The farmhouse at Lower Brechfa lay in a very windy position and the pine-trees around it slanted sideways. Its owner, Gladys Musker, was a strong meaty woman, with glossy cheeks and tobacco-coloured eyes. A widow of ten years' standing, she somehow managed to keep a tidy house and support her daughter, Lily Annie, and her mother, Mrs Yapp.
Mrs Yapp was an irritable old scrounger, more or less crippled with rheumatism.
One day, soon after the Joneses bought her field, Lewis was pleaching out a hedge between the two properties when Mrs Musker came out and watched him hammering in the stakes. Her defiant gaze unnerved him. She heaved a sigh and said, 'Life's all moil and toil, isn't it?' and asked if he'd come and rehang a gate. At tea, he polished off six mince-pies, and she put him on her list of possible husbands.