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quarrymen might erect houses on the land, and cultivate the gardens and improve the mountain, and treble its value. He asked for a nominal ground rent, knowing of course, that in the course of time, the land, the houses, the cultivated gardens, and all the improvements, would revert to the estate when the lease ran out. Thus was he able to enrich his family, and to make his son one of the wealthiest of British aristocrats, without risking a penny of his own money, nor troubling about the result. Talk of the sweating system! There is nothing in it to be compared with the mountain grabbing system of Welsh and English landlords, nor more iniquitous laws in all the world than the land laws of Britain.

The village grew. Sturdy quarrymen, masons, joiners, blacksmiths, worked hard for years to build it. Families lived in peace and prospered for a while. There was every indication of a prosperous community springing up around the mountain; and the landlord was congratulated on all hands. Chapels and churches were built, though the former outnumbered the more imposing churches; schools were established, and shopkeepers found it convenient to open stores in the main street. For forty years peace and harmony prevailed. Then the leases began to fall in, rents were raised, the people began to grumble, a coolness arose between those who attended chapel and those who worshipped in church. The chapel folk complained that the churchgoers were favored at the quarry, that

merit was disregarded, and men promoted more for attending church than for ability. The old squire had died; and his son ruled with an iron hand. All the quarry officials were the friends of the parson and the enemies of those who dared follow the dictates of their consciences by attending Nonconformist places of worship. Hatred, born of sectarian prejudices, begat discord and discontent among the employers, and evolved eventually into open friction.

The father of Idris Llwyd had been a staunch Nonconformist—an officer bearer in one of the chapels, a man whose integrity and belief were beyond doubt, and who had ingrained into his son principles, such as those which made Wales what it is to-day. He had died when the lad was barely able to work, leaving him to be breadwinner for the widowed mother and his younger brothers and sisters. They lived happily, though at first it was a bitter struggle to keep the wolf from the door. Many a time had old Betsan Llwyd wondered where the next meal would come from, and prayed to God for strength to help her. Yet they had never been in want-never hungered for bread; and now Idris had grown to be almost a man, and, with his brother, could take a "bargain" in the quarry, and work it equally as good as the best man there.

Idris obeyed the order as we have already seen. He entered the office with head erect, and faced the manager without fear.

"I hear," said the manager pom

pously, "that you are one of the discontents at the quarry; and that you are one of those who endeavor to create friction between the men and the officials."

"There is no truth in such an assertion," replied Idris fearlesssly; and he related exactly what had occurred.

"Davies is a bigger fool than I took him to be," observed the manager. "What does he want to pick quarrels with the men unnecessarily? You can go; but bear in mind that while I manage this quarry the officials are not to be interfered with. They must be obeyed."

"But, sir, it is the officials who create discord."

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"Nonsense; they simply discharge fod to be held in an adjoining viltheir duties."

"Is it their duty to threaten people, to carry tales to you, sir, to cheat the workmen of their hard earned wages, to taunt us, to favor those who cringe to them at the expense of those who are too straightforward to do so, and to lie about us?"

His eyes flashed fire as he spoke, his right arm kept accompaniment to his speech, his words flowed from the lips direct from the heart, and he was being carried away by that eloquence he had acquired in the "society" at the modest little chapel of week nights.

The manager stopped him and said:

"Beware, young man; such indictments as these must be proved." "I can prove them, sir, to the hilt."

"You are too excited just now.

lage on Christmas day. Prydderch had gathered around him all the local talent of the neighborhood; and the choir had a reputation for miles around. Prydderch was a model conductor. He had led his choir to victory a dozen times; and possessed more Eisteddfodau trophies in the form of prize bags with silk ribbons, silver medals and gold mounted batons than any other conductor in the country; and he had even once competed at the Nationa Eisteddfod and secured a second place for his choir. Had it not been for the fact that the adjudicator was related by marriage to the uncle of the other choir leader's wife, some people said Prydderch would have won hands down.

Be that as it may, there was no denying the fact that Llechigleision United Choir was excellent. The quality of the voices was rich, and

everybody admitted it. Like a wise conductor, Prydderch knew no difference at rehearsals between the steward's son and the poor "rybelwr," nor between the vicar's daughter and the girl whose mother cleaned the chapel, provided they attended regularly and practiced singing at home and did not gossip when they should attend to the wielding of the baton and his advice as to the rapidity with which the piece was to be rendered. In the choir there was no difference of creed, of sect, of politics, nor of social standing. All were of an equality; and it is this commendable feature which ⚫ has saved Wales's noblest institution from passing away.

Practice was over at last; and the lads and the lasses wended their way homeward in couples. It was "Nos Calangauaf "-All Hallows Evewhen witches were to be seen on every stile, when Young Wales made merry. Idris had forgotten,

for once, the incident at the quarry earlier in the day, and thought only of the enjoyment of the hour.

It was a fine moonlight night— just the evening for a long ramble. As yet he had not thought much of marrying, not because he was too young, for many of his comrades at the quarry younger than he were already mated. Such is the foolish custom in some parts of industrial Wales. Young men and maidens. marry before they are out of their teens, thinking but little of the responsibilities of wedlock. Idris had a happy comfortable home, a fond mother and her care, but even he

was beginning to think he was old enough to commence lovemaking. No girl had yet attracted him as had young Mary Price, the rector's daughter. She was a bright, merry, winsome lass, with a wealth of golden hair hanging in clustering curls. over her shapely shoulders, and falling in careless disorder down her back. The village gossips coupled her name with young Ivor Davies, the steward's son, for had he not been seen with her more than once walking arm in arm on the banks of the river?

Ivor had been to the rehearsal; he possessed a capital tenor voice, and Mary led the sopranos. As the company marched out of the dusty old schoolroom, Ivor made towards her intending as usual to escort her home, but she turned from him with a proud toss of the head, and a scornful look on her face.

"I can walk home alone, thank you, Mr. Davies," she said. "Perhaps the manager's daughter wants company."

Mary had heard on her way to the rehearsal that Ivor had been at Brynonen the day previous; and intended letting her lover know that she resented his fickleness.

Evidently, he cared little for her indignation for he forthwith turned round and said,

"Very well, Miss Proud, I'll just go and see."

He went; and Mary started homewards. Idris had been a witness to the short passage of arms, and, seizing the opportunity walked briskly up the lane, overtaking Mary Price

before she had gone far. Their way homewards lay in the same direction, and she did not consider it ungentlemanly nor presumptuous on his part to accompany her. They had known each other from childhood, and had been at all times on friendly terms, but no words of love had passed between them. Indeed, Mary had always regarded Idris as a "very decent fellow," a little ignorant, perhaps, but that was due to his lack of opportunities. She took a friendly interest in him and his mother, but she never regarded him as a possible lover.

But

Nor did Idris until this night. He had regarded Mary as in a circle outside his own, a lovely maid, who would some day adorn some mansion as its mistress perhaps. to-night he felt differently. He could not explain why. She linked her arm in his, and they walked homewards side by side, conversing about the singing and the probable chances of winning at the Eisteddfod, until they reached the little wicket gate of Idris's home. It was his intention, of course, to proceed as far as the Rectory with her, but for some unexplained reason they stopped by the gate.

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chair by the side of the hearth, busily knitting with her hands while a large-print family Bible lay open on the well scrubled round table at her elbow. The kettle sang merrily on a bright fire. The stone-flagged floor had been beautifully chalked, and the oak furniture and the fire irons were bright and spotless.

It was a cosy old kitchen; it had no carpets, nor was it painted; but it was homely and comfortable. A framed sampler with a Scriptural text hung over the fireplace; and on each side there were pictures of Biblical scenes, crude enough, and cheap enough in all conscience, but yet useful as means of illustrating Scriptural history to the children. On another wall there were oil paintings of old Betsan and her dead husband in gilt frames, taken when they were in the prime of life, and another old photograph of the children when they wore short frocks. The oak dresser occupied the other side of the room; and the crockery glistened in the bright light of the fire.

"Come in, my girl; come in and warm," said the old dame heartily. when she saw Mary standing by the door. "Come, I am sure you must

feel cold."

Mary advanced a few steps, whilst Betsan, putting down her knitting, fetched a chair for her, and with her apron brushing off an imaginary speck of dust, bade her sit down.

"No, Betsan Llwyd; I shall not remain. I simply dropped in with Idris to let you know he is coming home with me to-night. Nos Cal

angauaf, you know. He is going to stay to supper with us; and will not be home till late."

"Dear, dear; well you are kind Miss Price. Yes, indeed, now. Who would have thought."

"It isn't kindness at all. It's simply friendliness. We shall be very glad of his company, and my father will be delighted, I am sure."

"Thank you so much for him, Miss Price. But, indeed, now, he ought to put on his Sunday clothes. You'll be having fine company."

The girl laughed heartily, and said, "Not a bit of it. Just a few friends, you know. But we must

not stay here too long."

Idris, meanwhile, had been standing by the door watching intently the girl's face, and admiring her as she talked with his mother, but not venturing a remark of his own. they started out again, old Betsan came to the door saying,

As

"Good night, Miss Price, and thank you so much. Idris, mind you don't stay too late."

When they reached the Rectory, the welcome Idris received was warm and cordial. After supper there were some songs and story telling, and then the inevitable diving after apples in the tub of water in the kitchen. The fun lasted for a couple of hours. Then there were some more tales of ghosts and Tylwyth Teg, and a few more songs, the evening being wound up by the cracking and burning of nuts.

Idris was delighted. This was his first visit to the Rectory, and he never thought he could make him

self so much at home; but then there was Mary, who seemed ever so much bonnier, and handsomer, and merrier at her own fireside than he had seen her before. She seemed to be here, there and everywhere, endeavoring to make each one hap-py; and his love towards her, which until now had laid dormant, broke out into a flame.

"What luck with the nuts, father," she asked, and threw one into the blazing fire. It crackled immediately, and a piece of the shell jumped out of the fire and settled on Idris's knee.

"That points out your future husband," replied her father with a smile; while Mary blushed crimson, and Idris became fidgetty and uncomfortable.

"You throw in a nut, Idris," said Mrs. Price, "and see if the tradition is true."

Idris took a nut from Mary's hand, his own trembling nervously. and threw it in. No; it did not crackle. It turned red in the fire and burnt up-a sure sign of bad luck.

The lad was superstitious, as were most people in Wales those days; and in this he saw a sign of coming trouble. His cheerfulness gave way to sadness, and his heart was heavy.

"Don't take on so, my lad," said the kind old rector. "It's only a silly old superstition. What bad luck can come to a young fellow like you, who has always done his duty?"

"Of course," Mary added: "there's nothing in it, any more than there

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