Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 586
Dylan, a boy about ten years of age, is going to spend the summer holiday at his Uncle Jim and Aunt Annie Jones’s farm. As Uncle Jim brings Dylan to the farm from his home in Swansea, Jim makes him wait in the cart in a scary dark alley while he goes into a pub to drink. They do not get home until midnight, much to Aunt Annie’s annoyance.
The next morning, Dylan and his cousin Gwilym look at the pigs and discover that one is missing—Uncle Jim has sold it to get drinking money. Gwilym, who wants to be a Nonconformist minister, entertains Dylan by singing hymns to God and telling him stories about girls who died for love. He shows Dylan the chapel that he has fixed up in a dilapidated barn, and he officiates at a mock service, preaching a sermon and taking up a collection.
That afternoon, Jack Williams, Dylan’s best friend from Swansea, is arriving for a visit. Aunt Annie makes Dylan put on his best suit, and she prepares a tea in the best room, a rarely used parlor. When Mrs. Williams arrives in a chauffeur-driven Daimler, Annie gives her an obsequious welcome, apologizing for her house. Mrs. Williams wants to drop Jack off and be gone, but Annie insists that she stay for tea and offers her tinned peaches that she has hoarded since Christmas for a special occasion. Mrs. Williams dusts the seat of a chair before sitting down, refuses the peaches, and leaves without finishing her cup of tea.
Dylan and Jack play cowboys and Indians all afternoon. They climb a tree and spy on Gwilym when he uses the lavatory, sitting on the seat with his trousers down, reading a book, and moving his hands. When they call out, Gwilym hastily pulls up his trousers and stuffs the book in his pocket. As the boys climb down the tree, they tear their jackets. Before bed, they go to the chapel with Gwilym. Gwilym tries to make Dylan confess his sins, but Jack gets scared and sobs on his way back to the house.
As the boys lie in bed at midnight, they hear Uncle Jim come home drunk. Jim asks Annie if Mrs. Williams has paid the thirty shillings to keep Jack. When Annie tells Jim about the peaches, he becomes furious and shouts, “Who does she think she is? Aren’t peaches good enough for her? To hell with her bloody motor car and her bloody son! Making us small.” When Annie tells him to stop or he will wake the boys, he continues shouting, threatening to wake them up and whip them. He yells that if Annie does not send Jack back, he will do it himself. This exchange, coming on the heels of the chapel scene, upsets Jack; he buries his head under the covers and refuses to listen.
The next morning after breakfast, Jack walks to the post office. Later, the boys play separately; Dylan tries to be friends but Jack ignores him. Mrs. Williams arrives at midafternoon to take Jack back to Swansea. Jack tells her that Jim threatened to whip him, that Gwilym took him to the barn in the dark and let the mice run over him, that Dylan is a thief, and that Annie spoiled his jacket. Annie comes to the door, curtsying obsequiously, as the car drives off. Dylan waves his handkerchief, but Jack sits still and stiff by his mother’s side.
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