Hide Articles List

1 article on this Page

STORIES OF WALES. -ws,

News
Cite
Share

STORIES OF WALES. -ws, BY W. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS, Author of "Gwilym a Benni Bach," Gwr y Dolau," &c." A 111.- THE TRIUMPH OF BETTO SHON. Copyright 1905 by W. Llewelyn Williams in the United States of America. Yes, child of suffering, thou may'st well be sure, He who ordained the Sabbath loves the poor O. W Holmes. Betto Shon was a public character in Llan- elwid. She was generally known as Betto of the RevivalâBettor Diwygiad. She was always inclined to religion, and in her early years she was a zealous Calvinistic Methodist. As often happens with such characters, the lover to whom she gave her heart-and she had no restricted choice, for Betto was a well-favoured lass-was Shon Deimoth, the most reckless and irreligious man in the parish. Shon's father was a Baptist, and whenever Shon condescended to attend a place of worship it was to his father's chapel that he went. In the days of their courtship Betto spoke seriously to Shon about his ways, and once Shon half in earnest suggested that Betto and he should be immersed together. But Betto refused. She was a Methodist, she said, and a Methodist she would remain. Some of the elders shook their heads ominously when Betto persisted in marrying the man of her choice, religion or no religion. There was even some talk among the more strait-laced about excommunicating Betto for marrying a man from the world," but kindlier counsels pre- vailed, and Betto remained unmolested. She stood faithful to her Methodist Chapel, while Shon drifted further and further into indifference and vice. His name became a bye-word in the parish, and Betto's prayers and entreaties nought availed. Not even the coming of little Lucy could pull him up in his career of recklessness. 118 Just when Betto's life threatened to become a sad tragedy, the '59 Revival visited Llanelwid. Betto was the first to fall under its influence. She would work herself up into a fine ecstasy of devotion, which made her the most conspicuous figure in the chapel. Nature had blessed her with a fine voice and a musical ear, and she often started the revival hymns, and her enthu- siastic repeats had sometimes a most moving effect on her fellow-worshippers. Often would she break out into loud Haleliwias," and "Gogoniant," and" Diolch iddo," and once or twice she even led the congregation in prayer. One of her phrases became immortal in the parish. She prayed that the Lord might come to Llanelwid and visit her own home in "the chariot of His salvation "â yn Ei gerbyd achub." For years after people would talk of Betto's chariot," as if it were as well known as that which took Elijah home to heaven. Her prayer was answered-no strange thing for a revival prayer. One night Shon, after poignant mental anguish, proclaimed aloud his contrition, and announced his desire to join the number of the disciples. Betto was overjoyed, but, on reaching home, she found Shon by no means as easy to deal with as she had expected. His zeal had already cooled, and he was rather inclined to be ashamed of his impulsive outburst in the meeting. He tried to evade Betto's urgency, but at last he exclaimed that he would be immersed if Betto would bear him company. It was a hard choice for Betto, for, bred as she had been in the strictest doctrines of her sect, in her secret heart she disliked the Baptists. But her husband's salvation was in the balance, and Betto consented. The follow- ing Sunday Betto and Shon were baptised in the still, clear pool below the village bridge. Shon did not long survive his reclamation. Typhoid, that dread foe of the rural villages attacked Llanelwid, and almost the first to succumb were Shon and his little daughter Lucy. It was an unspeakable consolation to Betto that her husband had found salvation before his death, and she never regretted her surrender of her Methodism. As the years went by, however, she returned to her old chapel. Her fervour never slaked, the slightest wave of emotion sent her into a religious frenzy, which, truth to tell, became highly inconvenient to her fellow-worshippers. Betto never seemed to realise that the revival was past and gone, and that things which were tolerated in those ecstatic days were somewhat grotesque in the cooler after-times. She continued to live in the spiritual fervour of '59, she talked ever and aye of the wonders of the revival, so that she became something of a nuisance to the orthodox chapel-goers and an object of derision to the younger generation, who had never experienced the strange power of a Welsh Revival. Betto never married again. She lived a lonely life in her little cottage, earning her bare sus- tenance by knitting stockings, acting as laundry woman to farm lads, and occasionally helping at harvest time or on threshing days at the larger farms. She grew old gently and graciously, and she grew poorer as she grew older. Several years ago a bad attack of rheumatism compelled her for the first time to seek parish relief. When she got well she sturdily insisted on maintaining herself once more. For years after she struggled to maintain her independence with all the pride of honourable poverty, but at last she was forced by advancing years and increasing in- firmities to accept permanent out-door relief. Still, in spite of her pauper condition, she retained her self-respect and her love for her chapel. Not a service did she miss on Sunday or week-day, and whenâas happens to every rural parish in Wales-a great pulpit orator visited the district, Betto would be at the meeting listening, praying, crying, and glorifying God. In the autumn of 1904 there were strange rumours in the air. It was said that a new revival had broken out in the works "âthat mysterious land of which Llanelwid knew little except that all its workmen wore broad-cloth and dropped their aitches, and lived as well as shopkeepers. Betto also heard the news and rejoiced. She had lived forty-five years after the last visitation, and her heart yearned to feel once more the thrilling sensations of her youth. She was sick, she was poorly clad-but she determined to brave illness and the November gales to attend the Monthly Meeting at Llan- elwid. She went one day-the first day of the Monthly Meeting-to Mr. Morgan's shop to buy four ounces of tea. Her thin and worn- out garments afforded little protection against the biting wind, and Mr. Morgan, hard man as he was reputed to be-spite of the fact that he was a deacon in Betto's chapel-felt his heart melt within him as he gazed on the pinched face and gaunt shivering figure of Betto Shon. You don't look well, Betto Jones," he said, for he was always punctilious in his address to his poorest customers. "Oh, Mr. Morgan bach," replied Betto, "I am well enough if my heart were better." I am sorry your heart is bad," said Mr. Morgan, taking her words literally. Hadn't you better let me tell Doctor Lewis to call to see you the next time he is in the village ? No, no," said Betto, my heart is too bad to be healed by anyone but the Great Physician, âHe is able to change it for me." Mr. Morgan felt uncomfortable. He was a good man enough in his wayâa religious man as religion is understood in normal times. He deceived no one in his business, he was scrupulous in all his dealings, he was a liberal subscriber to his chapel, and at a pinch he would even engage in public prayer. But his temperament was not devotional, and he in- stinctively avoided such talk as came to Betto as naturally as breathing. He broke a silence which was becoming awkward. I think you had better not come out to-night to the Monthly Meeting. In that thin dress you would catch your death of cold, or at the least you would be attacked again by your old rheumatic complaint." What matters it," said Betto, with a glint in her grey eye, "if the body perish so that the soul be saved ? But, Betto fach," exclaimed Mr. Morgan, the Monthly Meeting is not necessary to your salvation, and you can come to the meetings to-morrow during the day." I dare not miss any of the meetings," said Betto, lest the Master come, and I, like Thomas, am not there to receive Him." Mr. Morgan felt an unwonted tugging at the corners of his heart. The sight of this poor pil- grim, willing to risk health and even life for religion's sake, stirred his sluggish feelings. "Well, Betto," he said at last, "if come you must, you must let me give you a warm shawl to wrap yourself in." Old Betto's eyes filled with grateful tears. Mr. Morgan, you are a good man," said she, though you sometimes harden your heart." But, Betto," continued Mr. Morgan, "I must make one condition." What is that ? queried Betto, eagerly. You must promise me that you won't inter- rupt the preacher to-night as, you did Professor Harris when he was here last year at the Sassiwn." I don't interrupt," said Betto somewhat in- dignantly, I only cry out when the Spirit is moved within me." Yes, Betto fach," answered Mr. Morgan, but last time Professor Harris complained that your cries disturbed him so much that he lost the drift of his sermon." "Ah," sighed Betto, "these collegians drown the Spirit in their learning." "Besides," added Mr. Morgan, "the congre- gation is also disturbed, and people can't worship as they wish when you dance about and shout Haleliwia.' Old Betto stood, a pathetic figure in the dim light,-a soul too highly strung for these prosaic days, a relic of a past that seemed to have de- parted for ever,-a piece of flotsam that had been carried far by the revival wave, and left stranded when the great tide ebbed. "You are wiser than I," at last she said humbly, I am only a poor ignorant old woman that can hardly read her Bible. The younger people are more enlightened than my generation, though I fear the Board Schools have killed the spirit of the revivals. But there-I promise you I shall not disturb the congregation to-night." "Now you are talking sensibly," said Mr. Morgan, soothingly, as he placed a great warm shawl over her gaunt bent shoulders. "The Lord will repay you, Mr. Morgan," muttered Betto, "he who giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord." She turned and walked slowly out into the gloom.