on the information given by the girls.

After Twm had treated all the maidens with bread and cheese and ale, and
dismissed them on their journey, Wat, in great agony of mind, exclaimed,
“Oh God, where shall I fly! all my supposed security I find but a dream,
and misery alone awaits me.  When I told you the tale of my enormities, I
kept back the relation of one crime, a dreadful one! which, lost as I am,
I felt averse to acknowledge, and too heart-smote with the consciousness
of its atrocity, to turn to it my most secret thought—’twas a deed of
blood, the crime of murder.  You remember a tall, thin, skeleton-like
man, generally dressed in an entire suit of grey, who lived in a cottage
on the mountain, in the neighbourhood of Tregaron, known by the nick-name
of Stalking Simon the Moon-calf.  This man was known to be a spy employed
and paid by all the neighbouring farmers.  His habits were, to sleep all
day, and to spend the night on the hills, watching to identify the
hedge-pluckers and sheep-stealers.  Many poor persons who depended on
their nightly excursions, for fuel, while they deemed themselves
unobserved of any human being, cutting down a tree, or drawing dry wood
from an old hedge, would suddenly find themselves in the presence of
Stalking Simon.  So instantaneous was his appearance, as to startle his
victims with the idea of an apparition suddenly sprung up through the
ground, as his approach was never seen till close upon them.  ‘’Tis only
me, neighbour,’ would be the hypocrite’s reply, ‘searching for my stray
pony:’ but when two persons had been executed, and three transported, on
his evidence, the nature of his employment became known, and he was
execrated by the whole country.  One moonlight night, as I was skinning a
fine stolen wether, which I had suspended and spread out on an old
storm-beaten thorn, in a field adjoining the mountain, easy in mind, and
so fearless of danger that I whistled in a half-hushed manner, as I
followed my illicit occupation, a circumstance took place that wrought a
violent change in the tone of my mind.  My thoughts ran on the
whimsicality of the idea of selling a portion of this very mutton to the
rightful owner, on the morrow, which was market day, and laughing
inwardly at the thought; all at once, Stalking Simon, with a single
stride, moved from behind a mossy elm, grey as his own suit, and stood
before me.  My blood curdled with the sudden transition from mirth to
terror; but when the stone-hearted wretch made the old Judas-like reply,
‘It is only me neighbour, searching for my stray pony,’ I knew the amount
of my danger, and my terror changed to savage ferocity against the vile
informer who had ruined so many of my friends and neighbours.  In the
fever of my hatred I darted on him, grasped his collar with one hand, and
with the other stabbed him to the heart.”

Thus ended Wat’s relation, when he again exclaimed “Oh God where shall I
fly?  I cannot return, for that road leads straight to the gallows, and
in London I should be in hourly danger of being seen by somebody from the
country.  Since the perpetration of this deed of blood I have not known
an hour’s peace, save in the madness of the intoxicating cup.  Heaven is
my witness, I could be content with slavery, and smile beneath the
man-driver’s whip—could strip myself and wander the world in nakedness,
or herd with beasts, to regain my former peace and innocence!  Oh, I
could labour till my bones ached, and my exhausted body dropped to the
earth with fatigue, to be once more free from the keen stings of a guilty
conscience.”

Wat was now a figure of the most heart-torn remorse; his reddened eyes
were tearless, and seemed burning in their sockets; while large drops of
sweat rolled down his sun-burnt cheeks, and his whole countenance
exhibited the most intense agony.  In such an hour as this, Twm was no
comforter, although he was much affected, but merely listened in silence.
A grey-coated man now approaching the tavern, brought dreadful
associations to Wat’s terrified conscience, and in the utmost trepidation
he darted out at the back door of the inn, and ran across the fields with
the speed of a pursued murderer.

Our hero, now a pedestrian, hurried off on his journey, determined to
make up for the time lost at Maidenhead, by walking at a spirited pace;
and without stopping a moment, he passed through Langley, Broom, and
Colnbrook, hoping to reach Hounslow at least that night.  He had
travelled unimpeded till within two miles of the last named town, when he
met a long-bearded man, who might have passed for the high priest of a
Jewish synagogue.  Twm stared at him with surprize, but passed on a few
steps, when he heard the other at his heels; and turning round, he found
him with a pistol aimed at his head, as he called out in the true slang
of the road, “Your money or your life.”

Our hero, having now met a few rencontres of this kind, had lost his
terror of them; he answered in a submissive style, declaring that he had
no money of his own to resign, but it was true he had a considerable sum
of his master’s: “I don’t see,” quoth he, “why I should lose or risk my
life for any master’s service, though I should like it may appear that I
made some resistance before I resigned his property; and therefore if you
first fire your pistol through the lapel of my coat, you shall have all;”
when the footpad immediately did as requested.  “Now,” quoth Twm again,
“another shot through the skirt on the other side.”  “Very true,” replied
the thief, and fired his other pistol as directed.  “And now, for a
finish,” said Twm, “before I give up to you this large sum, just fire a
shot through my hat,” laying it down on the ground as he spoke.  “I have
no more shot,” cried the robber.  “But I have!” exclaimed our hero,
triumphantly, producing a pistol, “the contents of this you must take
instead of the money I spoke of—a just reward for a shallow knave, whose
length of beard is greater than of brains:” at which words, perceiving
that the bearded thief aimed to escape, he fired his pistol and shot him
dead.  Tearing his false beard off, he bore it away as a trophy, and
hastened onward.

Being now, as he was previously informed, in the very republic of
highwaymen and foodpads, our hero, though greatly fatigued, resolved not
to spend the night at Hounslow, but persevere in his route and go the
additional nine miles, which would bring him to the great metropolis, and
his journey’s end, before he rested.  It was near one o’clock, when at
length after many inquiries among the Watchmen, he found out the Bull and
Gate inn, Holborn; where with blistered feet and sadly fatigued body, he
joyfully took his supper and ordered his bed.  Who but a pedestrian could
enter into his feelings!



CHAP. XXIII.


Twm’s return to Wales.  The death of Sir George Devereux.  The loves of
Twm Shôn Catti and the lady of Ystrad Fîn.  Their joys converted into
sorrows.  Their parting.

IT was soon known at Ystrad Fîn that our hero had fulfilled his
commission by delivering the money with which he was intrusted, at the
place of its destination; and great anxiety was expressed by Sir George
and his lady for his return to Wales.  The baronet, however, was not
destined to put his benevolent intentions in his favor into execution,
for, about two months after Twm’s departure, on riding home an ill-broken
horse, which he had purchased at Brecon, he was thrown, and killed by the
fall.  His widow, of course, appeared in weeds; but as the last like her
former union with the high pedigreed Thomas ap Rhys ap William Thomas
Goch, the former proprietor of Ystrad Fîn, was a marriage of interest
planned by her father, Sir John Price, of the Priory, Brecon, it was
thought her grief on the occasion was not excessive: at least, such
appeared to be the general opinion among the gallants of Brecon, many of
whom waited anxiously for the throwing off of her mourning, to declare
themselves candidates for her heart and hand.

Month after month passed away without Twm’s return; and when a whole year
had run its course, the lady of Ystrad Fîn, who had frequently expressed
her alarms for his safety, at length concluded that he certainly was no
longer on the records of the living.  The young widow speaking of him one
day to a female friend, described him as very beautiful of person, and
one who deserved the favors of fortune; the greatest of which, in her
estimation, would be his acquirement of rank and station by marriage—by
an union with a liberal fair, who could overlook his humbleness of birth
in consideration of his personal merit.  “But the generous young man,”
said she, while the tears started in her fine eyes, “is doubtless dead.
I feel for him as an amiable unfriended stranger who deserved a better
fate than to die in obscurity, as Nature had formed him for distinction,
if not renown.”

The conversation then changed, when the widow’s fair friend jocularly
alluded to the probability of her again doffing her weeds for bridal
robes.  “Never!” exclaimed Lady Devereux, “twice have I been a wife and
widow, and can safely assert that, love never had a share in the disposal
of my hand.  Twice have I been bartered to suit the capricious views and
family pride of a father; but were it possible for me to utter ‘love,
honor, and obey,’ again, within sacred walls, it should be to one whom I
love indeed—love, honor, and obey!—and not to the contemporary of my
grandfather, or my father’s schoolfellow.”

It was about two months after this conversation took place, that our hero
appeared, well mounted on a goodly steed, and entered the court yard of
Ystrad Fîn.  In a moment, the circumstance was told to Lady Devereux, who
almost leaped from her seat, and hurried to meet him, as he reached the
entrance of the hall.  Twm had heard of the decease of Sir George, and
prepared himself with the tone and manner of a condoler, but found it
quite unnecessary when he noticed the brisk advance and gay countenance
of the handsome widow.  “My dear Mr. Jones, welcome, most welcome, back
to Wales, and trebly welcome to me and the lonely walls of Ystrad Fîn!”
was her first salutation, as with her natural cordiality she stretched
out her right hand, which our hero eagerly seized, ardently pressed, and
held to his lips.  She was not long in discovering the change for the
better which had taken place in his address; his former ungainly
diffidence and indecision of manner being supplanted by easy confidence,
supported by high animal spirits.

The widow, in conversing with her friend Miss Meredith, declared herself
delighted with him, and our hero appeared no less pleased with the lady.
At her invitation, he became an inmate of the house, until, as she said,
he could put himself to rights.  The sum of money left to her care, was
delivered up to him with considerable additions, in return for his
services by the journey to London, and from her own private bounty.

When the youth, beauty, and frank good nature of the lady are taken into
account, it will be no matter of surprize that our hero was soon very
deeply infatuated with the lady of Ystrad Fîn; or that he should,
agreeably to his matured character, very energetically protest himself
her sincere admirer, friend, and even lover!  If the lady chided him, it
was with that gentleness that seemed to say, “Pray do so again.”  If she
turned aside her head to conceal her blushes, smiles ever accompanied
them, in coming and retreating; or if she frowned, it was so equivocally,
that for the life of him, our hero could not help considering each
transient bend of the brow as so many invitations to kiss them away,
which the gallant Twm never failed to accept and obey.  These golden days
were too rich in delight to last long.  As the _good-natured and most
virtuous world_ discovered that they were very happy and pleased with
each other, it breathed forth its malignant spirit, and doubted whether
they had a legitimate right to be so; of course deciding that they had
not, and consequently awarding to the lovers the pains and penalties of
persecution and mutual banishment.  When they had become, for some time,
undivided companions, and walked, rode, danced at Brecon balls, and
resided under the same roof together, although under the strict guidance
of moral propriety, as daily witnessed by the lady’s female friends: it
will be no wonder that scandal at last became busy with the lady’s fame.
An additional incentive for raising these evil reports was, that she had
rejected the attentions of several of the rural nobles, who had
endeavoured to recommend themselves to her good graces.  All at once,
like the inmates of a hornet’s nest, the various members of her family,
the proud Prices of Breconshire, buzzed about her ears, and stung her
with their reproaches.  She bore all with determined patience, until
assured that her fame had been vilified, and that she had been described
as living a life of profligacy and dishonour.  Conscious of rectitude,
however indiscreet she might have been, the haughtiness of her spirit now
rose, as she indignantly repelled the infamous charges; in the end,
requesting her _dear friends and relatives_ to dismiss their tender fears
for her reputation, and keep to their own domains for the future, or at
least not trouble hers.

Notwithstanding this rough reception of her generous advisers, and
reporters of the world’s slanders, others came, almost daily, buzzing
still the same tale, till at length tired and wore down in spirits, she
consented to send away her deliverer and friend, as she called him, from
the protection of her roof.  Our hero, however, could never be brought to
distinguish between her real kind feelings towards him, and the
constrained appearance which her altered conduct made in his sight.  Free
as the air, as he felt himself, he could not understand why a great and
wealthy lady could not at least be equally unshackled and independent.
Explanations and excuses were entirely thrown away upon him, as he could
not, or would not, understand aught so opposed to his happiness and
preconceived notions.  When at length it was made known to him that the
separation was inevitable, and the season of it arrived, he received the
astounding intelligence like a severe blow of fortune, that struck him at
once both sorrowful and meditative.  Pride and resentment, from a sense
of injury, at last supplanted every other feeling; and, starting up with
a frenzied effort, he ordered his horse to be got ready, and gave
directions for his things to be forwarded to Llandovery; after which he
wrote a note, and sent it to the lady’s room, requesting a momentary
interview with her alone, before he took his departure.  She came down
with a slow languid step, and met him in the parlour.  Her eyes were red
with weeping; and before she could utter a syllable, our hero’s much
altered looks affected her so much, that she burst out into heavy
sobbing.  “Do not think hardly—do not feel unkindly towards me, Jones,”
were her first words; “I entreat you to give me the credit due to my
sincerity, when I assure you that the sacrifice I made on consenting to
part with you, was—yes! although I have buried two husbands who loved me
tenderly, it was the heaviest of my life.”  Twm replied in a tone and
manner that evinced both his pride and sufferings: “I have but few words,
madam, and they shall not long intrude upon your leisure.  I came here a
stranger, and had some trifling claims, perhaps, on your attention.—Those
claims have been more than satisfied—noble has been your remuneration of
my humble services, your beneficence generous and princely.  A change
took place in your destiny; you honoured me beyond my merits, and bade me
stand to the world in a new character.  You called me friend, your sole
true friend in a faithless world.—Nay, lady, your lover.  I loved, and
love you, with a pure but unconquerable flame.  Blame me not if I am
presumptuous—it was your own condescension, your own encouragement, that
made me so, and elevated me to a stand of equality with yourself.  You
gave me hopes to be the future, the only husband of your choice.  You
stretched forth your hand to aid my efforts, as I eagerly climbed towards
the darling object of my aim; but before I attained the summit, you,
madam, in a spirit of caprice or treachery, dashed me headlong downward,
to perish in despair.  Your great and wealthy friends will praise you for
this, while mincing madams and insipid misses shall learn a noble lesson
by your conduct, and emulating you, become in their day as arrant
coquettes and tramplers on manly hearts, as their more limited powers and
vanity will permit.  But enough! you shall have your generous
triumph,—and from this hour I tread the world without an aim, a wanderer
in a wilderness, reckless of all that can either better or worsen my
state in life.  Advancement, estimation, the pride of generous and
applauded deeds, I here abjure; nor from this hour would I raise my hand
to save from annihilation the being I am—for life is henceforth hateful
to me.  Lady, farewell—never will I cross your path; but you may hear of
my wayward steps,—and if in me you are told of a wretched idiot, a being
whose mind had perished while his frame was strong, let it strike
strongly to your heart that it was yourself that wrought that mental
desolation.  Or if they name me as a lawless being, plunged headlong into
deeds of guilt and madness, remember it is you, you, madam! you are the
authoress of my crimes and sorrows, and may be, of an ignominious death
to follow my career of guilt.  And now madam, farewell indeed!”  On which
he darted out, mounted his horse, and rode off; while the unhappy lady of
Ystrad Fîn, whose agitation choked the utterance of replies, caught a
last glimpse of him, and fell on the parlour floor in a swoon.



CHAP. XXIV.


Twm’s eccentricities.  His rural adventures with the two sheep, the white
ox, and the grey horse.  Teaches the farmer how to pound the squire’s
trespassing pigeons.

WHEN our hero arrived at Llandovery, his sorrows were augmented on
learning that his faithful friend Rhys the curate was no longer to be his
comforter, though much needed under his present mental depression; it was
no small satisfaction to him, however, to be informed that he had been
inducted into a good living in a distant part of the principality.  The
life he led at Llandovery, although lodging at an inn, was, for some
days, that of a solitary; _days_! alas for the consistency of the
lover,—days, we repeat, and not weeks or months, much less years, of
seclusion from his kind.  He soon illustrated the Shakspearian adage,
“Men have died, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.”  But by him
every thing was to done by strokes of boldness; to banish his cares, he
plunged at once into intemperance; and from merely tolerating a little
cheerful company, he entered the society of the greatest topers and
madcaps to be found, till he emulated and outdid the highest, and became
the very prince of wags and practical jokers.  He was, of course,
recognized as the capturer of the tremendous highwayman Dio the Devil,
and the acknowledged preserver of the lady of Ystrad Fîn, which, with his
relations of many freaks and vagaries in England, together with the
assured fact that he had been once in London, and spent a year there,
gained him no inconsiderable share of celebrity.  One day, while the
landlord of the Owen Glendower inn was trumpeting forth the humorous fame
of his lodger, among a parlour full of country squires, who were dining
together, after the business of Quarter Sessions was over; a merry
magistrate named Prothero said, that he was certain he had a servant, a
shrewd fellow, whose wits never slumbered, whom he would back in a bet
against the vaunted cleverness of Twm Shôn Catti, in any feat of
dexterity that could be named.  To come to the point, he said, he would
lay a wager of five pounds that Twm could not steal a sheep from shrewd
Roger, his ploughman, who the next morning should carry one to the
village of Llangattock.  Twm was sent for; and being invited to sit among
these rural nobles, appeared as complete a high fellow as the best of
them.  Without the least hesitation, he accepted Mr. Prothero’s wager,
and deposited five pounds with the landlord, as the merry magistrate had
already done.  Early the next morning shrewd Roger rose, and shouldered
his sheep, vowing before his grinning fellow-servants, who grouped round
to crack their jests on him, that the wild devil himself should not
deprive him of his burthen.  As he proceeded along a part of the high
road, up a slight ascent, he discovered with surprise, a good leathern
shoe lying in the mud.  A shoe of leather, be it known, in a country
where wooden clogs are generally worn, is no despicable prize.  The
shrewd servant looked at the object before him with a longing eye; but
reflecting that one shoe, however good, was useless unmatched with a
fellow, spared himself the trouble of stooping, for troublesome it would
have been with such a weight on his shoulders, and passed on without
lifting it.  On walking a little further, and pursuing a bend in the
road, great was his surprise on finding another shoe, a fellow to the
former, lying in the sledge-mark, which, like the rut of a wheel,
indented the mud with hollow stripes.  In the height of his joy he laid
down the sheep, with its legs tied, beside the shoe, and ran back for the
other; when Twm Shôn Catti, watching his opportunity, sprang over the
hedge, and seized his prize, which he bore off securely, won his bet, and
ate his mutton undisturbed.

Prothero, although the most good-humoured of country gentlemen, was
rather angry with shrewd Roger, whose shrewdness became rather
questionable.  It was admitted, in excuse, that the most cunning, at
times, may be accidentally overreached by his inferior in wit: on this
plea the merry magistrate was conciliated, and induced to enter into
another wager, precisely like the former, when a similar sum, against our
hero, and in favor of his servant was laid and accepted.  The man of
shrewdness, as before, determined to use the utmost vigilance and caution
to preserve his charge and redeem his reputation.  He grasped his load,
which was a fine fat ewe, most manfully, and swore violent oaths in
answer to his master’s exhortation to chariness, that human ingenuity
should never trick him again; but

    “Great protestations do make that doubted,
    Which we would else right willingly believe.”

In his way to Llangattock, he had to pass partly through a wood, which he
scarce entered when the bleating of a sheep attracted his attention, and
he came to a dead stand, as he intently listened to what he conceived a
well-known voice.  “Baa!—baa!” again saluted his ear: a sudden conviction
rushed across his mind that this was the very sheep he had before lost,
which he imagined might have been concealed by Twm in the rocky recesses
of that woody dingle.  What a glorious chance, thought he, of recovering
his lost credit with his master, and depriving his antagonist at the same
time, of his hidden prey, and the laurels achieved in the winning of it.
He instantly deposited his burthen beneath a tree; and eagerly forcing
his way through the copse and bushes, he followed the bleating a
considerable way down the wood, when to his great dismay it ceased
altogether.  A thought now struck him, though rather too late, that the
bleating proceeded from no sheep, but a most subtle ram, in the person of
Twm Shôn Catti: he hurried back in a grievous fright, and found his
surmises but too true—the second sheep, and his high reputation for
shrewdness, had both taken flight together.

On being confronted with shrewd Roger, in his master’s parlour, Twm
recognized in him an old acquaintance, and no other than the clever youth
with whom he had exchanged his feminine attire at Cardigan fair, and made
off with his coat.  On being reminded of that affair, and told by Twm
that he was the fair ballad-singer with whom he was so deeply captivated,
the poor fellow was absorbed in wonderment.  He then related to his
master the whole of that adventure, with the episode of the parson tossed
in a blanket for a bum-bailiff, in such a manner as to excite the most
immoderate laughter on the part of the jest-loving Prothero, who
good-naturedly assured his man that he lost but little credit with the
sheep, when it was considered that he stood opposed to an arch wag of so
much celebrity.

Fortune was not so scurvy a stepmother to Twm as to confine him long to a
diet of mere mutton, but took occasion to vary it very agreeably with a
change of beef.

Determined to have more mirth with our hero, at the hazard of some loss,
Prothero offered to oppose to his cunning, the collective vigilance of
his husbandmen and maidens; laying a bet with him that he should not
steal a white ox, which, with a black one, was to be yoked to the plough.
The plough to be held by Roger and driven by another servant; while two
girls, driving each a harrow, should also be on their guard to prevent
his aim if possible.

Twm accepted the bet, and obligingly undertook to convey away the white
ox, and eat the gentleman’s beef, provided it turned out sufficiently
tender; protesting, with a half yawn and the perfect ease of a modern
Corinthian, that he was absolutely tired of mutton, which he had too long
persisted in eating, against the judgement and advice of his physician.

The day arrived, the great, the important day, big with the fate of the
white ox.  The plough was guided and the cattle driven, while the two
bare-footed maidens giggled and laughed till the rocks echoed, as they
whipped the horses and ran by their sides, till the harrows bounced
against the stones, and sometimes turned over; their mirth was excited by
the idea of Twm’s folly in accepting such a bet, and thinking to steal
the white ox from under their noses, the impossibility of which was so
evident.  The two servants at the plough also cracked and enjoyed their
joke at the thoughts of our hero’s temerity, at the same time keeping a
wary eye in every direction, armed against surprisals, and exulting in
the thought that for once, at least, the dexterous Twm would be baffled
in his aim.  Time passed on; the day waned away towards evening, and as
their fatigue increased, their vigilance gradually lessened.

A Llandovery-man, known to them all, passing through the green lane by
the field, now addressed these husbandmen, laughing at their caution, and
assuring them that Twm had given up the idea of outwitting such a wary
and clever party, and was at that moment drinking his wine with their
master, whom he had allowed to win the wager.  “Allowed, indeed!” quoth a
sharp-tongued lass, as she stopped her harrow to listen, “pretty
allowing, when he could not help himself.”  “Aye,” cried the other girl,
“so the fox allowed the goose to escape, when she took to flight and
escaped his clutches.”  Roger and the plough-boy exulted in their
anticipated reward of a skin full of strong beer; thus the whole party
was excited to a high pitch of triumphant mirth.  The Llandovery-man was
of course a decoy, and his report had really the effect of throwing them
off their guard, which another circumstance contributed to aid.  The
rural party had rested, sitting on their ploughs and harrows, at one end
of the field, while they listened to their informant; and now were about
to resume their labours, when a hare started from an adjoining thicket,
crossing the ground towards the opposite hedge.  Suddenly the halloo
arose, away ran the ploughmen and girls, and away ran the yapping
sheep-dog, amid the clamour of shouting and barking; but still stood the
wondering oxen, whose grave looks of astonishment gradually changed to a
more animated expression of alarm on the arrival of Twm Shôn Catti.
Having loosed his captive hare to decoy the clowns, he availed himself of
their absence to dress the black ox in a white morning gown,—that is to
say, a sheet, which became him much, and contrasted with his complexion
amazingly; and the white ox he attired in a suit of mourning, formed of
the burial pall, which he had borrowed of the clerk of Llandingad church
for that express purpose, and having loosened his fair friend from the
yoke, they suddenly disappeared through a gap in the hedge.  Although
busily engaged in the gentlemanly pastime of the chase, the husbandry
worthies now and then glanced towards the plough, but seeing, as they
thought, the white ox safe, returned to it at a leisurely pace, till
quickened as they neared it by the singular sight before them: and their
petty vexation at losing the hare was now swallowed up by the terrible
circumstance of the loss of their especial charge.  A suitable
lamentation followed of course, which was succeeded by fear and
trembling, from a conviction that Twm Shôn Catti dealt with the devil;
and that the hare which they had chased was no other than the foe of man
in disguise.  This reasonable and self-evident assumption quite satisfied
their merry master, who deemed himself well compensated for his loss by
the hearty laugh he enjoyed.

Twm entered Llandovery, leading his white ox in triumph; having tied
together several silk handkerchiefs of various colours and thrown them
across its horns, while the head and neck were adorned with a gay
garland, formed of a profusion of wild flowers.  Loud were the huzzas and
laughter with which he was received by the juvenile part of the
population of Llandovery; not one of whom enjoyed the sight more than the
good-humoured Prothero, who cheerfully paid the bet, and from a tavern
window had a full view of the scene, which he declared excited his
laughter till his heart and sides ached with the agreeable convulsion.

Our hero loved variety; without altogether alienating his affections from
beef and mutton, he evinced a very ardent passion for horse-flesh; and
pursued it with all the fiery zest of a first-love, when impeded by
difficulties the most insurmountable.  The lady of Ystrad Fîn still
sitting on his heart like a night-mare, and pinching it with pain,
rendered him, however amusing to others, miserable enough within himself.
Lassitude, chagrin, and bitterness, often betrayed themselves in his
countenance and manners, and were only transiently removed by the
hilarity of the company with which he mixed, or the freaks which he
played in his ill-combined humours of mirth and sorrow.  Reckless of
consequences, he now entered into follies less innocent than hitherto
detailed, led to them more by a spirit of youthful wildness than any
really criminal intention.

Being one day at Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, he saw his old enemy,
Evans of Tregaron, riding into the town on a fine grey horse; he
determined in an instant that he would deprive him of a property which he
deemed too good for such a churl; and as self-will was with him the sole
ruling power that claimed either his attention or obedience, the affair
was at once settled.  Off rode the dauntless Twm, on the parson’s horse,
to Welshpool fair, where he soon found a purchaser for it, and received
the amount in hard cash.  The new proprietor of the grey steed was well
pleased with his bargain, and Twm took a generous pleasure in making him
still happier, by descanting further on the noble creature’s merits,
which, certainly, was very generous, as he was not interested in vaunting
its qualities.  “I protest to you, in honesty and truth,” said he with
much earnestness, “you have a greater bargain than you imagine; as I was
not at all anxious to sell him, I have omitted to inform you of half his
good points: he is capable of performing such wonderful feats as you
never saw or heard of.”  “You don’t say so!” exclaimed the elated
purchaser, staring alternately at his horse and in the face of our hero.
“A fact I assure you,” cries Twm, with the most sober face imaginable;
“and if you don’t believe me, I’ll convince you in a moment, if you will
allow me to mount him.”  “Oh certainly, with many thanks,” quoth the
delighted Jemmy Green of past days.  Twm very leisurely mounted, and
after a variety of postures and curvetings, gradually got out of the fair
into the high road; suddenly giving spur and rein to the “gallant steed,”
he astonished his new friend by his disappearance.  The “green one” had
to confess with bitterness of heart that the jockey had certainly kept
his word, as he shewed him such a trick as he never before saw or heard
of.

Twm had scarcely been seated at the Owen Glendower, on his return to
Llandovery, when a person called upon him, who described himself as a
small farmer living in the neighbourhood, his name Morgan Thomas, and
having heard so much of his cleverness, he came to consult him on an
affair of great weight.  He had been sadly annoyed, he said, by the
continual trespassing of a certain squire’s pigeons on his ground, which
made such a havoc amid his wheat, yearly, that the loss was grievous to
him: he had computed his damages, and applied for the amount, for the
four last years, reckoning that the forty pigeons would devour at least a
bushel of wheat each, annually.  The squire only laughed at his claims
and complaints, telling him he might pound them, and be d—ned, if he
liked, when he would pay the alledged damages, and not till then.  “Now,
to pound them I should like vastly,” quoth Morgan Thomas, “but without
the squire’s polite invitation to be d—ned at the same time.  But,” added
the poor farmer, “pounding pigeons, I look upon as impossible; yet as you
have the fame of performing feats no less wonderful, if you will pound
those mischievous pigeons for me, I will engage to give you half the
amount of my claims.”  “Agreed!” cried Twm, and grasped his hand, in
token that he undertook the task.  He sent a quantity of rum to the
farmer’s, next morning, and steeped in it a peck of wheat, which he
afterwards scattered about the farm-yard.  The pigeons came, as usual,
and eagerly devouring the grain, each and all soon appeared as top-heavy
as the veriest toss-pot in Carmarthenshire; and, like the said
fraternity, incapable of returning home, they fell in a stupor on the
ground.  Our hero, assisted by the farmer, picked them up, tied their
legs, and put the whole party in the pound.  The squire, who was no other
than Prothero the laughing magistrate, ever pleased with a jest,
especially when cracked by our hero, immediately paid the farmer’s
demand; and Twm generously refused the proffered remuneration for his
very effective assistance.



CHAP. XXV.


Twm composes and sends to his mistress his CYWYDD Y GOVID.  Visits her in
disguise, and obtains the solemn promise of her hand.  Description of the
romantic hill of Dinas, and the excavation in it, since called Twm Shôn
Catti’s cave.  Twm suspects himself jilted.

WHILE our hero was thus pursuing his vagaries, the unhappy lady of Ystrad
Fîn, who had not known a day’s peace since his absence, was daily
wavering between a resolution to send for him back, to bestow on him her
hand, and a deference for her father and proud relatives, who insisted
that if ever she married again, it should only be to a title and fortune;
by which they should themselves share in the honor.  In the mean time
information was brought to her, of his wild tricks and excesses, greatly
exaggerated to his disadvantage, which gave that kind-hearted lady the
greatest concern, as she conceived herself in part the authoress of his
misfortunes.  Twm, at the same time, felt that his tedious absence from
the fair widow was no longer to be endured; and as he knew her conduct to
be daily watched by her father’s spies, he determined on paying her a
visit in disguise.  Previous to putting his design into execution, he
composed and sent her the following poem, in which he dwells on, and
over-rates his own misfortunes, in a strain calculated to move her
tenderness in his favor.

                            CYWYDD Y GOVID. {208}

    The outcast’s forced ally is mine,
       Affliction is his name;
    It is a ruthless savage mate,
    And like a foe that’s pale with hate,
       To crush me is his aim:
    His cruel shafts are fiercely hurl’d,
    He forced me friendless on the world.

    If forward, seeking good, I wend,
    My eager steps out-strips the fiend;
    If backward, I retreat from ill,
    My cruel foe arrests me still;
    I seek the flood, to end despair.
    Relentless Govid meets me there,
    And tells of endless pangs for pride,
    The wages of the suicide.

    Fell Govid’s mighty in the land,
    His children are a horrid band,
    Who joy in hapless man’s distress,
    Lo, one is Debt—one Nakedness;—
    And Need against me doth combine,
    (Fierce Govid’s loveless concubine);
    And Care, that knows not how to yearn,
    Is Govid’s consort, keen and stern:
    And thus this family of ill,
    E’er bruise my heart and bruise my will.

    Though lost to me the tranquil day,
    My vanquisher I hope to slay,
    The fierce enormous giant fiend
    No more the heart of Twm shall rend,
    If thou, my lady-love! but smile,
    Thou gentle fair, devoid of guile—
    Thou darling object of my choice,
    Oh bless me with assentive voice,
    And soon shall Govid lay his length,
    A corse! struck down by Rapture’s strength.

Lady Devereux had read this little poem over the third time, and
repeatedly wiped the tears from her beautiful blue eyes, when the maid
entered her chamber, and in a tone of complaint informed her mistress
that there was a very importunate and troublesome gypsy in the kitchen,
who, after having told the fortunes of all the servants in the house, and
partook of the usual hospitalities, insisted on seeing her, to tell also,
she said, the fortune of the lady of the house.  “I am not in a mood to
relish such foolery now, so send her about her business,” answered the
lady, in a tone more sorrowful than angry.  “It is quite useless,”
replied the girl, “to attempt to send her away; big Evan the gardener
tried to take her by the shoulders, and turn her out by force, but she
whirled round, grasped him by the arms, tripped up his heels, and laid
him in a moment on the floor.  There she sits in the kitchen, and vows
she will not budge from thence for either man or woman, till she sees the
lady of Ystrad Fîn, whom she loves, she says, dearer than her life, and
would not for millions harm a hair of her head.”  Although too deeply
absorbed in sorrow to have her curiosity much excited, she went down
stairs, and approaching the sibyl, who had now taken her station in the
hall, asked, “What do you want, my good woman?”—“To tell you,” answered
she, “not your fortune, but what may be your fortune if you choose.”
“Let me hear then,” said the lady of Ystrad Fîn, with a faint incredulous
smile, walking before her, at the same time, into a little back parlour.
Before she could seat herself, the apparent gypsy caught her right hand
wrist, and looking round, whispered in her ear,

    “To heal your torn bosom, and ease every smart,
    Oh take—he’s before you—the youth of your heart.”

The colour fled the fair widow’s cheeks, and in a moment she sank in a
swoon in her lover’s arms.  Soon recovering, she desired her maid to deny
her to every body that called, “as,” added she with a smile, “I have
particular business with the gypsy.”  A scene of tears and tenderness
ensued; when Twm, with the utmost fervour, urged his suit with the young
widow.  She replied that her father had insisted on, and received her
promise, that she would wed no being but who either bore a title, or
stood within a relative to one.  “You did well,” replied our hero, with
the most impudent and easy confidence, “and your promise, so far from
militating against me, is really in my favor; for am not I the son of a
baronet? his natural child, ’tis true, but still his son; and you would
break no promise to your father in marrying me; but if you did, so much
the better, for a bad promise is better broke than kept.  I have friends
at this moment, who are doing their utmost to move my father, Sir John
Wynne of Gwydir, to own me publicly for his right worthy son; and if he
does not, the loss is his, for I shall certainly disown him else for a
father, and claim the parentage of some greater man.”

Twm’s rattling assertions in this respect were more true than he was
himself aware; for his friend Prothero, the merry magistrate, learning
accidentally, by a chance rencontre with Squire Graspacre, many
particulars of his birth, and the hardships of his neglected childhood,
determined, if possible, to get him righted at last.

Twm, as he had predetermined, used the present _tete-a-tete_ to some
purpose, and soon succeeded in obtaining from the fair object of his
hopes a decisive promise that she would be his forever.  The joy of our
hero knew no bounds, nor did the lady very strenuously resist his
rapturous embraces; but seemed to find her heart relieved by the
resolution she had come to, that now, forever, put an end to the
conflicting doubts as to her future course, which had so long torn her
heart, and banished her peace.

Noon was now verging into evening, and at the earnest request of his
mistress, Twm consented, to save appearances, immediately to quit her
roof.  She directed him to wait for her, and her confidential friend Miss
Meredith, at the entrance to the ancient cave on the top of Dinas, which
was the name of the conical hill exactly fronting the mansion of Ystrad
Fîn.  He accordingly took his departure; and winding round the base of
Dinas, he crossed the river Towey, which, being then in summer, was there
little more than a brook.  After walking over a couple of fields, and a
piece of rough common, he had to cross the Towey once more, when he
commenced his ascent at the only part of this very steep hill where it
was possible to climb.  During his former stay at Ystrad Fîn, this wildly
romantic height had been his favorite haunt, as the cave in its side was
the greatest object of his wonder.  It was, in fact, a mighty mound, that
bore all the appearance of having been, at the period of its formation,
convulsed by an earthquake, and in the height of nature’s tremendous
heavings, suddenly arrested and becalmed, even while the huge crags were
in the act of tumbling down its steep sides.  A narrow valley circled its
base, and the mountains around of equal height with itself, separated
only by this deep and scanty dell, seemed as if rent from it, during the
supposed convulsion of the earth, and Dinas left alone, an interesting
monument of the memorable event.  The surface of the acclivous ground was
so speckled with huge loose stones, that it was dangerous to hold by them
in ascending, as the slightest impetus would roll them downward.

Twm, at one time, when assisting his mistress to climb the steep sides of
Dinas, in his wild way said, that he had no doubt but an earthquake had
turned the bosom of the hill inside out, so that no secret could be
therein concealed; archly insinuating that he trusted the time would soon
come when without so violent a process, her own fair bosom would be
equally open to him, while it rejected the stony barriers that then stood
between him and her heart.

The entrance into this excavated work was no less singular that the
petite cave itself.  It was through a narrow aperture, formed of two
immense slate rocks that faced each other, and the space between them
narrower at the bottom than the top, so that the passage could be entered
only sideways, with the figure inclined forward, according to the slant
of the rocks: a thin person being barely able to make his way in, while a
man of some rotundity might also succeed, by rising on his toes, and
forcing himself upwards.  Between these rocks of entrance, a massive
stone block was wedged at the top, so that it formed a rude and faint
resemblance of an arch.  After _sidling_ so far through a comparatively
long passage, it was no small surprise to find that it led to so small a
cave; scarcely large enough to shelter three persons huddled close
together, from a shower of rain.  What it wanted in breadth, in possessed
however in height, as it ran up like a chimney, to the altitude of forty
five feet, and was open at the top to the very summit of the mount,
forming a skylight to the _room_ below.  Although the little cave was
deficient of a solid roof, a very rural one was formed by the large tufts
of heather, and fern, which sprung through the crevices of the rocks; the
whole being surmounted by the pendant branch of a dwarf oak, that with
many other trees stood like a crown on the elevated head of Dinas.
However singular the interior of this cave might appear to our hero, he
found a superior pleasure in examining the grand combinations that graced
its exterior.  There he saw, with never satiated delight and wonder,
objects of the most romantic character, curiously united here near the
junction of three counties.  The rocky Dinas, with its many inaccessible
sides, besides the loose crags before mentioned, was partially covered
with aged dwarfish trees, all bending in the same direction; many with
their heads broken by tempests, but still throwing out fantastic-looking
branches, while others, stark, sere, and shrouded in grey moss, were
things that seasons knew not.

The opposite mountain, called Maesmaddegan, facing the entrance of the
cave, was more gaily bedecked with underwood, birch, oak, and the
mountain ash; while the junction of the rivers Towey and Dorthea, {214}
enlivened the gloom caused by the deep gulfs which separated Dinas from
the parent mountain.

However interesting these objects might formerly have been to Twm, he
looked now only in one direction,—towards the spot where he might catch
the earliest glimpse of his approaching mistress.  Out of all patience at
her long delay, he now began to wonder at the cause of it, when at
length, to his great dismay, he saw _one_ female hurrying on, and her not
the right one, although the faithful Miss Meredith.  Having reached the
side of the river, which separated her from the base of Dinas, and
finding that he was watching her, she placed a paper on the rock and a
stone upon it, then kissing her hand to him, sportively, she turned
about, and hastened homeward with the utmost precipitation.  In his
eagerness to overtake her, Twm attempted to run down the declivity, but
soon lost his footing, sliding and rolling down several yards, by which
he was for a few moments rather stunned.  Losing all hope of catching his
mistress’s confidante, to learn the cause of her non-appearance,
according to promise, he applied to the paper on the rock, which he found
to be a note hastily scrawled with a pencil, containing merely these
words—“My father has unexpectedly arrived, with several of his
friends—can’t see you till at Llandovery on fair day.  Yours ever.”—“By
the Lord!” muttered Twm to himself, “if this is a coquette’s trick which
she puts on me, it will avail her nothing in the end;—mine she is, by
promise, and mine she shall be, in spite of the devil, and all her
Brecknockshire friends to boot.”  Determined to bring his affairs with
the widow to a speedy crisis, he changed his clothes, and soon made his
way to Llandovery.



CHAP. XXVI.


Twm’s vagaries and disguises at Llandovery fair.  The adventure of the
bale of flannel and the iron pot.  Quotations from Catwg the wise.  Twm
discovered.  A strange catastrophe.

THE day of Llandovery fair arrived; and Twm, who calculated nearly as
much on the amusement he intended to create on this occasion for himself,
as with meeting his mistress, determined that the grey horse should
become the hero of another adventure.  Much to their credit, the
neighbouring gentry had recently opened a subscription for rebuilding
between thirty and forty poor people’s houses, which had unfortunately
been burnt down; and our hero resolved that every farthing gained by the
grey horse, or otherwise, clandestinely, should be appropriated to this
laudable purpose.  It was no small satisfaction to him to find that while
it mortified the purse-proud vanity of the haughty squires to see so
large a sum attached to his name, it had the good effect of increasing
their contributions, resolved not to be out-done, in money matters at
least, by so obscure a personage as Twm.

For the purpose here named he assumed the garb and manner of the most
absolute lout that ever trudged after a plough tail.  His feet were
thrust into a very heavy pair of clogs, or wooden-soled shoes, which
being stiff and large, maintained such a haughty independence of the
inmates, as to need being tied on with a hay-band.  His legs were
enveloped in a pair of wheat-stalk leggings, or bands of twisted straw,
winding round and round, and covering them from the knee to the ankle.  A
raw hairy cow-hide formed the material of his _inexpressibles_, which
were loose, like trowsers cut off at the knee; and his jerkin was of a
brick-dust red, with black stripes, like the faded garb of the old
Carmarthenshire women.  A load of red locks, straight as a bunch of
candles, hung dangling behind, but in front rather matted and entangled,
quite innocent of the slightest acquaintance with that useful article, a
comb: the whole surmounted with a soldier’s cast-off Monmouth cap, so
highly varnished with grease, as to appear water-proof.  Without any
apology for a waistcoat, he wore a blue flannel shirt, striped with
white, open from the chin to the waistband, which answered the purpose of
a cupboard, to contain his enormous cargo of bread and cheese and leeks,
which, as he was continually drawing upon his store, stood a chance of
soon becoming wholly inside passengers.  Added to this, his booby gait,
and stupid vacant stare was such, that his most intimate acquaintance
might have passed him by as a stranger.

Instead of entering the horse-fair, he stood with his dainty steed of
grey at the entrance of the town, and munched his bread and cheese,
apparently careless whether a purchaser appeared or not.  Many persons,
in passing by, gazed with wonder at this piece of cloddish rusticity, and
asked if the horse was for sale; but receiving such drivelling and
dolt-like answers, it became a matter of wonder who could have intrusted
their property to such an oaf.

Just as the ground was once more cleared of gazing idlers and
unprofitable querists, a gentleman, well mounted on a chesnut-coloured
hunter, entered the town, and cast an eager eye at the grey horse.  Twm
recognized him at a glance as a Breconshire magistrate, named Powell, one
of the many rejected admirers of the lady of Ystrad Fîn; riding up to our
hero, he asked if the horse was for sale.  Twm answered in broken
English, imitating the dialect of the lower class, “I don’t no but it
iss, if I can get somebody that iss not wice, look you, somebody that was
fools to buy him.”  “But why,” asked the gentleman, “don’t you take him
into the horse-fair?”  “Why indeed to goodness,” answered Twm, “I was
shame to take him there; for look you, he hass a fault on him, and I do
not find in my heart and my conscience to take honest pipple in with a
horse that has a fault upon him, for all master did send me here to sell
him.”  “Well, and what is this mighty fault!” asked the stranger,
smiling.  “Why indeed to goodness and mercy,” replied Twm, “it was a
fault that do spoil him—it was a fault that—”  “But what _is_ the fault?”
asked the Breconshire magistrate impatiently: “give it a name man.”  “Why
indeed to goodness,” replied the scrupulous horse-dealer, “I will tell
you like an honest cristan man, without more worts about it; I will make
my sacraments and bible oaths”—“I don’t ask your oath,” cried Powell,
almost out of humour, “merely tell me in a word, what ails the horse?”
“Indeed and upon my sole and conscience to boot, I can’t say what do ail
him.”  “You don’t?” cried Powell in an angry tone, and looking as
surprised and wroth as might be expected from a proud Breconshire
magistrate.  “Confound me if I do,” replied Twm, “but I will tell you why
he wass no good to master; it wass this—Master iss a parson, a great
parson, a gentleman parson, not a poor curate, one mister Evans, Rector
of Tregaron, and the white hairs do come off the grey horse here, and
stick upon his best black coat and breeches; and that wass his fault.”

It is needless to add that the rising choler of the fiery Powell
immediately subsided, and laying no particular stress on this singular
blemish, purchased the grey horse, and paid for it at once, apparently
glad to escape from the tedious fooleries of the strange horse-dealer.

Anxious to discover his mistress, he chose another disguise, not daring
to commune with her in his own proper person.  He now appeared in a sober
grey suit, shining brass buckles, stockings of the wool of a black sheep,
and a knitted Welsh wig of the same, that fitted him like a skull-cap,
and concealed every lock of his hair.  Thus arrayed, he presented the
appearance of a grave puritanical mountain farmer, from the most remote
district of Cardiganshire.  After gazing awhile at the motley train that
constitute a fair, in a Welsh country town, he noticed a well known old
crone, who had the reputation of being exceedingly covetous and
disagreeable.  Lean, yellow, and decrepid, her ferret-eyes glanced
eagerly about for a customer, as she held beneath her arm a large roll of
stout striped flannel.  Twm, unobserved, took his stand behind her, and
dexterously stitching her bale to his coat, he, with a sudden jerk,
transferred it from the old woman’s grasp to his own.  Her wonder and
dismay was unutterable.  Elbowed and toed by the bustling crowd who were
passing to and fro, she knew not who to vent her spleen upon; but, in
utter despair, set up a tremendous howl, as a requiem for her beloved
departed.  Instead of seeking the assistance of a light pair of heels,
Twm scarcely moved a yard, but drew from his pocket a little black
lighted tobacco-pipe, and puffed a cloud with admirable coolness, while
his right arm lovingly embraced the bale of flannel.  Roused by the old
beldame’s outrageous expressions of grief and fury, he moved up to her
with apparent concern, and asked in a very pathetic tone, the cause of
her sorrow, which she related with many curses, sobs, and furious
exclamations.  Shocked at her impiety and want of resignation, Twm took
upon him to rebuke her, and edified her much, by an extempore discourse
on the virtue of patience; assuring her she ought to thank heaven that
she was robbed, as it was a most striking proof she was not a neglected
being.  In conclusion, he remarked, that fairs and markets in these
degenerate days were so sadly infested with rogues and vagabonds, that an
honest person was completely encompassed by dangers.  “Now for my part,”
continued he, “I never enter such places without previously sewing my
goods to my clothes, which you ought also to have done, in this
manner”—shewing, at the same time, the roll beneath his arm, which he
thought the old crone’s eye had glanced on, with something like a light
shadow of suspicion, that however instantly vanished, on this notable
display and explanation.

Hawking a roll of flannel through a fair was too tame a pastime for our
hero, when unaccompanied with more animated trickery, and he began to
think of giving it up, that he might more leisurely pursue his principal
vocation of searching out the lady of Ystrad Fîn, when the genius of whim
provided more mirth for him, and arrested his attention.

A poor half-starved looking fellow, with a merry eye, that poverty had
sunk, but could not quench, now made up to him, and strove to bargain for
a few yards of his flannel; but on reckoning his money, found he could
not come up to his price, as he said he had to buy a three-legged iron
pot, in addition to a winter petticoat for his wife: “and,” observed the
man of tatters, with a grin of miserable mirth, “it will be better for
her to go without flannel than our whole family to want a porridge pot.”
Twm liked this man, but not his logic; conceiving he made too light an
affair of what was perhaps heavy about his dame, who might be no sylph in
figure; which implied a want of courtesy and due deference to that fair
train, whose indisputable right to warm petticoats claimed precedence of
all pots, pans, and every earthly consideration.  “Here, take this bale,
take it all, for I have lost my yard and scissors, and pay me when you
grow rich;—confound your thanks! away with you, bestow it safe, then
return here; perhaps I may get thee an iron pot at as cheap a rate as the
flannel.”

This ragged man, by his alacrity and silent obedience, seemed to
understand the spirit he had to deal with.  Off he ran with his enormous
present, and immediately returned; when our hero accompanied him to the
shop of an old curmudgeon of an ironmonger, whose face, hardly
distinguishable behind his habitual screen of snuff and spectacles,
seemed of the same material as his own hard ware.  The man of rags was
quite in luck, and, as instructed, followed his benefactor into the shop
in silence.  Twm examined the culinary ware, with all the caution of an
old farm wife, asking the prices of various articles, and turned up the
whites of his eyes in the most approved puritanic fashion, expressive of
astonishment at such excessive charges.  Old Hammerhead indignantly
repelled the insinuation, and swore that cheaper or better pots were
never seen in the kitchen of a king.  “Then you must mean the king of the
beggars,” quoth Twm, “for you have nothing here but damaged ware.”
“Damaged devil! what do you mean?” roared the enraged ironmonger.  “I
mean,” replied Twm Shôn Catti, with provoking equanimity, “that there is
scarcely a pot here without a hole in it; now this which I hold in my
hand, for instance, has one.”  “Where! where!” asks the fiery old
shopkeeper, holding it up between his eyes and the light; “if there is a
hole in this pot I’ll eat it: where is the hole that you speak of?”
“Here!” bawls the inexorable hoaxer, pulling it over his ears, and
holding it there, while the necessitous man, who did not seem much unlike
a thief, took the wink from his patron, and was walking off with a choice
article, which he had selected from the whole lot, when Twm whispered in
his ear, “Take better care of it than you did of the two sheep and white
ox.”  “Thou art either the devil or Twm Shôn Catti,” replied the other,
in an under tone.  “Mum! and be off,” said Twm, and off went shrewd
Roger, for he it was, who now deemed himself more than paid for his coat
lost at Cardigan some years ago, by a freak of Twm’s.

Loudly roared the hardwareman, but his voice was drowned in the fatal
cavity.  Having tied his hands behind his back, Twm left him howling and
sweating beneath the huge extinguisher, and made, as he took his
departure, this consolatory and effective exit speech—“Had there not been
a hole in it, how could that large stupid nob of yours have entered such
a helmet?”

As he reached the street, and mixed with the crowd, he noticed a general
and very rapid movement towards the town-hall.  As the assemblage
increased, its course, like a choked mill-dam, became more and more
impeded, until the whole restless mass became consolidated, and stood
still perforce.  Our hero had forced his way till near the entrance of
the hall, when he ventured to ask what cause had drawn together such a
crowd; but he got no immediate answer, as many came there, like himself,
drawn by the powerful influence of curiosity.  At length he heard his own
name buzzed about, by many voices; one said that Twm Shôn Catti, whose
humorous tricks were the themes of every tongue, was discovered to be a
great thief: and that he who had fought against highwaymen, was at last
become one himself, and committed all the robberies which had taken place
in that country for years past.  One said that he could never be taken;
and a third contradicted that assertion, declaring that he was then
fettered in the hall, and waiting to be conveyed to Carmarthen gaol.  One
assigned him the gallows as his due, while another tenderly replied that
hanging was too good for him.  Opposing the sentiments and opinions of
all these, more than one declared that the hemp was neither spun nor
grown, that would hang Twm; and pity it should, as he was the friend of
the poor, and an enemy to none but the stupid, the cruel, and the
oppressive.

The town crier now came out of the court, and, obtaining silence, he
informed the assembled multitude that the magistrates who were now
sitting, required that any “_person or persons_” who might have been
defrauded in the fair, should now come forward, so as to form a clue
towards the identity of the robber, which it was generally believed was
no other than the notorious Twm Shôn Catti.  The crier retired, and in a
few minutes made his appearance again, and read the court’s proclamation,
offering a reward of twenty pounds to any person who would apprehend the
said Twm Shôn Catti; which was answered with loud hisses by the majority
of the crowd, that effectually drowned the applause of the rest.

Pleased with this evidence of his popularity, the pride of desperate
daring seemed to have blinded his better judgment, as he immediately
formed the singular and hazardous resolution of entering the hall, to
learn the cause of the present discussion, for he was utterly ignorant of
the precise act of his that now engaged the polite attention of their
worships.

That any person in the perilous predicament of our hero should venture on
such an expedient, will doubtless astonish the common-place man of weak
nerves and prudent views; but when enthusiasm, and the pride of
achievement, even in a worthless cause, actuates the passion-fraught
breast, supplanting the place of reasoning calculation, the wonder
vanishes.  The desperate outlaw, whose temerity is applauded, feels the
gust of heroism in as warm a degree as the generous patriot whose claim
to renown is better founded, and graced with national approbation.  Twm
soon found himself in the hall; for his own native energies stood him in
better stead than the fabled cap of Fortunatus: he wished, and obtained;
hated, and was revenged; desired to tread a difficulty under foot, and
obtained his purpose, while the generality of men would be analysing
every shadow of obstruction that impeded their aim.  He took his stand in
a conspicuous place near the bench, the “awful judgment seat,” which was
at this time filled by his laughter-loving friend Prothero, whose ruddy
happy round face had deprived law itself of all its terrors.  Before him,
among others, he found his old _friend_, Evans of Tregaron, who had been
sputtering a confused account of our hero’s gracelessness, from his
childhood, to the last trick which he had played him, by stealing his
grey horse at Machynlleth.—How he had cheated a purchaser of the stolen
horse at Welshpool; and how the said horse was traced into the possession
of a simple fellow in straw boots and cow-hide breeches, who that very
day had sold it to his friend Mr. Powell; which sale, he contended, could
not stand good, as the stolen horse was his property to all intents and
purposes, which he could prove by creditable witnesses.  This
recapitulation of Twm’s tricks tickled the gravity of Prothero amazingly;
and at every close which Evans made in his narration, he was answered by
the loud “ho, ho, ho!” of the sitting magistrate.  Mr. Powell then told
his story, and, in conclusion, said he was in the commission of the peace
in the town of Brecon.  “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, “here we are,
three magistrates, ho, ho, ho! three magistrates, and all fooled by Twm
Shôn Catti.—Clever fellow, ho, ho, ho! wild dog, ho, ho, ho! means no
great harm—never keeps what he steals—gives all to the poor fellows that
want—did me out of two sheep and a white ox, ho, ho, ho!—I wish him joy
of them, ho, ho, ho!  Never mind, gentlemen, the fun of the thing repays
the loss, which can be shared between you.  Let Mr. Evans take the horse,
on paying Mr. Powell what he gave young cow-breeches, ho, ho, ho! better
that than lose all.”  Mr. Powell immediately acceded to this arrangement,
but the unaccommodating Evans insisted on having the horse without any
payment, and made some tart remarks on conniving at a rascal’s tricks and
villanies.  “For my part I’d shoot him dead like a dog!” cried the
reverend preacher of peace and concord; drawing, at the same time, a pair
of pistols from his coat pocket, and replacing them, in a fiery fit of
passion.  “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, “but you’d catch him first,
brother, ho, ho, ho!—too cunning for you, for me, and all of us—might be
here this moment, laughing in his sleeve at us, for what we know, ho, ho,
ho!”

Our hero, in his primitive attire, now attracted the attention of the
justices, by the utterance of a deep groan, while he appeared wrapt in
the perusal of a small book.  Prothero, alive to every thing allied to
comicality, burst out into a loud ho, ho, ho!  Evans arrayed his
naturally gloomy brows in a magisterial frown, and Powell smiled, with an
expression of wonder.  “What are you reading, friend?” asked Prothero,
chuckling as he surveyed the black Welsh wig.  “The wisdom of Solomon,”
quoth the man of solemnity, drawing the muscles of his face most
ludicrously long; “but mark you, worshipful gentlemen, I mean not the
Solomon of scriptures, but our own Cambrian Solomon—that is to say, Catwg
the Wise, the excellent and erudite abbot of Llancarvan, and teacher of
the bard Taliesin.”

“A fine fellow, no doubt, but can’t you read him at home? why do you
bring him here?” asked Prothero, good-humoredly.  “Wherever I go, I have
resolved to make his wisdom known, and to reprove all deviators from it,
in the sage’s own words,” quoth Twm.  “Poor man, poor man, he’s crazy,
his brain turned, perhaps, by too much study,” observed Prothero.  “An
impudent fellow!” cried Evans; “but you are strangely lenient here in
Carmarthenshire; were I the king, I would have all such fellows put in
Bedlam.”  Twm looked at the clerical magistrate, then read from the book,
“If a crown were worn by every fool, we should all of us be kings.”
“Gentlemen, he calls us all fools!” cried Evans.  Twm, without raising
his eyes from the book, read on, “Were there horns on the head of every
fool, a good sum might be gained by shewing a bald man.”  “Gentlemen, he
makes us all cuckolds!” cried Evans, in his usual passionate sputter;
“however it may fit you, gentlemen, I can safely say, that no such
disgrace as a horn belongs to my brow.”  Twm read on;—“If the shame of
every one were written on his forehead, the materials for masks would be
surprisingly dear.”  “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, till the hall echoed
with his loud laughter, which the Cardiganshire magistrate seemed to take
as a personal affront, and sulkily observed, that this was no place for
foolery, but for gravity, wisdom, and truth.  Twm read on, “If no tongue
were to speak other than truth and wisdom, the number of mutes would be
astonishingly great.”  The consequential Evans, mumbled something about
his own mode of doing business at Cardigan, and declared that he would
commit such a fellow to gaol for three months, at least, for disturbing a
court of justice.  Twm cut him short with another passage from Catwg;
“Were the talkative to perceive the folly of his chattering, he would
save his breath to cool his broth.”  Here Powell of Brecon entered a
little into the spirit of the scene, by quoting also from the well-known
aphorisms of Catwg, applying the passage to Twm himself;—“If the buffoon
were to see the vanity of his feat, he would leave it off for shame.”
This feeble hit excited the applause of the good-humoured Prothero, who
clapped the speaker heartily on the back, and, amid his eternal ho, ho,
ho! exclaimed, “Well said, brother, well said; better silence him with
wit than by authority; well done, well done!”

Our hero now very pointedly directed his quotation against the
Breconshire magistrate; “If the lover were to see his weakness, terror
would drive him to a premature end.”  A general laugh at the expense of
Powell, instantly followed.  To him that passage was considered
peculiarly applicable, as the known unsuccessful woer of the gay widow of
Ystrad Fîn.  It was a tender string to touch so roughly; losing his ease
and temper at the same instant, he cast a most ungracious frown at the
utterer of proverbs, and said in an under tone of threatening energy,
“Whoever you may be, it were not wise of you to repeat such conduct
towards me again.”  “Again?” said Twm, pretending to misunderstand him,
“Oh, certainly, I’ll give you the passage again, or any other, to please
you, ‘If the lover—’” (here Powell’s face blazed with anger, as he
clenched his fist, and cried, “You had better not.”)  Twm began
again,—“If the lover—of war, were to see his cruelty, he would fear that
every atom in the sunbeam might stab him as a sword.”  This dexterous
evasion, with the point given to the words “of war,” had its full effect
in restoring the good humour so suddenly disturbed; but that beautiful
passage from the aphorisms of the old Welsh abbot failed to elicit the
applause which its moral merits deserved: nor could we expect to find
decriers of war among farmers and country squires.

Here the general attention was called to the entrance of the
ex-proprietor of the roll of flannel, who almost deafened them by the
vehemence of her complaints, which, however, were too incoherently
expressed to be immediately understood.  “Oh! my roll of flannel, my
fine, excellent flannel! all of my own spinning too,—eight and twenty
good yards, and a yard and a half wide—my wooden shoe too that I lost in
the crowd—and my poor corns trod off by the villains—my dear sweet
flannel, all of my own carding and spinning—nobody but the devil himself,
or his first cousin Twm Shôn Catti, could have taken it in such a
manner—it was whisked from me as if a whirlwind had swept it away.”  At
length she paused for want of breath, and Twm approached her with the air
of a comforter, and read from his book, “Were a woman as quick with her
feet as with her tongue, she would catch the lightning to kindle her fire
in the morning.”  It is probable that she did not perfectly hear this
passage, as, on perceiving Twm, she gave a shout of joy, and then, as
incoherently as before, appealed to the magistrate; “This honest man,
your worship, knows it all.  I told him, the moment I lost my
flannel—this worthy man, your worship,—a good man, a wise man, a man who
reads books, your worship, he can witness.”

A fresh hubbub at the entrance of the hall, now diverted all the
attention from the old woman’s complaint, and loud were the shouts of
laughter on beholding the object that now presented itself.  Supported by
two constables, who rather dragged forward, than led him, came Twm’s
friend the hardwareman, crowned with the identical iron pot before-named,
which the officers, as a matter of official formality, or to indulge
their own facetiousness, refused to remove, till in the presence of a
magistrate.  When his laughter had a little subsided, Prothero ordered
the pot to be removed, and his hands untied.  The hardwareman then told
his lamentable tale in a few words; in conclusion, he declared, that
having overheard certain words between the robber and his accomplice, he
had learned that the thief was no other than Twm Shôn Catti.  His eye now
caught the figure of our hero, and with a yell as astounding as if the
eternal enemy of man stood before him, he cried, “There he is! there he
is!  As heaven shall save me, there stands the man, or devil, who crowned
me with the iron pot, while his accomplice ran off with another.”  “And
who robbed me of my flannel!” roared the old woman, who now changed her
opinion, as her earliest suspicions became thus suddenly confirmed.  “And
who stole my grey horse!” bawled Evans of Tregaron.  “And who sold it to
me, when disguised in straw-boots and cow-hide breeches,” cried Powell of
Brecon, who had now closely examined his features.

A violent rush upon our hero, by the whole party, now ensued; but Twm
eluded their eager attempts to grasp him, sprung upon the table before
the bench, and, drawing a couple of pistols from his coat pockets, held
one in each hand, and kept them all at bay, protesting that he would
shoot the first who would advance an inch towards him.  Loud was his
laughter, as they all started back: but the great laugher, Prothero, now
sat silently on the bench, alarmed for his safety, which he had thought
to secure by giving him warning of his danger, in the feint of the
proclaimed reward for his apprehension.  As he stood in this manner, with
extended arms, watchful eyes, and grasping the pointed pistols with a
finger to each trigger, Powell of Brecon exclaimed, “Thou art a clever
fellow, by Jove, Twm! very clever for a Cardy; but wert thou with us, the
quick-witted sons of Brecon, thou wouldest soon find thyself overmatched
and outwitted too.  I dare thee to enter Brecon, to trust thy wit—come
there, and welcome, and thou shalt stand harmless for me, in the affair
of the grey horse.”  Twm smiled, and nodded, in token of having accepted
his challenge.

By this time Evans of Tregaron, with some of his followers, got behind
him, and clung to his right arm, but with one violent effort Twm shook
them away, as the mighty bull throws off the yelping curs that dare
attack him.  Then, with a single leap, he sprung from the table into the
crowded court, where a lane was formed for him, and rushed out at the
door unimpeded, and pursued by his accusers.  They soon lost sight of him
among the moving multitude, some of whom dispersed from fear of
accidents, while others followed him as spectators.  To the great
astonishment of his pursuers, they next caught a view of him mounted on
that grand subject of contention, the grey horse.  He took the route to
Ystrad Fîn, followed by them all, including several constables in the
employ of Evans of Tregaron, and many disinterested people from the fair.
Loud were the shouts of the numerous riders; loud the tramp of galloping
horses; and wild the disorder and terror created, as Twm at different
intervals turned on his pursuers, and fired his pistols.  This caused a
powerful retrograde movement among them, by which the foremost horses
fell back on those behind them, unhorsing some, who lay groaning and
crying on the ground, and frightening others altogether from further
pursuit.  It was on this occasion that a bard of that day wrote the
stanza which appears in the title page, thus translated by the late Iolo
Morganwg:

    “In Ystrad Fîn a doleful sound
    Pervades the hollow hills around;
    The very stones with terror melt,
    Such fear of Twm Shôn Catti’s felt.”

Twm at length, although closely followed, reached the foot of Dinas,
where he dismounted, sprung from stone to stone, that formed the ford of
the Towey, and climbed the steep side of that majestic mount, with the
utmost agility and ease.  Like a prudent sea-captain chaced in his small
boat by a fleet of rovers, till he reaches his own war-ship, and springs
up her fort-like side, in the extacy of surmounted peril, conscious
strength, and superiority, Twm now attained the summit of a prominent
gnoll, and waved his hand triumphantly, in defiance of his foes below.
Evans of Tregaron, with his crew of catch poles, made an attempt to climb
also; Twm permitted them to advance about twenty yards above the river,
when he commenced, and at the same time ended his warfare, by rolling
down several huge stones, that swept them in a mass into the very bed of
the Towey, sadly bruised, and some with their bones broken, from whence
they were extricated by the amazed and terrified spectators.

The Tregaron magistrate met a woful disaster on this occasion; starting
aside, to avoid the dreadful leaping crags that threatened to crush him,
his pistols went off in his pockets, and carried away, besides his
coat-skirts and no small portion of his black breeches, a large portion
of postern flesh, that deprived him forever after of an easy seat, on the
agreeable cushion which nature had provided.  Amusing to the population
of Tregaron was the singular sight of their crest-fallen magistrate and
his hated gang, brought home in a woful plight, as inside passengers of a
dung-cart, which had been hired for the purpose; and more than all, that
their discomfiture should have been caused by their long-lost countryman,
Twm Shôn Catti.

Our hero, in the mean time, like a princely chieftain of the days of old,
enthroned upon his native tower of strength, marking in his soul’s high
pride the awkward predicament of his baffled foes, perceived them all
depart; leaving him the undisputed lord of his alpine territory, the
glorious height of Dinas.  After witnessing, with his limbs stretched
upon his mountain couch, the glorious beauty of the setting sun, he
entered the cave, tore from its top a sufficiency of fern and heather to
form his bed, threw on it his fatigued, over-exerted frame, and soundly
slept till morning.



CHAP. XXVII.


Twm’s exploits at Brecon.  The adventure of the ducks, the crow’s nest,
and the crockery ware.  His successes at the Eisteddvod, the Races, and
the Ball.  His singular marriage with the lady of Ystrad Fîn, and various
other matters.  Conclusion.

OUR hero awoke by sun-rise, after a refreshing sleep; but his mind was
far from being cheered by the bright beams of morning.  Unable to account
fairly for his second disappointment of seeing his mistress, according to
promise, he gave way to despondency, and conjectured the worst—that she
was no longer true to her vows, but had yielded to the persuasions of her
haughty relatives, and become a renegade both to love and honor.  He was
now, however, so near her residence, he could at least ascertain how
matters stood; and, after many efforts of resolution, he descended the
hill for that purpose.  On crossing the Towey, he was surprised to find
that the “gallant grey” was still left for him; he was busily feeding in
an adjoining field, and the saddle and bridle hung dangling from a
storm-stricken old thorn.  He felt this, directly, as a handsome piece of
attention to him, on the part of Powell of Brecon, who, doubtless, had
left it there for his convenience.  On examining further, he found a
note, tied to the bridle, from that generous individual, inviting him to
be present at the Eisteddvod, the Races, and the Ball, which were to take
place successively in the gay town of Brecon.

At Ystrad Fîn he found nobody but the servants, who informed him that
their lady, Miss Meredith, and the late visitors, were all gone to
Brecon, and would not return for some days.  This intelligence determined
him to go there also; and, recollecting a trunk of clothes of his, which
had been left ever since his former sojourning here, he called for it;
and having dressed himself, and placed, with other things, in his
saddle-bags, an elegant suit which he had brought from London, he mounted
his horse, and rode off for Brecon.  About a couple of miles beyond
Trecastle, he overtook a poor fellow driving an ass, laden with coarse
crockery ware, who turned out to be no other than “shrewd Roger.”  He had
been enabled to commence this humble merchandize by the success he met
with in the sale of the greater portion of the roll of flannel, received
from our hero the day before, with the produce of which he purchased the
stock of an old Neath hawker, whom illness had detained at Llandovery.
Having long been married to a Cardiganshire lass, they both, pretending
to be single, entered Squire Prothero’s service at the same time, but the
circumstance being at length discovered, they were both discharged, and
had since lived in great poverty; and therefore our hero’s bounty was a
great lift in life to the lowly pair.  After some jests on the feats of
the fair day, Twm spurred on, but not before he had purchased the whole
of Roger’s stock, which, however, that worthy was to take to Brecon, for
a purpose to be hereafter described.  At Brecon he took lodgings at the
Three Cocks’ inn, to which he gave the preference, on account of the sign
being the armorial bearings of the celebrated David Gam, the hero of
Agincourt.

The town, although continually filling, seemed now as full as on a fair.
While our hero looked out at the window to observe Roger, who arranged
his crockery in front of the inn, his attention was suddenly caught by
the sound of a harp, which proceeded from the kitchen.  To his great
surprise, he found the performer to be his old friend, the venerable
Ianto Gwyn of Tregaron.  The old man was very glad to see him, and after
learning the particulars of the fortunes he had met since he left his
native town, proceeded to inform him of the Tregaron news.  His mother
was well, and had received the various small sums which he had sent her
at different times, and was in daily hopes of burying her churl of a
husband.  Wat the mole-catcher was arrested in London by young Graspacre,
who sent him down to Cardigan, where he was hanged two months before.
Rachel Ketch was dead; having broke her heart for the loss of her money,
which had been stolen by Wat.  In conclusion, the old man said that he
had come to the Eisteddvod rather as a spectator than a candidate for the
prize, having accidentally hurt his right hand, which had nearly disabled
him altogether from playing.  “That circumstance is now the more
provoking,” said the old man, “as I am convinced that were my hand well,
I should certainly win the noble silver harp, which is to be the meed of
the best player.”  Twm took his musical friend up stairs, and, after
dining together, began coquetting with the harp, which, with the hand of
a ready player, he tickled into alternate fits of grief and laughter, as
he ran over many of our most popular airs.  The old man jumped up from
his seat, and embraced him with raptures, protesting that he could not
fail to win the harp, if he chose to be a candidate.  Our hero, having
practiced but little on the harp since he left London, felt considerable
diffidence in becoming a competitor among proficients in music, but
resolved, at any rate, to avail himself of the instructions of his friend
Ianto Gwyn.  Intensely anxious to meet his mistress once more, he sought
an early opportunity of a walk through the streets; but instead of the
desired one, it was his lot to meet Powell the magistrate, who gave him a
jocular and right hearty welcome.  They were soon joined by two other
high bloods of the town, one a wealthy attorney, named Phillips, and the
other a reverend and right portly son of the church, who shone more at
the punch-board than in the pulpit.  They all adjourned to the parlour of
the Three Cocks, where the best of wine was soon in request, and a gay
scene of conviviality and good fellowship ensued.

Each of the Breconians was well acquainted with Twm’s celebrity, and
found unusual satisfaction in this meeting.  Being all high lads of the
turf, the practice of betting was familiar to them; and the lawyer
offered at once to oppose Twm in a match of angling for five pounds; and
the bet should be, that whoever fished the largest weight, no matter of
what kind, in half an hour, should be declared the winner.  Our hero,
although a poor angler, accepted the wager, and Powell, as the umpire,
wrote down the terms of it, which was signed by each.  Possessing himself
of the angler’s paraphernalia, he repaired with them to the bridge; and
had the upper side of it assigned to him, while Phillips took the lower.
The latter displayed a grand morocco pocket-book, filled in the neatest
order with the most choice artificial flies, of every description, and
soon had his handsome rod in order; while the former had nothing better
than what could be procured at a shop.  The lawyer landed fish after
fish, with great rapidity, and when half the given time was expired, Twm
found himself much in arrears, and the continued good fortune of his
antagonist left him, apparently, no chance of ultimate success.
“Confound these good-for-nothing flies, fetch me a beef steak!” cried he
at last, and gave money for that purpose to a bye-stander, who
immediately brought the article wanted.  “There’s a Cardy angler, fishing
for trout with a beef steak!” cried the Breconians, with an exulting
laugh; Twm said nothing in reply, but fastened several hooks in different
parts of a strong line, to each of which he attached a small piece of
beef, and, watching the movement of a flock of ducks that floated in
luxurious ease down the Usk, he threw the whole among them.  Loud was the
clamour of the aquatic crew, as they hustled each other, in their
eagerness to partake of the showered feast, which they soon gobbled, and
were drawn up to the top of the bridge by the singular angler above, amid
the shouts and laughter of the numerous spectators.

Powell now held up his watch, and declared that the stipulated half hour
was just up.  Phillips, as the conscious winner, produced a goodly shew
of trout, and, as Twm had caught but four small fish, said it would be
idle to weigh them.  “Not so,” replied our wag, “let the written terms of
the bet be read, and you will find that my ducks have a right to be
weighed against your boasted trout, aye! and shall make them kick the
beam.”  Phillips stared at such an assertion made in earnest, and Powell
read, “Whoever fished the largest weight, no matter of what kind, would
be declared the winner,” and, as umpire, awarded the five pounds to our
hero.  Some merriment at the expense of Powell was caused by his
declaring himself the unlucky proprietor of the said flock of ducks; but
with his usual good-humour, he proposed that the ducks and trout should
be cooked at his house for their supper, in which Phillips acquiesed.

They were promenading, soon after this, in the agreeable walks of the
Priory Grove, where there was a large rookery, almost every third tree
being crowned with the nest of one of these sable and clamorous children
of the air.  “Let us try,” said Hughes, who was also much addicted to
betting, addressing our hero, “which can the most completely take one of
those nests, you or I.”  “Done, be the bet what it may,” cried the
Tregaron wag.  It was agreed that this boyish feat was to be for a wager
of five pounds, and Phillips to be the umpire.  Hughes observed to his
opponent, “I propose that we accompany each other up our respective
trees, to be satisfied that nothing but fair play is used,” to which Twm
assented, and gave him the first chance and choice of his nest.  The pair
were soon at the top of a lofty oak, and the merry parson took out the
eggs, one at a time, placing them in his coat pocket, and afterwards
removed the nest, and brought it down with him.  Twm then went to a
distant tree, and climbed to the top with the utmost caution, before his
opponent had reached the lower branches, and, with good management, that
proved him an adept in this idle business, placed his hat on the top, and
thus secured the old bird.  Fastening the hat and nest together, he
descended with them both.  Hughes was the first to declare his antagonist
the winner; but the umpire requiring him to produce the amount of his
adventure, his surprise was great, on finding that he had nothing more to
shew than the empty nest; our hero having slipped his pen-knife through
the bottom of his pocket, and received the eggs in the palm of his hand,
in the same order that they were taken from the nest.  On this discovery,
Hughes declared that Twm Shôn Catti would never meet his match, till
Satan himself became his opponent.

While sitting with the aforesaid trio, some time after, paying their
devotions to the bottle, at the Three Cocks, our hero contrived to bring
Powell, who had hitherto fought shy, into a bet with him.  He declared
that a stranger as he was, at Brecon, he firmly believed he could
command, and be obeyed there, with greater promptitude than himself,
although a justice of the peace and quorum.  “I’ll lay you twenty pounds
to the contrary,” cried the magistrate.  “Done!” replied Twm, “and we can
prove it without quitting this room, by opening the window, and
practising on one of those people opposite.”  “Let it be on yonder
crockery-ware man, who is the most conspicuous,” said Powell, and Twm, of
course, could have no possible objection.  The magistrate opened the
window, and called in a tone of authority, “Come here, you fellow; go
directly to the Black Lion, and tell the landlord to let you have Justice
Powell’s black mare, and bring her here to me.”  “I can’t quit my goods,
sir,” said Roger, “or I would willingly oblige you.”  “I tell you,
fellow, do as I order you, or I shall kick you and your ware out of the
town,” said Powell in a blustering tone, and with a look the most
terrifying that he could assume.  Roger repeated his former answer; and
when the magistrate increased his threats, he burst out into a rude
laugh, and, without further deference, said, he really believed that his
worship was drunk: this was enough, and the worthy magistrate felt
himself completely put down.  Our wag now took his turn, and commenced
with him: “I say, fellow, did’st thou ever see, or hear of Twm Shôn
Catti?”  “Yes,” replied Roger, “often at Llandovery, once at Cardigan,
and now I see him before me at Brecon.”  “Well then,” continued Twm, “I
order thee to give us a dance, in the middle of thy crockery.”  “With all
my heart, if _you_ order it, for I should dread to disobey Twm Shôn Catti
more than twenty times my loss.”  On which he jumped, capered, and
danced, in the midst of his brittle commodities, kicking and treading the
dishes, pans, basins, and other articles, to powder beneath his feet.
“By the Lord, thou art a strange fellow;” said Powell, as he paid him
down the amount of his forfeit; “and I foresee that there’s much more
luck for thee than thou dreamest of: and I confidently anticipate what
will surely come to pass in thy favour, my Cardiganian hero.”

These words, uttered in a very pointed manner, and with a significant
expression of countenance, could not but excite surprise in him, to whom
they were addressed; but on parting with the other gentlemen, after the
jovial supper at the magistrate’s, he found, to his utter amazement, that
Powell was in the whole secret of his affairs with the lady of Ystrad
Fîn.  “She once,” said he, “played me a jade’s trick, but no matter, we
are now friends, and she has even assisted me in my suit with her amiable
friend, Miss Meredith.  In heart and soul, she is attached to you, Jones,
but she is a weak yielding woman beneath the terrors of her father’s
frown, and in some evil hour might again sacrifice herself, if you are
too long out of her sight.  She is proud of you, and of your wild
achievements, and even finds excuses for your most blameable courses.
Now, my advice is, that you will endeavour to distinguish yourself during
the races, and start for the gold plate: the grey horse, I suspect, has
blood in him, and will beat the best that is to run.”  “But why,” asked
Twm, “did she not keep her promise to meet me at Llandovery fair?”
Powell replied that she was prevented by her father’s sudden illness; and
great is her sorrow for the disappointment she must have caused.

The next morning was ushered in with the ringing of bells, firing of
guns, and every demonstration of the gaiety that prevails on a gala day;
and this was an especial one, to be honored successively by the
Eisteddvod, the Races, and a grand Ball.  Between eleven and twelve
o’clock, our hero, with many other musical and literary competitors,
entered the town hall, in bardic trim, with the harp of his friend Ianto
Gwyn, slung by a blue ribbon, and attached to his shoulder.

The hall, which was handsomely decorated, now shone with the presence of
a vast number of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen; in fact, it was a
bright assemblage of the beauty and fashion of the town, and surrounding
country, sitting in anxious expectation of the commencement.  At length
the business of the meeting was begun by a speech from the president, who
occupied a central seat on the raised platform.  He dwelt emphatically on
the laudable object of the Eisteddvod; “to preserve from annihilation one
of the most ancient languages spoken by mankind, remarkable for its
copiousness, energy, and expression; that, like a perpetual living
miracle, kept its firm stand in this solitary nook of country, the
principal vestige of our national characteristics;—to revive and preserve
the beautiful melodies which had been the delight of our gallant and
patriotic forefathers;—and lastly, by emulation, to keep alive the
brilliant blaze of the native Awen, the darling poesy of the land, which
yielded their fragrant and refreshing blossoms, lovely sacrifices on the
altar of Taste; that with their incense appeased the rugged Genius of the
cold and stern realities of life.”  Penillion singing succeeded; in which
the minstrels of Merionethshire excelled.  The rest went on in rotation,
minutely according with the description given by the ever-faithful
Michael Drayton. {245a}

    —“Some there were bards, that in their sacred rage
    Recorded the descents, and acts of every age;
    Some with nimble joints that struck the warbling string;
    In fing’ring some unskill’d, but used right well to sing
    To other’s harp; of which you both might find
    Great plenty, and of each excelling in their kind,
    That at the Stethva {245b} oft obtain’d a victor’s praise,
    Had won the silver harp, and worn Apollo’s bays;
    Whose verses they deduced from those first golden times,
    In sundry forms of feet, and sundry suits of rhymes.
    In Englyns {245c} some there were that in their subject strain;
    Some makers that again affect a loftier vein,
    Rehearse their high conceits in Cowyths; {245d} other some
    In Owdels {245e} theirs express, as matter haps to come.

    So varying still their moods, observing yet in all,
    Their quantities, their rests, their measures metrical;
    For to that sacred art they most themselves apply,
    Addicted from their birth to so much poesy,
    That in the mountains those who scarce have seen a book,
    Most skilfully will make, as though from art they took.”

Among the given subjects for a Cowydd, or Poem, was “Govid,” or
Affliction, for which it turned out that there was but one who had
written on it, and, to Twm’s unutterable surprise, he heard his own poem
of that title recited, and more than all, a prize awarded to it by the
umpires.  Lady Devereux, who had attached her name to this effusion, was
called upon to receive the meed of her talents.  That lady, who sat by
her father, as one of the audience, now rose with dignity, and said with
some emotion, that the poem so highly honored; was not of her
composition, but had been sent to her by its author, a person of taste
and ingenuity, whom she was bound ever to esteem; as to his valour and
courtesy she had once been indebted for the preservation of her life.
Then naming Mr. Thomas Jones, as the author, she pointed him out; and,
amid loud and long applause, a handsome silver medal was placed round his
neck.

But why should we prolong, by intermediate detail, the ultimatum so
easily inticipated by the reader?  Our hero won also the miniature silver
harp, and the gold cup at the races; the admiration of the ladies at the
ball, and withal, the wonder and esteem of the Breconians.  But alas! the
buoyancy of spirits, and exultation of heart, which owed their evanescent
existence to these distinctions, was soon doomed to give way to feelings
of contrasting severity.  Now, while in the zenith of his glory,
confidently anticipating, as the final crown of his happiness, the
willing hand of his mistress, a note for him arrived at the inn, from the
fair widow, that threw him into absolute despair—she told him in plain
terms, that unless he could outwit her, all his hopes of her hand would
be utterly in vain.  This intimation he could understand only as a formal
_permit_ to wear the willow as soon as he pleased; that she was otherwise
engaged, and had altogether done with him.

Meeting Miss Meredith in the walks soon afterwards, he sought an
explanation with much earnestness, but she only burst out into laughter
at his “serious sad face,” as she called it, and made her escape from his
importunities.  This confirmed the worst construction which he had put on
her conduct, and the “vile caprice and inconsistency of woman,” became
the subjects of his bitterest railing.  Hearing that her company had
preceded her in the way home, next evening, and that she was about to
follow them alone, he resolved to way-lay, and put her under
contribution, at any rate; which he conceived would be one way, at least,
of outwitting her, and perhaps the right one.

Disguising himself in a heavy great coat, and a rough hairy travelling
cap, which had always been his treasury, in preference to a pocket, in
case of being at any time overpowered by numbers on the road, as no
suspicion would attach of money being there concealed; he took his stand
by the gate, that in those days led from the town into the mountains,
through which the road ran to Llanspyddyd, Trecastle, and Llandovery.  At
length the gay widow arrived, and Twm immediately caught a firm hold of
her bridle, and, in an assumed snuffling tone of voice, demanded her
money.  She begged hard for mercy on her pocket, but in vain; and gave at
last a considerable sum, which, she said, was the whole contents of her
pocket.  Our hero, while placing the booty in the crown of his cap,
declared himself quite satisfied: “And so am I!” cried the spirited
widow, and, at the same moment, grasped his cap and its whole contents,
laughing aloud as she galloped away from him, she cried, “thus the widow
outwits and triumphs over Twm.”

Here was our hero, at length, in a deplorable dilemma;—shorn of his
laurels, and at once a bankrupt in love and fortune; as the cap contained
the whole of the money brought with him to Brecon, as well as what he had
gained there.  This inauspicious adventure, although it damped his
spirits for the time, had the ultimate effect of rousing his latent
energies to the highest pitch.  He was not long in hatching a scheme to
forward his purposes, that, however, required the aid (which was offered
to him) of Powell and his two friends.  Twelve o’clock the next morning
saw him dismounting at the door of Ystrad Fîn, accoutred in a military
costume, intended as a disguise, to gain immediate admittance as a
stranger.  To his great dismay, instead of finding the door fly open to
his knock, as he expected, it appeared to have been barricaded against
him.  The lady of the mansion, with pompous formality, appeared at the
window, like the warder of a fortress holding a parley at an outpost.  In
a gay spirit of bantering, she declared, that the military uniform became
him exceedingly, and begged to know what rank he held in the army.  Our
hero parried these home thrusts with but an ordinary degree of grace,
and, in a bowed spirit, intreated admission to the inner walls.  The lady
Joan was quite peremptory in her refusal, declaring, that having lately
heard so much to his disadvantage, she had decided to break off all
future acquaintance with him as a lover; “especially,” added she, “as,
instead of the witty person I thought you, I find you quite a dull
animal, that any school-girl might outwit.”  Here she indulged in a
provoking laugh, and bade him “good-bye,” as she turned to close the
window.  “Nay then,” said Twm in a desponding key, “if we are indeed to
be henceforth strangers, as we _have been_ friends, true and warm
friends, you will give me your hand, at least, in parting.”  She slowly
stretched out her hand at the window, and our hero, with the eager spring
of a hungry tiger, darted forward, grasped her wrist with his left hand,
and drawing his sword with the right, exclaimed in a tone of fury,
“Revenge at least is left me—by yon blessed sky above us, I’ll be trifled
with no longer—off goes your hand, unless you consent to our union this
instant, and on this very spot.”  “Lord! don’t squeeze so hard and look
so fierce,” cried the lady of Ystrad Fîn.  Twm, with increased
boisterousness, resumed, “On your answer will depend whether, for the
remainder of your life, you will have a single, or a pair of hands—for on
the pronouncing of a negative, this hand, this soft white hand, beautiful
as it is, will instantly fly, severed from the wrist.”  “I would not so
much care,” cried the lady of Ystrad Fîn, “but for your horrid name; I
could not endure to be called Mrs. Twm Shôn Catti.”  “I have protested
bitterly, and will not be forsworn,” cried Twm, “that here, even here,
with your hand thus stretched through the window, the marriage ceremony
shall be performed; and so your answer at once without evasion.”  “The
parson of our parish is gone to a christening,” said the lady of Ystrad
Fîn.  “Yes or no!” roared the terrific Twm, menacing the threatened blow.
“Well then, as I could not handle a knife and fork, or play my spinnet,
or give you a box on the ear when I want pastime, I may as well say—yes!”
“Bless thee for that,” cried Twm in extacy, and eagerly kissed the
captured hand.  With his left hand he drew forth a small bugle, and blew
a loud blast that was re-echoed by the surrounding mountains.
Immediately a party of ten persons, wearing masks appeared, one of which
was arrayed in a clerical habit, who without further ado commenced the
marriage ceremony, Twm the while holding her hand through the window.

The wedding service had been more than half gone through, when four
windows of the first floor were suddenly opened, and several persons put
their heads out, while, with the most sideshaking peals of laughter, they
looked down on this singular wedding.  The “ho, ho, ho!” of the merry
Prothero, was heard with surpassing loudness; and, “Well done Twm,” were
the first words that the spirit of titillation permitted him to utter.
Notwithstanding this interruption, the ceremony was finished, and parson
Hughes pronounced them man and wife.  Unwilling to loosen the hand which
he now considered his own, our hero held it fast till he entered the
house through the window.  Once within the mansion that now called him
master, an amazing change of circumstances took place.—The lady
endearingly asked forgiveness for her latter conduct, while Twm intreated
the same for himself.  Squire Prothero had been the author of many good
offices to our hero; having conciliated Sir John Price, who, although a
proud man, was also something of a humorist, as he proved himself in this
instance.  A plan was concerted to throw every impediment in the way of
Twm’s union, for him to surmount them as he could, to afford sport for
the old baronet and his merry friend Prothero, in which trickery the lady
herself was by promise compelled to join, which accounts for her latter
conduct.  Being ushered by his bride into the drawing-room, our hero was
introduced to, and well received by more than one stranger—namely, Sir
John Price, and his own father!  On the following day their public
wedding took place in Brecon, when our hero’s friend Powell was also
united to the amiable Miss Meredith.  These parties being made happy,
little remains to be added.  Evans of Tregaron, had soon after, to add to
his other losses, that of his clerical gown, on account of a fine
chopping boy affiliated on him by the luckless Bessy Gwevel hîr; and his
magisterial functions were also numbered with “things which were, but are
not.”

The annals of those times evince that our hero filled various civil
offices of the first rank in the good town of Brecon, with great ability;
and “Thomas Jones, Esq.” shines conspicuously on the list of its mayors
and sheriffs; but no where more honourably than in the pages of his early
friend Rhys—the Doctor Rhys—whose undoubted testimony crowns him with the
fame of an accomplished herald and antiquary.  A single anecdote,
illustrative of his good humour in late life, shall close this book.
“Bless me!” cried the lady mayoress one day to her husband, as they
passed arm in arm through the street from church, “the people are always
laughing to think of my having married you.”  “I don’t wonder,” replied
the hero of these adventures, “for I always laugh when I think of it
myself.”

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                     PRINTED BY J. COX, ABERYSTWYTH.



Footnotes


{3a}  His wife’s name was Joan.

{3b}  The truth against the world.

{4}  The English pronunciation of Twm Shôn Catti, is Toom Shone Katty;
instead of which the Londoners called it _Twim John Katty_, which seemed
doubly ludicrous as the name of a tragedy hero.

{5}  Another cause assigned for the adoption of this name is, that a
cat’s eye formed part of his armorial bearings.

{6}  A small cup, so called from its contents being able merely to damp
the clay of a genuine toper.

{56}  It is a singular circumstance, that in the county of Cumberland is
kept up among the peasantry a custom resembling this of the
Welsh—voluntary contributions at weddings—which doubtless had its origin
from the same source, and may be thus accounted for.  When the Britons
were driven by the Saxons from the valleys of England to the mountains of
Wales, a considerable number of them separating from their countrymen,
remained and settled in the North of England, among the Saxons, in a
district thence called “Gwlad y Cymru,” i.e. _the land of the Cymru_,
since corrupted to “_Cumberland_.”  Adopting the language and manners of
their conquerors, their own name as a people became entirely lost to
their posterity, while this sole vestige (the contributions at weddings)
alone remains, of their ancient customs.

{57}  In addition to the _Gwahoddwr’s_ address, there is another mode
prevalent in the present day, of inviting to the Bidding, by a printed
circular, which in some parts of the principality supersedes that merry
personage altogether, a thing to be regretted, as it deprives the rural
Welsh Wedding of one of its most pleasant features, and cuts off its
alliance with romance, and the manners of _oulden tyme_.  The following
is a specimen of a Bidding circular.

                                                     _October_ 5_th_, 182—

    As we intend to enter the matrimonial state, on Saturday, the 10th of
    November next, we are encouraged by our friends to make a Bidding on
    the occasion, the same day, at the young woman’s father’s house,
    called Tynant, at which place, the favor of your agreeable company is
    most respectfully solicited; and whatever donation you may be pleased
    to bestow on us then, will be thankfully received, and cheerfully
    repaid whenever called for on the like occasion.

                                                   Your obedient Servants,

                                                                     A. B.
                                                                     C. D.

    *** The parents of the young man, and his brothers and sisters,
    desire that all gifts of the above nature due to them, be returned to
    the young man on the above day, and will be thankful for all favors
    granted.—Also, the young woman’s parents and her brothers and
    sisters, desire that all gifts of the above nature due to them, be
    returned to the young woman on the above day, and will be thankful
    for all favors granted.

{62}  The large three-legged iron pot used for cooking.

{77}  Pronounced Coom dee.

{129}  Dio is in Wales, the diminutive or familiar of David.

{134}  This simple rustic song is a translation from a popular ballad by
John Jones of Glangors, generally sung to the tune of “Will you come to
the bower?”

{136a}  Strawberries strung or beaded on long grass.

{136b}  Ewes are milked in Wales, for which purpose they are driven from
the hills and mountain in sheep-pens: their butter is also used for many
purposes.

{138}  Hob y deri dando signifies “away my herd to the oaken grove.”  Mr.
Parry, for whose Welsh Melodies the modern words were written, remarks,
“There is something very quaint and characteristic in this ancient air,
and it is popular in Wales.”

{152a}  Pennill signifies stanza.  The original, of which the above is a
translation, runs thus—

    Gwych yw y dyffryn, y gwenith, a’r yd,
    Mwyn dir a maenol, ac aml le clyd,
    Llinos ac eos, ac adar a gân;
    Ni cheir yn y mynydd ond mawnen a thân.

{152b}  A Triban may be defined a lyric epigram; it is common in Welsh
literature.

{172}  In the original—

    “Nid twyll twyllo twyllwr;
    Nid brâd bradychu bradwr;
    Nid lladrad mi wn yn dda,
    Lladratta ar ladratwr.”

{208}  Signifying “_The Poem of Affliction_.”  The original Welsh poem,
in recitative measure, of which the above is rather a condensed
paraphrase than a translation, is in no ancient MS in the possession of
the late Mr. Jenkins of Llwyn-y-groes, Cardiganshire; and published in
both Meyrick’s “Cardigan,” and “Hynafion Cymreig.”

{214}  Between these two rivers, before they unite, is an angular slip of
lowland, being the last of Cardiganshire; Dinas, and all the interesting
heights here described, are in Carmarthenshire; while the boundary of
Breconshire is about half a mile off.  The reader who is a Welshman, will
hence recognize the etymology of Ystrad Fîn, which signifies, The vale of
the boundary.

{245a}  Drayton’s poetry is so constructed, that to read it with any
harmony, there should be a pause in the middle of every line, when the
sense will permit.

{245b}  Eisteddvod.

{245c}  The Welsh epigramic stanza.

{245d}  Cowydd, or Poem.

{245e}  Awdl, or Ode.





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