Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of Caradoc Evans > Text of According To The Pattern

A short story by Caradoc Evans

According To The Pattern

Title:     According To The Pattern
Author: Caradoc Evans [More Titles by Evans]

On the eve of a Communion Sunday Simon Idiot espied Dull Anna washing her feet in the spume on the shore; he came out of his hiding-place and spoke jestingly to Anna and enticed her into Blind Cave, where he had sport with her. In the ninth year of her child, whom she had called Abel, Anna stretched out her tongue at the schoolmaster and took her son to the man who farmed Deinol.

"Brought have I your scarecrow," she said. "Give you to me the brown pennies that you will pay for him."

From dawn to sunset Abel stood on a hedge, waving his arms, shouting, and mimicking the sound of gunning. Weary of his work he vowed a vow that he would not keep on at it. He walked to Morfa and into his mother's cottage; his mother listened to him, then she took a stick and beat him until he could not rest nor move with ease.

"Break him in like a frisky colt, little man bach,"[1] said Anna to the farmer. "Know you he is the son of Satan. Have I not told how the Bad Man came to me in my sound sleep and was naughty with me?"

[Footnote 1: Dear little man. "Bach" is the Welsh masculine for "dear"; "fach" the Welsh feminine for "dear."]

But the farmer had compassion on Abel and dealt with him kindly, and when Abel married he let him live in Tybach--the mud-walled, straw-thatched, two-roomed house which is midway on the hill that goes down from Synod Inn into Morfa--and he let him farm six acres of land.

The young man and his bride so labored that the people thereabout were confounded; they stirred earlier and lay down later than any honest folk; and they took more eggs and tubs of butter to market than even Deinol, and their pigs fattened wondrously quick.

Twelve years did they live thus wise. For the woman these were years of toil and child-bearing; after she had borne seven daughters, her sap husked and dried up.

Now the spell of Abel's mourning was one of ill-fortune for Deinol, the master of which was grown careless: hay rotted before it was gathered and corn before it was reaped; potatoes were smitten by a blight, a disease fell upon two cart-horses, and a heifer was drowned in the sea. Then the farmer felt embittered, and by day and night he drank himself drunk in the inns of Morfa.

Because he wanted Deinol, Abel brightened himself up: he wore whipcord leggings over his short legs, and a preacher's coat over his long trunk, a white and red patterned celluloid collar about his neck, and a bowler hat on the back of his head; and his side-whiskers were trimmed in the shape of a spade. He had joy of many widows and spinsters, to each of whom he said: "There's a grief-livener you are," and all of whom he gave over on hearing of the widow of Drefach. Her he married, and with the money he got with her, and the money he borrowed, he bought Deinol. Soon he was freed from the hands of his lender. He had eight horses and twelve cows, and he had oxen and heifers, and pigs and hens, and he had twenty-five sheep grazing on his moorland. As his birth and poverty had caused him to be scorned, so now his gains caused him to be respected. The preacher of Capel Dissenters in Morfa saluted him on the tramping road and in shop, and brought him down from the gallery to the Big Seat. Even if Abel had land, money, and honor, his vessel of contentment was not filled until his wife went into her deathbed and gave him a son.

"Indeed me," he cried, "Benshamin his name shall be. The Large Maker gives and a One He is for taking away."

He composed a prayer of thankfulness and of sorrow; and this prayer he recited to the congregation which gathered at the graveside of the woman from Drefach.

Benshamin grew up in the way of Capel Dissenters. He slept with his father and ate apart from his sisters, for his mien was lofty. At the age of seven he knew every question and answer in the book "Mother's Gift," with sayings from which he scourged sinners; and at the age of eight he delivered from memory the Book of Job at the Seiet; at that age also he was put among the elders in the Sabbath School.

He advanced, waxing great in religion. On the nights of the Saying and Searching of the Word he was with the cunningest men, disputing with the preacher, stressing his arguments with his fingers, and proving his learning with phrases from the sermons of the saintly Shones Talysarn.

If one asked him: "What are you going, Ben Abel Deinol?" he always answered: "The errander of the White Gospel fach."

His father communed with the preacher, who said: "Pity quite sinful if the boy is not in the pulpit."

"Like that do I think as well too," replied Abel. "Eloquent he is. Grand he is spouting prayers at his bed. Weep do I."

Neighbors neglected their fields and barnyards to hear the lad's shoutings to God. Once Ben opened his eyes and rebuked those who were outside his room.

"Shamed you are, not for certain," he said to them. "Come in, boys Capel. Right you hear the Gospel fach. Youngish am I but old is my courtship of King Jesus who died on the tree for scamps of parsons."

He shut his eyes and sang of blood, wood, white shirts, and thorns; of the throng that would arise from the burial-ground, in which there were more graves than molehills in the shire. He cried against the heathenism of the Church, the wickedness of Church tithes, and against ungodly book-prayers and short sermons.

Early Ben entered College Carmarthen, where his piety--which was an adage--was above that of any student. Of him this was said: "'White Jesus bach is as plain on his lips as the purse of a big bull.'"

Brightness fell upon him. He had a name for the tearfulness and splendor of his eloquence. He could conduct himself fancifully: now he was Pharaoh wincing under the plagues, now he was the Prodigal Son longing to eat at the pigs' trough, now he was the Widow of Nain rejoicing at the recovery of her son, now he was a parson in Nineveh squirming under the prophecy of Jonah; and his hearers winced or longed, rejoiced or squirmed. Congregations sought him to preach in their pulpits, and he chose such as offered the highest reward, pledging the richest men for his wage and the cost of his entertainment and journey. But Ben would rule over no chapel. "I wait for the call from above," he said.

His term at Carmarthen at an end, he came to Deinol. His father met him in a doleful manner.

"An old boy very cruel is the Parson," Abel whined. "Has he not strained Gwen for his tithes? Auction her he did and bought her himself for three pounds and half a pound."

Ben answered: "Go now and say the next Saturday Benshamin Lloyd will give mouthings on tithes in Capel Dissenters."

Ben stood in the pulpit, and spoke to the people of Capel Dissenters.

"How many of you have been to his church?" he cried. "Not one male bach or one female fach. Go there the next Sabbath, and the black muless will not say to you: 'Welcome you are, persons Capel. But there's glad am I to see you.' A comic sermon you will hear. A sermon got with half-a-crown postal order. Ask Postman. Laugh highly you will and stamp on the floor. Funny is the Parson in the white frock. Ach y fy, why for he doesn't have a coat preacher like Respecteds? Ask me that. From where does his Church come from? She is the inheritance of Satan. The only thing he had to leave, and he left her to his friends the parsons. Iss-iss, earnest affair is this. Who gives him his food? We. Who pays for Vicarage? We. Who feeds his pony? We. His cows? We. Who built his church? We. With stones carted from our quarries and mortar messed about with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our fathers."

At the gate of the chapel men discussed Ben's words; and two or three of them stole away and herded Gwen into the corner of the field; and they caught her and cut off her tail, and drove a staple into her udder. Sunday morning eleven men from Capel Dissenters, with iron bands to their clogs on their feet, and white aprons before their bellies, shouted without the church: "We are come to pray from the book." The Parson was affrighted, and left over tolling his bell, and he bolted and locked the door, against which he set his body as one would set the stub of a tree.

Running at the top of their speed the railers came to Ben, telling how the Parson had put them to shame.

"Iobs you are," Ben answered. "The boy bach who loses the key of his house breaks into his house. Does an old wench bar the dairy to her mishtress?"

The men returned each to his abode, and an hour after midday they gathered in the church burial-ground, and they drew up a tombstone, and with it rammed the door; and they hurled stones at the windows; and in the darkness they built a wall of dung in the room of the door.

Repentance sank into the Parson as he saw and remembered that which had been done to him. He called to him his servant Lissi Workhouse, and her he told to take Gwen to Deinol. The cow lowed woefully as she was driven; she was heard even in Morfa, and many hurried to the road to witness her.

Abel was at the going in of the close.

"Well-well, Lissi Workhouse," he said, "what's doing then?"

"'Go give the male his beast,' mishtir talked."

"Right for you are," said Abel.

"Right for enough is the rascal. But a creature without blemish he pilfered. Hit her and hie her off."

As Lissi was about to go, Ben cried from within the house: "The cow the fulbert had was worth two of his cows."

"Sure, iss-iss," said Abel. "Go will I to Vicarage with boys capel. Bring the baston, Ben bach."

Ben came out, and his ardor warmed up on beholding Lissi's broad hips, scarlet cheeks, white teeth, and full bosoms.

"Not blaming you, girl fach, am I," he said. "My father, journey with Gwen. Walk will I with Lissi Workhouse."

That afternoon Abel brought a cow in calf into his close; and that night Ben crossed the mown hayfields to the Vicarage, and he threw a little gravel at Lissi's window.

* * * * *

The hay was gathered and stacked and thatched, and the corn was cut down, and to the women who were gleaning his father's oats, Ben said how that Lissi was in the family way.

"Silence your tone, indeed," cried one, laughing. "No sign have I seen."

"If I died," observed a large woman, "boy bach pretty innocent you are, Benshamin. Four months have I yet. And not showing much do I."

"No," said another, "the bulk might be only the coil of your apron, ho-ho."

"Whisper to us," asked the large woman, "who the foxer is. Keep the news will we."

"Who but the scamp of the Parson?" replied Ben. "What a sow of a hen."

By such means Ben shifted his offense. On being charged by the Parson he rushed through the roads crying that the enemy of the Big Man had put unbecoming words on a harlot's tongue. Capel Dissenters believed him. "He could not act wrongly with a sheep," some said.

So Ben tasted the sapidness and relish of power, and his desires increased.

"Mortgage Deinol, my father bach," he said to Abel. "Going am I to London. Heavy shall I be there. None of the dirty English are like me."

"Already have I borrowed for your college. No more do I want to have. How if I sell a horse?"

"Sell you the horse too, my father bach."

"Done much have I for you," Abel said. "Fairish I must be with your sisters."

"Why for you cavil like that, father? The money of mam came to Deinol. Am I not her son?"

Though his daughters, murmured--"We wake at the caw of the crows," they said, "and weary in the young of the day"--Abel obeyed his son, who thereupon departed and came to Thornton East to the house of Catherine Jenkins, a widow woman, with whom he took the appearance of a burning lover.

Though he preached with a view at many English chapels in London, none called him. He caused Abel to sell cattle and mortgage Deinol for what it was worth and to give him all the money he received therefrom; he swore such hot love for Catherine that the woman pawned her furniture for his sake.

Intrigued that such scant fruit had come up from his sowings, Ben thought of further ways of stablishing himself. He inquired into the welfare of shop-assistants from women and girls who worshiped in Welsh chapels, and though he spoiled several in his quest, the abominations which oppressed these workers were made known to him. Shop-assistants carried abroad his fame and called him "Fiery Taffy." Ben showed them how to rid themselves of their burden; "a burden," he said, "packed full and overflowing by men of my race--the London Welsh drapers."

The Welsh drapers were alarmed, and in a rage with Ben. They took the opinion of their big men and performed slyly. Enos-Harries--this is the Enos-Harries who has a drapery shop in Kingsend--sent to Ben this letter: "Take Dinner with Slf and Wife same, is Late Dinner I am pleased to inform. You we don't live in Establishment only as per printed Note Heading. And Oblige."

Enos-Harries showed Ben his house, and told him the cost of the treasures that were therein.

Also Harries said: "I have learned of you as a promising Welshman, and I want to do a good turn for you with a speech by you on St. David's Day at Queen's Hall. Now, then."

"I am not important enough for that."

"She'll be a first-class miting in tip-top speeches. All the drapers and dairies shall be there in crowds. Three sirs shall come."

"I am choked with engagements," said Ben. "I am preaching very busy now just."

"Well-well. Asked I did for you are a clean Cymro bach. As I repeat, only leading lines in speakers shall be there. Come now into the drawing-room and I'll give you an intro to the Missus Enos-Harries. In evening dress she is--chik Paris Model. The invoice price was ten-ten."

"Wait a bit," Ben remarked. "I would be glad if I could speak."

"Perhaps the next time we give you the invite. The Cymrodorion shall be in the miting."

"As you plead, try I will."

"Stretching a point am I," Harries said. "This is a favor for you to address this glorious miting where the Welsh drapers will attend and the Missus Enos-Harries will sing 'Land of my Fathers.'"

Ben withdrew from his fellows for three days, and on the third day--which was that of the Saint--he put on him a frock coat, and combed down his mustache over the blood-red swelling on his lip; and he cleaned his teeth. Here are some of the sayings that he spoke that night:

"Half an hour ago we were privileged to listen to the voice of a lovely lady--a voice as clear as a diamond ring. It inspired us one and all with a hireath for the dear old homeland--for dear Wales, for the land of our fathers and mothers too, for the land that is our heritage not by Act of Parliament but by the Act of God....

"Who ownss this land to-day? The squaire and the parshon. By what right? By the same right as the thief who steals your silk and your laces, and your milk and butter, and your reddy-made blousis. I know a farm of one hundred acres, each rod having been tamed from heatherland into a manna of abundance. Tamed by human bones and muscles--God's invested capital in His chosen children. Six months ago this land--this fertile and rich land--was wrestled away from the owners. The bones of the living and the dead were wrestled away. I saw it three months ago--a wylderness. The clod had been squeesed of its zweat. The land belonged to my father, and his father, and his father, back to countless generations....

"I am proud to be among my people to-night. How sorry I am for any one who are not Welsh. We have a language as ancient as the hills that shelter us, and the rivers that never weery of refreshing us....

"Only recently a few shop-assistants--a handful of counter-jumpers--tried to shake the integrity of our commerse. But their white cuffs held back their aarms, and the white collars choked their aambitions. When I was a small boy my mam used to tell me how the chief Satan was caught trying to put his hand over the sun so as to give other satans a chance of doing wrong on earth in the dark. That was the object of these misguided fools. They had no grievances. I have since investigated the questions of living-in and fines. Both are fair and necessary. The man who tries to destroy them is like the swimmer who plunges among the water lilies to be dragged into destruction....

"Welsh was talked in the Garden of Aden. That is where commerse began. Didn't Eve buy the apple?...

"Ladies and gentlemen, Cymrodorion, listen. There is a going in these classical old rafterss. It is the coming of God. And the message He gives you this night is this: 'Men of Gwalia, march on and keep you tails up.'"

From that hour Ben flourished. He broke his league with the shop-assistants. Those whom he had troubled lost courage and humbled themselves before their employers; but their employers would have none of them, man or woman, boy or girl.

Vexation followed his prosperity. His father reproached him, writing: "Sad I drop into the Pool as old Abel Tybach, and not as Lloyd Deinol." Catherine harassed him to recover her house and chattels. To these complainings he was deaf. He married the daughter of a wealthy Englishman, who set him up in a large house in the midst of a pleasure garden; and of the fatness and redness of his wife he was sickened before he was wedded to her.

By studying diligently, the English language became as familiar to him as the Welsh language. He bound himself to Welsh politicians and engaged himself in public affairs, and soon he was as an idol to a multitude of people, who were sensible only to his well-sung words, and who did not know that his utterances veiled his own avarice and that of his masters. All that he did was for profit, and yet he could not win enough.

Men and women, soothed into false ease and quickened into counterfeit wrath, commended him, crying: "Thank God for Ben Lloyd." Such praise puffed him up, and howsoever mighty he was in the view of fools, he was mightier in his own view.

"At the next election I'll be in Parliament," he boasted in his vanity. "The basis of my solidity--strength--is as immovable--is as impregnable as Birds' Rock in Morfa."

Though the grandson of Simon Idiot and Dull Anna prophesied great things for himself, it was evil that came to him.

He trembled from head to foot to ravish every comely woman on whom his ogling eyes dwelt. His greed made him faithless to those whom he professed to serve: in his eagerness to lift himself he planned, plotted, and trafficked with the foes of his officers. Hearing that an account of his misdeeds was spoken abroad, he called the high London Welshmen into a room, and he said to them:

"These cruel slanderers have all but broken my spirit. They are the wicked inventions of fiends incarnate. It is not my fall that is required--if that were so I would gladly make the sacrifise--the zupreme sacrifise, if wanted--but it is the fall of the Party that these men are after. He who repeats one foul thing is doing his level best to destroy the fabric of this magnificent organisation that has been reared by your brains. It has no walls of stone and mortar, yet it is a sity builded by men. We must have no more bickerings. We have work to do. The seeds are springing forth, and a goodly harvest is promised: let us sharpen our blades and clear our barn floors. Cymru fydd--Wales for the Welsh--is here. At home and at Westminster our kith and kin are occupying prominent positions. Disestablishment is at hand. We have closed public-houses and erected chapels, each chapel being a factor in the education of the masses in ideas of righteous government. You, my friends, have secured much of the land, around which you have made walls, and in which you have set water fountains, and have planted rare plants and flowers. And you have put up your warning signs on it--'Trespassers will be prosecuted.'

"There is coming the Registration of Workers Act, by which every worker will be held to his locality, to his own enormous advantage. And it will end strikes, and trades unionism will deservedly crumble. In future these men will be able to settle down, and with God's blessing bring children into the world, and their condition will be a delight unto themselves and a profit to the community.

"But we must do more. I must do more. And you must help me. We must stand together. Slander never creates; it shackles and kills. We must be solid. Midway off the Cardigan coast--in beautiful Morfa--there is a rock--Birds' Rock. As a boy I used to climb to the top of it, and watch the waters swirling and tumbling about it, and around it and against it. But I was unafraid. For I knew that the rock was old when man was young, and that it had braved all the washings of the sea."

The men congratulated Ben; and Ben came home and he stood at a mirror, and shaping his body put out his arms.

"How's this for my maiden speech in the house?" he asked his wife. Presently he paused. "You're a fine one to be an M.P.'s lady," he said. "You stout, underworked fool."

Ben urged on his imaginings: he advised his monarch, and to him for favors merchants brought their gold, and mothers their daughters. Winter and spring moved, and then his mind brought his enemies to his door.

"As the root of a tree spreads in the bosom of the earth," he said, "so my fame shall spread over the world"; and he built a fence about his house.

But his mind would not be stilled. Every midnight his enemies were at the fence, and he could not sleep for the dreadful outcry; every midnight he arose from his bed and walked aside the fence, testing the strength of it with a hand and a shoulder and shooing away his enemies as one does a brood of chickens from a cornfield.

His fortieth summer ran out--a season of short days and nights speeding on the heels of night. Then peace fell upon him; and at dusk of a day he came into his room, and he saw one sitting in a chair. He went up to the chair and knelt on a knee, and said: "Your Majesty...."

[The end]
Caradoc Evans's short story: According To The Pattern