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In consequence of this custom the Sunday before Easter was called in Wales “Flowering Sunday," and was looked forward to by most families as an event of special interest, and by children as quite a festival. It is always a pretty sight when even a grave here and there is nicely adorned with fresh flowers, but when a whole churchyard is so decorated, at least as regards all but the oldest tombs, it becomes really beautiful. The long procession during the morning of women and children carrying baskets of flowers, and coming in from various directions, often from many miles distant, adds greatly to the interest of the scene. This custom seems to be one of the expressions of the idealism and poetry characteristic of most Celtic peoples.
USK : MY EARLIEST MEMORIES
My earliest recollections are of myself as a little boy in short frocks and with bare arms and legs, playing with my brother and sisters, or sitting in my mother's lap or on a footstool listening to stories, of which some fairy-tales, especially “ Jack the Giant-Killer," " Little Red Riding Hood," and " Jack and the Beanstalk," seem to live in my memory; and of a more realistic kind, “Sandford and Merton," which perhaps impressed me even more deeply than any. I clearly remember the little house and the room we chiefly occupied, with a French window opening to the garden, a steep wooded bank on the right, the road, river, and distant low hills to the left. The house itself was built close under this bank, which was quite rocky in places, and a little back yard between the kitchen and a steep bit of rock has always been clearly pictured before me as being the scene of my earliest attempt to try an experiment, and its complete failure. “ Æsop's Fables" were often read to me, and that of the fox which was thirsty and found a pitcher with a little water in the bottom but with the opening too small for its mouth to reach it, and of the way in which it made the water rise to the top by dropping pebbles into it, puzzled me greatly. It seemed quite like magic. So one day, finding a jar or bucket standing in the yard, I determined to try and see this wonderful thing. I first with a mug poured some water in till it was about an inch or two deep, and then collected all the small stones I could find and put into the water, but I could not see that the water rose up as I thought it ought to have done. Then
I got my little spade and scraped up stones off the gravel path, and with it, of course, some of the soft gravel, but instead of the water rising, it merely turned to mud; and the more I put in the muddier it became, while there seemed to be even less water than before. At last I became tired and gave it up, and concluded that the story could not be true ; and I am afraid this rather made me disbelieve in experiments out of story-books.
The river in front of our house was the Usk, a fine stream on which we often saw men fishing in coracles, the ancient form of boat made of strong wicker-work, somewhat the shape of the deeper half of a cockle-shell, and covered with bullock's hide. Each coracle held one man, and it could be easily carried to and from the river on the owner's back. In those days of scanty population and abundant fish the river was not preserved, and a number of men got their living, or part of it, by supplying the towns with salmon and trout in their season. It is very interesting that this extremely ancient boat, which has been in use from pre-Roman times, and perhaps even from the Neolithic Age, should continue to be used on several of the Welsh rivers down to the present day. There is probably no other type of vessel now in existence which has remained unchanged for so long a period.
But the chief attraction of the river to us children was the opportunity it afforded us for catching small fish, especially lampreys. A short distance from our house, towards the little village of Llanbadock, the rocky bank came close to the road, and a stone quarry had been opened to obtain stone, both for building and road-mending purposes. Here, occasionally, the rock was blasted, and sometimes we had the fearful delight of watching the explosion from a safe distance, and seeing a cloud of the smaller stones shoot up into the air. At some earlier period very large charges of powder must have been used, hurling great slabs of rock across the road into the river, where they lay, forming convenient piers and standingplaces on its margin. Some of these slabs were eight or ten feet long and nearly as wide ; and it was these that formed our favourite fishing-stations, where we sometimes found