Moses Lloyd, servant and murderer
Moses Lloyd, the villain of On Angel Mountain, is the disinherited third son of the old Squire of Cwmgloyn. He has a very murky past, which is gradually revealed as the story unfolds. He has a gigantic grudge against the world in general, and against the Morgan family in particular. He has upset his father and alienated his own brothers, but he refuses to admit to his own shortcomings and blames Martha and her family for his own miserable station in life. He feels that he has gentry blood in his veins and that he therefore deserves respect from those around him whom he considers to be inferior. They give him no respect, apart from the respect which is accorded to all of the servants at the Plas who know their jobs and who work hard, and as time passes his resentment grows deeper and darker.
He has committed truly sickening crimes against the Morgan family, and before the story starts he has already killed six people. He lives in a state of denial regarding all of his crimes, considering that the Plas Ingli fortune is rightly his, and that murder and arson are somehow justifiable as part of his strategy to take possession of it. He stays at the Plas only because he is quite determined to drive the family away from the house and to dig up the treasure which he has buried in the ground. He has a hatred of hard work and an instinct for a life of debauchery, and although he despises the labouring class he is happy enough to drink with those who belong to it and to be involved in petty crime in the disreputable taverns of Newport.
He is probably mad even at the very beginning of the story, but he is not unattractive, and at first Martha is quite intrigued by him. He has striking eyes and strong features, and a bronzed and fit body. He is also well educated and well spoken. He is attractive to women, and he knows it. He believes that he is much more handsome and more cultured than David, Martha’s husband, and therefore expects that it will not be too difficult to prise her away from the man to whom she is married. His problem, and indeed his tragedy, is that he then falls in love with Martha and becomes obsessed with the idea of possessing her. When she rejects him, and ultimately humiliates him in front of all of the inhabitants of the Plas, he flees, cursing the family that has given him shelter and work, and swearing that he will have his revenge. He also swears to himself that he will possess Martha, if necessary by force. With insane logic he also decides that he must cut Martha’s face in order to destroy her beauty and thus destroy the source of her power over him.
Moses may or may not know that Martha has worked out for herself the extent of his evil, and he certainly underestimates the strength of her character. He cannot tear himself away from the Plas, and so he stays in the vicinity, living on and off in Martha’s cave while he awaits an opportunity to fulfill his appalling ambition. The final scene of On Angel Mountain was a very difficult one to write, because I had to portray a pregnant woman in extreme danger and a man who is brutal and deranged - and who might sound rational but is actually quite mad. The explicit descriptions of the brutal sexual assault in the cave took me a very long time to get right, but on looking back I’m reasonably content with it.
Once Moses has been dumped into the cleft in the rocks by an exhausted Martha, he is gone but by no means forgotten, for the experience leaves Martha deeply scarred physically and mentally. She hates Moses for what he has done and what he has tried to do to her, and indeed she admits in her confession that she killed him intentionally, that she knows no remorse and seeks no forgiveness. But later her hatred is ameliorated to some degree when she discovers something about his childhood. There is madness in the Lloyd family, and Martha discovers that when Moses was young he was subjected to extreme cruelty by his father, and had expectations dumped upon him which he could not possibly fulfill. Whether a childhood destroyed by abuse is sufficient to excuse the villain’s abominable behaviour is down to the reader to decide.