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The Farmer's Will and the Three Counsels He Gave His Son

Thomas Davies (1901-82)


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Well, [John] Griffiths, [the Tailor], used to tell of a farmer who was very prosperous indeed, I should think - what they used to call, years ago, a 'gentleman farmer'. And he'd made a will in favour of his son. His son was the only one left to him. The wife had died. And in the will he gave his son three counsels. In the first place, if he took a horse to the fair to be sold, to make sure he didn't come home with the horse unsold. And another piece of advice then was, he told him not to visit his relatives too often. And the third piece of advice was, not to go courting too far from home.

Well, in a while the father died. And one fair day, the son took a horse to sell [at the fair], thinking to get a good price for it. But nobody offered a high enough price and he took it back and turned it out into the field. And, as it happens on a farm, the cows got into this field, and one of the cows struck the horse with her horn, and it bled to death. Well, now, what did the son do but skin the horse and throw the hide up on top of a wide wall near the barn, so that the hide would always be visible.

Well now then, in a little while, as he felt rather lonely at home, he started visiting his relatives, and they were all glad to see him, and made a great fuss of him and prepared a feast for him. But, as time went on, he didn't get such a warm welcome. The food wasn't as good. And before long the feasting had come to an end, and he might get nothing but - nothing but tea and a piece of bread and butter. And one day he was given mouldy bread. He went home. He went into the house to get a loaf, and threw it up on top of the wall near the barn, with the hide.

Well, in time he went courting. He went quite far from home, miles away from home to court. And in this place, there was a building built on to the house, some kind of storehouse, and you could get from the storehouse into the house, to the loft. And he used to visit the father and mother very often. Sometimes he'd go during the day. They knew him and knew he was courting the girl. Well, as time went on, the girl said to him: 'Don't come on Thursday night, come on Saturday', or 'Don't come on Monday night, come on Tuesday'. So what he did was, he went on the night she'd told him not to come. He went there very late. Not a light [to be seen] anywhere. Up into this storehouse, and very quietly into the loft. And he knew where the girl slept. And by the bedroom door was a pair of corduroy trousers. He picked up these corduroy trousers. He went home and threw the trousers up near the hide and the loaf, on top of the barn wall. And that was the end of courting that girl.

Well, some six months later a gentleman driving a trap and pony, as was the custom in those days, came by to see him. This girl's father. And he gave him a fine welcome. He showed him all the buildings on the farm, took him into the house, and offered him as much food and everything as he wished. Well, when this gentleman was leaving, he said to the boy while they were standing in the yard:

'I had thought my daughter would be wife here some day. Oh, half a minute,' he said, 'what's that pair of corduroy trousers [doing] up on top of the wall? I've seen our farmhand John wearing a pair of corduroy trousers just like it'.

'Oh,' said the son,' if it wasn't for that pair of corduroy trousers your daughter would be my wife today.'

And that's the story.

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