‘Ah!’ said I, ’there falls the cedar tree—I mean the sallow; one of the tall trees on the outside of the dingle has been snapped short.’
‘What a pity,’ said Belle, ’that the fine old oak, which you saw the peasants cutting up, gave way the other night, when scarcely a breath of air was stirring; how much better to have fallen in a storm like this, the fiercest I remember.’
‘I don’t think so,’ said I; ’after braving a thousand tempests, it was meeter for it to fall of itself than to be vanquished at last. But to return to Ab Gwilym’s poetry: he was above culling dainty words, and spoke boldly his mind on all subjects. Enraged with the thunder for parting him and Morfydd, he says, at the conclusion of his ode,
’My curse, O Thunder, cling
For parting my dear pearl and me!’
’You and I shall part, that is, I shall go to my tent, if you persist in repeating from him. The man must have been a savage. A poor wood-pigeon has fallen dead.’
‘Yes,’ said I, ’there he lies, just outside the tent; often have I listened to his note when alone in this wilderness. So you do not like Ab Gwilym; what say you to old Gothe?—
’Mist shrouds the night, and
Hear, in the woods, what an awful crack!
Wildly the owls are flitting,
Hark to the pillars splitting
Of palaces verdant ever,
The branches quiver and sever,
The mighty stems are creaking,
The poor roots breaking and shrieking,
In wild mixt ruin down dashing,
O’er one another they’re crashing;
Whilst ’midst the rocks so hoary
Whirlwinds hurry and worry.
Hear’st not, sister—’
‘Hark!’ said Belle, ‘hark!’
’Hear’st not, sister,
‘No,’ said Belle, ‘but I hear a voice.’
A shout—A fireball—See to the horses—Passing away—Gap in the hedge—On three wheels—Why do you stop?—No craven heart—The cordial—Across the country—Small bags.
I listened attentively, but I could hear nothing but the loud clashing of branches, the pattering of rain, and the muttered growl of thunder. I was about to tell Belle that she must have been mistaken, when I heard a shout—indistinct, it is true, owing to the noises aforesaid—from some part of the field above the dingle. ‘I will soon see what’s the matter,’ said I to Belle, starting up. ‘I will go too;’ said the girl. ’Stay where you are,’ said I; ‘if I need you, I will call’; and, without waiting for any answer, I hurried to the mouth of the dingle. I was about a few yards only from the top of the ascent, when I beheld a blaze of light, from whence I knew not; the next moment there was a loud crash, and I appeared involved in a cloud of sulphurous smoke. ’Lord have mercy upon us!’ I heard a voice say, and methought I heard the plunging and struggling of horses.