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STORIES OF WALES.
STORIES OF WALES. BY W. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS, Author of Gwilym a Benni Back" GW7 y Dolau," &c. V.- THE LOVE OF DAVID GWYN. [Copyright 1905 by W. Llewelyn Williams in the United States of America.] For stony limits cannot hold love out." Romeo and Juliet. It was Christmas Eve at Llanelwid,—not the good, old fashioned sort, but wet, gusty, the wind moaning in the bare woods and raging over the bleak uplands, and the trees shivering in the bitter gloom. A little party was gathered in the churchyard around an open grave. An ecclesiastic- evidently from his garb a Roman Catholic-was reading the office for the dead, and four other persons, two women and two men, stood beside him. One of the women was the next-door neighbour of the departed. She had done what she could for her during her illness, and now she came to pay her last tribute of loving-kind- ness by dropping a tear at her grave. The other woman was the house-keeper of the Independent Minister. One of the men present was obviously the grave-digger. The other was the Rev. David Gwyn, the Independent Minister at Llanelwid. He stood bareheaded at the open grave, the fine rain soaking his thin grey hair. Oblivious of his surroundings he paid no heed to the ministrations of the priest. The priest, with a sigh of relief, finished his office, and the sexton commenced to fill in the grave. At the rattle of earth falling, the minister bent forward to take a last look at the plain oak coffin which contained the earthly form of his first and only love. He read on the brass plate the words, "Norah O'Brien. Died Dec- ember 20, 1903. Aged 71." The minister's faded eyes filled with tears. He lingered wist- fully by the graveside. The wondering priest hastily withdrew, muttering that he had to catch a train. The house-keeper gently touched the minister on the arm. You had better come home, master bach," she said with a quiver of sympathy in her soft Cymric voice. "Yes, yes, Margaret," replied the minister absently, I shall go to her, but she shall not return to me." The venerable minister tottered, rather than walked, back to his lonely home. Margaret bustled about, insisting on his changing his damp clothes, making him a cup of tea, stirring up the bright study fire. But the minister remained sad and dejected. "At least" he said to himself with a sigh, I was able to save her from the workhouse and the shame of parish relief." Small comfort this, after all, to his anguished mind He took no notice of Margaret's affectionate services He drank his tea mech- anically, sunk in a great arm chair by the blazing fire. He stared at the glowing coals as if in them he could solve the problems of the past and the mysteries of the future. But he ended his reflections where he had begun them. He repeated the words he had used in the church- yard I shall go to her, but she shall not return to me." Margaret went out into the kitchen, shaking her head in dumb sympathy. She was the only person in the parish that even suspected the tragedy of the minister's life. The Rev. David Gwyn was alone in his simple little study. His lips moved in prayer. Oh Lord, Thou hast tried me long and sorely: Grant that my days of trial be now curtailed, and that I may soon rest by her side. My work is done. I have no more strength or desire to do aught in this world. May it please Thee, Lord, to let me lay down my burden and be at rest with her." He sat staring into the fire with glazed eyes. He lived his life over again. Had he ordered it aright ? He had sacrificed all that made life worth living over 40 years ago—at the bidding of Norah. She had never repented, or even repined. But the minister asked, in the bitter- ness of his soul, what had the sacrifice profited him ? His life was sterilised, and he now sat, alone and friendless, a poor shattered hulk, waiting to be towed into harbour. He saw himself as he was when he became minister of the Independent Chapel at Llanelwid in 1855. He remembered his zeal, his robust faith, his intolerance of evil or even of weakness. His training had been one-sided. He knew his Bible, but his acquaintance with secular history and philosophy-without which the Bible can never be fully understood-was of the slightest. He believed in the literal truth of every word to be found in the Authorised Version of the Canonical Scriptures, while he rejected the authority of the Councils which had decided upon the Canon Though so young-he was only 23-or perhaps because so young, he was a stern and unsympathetic disciplinarian. Woe to the back-slider in his flock He extended no mercy to the sinner who had deviated, however slightly, from the straight path. The austerity of his life was reflected in his sermons. The minister," said one of his deacons, gladly climbs the heights of Sinai, but never thinks of ascending the gentle slope of Calvary." Four years after the commencemerrt of his ministry, the great Revival broke out, and the Rev. David Gwyn became one of its most potent instruments. Not for him the gospel preached on the Mount, of the Prodigal Son, or the woman who was a sinner. He was a flaming sword that kept undefiled the gates of Paradise. Gifted with a vivid, if sombre, imagination, he terrorised sinners into repentance. Like a fiery meteor he flamed across the Welsh firmament, and became known from one end of Wales to the other as the Boanerges of the Revival. To such a man Popery was worse than Pagan- ism. The pagan might be reclaimed, but the papist was held fast in his pride. One Sunday evening in 1860, the Rev. David Gwyn preached an impassioned sermon on the "son of perdition," who, according to the Apostle, would be con- sumed by the Spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming." The preacher had no doubt that the Apostle was referring to the Pope, the Beast of the Revelations, the very Anti-Christ himself. He finished up by asking the congregation to pray for the conversion of the only Papist family in the parish, and promised to call at their cottage to try and win them into the light. Jerry O'Brien had been driven to settle in Llanelwid by the potato famine. He had crossed over from his native Cork to work at the harvest once or twice before the famine, and during his visits he had picked up a little Welsh. He was a decent, kindly man, and had been well treated at Llanelwid, as, indeed, he would have been anywhere. So, when the famine came, instead of emigrating to America, as most of his compatriots did, he settled down in the little rural parish in Carmarthenshire where he had no friends but many acquaintances. He brought with him his wife and three children, the eldest of whom was a bright-faced girl, named Norah. Jerry O'Brien was a pagan at heart, and, if left to himself, he would never have troubled the priest at Carmarthen, which was 25 miles away. But Norah, though only 18 when she settled in Llanelwid, was an ardent Catholic, and confessional and devotional exercises were essential to her well-being. It was she who insisted on a quarterly visit from the priest, to receive confessions and say Mass in Jerry's cottage. Jerry, good, easy man, let Norah have her own way, though, secretly, he would have been glad to be as other men in Llanelwid. The Rev. David Gwyn thought to have an easy victory when he called at Velindre, Jerry's cottage. He knew Jerry, and felt little doubt that he could bring him into the way. Jerry and his wife listened to the minister with un- feigned respect. They knew of his fame as a powerful preacher and a holy man, and they were inclined to look upon him, in a confused way, as a Welsh priest. But Norah proved to be the real obstacle. She strove hard with her parents, and she even argued with the minister. The Rev. David Gwyn called again and again. He determined to win Norah over to his view. He pleaded with her, he prayed for her. She was seldom out of his thoughts. In his dreams he saw her spiritual face, with its blue eyes fringed with dark lashes, crowned with its glossy coils of black hair. He played, all unconscious, with his fate for weeks, and then he was suddenly startled to discover that he was in love with Norah, the follower of the Anti- Christ For days after he had made the discovery he kept away from Velindre. He resolved to stamp out this unholy love. But he could neither work nor pray. The sweet, grey eyes and the pure face haunted his waking thoughts and his uneasy dreams. He was too distraught to com- pose a sermon, and he was aghast at the sterility of his spiritual experiences. He was humbled in the dust. He, the Boanerges of a few months ago, to be smitten to the ground by love of a Papist girl! It was intolerable. He would tear out this evil passion by the roots. After two or three weeks of futile struggle, he thought he saw light. What if Norah, when she knew of his great love, consented to re- nounce her errors ? Blessed thought! The Rev. David Gwyn lost no time to put it to the test. With heart aflame with love, with hope, with apprehension, he made for Velindre. Norah was sewing in the garden. A faint flush lit up her face when she saw the young minister. Ah, Norah" exclaimed the Rev. David Gwyn, I have been longing to see you for weeks, but I was afraid. I can wait no more- I must tell you I love you I have always loved you. I think I must have loved you from the first time I saw you. God forgive me, I have been coming here to talk to you, to see your dear face, while I pretended to try to convert your parents. Norah, I came because I loved you Norah's beautiful eyes dimmed, though she answered with a smile "And would you be after loving a Catholic, and you a Protestant Minister ?" But, Norah," exclaimed the minister eagerly, perhaps you could become a Protestant for my sake. Not all at once," he hastily added, seeing a startled look in Norah's eyes, not all at once, darling,-we could wait a year or two before we married-and by that time, you would see the light." "Never, never!" vehemently answered Norah. "What would you think of me if I gave up the true religion for you ? Sure, and you don't mean what you say." "Oh, Norah," broke out the poor minister can't you see that I cannot live without you?