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Oh, when I make my plea before our God,
But I shall boast, O Bride forever bright,
So when I make my boast before the throne,
But I shall name, O lyric Life, thy name;
P in the Welsh Mountains, hid away strangely lifted to the light, a young
Welsh lad played upon his harp, his lean, ley is the far-famed Fairy Glen. Here sensitive face responsive to every note, as the turbulent river Conway comes plung- his slender fingers unhesitatingly sought ing over resisting boulders and mossy the desired strings. stones to meet its brother river the Llugwy Attached to the shelter was a small box in the valley below. Each season hun- with the printed inscription, “Blind from dreds of tourists leave the highway to toil Childhood," and into this the chance up the wood-path for a glimpse of the passer-by, pausing involuntarily, dropped seething waters, the verdant forest, and his penny, and then passed on. the wildly picturesque Glen.
To the thoughtful it was evident that About half-way up the steep ascent the the green bower in the hillside, saturated traveler was wont to hear, above the dash- as it was with the sounds of falling waters, ing of falling waters, and the wind in the of bird songs, and the wistful strains of tree-tops, the deep vibrant notes of a harp. the harp, had acquired an atmosphere of Out of the wood it came, out of the dim, peace and depth, such as comes where a cool bowers that held their virgin solitude. lonely soul has lived and loved and sufAt first it seemed so much a part of the fered. voices of wind and water that one could When old Ivor Kyffin, the shepherd, scarcely be sure it was a human instru- was himself gathered into the fold, the litment; but gradually out of the harmony tle blind son, left alone in the rude stone came a faint melody, the plaintive notes cabin on the mountain, had been gladly of an old Welsh folk-song, sum and sub- adopted by the kindly village folk. The stance of the soil that gave it birth. ardent love and veneration of the Welsh
Presently the strains grew more insis- for poetry made them eagerly welcome the tent, and the traveler came upon a little little lad from the hills, who held within vine-clad shelter, like a sentinel's box, his frail body the priceless gift of song. standing beside the pathway. Sitting be- They ministered to his simple needs and fore it, his head thrown back, and a pair vied with each other in kindnesses, and in of luminous gray eyes confidently yet return Evan poured out his gift for them freely. In their times of sorrow, and laughter and lively chatter told him that times of glee at the Eisteddfods 1 and fu- a band of village boys and girls were on nerals it was his voice and harp that strove their way to a merrymaking over beyond earnestly to reflect the mood and express the Pont-y-Bryn. the emotions of the simple village folk. In an instant he was all eagerness to
But as he grew to manhood the desire go, as alert as a young hound who sees for independence woke within him, and his master start for the hunt. He rose he chafed at his inability to do his man's to put his harp under the shelter, but share in the work of the world. It was paused: the way was long and rough, and then that old Hugh Owen, the carpenter, the sudden fear of being a burden held built him the shelter in the wood, and him back. found the means for him to earn his daily “Give us a reel, Evan, lad !" called one bread.
of the boys as the noisy crowd trooped up For five long summers he sat playing the hillside. by the roadside, aware of the passing “We'll dance here on the turf, and feet but taking little heed of them, glad lighten our feet for the rest of the joursometimes of a child's laugh, or a word
ney." of passing cheer, but for the most part Evan once more drew forth his harp, completely absorbed in a world of his and struck up a lively air. As he played own.
he could hear the shuffling of feet on the He was a poet, and the song rose in grass, and the merry exclamations of the him as the sap rises in the young tree in dancers. His own foot tapped the time, the spring. Without color, or form, or and his body swayed, but he was not thinkvisible motion the earth was still beautiful ing of the dance. He was listening, as to him. He smiled out into the darkness, only the blind can listen, for the sound of and sang as the birds sing for very joy of one voice in the crowd, the voice of Gladliving.
dwyd Owen. As he sat there, day after day, in the Evan knew that where the jest was sunshine and the rain, with the music in merriest and the laughter the gayest, there his soul, something of the sweetness of the was Gladdwyd. He knew that her hand still wood, and the mystery of the sun- had been the first one claimed for the light became inwoven in his very being. dance, and that every boy in the village It was as if Nature played upon him, as sought her smile. He knew that for him he played upon his harp, tuning the subtle she was as some nymph in the wood of strings of his sensitive soul, making him whom he dreamed, some beautiful intangiresponsive to her moods and the moods of ble, elusive presence, that tormented and her children.
enchanted him. He knew above all that Without teachers, without guidance, he he was but Evan Kyffin the blind harper sought and found the highest life can give, in the wood, and yet he dreamed. in the silence of the wood, in the depths A fower was brushed across his cheek, of his own soul, and in the gentle human- as some one dropped breathlessly on the ity that lies in the hearts of men.
bench beside him. Yet a very human craving at last took “There 's hot I am!” exclaimed Gladpossession of him, a longing that would dwyd's voice, "I 'll dance no more. Let not be stilled.
me play, Evan!” As he sat one day in the warm luxury With mischievous fingers she swept the of the noonday sun, his hands dropped list- strings, and as she leaned past him, he lessly, and he sighed. Again and again he could feel her soft hair brush his face. had told himself that he must not dream “I wish thou wert going, Evan,” she of love, that he must only sing of it, and said impulsively as the dancing came to a know it through the joys of others, but he sudden end. “There's not one of us but had not counted on the possibility of a re- would guide thee, right willingly." bellious heart.
He smiled straight before him but shook Voices from the path below made him his head. quickly raise his head. The sound of "I'll keep to my harp, Gladdwyd. But 1 Eisteddfod ( literally “a sitting of learned men”) is the annual musical and literary festival, which
is a survival of the early triennial assemblies of the Welsh bards.
it will make the day less long to know the crumbs from the palm of his hand. thou wilt miss me."
He felt the sensitive quiver of the tiny "But thou 'lt wait for us, then, until body, and knew that the wings were poised we come back in the evening time?" for flight. It would go, as all else went,
Still Evan smiled. “I'll wait for thee, on, on, out into the great, free world, Gladdwyd,” he said.
leaving him there alone. When they were gone the wood seemed All afternoon he played patiently on. very still. He had held his breath to catch The passing of the minutes and the passevery word of the revelers until they were ing of the hours were one to him, except lost in the distance. Now he rose and where Gladdwyd was concerned. paced up and down the path, and the He waited for her now, playing softly, youth in him cried out in protest against lest he should fail to catch the first sound his blindness. He longed to run and leap of her voice. But no shouts and noisy and be free, free to see the world he lived chatter came to tell him of the return of in, free to live and love like other men. the merrymakers.
But even as these thoughts tormented The twilight twitter of the sleepy birds him, he lifted his head to breathe more as they settled down for the night, and fully the warm, scented air laden with the stirring of the leaves by the cool, evethe garnered treasure of wild flowers and ning breezes, might have warned Evan meadow grass, and to catch the elusive that the day was done. But Gladdwyd note of a distant unknown bird.
had bidden him wait and the hope of goHe dropped beside his harp and eagerlying down into the village, even that bit of sought to capture the strain. It was one a way, with the glad, noisy crowd, and of of his joys to think that he was giving ex- walking beside Gladdwyd, with her hand pression to the dumb things that could perhaps in his, made him straighten his not speak for themselves, that his harp tired shoulders, and Alex his cramped finspoke the meaning of the wind, the in- gers, and play patiently on. Hour after articulate song of the little nameless weeds hour he waited, while the evening dropped and grasses that strove vainly to lift their into night and darkness stole over the tiny voices. So ardently did he crave the world as it had long ago stolen over his power of sight, that his heart leaped forth sight. The dew fell upon the faces of the in instant sympathy to anything, animate upturned flowers, and a single star shone or inanimate, that could not hear, and out from the branches of a sentinel spruce, sing, and see.
but Evan could not hear the falling of the What would the vision be, he won- dew nor the dawning of the star, and it dered, could a flash of sight be given him? was still day to him until he should hear It was twenty years since he had seen the Gladdwyd's voice coming down the mounsun, and though memory treasured each tain side. shape and color that was left by the oblit- Wearier and wearier grew the waiting, erating years, yet he longed passionately and at last his fingers faltered on the for one moment of reassurance.
strings, and he sat with his head drooped As one lies in the darkness at night and against his harp, and his sightless eyes dreams of the coming light, so Evan sat in turned patiently toward the hillside. the darkness and dreamed of the light that Suddenly a faint cry made him turn his was gone.
head to listen. It was a cry he had often Again and again the sound of passing heard when a child, tending the sheep feet and the dropping of a penny in the with his father on the moors of Gallt-ybox told of the presence of a stranger, but Foel, the cry of a young lamb in distress. Evan played on, unaware of the world Placing his harp in the shelter and seizand of the flight of time. He was lifting ing his stick, he started valiantly up the up his heart to God, as a child brings its hill. The path going down to the village gift without explanation or apology, and he knew, as the chipmunk knows his, lays it in the lap of one it loves.
though it be covered with the leaves of After a time he opened his small lunch many autumns: he knew where the boughs basket, and ate his barley bread and cheese. bent over the pathway, how the rocks A thrush futtered to his knee, then hopped jutted out at the turn of the hill, and to the tips of his fingers, daintily picking when one must put a hand against the
cliff and walk close to the granite wall. above and, following the course of the But up above there, toward Fous Nod- stream, had been caught in the rocks. dum, where the footsteps were always go- “What a baich of fear thou art !” said ing, lay a strange, unknown world, and Evan as he knelt to release the captive, he must feel each step of the way and be and tenderly felt over its body to make guided by the cries of the lamb.
sure there were no broken bones.
'T was That the little creature had strayed and a narrow escape,” he added, “Didst think, was hurt was evident to him, and the indeed, thy hour was come?" cries, coming apparently from the same For answer the lamb shivered against spot, made it probable that it was caught his warm, dry coat and buried its head in the rocks and unable to free itself. beneath his arm.
At the top of the hill the path turns The retracing of his steps to the path sharply to the right and descends abruptly, was simple enough, but the ascent with by stepping-stones, around huge boulders his burden was not so easy. Twice on the and twisted tree trunks to the chasm be- way his sense of direction forsook him, low.
and it was some moments before he could Evan called out to see if, by chance, make sure of his way. there was any one in the ravine, but no When nearly to the top the lamb struganswer came. He paused irresolute. It gled in his arms, and Evan stopped. was a steep climb for one who could see, “Thou too!" he said, loosening his and for one who was blind it was fraught hold, and smiling wistfully, “thou wouldst with peril.
go on thy way, like all the rest, and leave The bleating of the lamb came to him
me!” above the roar of the waters, and the big The lamb leaped from his arms, and as heart of him and the strong hands of him Evan put forth a hand to steady himself went out instinctively to succor the help by the wall, the earth seemed suddenly to less.
crumble beneath his feet, and with a crash Dropping to his knees, he began labori- he plunged face downward over the edge ously crawling down from step to step, of the rocky path to the narrow ledge cautiously feeling each foot of the way, below. and pausing again and again to get his For seconds it may have been, or hours, direction from the cries below. The bram- he lay here before anxious voices, calling bles scratched his face, and the sharp peb- through the dusk of the wood, broke the bles cut his hands. Once the ground silence. crumbled beneath his foot, loosening a “Evan!" they called; “Evan!" and one boulder which went plunging from ledge among them more appealing than the rest, to ledge until it splashed in the water be- and coming nearer, “Evan, lad!” low.
He stirred, half conscious, and opened As the cries sounded nearer, the step- his eyes. It was the voice he had waited ping-stones ceased, and the path growing for these weary hours, but he could not wider, became less easy to define. It no remember whose it was. longer descended but seemed to run along Anxious and fearful it came again, on the edge of the stream, and Evan felt the the path directly above him. But the stones wet beneath his hands.
numbness closed upon him, before he Pausing uncertainly, he was aware of could answer. something struggling near-by.
“Evan!" it pleaded, and this time it Not daring to leave the path without a seemed to arouse his stupefied senses. guide, he felt along the bank until his Summoning all his strength he sent it hand touched a mass of trailing ivy. Ty into the one cry: "Gladdwyd !" ing several branches together he fashioned In a moment she had scrambled down a rope, which, secured to the bank at one the rocks and was on her knees beside him. end, and held by him at the other, served "Evan, lad! Evan! What has hapas a guiding line with which he fearlessly pened to thee? What art thou doing lying waded out into the shallow stream.
here in the dark?" A few steps brought him to the object "Is it dark?" he asked faintly, smilof his search. The lamb had evidentlying up into the night, and quieting her strayed into the Glen from the peat bog trembling hand in his as he had often