Chapter 1

The Spirit Of The Mountains

by Alan Lorrimer-Riley

This is a truly beautiful place!’ thought Wil, as he stood in his favourite spot. He leant against the great, dark grey, lichen-covered rock by the bend in the Afon Glaslyn, which was not always as soft flowing as it was on that day. ‘On a fine spring morning, surely there can be no more beautiful place in the whole world!’

Not that Wil had seen the whole world. In fact, he had not travelled very far from Nant Gwynant, where he was born and bred. But, as he stood there with eyes half shut, and a smile on his lips, breathing in the warm, mountain air, and listening to the myriad songs of the birds and the gentle gurgle of the river, it would have been hard to disagree with him, however much of the world you had seen.

In his 92 years, there had been very few days when he had not stood at this spot – watching over the sheep; sheltering from the wind and rain and snow; travelling  through the valley on his way to chapel; playing Hide and Seek as a child, and with his own children; stealing a first kiss from his beloved Bronwen. And, on many occasions, he just stood looking at the mountains.

The good memories flowed through him. As he stood and looked and thought, he remembered. He’d had a wonderful life.

Tramping the mountains with his father, one of the finest shepherds in North Wales; listening to his wise words; sharing his great doorstep sandwiches; and knowing he was loved by this great, rough bear of a man.

Sitting at the great wooden farmhouse kitchen table with his mother; watching her cooking, and licking out the bowl after she had made one of her delicious loaves of bara brith.

His life with Bronwen, the births of their five children – four boys and one girl, and passing on his words of wisdom to them.

As his mind wandered around the past, it might as well have been yesterday, the first time he had really noticed Bronwen. Of course, she had been there forever, the plump little dark-haired girl from the neighbouring farm. But, on that Sunday morning in the preaching service, he suddenly realised that she had become a woman. He couldn’t remember anything about the service that day, because he couldn’t take his eyes – or his thoughts – off this vision.  He noticed her raven-black hair cascading down about her shoulders; her skin, so smooth and delicate, and yet the skin of an outdoors woman – a farmer’s daughter. He noticed her slender neck, her soft, long eyelashes, and her full red lips. And he decided there and then that she would be his bride.

After the service he told his best friend, Rhun, ‘One day I’m going to marry Bronwen. She’s beautiful.’

Rhun looked at him pityingly. ‘You have no chance, Wil, she is promised to Richard Evans from “The Big House”. Why would she be interested in a poor shepherd’s son?’ and he went off chuckling and shaking his head.

‘She will be mine!’ shouted Wil.

He smiled as he remembered his own foolishness. He praised God for Bronwen’s rebellious streak which meant that, when decision time came, she made up her own mind.

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