Welsh Journals

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WALES. Vol. IV.] JUNE, 1897. [No. 38. A PEMBROKESHIRE COWARD. By J. Rogebs Eees. Author of In the Study and the Fields, etc. SUMMER morning's walk from Haverford¬ west will bring one to the inland ridge known as Plumstone Mountain, with Roch Castle standing in ruins on the rocks at its south-western extremity. The castle, as we first come in sight of it, gives no adequate im¬ pression of its importance; but a closer examin¬ ation shows that at one time it was a stronghold of no mean consideration. The surrounding panorama of land and water must have made it a pleasant place to dwell in, before ruin gat hold of it and dragged down its walls, nigh six feet thick. Looking up at the remains of its oriel windows, one wonders which gave light, in the long ago, to the cowardly crusader who locked himself up through fear of vipers. At the time Thomas de la Roche, the subsequent crusader,—not to be confounded with Thomas, the last of the name,— became possessed of the place, the Roche blood had somehow got considerably watered, with the result that cowardice filled his craven soul, instead of the noble bravery which for generations had dis¬ tinguished his race. This Thomas knew The Welsh Coast. he was a coward; and he also knew that the men with whom he mixed on terms of social equality were equally well acquainted with the fact. He could see that even his wife, whose pursuits were by no means those of a strong-minded woman,—her principal occupation being the making of tapestry and embroidery,— looked upon him as one to be guided and helped in all matters calling for prompt decision or action. One morning he awoke to a particularly painful realization of his position as a coward. In his dreams of the night he had, somehow, turned in upon himself, and, by some cruel fate, had seen himself as others saw him. This annoyed him, as the noon-sun does a sleeping infant; the light was too fierce. So, strange to say, he did the first thing that suggested itself ; he sent for old Gwen Ferris, the wise woman, told her what he thought of himself, and asked her if it were true. For answer she bluntly gave him " Yes ;" for she also looked scornfully on her lord, who had such a miserably puny soul. But the man was awake; and, seeing his weakness, he craved her assistance and support. He was as a bent reed blown against an old wall. The heart of the woman melted at the self-abasement of the lord of Roch Castle, and she strove to arouse in him a resolution to live as a man lives. " Unfurl thy flag, turn thy face to the east, and as a crusader show men that thou also art a man. And when thy work is done, return; and, as brave Sir Thomas, men will bend to thee, and thou shalt indeed be our lord," 11 121