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--STORIES OF WALES.
STORIES OF WALES. BY W. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS, Author of\" Gzvilym a Benni Bach" "Gwr y Dolau," &c. I VII.-LOVE AND RIVALRY. [Copyright 1905 by W. Llewelyn Williams in the United States of America.] I give thee all—I can no more, Tho' poor the offering be My heart and lute are all the store That I can bring to thee. —Kemble Howell Williams was our show figure in Llanelwid. He was a freeholder,-no small distinction in a parish of peasants,he was re- puted to be rich, he was young and good-looking, but, more than all, he was a Bard. He had been admitted into the magic circle of the Gorsedd while still in his teens, and he had captured prize after prize in the local Eistedd- fodau. Several of his productions had appeared in all the glory of print in the Poets' Corner of our local weekly, and the whole parish basked in the reflected glory of Hywel Elwid,-as he was known among the Olympians. At first there were some who disputed his genius, because he was a teetotaller. The simple folk of Llanelwid had always believed that drink and genius were allied. If you disputed their opinion, they pointed out that the cleverest doctors were hard drinkers, that Jones of Llanelwid, the most promising preacher of his age, was excommuni- cated for drunkenness, and that the late Llew Towy, who had won the prize for an englyn on "The Spider at the National Eisteddfod, had fallen an early victim to drink. But Hywel Elwid marked out a line for himself. He was an ardent Temperance orator as well as a Bard, and his continued success convinced his neigh- bours at last that great wits need not always be near allied to drink. The Bard was an object of much interest to every lass in the parish, and all the more because he had never been known to cast an eye of favour on any of the fair sex. Great, therefore, was the surprise and consternation of all when it became known that Howell was engaged to be married to Gwen Davies, of Deri Moelon. Gwen was universally liked, it is true, but then Gwen had neither wealth, nor beauty, nor the gift of sprightly talk. Worse than all, she was always plainly, even dowdily, dressed. What on earth possessed Howell to fall in love with a little chit like Gwen, whose only gift was that of silence, and whose only "point" was a pair of brilliant black eyes. But there was no doubt about it,- Howell was head over ears in love. Hours every week would he spend in her company, talking about himself, his literary ambitions, and his future; and Gwen would sit listening in silent sympathy, her great eyes aglow with tender love and admiration. There was one aspiration, however, which Howell did not confide even to the sympathetic Gwen. A Provincial Eisteddfod was going to be held at Carmarthen in the summer, which would be second only in importance to the National Eisteddfod. One of the chief literary prizes was offered for a poem dealing with the Romance of the Van Lake,-with Rhiwallon, who mated with an immortal. Howell felt that, being in love himself, he was in a fit mood to treat the tender subject. But he never breathed a word, even to Gwen, of his hopes. He dili- gently read his Dafydd ap Gwilym and his Ceiriog and Glasynys. and all the Bards who had trodden the path of poesy before him. His happiest hours were those in which he read or recited to Gwen some of the love poems of Dafydd, or the trials of Myfanwy Fychan of Castell Bran. And Gwen made an admirable listener. She never interrupted the flow of talk and poetry, she eagerly drank in the divine stream, and often had her heart fluttered when Howell, in his fine, resonant voice, would repeat old Dafydd's splendid compliment to his Morfudd When Gwen and I are forced appart, My Muse grows cold and coy, I love no more the sun's sweet rays Nor know a Poet's joy, My very soul takes wing and flies, All witless am I then, I am no Bard, I am no man, When I have lost my Gwen. But with my Gwen I am all heart, My verse inspired flows, My Muse refreshed as with new wine No halting barrier knows. And she quite agreed with Howell that no Bard had ever written aught worth remembering except when touched with the fire of love. At last Howell had finished and dispatched his Rhiangerdd-his love-poem—which he believed in his heart would place him by the side of the Immortals. The Eisteddfod day was close at hand, and he determined to take Gwen with him to be the eye-witness of his triumph. His success should come as a pleasant surprise to her. He pictured to himself how her sweet face would flush and how her bright eyes would sparkle as he marched back from the platform with the prize-bag round his neck. And in the evening, by the cosy fireside of Deri Moelon, he would recite the passionate verses that Rhiwallon sent to his love, and tell her that all -all was due to her, to his dear little Gwen, his sweetheart and his queen. How Gwen's heart fluttered when Howell asked her to accompany him to the Eisteddfod She had long meant to go, but to go with Howell was a greater happiness than she had dared dream of. For Gwen had her little secret also. She admitted to herself, in all humility, that she was no fit mate for Howell, the radiant Bard of Llanelwid. What had she to offer him for all the treasures of love that he lavished on her ? He was so good, so clever, so masterful,—and she was the only child of a poor widow Gwen had thought out a way in which she might give Howell cause to be proud of her. He was a great poet,—potentially the greatest poet in Wales; she would also try and win a prize at an Eisteddfod. Not that she could write the difficult Odes that Howell could, she felt she could never master the intricacies of the 24 metres of Welsh poetry. But if she could only win a prize for a simple little love-poem, how proud would Howell be of her How she would love to go to the village with him and show the girls that, tho' she was not worthy of Howell's condescension, at least she was a more equal mate than they And so she had written a poem also for the competition, dealing with the love of Rhiwallon and his Lady of the Lake. She was too shy to say a word about it to anyone,still less to Howell. She felt that he would only laugh at her but if she could only write her poem in secret and astonish Howell and the whole parish by carrying off the prize, it would be simply heavenly She vowed that if she succeeded, she would lay her little tribute at Howell's feet and say, "I did it, Howell, for love of thee." On the morning of the Eisteddfod the two set out together, as blithe and happy a pair of lovers as Arcadia ever saw. Gwen was so excited that she hardly noticed what happened on their journey in the crowded train. She took no heed of the chaffing remarks of their acquaintances she only knew she was by Howell's side on the way to the Eisteddfod. When they reached the Pavilion, they found it crowded with the usual throng—great choral associations "from the works," congregational choirs from the hill-sides, and a fair sprinkling of Druids, and Bards, and Ovates: It was an ideal Eisteddfod day, and the world seemed all fair and smiling to Howell and his Gwen. At noon the adjudication on the love-poem came to be read by Professor Edwards--one of the new school of Welsh poets, who was celebrated for his pungent criticism no less than for his pro- found acquaintance with Welsh poetry. Un wyf pan bwyf hel) Wen Afrywiog heb fawr Awen, Ag ernych tost i'm gornwyl 0 flaen neb aflawen wyf, Heb gof, heb ynof enaid, Na rhith o'r synwyr fo l'haid, Gyda Gwen wy'n ddibenyd, Gwna hon fi'n galon i gyd, A'm can yn rhedeg i'm cof Yn winaidd awen ynof. The Professor had no difficulty in holding the attention of his audience while he descanted on the merits and demerits of the nine poems that had been submitted to him. Most of them he dismissed with easy scorn. He roasted the poor literary martyrs with the glee of a Torquemada. There were only two of the nine compositions, it seemed, that possessed any value at all- those bearing the names of "Hywel" and "Myfanwy." Of "Hywel's" poem (which indeed was the production of our hero) he spoke in high terms. It was an excellent piece of work, he said andr if it had been the only one sent in, he would have gladly awarded the prize to it. The author was evidently skilled in the metres', well versed in Welsh literature, and expert in the use of his pen. Here and there, it is true, he imitated the immortals too closely; sometimes there was more than an echo of Dafydd or Ceiriog in his phrases and the poem was perhaps too con- ventional in the treatment of the story. Rhiw- allon was somewhat too priggish and didactic, and the lady was too formless and colourless to make a satisfactory heroine. Still, the poem showed taste and literary finish of a high order. Not often, even in a National Eisteddfod, had he come across a more satisfactory and scholarly piece of work. Hywel Elwid" listened to the alternate praise and blame with a flushed face. Once or twice he almost betrayed his identity to Gwen, who was listening in intense excitement at his side. Did she suspect that he was Hywel ? He dismissed the thought, and determined lie would not tell her yet. He would keep the secret till a later hour, when the edge was off his disappointment. The Professor went on with his adjudication. -11 congratulate the Eisteddfod," he said in his sonorous Welsh, on the poem by Myfanwy. It is evidently the work of a novice. Sometimes the rhyme is faulty, the rhythm uneven. But it is imbued with a glow of passion, that is, as a rule, absent from such compositions. It is the outpouring of a woman's heart, the unconscious, story of her complete surrender to hl r love. Rhiwallon is her hero and her god. The Lady of the Lake, immortal tho' she be, is as dross compared with the manly perfection of Rhiwallon. All that she sacrifices for him is nought by the side of the golden kingdom she inherits thro' his love. Not since the days when 'burning Sapphoi loved and sang' have we had such a revelation of a woman's heart. Criticism I have none to offer. I can only say that Myfanwy is the greatest poetess that Wales has ever produced." Loud was the applause when, the Professor