Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

By Meic Stephens | Go to book overview

A Millionaire

William Owen

Do you know where Cemlyn is? I said Cemlyn, not the Kremlin. You could hardly go anywhere more northerly in the whole of Wales. Turn to the right just outside the village of Tregele within about a mile after going through Cemaes at the far end of Anglesey. Follow the narrow road for another two miles or so, turn right again along an even narrower road, and you'll come across it quite easily. It's a place gloriously off the beaten track, not far from where the bonesetters used to live, with Mynydd y Garn imperiously casting its shadow over all.

And what's so special about Cemlyn? you may well ask. At first glance, next to nothing. A cluster of farms, a house with high walls around it at the water's edge, that's about all, except for the sea and a kind of bird-sanctuary the last place on earth you'd expect to find a millionaire going to ground, and what's more, one with Welsh family connections who could speak the language fairly fluently and had some sympathy with the Nationalist cause, too.

Vivian Hewitt came from a line of quite well-known Grimsby brewers. He had been brought up in Bodfari and educated at Harrow. As a young man he had found fame as one of the early aviators. He had settled in Rhyl, renting land there on which to try out his experiments. Bleriot had set up a record by flying across the Channel in 1909, a distance of some twenty miles, but in 1912 Hewitt had broken that record by flying across the Irish Sea. He had set out from Holyhead and after encountering great difficulties in thick sea-mist, had managed to land safely about sixty miles away in Dublin's Phoenix Park. And as one of 'those magnificent men in their flying- machines' he had become a national hero overnight.

But his distinguished career was cut short by an accident. He was forced to give up flying and from then on put all his affections into ornithology, and his energies into studying creatures that were able to fly higher and better than he could himself.

He came into his inheritance at some time during the early 'thirties, and since he was so interested in sea-birds he searched diligently for a place in which to establish a sanctuary, in Gower, in Pembrokeshire, on the sand-dunes of Aberffraw, on Puffin Island, and the Skerries. In the end he came across Cemlyn. He

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