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A fragment: UDM: Master Rhys: Autumn in Wales - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
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A fragment: UDM: Master Rhys: Autumn in Wales

 

 

Llanfrynach slept in the sun, beside Afon Wysg in the fat vale of Usk, that suntrap formed by the mountains to either side; Llanfrynach slept, dozing in the warmth, with the very church tower of St Brynach’s seeming huddled in upon itself for a long drowse.  The River sprawled in the vale, somnolent and at ease, and the Monmouthshire and Brecknock Canal made its way past the town at the grave and solemn pace that canals adopt; even the high-born tributary of Usk, the Nant Menascin, had cast off its youthful fleetness as it flowed through the village to the River, keeping to a more calm gait like a schoolboy reined in from his usual pelting by the presence of a master.  Above the village and the vale, Bryn and Allt Ddu of the Brecon Beacons gazed down; and beyond the meanders of the River Usk, the western scarp of the Black Mountains and the foothills of the Mynydd Epynt, Mynydd Troed and Mynydd Llan-gors, returned their steady gaze, the sudden ridge of Allt yr Esgair erupting between the river and the hidden secret of Llangorse Lake, which it hid, the secret-keeper of the Lake. The ancient pattern of hill and ridge and shallow valley tilting down to the vale repeated itself on every hand, like the incised patterns in a Norman church, like canon and fugue, like life itself.  The high slopes were clad in their baize greens of turf and their brass-burnished heather and gorse, that was half-autumnal even in Springtide, punctuated with the changeless deep, dull green of resinous conifer. 


Further up the River Usk, where Honddu and Tarell join their waters to Afon Wysg, Rome had been, where the fort of Brecon Gaer had stood sentinel to the Roman road that forded Usk on its legionary march from Fforest Fawr to mid-Wales and beyond, even unto Kenchester; and there stood Aberhonddu, the town of Brecon, ancient caput of the Vale, sending its influence down upon the waters to sleeping Llanfrynach, as it has done since the time of the legions, when near Llanfrynach was the grand villa at Maesderwen, west of Llanfrynach between Nant Menascin and the running Afon Cynrig.


Here it was in Llanfrynach that Rhys Jones-Morgan, Muggle-born Ravenclaw, foster-son to Draco and Harry, had spent the first eight years of his life.  They had been troubled years, overshadowed by his outbursts of accidental magic, and by the resulting well-meant but damaging care of Muggle specialists,
the length of his family’s purse paradoxically exposing him to greater harm than would have befallen a poorer child, as his parents could afford correspondingly more intensive, invasive, and incessant ‘care’ – all of it, naturally, if unintentionally, harmful.  But they had also been years of kinder moments, in the pacific vale, his father commuting only a few days a week to look after his interests in Brecon and in Hay-on-Wye, where he owned an antiquarian press and bookseller’s and, in Brecon, had his hand in numerous schemes for relieving tourists and trippers of their money, quaintly, whilst Mrs Jones-Morgan had been an anything but silent partner in a working farm, rather preciously ‘traditional’ (‘artisanal cheeses, darling, and hand-spun woollens, you know’), that doubled as a bed-and-breakfast for the anoraked walkers of the Park: the both of them, with Master Rhys, living quite comfortably off the Englishman’s pound and the enthusiasm of conscientiously Wordsworthian hikers.  It had been here, also, that Master Rhys had at first encouraged his parents, right-thinking advocates of cultural diversity and the return to the land, by learning Welsh as well as English and interesting himself in rural pursuits with the other lads of the district ’round the village – and then horrified them by his indiscriminate usage of Welsh and Wenglish, both of the region and taken up with childhood’s mimicry from outsiders, in place of their careful professional English, delighting as children do delight in wrong-footing their elders and preceptors.


Llanfrynach slumbered in the late-Summer sun.  The Jones-Morgans, Owain and Margot, drowsed with it, sun-drunk and sleepy. 


Then the late-Summer skies were cleaved by a skein of geese, early harbingers of the coming Autumn: the red-eared white hounds of the Celtic soul harrying the spirits of the dead, racing north-eastwards from Pen-y-Fan.  Their cries rang faintly like the clamour of a pack from fields away, far from the fields we know, and the cloven air closed behind them as they vanished beyond Allt yr Esgair and the ancient hill-fort upon it, whose ramparts once knew the tread of men who believed in the omen of the geese, before St Illtud and all the Welsh saints came to lighten their darkness with truth. 


The geese had banked, turning there over the floodplain of Usk, slipping around the guardian flank of Allt yr Esgair, passing over St Illtud’s hermitage in the long barrow of Tŷ Elltud: bound with passionate longing for the waters and reeds of
Llangorse Lake, Lake Syfaddan, that place of ancient mystery.  The ice had carved it, long ago, and men with ties to green Ireland had built there the only crannog, the only artificial island, in all of Wales: Ynys Bwlc.  There, say Muggle historians and archæologists, the power of Brycheiniog had its seat, and there were the verses of the Canu Llywarch Hen set down.  But the people of the villages preserve the tale, long antedating the Muggle rediscovery of the crannog’s remains, that a great city was there upon a time, and was cast down beneath the waters, for its wicked princess had agreed to wed a poor suitor only if he brought her wealth, although wealth she had already and in abundance; and for her sake he murdered a rich merchant for his money, but did not live to possess her long, for the ghost of that merchant raised a terrific storm of vengeance and cast the kingdom into ruin, drowning its shattered city and all its royal pretensions.


As Llanfrynach slept in the sun of late Summer, Master Rhys gazed at the illimitable Welsh sky, too young and full of life to sleep with the drowsing afternoon village.  Another skein of fowl passed overhead, crying out the tidings, promising an end to Summer’s stasis, promising Autumn.


Autumn in
Wales, o Autumn in Wales, thought Rhys, quivering with excited hope.  Wild days, wild winds, the wild weather of Wild Wales!  The autumnal rubescence of still ruddier slopes, the reds of sunset after a day of storms, red kites stooping upon red grouse from a clean-washed sky, the redness of the ling answering the red sandstone of farm and barn, or perhaps dusted by the earliest snows like lime-wash on those sandstone structures.  O Autumn, he thought, Autumn in Wales!  Sere leaves and blazing, tumbling through skies, sticking wetly to ancient stone on days of rain only to be whirled away again by driving wind, and the wet laving the split-stone roofs to brilliance against the darkling sky!


And best of all, perhaps, Autumn at Plas Rhaeadr, hidden away from Muggle eyes in the Brecon Beacons, beside and behind its namesake waterfalls, thrumming like a harp-string to the elements, ancient and earthy, comfortable yet capable of grandeur, a mage’s manor, Welsh in every fibre.  Plas Rhaeadr, like Giraldus Cambrensis’s Llan-ddew
‘a place of dignity, but no great omen of future pomp or riches; and possessing a small residence … well adapted to literary pursuits, and to the contemplation of eternity.’  Plas Rhaeadr and his parents, Owain and Margot, and his foster-fathers Harry and Draco, and the nexus of connexions that Harry as much as he joyed in discovering, through Lily Evans’s blood, a web of kinship and affection that reached from beyond Brecon Aberhonddu all the way down to sweet, gentle Cowbridge, Y Bont-faen, in the Vale of Glamorgan, hard by the lands that Helga once knew: Joneses and Morgans and Evanses, yes, but, such being the old Welsh way, others joined in blood and not in name, Williamses and Davieses – cousin Roger, for one – and Lloyds and Hugheses, Vaughans and Watkynses, Dawdys – not the Norfolk lot nor the Irish, but Hywel Dawdy’s line – and Dees, Howells and Powells, Pryces and Proberts. Llewellyns and Griffiths, Harrieses from Cwrt-y-cadno, physicians and Cunning Men from time out of mind.


There would be cawl and tatws rhost, salmon brought in and sewin fresh caught, all in green-butter or in herb sauce, lamb and leeks, bara brith and teisin, and much merriment, and then, o! and then, Autumn in Wales, blest Autumn in Wales, then would the company gather and the triple harp and the fiddle and the pibgorn come out, and far into the night the noson lawen would go on, and the full-throated singing, ‘David of the White Rock’ – Dafydd Y Gareg Wen – and ‘The Lady of Sker’ – Y Ferch O’r Scer; ‘Taliesin’s Prophecy’, ‘Men of Harlech’, and at the last, ‘Suo Gan’ for lullaby, singing, ever singing, deep in the Brecon night, in the heart of Wales, in the heart of the Land of Song.

_____________________

Master Rhys was far more a Welsh Wizard than ever had been David Lloyd-George, and as he watched the geese tear the firmament in twain, could say with far more truth than that politician, and not in answer to a charge of corrupt treachery, ‘God knows how dear to me is my Wales’, and he did say that, in his fiercely Welsh heart, even as he prayed, Autumn in Wales, o Autumn in Wales, God send us soon our blest Autumn in Wales.

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From: (Anonymous) Date: February 9th, 2007 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hywel Dawdy

Who was he? Fictitous or real person.
Dawdys in Canada and United States have a Howel/Hoel Dawdy ancestor who some say was born in Wales 1740s. Might there be a connection?
Just wondering.
Joan Dawdy at joannaliddy@hotmail.com
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