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Title: Lotus Buds
Author: Carmichael, Amy, 1867-1951
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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LOTUS BUDS

[Illustration]

[Illustration: The Great Rock. (_Page 338._)]


LOTUS BUDS

by

AMY WILSON-CARMICHAEL

Keswick Missionary C.E.Z.M.S.

Author of
"Things As They Are"; "Overweights of Joy";
"The Beginning of a Story," Etc.

With Fifty Half-Tone Illustrations
from Photos Specially Taken for This Work



Morgan and Scott Ld.
12 Paternoster Buildings
London MCMXII

Copyright, Morgan & Scott Ld., 1909

First Edition, _Quarto_ (_Fifty Photogravure
   Illustrations_)                              2,000 _Nov., 1909_
Edition De Luxe (_Fifty Photogravures on Japon
   Vellum_)                                       250 _Nov., 1909_
Octavo Edition (_Fifty Half-tone Engravings_)   5,250 _July, 1912_



_TO THOSE WHO CARE_


          DOHNAVUR, TINNEVELLY DISTRICT,
          SOUTH INDIA

          _Christmas, 1909._

          Each for himself, we live our lives apart,
            Heirs of an age that turns us all to stone;
          Yet ever Nature, thrust from out the heart,
            Comes back to claim her own.

          Still we have something left of that fair seed
            God gave for birthright; still the sound of tears
          Hurts us, and children in their helpless need
            Still call to listening ears.

                                            OWEN SEAMAN.
                                   _From_ "In a Good Cause."



_FOREWORD TO THE PRESENT EDITION_


_WHEN first "Things as they are" trod the untrodden way, it walked as a
small child walks when for the first time it ventures forth upon young,
uncertain feet. It has to walk; it does not know why: it only knows
there is no choice about it. But there is an eager looking for an
outstretched hand, and an instant gratefulness always, for even a
finger. A whole hand given without reserve is something never
forgotten._

_It was only a child after all, and it had not anticipated having to
find its way alone among strangers. It had thought of nothing further
than a very short walk among familiar faces. If it had understood
beforehand how far it would have to walk, I doubt if it would have had
the courage to start; for it was not naturally brave. But once on its
way it could not turn back; and thanks to those kindly outstretched
hands, it grew a little less afraid, and it went on._

_Then another small wayfarer followed. It also was very easily
discouraged; an unfriendly push would have knocked it over at once. But
nobody seemed to want to push so unpretentious a thing, so it gained
courage and went on._

_And now a more grown-up looking traveller (though indeed its looks
belie it) has started on its way; more diffident, if the truth must be
told, than even its predecessors. For it thought within itself--Perhaps
there will be no welcoming hands held out this time; hands may grow
tired of such kind offices. But it has not been so. And now the sense of
gratefulness cannot longer be repressed._

_All of which means that I want to thank sincerely those kings of the
Book World--Reviewers--and those dwellers in that world who are my
Readers, for their insight and the sympathy to which I owe so much._

_Once I read of a soldier who wrote a letter home from the midst of a
battle, on a crumpled piece of paper laid upon a cannon ball. His home
people he knew would overlook the appearance of the paper and the lack
of various things expected in a letter written in a quiet room upon a
study table. And he knew he could trust them not to bring too fine a
criticism to bear upon the unstudied words hot from the battle's heart._

_I have thought sometimes that these books were not unlike that
soldier's letter; and those who read them seem to me very like his home
people, for they have been so generous in the kindness of their
welcome._

                                               _Amy Wilson-Carmichael._
      _Dohnavur,_
        _Tinnevelly District_
                _S. India._

   _Feb. 19, 1912._



THE WRITER TO THE READER


THE photographs (except two) were taken by Mr. Penn, of Ootacamund,
whose work is known to all who care to possess good photographs of the
South Indian hills. The babies were a new experience to him, and
something of a trial, I fear, after the mountains, which can be trusted
to sit still.

The book has been written for lovers of children. Those who find such
young life tiresome will find the story dull, and the kindest thing it
can ask of them is not to read it at all.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                  PAGE
      I. LOTUS BUDS                                           1
     II. OPPOSITES                                            5
    III. THE SCAMP                                           15
     IV. THE PHOTOGRAPHS                                     23
      V. TARA AND EVU                                        31
     VI. PRINCIPALITIES, POWERS, RULERS                      41
    VII. HOW THE CHILDREN COME                               51
   VIII. OTHERS                                              61
     IX. OLD DÉVAI                                           67
      X. FAILURES?                                           75
     XI. GOD HEARD: GOD ANSWERED                             85
    XII. TO WHAT PURPOSE?                                    95
   XIII. A STORY OF COMFORT                                 103
    XIV. PICKLES AND PUCK                                   113
     XV. THE HOWLER                                         121
    XVI. THE NEYOOR NURSERY                                 129
   XVII. IN THE COMPOUND AND NEAR IT                        141
  XVIII. FROM THE TEMPLE OF THE ROCK                        153
    XIX. YOSÉPU                                             159
     XX. THE MENAGERIE                                      169
     XXI. MORE ANIMALS                                      183
    XXII. THE PARROT HOUSE                                  191
   XXIII. THE BEAR GARDEN                                   201
    XXIV. THE ACCALS                                        213
     XXV. THE LITTLE ACCALS                                 227
    XXVI. THE GLORY OF THE USUAL                            235
   XXVII. THE SECRET TRAFFIC                                245
  XXVIII. BLUE BOOK EVIDENCE                                253
    XXIX. "VERY COMMON IN THOSE PARTS"                      261
     XXX. ON THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSORS THERE WAS POWER     269
    XXXI. AND THERE WAS NONE TO SAVE                        279
   XXXII. THE POWER BEHIND THE WORK                         291
  XXXIII. IF THIS WERE ALL                                  301
   XXXIV. "TO CONTINUE THE SUCCESSION"                      309
    XXXV. WHAT IF SHE MISSES HER CHANCE?                    321
   XXXVI. "THY SWEET ORIGINAL JOY"                          331



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                           PAGE
  THE GREAT ROCK                                  _Frontispiece_
  LOTUS FLOWERS                                               3
  "GOD'S FIRE"                                                8
  "AIYO! DID YOU THINK I WOULD HAVE DONE IT?"                12
  CHELLALU WATCHING THE PICTURE-CATCHER                      18
  "OH, IT'S A JOKE!"                                         20
  "THAT THING AGAIN!"                                        25
  PYÂRIE AND VINEETHA                                        26
  "DISGUSTING!"                                              28
  "LOOK AT THE POSE!"                                        30
  TARA                                                       33
  STURDY AND STOLID, AND LITTLE VEERA                        63
  PEBBLES                                                    66
  LATHA (FIREFLY) BLOWING BUBBLES                            72
  SEELA, MALA, AND NULLINIE                                 105
  THE COTTAGE NURSERY                                       108
  "PICKLES" AND HER FRIENDS                                 115
  THE DOHNAVUR COUNTRY IN FLOOD                             124
  PAKIUM AND NAVEENA                                        126
  ON THE ROAD TO NEYOOR                                     131
  ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF NAGERCOIL                             132
  THE NEYOOR NURSERY                                        136
  THE OLD NURSERY (THE "ROOM OF JOY")                       143
  THE COURTYARD                                             144
  A COMING-DAY FEAST                                        146
  THE RED LAKE                                              148
  AT THE DOOR OF THE TEMPLE                                 150
  THE WATER CARRIERS                                        161
  THE BELOVED TINGALU                                       164
  TWO VIEWS OF LIFE                                         171
  MORE ANIMALS: DEPRESSED                                   185
  TUBBING                                                   188
  RED LAKE, AND HILL AS SEEN FROM THE TARAHA NURSERY        193
  CHILDREN WADING                                           196
  CHILDREN WADING                                           197
  ESLI, AND LITTLE KOHILA                                   198
  PREETHA AWARE OF A FOE                                    200
  JULLANIE AMONG THE GRASSES                                203
  ARULAI AND RUKMA, WITH NAVEENA                            210
  PONNAMAL, PREETHA, AND TARA                               215
  SELLAMUTTU AND SUSEELA                                    216
  SUHINIE, AND HER BABY, SUNUNDA                            218
  THREE CONVERT WORKERS: SUNDOSHIE, SUHINIE, AND JEYANIE    220
  SEWING-CLASS IN THE COURTYARD                             222
  THREE LITTLE ACCALS                                       229
  PREENA AND PREEYA                                         230
  AFTER HER BOTTLE                                          237
  NORTH LAKE AND HILLS                                      238
  FROM THE ROCK, DOHNAVUR                                   338
  THE PLACE OF BAPTISM                                      340



CHAPTER I

Lotus Buds

[Illustration: LOTUS FLOWERS.

From that same pool, afterwards gathered by permission and given to
us.]



LOTUS BUDS



CHAPTER I

Lotus Buds


NEAR an ancient temple in Southern India is a large calm, beautiful
pool, enclosed by stone walls, broken here and there by wide spaces
fitted with steps leading down to the water's edge; and almost within
reach of the hand of one standing on the lowest step are pink Lotus
lilies floating serenely on the quiet water or standing up from it in a
certain proud loveliness all their own.

We were travelling to the neighbouring town when we came upon this pool.
We could not pass it with only a glance, so we stopped our bullock-carts
and unpacked ourselves--we were four or five to a cart--and we climbed
down the broken, time-worn steps and gazed and gazed till the beauty
entered into us.

Who can describe that harmony of colour, a Lotus-pool in blossom in
clear shining after rain! The grey old walls, the brown water, the dark
green of the Lotus leaves, the delicate pink of the flowers; overhead,
infinite crystalline blue; and beyond the old walls, palms.

With us was a young Indian friend. "I will gather some of the lilies for
you," he said, with the quick Indian desire to give pleasure; but some
one interposed: "They must not be gathered by us. The pool belongs to
the Temple."

It was as if a stone had been flung straight at a mirror. There was a
sense of crash and the shattering of some bright image. The Lotus-pool
was a Temple pool; its flowers are Temple flowers. The little buds that
float and open on the water, lifting young innocent faces up to the
light as it smiles down upon them and fills them through with almost a
tremor of joyousness, these Lotus buds are sacred things--sacred to
whom?

For a single moment that thought had its way, but only for a moment. It
flashed and was gone, for the thought was a false thought: it could not
stand against this--"All souls are Mine."

All souls are His, all flowers. An alien power has possessed them,
counted them his for so many generations, that we have almost acquiesced
in the shameful confiscation. But neither souls nor flowers are his who
did not make them. They were never truly his. They belong to the Lord of
all the earth, the Creator, the Redeemer. The little Lotus buds are
His--His and not another's. The children of the temples of South India
are His--His and not another's.

So now we go forth with the Owner Himself to claim His own possession.
There is hope in the thought, and confidence and the purest inspiration.
And, stirred to the very depths, as we are and must be many a time when
we see the tender Lotus buds gathered by a hand that has no right to
them, and crushed underfoot; bewildered and sore troubled, as the heart
cannot help being sometimes, when the mystery of the apparent victory of
evil over good is overwhelming: even so there will be always a hush, a
rest, a repose of spirit, as we stand by the Lotus-pools of life and
seek in His Name to gather His flowers.



CHAPTER II

Opposites


BALA is nearly four. There are so many much younger things in the
nursery, that Bala feels almost grown up: four will be quite grown up;
it will be nice to be four. Bala takes life seriously, she has always
done so; she thinks it would be monotonous to have too many frivolous
babies. But Bala's eyes can sparkle as no other eyes ever do; and her
mirth is something by itself, like a little hidden fountain in the heart
of a wood, with the sweetness of surprise in it and very pure delight.

When Bala came to us first she was between one and two, an age when most
babies have a good deal to say. Bala said nothing. She was like a book
with all its leaves uncut; and some who saw her, forgetting that uncut
books are sometimes interesting, concluded she was dull. "Quite a
prosaic child," they said; but Bala did not care. There are some babies,
like some grown-up people, who show all they have to show upon first
acquaintance and to all. Others cover the depths within, and open only
to their own. Bala is one of these; and even with her own she has
seasons of reserve.

Her first remark, however, shown rather than said, was not romantic. She
was too old for a bottle, and she seemed to feel sore over this. But
she noted the time the infants were fed, and followed the nurses about
while they were preparing the meal; and when they sat down to give it,
each to her respective baby, Bala would choose the one of most uncertain
appetite, and sit down beside it and wait. There was an expression on
her face at such times which suggested a hymn, set it humming in one's
head in fact, in spite of all efforts to escape it. More than once we
have caught ourselves singing it, and pulled up sharply: "Even me! Even
me! Let some droppings fall on me."

[Illustration: "God's Fire."

Taken on the bank of the Red Lake, near Dohnavur.]

Most of our family remind us very early that they trace their descent to
the mother of us all. Bala, on the contrary, was good: so we almost
forgot she was human, and began to expect too much of her; but she got
tired of this after a while, and one day suddenly sinned. The surprise
acted like "hypo," and fixed the photograph.

The place was the old nursery, which has one uncomfortably dark corner
in it. Something had offended Bala; she marched straight into that
corner and stamped. We can see her--poor little girl--as she rumpled her
curls with both her hands, and flashed on the world a withering glance.
"Scorn to be scorned by those I scorn" was written large all over the
indignant little face.

After this shock we were prepared for anything, but nothing special
happened; only when the demands made upon her are unreasonable, then
Bala retires into herself and turns upon all foolish insistence a face
that is a blank. If this point is passed, the dark eyes can flash. But
such revealings are rare.

When Bala was something under three, she was very tender-hearted. One
evening, after the first rains had flooded the pools and revived the
mosquitoes, the nursery wall was the scene of many executions; and Bala
could not bear it. "Sittie, don't kill the poor pûchies!" she said
pitifully; and Sittie, much touched, stopped to comfort and
explain. The other babies were delighting in the slaughter, pointing out
with glee each detested "pûchie"; but Bala is not like the other babies.
Later, the ferocious instinct common to most young animals asserted
itself in a relish for the horrible, which rather contradicted the
mosquito incident. Bala visibly gloats over the gory head of Goliath,
and intensely admires David as he operates upon it. Her favourite part
of the story about his encounter with the lion is the suggestive
sentence, "I caught him by the beard"; and Bala loves to show you
exactly how he did it. But then that is different from seeing it done;
and after all it is only a story, and it happened long ago.

I have told how the ignorant once called Bala prosaic. Bala knows
nothing of poetry, but is full of the little seeds of that strange and
wonderful plant; and the time to get to know her is when the evening sky
is a golden blaze, or glows with that mystic glory which wakens
something within us and makes it stir and speak.

"God has not lighted His fire to-night," she said wistfully one evening
when the West was colourless; but when that fire is lighted she stands
and gazes satisfied. "What does God do when His fire goes out?" was a
question on one such evening, as the mountains darkened in the passing
of the after-glow; and then: "Why does He not light it every night?"

"Amma! I have looked into Heaven!" she said suddenly to me after a long
silence. "I have seen quite in, and I know what it is like." "What is it
like? Can you tell me?" and the child's voice answered dreamily: "It was
shining, very shining." Then with animation, in broken but vivid Tamil:
"Oh, it was beautiful! all a garden like our garden, only bigger, and
there were flowers and flowers and flowers!"--here words failed to
describe the number, and a comprehensive sweep of the hand served
instead. "And our dolls can walk there. They never can down here, poor
things! And Jesus plays with our babies there" (the dear little sisters
who have gone to the nursery out of sight, but are unforgotten by the
children). "He plays with Indraneela--lovely games."

"What games, Bala?" I asked, wondering greatly what she would say. There
was a long, thoughtful pause, and Bala looked at me with grave,
contented eyes:--

"New games," she said simply.

Bala's opposite is Chellalu. We never made any mistake about her. We
never thought her good. Not that she is impossibly bad. She was created
for play and for laughter, and very happy babies are not often very
wicked; but she is so irrepressible, so hopelessly given up to fun, that
her kindergarten teacher, Rukma, smiles a rueful smile at the mention of
her name. For to Chellalu the most unreasonable thing you can ask is
implicit obedience, which unfortunately is preferred by us to any amount
of fun. She will learn to obey, we are not afraid about that; but more
than any of our children, her attitude towards this demand has been one
of protest and surprise. She thinks it unfair of grown-up people to take
advantage of their size in the arbitrary way they do. And when,
disgusted with life's dispensations, she condescends to expostulate, her
"Ba-a-a-a" is a thing to affright. But this is the wrong side of
Chellalu, and not for ever in evidence. The right side is not so
depressing.

It is a brilliant morning in late November. The world, all washed and
cooled by the rains, has not had time to get hot and tired, and the air
has that crystal quality which is the charm of this season in South
India. Every wrinkle on the brown trunks of the trees in the compound,
every twig and leaf, stands out with a special distinctness of its own,
and the mountains in the distance glisten as if made of precious
stones.

Suddenly, all unconscious of affinity or contrast, a little person in
scarlet comes dancing into the picture, which opens to receive her, for
she belongs to it. Her hands are full of Gloriosa lilies, fiery red,
terra-cotta, yellow, delicate old-rose and green--such a mingling of
colour, but nothing discordant--and the child, waving her spoils above
her head, sings at the top of her voice something intended to be the
chorus of a kindergarten song:--

          Oh, the delight of the glorious light!
            The joy of the shining blue!
          Beautiful flowers! wonderful flowers!
            Oh, I should like to be you!

"But, Chellalu, where did you get them?" for the lilies in the garden
are supposed to be safe from attack. Chellalu looks up with frank, brown
eyes. "For you!" she says briefly in Tamil; but there is a wealth of
forgiveness in the tone as she offers her armful of flowers. Chellalu
wonders at grown-up hearts which can harbour unworthy suspicions about
blameless little children. As if she would have picked them!

"But, Chellalu, where did you get them?" and still looking grieved and
surprised and forgiving, Chellalu explains that yesterday evening the
elder sisters went for a walk in the fields, and brought home so many
lilies, that after all just claims were met there were still some
over--an expressive gesture shows the heap--so Chellalu thought of her
Ammal (mother) and went and picked out the best for her. Then by way of
emphasis the story is attempted in English: "Very good? Yesh. Naughty?
No. Kindergarten room want flowers? No. I" (patting herself approvingly)
"very good; yesh." With Chellalu, speech is a mere adjunct to
conversation, a sort of footnote to a page of illustration. The
illustration is the thing that speaks. So now both Tamil and English are
illuminated by vivid gesture of hands, feet, the whole body indeed;
curls and even eyelashes play their part, and the final impression
produced upon her questioner is one of complete contrition for ever
having so misjudged a thing so virtuous.

[Illustration: "AIYO!"

(Fingers and toes curled in grieved surprise.)

"Did you think I would have done it?"]

But Chellalu wastes no sympathy upon herself. She is accustomed to be
believed; and perfectly happy in her mind, casts a keen glance round,
for who knows what new delights may be somewhere within reach!
"Ah!"--the deep-breathed sigh of content--is always a danger signal
where this innocent child is concerned. I turn in time to avert
disaster, and Chellalu, finding life dull with me, departs.

Then the little scarlet figure with its crown of careless curls scampers
across the sunny space, and dives into the shadow of a tree. There it
stays. Something arresting has happened--some skurry of squirrel up the
trunk, or dart of lizard, or hurried scramble of insect, under cover out
of reach of those terrible eyes. Or better still, something is "playing
dead," and the child, fascinated, is waiting for it to resurrect. And
then the song about the lilies begins again, only it is all a jumble
this time; for Chellalu sings just as it comes, untrammelled by thoughts
about sequence or sense, and when she forgets the words she calmly makes
them up. And I cannot help thinking that Chellalu is very like her song;
here is an intelligible bit, a line or two in order, then a cheerful
tumble up, and an irresponsible conclusion. The tune too seems in
character--"Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing"; the swinging
old Jacobite air had fitted itself to a nursery song about the brave
fire-lilies, and something in its abandon to the happy mood of the
moment seems to express the child.

It is not easy to express her. "If you had to describe Chellalu, how
would you do it?" I asked my colleague this morning, hoping for
illumination. "I would not attempt it! Who would?" she answered
helpfully.

"Chellalu! Oh, you need ten pairs of eyes and ten pairs of hands, and
even then you could never be sure you had her"--this was her nurse's
earliest description. She was six months old then, she is three and
three-quarters now; but she is what she was, "only more so."

Before Chellalu had a single tooth she had developed mother-ways, and
would comfort distressed babies by thrusting into their open mouths
whatever was most convenient. At first this was her own small thumb,
which she had once found good herself; but she soon discovered that
infants can bite, and after that she offered rattle-handles. Later, she
used to stagger from one hammock to another and swing them. And often,
before she understood the perfect art of balance, she would find
herself, to her surprise, on the floor, as the hammock in its rebound
knocked her over. She felt this ungrateful of the baby inside; but she
seemed to reflect that it was young and knew no better, for she never
retaliated, but picked herself up and began again. These hammocks, which
are our South Indian cradles, are long strips of white cotton hung from
the roof, and they make delightful swings. Chellalu learned this early,
and her nurse's life was a burden to her because of the discovery.

"She could walk before she could stand"--this is another nursery
description, and truer than it sounds. Certainly no one ever saw
Chellalu learning to walk. She was a baby one day, rapid in unexpected
motion, but only on all fours; the next day--or so it seems, looking
back--she was everywhere on her two feet. "Now there will be no place
where she won't be!" groaned the family, the first time she was seen
walking about with an air of having done it all her life. And appalling
visions rose of Chellalu standing on the wall of the well looking down,
or sitting in the bucket left by some careless water-drawer just on the
edge of the wall, or trying to descend by the rope.

Before this date such diversions as the classic Pattycake had been much
in favour. Chellalu's Attai (the word here and hereafter signifies Mrs.
Walker, "Mother's elder sister") had taught it to her; and whenever and
wherever Chellalu saw her Attai, she immediately began to perform "Prick
it and nick it" with great enthusiasm. But after she could walk,
Chellalu would have nothing more to do with such childish things. "Show
us Edward Rajah!" the older children would say; and instead of standing
up with a regal dignity and crowning her curls with the appropriate
gesture, Chellalu would merely look surprised. They had forgotten. She
was not a baby now. Such trifles are for babies.



CHAPTER III

The Scamp


"PAT-A-CAKE is a thing of the past, but the stage from the highest point
of view is still distinctly attractive"; so decided Chellalu, and
resolved to devote herself thenceforth to this new and engrossing
pursuit. She chose the scene of her first public performance without
consulting us. It was the open floor of the church, on a Sunday morning,
in the midst of a large congregation. This was how it happened.

Chellalu's Attai, who in those days was unaware of all the painful
surprises in store, had taken her to morning service, and allowed her to
sit beside her on the mat at the back of the church. All through the
first part of the service Chellalu was good; and as the sermon began,
she was forgotten. In our church we sit on the floor, men on one side,
women and children on the other. A broad aisle is left between, and the
Iyer (Mr. Walker), refusing to be boxed up in the usual manner, walks up
and down as he preaches. This interested Chellalu.

That morning the sermon was to children, and the subject was "Girdles."
The East of this ancient India is the East to which the prophet spoke by
parable and picture; and, following that time-worn path, the preacher
pictured the parable of Jeremiah's linen girdle: the attention of the
people was riveted upon him, and no one noticed what was happening on
the mat at the end of the church. Only we, up at the front with all the
other children, saw, without being able to stop it, the dreadful
pantomime. For Chellalu, wholly absorbed and pleased with this
unexpected delight, first stood on the mat and acted the girdle picture;
then, growing bolder, advanced out into the open aisle, and, following
the preacher's gestures, reproduced them all exactly. It was a moment of
tension; but if ever a child had a good angel in attendance, Chellalu
has, for something always stops her before the bitter end. I forget what
stopped her then; something invisible, and so, doubtless, the angel. But
we did not breathe freely till we had her safe at home.

[Illustration: CHELLALU, WATCHING THE PICTURE-CATCHER WITH SOME
SUSPICION.

"Whatever is he doing with that black box?"]

Chellalu's visible angel is the gentle Esli, a young convert-helper, of
a meek and lowly disposition. At first sight nothing seems more
unsuitable, for Chellalu needs a firm hand. But firmness without wisdom
would have been disastrous; so as we had not the perfect combination, we
chose the less dangerous virtue, and gave the nursery scamp to the
gentlest of us all. Sometimes, to tell the whole unromantic truth, we
have been afraid less Esli was spilling emotion in vain upon this
graceless soul; and we have suggested an exchange of angels--but somehow
it has never come to pass. Once we almost did it. For a noise past all
bounds called us down to the nursery, and we found the cause of it in a
huddled heap in the corner. "Chellalu! what is the matter?" Only the
softest of soft sobs, heard in the silence that followed our advent, and
one round shoulder heaved, and the curly head went down on the arm in an
attitude of woe. Now this is not Chellalu's way at all. Soft sobbing is
not in her line; and I turned to the twenty-nine children now prancing
about in unholy glee, and they shouted the explanation: "Oh, she is Esli
Accal! She was very exceedingly naughty. She would not come when Accal
called; she raced round the room so fast that Accal could not catch
her, and then she jumped out of her cumasu" (the single small garment
worn), "and ran out into the garden! And Esli Accal sat down in a corner
and cried. And Chellalu is Esli Accal!"

But the pet opportunity in those glad days was when some freak of manner
in friend or visitor suggested a new game. We used to wish, sometimes,
that these kind people understood how much pleasure they were giving to
the artless babe who was studying them with such interest, while they,
all unconscious of their real use, imagined probably she was thinking of
nothing more serious than sweets. After an hour in the bungalow,
Chellalu would wander off, apparently because she was tired of us, but
really because she was full of a new and original idea, and wanted an
audience. Once she puzzled the nursery community who had not been
visiting the bungalow, by mincing about on pointed toes, with shoulders
shrugged like a dancing master in caricature. The babies thought this a
very nice game, and for weeks they played it industriously.

Chellalu talked late--she has long ago made up for lost time--but she
was never at a loss for an answer to a question which could be answered
by action. "Who is in the nursery now?" we asked her one afternoon when
she had escaped before the tea-bell, that trumpet of jubilee to the
nursery, had rung. She smiled and sat down slowly, and then sighed.
Another sigh, and she proceeded to perform her toilet. When the small
hands went up to the head with an action of decorously swinging the back
hair up and coiling it into a loose knot, and when a spasmodic shake
suggested it must be done over again, there was no doubt as to who was
in charge. No one but the excellent Pakium, one of our earlier workers,
ever did things quite like this. No one else was so ponderous. No one
sighed in that middle-aged manner, no one but Pakium. We never could
blame Pakium for Chellalu's escape. As well blame a mature cat for the
escapades of her kitten. Chellalu, watching for a clue as to her fate,
would sigh again profoundly. It was never easy to return her.

[Illustration: "OH, IT'S A JOKE!"]

We were not sorry when this phase passed into something safer for
herself, though perhaps not so charming to the public. Chellalu at two
and three-quarters had surgical ambitions. Medical work she considered
slow. She liked operations. Her first, so far as we know, was performed
upon the unwilling eye of a smaller and weaker sister. "Lie down!" she
had commanded, and the patient had lain down. "Open your eyes!" At this
point the victim realised what she was in for, and her howls brought
deliverance; but not before Chellalu had the agitated baby's head in a
firm grip between her knees, and holding the screwed-up eye wide open
with one hand, was proceeding to drop in "medicine" with the other.
Mercifully the medicine was water.

Thwarted in this direction, Chellalu applied herself to bandaging. She
would persuade someone to lend her a finger or a toe; the owner was
assured it was sore--very sore. She would then proceed to bandage it to
the best of her ability. But all this was mere play. What Chellalu's
soul yearned for was a real knife, or even only a needle, provided it
would prick and cause red blood to flow. Oh to be allowed to operate
properly, as grown-up people do! Chellalu had seen them do it--had seen
thorns extracted from little bare feet, and small sores dressed; and it
had deeply interested her. The difficulty was, no one would offer a
limb. She walked up and down the nursery one morning with a bit of an
old milk tin, very jagged and sharp and inviting, and secreted in her
curls was a long, bright darning needle; but though she took so much
trouble to prepare, no one would give her a chance to perform, and
Chellalu was disgusted. Someone who did not know her suggested she
should perform on herself. This disgusted her still more. Do doctors
perform on themselves!

Chellalu's latest phase introduces the kindergarten. For an educational
comrade, perceiving our defects in this direction, furnished a
kindergarten for us, and gave us a kind push-off into these pleasant
waters; so the little boat sails gaily, and the children at least are
content.

Chellalu has never been so keen about this institution as the other
babies are. "Do you like the kindergarten?" some one asked her the other
day; and she answered with her usual decision: "Yesh. No." We thought
she was talking at random, and tested her by questions about things
which we knew she liked or disliked. But she was never caught. "Well,
then, don't you like the kindergarten?" "Yesh. No." It was evident she
knew what she meant, and said it exactly. Bits of it she likes, other
bits she thinks might be improved. The trouble is that she has an
objection to sitting in the same place for more than a minute at
longest. Other babies, steady, mature things of five, are already
evolving quite orderly sentences in English--the language in which the
kindergarten is partly taught--and we feel they are getting on. Chellalu
never stops long enough to evolve anything, and yet she seems to be
doing a little. From the first week she has talked all she knew in
unabashed fashion. "Good morning very much" was an early production; and
it was followed by many oddments forgotten now, but comical in effect at
the time, which perhaps may explain the otherwise inexplicable fact that
she sometimes learns something.

One only of those early dashes into the unexplored land is remembered,
because it enriched us with a new synonym. It was at afternoon tea that
a sympathetic Sittie (the word means "Mother's younger sister"), knowing
that Chellalu had received something thoroughly well earned, asked her
in English: "What did Ammal give you this morning?" Chellalu caught at
the one familiar word in this sentence (for the babies learn the names
of the flowers in the garden before they are troubled with lesser
matters), and she answered brightly: "Morning-glory!" So Morning-glory
has become to us an _alias_ for smacks.

This same Morning-glory is the subject of one of the kindergarten songs.
For after searching through two or three hundred pages of nursery
rhymes, and interviewing many proper kindergarten songs, we found few
that belonged to the Indian babies' world; and so we had to make them
for ourselves. These songs are about the flowers and the birds and other
simple things, and are twittered by the tiniest with at least some
intelligence, which at present is as much as we can wish. All the babies
sing to the flowers, but it is Chellalu who gives them surprises. One
day we saw her standing under a bamboo arch, covered with her favourite
Morning-glory. She had two smaller babies with her, one on either side.
"Amma! _Look!_" she called; but italics are inadequate to express the
emphasis. "LOOK, Morning--glory--kissing--'chother," and she pointed
with eagerness to the nestling little clusters of lilac, growing, as
their pretty manner is, close to each other. Then, seizing each of the
babies in a fervent and somewhat embarrassing embrace, she hugged and
kissed them both; and finally wheeling round on the flowers, addressed
them impressively: "For--all--loving--little--Indian--children--want--
to--be--like--you."



CHAPTER IV

The Photographs


[Illustration: "THAT THING AGAIN!" (_Page 28._)]

I DO not know how they will strike the critical public, but the photos
are so much better than we dared to expect, that we are grateful and
almost satisfied. Of course, they are insipid as compared with the
lively originals; but the difficulty was to get them of any truthful
sort whatsoever, for the babies regarded the photographer--the kindest
and mildest of men--with the gravest suspicion: and the moment he
appeared, little faces, all animation before, would stiffen into
shyness, and the light would slip out of them, and the naturalness, so
that all the camera saw, and therefore all it could show, was a
succession of blanks.

Then, too, when our artist friend was with us we were in the grasp of an
epidemic of cholera. Morning and evening, and sometimes into the night,
we were tending the sick and dying in the village; and in the interval
between we had little heart for photographs. But the visit of a real
photographer is a rare event in Dohnavur, and we forced ourselves to try
to take advantage of it. Remembering our difficulties, we wonder we got
anything at all; and we hope that stranger eyes will be kind.

[Illustration: PYÂRIE AND VINEETHA.

"Do smile, you little Turk!"]

Often when we looked at the pretty little reversed picture in the camera,
with its delicate colouring and the grace of movement, we have wished
that we could send it as we saw it, all living and true. The photos were
taken in the open air; underfoot was soft terra-cotta-coloured sand;
overhead, the cloudless blue. In such a setting the baby pictures look
their brightest, something very different from these dull copies in
sepia. An Oriental scene in print always looks sorry for itself, and
quite apologetic. It knows it is almost a farce, and very flat and poor.

Then there were difficulties connected with character. Our photographer
was more accustomed to the dignified ways of mountains than to the
extremely restless habit of children; and he never could understand why
they would not sit for him as the mountains sat, and let him focus them
comfortably. The babies looked at things from an opposite point of view,
and strongly objected to delays and leisureliness of every description.
Sometimes when the focussing process promised to be much prolonged, we
put a child we did not wish to photograph in the place of one upon whom
we had designs, and then at the last moment exchanged her. But the baby
thus beguiled seemed to divine our purpose; and, resenting such
ensnarements, would promptly wriggle out of focus. It was like trying to
observe some active animalculæ under a high power. The microscope is
perfect, the creatures are entrapped in a drop of water on the slide;
but the game is not won by any means. Sometimes, after spoiling more
plates than was convenient, our artist almost gave up in despair; but he
never quite gave up, and we owe what we have to his infinite patience.

Pyârie was the most troublesome of these small sitters, though she was
old enough to know better. My mother was with us when she came to us, a
tiny babe and very delicate. She had loved her and helped to nurse
her, and so we wanted a happy photograph for her sake; but nothing was
further from Pyârie's intentions, and instead of smiling, she scowled.
Our first attempt was in the compound, where a bullock-bandy stood.
Pyârie and Vineetha, a little girl of about the same age, were very
pleased to climb over the pole and untwist the rope and play see-saw;
but when the objectionable camera appeared, they stared at it with
aversion, and no amount of coaxing would persuade Pyârie to smile.
"Can't you do something to improve her expression?" inquired the
photographer, emerging from his black hood; then someone said in
desperation: "_Do_ smile, you little Turk!" Vineetha, about whose
expression we were not concerned, obediently smiled; but Pyârie looked
thunderclouds, and turned her head away. She was caught before she
turned, poor dear, so that photograph was a failure.

Once again our kind friend tried. This time he gave her a doll. Pyârie
is most motherly. She is usually tender and loving with dolls, and we
hoped for a sweet expression. But in this we were disappointed. She
accepted the doll--a beautiful thing, with a good constitution and
imperturbable temper; and she looked it straight in the face--a rag face
painted--smiling as we wanted her to smile. Then she smote it, and she
scolded it, and called for a stick and whacked it, and called for a
bigger stick and repeated the performance. Finally she stopped, laid the
doll upon the step, sat down on it, and smiled. But she was hopelessly
out of focus by this time, and it was weary work getting her in. She
smiled during the process in a perfectly exasperating manner, but the
moment all was ready she suddenly wriggled out; and when invited to go
in again, she shook her head decidedly, and pointing to the camera with
its glaring glass eye, covered at that moment with its cloth, she
remarked, "Naughty! Naughty!" and we had to give her up.

[Illustration: "DISGUSTING!" SHE REMARKED IN EXPLICIT YOUNG TAMIL, AND
LOOKED DISGUSTED.]

"Perhaps she would be happier in someone's arms," next suggested the
long-suffering artist; and so one morning, just after her bath, she was
caught up, sweet and smiling, and played with till the peals of merry
laughter assured us of an easy victory. But the camera was no sooner
seen stalking round to the nursery, than suspicions filled Pyârie's
breast. That thing again! And the photograph taken under such
circumstances is left to speak for itself. Why did it follow her
everywhere? Life, haunted by a camera, was not worth living--in which
sentiment some of us heartily concur.

Once an attempt was made when Pyârie and two other little girls were
busily playing on the doorstep. Pyârie soon perceived and expressed her
opinion about the fraud--for the camera's stealthy approach could not be
kept from the children. "Disgusting!" she remarked in explicit young
Tamil, and looked disgusted. The photograph which resulted was perfect
in detail of little rounded limb and curly head, but it was lamentable
as regards expression; so once more our persevering friend tried to
catch her unawares. He showed us the result at breakfast in the shape of
a negative which we recognised as Pyârie. He seemed very pleased. "Look
at the pose!" he said. There was pose certainly, but where was the
smile? Pyârie's one idea had evidently been to ward off something or
someone; and our artist explained it by saying that in despair of
getting her quiet for one second, he had directed his servant to climb
an almost overhanging tree, and the child apparently thought he was
going to tumble on the top of her, and objected. "I got another of her
smiling beautifully, but the plate is cracked," we were told, after the
table had admired the pose. That is a way plates have. The one you most
want cracks.

Poor little Pyârie; we sometimes fear lest her "pose" should be too
true of her. She takes life hardly, and often protests. "_I_ want a
birthday!"--this was only yesterday, when everyone was rejoicing over a
birthday jubilation. Pyârie alone was sorrowful. She stood by her poor
little lonely self, with her head thrown back and her mouth wide open,
and her tears ran into her open mouth as she wailed: "Aiyo! Aiyo! (Alas!
Alas!) _I_ want a birthday!"

[Illustration: "'LOOK AT THE POSE!'

He said. There was pose, certainly, but where was the smile?" (_Page
28._)]

But she is such a loving child, so loyal to her own and so unselfish to
all younger things, that we hope for her more than we fear. And yet
underneath there is a fear; and we ask those who can understand to
remember this little one sometimes, for the world is not always kind to
its poor little foolish Pyâries.

I am writing in the afternoon, and two little people are playing on the
floor. One has a picture-book, and the other is looking eagerly as she
turns the pages and questions: "What is it? What is it?" I notice it is
always Pyârie who asks the question, and Vineetha who answers it: "It is
a cow. It is a cat." "Why don't you let Vineetha ask you what it is?" I
suggest; but Pyârie continues as before: "What is it? What is it?"
varied by "What colour is it? What shape is it? Who made it?" and the
mischief in her eyes (would that our artist could have caught it!)
explains the game. It is decidedly better to be teacher than scholar,
because suitable questions can cover all ignorance. Pyârie has not been
to the kindergarten of late, and has reason to fear Vineetha is somewhat
ahead of her; so she ignores my proposals, and continues her safe
questions. We sometimes think we shall one night be heard talking in our
sleep, and the burden of our conversation will be always--"What is it?
What colour is it? What shape is it? Who made it?"



CHAPTER V

Tara and Evu


[Illustration: TARA.]

OUR nurseries are full of contrasts, but perhaps the two who are most
unlike are the little Tara and Evu, aged, at the hour of writing, three
years and two and a half. I am hammering at my typewriter, when clear
through its metallic monotony comes in distinct double treble, "Amma!
Tala!" "Amma! Evu!" They always announce each other in this order, and
with much emphasis. If it is impossible to stop, I give them a few toys,
and they sit down on the mat exactly opposite my table and play
contentedly. This lasts for a short five minutes; then a whimper from
Tara makes me look up, and I see Evu, with a face of more mischief than
malice, holding all the toys--Tara's share and her own--in a tight
armful, while Tara points at her with a grieved expression which does
not touch Evu in the least. A word, however, sets things right. Evu
beams upon Tara, and pours the whole armful into her lap. Tara smiles
forgivingly, and returns Evu's share. Evu repentantly thrusts them back.
Tara's heart overflows, and she hugs Evu. Evu wriggles out of this
embrace, and they play for another five minutes or so without further
misadventure.

Only once I remember Evu sinned beyond forgiveness. The occasion was
Pyârie's rag-doll of smiling countenance, which had been badly
neglected by the family. But Tara felt for it and loved it. She was
small at the time, and the doll was large, and Tara must have got tired
of carrying it; but she would not tell it so, and for one whole morning
she staggered about with the cumbersome beauty tilted over her shoulder,
which gave her the appearance of an unbalanced but very affectionate
parent.

This was too much for Evu, to whom the comic appeals much more than the
sentimental. She watched her opportunity, and pounced upon the doll.
Tara gave chase; but Evu's fat legs can carry her faster than one would
suppose, and Tara's wails rose to a shriek when across half the garden's
width she saw that ruthless sinner swing her treasure round by one arm
and then deliberately jump on it. It was hours before Tara recovered.

Such a breach of the peace is happily rare; for the two are a pretty
illustration of the mutual attraction of opposites. At this moment they
are playing ball. This is the manner of the game: Tara sits in a high
chair and throws the ball as far as she can. Evu dashes after it like an
excited kitten, and kitten-wise badly wants to tumble over and worry it;
for it is made of bits of wool, which, as every sensible baby knows,
were only put in to be pulled out. She resists the temptation, however,
and presents the ball to Tara with a somewhat inconsequent "Tankou!"
"Tankou!" returns Tara politely, and tosses the ball again. This time
Evu sits down with her back to Tara, and proceeds to investigate the
ball. It is perfectly fascinating. The ends are all loose and quite
easily pulled out. Evu forgets all about Tara in her keen desire to see
to the far end of this delight. "Evu!" comes from the chair in accents
of dignified surprise. "Tala!" exclaims Evu abashed, and hurries up with
the ball. "Tankou!" she says as before, and Tara responds "Tankou!" This
is an integral part of the game. If either forgets it, the other
corrects her by remarking inquiringly, "Tankou?" whereupon the echo
replies in a tone of apology, "Tankou!"

Both these babies are devout, as most things Indian are. But Evu cannot
sit still long enough to be promoted to go to church; and perhaps this
is the reason why in religious matters Tara takes the lead, for she does
go to church. In secularities it is always Evu who initiates, and Tara
admiringly follows. The ball game was exceptional only because Evu
prefers the _rôle_ of kitten to that of queen.

This little characteristic is shown in common ways. The two are sitting
on your knee entirely comfortable and content. The prayer-bell rings.
Down struggles Tara. "To prayers I must go!" she says with decision in
Tamil. "Evu too," urges Evu, also in Tamil. "Tum!" says Tara in superior
English, and waits. Evu "tums," and they hastily depart.

Or it is the time for evening hymns and good-night kisses. We have sung
through the chief favourites, ending always with, "Jesus, tender
Shepherd." "Now sing, 'Oh, luvvly lily g'oing in our garden!'" This from
Tara. Echo from Evu: "Yes; 'Oh, luvvly lily g'oing in our garden!'" You
point out to the garden: "It is dark, there are no lovely lilies to be
seen; besides, that is not exactly a hymn; shall we have 'Jesus, tender
Shepherd,' again, and say good-night?" But this is not at all
satisfactory. Tara looks a little hurt. "Tender Shepperd, _no_! Oh,
luvvly lily!" Evu wonders if we are making excuses. Perhaps we have
forgotten the tune, and she starts it:--

          Oh, lovely lily,
          Growing in our garden,
          Who made a dress so fair
          For you to wear?
          Who made you straight and tall
          To give pleasure to us all?
          Oh, lovely lily,
          Who did it all?

          Oh, little children,
          Playing in our garden,
          God made this dress so fair
          For us to wear.
          God made us straight and tall
          To give pleasure to you all.
          Oh, little children,
          God did it all.

Then Tara smiles all round, and you are given to understand you have
earned your good-night kisses. Evidently to Tara at least there is a
sense of incompleteness somewhere if the lovely lilies are excluded from
the family devotions.

To Tara and to Evu, as to most babies, the garden is a pleasant place.
But when they grow up and make gardens, they will not fill them with
forbidden joys as we do. One of the temptations of life is furnished by
inconsiderate ferns, which hold their curly infant fronds just within
reach. Then there are crotons, with bright leaves aggressively yellow
and delightful, and there are "tunflowers"; and the babies think us
greedy in our attitude towards all these things. The croton was
especially alluring; and one day Tara was found tiptoe on a low wall,
reaching up with both hands, eagerly pulling bits of leaf off. She was
brought to me to be judged; and I said: "Poor leaves! Shall we try to
put them on again?" And hand in hand we went to the garden, and Tara
tried. But the pulled-off bits would not fit on again; and Tara's face
was full of serious thought, though she said nothing. Next day she was
found on the same low wall, reaching up tiptoe in the same sinful way to
the shining yellow leaves overhead. Quite suddenly she stopped, put her
hands behind her back, and never again was she known to pick croton
leaves to pieces.

The same plan prevailed with the ferns. The poor little crumples of
silver and green moved her to pity, and she left them to uncurl in peace
when once she had tried and sadly failed to help them. But the
sunflowers' feelings did not affect her in quite the same way. The kind
we have in abundance is that little dwarf variety with a thin stalk, and
a cheerful face which smiles up at you even after you behead it, and
does not seem to mind. Tara was convinced such treatment did not hurt
them. They would stop smiling if it did. But one day she suddenly
seemed to feel a pang of compunction, for she looked at the little
useless heads and sighed. I had suggested their being fitted on again,
as with the croton leaves and ferns. But this idea had failed; and what
worked the change I know not, for Tara never told. But "tunflowers" now
are left in peace so far as she is concerned; and she is learning to
pick the free grasses and wild-flowers, which happily grow for
everybody, and to make sure their stalks are long enough to go into
water, which is the last thing untutored babies seem to think important.

There is much to be done for all our children, but perhaps for Tara
especially, if she is to grow up strong in soul to fight the battles of
life. We felt this more than ever on the day of our last return from the
hills, after nearly seven weeks' absence. On the evening when we left
them, we had gone round the nurseries after the little ones had fallen
asleep, and said goodbye to each of them without their knowing it; but
when we came to Tara's mat, and kissed the little sleeping face, she
stirred and said, "Amma!" in her sleep; and we stole away fearing she
should wake and understand. Now in the early morning we were home again,
and all the children who were up were on the verandah to welcome us,
each in her own way. It was Tara's way which troubled us.

At first most of the babies were shy, for six weeks are like six years
to the very young; but soon there was a general rush and a thoroughly
cheerful chatter. Tara did not join in it. She stood outside the little
dancing dazzle of delight--the confusion of little animated coloured
dots is rather like the shake of a kaleidoscope--and she just looked and
looked. Then, as we drew her close, the little hands felt and stroked
one's face as if the evidence of eye and ear were not enough to make her
sure beyond a doubt that her own had come back to her; and then, as the
assurance broke, she clung with a little cry of joy, and suddenly burst
into tears.

If only we could hold her safe and sheltered in our arms for ever! How
the longing swept through one at that moment: for the winds of the world
are cold. But it cannot be, it should not be, for such love would be
weak indeed. Rather do we long to brace the gentle nature so that its
very sensitiveness may change to a tender power, and the fountain of
sweet waters refresh many a desert place. But who is sufficient for even
this? Handle the little soul carelessly, harden rather than brace,
misinterpret the broken expression, misunderstand the signs--and the
sweet waters turn to bitterness. God save us from such mistake!

We covet prayer for our children. We want to know that around them all
is thrown that mysterious veil of protection which is woven out of
prayer. We need prayer, too, for ourselves, that our love may be brave
and wise.

Evu's disposition is different. It would not be easy to imagine Evu
overcome by her feelings as Tara was at that hour of our return. One
cannot imagine a kitten shedding tears of joy; and Evu is a kitten, a
dear little Persian kitten, with nothing worse than mischief at present
to account for. Of that there is no lack. "Oh, it is Evu!" we say, and
everyone knows what to expect when "it is Evu." Evu's chief sentiment
that morning, so far as she expressed it, was rather one of wonder at
our ignorant audacity. "You vanished in the night when we were all
asleep, and now you suddenly drop from the skies before we are properly
awake, and expect us all to begin again exactly where we left off. How
little you know of babies!" Doubtless this sentence was somewhat beyond
her in language; but Evu is not dependent on language, and she conveyed
the sense of it to us. She backed out of reach of kisses, and stood with
a small finger upraised; much as a kitten might raise its paw in mock
protest to its mother. She soon made friends, however, and proved
herself an affectionate kitten, though wholly unemotional.

When Tara is naughty, as she is at times, like most people of only
three, a reproachful look brings her spirits down to the lowest depths
of distress. Evu is more inclined to hold up that funny little warning
first finger, and shake it straight in your face. This, at two and a
half, is terrible presumption; but the brown eyes are so innocent, you
cannot be too shocked. Sometimes, however, the case is worse, and Evu
tries to sulk. She sits down solemnly on the ground, and throws her four
fat limbs about in a dreadful recklessness, supposed to strike the
grown-up offender dumb with awe and penitence. Sometimes she even tries
to put out her lower lip, but it was not made a suitable shape, for it
smiles in spite of itself; and then there is a sudden spring; and two
little arms are round your neck, and you are being told, if you know how
to listen, what a very tiresome thing it is to feel obliged to sin.
Then, with the comforting sense of irresponsible kittenhood fully
restored, Evu discovers some new diversion, and you find yourself weakly
wishing kittens need not grow into cats.



CHAPTER VI

Principalities, Powers, Rulers


IT may seem a quick transition from nursery to battle-field; but rightly
to understand this story, it must be remembered that our nursery is set
in the midst of the battle-field. It is a little sheltered place, where
no sound of war disturbs the babies at their play, and the flowers bloom
like the babies in happy unconsciousness of battles, and make a garden
for us and fill it full of peace; but underlying the babies' caresses
and the sweetness of the flowers there is always a sense of conflict
just over, or soon coming on. We "let the elastic go" in the nursery. We
are happy, light-hearted children with our children; sometimes we even
wonder at ourselves; and then remember that the happiness of the moment
is a pure, bright gift, not meant to be examined, but just enjoyed, and
we enjoy it as if there were no battles in the world or any sadness any
more.

And yet this book comes hot from the fight. It is not a retrospect
written in the calm after-years, when the outline of things has grown
indistinct and the sharpness of life is blurred. There is nothing
mellowed about a battle-field. Even as I write these words, the post
comes in and brings two letters. One tells of a child of twelve in whom
the first faint desires have awakened to lead a different life. "She is
a Temple girl. Pray that she may have grace to hold on; and that if she
does, we may be guided through the difficult legal complications. Poor
little girl! It makes one sick to think of her spoiled young life!" The
other is a Tamil letter, about another child who is in earnest, so far
as the writer can ascertain, to escape from the life planned out for
her. She learned about Jesus at school, and responded in her simple way;
but was suddenly taken from school, and shut up in the back part of the
house and not allowed to learn any more. "Like a little dove fluttering
in a cage, so she seemed to me. But she is a timid dove, and the house
is full of wickedness. How will she hold out against it? By God's grace
I was allowed to see her for one moment alone. I gave her a little
Gospel. She kissed it with her eyes" (touched her eyes with it), "and
hid it in her dress."

Only a little while ago we traced a bright young Brahman girl to a
certain Temple house, and by means of one of our workers we made friends
with her. The child, a little widow, was ill, and was sent to the
municipal hospital for medicine. It was there our worker met her, and
the child whispered her story in a few hurried words. She had been
kidnapped (she had not time to tell how), and shut up in the Temple
house, and told she must obey the rules of the house and it was useless
to protest. "If we could help you," she was asked, "would you like to
come to us?" The child hesitated--the very name "Christian" was
abhorrent to her--but after a moment's doubt she nodded, and then
slipped away. Our worker never saw her again. The conversation must have
been noticed by the child's escort, and reported. She was sent off to
another town, and all attempts to trace her failed.

And the god to whom these young child-lives are dedicated? In South
India all the greater symbols of deity are secluded in the innermost
shrine, the heart of the Temple. In our part of the country the
approach to the shrine is always frequented by Brahman priests, who
would never allow the foreigner near, even if he wished to go near.
"Far, far! remove thyself far!" would be the immediate command, did any
polluting presence presume to draw near the shrine. There are idols by
the roadside, and these are open to all; but they are lesser creations.
The Great, as the people call that which the Temple contains, is
something apart. It is to these--The Great--that little children are
dedicated; the whole Temple system is worked in their name.

"Have you ever seen the god to whom your little ones would have been
given?" is a question we are often asked; and until a few days ago we
always answered, "Never." But now we have seen it, seen it unexpectedly
and unintentionally, as we waited for an opportunity to talk to the
crowds of people who had assembled to see it being ceremonially bathed.
We cannot account for our being allowed to see it, except by the fact
that the Brahmans had withdrawn for the moment, and we being, as our
custom is, in Indian dress, were not noticed in the crowd.

Near the place where the idol was being bathed, with much pomp by the
priests, was a little rest-house, where we had waited till some child
told us all was over. Then we came out and mingled with the throng, not
fearing they would misunderstand our motive. While we talked with them,
the Brahmans, who had been bathing in the river after the water had been
sanctified by the god, began to stream up the steps and pass through the
crowd, which opened respectfully and made a wide avenue within itself:
for well the smallest child in that crowd understood that no touch might
defile those Brahmans as they walked, wringing out their dripping
garments and their long black hair.

How we searched the faces as they passed!--sensual, cynical, cold faces,
faces of utter carelessness, faces full of pride and aloofness. But
there were some so different--earnest faces, keen faces, faces sensitive
and spiritual. Oh, the pathos of it all! How our hearts went out to
these, whose eager wistfulness marked them out as truly religious and
sincere! How we longed that they should hear the word, "Come unto Me,
and I will give you rest"! They passed, men young and old, women and
children, and very many widows; and then suddenly two palanquins which
had been standing near were carried down to the awning where the idol
had been bathed; and before we realised what was happening, they passed
us. In the first was the disk, the symbol of the god; in the second, the
god itself.

"We wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places"--this was the word that
flashed through us then. That small, insignificant, painted, and
bejewelled image, in its gaudy little palanquin, was not only that. It
was the visible representative of Powers.

We thought of a merry child in our nursery who was dedicated at birth to
this particular Power. By some glad chance that little girl was the
first to run up to us in welcome upon our return home in the evening. We
thought of her with thankfulness which cannot be expressed; but the
sorrow of other children bound to this same god swept over us as we
stood gazing after the palanquins, till they became a coloured blur in
the shimmering sunshine. There was one such, a bright little child of
eight, who was in attendance upon an old blind woman belonging to that
Temple. "Yes," she had answered to our distressed questions, "she is my
adopted daughter. Should I not have a daughter to wait upon me and
succeed me? How can I serve the god, being blind?" We thought of
another, only six, who was to be given to the service "when she was a
suitable age." Her parents were half-proud and half-ashamed of their
intention; and when they knew we were aware of it, they denied it, and
we found it impossible to do anything.

We turned to the people about us. They were laughing and chatting, and
the women were showing each other the pretty glass bangles and necklets
they had bought at the fair. Glorious sunshine filled the world, the
whole bright scene sparkled with life and colour, and all about us was a
"lucid paradise of air." But "only as souls we saw the folk thereunder,"
and our spirit was stirred within us. There is something very solemn in
such a scene--something that must be experienced to be understood. The
pitiful triviality, the sense of tremendous forces at work among these
trivialities; the people, these crowds of people, absorbed in the
interests of the moment--and Eternity so near; all this and much more
presses hard upon the spirit till one understands the old Hebrew word:
"The burden which the prophet did see."

Does this sound intolerant and narrow, as if no good existed outside our
own little pale? Surely it is not so. We are not ignorant of the lofty
and the noble contained in the ancient Hindu books; we are not of those
who cannot recognise any truth or any beauty unless it is labelled with
our label. We know God has not left Himself without witnesses anywhere.
But we know--for the Spirit of Truth Himself has inspired the
description--how desolate is the condition of those who are without
Christ. We dare not water down the force of such a description till the
words mean practically nothing. We form no hard, presumptuous creed as
to how the God of all the earth will deal with these masses of mankind
who have missed the knowledge of Him here; we know He will do right.
But we know, with a knowledge which is burnt into us, how very many of
the units live who compose these masses. We know what they are missing
to-day, through not knowing our blessed Saviour as a personal, living
Friend; and we know what it means to the thoughtful mind to face an
unknown to-morrow.

A Hindu in a town in the northern part of our district lay dying. He
knew that death was near, and he was in great distress. His friends
tried to comfort him by reminding him of the gods, and by quoting
stanzas from the sacred books; but all in vain. Nothing brought him any
comfort, and he cried aloud in his anguish of soul.

Then to one of the watchers came the remembrance of how, as a little
lad, he had seen a Christian die. In his desperation at the failure of
all attempts to comfort the dying man, he thought of this one little,
far-back memory; and though he could hardly dare to hope there would be
much help in it, he told it to his friend. The Christian was Ragland,
the missionary. He was living in a little house outside the town, when a
sudden hæmorrhage surprised him, and he had no time to prepare for
death. He just threw himself upon his bed, and looking up, exclaimed,
"Jesus!" and passed in perfect peace. Outside the window was a little
Hindu boy, unobserved by any in the house. He had climbed up to the
window, and, leaning in, watched all that happened, heard the one word
"Jesus," saw the quick and peaceful passing; and then slipped away
unnoticed.

The dying Hindu listened as his friend described it to him. And this
little faint ray was the only ray of comfort that lightened the dark way
for him.

Compare that experience with this:--

The missionary to whom this tale was told by the Hindu who had tried to
console his dying friend, was himself smitten with dangerous illness,
and lay in the dim borderland, unable to think or frame a prayer. Then
like the melody of long familiar music, without effort, without strain,
came the calming words of the old prayer: "Lighten our darkness, we
beseech Thee, O Lord; and by Thy great mercy defend us from all perils
and dangers of this night; for the love of Thine only Son, our Saviour,
Jesus Christ."

Could any two scenes present a more moving contrast? Could any contrast
contain a more persuasive call?

As we went in and out among the crowd, there were many who turned away
uninterested; but some listened, and some sat down by the wayside to
read aloud, in the sing-song chant of the East, the little booklets or
Gospels we gave them. We, who are constantly among these people, feel
our need of a fresh touch, as we speak with them and see them day by
day. We need renewed compassions, renewed earnestness. It is easy to
grow accustomed to things, easy to get cool. We pray not only for those
at home, who as yet are not awake to feel the eloquence and the
piteousness of the great "voiceless silence" of these lands, but we pray
for ourselves with ever deepening intensity:--

   Oh for a love, for a burning love, like the fervent flame of fire!
   Oh for a love, for a yearning love, that will never, never tire!
               Lord, in my need I appeal unto Thee;
               Oh, give me my heart's desire!



CHAPTER VII

How the Children Come


THEY come in many ways through the help of many friends. We have told
before[A] how our first two babies came to us through two pastors, one
in the north, the other in the south of our district. Since then many
Indian pastors and workers, and several warm-hearted Christian
apothecaries and nurses in Government service, have become interested;
with the result that little children who must otherwise have perished
have been saved.

One little babe, who has since become one of our very dearest, was
redeemed from Temple life by the wife of a leading pastor, who was
wonderfully brought to the very place where the little child was waiting
for the arrival of the Temple people. We have seldom known a more
definite leading. "I being in the way, the Lord led me," was surely true
of that friend that day, and of other Indian sisters who helped her.
Later, when she came to stay with us, she told us about it. "When first
I heard of this new work, I was not in sympathy with it. I even talked
against it to others. But when I saw that little babe, so innocent and
helpless, and so beautiful too, then all my heart went out to it. And
now----" Tears filled her eyes. She could not finish her sentence. Nor
was there any need; the loving Indian heart had been won.

My mother was with us when this baby came; and she adopted her as her
own from the first, and always had the little basket in which the baby
slept put by her bedside. When the mosquitoes began to be troublesome,
the basket was slipped under her own mosquito net, lest the little pink
blossom should be disturbed. But the baby did not thrive at first; and
the pink, instead of passing into buff, began to fade into something too
near ivory for our peace of mind. It was then the friend who had saved
the little one came to stay with us; and she proposed taking her and her
nurse out to her country village, in hopes of getting a foster-mother
for her there. So my mother, the pastor's wife, the baby, and her nurse,
went out to the Good News Village, and stayed in the pastor's hospitable
home. The hope which had drawn them there was not fulfilled; but the
memory of that visit is fresh and fragrant. We read of alienation
between Indian Christians and missionaries. We are told there cannot be
much mutual affection and contact. We often wonder why it should be so,
and are glad we know by experience so little of the difficulty, that we
cannot understand it. We have found India friendly, and her Christians
are our friends. In these matters each can only speak from personal
experience. Ours has been happy. There may be unkindness and
misunderstanding in India, as in England; but nowhere could there be
warmer love, more tender affection.

All sorts of people help us in this work of saving the children. Once it
was a convert-schoolboy who saw a widow with a baby in her arms.
Noticing the bright large eyes, and what he described as the "blossoming
countenance of the child," he got into conversation with the mother, and
learned that she had been greatly tempted by Temple women in the town,
who had admired the baby and wanted to get it. "If I give her to them,
she will never be a widow," was the allurement there. The bitterness of
widowhood had entered into her soul, and poisoned the very mother-love
within her; and yet there was something of it left, for she did not want
her babe to be a widow. The boy, with the leisureliness of the East,
dropped the matter there; and only in a casual fashion, a week or so
later, mentioned in a letter that he had seen this pretty child, and
that probably, the mother would end in yielding to the temptation to
give her to the Temple--"but it may be by the grace of God that you will
be able to save her." We sent at once to try to find the mother; but she
had wandered off, and no one knew her home. However, the boy was stirred
to prayer, and we prayed here; and a search through towns and villages
resulted at last in the mother being traced and the child being saved.

Christian women have helped us. One such, sitting on her verandah after
her morning's work, heard two women in the adjoining verandah discuss
the case of a widow who had come from Travancore with a bright little
baby-girl, whom she had vowed she would give to one of our largest
temples. The Christian woman had heard of the Dohnavur nurseries, and at
once she longed to save this little child, but hardly knew how to do it.
She feared to tell the two women she had overheard their conversation,
so in the simplicity of her heart she prayed that the widow might be
detained and kept from offering her gift till our worker, old Dévai,
could come; and she wrote to old Dévai.

Happily Dévai was at home when the letter reached her; otherwise days
would have been lost, for her wanderings are many. She went at once, and
found the mother most reasonable. Her idea had been to acquire merit for
herself, and an assured future for her child, by giving it to the gods;
but when the matter was opened to her, she was willing to give it to us
instead. In her case, as in the other, our natural instinct would have
been to try to make some provision by which the mothers could keep their
babies; but it would not have been possible. The cruel law of widowhood
had begun to do its work in them. The Temple people's inducements would
have proved too much for them. The children would not have been safe.

Once it was a man-servant who saved a lovely child. He heard an aside in
the market which put him on the track. The case was very usual. The
parents were dead, and the grandmother was in difficulties. For the
parents' sake she wanted to keep the dear little babe; but she was old,
and had no relatives to whose care she could commit it. Mercifully we
were the first to hear about this little one; for even as a baby she was
so winning that Temple people would have done much to get her, and the
old grandmother would almost certainly have been beguiled into giving
her to them. How often it has been so! "She will be brought up carefully
according to her caste. All that is beautiful will be hers, jewels and
silk raiment." The hook concealed within the shining bait is forgotten.
The old grandmother feels she is doing her best for the child, and the
little life passes out of her world.

"It is a dear little thing, and the man (its grandfather) seemed really
fond of it. He said he would not part with it; but its parents are both
dead, and he did not know what might happen to it if he died." This from
the letter of a fellow-missionary, who saved the little one and sent her
out to us, is descriptive of many. "Not the measure of a rape-seed of
sleep does she give me. I have done my best for her since her mother
died, but her noise is most vexatious." This was a father's account of
the matter only a week or two ago. "Have you no women relations?" we
asked him. "Numerous are my womenfolk, but they are all cumbered with
children: how can they help me?"

Given these circumstances of difficulty, and the strong under-pull of
Temple influence--is it wonderful that many an orphaned babe finds her
way to the Temple house? For in the South the child of the kind we are
seeking to save is never offered to us because there is no other place
where she is wanted. Everywhere there are those who are searching for
such children; and each little one saved represents a counter-search,
and somewhere, earnest prayer. The mystery of our work, as we have said
before, is the oftentimes apparent victory of wrong over right. We are
silent before it. God reigns; God knows. But sometimes the
interpositions are such that our hearts are cheered, and we go on in
fresh courage and hope.

Among our earliest friends were some of the London Missionary Society
workers of South Travancore. One of these friends interested her
Biblewomen; and when, one morning, one of these Biblewomen passed a
woman with a child in her arms on the road leading to a well-known
Temple, she was ready to understand the leading, and made friends with
the mother. She found that even then she was on her way to a Temple
house. A few minutes later and she would not have passed her on the
road.

There was something to account for this directness of leading. At that
time we had our branch nursery at Neyoor, in South Travancore, ten miles
from the place where the Biblewoman met the mother. On that same
morning, Ponnamal, who was in charge there, felt impelled to go to the
upper room to pray for a little child in danger. She remained in prayer
till the assurance of the answer was given, and then returned to her
work. That evening a bandy drove up to the nursery, and she saw the
explanation of the pressure and the answer to the prayer. A little
child was lifted out of the bandy, and laid in her arms. She stood with
her nurses about her, and together they worshipped God.

This prayer-pressure has been often our experience when special help is
needed to effect the salvation of some little unknown child. It was our
Prayer-day, July 6, 1907. Three of us were burdened with a burden that
could not be lightened till we met and prayed for a child in peril. We
had no knowledge of any special child, though, of course, we knew of
many in danger. When we prayed for the many, the impression came the
more strongly that we were meant to concentrate upon one. Who, or where,
we did not know.

Five days later, a letter reached us from a friend in the Wesleyan
Mission, working in a city five hundred miles distant. The letter was
written on the 8th:--

"On the morning of the 6th, a woman who knows our Biblewomen well, told
them of a little Brahman baby in great danger; so J. and two others went
at once and spent the greater part of the morning trying to save the
child. It was in the house of a so-called Temple woman, who had adopted
it, and she had taken every care of it. For some reason she wanted to go
away, and could not take it with her. Two or three women of her own kind
were there and wanted it. One had money in her hand for it. But J. had
already got the baby into her arms, and reasoned and persuaded until the
woman at last consented. They at once brought it here. Had the friendly
woman not told J., the baby would now be in the hands of the second
Temple woman. I visited the woman afterwards. She had two grown girls in
the room with her, the elder such a sweet girl. She told me openly it
was all according to custom, and that God had arranged their lives on
those lines, and they could not do otherwise. It is terribly sad, and
such houses abound."

Happenings of this sort--if the word "happen" is not irreverent in such
a connection--have a curiously quieting effect upon us. We are very
happy; but there is a feeling of awe which finds expression in words
which, at first reading, may not sound appropriate; but we write for
those who will understand:--

          Oh, fix Thy chair of grace, that all my powers
            May also fix their reverence . . .
          Scatter, or bind, or bend them all to Thee!
            Though elements change and Heaven move,
            Let not Thy higher court remove,
          But keep a standing Majesty in me.

FOOTNOTE:

[A] "Overweights of Joy."



CHAPTER VIII

Others



[Illustration: STURDY AND STOLID, AND LITTLE VEERA

--whose story, however, is different.]

WE have some children who were not in Temple danger, but who could not
have grown up good if we had not taken them. "If peril to the soul is of
importance," wrote the pastor who sent us two little girls, "then it is
important you should take them": so we took them. These little ones were
in "peril to the soul," because their nominal Christian mother had,
after her husband's death, married a Hindu, against the rules of her
religion and his. The children were under the worst influence; and both
were winning little things, who might have drifted anywhere. We have
found it impossible to refuse such little ones, even though danger of
the Temple kind may not be probable.

Such a child, for example, is the little girl the Moslem is ready to
adopt and convert to the faith. Our first redeemed from this captivity
(literally slavery under the name of adoption) was a cheerful little
person of six, with the sturdy air the camera caught, and a manner all
her own. An American missionary in an adjoining district heard of her
and her little sister, and wrote to know if we would take them if he
could save them. We could not say No; so he tried, and succeeded in
getting the elder child; the little one had been already "adopted," and
he could not get her. "The whole affair was the most astonishing thing I
have ever seen in India," he wrote when he sent the little girl. The
child upon arrival made friends with another, and confided to her in a
burst of confidence: "Ah, she was a jewel, my own little sister--not
like me, not dark of skin, but 'fair' and tender; and the great man in
the turban saw her and desired her, and he took her away; and she cried
and cried and cried, because she was only such a very little girl."

"The business was being discussed out in the open street"--the writer
was another missionary--"the pastor heard of it from a Christian who was
passing, and saw the cluster of Muhammadans round the mother and her
children. It was touch-and-go with the child." These two, Sturdy and
Stolid, side by side in the photograph, are in all ways quite unlike the
typical Temple child; but the danger from which they were delivered is
as real, and perhaps in its way as grave.

One of the sweetest of our little girls, a child with a spiritual
expression which strikes all who see her, came to us through a young
catechist who heard of her and persuaded her people to let her come to
Dohnavur. She is an orphan; and being "fair" and very gentle, needed a
mother's care. Her nearest relatives had families of their own, and were
not anxious for this addition to their already numerous daughters; and
the little girl, feeling herself unwanted, was fretting sadly. Then an
offer came to the relations--not made expressly in words, but
implied--by which they would be relieved of the responsibility of the
little niece's future. All would not have been straight for the child,
however, and they hesitated. The temptation was great; and in the end it
is probable they would have yielded, had not the catechist heard of it,
and influenced them to turn from temptation. It was the evening of our
Prayer-day when the little Pearl came; and when we saw the sweet little
face, with the wistful, questioning eyes like the eyes of a little
frightened dog taken away alone among strangers, and when we heard the
story, and knew what the child's fate might have been, then we welcomed
her as another Prayer-day gift. We do not look for gratitude in this
work; who does? But sometimes it comes of itself; and the grateful love
of a child, like the grateful love of a little affectionate animal
lifted out of its terror and comforted, is something sweet and tender
and very good to know. The Pearl says little; but her soft brown eyes
look up into ours with a trustful expression of peaceful happiness; and
as she slips her little hand into ours and gives it a tight squeeze, we
know what her heart is saying, and we are content.

Two more of these "others" are the two in the photograph who are playing
a pebble game. Their parents died leaving them in the care of an aunt, a
perfectly heartless woman whose record was not of the best. She starved
the children, though she was not poor; and then punished them severely
when, faint with hunger, they took food from a kindly woman of another
caste. Finally she gave them to a neighbour, telling her to dispose of
them as she liked.

About this time our head worker, Ponnamal, was travelling in search of a
child of whom we had heard in a town near Palamcottah. She could not
find the child, and, tired and discouraged, turned into the large Church
Missionary Society hall, where a meeting was being held to welcome our
new Bishop. As Ponnamal was late, she sat at the back, and could not
hear what was going on; so she gave herself up to prayer for the little
child whom she had not found, and asked that her three days' journey
might not be all in vain.

[Illustration: PEBBLES.]

As she prayed in silence thus, another woman came in and sat down at the
back near Ponnamal. When Ponnamal looked up, she saw it was a friend she
had not met for years. She began to tell her about her search for the
child; and this led on to telling about the children in general, and the
work we were trying to do. The other had known nothing of it all before;
but as she listened, a light broke on her face, and she eagerly told
Ponnamal how that same morning she had come across a Hindu woman in
charge of two little girls. The Tamils when they meet, however casually,
have a useful habit of exchanging confidences. The woman had told
Ponnamal's friend what her errand was. Ponnamal's talk about children in
danger recalled the conversation of the morning. In a few hours more
Ponnamal was upon the track of the Hindu woman and her two little
charges. It ended in the two little girls being saved.



CHAPTER IX

Old Dévai


SHE has been called "Old Dévai" ever since we knew her, twelve years
ago; and she is still active in mind and body. "As I was then, even so
is my strength now for war, both to go out and to come in," she would
tell you with a courageous toss of the old grey head. Her spirit at
least is untired.

We knew her first as a woman of character. One Sunday, in our Tamil
church, a sermon was preached upon the love of the Father as compared
with the love of the world. That Sunday Dévai went home and acted upon
the teaching in such fashion that she had to suffer from the scourge of
the tongue in her own particular world. But she went on her way, unmoved
by adverse criticism. Some years later, when we were in perplexity as to
how to set about our search for children in danger of being given to
temples, old Dévai offered to help. She was peculiarly suitable, both in
age and in position, for this most delicate work; and we accepted her
offer with thanksgiving. Since then she has travelled far, and followed
many a clue discovered in strange ways and in strange company. Perhaps
no one in South India knows as much as Dévai knows about the secret
system by which the Temple altars are supplied with little living
victims; but she has no idea of how to put her knowledge into shape and
express it in paragraph form. We learn most from her when she least
knows she is saying anything interesting.

When first we began the work, our great difficulty was, as it is still,
to get upon the track of the children before the Temple women heard of
them. Once they were known to be available, Temple scouts appeared
mysteriously alert; and it is doubly difficult to get a little child
after negotiations have been opened with the subtle Temple scout. How
often old Dévai has come to us sick at heart after a long, fruitless
search and effort to save some little child who, perhaps, only an hour
before her arrival was carried off in triumph by the Temple people! "I
pursued after the bandy, and I saw it in the distance; but swiftly went
their bullocks, and I could not overtake it. At last they stopped to
rest, and I came to where they were. But they smiled at me and said:
'Did you ever hear of such a thing as you ask in foolishness? Is it the
custom to give up a child, once it is ours?'" Sometimes a new story is
invented on the spot. "Did you not know it was my sister's child; and I,
her only sister, having no child of my own, have adopted this one as my
own? Would you ask me to give up my own child, the apple of my eye?"
Oftener, however, the clue fails, and all Dévai knows is that the little
one is nowhere to be found. Once she traced it straight to a Temple
house, won her way in, and pleaded with tears, offering all compensation
for expenses incurred (travelling and other) if only the Temple woman
would let her take the child. But no: "If it dies, that matters little;
but disgrace is not to be contemplated." When all else fails, we
earnestly ask that the little one in danger may be taken quickly out of
that polluted atmosphere up into purer air; and it is startling to note
how solemnly the answer to that prayer has come in very many instances.

The clue for which we are always on the watch is often like a fine silk
thread leading down into dark places where we cannot see it, can hardly
feel it; it is so thin a thread. Sometimes, when we thought we held it
securely, we have lost it in the dark.

Sometimes it seems as if the Evil One, whose interest in these little
ones may be greater than we know, lays a false clue across our path, and
bewilders us by causing us to spend time and strength in what appears to
be a wholly useless fashion. Once old Dévai was lured far out of our own
district in search of two children who did not even exist. She had taken
all precautions to verify the information given, but a false address had
baffled her; and we can only conclude that, for some reason unknown to
us, but well known to those whom we oppose, they were permitted on that
occasion to gain an advantage over us. We made it a rule, after that
will-of-the-wisp experience, that any address out of our own district
must be verified; and that the nearest missionary thereto, or
responsible Indian Christian, must be approached, before further steps
are taken. This rule has saved many a fruitless journey; but also we
cannot help knowing it has sometimes occasioned delays which have had
sad results. For distances are great in India. Dévai herself lives two
days' journey from us, and her address is uncertain, as she sets off at
a moment's notice for any place where she has reason to think a child in
danger may be saved. Then, too, missionaries and responsible Indian
Christians are not everywhere. So that sometimes it is a case of
choosing the lesser of two evils, and choosing immediately.

[Illustration: LATHA (FIREFLY) BLOWING BUBBLES.]

Once in the night a knock came to Dévai's door. A man stood outside, a
Hindu known to her. "A little girl has just been taken to the Temple of
A., where the great festival is being held. If you go at once you may
perhaps get her." The place named was out of our jurisdiction; but in
such cases Dévai knows rules are only made to be broken. Off she went on
foot, got a bandy _en route_, reached the town before the festival was
over, found the house to which she had been directed--a little shut-up
house, doors and windows all closed--managed, how we never knew, to get
in, found a young woman, a Temple woman from Travancore, with a little
child asleep on the mat beside her, persuaded her to slip out of the
house with the child without wakening anyone, crept out of the town and
fled away into the night, thankful for the blessed covering darkness.
The child was being kept in that house till the Temple woman to whom she
was to be given produced the stipulated "Joy-gift," after which she
would become Temple property. Some delay in its being given had caused
that night's retention in the little shut-up house. The child, a most
lovable little girl, had been kidnapped and disguised; and the matter
was so skilfully managed, that we have never been able to discover even
the name of her own town. We only know she must have been well brought
up, for she was from the first a refined little thing with very dainty
ways. She and her little special friend are sitting on the steps looking
at Latha (Firefly), who is blowing bubbles. The other little one has a
similar but different history. Her father brought her to us himself,
fearing lest she should be kidnapped by one related to her who much
wanted to have her. "I, being a man, cannot be always with the child,"
he said, "and I fear for her."

On another occasion the clue was found through Dévai's happening to
overhear the conversation of two men in a wood in the early morning. One
said to the other something about someone having taken "It" somewhere;
and Dévai, whose scent is keen where little "Its" are concerned, made
friends with the men, and got the information she wanted from them.
Careful work resulted in a little child's salvation; but Dévai hardly
dared believe it safe until she reached Dohnavur. When that occurred we
were all at church; for special services were being held in week-day
evenings, and old Dévai had to possess her soul in patience till we came
out of church. Then there was a rush round to the nursery, and an eager
showing of the "It." I shall never forget the pang of disappointment and
apprehension. Several little ones had been sent to us who could not
possibly live; and the nurses had got overborne, and we dreaded another
strain for them. It was a tiny thing, three pounds and three-quarters of
pale brown skin and bone. Its face was a criss-cross of wrinkles, and it
looked any age. But "Man looketh upon the outward appearance" would have
been assuredly quoted to us, regardless of context, had we ventured upon
a remark to old Dévai, who poured forth the story of its salvation in
vivid sentences. Next evening the old grannie of the compound told us
the baby could not live till morning. She laid it on a mat and regarded
it critically, felt its pulses (both wrists), examined minutely its eyes
and the bridge of its nose: "No, not till morning. Better have the grave
prepared, for early morning will be an inconvenient hour for digging."
Others confirmed her diagnosis, and sorrowfully the order was given and
the grave was dug.

But the baby lived till morning; and though for two years it needed a
nurse to itself, and over and over again all but left us, this baby has
grown one of our healthiest; and now when old Dévai comes to see us she
looks at it, and then to Heaven, and sighs with gratitude.



CHAPTER X

Failures?


BUT sometimes old Dévai brings us little ones who do not come to stay.
Failures, the world would call them. Twice lately this has happened, and
each time unexpectedly; for the babies had stories which seemed to imply
a promise of future usefulness. Surely such a deliverance must have been
wrought for something special, we say to ourselves, and refuse to fear.

One dear little fat "fair" baby was brought to us as a surprise, for we
had not heard of her. It had seemed so improbable that Dévai could get
her, that she had not written to us to ask us to pray her through the
battle, as she usually does. The sound of the bullock-bells' jingle one
moonlight night woke us to welcome the baby. She had travelled fifty
miles in the shaky bullock-cart, and she was only a few days old; but
she seemed healthy, and we had no fears. "Ah, the Lord our God gave her
to me, or never could I have got her! Her mother had determined to give
her to the Temple; and when I went to persuade her, she hid the baby in
an earthen vessel lest my eyes should see her. But earthen pots cannot
hide from the eyes of the Lord. And here she is!" The details, fished
out of Dévai by dint of many questions, made it clear that in very
truth the Lord, to whom all souls belong, had worked on behalf of this
little one; moving even Hindu hearts, as His brave old servant pleaded,
making it possible to break through caste and custom, those prison walls
of most cruel convention, till even the Hindus said: "Let the Christian
have the babe!" We do not know why she was taken. She never seemed to
sicken, but just left us; perhaps she was needed somewhere else, and
Dohnavur was the way there.

The other meant even more to us, for she was our first from Benares, the
heart of this great Hinduism; and her very presence seemed such a
splendid pledge of ultimate victory.

This little one was saved through a friend, a Wesleyan missionary, who
had interested her Indian workers in the children. The baby's mother was
a pilgrim from Benares, and her baby had been born in the South. A
Temple woman had seen it and was eager to get it, for it was a child of
promise. Our friend's worker heard of this, and interposed. The mother
consented to give her baby to us. It was not a case in which we dare
have persuaded her to keep it; for such babies are greatly coveted, and
the mother was already predisposed to give her child to the gods.

When we heard of this little one, old Dévai was with us. She had only
just arrived after a journey of two days with a little girl, but she
knew the perils of delay too well to risk them now. "Let me go! I will
have some coffee, and immediately start!" So off she went for five more
days of wearisome bullock-cart and train. But her face beamed when she
returned and laid a six-weeks-old baby in our arms--a baby fair to look
upon. We gathered round her at once, and she lay and smiled at us all.
Hardly ever have we had so sweet a babe. But the smiling little mouth
was too pale a pink, and the beautiful eyes were too bright. She had
only been with us a month when we were startled by the other-world look
on the baby's face. We had seen it before; we recognised it, and our
hearts sank within us. That evening, as she lay in her white cradle, the
waxy hands folded in an unchildlike calm, she looked as if the angel of
Death had passed her as she slept, and touched her as he passed.

She stayed with us for another month, and was nursed day and night till
more and more she became endeared to us; and then once more we heard the
word that cannot be refused, and we let her go. We laid passion-flowers
about her as she lay asleep. The smile that had left her little face had
come back now. "She came with a smile, and she went with a smile," said
one who loved her dearly; and the flowers of mystery and glory spoke to
us, as we stood and looked. "Who for the joy that was set before Him
. . . endured." The scent of the violet passion-flower will always carry
its message to us. "Let us be worthy of the grief God sends."

And oh that such experiences may make us more earnest, more self-less in
our service for these little ones! Someone has expressed this thought
very tenderly and simply:--

          Because of one small low-laid head, all crowned
                With golden hair,
          For evermore all fair young brows to me
                A halo wear.
          I kiss them reverently. Alas, I know
                The pain I bear!

          Because of dear but close-shut holy eyes
                Of heaven's own blue,
          All little eyes do fill my own with tears,
                Whate'er their hue.
          And, motherly, I gaze their innocent,
                Clear depths into.

          Because of little pallid lips, which once
                My name did call,
          No childish voice in vain appeal upon
                My ears doth fall.
          I count it all my joy their joys to share,
                And sorrows small.

          Because of little dimpled hands
                Which folded lie,
          All little hands henceforth to me do have
                A pleading cry.
          I clasp them, as they were small wandering birds,
                Lured home to fly.

          Because of little death-cold feet, for earth's
                Rough roads unmeet,
          I'd journey leagues to save from sin and harm
                Such little feet.
          And count the lowliest service done for them
                So sacred--sweet.

But grief is almost too poignant a word for what is so stingless as this.
And yet God the Father, who gives the love, understands and knows how
much may lie behind two words and two dates. "Given . . . Taken . . ."
Only indeed we do bless Him when the cup holds no bitterness of fear or
of regret. There is nothing ever to fear for the little folded lambs. If
only the veil of blinding sense might drop from our eyes when the door
opens to our cherished little children, should we have the heart to toil
so hard to keep that bright door shut? Would it not seem almost selfish
to try? But the case is different when the child is not lifted lovingly
to fair lands out of sight, but snatched back, dragged back down into
the darkness from which we had hoped it had escaped. This work for the
children, which seems so strangely full of trial of its own (as it is
surely still more full of its own particular joy), has held this
bitterness for us, and yet the bitter has changed to sweet; and even now
in our "twilight of short knowledge" we can understand a little, and
where we cannot we are content to wait.

Four years ago, after much correspondence and effort, a little girl was
saved from Temple service in connection with a famous Temple of the
South from which few have ever been saved. She had been dedicated by her
father, and her mother had consented. Dévai got a paper signed by them
giving her up to us instead. But shortly after she left the town, the
father regretted the step he had taken, and followed Dévai, unknown to
her. Alas, the child had not been with us an hour before she was carried
off.

For two years we heard nothing of her. Old Dévai, who was broken-hearted
about the matter, tried to find what had been done with her, but it was
kept secret. She almost gave up in despair.

At last information reached her that the child was in the same town; and
that her father having died of cholera, the mother and another little
daughter were in a certain house well known to her. She went immediately
and found the older child had not been given to the gods. Something of
her pleadings had lingered in the father's memory, and he had refused to
give her up. But the mother was otherwise minded, and intended to give
both children to the Temple. Dévai had been guided to go at the critical
time of decision. The mother was persuaded, and Dévai returned with two
sheaves instead of one--and even that one she had hardly dared to
expect. Once more we were called to hold our gifts with light hands. The
younger of the welcome little two was one of ten who died during an
epidemic at Neyoor. The elder one is with us still--a bright,
intelligent child.

The only other one whom we have been compelled to give up in this most
hurting way was saved through friends on the hills, who, before they
sent the little child to us, believed all safe as to claims upon her
afterwards. She was a pretty child of five, and we grew to love her very
much; for her ways were sweet and gentle and very affectionate. Lala,
Lola, and Leela were a dear little trio, all about the same age, and all
rather specially interesting children.

But the father gave trouble. He was not a good man, and we knew it was
not love for his little daughter which prompted his action. He demanded
her back, and our friends had to telegraph to us to send her home. It
was not an easy thing to do; and we packed her little belongings feeling
as if we were moving blindly in a grievous dream, out of which we must
surely awaken.

There was some delay about a bandy, but at last it was ready and
standing at the door. We lifted the little girl into it, put a doll and
a packet of sweets in her hands, and gave our last charges to those who
were taking her up to the hills, workers upon whom we could depend to do
anything that could yet be done to win her back again. Then the bandy
drove away.

But we went back to our room and asked for a great and good thing to be
done. We thought of little Lala, with her gentle nature which had so
soon responded to loving influence, and we knew her very gentleness
would be her danger now; for how could such a little child, naturally so
yielding in disposition, withstand the call that would come, and the
pressure that had broken far stronger wills? So we asked that she might
either be returned to us soon or taken away from the evil to come. A
week passed and our workers returned without her; they evidently felt
the case quite hopeless. But the next letter we had from our friends
told us the child was safe.

She had left us in perfect health, but pneumonia set in upon her return
to the colder air of the hills. She had been only a few days ill, and
died very suddenly--died without anyone near her to comfort her with
soothing words about the One to whom she was going. Even in the gladness
that she was safe now, there was the pitiful thought of her loneliness
through the dark valley; and we seemed to see the little wistful face,
and felt she would be so frightened and shy and bewildered; and we
longed to know something about those last hours. But one of the heathen
women who had been about her at the last told what she knew, and our
friends wrote what they heard. "She said she was Jesus' child, and did
not seem afraid. And she said that she saw three Shining Ones come into
the room where she was lying, and she was comforted." Oh, need we ever
fear? Little Lala had been with us for so short a time that we had not
been able to teach her much; and so far as any of us know, she had heard
nothing of the ministry of angels. We had hardly dared to hope she
understood enough about our Lord Himself to rest her little heart upon
Him. But we do not know everything. Little innocent child that she was,
she was carried by the angels from the evil to come.

Old Dévai keeps a brave heart. When she comes to see us, she cheers
herself by nursing the cheerful little people she brought to us, small
and wailing and not very hopeful. She is full of reminiscences on these
occasions. "Ah," she will say, addressing an astonished two-year-old,
"the devil and all his imps fought for you, my child!" This is
unfamiliar language to the baby; but Dévai knows nothing of our modern
ideas of education, and considers crude fact advisable at any age. "Yes,
he fought for you, my child. I was sitting on the verandah of the house
wherein you lay, and I was preaching the Gospel of the grace of God to
the women, when five devils appeared. Yea, five were they, one older and
four younger. Men were they in outward shape, but within them were the
devils. I had nearly persuaded the women to let me have you, my child;
and till they fully consented, I was filling up the interval with
speech, for no man shall shut my mouth. And the women listened well, and
my heart burned within me--for it was life to me to see them
listening--when lo! those devils came--yea, five, one older and four
younger--sent by their master to confound me. And they rose up against
me and turned me out, and told the women folk not to listen; and you--I
should never get you, said they; and so it appeared, for with such is
might, and their master waxes furious when he knows his time is short.
But the Lord on high is mightier than a million million devils, and what
are five to Him? He rose up for me against them and discomfited
them"--Dévai does not go into secular particulars--"and so you were
delivered from the mouth of the lion, my child!"

We are not anxious that our babies should know too much ancient history.
Enough for them that they are in the fold--

          I am Jesus' little lamb,
            Happy all day long I am;
          He will keep me safe from harm,
            For I'm His lamb--

is enough theology for two-year-olds; but Dévai's visits are not so
frequent as to make a deep impression, and the baby thus addressed,
after a long and unsympathetic stare, usually scrambles off her knee and
returns unscathed to her own world.



CHAPTER XI

God Heard: God Answered


OLD Dévai, with her vivid conversation about the one old devil and four
younger, does not suggest a conciliatory attitude towards the people of
her land. And it may be possible so to misinterpret the spirit of this
book as to see in it only something unappreciative and therefore unkind.
So it shall now be written down in sincerity and earnestness that
nothing of the sort is intended. The thing we fight is not India or
Indian, in essence or development. It is something alien to the old life
of the people. It is not allowed in the Védas (ancient sacred books). It
is like a parasite which has settled upon the bough of some noble
forest-tree--on it, but not of it. The parasite has gripped the bough
with strong and interlacing roots; but it is not the bough.

We think of the real India as we see it in the thinker--the seeker after
the unknown God, with his wistful eyes. "The Lord beholding him loved
him," and we cannot help loving as we look. And there is the Indian
woman hidden away from the noise of crowds, patient in her motherhood,
loyal to the light she has. We see the spirit of the old land there;
and it wins us and holds us, and makes it a joy to be here to live for
India.

The true India is sensitive and very gentle. There is a wisdom in its
ways, none the less wise because it is not the wisdom of the West. This
spirit which traffics in children is callous and fierce as a ravening
beast; and its wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly,
sensual, devilish. . . . And this spirit, alien to the land, has settled
upon it, and made itself at home in it, and so become a part of it that
nothing but the touch of God will ever get it out. We want that touch of
God: "Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke." That is why we write.

For we write for those who believe in prayer--not in the emasculated
modern sense, but in the old Hebrew sense, deep as the other is shallow.
We believe there is some connection between knowing and caring and
praying, and what happens afterwards. Otherwise we should leave the
darkness to cover the things that belong to the dark. We should be for
ever dumb about them, if it were not that we know an evil covered up is
not an evil conquered. So we do the thing from which we shrink with
strong recoil; we stand on the edge of the pit, and look down and tell
what we have seen, urged by the longing within us that the Christians of
England should pray.

"Only pray?" does someone ask? Prayer of the sort we mean never stops
with praying. "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it," is the prayer's
solemn afterword; but the prayer we ask is no trifle. Lines from an
American poet upon what it costs to make true poetry, come with
suggestion here:--

          Deem not the framing of a deathless lay
          The pastime of a drowsy summer day.
          But gather all thy powers, and wreck them on the verse
          That thou dost weave. . . .
            The secret wouldst thou know
          To touch the heart or fire the blood at will?
            Let thine eyes overflow,
          Let thy lips quiver with the passionate thrill.

"Arise, cry out in the night; in the beginning of the night watches pour
out thine heart like water before the Lord; lift up thine hands towards
Him for the life of thy young children!"

The story of the children is the story of answered prayer. If any of us
were tempted to doubt whether, after all, prayer is a genuine
transaction, and answers to prayer no figment of the imagination--but
something as real as the tangible things about us--we have only to look
at some of our children. It would require more faith to believe that
what we call the Answer came by chance or by the action of some
unintelligible combination of controlling influences, than to accept the
statement in its simplicity--God heard: God answered.

In October, 1908, we were told of two children whose mother had recently
died. They were with their father in a town some distance from Dohnavur;
but the source from which our information came was so unreliable that we
hardly knew whether to believe it, and we prayed rather a tentative
prayer: "If the children exist, save them." For three months we heard
nothing; then a rumour drifted across to us that the elder of the two
had died in a Temple house. The younger, six months old, was still with
her father. On Christmas Eve our informant arrived in the compound with
his usual unexpectedness. The father was near, but would not come nearer
because the following day being Friday (a day of ill-omen), he did not
wish to discuss matters concerning the child; he would come on Saturday.
On Saturday he came, carrying a dear little babe with brilliant eyes.
She almost sprang from him into our arms, and we saw she was mad with
thirst. She was fed and put to sleep, and hardly daring yet to rejoice
(for the matter was not settled with the father), we took him aside and
discussed the case with him. There were difficulties. A Temple woman had
offered a large sum for the child, and had also promised to bequeath
her property to her. He had heard, however, that we had little children
who had all but been given to Temples, and he had come to reconnoitre
rather than to decide.

The position was explained to him. But the Temple meant to him
everything that was worshipful. How could anything that was wrong be
sanctioned by the gods? The child's mother had been a devout Hindu; and
as we went deeper and deeper into things with him, it was evident he
became more and more reluctant to leave the little one with us. "Her
mother would have felt it shame and eternal dishonour." We were in the
little prayer-room, a flowery little summer-house in the garden, when
this talk took place. On either side are the nurseries, and playing on
the wide verandahs were happy, healthy babes; their merry shouts filled
the spaces in the conversation. Sometimes a little toddling thing would
find her way across to the prayer-room, and break in upon the talk with
affectionate caresses. To our eyes everything looked so happy, so
incomparably better than anything the Temple house could offer, that it
was difficult to adjust one's mental vision so as to understand that of
the Hindu beside us, to whose thought all the happiness was as nothing,
because these babes would be brought up without caste. In the Temple
house caste is kept most carefully. If a Temple woman breaks the rules
of her community she is out-casted, excommunicated. "You do not keep
caste! you do not keep caste!" the father repeated over and over again
in utter dismay. It was nothing to him that the babes were well and
strong, and as happy as the day was long; nothing to him that
cleanliness reigned, so far as constant supervision could ensure it,
through every corner of the compound. We did not profess to keep caste;
we welcomed every little child in danger of being given to Temples,
irrespective altogether of her caste. All castes were welcome to us, for
all were dear to our Lord. This was beyond him; and he declared he would
never have brought his child to us, had he understood it before. "Let
her die rather! There is no disgrace in death." As he talked and
expounded his views, he argued himself further and further away from us
in spirit, until he became disgusted with himself for ever having
considered giving the baby to us. All this time the baby lay asleep; and
as we looked at the little face and noted the "mother-want," the
appealing expression of pitiful weariness even in sleep, it was all we
could do to turn away and face the almost inevitable result of the
conversation. Once the father, a splendid looking man, tall and
dignified, rose and stood erect in sudden indignation. "Where is the
babe? I will take her away and do as I will with her. She is my child!"
We persuaded him to wait awhile as she was asleep, and we went away to
pray. Together we waited upon God, whose touch turns hard rocks into
standing water, and flint-stone into a springing well, beseeching Him to
deal with that father's heart, and make it melt and yield. And as we
waited it seemed as if an answer of peace were distinctly given to us,
and we rose from our knees at rest. But just at that moment the father
went to where his baby slept in her cradle, and he took her up and
walked away in a white heat of wrath.

The little one was in an exhausted condition, for she had not had
suitable food for at least three days. It was the time of our
land-winds, which are raw and cold to South Indian people; and it seemed
that the answer of peace must mean peace after death of cold and
starvation. It would soon be over, we knew; twenty-four hours, more or
less, and those great wistful eyes would close, and the last cry would
be cried. But even twenty-four hours seemed long to think of a child in
distress, and her being so little did not make it easier to think of her
dying like that. So on Sunday morning I shut myself up in my room asking
for quick relief for her, or--but this seemed almost asking too
much--that she might be given back to us. And as I prayed, a knock came
at the door, and a voice called joyously, "Oh, Amma! Amma! Come! The
father stands outside the church; he has brought the baby back!"

But the child was almost in collapse. Without a word he dropped the
cold, limp little body into our arms, and prostrated himself till his
forehead touched the dust. We had not time to think of him, we hardly
noted his extraordinary submission, for all our thought was for the
babe. There was no pulse to be felt, only those far too brilliant eyes
looked alive. We worked with restoratives for hours, and at last the
little limbs warmed and the pulse came back. But it was a bounding,
unnatural pulse, and the restlessness which supervened confirmed the
tale of the brilliant eyes--the little babe had been drugged.

From that day on till our Prayer-day, January 6th, it was one long,
unremitting fight with death. We wrote to our medical comrade in Neyoor,
and described the symptoms, which were all bad. He could give us little
hope. Gradually the brilliance passed from the eyes, and they became
what the Tamils call "dead." The film formed after which none of us had
ever seen recovery. Then we gathered round the little cot in the room we
call Tranquillity, and we gave the babe her Christian name Vimala, the
Spotless One; for we thought that very soon she would be without spot
and blameless, another little innocent in that happy band of innocents
who see His Face.

On the evening of the 5th, friends of our own Mission who were with us
seemed to lay hold for the life of the child with such fresh earnestness
and faith, that we ourselves were strengthened. Next morning we believed
we saw a change in the little deathlike face, and that evening we were
sure the child's life was coming back to her.

It was not till then we thought of the father, who, after signing a
paper made out for him by our pastor, who is always ready to help us,
had returned to his own town. When we heard all that had occurred we saw
how our God had worked for us. It was not fear of his baby's death that
had moved the man to return to us. "What is the death of a babe? Let her
die across my shoulders!" He was not afraid of the law. After all
persuasions had failed, we had tried threats: the thing he purposed to
do was illegal. The Collector (chief magistrate) would do justice. "What
care I for your Collector? How can he find me if I choose to lose
myself? How can you prove anything against me?" And in that he spoke the
truth. There are ways by which the intention of the law concerning
little children can be most easily and successfully circumvented. Our
pleadings had not touched him. "Is she not my child? Was her mother not
my wife? Who has the right to come between this child of mine and me her
father?" And so saying he had departed without the slightest intention
of coming back again. But a Power with which he did not reckon had him
in sight; and a Hand was laid upon him, and it bent him like a reed. We
hope some ray of a purer light than he had ever experienced found its
way into his darkened soul, and revealed to him the sin of his
intention. But we only know that he left his child and went back to his
own town. God had heard: God had answered.



CHAPTER XII

To what Purpose?


AMONG the closest of our little children's friends is one whose name I
may not give, lest her work should be hindered; for in this work of
saving the little ones, though we have the sympathy of many, we
naturally have to meet the covert opposition of very many more, and it
is not well to give too explicit information as to the centres of
supply. This dear friend's help has been invaluable. From the first she
has stood by us, interesting her friends, Indian and English, in the
children, and stirring them into practical co-operation. Then, when the
babies have been saved and had to be cared for and sent off, she made
nothing of the trouble, and above all she has never been discouraged.
Sometimes things have been difficult. Some have doubted, and many have
criticised, and even the kindest have lost heart. This friend has never
lost heart.

For not all the chapters of the Temple children's story can be written
down and printed for everyone to read. We think of the unwritten
chapters, and remember how often when the pressure was greatest the
thought of that undiscouraged comrade has been strength and inspiration.
No one except those who, in weakness and inexperience, have tried to do
something not attempted before can understand how the heart prizes
sympathy just at the difficult times, and how such brave and steadfast
comradeship is a thing that can never be forgotten.

Among the babies saved through this friend's influence was one with a
short but typical story.

The little mite was seen first in her mother's arms, and the mother was
standing by the wayside, as if waiting. Something in her attitude and
appearance drew the attention of an Indian Christian, whom our friend
had interested in the work, and she got into conversation with the
mother, who told her that her husband had died a fortnight before the
baby's birth, and she, being poor though of good caste, was much
exercised about the little one's future. How could she marry her
properly? She had come to the conclusion that her best plan would be to
give her to the Temple. So she was even then waiting till someone from a
Temple house would come and take her little girl.

The news that such a child is to be had soon becomes known to those who
are on the watch, and it is improbable that the mother would have had
long to wait. The Christian persuaded her to give up the idea, and the
little babe was saved and sent to us. On the journey to Dohnavur a
Temple woman chanced to get into the carriage where the little baby
slept in its basket. There was nothing to tell who she was; and like the
other women in the carriage, she was greatly interested in its story.
But presently it became evident that her interest was more than
superficial. She looked well at the baby and was quiet for a time; then
she said to the Christian who was bringing it to us: "I see it is going
to be an intelligent child. Let me have it; I will pay you." The
Christian of course refused, and asked her how she knew it was going to
be intelligent. "Look at its nose," said the Temple woman. "See, here is
money!" and she offered it. "Let me have the baby! You can tell your
Missie Ammal it died in the train!"

Sometimes our babies have to run greater risks than this in their
journeys south to us. The distances which have to be covered by train
and bullock-cart are great, and the travelling tedious. And there are
many delays and opportunities for difficulties to arise; so that when we
know a baby is on its way to us we feel we want to wrap it round in
prayer, so that, thus invisibly enveloped, it will be protected and
carried safely all the way. Once a little child, travelling to us from a
place as distant, counting by time, as Rome is from London, was observed
by some Brahman men, who happened to be at the far end of the long
third-class carriage. Our worker, who was alone with the child, noticed
the whispering and glances toward her little charge, and wrapped it
closer in its shawl, and, as she said, "looked out of the window as if
she were not at all afraid, and prayed much in her heart." Presently a
station was reached. The language spoken there was not her vernacular,
but she understood enough to know something was being said about the
baby. Then an official appeared, and there was a cry quite
understandable to her: "A Brahman baby! That Christian there is
kidnapping a Brahman baby!" The official stopped at the carriage door.
She was pushed towards him amidst a confused chatter, a crowd gathered
at the door in a moment, and someone shouted in Tamil, above the excited
clamour on the platform: "Pull her out! A Christian with a Brahman
baby!"

"Then did my heart tremble! I held the baby tight in my arms. The man in
clothes said, 'Show it to me!' And he looked at its hands and he looked
at its feet, and he said: 'This is no child of yours!' But as I began to
explain to him, the train moved, and he banged the door; and I praised
God!"

India is a land where strange things can be accomplished with the
greatest ease. As all went well it is idle to imagine what might have
been; but we knew enough to be thankful.

Among the unwritten chapters is one which touches a problem. There are
some little children--often the most valuable to the Temple women--who
cannot live with us, but can live with them, because the baby in the
Temple house is nursed by a foster-mother for the sake of merit, and
thus it is given its best chance of life; whereas with us it is
impossible to get foster-mothers. Indian children of the castes approved
for the service are not, as a class, as robust as others; the secluded
lives of their mothers, and the rigid rules pertaining to widows
(girl-children born after the mother becomes a widow are, as has been
seen, in special danger), partly account for this; and in other cases
there are other reasons. Whatever the cause, however, the effect is
manifest. The baby is seldom the little bundle of content of our English
nurseries. It may become so later on, if all goes well. Often it lives
upon its birth-strength for four months, or less, and then slips away.
We have often hesitated about taking such babies; and then we have found
that by refusing one who is likely to die we have discouraged those who
were willing to help us, and the next baby in danger has been taken
straight to the house where its welcome was assured. So we have hardly
ever dared to refuse, and we have taken little fragile things whose days
we knew were numbered unless a foster-mother could be found, for it
seemed to us that death with us was better than life with the Temple
people; and also we have not dared to risk losing the next, who might be
healthy. "One dies, one lives," say the Temple women in their wisdom,
and take all who are suitable in caste and in appearance. "She will be
'fair,'" or, "She will be intelligent," settles the matter for them.
They give the baby a chance: should we do less?

One night I woke suddenly with the feeling of someone near, and saw,
standing beside my bed out on the verandah, the friend who has sent us
so many little ones. She had something wrapped in a shawl in her arms,
and as she moved the shawl a thin cry smote me with a fear, for a baby
who has come to stay does not cry like that.

It was a dear little baby, one of the type the Temple women prize, and
will take so much trouble to rear. The little head was finely formed,
and the tiny face, in its minute perfection of feature, looked as if
some fairy had shaped it out of a cream rose-petal. Alas, there was that
look we know so well and fear so much--that look of not belonging to us,
the elsewhere, other-world look. But we could not do this work at all,
we would not have the heart to do it, if we did not hope. So we go on
hoping.

The baby filled the next half-hour, for a thing so small can be hungry
and say so; and together we heated the water and made the food, till,
satisfied at length that her little charge was comfortable, our friend
lay down to rest. "Jesus therefore being weary with His journey, sat
thus on the well." There is something in the utter weariness after a
long, hot journey, ending with seven hours in a bullock-cart over rough
tracks by night, which always recalls that word of human tiredness. How
I wished that the morning were not so near as I saw my friend asleep at
last! A few hours later she was on her homeward way, and we were left
with our hopes and our fears, and the baby.

For three weeks we hoped against fear, till there was no room left for
any more hope, or for anything but prayer that the child might cease to
suffer. And after a month of struggle for life, the tiny, tossing thing
lay still.

"To what purpose is this waste?" Was it strange that the question came
again to ourselves, and to others too? Our dear friend's toilsome
travelling--a journey equal in expenditure of time to one from London
to Vienna and back again, and very much more exhausting, the faithful
nurse's patience, the little baby's pain! And all the love that had
grown through the weeks, and all the efforts that had failed, the very
train ticket and bandy fare--was it all as water spilt on the ground?
Was it waste?

We knew in our hearts it was not. The dear little babe was safe; and it
might be that our having taken her, though she was so very delicate,
would result in another, a healthy child, being saved, who, if she had
been refused, would never have been brought. This hope comforted us; and
we prayed definitely for its fulfilment, and it was fulfilled. For
shortly after that little seed had been sown in death, information came
from the same source through which she had been saved, that another
child was in danger of being adopted by Temple women; and this
information would not have been given to our friend had the first child
been refused. Nundinie we called this little gift: the name means
Happiness.

Sometimes in moments of depression and disappointment we go for change
of air and scene to the Prémalia nursery; and the baby Nundinie,
otherwise Dimples, of whom more afterwards, comes running up to us with
her welcoming smile and outstretched arms; while others, with stories as
full of comfort, tumble about us, and cuddle, and nestle, and pat us
into shape. Then we take courage again, and ask forgiveness for our
fears. It is true our problems are not always solved, and perhaps more
difficult days are before; but we will not be afraid. Sometimes a sudden
light falls on the way, and we look up and still it shines: and what can
we do but "follow the Gleam"?



CHAPTER XIII

A Story of Comfort


[Illustration: SEELA IS THE BABY IN THE MIDDLE.

She slipped into the picture at the last moment, and so was caught
unawares. Mala is to the right; Nullinie to the left. (This little one's
left hand and foot are partially paralyzed through drugging in
infancy.)]

AMONG the stories of comfort is one that belongs to our merry little
Seela. She is bigger now than when the despairing photographer broke
thirteen plates in the vain attempt to catch her; but she is still most
elusive and alluring, a veritable baby, though over two years old. Some
months ago, the Iyer measured her, and told her she was thirty-two
inches of mischief. For weeks afterwards, when asked her name, she
always replied with gravity, "Terty-two inses of mistef."

All who have to do with babies know how different they can be in
disposition and habits. There is the shop-window baby, who shows all her
innocent wares at once to everyone kind enough to look. She is a
charming baby. And there is the little wild bird of the wood, who will
answer your whistle politely, if you know how to whistle her note; but
she will not trust herself near you till she is sure of you. Seela is
that sort of baby. We have watched her when she has been approached by
some unfamiliar presence, and seen her summon all her baby dignity to
keep her from breaking into tears of overwhelming shyness. Give her time
to observe you from under long, drooping lashes; give her time to make
sure--then the mischief will sparkle out, and something of the real
child. But only something, never all, till you become a relation; with
those who are only acquaintances Seela, like Bala, has many reserves.

Seela's joy is to be considered old and allowed to go to the
kindergarten. She takes her place with the bigger babies, and tries to
do all she sees them do. Sometimes a visitor looks in, and then Seela,
naturally, will do nothing; but if the visitor is wise and takes no
notice, she will presently be rewarded by seeing the eager little face
light up again, and the fat hands busily at work. Seela is not supposed
to be learning very seriously; but she seems to know nearly as much as
some of the older children, and her quaint attempts at English are much
appreciated. Seela has her faults. She likes to have her own way, and
once was observed to slap severely an offender almost twice her own
size; but on the whole she is a peaceful little person, beloved by all
the other babies, both senior and junior. Her great ambition is to
follow Chellalu into all possible places of mischief. Anything Chellalu
can do Seela will attempt; and as she is more brave than steady on her
little feet, she has many a narrow escape. Her latest escapade was to
follow her reckless leader in an attempt to walk round the top of the
back of a large armchair, the cane rim of which is a slippery slant, two
inches wide.

On the morning of her arrival, not liking to leave her even for a few
minutes, I carried her to the early tea-table, when she saw the Iyer and
smiled her first smile to him. From that day on she has been his loyal
little friend. At first his various absences from home perplexed her.
She would toddle off to his room and hunt everywhere for him, even under
his desk and behind his waste-paper basket, and then she returned to the
dining-room with a puzzled little face. "Iyer is not!" "Where is he,
Seela?" "Gone to Heaven!" was her invariable reply. When he returned
from that distant sphere she never displayed the least surprise. That is
not our babies' way. She calmly accepted him as a returned possession;
stood by his chair waiting for the invitation, "Climb up"; climbed up as
if he had never been away--and settled down to bliss.

Part of this bliss consists in being supplied with morsels of toast and
biscuit and occasional sips of tea. Sometimes there is that delicious
luxury, a spoonful of the unmelted sugar at the bottom of the cup. For
Seela is a baby after all, and does not profess to be like grown-up
people who do not appreciate nice things to eat, being, of course,
entirely superior to food; but, excitable little damsel as she is in all
other matters, her table manners are most correct, and she shows her
appreciation of kind attentions in characteristic fashion. A smile, so
quick under the black lashes that only one on the look-out for it would
see it, a sudden confiding little nestle closer to the giver--these are
her only signs of pleasure; and if no notice is taken of her, she sits
in silent patience. Sometimes, if politeness be mistaken for
indifference, a shadow creeps into her eyes, a sort of pained surprise
at the obtuseness of the great; but she rarely makes any remark, and
never points or asks, as the irrepressible Chellalu does in spite of all
our admonitions. If, however, Seela is being attended to and fed at
judicious intervals, and she knows the intention is to feed her
comfortably, then her attitude is different. She feels a reminder will
be acceptable; and as soon as she has disposed of a piece of biscuit,
she quietly holds up an empty little hand, and glances fearlessly up to
the face that looks down with a smile upon her. This little silent,
empty hand, held up so quietly, has often spoken to us of things
unknown to our little girl; and as if to enforce the lesson, the other
babies, to our amusement, apparently noticing the gratifying result of
Seela's upturned hand, began to hold up their little hands with the same
silent expectancy, till all round the table small hands were raised in
perfect silence, by hopeful infants of observant habits and strong
faith.

[Illustration: THE COTTAGE NURSERY.]

Mala, the rather stolid-looking little girl to the right of the
photograph, is Seela's elder sister. She is not so square-faced as the
photograph shows her, and she is much more interesting. This little one
seems to us to have in some special sense the grace of God upon her; for
her nursery life is so happy and blameless and unselfish, that we rarely
have to wish her different in anything. Her coming, with little Seela's,
is one of the very gladdest of our Overweights of Joy.

We heard of the little sisters through a mission schoolmaster,
who--knowing that they had been left motherless, and that a Hindu of
good position had obtained something equivalent to powers of
guardianship, and thus empowered had placed them with a Temple
woman--was most anxious to save them, and wrote to us; and, as he
expressed it, "also earnestly and importunately prayed the benign
British Government to intervene."

The Collector to whom the petition was sent was a friend of ours. He
knew about the nursery work, and was ready to do all he could; but he
did not want a disturbance with the Caste and Temple people, and so
advised us to try to get the children privately. We sent our wisest
woman-worker, Ponnamal, to the town, and she saw the principal people
concerned; but they entirely refused to give up the children. The man
who had adopted them had got his authority from the local Indian
sub-magistrate; and contended that as the Government had given them to
him, no one had any right to take them from him; "and even if the
Government itself ordered me to give them up, I never will. I will never
let them go." This in Tamil is even more explicit: "The hold by which I
hold them I will never let go." Ponnamal returned, weary in mind and in
body, after three days of travelling and effort; she had caught a
glimpse of the baby, and the little face haunted her. The elder child
was reported very miserable, and she had seen nothing of her. The
guardian, of course, had not dealt with her direct; but she heard he had
taken legal advice, and was sure of his position. There was nothing
hopeful to report. Once again we tried, but in vain. By this time a new
bond had been formed, for the guardian had become attached to little
Seela, and spent his time, so we heard, in playing with her. He let it
be known that nothing would ever make him give her up. "She is in my
hand, and my hand will never let go."

Then suddenly news came that he was dead. The baby had sickened with
cholera. He had nursed her and contracted the disease. In two days he
had died. He had been compelled to let go.

Then the feeling of all concerned changed completely. It hardly needed
the Collector's order, given with the utmost promptitude, to cause the
Temple woman to give the children up. To the Indian mind, quick to see
the finger of God in such an event, the thing was self-evident. An
unseen Power was at work here. Who were they that they should withstand
it? A telegram told us the children were safe, and next day we had them
here.

The baby was happy at once; but the elder little one, then a child of
about three and a half, was very sorrowful. She was so pitifully
frightened, too, that at first we could do nothing with her; and there
was a look in her eyes that alarmed us, it was so distraught and
unchildlike. "My mother did her best for them," wrote the kind
schoolmaster to whose house the children had been taken when the Temple
woman gave them up; "but the elder one has fever. She is always
muttering to herself, and can neither stand nor sit." She could stand
and sit now, only there was the "muttering," and the terrible look of
bewilderment worse than pain. For days it was a question with us as to
whether she would ever recover perfectly. That first night we had to
give her bromide, and she woke very miserable. Next day she stood by the
door waiting for her mother, as it seemed; for under her breath she was
constantly whispering, "Amma! Amma!" ("Mother! Mother!") She never cried
aloud, only sobbed quietly every now and then. She would not let us
touch her, but shrank away terrified if we tried to pet her. All through
the third day she sat by the door. This was better than the weary
standing, but pitiful enough. On the morning of the fourth day she sat
down again for a long watch; but once when her little hand went up to
brush away a tear, we saw there was a toy in it, and that gave us hope.
That night she went to bed with a doll, an empty tin, and a ball in her
arms; and the next day she let us play with her in a quiet, reserved
fashion. Next morning she woke happy.

The babies teach us much, and sometimes their unconscious lessons
illuminate the deeper experiences of life. One such illumination is
connected in my mind with the little trellised verandah, shown in the
photograph, of the cottage used as a nursery when Mala and Seela came to
us.

It was the hour between lights, and five babies under two years old were
waiting for their supper--Seela, Tara, and Evu (always a hungry baby),
Ruhinie, usually irrepressible, but now in very low spirits, and a tiny
thing with a face like a pansy--all five thinking longingly of supper.
These five had to wait till the fresh milk came in, as their food was
special; that evening the cows had wandered home with more than their
usual leisureliness from their pasture out in the jungle, and so the
milk was late.

The babies, who do not understand the weary ways of cows, disapproved of
having to wait, and were fractious. To add to their depression, the boy
whose duty it was to light the lamps and lanterns had been detained, and
the trellised verandah was dark. So the five fretful babies made remarks
to each other, and threw their toys about in that exasperated fashion
which tells you the limits of patience have been passed; and the most
distressed began to whimper.

At this point a lantern was brought and set behind me, so that its light
fell upon the discarded toys, miscellaneous but beloved--a china head
long parted from its body, one whole new doll, a tin with little stones
in it, a matchbox, and other sundries. If anything will comfort them,
their toys will, I thought, as I directed their attention to the tin
with its pleasant rattling pebbles, and the other scattered treasures on
the mat. But the babies looked disgusted. Toys were a mockery at that
moment. Evu seized the china head and flung it as far as ever she could.
Tara sat stolid, with two fingers in her mouth. Seela turned away,
evidently deeply hurt in her feelings, and the other two cried. Not one
of them would find consolation in toys.

Then the pansy-faced baby, Prâsie, pointed out to the bushes, where
something dangerous, she was quite sure, was moving; and she wailed a
wail of such infectious misery that all the babies howled. And one
rolled over near the lantern which was on the floor behind me, and for
safety's sake I moved it, and its light fell on my face. In a moment all
five babies were tumbling over me with little exclamations of delight,
and they nestled on my lap, caressing and content.

Are there not evenings when our toys have no power to please or soothe?
There is not any rest in them or any comfort. Then the One whom we love
better than all His dearest gifts comes and moves the lantern for us, so
that our toys are in the shadow but His face is in the light. And He
makes His face to shine upon us and gives us peace.

"For Thou, O Lord my God, art above all things best; . . . Thou alone
most sufficient and most full; Thou alone most sweet and most
comfortable.

"Thou alone most fair and most loving; Thou alone most noble and most
glorious above all things; in whom all things are at once and perfectly
good, and ever have been and shall be.

"And therefore whatever Thou bestowest upon me beside Thyself, or
whatever Thou revealest or promisest concerning Thyself, so long as I do
not see or fully enjoy Thee, is too little, and fails to satisfy me.

"Because, indeed, my heart cannot truly rest nor be entirely contented
unless it rest in Thee, and rise above all Thy gifts and all things
created.

"When shall I fully recollect myself in Thee, that through the love of
Thee I may not feel myself but Thee alone, above all feeling and measure
in a manner not known to all?"



CHAPTER XIV

Pickles and Puck


[Illustration: "PICKLES" AND HER FRIENDS.

"Pickles" sits with her thumb in her mouth, distrustful of
photographers.]

"AMMA! Amma!" then in baby Tamil, "Salala has come!" And one of the most
enticing of the little interruptions to a steady hour's work scrambles
over the raised doorstep, tripping and tumbling in her eagerness to get
in. Now she is staggering happily about the room on fat, uncertain feet.
Upsets are nothing to Sarala. She shakes herself, rubs a bumped head,
smiles if you smile down at her, and picks herself up with a sturdy
independence that promises something for her future. She has travelled
to-day, stopping only to visit her Préma Sittie, a long way across the
field all by herself. She has braved tumbles and captures, for her nurse
may any minute discover her flight; and even now, safe in port, she
keeps a wary eye on the door which opens on the nursery side of the
compound. If she thinks I am about to suggest her departure, she
immediately engages me in some interest of her own. She has ways and
wiles unknown to any baby but herself; and if all seems likely to fail,
she sits down on the floor, and first puts out her lower lip as far as
it will go, and then springs up, climbs over you, clings with all four
limbs at once, and buries her curly tangle deep into your neck. But if
the case is hopeless, she sits down on the floor again and digs her
small fists into her eyes, in silent indignation and despair. Then
comes a howl impossible to smother, and at last such bitter bursts of
woe as nothing short of dire necessity can force you to provoke. This is
Sarala, one of the most affectionate, most wilful, most winsome of all
the babies. She is truthful. She has just this moment pulled a
drawing-pin out of its place, which happened to be within reach, and her
solemn "Aiyo!" (Alas!) "Look, Amma!" shows she feels she has sinned, but
wants to confess. Life will have many a battle for this baby; but surely
if she is truthful and loving, and we are loving and wise, the Lord who
has redeemed her will carry her through.

Her first great battle royal was with the new Sittie,[B] who immediately
upon arrival loved the babies. The battle was about Sarala's evening
meal, which she refused to take from the new Sittie because she had
offended her small majesty a few minutes before by allowing another baby
to share the lap of which Sarala wished to have complete possession; and
the baby had crawled off disgusted with the ways of such a Sittie.

As a rule we avoid collisions at bedtime. The day should end peacefully
for babies; but the contest once begun had to be carried through, for
Sarala is not a baby to whom it is wise to give in where a conflict of
wills is concerned. Next morning it was evident she remembered all about
it. When the new Sittie (now called Préma Sittie by the children)[C]
came to the nursery, Sarala hurried off and would have nothing to do
with her. From the distance of the garden she would catch sight of her
advancing form, and retreat round a corner. Sometimes if Préma Sittie
sat down on the floor and fondled another baby, Sarala would crawl up
from behind, put her arms round her neck, and even begin to sit down on
her knee; but if her Sittie made the first advance, she was instantly
repelled. This continued for a fortnight; and as Sarala was only a year
and eight months old at the time, a fortnight's memory rather astonished
us. In the end she forgot, and now there are no more devoted friends
than Préma Sittie and Sarala.

But it was the other Sittie, Piria Sittie by name,[D] who first made
Sarala's acquaintance. She and I went to Neyoor together when the branch
nursery was there; and as the new nursery was almost ready for the
babies, we lightened the immense undertaking of removal by carting off
whatever we could of furniture and infants. Sarala has eyes which can
smile bewitchingly, and a voice which can coo with delicious affection;
but those sweet eyes can look stormy, and cooing is a sound remote from
Sarala's powers in opposite directions; so we wondered, as we packed her
into the bandy, what would happen that night. If we had known Sarala
better we should not have wondered. All this child wants to make her
good is someone to hold on to. She woke frequently during the night, for
we were not entirely comfortable, wedged sideways and close as herrings
in a barrel. But all she did when she awoke was to push a soft little
arm round either one or other of us, and cuddle as close as she possibly
could; the least movement on our part, however, she deeply resented and
feared. A limpet on a rock is nothing to this baby. Her very toes can
cling.

Sarala's private name is Pickles. Her twin in mischief is Puck, and she,
too, is fond of paying visits to the bungalow. But she always comes as a
surprise; she never announces herself. You are busy with your back to
the door when that curious feeling, a sense of not being quite alone,
comes over you, and you turn and see an elfish thing, very still and
small and shy, but with eyes so comical that Puck is the only possible
name by which she could be called. Seen unexpectedly, playing among the
flowers in a fragment of green garment washed to the softness of a
tulip leaf, you feel she only needs a pair of small wings and a wand to
be entirely in character.

Puck has none of Pickles' faults, and a good many of her virtues. She is
a most good-tempered little person, loving to be loved, but equally
delighted that others should share the petting. She gives up to
everybody, and smiles her way through life; such a comical little mouth
it is, to match the comical eyes. All she ever asks with insistence is
somewhere to play. Bereft of room to play, Puck might become
disagreeable, though a disagreeable Puck is something unimaginable.
Yesterday it was needful to keep her in the shade; and as a special
policeman-nurse could not be told off to keep watch over her, she was
tied by a long string to the nursery door. At first she was sorely
distressed; but presently the comic side struck her, and she sat down
and began to tie herself up more securely. If they do such things at all
they should do them better, she seemed to think. And this is Puck all
through. She will find the laugh hidden in things, if she can. Sometimes
in her eagerness to make everybody as happy as she is herself she gets
into serious trouble. She was hardly able to walk when she was
discovered comforting a crying infant by taking a bottle of milk from an
older babe (who, according to her thinking, had had enough) and giving
it to the younger one who seemed to need it more. What the older baby
said is not recorded.

Puck in trouble is a pitiful sight. She tries not to give in to feelings
of depression. She screws her smiling lips tight, twists her face into a
pucker, and shuts her eyes till you only see two slits marked by the
curly eyelashes. But if her emotions are too much for her she gives
herself up to them thoroughly. There is no whining or whimpering or
sulking; she wails with a wail that rivals Pickles' howl. "What an awful
child!" remarked a visitor one morning, in a very shocked tone, as she
went the round of the nurseries and came upon Puck on the floor
abandoned to grief. We wondered if our friend knew how much more awful
most babies are, and we wished the usually charming Puck had chosen some
other moment to disgrace herself and us. But no, there she sat, her two
small fists crushed over her mouth--for we insist that when the babes
feel obliged to cry, they shall smother the sound thereof as much as may
be--and the visitor retired, feeling, doubtless, thankful the awful
child was not hers. But Puck's griefs are of short duration. Ten minutes
later she was climbing the chain from which the swing hangs, trying to
fit her little toes into the links, and laughing, with the tears still
wet on her cheeks, because the chain shook so that she could not climb
it properly, though she tried it valiantly, hand over head, like a
dancing bear on a pole. Puck's Guardian Angel, like Chellalu's, must be
ever in attendance.

FOOTNOTES:

[B] Miss Lucy Ross.

[C] "Préma" means _Beloved_.

[D] Miss Mabel Wade, who joined us November 15, 1907. "Piria," like
"Préma," means _Beloved_.



CHAPTER XV

The Howler


PICKLES and Puck at their worst and both together are nothing to the
Howler in her separate capacity. We called her the Howler because she
howled.

We heard of her first through our good Pakium, who, during a pilgrimage
round the district, paid a visit to the family of which she was the
youngest member. "She lay in her cradle asleep"--Pakium kindled over
it--"like an innocent little flower, and she once opened her eyes--such
eyes!--and smiled up in my face. Oh, like a flower is the babe!" And
much speech followed, till we pictured a tender, flower-like baby, all
sweetness and smiles.

Her story was such as to suggest fears, though on the surface things
looked safe. Her grandfather, a fine old man, head of the house, was
sheltering the baby and her mother and three other children; for the
son-in-law had "gone to Colombo," which in this case meant he desired to
be free from the responsibilities of wife and family. He had left no
address, and had not written after his departure. So the old man had the
five on his hands. A Temple woman belonging to a famous South-country
Temple, knowing the circumstances, had made a flattering offer for the
baby, then just three months old. The grandfather had refused; but the
grandmother was religious, and she felt the pinch of the extra five, and
secretly influenced her daughter, so that it was probable the Temple
woman would win if she waited long enough. And Temple women know how to
wait.

[Illustration: THE DOHNAVUR COUNTRY IN FLOOD.]

A year passed quietly. We had friends on the watch, and they kept us
informed of what was going on. The idea of dedication was becoming
gradually familiar to the grandfather, and he was ill and times were
hard. But still we could do nothing, for to himself and his whole clan
adoption by Christians was a far more unpleasant alternative than
Temple-dedication. After all, the Temple people never break caste.

Once a message reached us: "Send at once, for the Temple women are about
to get the baby"; and we sent, but in vain. A few weeks later a similar
message reached us; and again the long journey was made, and again there
was the disappointing return empty-handed. It seemed useless to try any
more.

About that time a comrade in North Africa, Miss Lilias Trotter, sent us
her new little booklet, "The Glory of the Impossible." As we read the
first few paragraphs and roughly translated them for our Tamil
fellow-workers, such a hope was created within us that we laid hold with
fresh faith and a sort of quiet, confident joy. And yet, when we wrote
to our friends who were watching, their answer was most discouraging.
The only bright word in the letter was the word "Impossible."

"Far up in the Alpine hollows, year by year, God works one of His
marvels. The snow-patches lie there, frozen into ice at their edges from
the strife of sunny days and frosty nights; and through that ice-crust
come, unscathed, flowers in full bloom.

"Back in the days of the bygone summer the little soldanella plant
spread its leaves wide and flat on the ground to drink in the
sun-rays; and it kept them stored in the root through the winter. Then
spring came and stirred its pulses even below the snow-shroud. And as it
sprouted, warmth was given out in such strange measure that it thawed a
little dome of the snow above its head. Higher and higher it grew, and
always above it rose the bell of air till the flower-bud formed safely
within it; and at last the icy covering of the air-bell gave way and let
the blossom through into the sunshine, the crystalline texture of its
mauve petals sparkling like the snow itself, as if it bore the traces of
the fight through which it had come.

"And the fragile things ring an echo in our hearts that none of the
jewel-like flowers nestled in the warm turf on the slopes below could
waken. We love to see the impossible done, and so does God."

These were the sentences which we read together. To the South Indian
imagination Alpine snow is something quite inconceivable; but the
picture on the cover and snow-scene photographs helped, and the Indian
mind is ever quick to apprehend the spiritual, so the booklet did its
work.

We have two seasons here, the wet and the dry. The dry is subdivided
into hot, hotter, and hottest; but the wet stands alone. It is a time
when the country round Dohnavur is swamp or lake according to the level
of the ground; and we do not expect visitors--the heavy bullock-carts
sink in the mud and make the way too difficult. If a letter had come
just then asking us to send for the baby, we should certainly have tried
to go; but no letter came, and it was then, when everything said,
"Impossible," that suddenly all resistance gave way and the grandfather
said: "Let her go to the Christians."

[Illustration: PAKIUM AND NAVEENA.]

We were sitting round the dinner-table one wet evening, thinking of
nothing more exciting than the flying and creeping creatures which
insisted upon drowning themselves in our soup, when the jingle of
bullock-bells made us look at each other incredulously; and then,
without waiting to wonder who it was, we all ran out and met Rukma
running in from the wet darkness. "It's it! it's it!" she cried, and
danced into the dining-room, decorum thrown to the pools in the
compound. "Look at it!" and we saw a bundle in her arms. And it howled.

From that day on for nearly a week it continued consistently to howl. We
called the little thing Naveena, for the name means "new"; and it was
our nearest approach to Soldanella, which we should have called her if
we did not keep to Indian names for our babies. New and fresh as that
little flower of joy, so was our new little gift to us, a new token for
good. But flowers and howlers--the words draw their little skirts aside
and refuse to touch each other. From certain points of view, in this
case as so often, the sublime and the ridiculous were much too close
together. The very crows made remarks about the baby when she wakened
the morning with her howls. Mercifully for the family's nerves she fell
asleep at noon; but as soon as she woke she began again, and went on
till both she and we were exhausted. There were no tears, the big dark
eyes were only entirely defiant; and the baby stood straight up with her
hands behind her back and her mouth open--that was all. But we knew it
meant pure misery, though expressed so very aggressively; and we coaxed
and petted when she would allow us, and won her confidence at last, and
then she stopped.

It took months to tame the little thing. She had been allowed to do
exactly as she liked; for she was her grandfather's pet, and no one
might cross her will. We had to go very gently; but eventually she
understood and became a dear little girl, reserved but very
affectionate, and scampish to such a degree that Chellalu, discerning a
congenial spirit, decided to adopt her as "her friend."

This fact was announced to us at the babies' Bible-class, when the word
"friend," which was new to the babies, was being explained. It has four
syllables in Tamil, and the babies love four-syllabled words. They were
rolling this juicy morsel under their tongues with sounds of
appreciation, when Chellalu pointed across to Naveena, and with an air
of possession remarked, "_She_ is my friend." The other babies nodded
their heads, "Yes, Naveena is Chellalu's friend!" Naveena looked
flattered and very pleased.

These friends in a kindergarten class are rather terrible. They are
always separated--as the Tamil would say, if one sits north the other
sits south--but even so there are means of communication. This morning,
passing the door of the kindergarten room, I looked in and saw something
not included in the time-table. We have a little yellow bellflower here
which grows in great profusion; and some vandal taught the babies to
blow it up like a little balloon, and then snap it on the forehead. The
crack it makes is delightful. We do not like this game, and try to teach
the babies to respect the pretty flowers; but there are so many sins in
the world, that we do not make another by actually forbidding it; we
trust to time and sense and good feeling to help us. So it comes to pass
that the worst scamps indulge in this game without feeling too guilty;
and now I saw Chellalu with a handful of the flowers, cracking them at
intervals, to the distraction of the teacher and the delight of all the
class. One other was cracking flowers too. It was Naveena, and there was
a method in her cracks. When Rukma turned to Chellalu, Naveena cracked
her flower. When she turned to Naveena, then Chellalu cracked hers. How
they had eluded the search which precedes admission to the kindergarten
nobody knew; but there they were, each with a goodly handful of bells.
At a word from Rukma, however, they handed them over to her with an
indulgent smile, and even offered to search the other babies in case
they had secreted any; and as I left the room the lesson continued as
before, but the friends' intention was evident: they had hoped to be
turned out together.



CHAPTER XVI

The Neyoor Nursery

          "The roads are rugged, the precipices steep; there
          may be feelings of dizziness on the heights, gusts
          of wind, peals of thunder, nights of awful gloom.
          Fear them not!

          "There are also the joys of sunlight, flowers such
          as are not in the plain, the purest of air,
          restful nooks, and the stars smile thence like the
          eyes of God."--PÈRE DIDON (_translated by Rev.
          Arthur G. Nash_).


[Illustration: ON THE ROAD TO NEYOOR.]

AND now for a chapter of history. We had not been long at the new work
before we discovered difficulties unimagined before, and impossible to
describe in detail. Some of these concerned the health of the younger
children; and eventually it seemed best to move the infants' nursery to
within reach of medical help, and keep the bigger babies and elder
children, whose protection was another grave anxiety, with us at
Dohnavur.

Shortly before that time we had been brought into touch with the medical
missionaries at Neyoor, in South Travancore. The senior missionary, Dr.
Fells, was about to retire; but his successor, Dr. Bentall, cordially
agreed to let us rent a little house in the village and fill it with
babies, though he knew such a houseful might materially add to the
fulness of his already overflowing day. He, and afterwards Dr. Davidson
(now the only survivor at Neyoor of that kind trio of doctors), seemed
to think nothing a trouble if only it helped a friend. So the little
house was taken and the babies installed.

[Illustration: ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF NAGERCOIL, WHERE WE STOPPED TO REST.]

The first day, September 25, 1905, is a day to be remembered. I had gone
on before to prepare the house, and for a day and a half waited in
uncertainty as to what had happened to the little party which was to
have followed close behind. I had left one baby ill. She was the first
child sent to us from the Canarese country; and I thought of the friends
who had sent her, newly interested and stirred to seek these little
ones, and of what it would mean of discouragement to them if she were
taken, and my heart held on for her.

At last the carts appeared in sight. It was the windy season, and six
carts had been overturned on the road, so they had travelled slowly.
Then a wheel came off one of their carts and an accident was narrowly
averted. This had caused the delay. The baby about whom I had feared had
recovered in time to be sent on. She was soon quite well, and has
continued well from that day to this.

How familiar the road between Dohnavur and Neyoor became to us, as the
months passed and frequent journeys were made with little new babies!
Sometimes those journeys were very wearisome. There was great heat, or a
dust-laden wind filled the bandy to suffocation and blew out the
spirit-lamp when we stopped to prepare the babies' food. How glad we
used to be when, in the early evening, the white gleam of the stretch of
water outside Nagercoil appeared in sight! We used to stop and bathe the
babies, and feed them under some convenient trees, and then go on to our
friends with whom we were to spend the night, trusting that the soothing
effect of the bathe and food would not pass off until after our arrival.
Those friends, our comrades of the L.M.S., like the Medicals at
Neyoor, seemed made of kindness. How often their welcome has rested us
after the long day!

Next morning we tried to start early, so as to arrive at Neyoor before
the sun shone in fever-threatening strength straight in through the open
end of the cart. This plan, however, proved too difficult, so we found
it better to travel slowly straight on from Dohnavur to Neyoor. In this
way we missed the blazing sun; but we also missed the refreshment of our
friends at Nagercoil, and arrived more or less tired out, after a
journey which, because of slow progress and frequent stops, was equal in
time to one from London to Marseilles. But the welcome at the nursery
made up for everything.

How vividly the photograph recalls it! The house opened upon the main
street of the village, and there was nearly always a watcher on the
look-out for us. Sometimes it was Isaac, our good man-of-all-work, who
never failed Ponnamal through the two years he was with us. Then we
would hear a call, and Ponnamal (we used to call her the Princess, but
dignity gives place to something more human at such moments) would come
flying down the path with a face which made words superfluous. Then
there was the scramble out of the bandy, and the handing down of babies
and exclamations about them; and all the nurses seemed to be kissing us
at once and making their amazed babies kiss us, and everything was for
one happy moment bewilderingly delightful.

Then there was the run round the cradles in which smaller babies were
sleeping, and an eager comparing of notes as to the improvement of each.
And if there were no improvement, how well one remembers the smothered
sense of disappointment--smothered in public at least, lest the nurses
should be discouraged. Then came a cup of tea on the mat in the little
front room, where four white hammock-cradles hung, one in each corner;
while Ponnamal sat beside me with three babies on her knee and two or
three more somewhere near her. The babies used to study me in their wise
and serious fashion, and then make careful advances. And so we would
make friends.

Ponnamal had always much to tell about the exhaustless kindness of the
doctors and their wives and the lady superintendent of the hospital. And
the chief Tamil medical Evangelist had been true to his name, which
means Blessedness. Once, in much distress of mind, we sent a little babe
to the nursery, hardly daring to hope for her. When she arrived, the
doctors were both away on tour, and the medical Evangelist was in
charge. He attended to her at once, and by God's grace upon his work was
able to relieve the little child, who has prospered ever since.

But I must leave unrecorded many acts of helpfulness. In those early
days of doubt and difficulty, almost forgotten by us now, we beckoned to
our "partners which were in the other ship," and their Master and ours
will not forget how they held out willing hands and helped us.

It was not always plain sailing, even at Neyoor. "You are fighting Satan
at a point upon which he is very sensitive; he will not leave you long
in peace," wrote an experienced friend. On Palm Sunday, 1907, our first
little band of young girls, fruit of this special work, confessed Christ
in baptism, and we stood by the shining reach of water, and tasted of a
joy so pure and thrilling that nothing of earth may be likened to it. A
fortnight later we were ordered to the hills, and then the trouble came.

The immediate cause was overcrowding. Why did we overcrowd?

Friends at home to whom the facts about Temple service were new, were
stirred to earnest prayer. Out here fellow-missionaries helped us to
save the children. God heard the prayer and blessed the work, and
children began to come. Soon our one little room became too full. We had
babies in the bungalow and on our verandah, babies everywhere. Then
money came to build two more rooms, but they were soon too full. At
Neyoor the pressure was worse, for we could only rent two small houses;
and though we put up mat shelters, and the children lived as much as
possible in the open air, it was difficult to manage. But how could we
refuse the little children? The Temple women were ready to take them if
we had refused. Their houses are never too full. There was no other
nursery to which they could be sent. Little children who had passed the
troublesome infant stage could sometimes find a home elsewhere; but only
the Temple houses were open at all times to babies. Could we have
written to the friend who had saved a little child: "Hand her back to
the Temple. It is the will of our Father that this little one should
perish"? Should we have done it? We dare not do it. We prayed that help
would be sent to build new nurseries, and we went on and did our best;
but it was difficult.

We had just reached the hills in early April, and were forbidden to
return, when news reached us of a fatal epidemic of dysentery which had
broken out in the Neyoor nursery. Unseasonable rains had fallen and
driven the babies indoors; this increased the overcrowding. The doctors
were away. Letters telling us about the disaster had been lost--how, we
never knew--so that the second which reached us, taking it for granted
we had the first, gave no details, only the names of the smitten
babes--nineteen of them, and five dead. Then trouble followed trouble.
"While he was yet speaking, there came also another." Some evil men who
had sought to injure us before, caused us infinite anxiety. And for a
time that cannot be counted in days or in weeks it was like living
through a nightmare, when everything happens in painful confusion and
the sense of oppression is complete.

[Illustration: THE NEYOOR NURSERY.]

Out of the maelstrom came a letter from Ponnamal. "We are being
comforted," she wrote. "You will be longing to come to us, but oh, do
not come! If you were here all your strength would be given to fighting
this battle with death, and you would have no strength left for prayer.
God wanted to have one of us free to pray; and so He has taken you up to
the mountain, as He took Moses when the people were fighting down in the
plain." This was the true inward meaning of it all, and I knew it. But
Ponnamal is far from strong, and I feared for her; and to stay away with
the babies ill--it was the very hardest thing I had ever been asked to
do.

When the trouble passed there were ten in heaven. One, a little child of
two, had been saved so wonderfully from Temple dedication that we had
looked forward to a future of special blessing for her; and another was
a very lovely babe, dear to the missionary who, after much toil and many
disappointments, had been comforted by saving her. Each of the ten had
cost someone much. But this is an earthly point of view. They had cost
Him most who had taken them, and he is only an owner in name who has no
right to do as he will with his own.

The other side, the purely human side, pressed heavily just then. The
doctors had most kindly at once ordered a mission room, vacated at that
season, to be lent to the nursery, and another little house was taken
for the month. How Ponnamal kept all four houses going in an orderly
fashion, how she kept her nurses together through that time of almost
panic, and how she herself, frail and delicate as she is, kept up till
all was over, we cannot understand from any point of view but the
Divine. She only broke down once. It was when her dearest child, our
merry, beautiful little Heart's Joy, who, having more strength than
most, had battled longer and almost recovered, suddenly sank. The
visible cause was that a special nutrient, which, being costly, we
stocked in small quantities, ran short, and the fresh supply reached the
nursery just too late. "If only it had come yesterday!" moaned Ponnamal,
and we with her when we heard of the series of contretemps which had
delayed its arrival. The torture of second causes is as the blackness of
darkness, but the Lord gave deliverance from it; for just as she had to
part with all that was left her of our little Heart's Joy, a letter came
from Dr. Davidson which was God's own blessed comfort to a heart almost
broken. She never refers to that letter without the quick tears
starting. "I could let my little treasure go after I read that letter.
It strengthened me."

While all this was going on in Neyoor, Chellalu, then just two years
old, was very ill in Dohnavur. Mr. and Mrs. Walker were still there, and
they nursed her night and day; but at last a letter came, evidently
meant to prepare me for fresh sorrow. "Every little lamb belongs to the
Good Shepherd, not to us," the letter said, and told of a temperature
106° and rising. The child, all spirit and frolic, had little reserve
strength, and there was not much cause for hope. But we were spared this
parting. Chellalu is with us still.

The sky was clearing again and we were beginning to breathe freely, when
the worst that had ever touched us in all our years of work came
suddenly upon us. How small things that affect the body appear when the
point of attack wheels round to the soul! The death of all the babies
seemed as nothing compared with the falling away of one soul. But God is
the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they
come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming
thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance
came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.

A time of calm succeeded this storm. Money came to build nurseries at
Dohnavur, and buy more of the special nutrients we so much required. The
Neyoor remnant picked up, and the nurses took heart again. I went out to
them as soon as I could after our return from the hills, and found those
who were left well and strong. "They shall see His face" had been the
text in _Daily Light_, the evening the news reached me of the little
procession heavenwards. I looked at the ten names written in the margin
of my book; and, recalling the story of each, could be glad they have
seen the face of the One who loves them best. Lower down on the page
come the words, "We shall be satisfied." We thought of our babies
satisfied so soon; and then we knelt together and said, "Even so,
Father: for so it seemeth good in Thy sight."

Pretty pictures all in colours and bright sunshine tempt one to linger
over that visit. I can see the white hammocks slung from the trees in
the nursery compound, and happy baby-faces looking out of them. And
another shows me one who had been like a sister to Ponnamal, lightening
her load whenever she could; sitting with two dear babies in her arms,
and another clinging round her neck. "She comes and helps us often in
the mornings when we are very busy," said Ponnamal about the doctor's
wife, as I noticed the babies' affection for her and her sweet, kind
ways with them. "Sometimes when I am feeling down and home-sick, she
comes in like this and plays with the babies, and cheers us all up." The
Indian woman is very home-loving. Only devotion to the children could
have kept the nurses and Ponnamal so long in exile for their sake; and
there were times when even Ponnamal's brave heart sank. Then these
love-touches helped.

When the time came for the nursery party to leave Neyoor and return to
Dohnavur, after two and a half years in that hospitable mission, we were
sorry to part. Days like the days we had passed through test the stuff
of which souls are made, and they prove what we call friendship. After
the fire has spent itself, the fine gold shines out purified, and there
is something solemn in its light. We had grown close to our friends in
Neyoor; but the cloud had moved, so far as we could read the sign, and
it seemed right to return. The missionaries were away when the day came,
but the Christians surrounded Ponnamal with tokens of goodwill. "The
nursery has been like a little light in our midst," they said; and this
word cheered her more than all other words. And so farewelled, they
arrived home, all glad and warm with the glow that comes when hearts
meet each other and each finds the other kind.



CHAPTER XVII

In the Compound and Near it


[Illustration: THE OLD NURSERY. THE "ROOM OF JOY."]

"NOW I know why God put you in Dohnavur when He wanted this work done.
He hid you from the eyes of the world for the little children's sake. He
knew this work could never have been done by the road-side, so He hid
you."

The speaker was a Christian friend from Palamcottah, an Indian lawyer
who, for the first time, had come out to see us. He had found our
approaches appalling, and had wondered at first why we lived in such an
out-of-the-way place, three or four miles from the nearest road, and
twenty-four from civilisation. When he saw the children he understood.
Later, he helped us in an attempt to save two little ones in danger, and
insisted not only upon paying his own and our worker's expenses, but in
sending us a gift for the nurseries. With the gift came a letter full of
loving, Indian sympathy; and again he added as before: "The Lord hid you
in that quiet place for the little children's sake." Sometimes when the
inconveniences of jungle life press upon us, we remember our friend's
words: "This work could never have been done by the road-side, so He hid
you."

We have children with us who would not have been safe for a day had we
lived near a large town or near a railway. The stretch of open country
between us and Palamcottah (the Church Missionary Society centre of the
Tinnevelly district), to cover which, by bullock-cart, takes as long as
to travel from London to Brussels, is not considered very safe for
solitary Indian travellers, as the robber clan frequent it, and this is
an added protection for the children. Several times, to our knowledge,
unwelcome visitors have been deterred from making a raid upon us, by the
rumour of the robbers on the road. We are also most mercifully quite out
of the beat of the ordinary exploiter of missions; few except the really
keen care for such a journey; so that we get on with our work
uninterrupted by anything but the occasional arrival of welcome friends
and comrades. These, when they visit us for the first time, are usually
much astonished to find something almost civilised out in the wilds, and
they walk round with an air of surprise, and quite inspiring
appreciation, being kindly pleased with little, because they had looked
for less.

[Illustration: THE COURTYARD.]

The compound in which the nurseries are built is a field, bounded on
three sides by fields, and on the fourth by the bungalow compound. The
Western Ghauts with their foothills make it a beautiful place.

The buildings are not beautiful. With us, as elsewhere, doubtless, even
the break of a gable in the straight, barn-like roof makes a difference
in the estimate, and we have never had a margin for luxuries. But the
walls are coloured a soft terra-cotta, the roofs are a dull red; while
the porches (hidden by the palm trunks in the photograph) are a mass of
greenery and bloom; and the garden at the moment of writing is rejoicing
in over a hundred lilies, brilliant yellow and flame colour, each head
with its many flowers rising separate and radiant in the sunshine. Then
we have oleanders, crimson and pink and white, and little young hibiscus
trees, crimson and rose and cream. The arches in the new nursery
garden are covered with the lilac of morning-glory; and the Prayer-room
in the middle of the garden is a mass of violet passion-flower, the
pretty pink antigone, and starry jessamine. The very hedges at this
season are out in yellow flower, and a trellis round the nursery kitchen
is a delight of colour; so though our buildings are simple, we think the
lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places.

The first picture shows the old nursery, used now for the kindergarten.
It opens off the courtyard shown in the second photo. This courtyard
serves as an open-air room, a bright little place which is filled with
merrier children than the sober photograph shows. Tamils old and young
move when they laugh or even smile; in fact they wriggle. Being still,
with them, meant being seriously subdued; and so, where time-exposures
were required, we had to choose between solemn photos, or no photos at
all.

Opening off the courtyard on the opposite side to the kindergarten is a
room used as a store-room and Bible-class room combined. It was so very
uncomfortable that last Christmas, as a surprise for the children, we
divided the room into two halves with a curtain between. Their half is
made pretty with pictures and texts, painted in blue on pale brown wood.
The children call this part of the room the Tabernacle. The part beyond
the curtain is the court of the Gentiles.

The Coming-Day Feasts are a feature of Dohnavur life. Now that there are
so many feasts to celebrate, we find it more convenient to combine; and
the photograph overleaf shows as much as it can of one such happy feast.
The children who are being fêted are distinguished from the others by
having flowers in their hair. No Indian feast is complete without
flowers. Jessamine is the favourite, but the prettiest wreaths are made
of pink oleander; and sometimes a girl will surprise us with a new and
lovely combination, as of brown flowering grasses and yellow Tecoma
bells.

[Illustration: A COMING-DAY FEAST.]

Opposite the kindergarten room is the first of the two new
nurseries--the lively Parrot-house. This nursery, really the Taraha
(Star, called after its English giver, whose name means "star") is the
abode of the middle-aged babies, aged between two years and four. Most
of these attend the kindergarten, and are very proud of the fact.

The Prémalia nursery (Abode of Love), given by two friends in memory of
a mother translated, lies beyond the Taraha. Here the tiny infants live,
and we call it the Menagerie. This nursery, like the other, looks out on
the glorious mountains. If beautiful things can make babies good, ours
should be very good.

On the eastern side of the field we have lately built two small
sick-rooms, used oftener as overflow nurseries. These little rooms have
names meaning "peace" and "tranquillity"; and those of us who have lived
in them with our babies, sick or well, find the names appropriate. In
the foreground there is a garden, in the background the mountain; and to
give purpose to it all, the foreground is full of life. A new nursery
now being built is a welcome gift from Australia; and a new field with a
noble tree, in whose shade a hundred children could play, is the gift of
a friend who stayed with us for one bright week last year.

All this is a later development, unthought of when our artist friend was
with us. We have often wished for him since the nurseries filled. When
he was with us our choice of subject was very limited: now, wherever we
look we see pictures, which to be properly caught ask for colour
photography.

The story of these buildings is the story of the Ravens, so old and yet
so new. When first the work began, we had only one mud-floored room for
nursery, kitchen, bedroom, and everything else that was needed. We
hardly knew ourselves whereunto things would grow, and feared to run
before the Lord by even a prayer for buildings. And yet we could not go
on as we were. The birds were soon too many for the nest, and we needed
more nests. No one knew of our need; for visitors at that time were few
at Dohnavur, and we told no one. But money began to come. We ventured on
a single room without a verandah or even foundations--built of sun-dried
bricks as inexpensively as possible. But it was a palace to us. While we
were building it, more little children came. We felt we should need more
room, but had not more money; so we told the builders to wait for a day
while we gave ourselves to prayer about the matter. Was the work going
to grow much more? We were fearful of making mistakes. Were we right to
incur fresh responsibility?--for buildings need to be kept in condition,
and the cheaper they are the more care they need. No one at home was
responsible for us. No one had authorised this new work. It would not be
fair to saddle those on whom the burden might eventually fall with
responsibilities for which they were not responsible. And yet surely the
work of saving these little children had been given to us to do? Someone
was responsible. Surely, unless we were utterly wrong and had mistaken
the Shepherd's Voice, surely He was responsible! He could not mean us to
search for the lambs for whom only the wolves had been searching, and
then leave them out in the open, found but unfolded, or packed so close
in the little fold that they could not grow as little lambs should?

We rolled the burden off that day as to the ultimate responsibility, and
we asked definitely for all that was needed to build another room.

Three days later a registered letter came from a bank in Madras. It
contained an anonymous gift of one hundred rupees, and was marked, "For
a new nursery." The date showed that it had been posted in Madras on the
day of our waiting upon God for guidance as to His wishes. A few days
later, the same amount, with the same direction as to its use, was sent
to us from the same bank. The giver, as we knew long afterwards, was a
fellow-missionary in Tinnevelly, whose order to send these sums to us
was given before even we ourselves had fully understood the meaning of
the leading. The second room was built on to the first, and the children
called it the Room of Joy.

[Illustration: THE RED LAKE.

Water Palms, with Mountains in the background.]

There are no secrets in India. The Hindu masons were amazed at what they
at once recognised as the hand of the Lord upon the work, and they
spread the story everywhere. Later, when they built the nursery where
poor little Mala stood and mourned, they understood why they had to stop
before the verandah was built. Only enough was in hand to build the bare
room; but to their eyes, as to ours, a verandah was much needed, and
they were content to wait till what was required for one came. In this
land of blazing sunshine and drenching monsoon a house without a
verandah is hardly habitable, and a small square room without one has a
Manx-cat appearance.

The story of the rooms has been repeated in the story of the work ever
since. "Do not thank us. It is only a belated tenth," wrote a
fellow-missionary not long ago, as she sent a gift for the nurseries.
Belated tenths have reached us sometimes when they have been like
visible ravens flying straight from the blue above. All the long
journeys in search of the children, all the expenses connected with
their salvation, all that has been required to provide nurses and food
(including the special nourishment without which the more delicate could
not live at all), all that is now being needed for their education--all
has come and is coming as the ravens came to Elijah. The work has
been a revelation of how many hearts are sensitive and obedient to
the touch of the Spirit; for sometimes help has reached us in such a way
and in such form that we could not but stand and worship, awestruck by
the token of the nearness of our God. There is many a spot marked in
garden or in field or in the busy nursery or our own quiet room, where,
with the open letter in our hand--the letter of relief from a pressure
unknown even to the nearest fellow-worker--we have knelt in spirit with
Jacob and said: "Surely the Lord is in this place!" and almost added, so
dense are we in unilluminated moments, "and I knew it not."

Framed between red roofs and foliage, there are far blue glimpses of
mountains shown in this lakeside photograph. We do not see the water
from the compound. It lies on the other side of the boundary fields and
hedges; but we see the mountains with perfect distinctness of outline,
scarped with bare crags, which in the early morning are sometimes pink,
and in the evening, purple. But the time to see the mountains in their
glory is when the south-west monsoon is flinging its masses of cloud
across to us. Then the mountains, waking from the lazy sleep of the
long, hot months, catch the clouds on their pointed fangs, toss them
back and harry them, wrap themselves up in robes of them, and go to
sleep again.

The road that skirts the Red Lake leads through two ancient Hindu towns,
from both of which we have children saved, in each case as by a miracle.
In the first of these old towns there is a Temple surrounded by a mighty
wall.

There are two large gates and one small side door in the wall; and,
passing in through the small side door, one sees another wall almost as
strong as the first, and realises something of the power that built it.
The Temple is in the centre of the large enclosure. It is a single tower
opening off the inner court. In the outer court a pillared hall is used
as stable for the Temple elephant, and two camels lounge in the roughly
kept garden in front. This Temple, with its double walls, its massive,
splendidly-carved doors and expensive animal life, is somewhat of a
surprise to the visitor, who hardly expects to see so much in a little
old country town on the borders of the wilds. But Hinduism has not lost
hold of this old remote India yet. There are some who think that the
country town is the place to see it in strength.

[Illustration: AT THE DOOR OF THE TEMPLE.]

It was early in August, three years ago, that we heard of a baby girl in
that town, devoted from birth to the god. We set wheels in motion, and
waited. A month passed and nothing was done. We could not go ourselves
and attempt to persuade the mother to change the vow she had made, as
any movement on our part would only have riveted the links that fettered
the child to the god. We had to be quiet and wait. At last, one evening
in September, a Hindu arrived in the town with whom our friends who were
on the watch had intimate connection. He, too, knew about the child; and
he knew a way unknown to our friends by which the mother might be
influenced, and he consented to try. His arrival just at that juncture
appeared to us, who were waiting in daily expectation of an answer of
deliverance, as the evident beginning of that answer; thus our faith was
quickened and we waited in keen hope. Two days later, after dark, there
was a rush from the nursery to the bungalow. "The baby has come!"
Another moment, and we were in the nursery. A woman--one of our
friends--was standing with what looked like a parcel wrapped in a cloth
hidden under her arm. Even then, though all was safe, she was trembling;
and outside, two men, her relations, stood on guard. She opened the
white cloth, and inside was the baby.

The men assured us that all was right. The mother had been convinced
of the wrongness of dedicating the little babe, and would give us no
trouble. But a day or two later, she came and demanded it back. She
could not stand the derision of her friends, who told her she had sinned
far more in giving her child to those who would break its caste than she
ever could have done had she given it to the Temple. We pacified her
with difficulty, and were thankful when the little thing was safe in the
Neyoor nursery. For in those days, before we learned how best to protect
our children, we were often glad to have some place even more out of
reach than Dohnavur.

The second of these old towns is famous for its rock, and its Temple
built into the rock. Looking down from above one can see inside the
courtyard as into an open well. Connected with this Temple, some years
ago, there was a beautiful young Temple woman, who had been given as a
child--as all Temple women must be--to the service of the gods. She had
no choice as regarded herself--probably the idea of choice never entered
her mind--but for her babe she determined to choose; and yet she knew of
no way of deliverance.

But there was a way of deliverance, and if it had only been for this one
child's sake, and for the sake of the relief it must have been to that
fear-haunted mother, we are glad with a gladness too deep for words that
the nursery was here. For the mother heard of it. There were lions in
the path. She quietly avoided them, and through others who were willing
to help she sent her child to us. She herself would not come. She waited
a mile or so from the bungalow till the matter was concluded, then
returned to her home alone.

A week later she appeared suddenly at the bungalow. It was only to make
sure the little one was safe and well, and in order to sign a paper
saying she was wholly given to us. This done she disappeared again,
refusing speech with anyone, and for months we heard nothing of her.
Then cholera swept our countryside, and we heard she had taken it and
died. We leave her to God her Creator, who alone knows all the story of
her life: we only know enough to make us very silent. And through the
quiet we hear as it were a voice that chants a fragment from an old
hymn: "We believe that THOU shalt come to be our Judge."



CHAPTER XVIII

From the Temple of the Rock


ANOTHER little girl who came from that same Temple of the Rock has a
story very different from the other, and far more typical.

It was on a blazing day in June, when the very air, tired of being hot,
leaned heavily upon us, and we felt unequal to contest, that a cough
outside my open door announced a visitor. "Come in!" Another cough, and
I looked out and saw a shuffling form disappear round the corner of the
house. I called again, and the figure turned. It was a man who had
helped us before, but about whose _bonâ-fides_ we had doubts; so we
asked without much hopefulness what he had to tell us. He said he had
reason to believe a certain Temple woman known to him had a child she
meant to dedicate to the god of a Temple a day's journey distant. Then
he paused. "Do you know where she is now?" "She is on her way to the
Temple." "It would be well if she came here instead." "If that is the
Animal's desire it may be possible to bring her." "Has she gone far?
Could you overtake her?" "She is waiting outside your gate."

At such a moment it is wise to show no surprise and no anxiety. All the
burning eagerness must be covered up with coolness. But in the hour that
intervened before the woman "at the gate" could be persuaded to come
further, we quieted ourselves in the Lord our God and held on for the
little child.

At last the shuffling step and the sound of voices told us they had
come--two women, the man, and a child. The child was a baby of something
under two, a sad-looking little thing, with great, dark, pathetic eyes
looking out from under limp brown curls. She was very pale and fragile;
and when the woman who carried her set her down upon the floor and
propped her against the wall, she leaned against it listlessly, with her
little chin in her tiny hand, in a sorrowful, grown-up fashion. I longed
to take her and nestle her comfortably; but, of course, took no notice
of her. Any sign of pity or sympathy would have been misunderstood by
the women. All through the interminable talk upon which her fate
depended, that child sat wearily patient, making no demands upon anyone;
only the little head drooped, and the mouth grew pitiful in its complete
despondency.

The ways of the East are devious. The fact that the child had been
brought to us did not indicate a decision to give her to us instead of
to the Temple. The woman and the man who had persuaded them to come had
much to say to one another, and there was much we had to explain. A
child given to Temple service is not in all cases entirely cut off from
her people. If the Temple woman's hold on her is sure, her relations are
sometimes allowed to visit her; so far as friendly intercourse goes she
is not lost to them. But with us things are different. For the child's
own sake we have to refuse all intercourse whatever. Once given to us,
she is lost to them as if they had never had her. We adopt the little
one altogether or not at all.

It is a delicate thing to explain all this so clearly that there can be
no misunderstanding about it, without so infuriating the relations that
they will have nothing more to do with us. Naturally their view-point is
entirely different from ours, and they cannot appreciate our reasons.
At such a time we lean upon the Invisible, and count upon that
supernatural help which alone is sufficient for us; we count also upon
the prayers of those who know what it is to pray through all opposing
forces, till the battle is won by faith which is the victory.

It was strange to watch the women as the talk went on. The _woman_
within them had died, there was nothing of it left to which we could
appeal; everything about them was perverted, unnatural. I looked at the
insensitive faces and then at the sensitive face of the child, and
entered deeper than ever into the mercifulness of God's denunciations of
sin.

Once towards the close of what had been a time of some tension, the
leader of the two women suddenly sprang up, snatched at the tired baby,
and flung out of the room with her. She had been gradually hardening;
and I had felt rather than seen the shutting down of the prison-house
gates upon that little soul, and had, as a last resource, appealed to
the sense, not wholly atrophied, the sense that recognises the
supernatural. God is, I told them briefly; God takes cognisance of what
we are and do: God will repay: some time, somewhere, God will punish
sin. The arrow struck through to the mark. Startled, indignant,
overwhelmed by the sweep of an awful conviction, with a passionate cry
she rushed away; and we lived through one breathless moment, but the
next saw the child dropped into our arms, safe at last.

Facts about any matter of importance are usually other than at first
stated; but we have reason to believe that in this instance our
shuffling friend spoke the truth. The women were really on their way to
the Temple when he waylaid them. The wonder was that they allowed
themselves to be persuaded by him to come to us. But if nothing happened
except what we might naturally expect would happen in this work, we
might as well give it up at once. If we did not expect our Jericho
walls to fall down flat, it would be foolish indeed to continue marching
round them.

It was a relief when the women left the compound, after signing a paper
committing the child to us. There is defilement in the mere thought of
evil, but such close contact with it is a thing by itself. The sense of
contamination lasted for days; and yet would that we could go through it
every day if the result might be the same! For the child woke up to a
new life, and became what a child should be. At first it was very
pitiful. She would sit hour after hour as she had sat through that first
hour, with her chin in hand, her eyes cast down, and the little mouth
pathetic. We found that, in accordance with a custom prevailing in the
coterie of Temple women belonging to the Temple of the Rock, she had
been lent by her mother to another woman when she was an infant, the
other lending her baby in exchange. This exchange had worked sadly; for
the little one had asked for something which had not been given her, and
her two years had left her starved of love and experienced in
loneliness. But when she came to us everything changed; for love and
happiness took her hands and led her back to baby ways, and taught her
how to laugh and play: and now there is nothing left to remind us of
those two first years but a certain droop of the little mouth when she
feels for the moment desolate, or wants some extra petting.



CHAPTER XIX

Yosépu



[Illustration: THE WATER CARRIERS.]

NO description of the compound would be complete without mention of
Yosépu, friend of the babies.

This photograph shows the Indian equivalent of pumps and water-pipes. We
have neither; so all the water required for a family of about a hundred
has to be drawn from the well and carried to the kitchens and nurseries.
The elder girls, who would otherwise help with the work, according to
South Indian custom, are already fully employed with the babies. So at
present the men do it all. They also buy the grain and other
food-stuffs, look after the cows and vegetable garden--a necessity for
those who dwell far from markets--and in all other possible masculine
ways are of service to the family.

Chief of these men is Yosépu, whose seamed and wrinkled and most
expressive face I wish we had photographed, instead of this not very
interesting string of solemnities.

Yosépu is not like a man, he is more like a dear dog. He has the ways of
our dog-friends, their patience and fidelity, their gratefulness for
pats.

He came to us in a wrecked condition, thin and weak and rather queer. He
had been beaten by his Hindu brother for becoming a Christian, and it
had been too much for him. The first time we saw him, a few minutes
after his arrival, he was standing leaning against a post with folded
hands and upturned eyes and a general expression of resignation which
went to our hearts. We found afterwards he was not feeling resigned so
much as hungry, and he was better after food.

For a week he slept, ate, and meditated. Sometimes he would hover round
us, if such a verb is admissible for his seriousness of gait. He would
wait till we noticed him, then sigh and extend his hand. He wanted us to
feel his pulse--both pulses. This ceremony always refreshed him, and he
would return to his corner of the verandah and meditate till his next
meal came.

Sometimes, however, more attention was required. He would linger after
his pulses were felt, and we knew he was not satisfied. One day a happy
thought struck us. The Tamil loves scent. The very babies sniff our
hands if we happen to be using scented soap, and tell each other
rapturously what they think about that "chope." Scent is the one thing
they cannot resist. A tin of sweets on our table may be untouched for
days, few babies being wicked enough to venture upon it in our absence;
but a bottle of scent is irresistible, and scented "chope" on our
washing-stands has a way of growing thin. The baby will emerge from our
bathrooms rubbing suspiciously clean hands, and in her innocence will
invite us to smell them. Then we know why our "chope" disappears. So now
that Yosépu needed something to lift him over the trials of life, we
remembered the gift of a good Scottish friend, and tried the effect of
eau-de-Cologne. It worked most wonderfully. Yosépu held out his two
hands joined close lest a single drop should spill, and then he stood
and sniffed. It would have made a perfect advertisement--the big brown
man with his hands folded over his nose, and an expression of absolute
bliss upon every visible feature. Now, when Yosépu is down-hearted, we
always try eau-de-Cologne.

His first move towards being of use was when some of our children had
small-pox and were put up in a half-finished room which was being built.
"It has walls and it has a roof, therefore it is suitable," was Yosépu's
opinion; and he offered to nurse the children. One evening we heard a
terrible noise; it was like three cracked violins gone mad, all playing
different tunes at the same time. It was only Yosépu singing hymns to
the children. "For spiritual instruction is a thing to be desired, and
there is nothing so edifying as music."

After this he announced his intention of becoming a water-carrier.
"Water is a pure thing and a necessity. The young children demand much
water if their bodies are to be"--here followed Scriptural quotations
meant in deepest reverence. "I will be responsible for the baths of all
the babes." And from that time Yosépu has been responsible. Solemnly
from dawn to dusk, with breathing spaces for meals and meditation, he
stalks across from nurseries to well and from well to nurseries. He is a
man of few smiles; but he is the cause of many, and we all feel grateful
to Yosépu for his goodness to us. Often on melancholy days he comes and
comforts us.

It was so one anxious day before we went to the hills, when we were
trying to plan for the safety of our family. We can only take a limited
number of converts with us, and no babies; the difficulty is then which
to take, which to hide, and which to leave in the nurseries. We were in
the midst of this perplexity when Yosépu arrived. He stood in silence,
and then sighed, as his cheerful custom is. We made the usual inquiries
as to his health, physical and spiritual. Both soul and body (his
invariable order, never body and soul) were well, he said; his pulse did
not need to be felt to-day: no, there was something weightier upon his
mind. There are times when it is like extracting a tooth to get a
straight answer from Yosépu, for he resents directness in speech; he
thinks it barbarous. At last it came. "Aiyo! Aiyo!" (Alas! Alas!) "My
sun has set; but who am I, that I should complain or assault the decrees
of Providence? But Amma! remember the word of truth: 'Then shall ye
bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.'" And he slowly
unwound his wisp of a turban, held it in his folded hands, and shook
down his lanky, jet-black locks with a pathos that was almost sublime.

[Illustration: THE BELOVED TINGALU.]

It took time to pierce to the meaning of it: the children were being
scattered--the reason must be that we felt the bath-water carrying too
much for his powers through the hot weeks. It was not so! He was strong
to draw and to bear. The babies should never be deprived of their baths!
But to-day as he went to the well he had heard what broke his heart; and
he laid his hand upon the injured organ, and sighed with a sigh that
assured us his lungs at least were sound. "_Tingalu_ is to go away! The
apple of my eye! that golden child who smiles upon me, and says, 'Oh,
elder brother, good morning!' You are not going to leave her with me!
Therefore spake I the word of truth concerning my grey hairs." Then
quoting the text again, he turned and walked away.

Once the beloved Tingalu was slightly indisposed. She has not often the
privilege of being ill, and so, when the opportunity offers, she does
the invalid thoroughly; it would be a pity, Tingalu thinks, to be
anything but correct. But Yosépu was much concerned. He appeared in the
early morning with his usual cough and sigh. "Amma! Tingalu is ill!"
"She will soon be better, Yosépu; she is having medicine." "What sort of
medicine, Amma?" and Yosépu mentioned the kind he thought suitable.
"That is exactly what she has had; you will see her playing about
to-morrow." "But no smile is on her face to-day; I fear for the
babe." (Tingalu never smiles when ill. Invalids should not smile.)
Yosépu suggested another medicine to supplement the first, and departed.

Next morning he came again, anxious and cast down in countenance. I had
to keep him waiting; and when I came out, he was standing beside my
verandah steps, head on one side, eyes shut, hands folded as if in
prayer. "Well, Yosépu, what is it?" "Amma! the light of your eyes
revives me!" "Well, tell me the trouble." "All yesterday I saw you not;
it was a starless night to me!" This is merely the preface. "But,
Yosépu, what is wrong?" "Tingalu, that golden child with a voice like a
bird, she lies on her mat. I am concerned about the babe," (Tingalu,
turned four, is as hardy as a gipsy), "I fear for her delicate interior.
Those ignorant children" (the convert nurses would have been pleased if
they had heard him) "know nothing at all. It may be they will feed her
with curry and rice this morning. That would be dangerous. Amma! Let her
have bread and milk, _and I will pay for it_!"

Yosépu came a few days ago with a request for a doll. "Who for?" "For
myself." "But are you going to play with it?" Yosépu acknowledged he
was, and he wished it to have genuine hair, a pink silk frock, and eyes
that would open and shut. We had not anything so elaborate to give him,
and he had to be contented with a black china head and painted eyes; but
he was pleased, and took it away carefully rolled up in his turban, which
serves conveniently for head-gear, towel, scarf, and duster. When and
where he plays with the doll no one knows, but he assures us he does;
and we have mentally reserved the first pink silk, with eyes that will
open and shut, that a benevolent public sends to us, for Yosépu. . . .
The words were hardly written when a shadow fell across the paper, and
the unconscious subject of this chapter remarked as I looked up: "1
Corinthians vii. 31." "Do you want anything, Yosépu?" "Amma! 1
Corinthians vii. 31." "Well, Yosépu?" "As it is written in that chapter,
and that verse: 'The fashion of this world passeth away.' Amma, if
within the next two months a visitor comes to Dohnavur carrying a
picture-catching box, I desire that you arrange for the catching of my
picture. This, Amma, is my desire."

The Western mind is very dense; and for a moment I could not see the
connection between the text and the photograph. Yosépu is never
impatient. He squatted down beside me, dropped his turban round his
neck, held his left foot with his left hand, and emphasised his
explanation with his right.

"Amma, the wise know that life is uncertain. I am a frail mortal. You,
who are as mother and as father to this unworthy worm, would feel an
emptiness within you if I were to depart." "But, Yosépu, I hope you are
not going to depart." This was exactly what Yosépu had anticipated. He
smiled, then he sighed. "Amma! did I not say it before? 1 Corinthians
vii. 31: 'The fashion of this world passeth away.' Therefore I said, Let
me have my picture caught, so that when I depart you may hang it on your
wall and still remember me."

Yosépu's latest freak has been to take a holiday. "My internal
arrangements are disturbed; composure of mind will only be obtained by a
month's respite from secularities." Yosépu had once announced his
intention of offering himself to the National Missionary Society, and we
thought he now referred to becoming an ascetic for a month and wandering
round the country, begging-bowl in hand; for he solemnly declared as he
stroked his bony frame: "The Lord will provide." But his intention was a
real holiday. He would go and see the brother who had beaten him, and
forgive him. We suggested the brother might beat him again. He smiled at
our want of faith, and went for his holiday. A month was the time agreed
upon, but within three days he was back. He could not stay away, he
explained, with a shame-faced air of affection. "Within me pulled the
strings of love; pulled, yea, pulled till I returned." Faithful, quaint,
and wholly original Yosépu! He calls himself our servant, but we think
of him as our friend.



CHAPTER XX

The Menagerie

          Fate which foresaw
          How frivolous a baby man would be--


[Illustration: TWO VIEWS OF LIFE.]

THE event of the week, from a Tamil point of view, is the midday Sunday
service; so we take care of the nurseries during that hour, and send all
grown-up life to church. In the Prémalia nursery the babies range from a
few days old to eighteen months, and sometimes two years. There is a
baby for every mood, as one beloved of the babies says; and the babies
seem to know it. We have a lively time there on Sundays; for by noon the
morning sleep is over, and nineteen or twenty babies are waking up one
after the other or all together. And most of them want something, and
want it at once.

These babies are of various dispositions and colour--nut-brown, biscuit,
and buff; and there are two who, taken together, suggest
chocolate-cream. Chocolate is a dear child, very good-tempered and easy
to manage. Cream is a scamp. We see in her another Chellalu, and watch
with mingled feelings her vigorous development.

Chocolate has another name. It is Beetle. This does not sound
appreciative, but Beetle is beloved. The name was discovered by her
affectionate Piria Sittie, who came upon her one morning lying on her
back in the swinging cot, kicking her four limbs in the air in the
agitated manner of that insect unexpectedly upset. But no beetle ever
smiled as ours does.

Cream, whose real name is Nundinie, oftener called Dimples, because she
dimples so when she laughs, is a baby of character. She early discovered
her way to the bungalow, and scorning assistance or superintendence
found her way over as soon as she could walk. Afternoon tea is never a
sombre meal, for the middle-aged babies attend it in relays of four or
five; and Dimples and her special chum, Lulla, like to arrive in good
time for the full enjoyment of the function. Dimples sits down properly
in a high chair close beside her Attai, who, according to her view of
matters, was created to help her to sugar. Lulla, so as to be even
nearer that exhaustless delight, insists upon her Attai's knee; and
tapping her face with her very small fingers, immediately points to the
sugar bowl.

These preliminaries over, Dimples sets herself to pay for her seat. She
smiles upon her Attai first, then upon all the company. If the Iyer is
present, she notices him kindly: there is nothing in all nature so
patronising as a baby. If in the mood, she will imitate her friends like
her predecessor Scamp No. 1; or folding her fat arms will regard us all
with a quizzical expression more comical than play. Her latest invention
is drill. She stands straight up in her chair, and goes through certain
actions intended to represent as much as she knows of that interesting
exercise. We are kept anxious lest she should overbalance; but she is a
wary babe, and always suddenly sits down when she gets to the edge of a
tumble. Sometimes, however, when these diversions are in progress, we
have wished that the family could see how very much more entertaining
she is in her own nursery. There, from the beginning of the day till
the sad moment when it ends, she seems to be engaged in entertaining
somebody. Sometimes it is one of the Accals, those good elder sisters to
whom the babies owe so much. Dimples thinks she looks tired. Tired
people must be cheered, so Dimples devotes herself to her. Sometimes it
is another baby who is dull. Dull babies are anomalies. Dimples feels
responsible till the dull baby revives. Or it is just her own happy
little self who is being entertained. If ever a baby enjoyed a game for
its own sweet sake, it is Dimples.

But one thing she does not enjoy, and that is being put to bed at night.
Our babies are anointed with oil, according to the custom of the East,
before being put to sleep; but the moment Dimples sees the oil-bottle in
her nurse's hand, she knows her fate is sealed and protests with all her
might. Once she contrived to seize the bottle, pull out the cork, and
spill the oil before she was discovered. She seemed to argue that as she
was invariably oiled before being put to bed, the best way to avoid ever
being put to bed would be to get rid of the oil. Another evening she
succeeded in diverting her nurse into a long search for the cork,
thereby delaying the fatal last moment; it was finally found in her
mouth. When, in spite of all efforts to wriggle out of reach, she is
captured, anointed, and put in her hammock, Dimples knows she must not
get out; but her wails are so lamentable that it is difficult to
restrain ourselves from throwing discipline to the winds, and if by any
chance we do, her smiles are simply ravishing. But we hear about it
afterwards.

If Dimples is asleep when we take charge of the nursery, we find things
fairly quiet and almost flat. But she usually wakens early, and always
in a good temper. It is instructive to see the way she scrambles out of
her hammock before she is quite awake, and her sleepy stagger across
the room is often interrupted by a tumble. Dimples does not mind
tumbles. If her curly head has been rather badly knocked, she looks
reproachfully at the floor, rubs her head, and gets up again. By the
time she reaches us she is wide awake and most engaging.

In C. F. Holder's _Life of Agassiz_ we are told that the great scientist
"could not bear with superficial study: a man should give his whole life
to the object he had undertaken to investigate. He felt that desultory,
isolated, spasmodic working avails nothing, but curses with narrowness
and mediocrity." This is exactly the view of one of our babies, already
introduced, the little wise Lulla, who always knows her own mind and
sticks to her intentions, unbeguiled by any blandishments.

This baby is a tiny thing, with a round, small head, covered with soft,
small curls; and this head is very full of thoughts. Her face, which she
rarely shows to a stranger, is like a doll in its delicate daintiness;
but the mouth is very resolute, and the eyes very grave. Her hands and
feet are sea-shell things of a pretty pinky brown, and her ways are the
ways of a sea-anemone in a pool among the rocks.

Lulla, because of her anemone ways, is sometimes unkindly called
"Huffs." She does not understand that there are days when those who love
her most have little time to give to her. Lulla naturally argues that
where there is a will there is a way, and desultory, isolated, spasmodic
affection is worth little; so next time her friend appears, she explains
all this to her by means of a single gesture: she draws her tentacles
in.

But it is when Lulla has undertaken to investigate a tin of sweets that
she most suggests Agassiz. The tin has a lid which fits tightly, and
Lulla's fingers are very small and not very strong. The tin, moreover,
is on the window-sill just out of reach, though she stands on tip-toe
and stretches a little eager hand as far as it will go. Then it is you
see persistence. Lulla finds another baby, leads her to the window and
points up to the tin. The other baby tries. They both try together; if
this fails, Lulla finds a taller one, and at last successful, sits down
with the tin held tightly in both hands, and turns it over and shakes
it. This process seems to inspire fresh hope and energy; for she sets to
work round the lid, which is one of the fitting-in sort, and carefully
presses and pulls. Naturally this does nothing, and she shakes the tin
again. The joyful sound of rattling sweets stimulates to fresh attempts
upon the lid. She tugs and pulls, and thumps the refractory thing on the
floor. By this time the other babies, attracted by the hopeful rattle,
have gathered round and are watching operations; some offer to help, but
all such offers are declined. This oyster is Lulla's. She has undertaken
to force it. Agassiz and his fishes are on her side. She will not give
it up. But she is not getting on; and she sits still for a moment,
knitting her brow, and frowning a little puzzled frown at the refractory
tin.

Suddenly her forehead smooths, the anxious brown eyes smile, Lulla has
thought a new good thought. The babies struggle up and offer to help
Lulla up, but she shakes her head. She seems to feel if she herself
unaided, of her own free will, hands her problem over to her Ammal or
her Sittie, only so she may achieve her purpose without loss of
self-respect.

Lulla's beloved nurse is a motherly woman, older than most of our
workers. Her name is Annamai. When the nurses return from church, each
makes straight for her baby; and the babies always respond with a
cordial and pretty affection. But Lulla welcoming Annamai is something
more than pretty. The big white-robed figure no sooner appears in the
garden than the tiny Lulla is all a-quiver with excitement. But it is a
quiet excitement; and if you take any notice, the tentacles suddenly
draw in, and the little face is as wax. If no one seems to notice, then
Lulla lets herself go. She all but dances in her eagerness, while
Annamai is slowly sailing up the walk; and when she reaches the
verandah, Lulla can wait no longer; one spring and she is in her arms,
nestling, cuddling, burying her curls in her neck; then looking up
confidentially, little Lulla begins to talk; everything we have done and
said is being whispered into Annamai's ear. It does not matter that
Lulla cannot yet speak any language known to men; she can make Annamai
understand, and that is all she cares. Once we remember watching her, as
she took the remnant of a sweet we had given her, out of her mouth and
poked it into Annamai's. Could love do more?

Dimples and Lulla are quite inseparable. Lulla is to Dimples what Tara
is to Evu. She immensely admires her vigorous little junior, and tries
to copy her whenever possible. One delicious game seems to have been
suggested by the arches in the garden. Dimples and Lulla stand on all
fours close together. Then they lean over till their heads touch the
ground, and look through the arch. If you are on the babies' level (that
is on the floor), you will enjoy this game.

Another Sunday morning entertainment is kissing. Dimples advances upon
Lulla. Lulla falls upon Dimples. Then Dimples hugs Lulla, nearly chokes
her, almost certainly overturns her. The two roll over and over like
kittens. Dimples seizes Lulla by her curls and vehemently kisses face,
neck, and anything else she can get at; and then backs off, propelling
herself on two feet and one hand, in which position she looks like a
puppy on three paws. Lulla smooths her ruffled curls and person
generally, regards Dimples with gravity, and, if in an affectionate
humour herself, leads the attack upon Dimples, and the programme is
repeated.

But the joy of the hour is to spin in the hammocks. These contrivances
being hung from the roof swing freely, and the special excitement is to
hold on with both hands, and run round so that the hammock twists into a
knot and spins when released, with the baby inside it, in a giddy waltz
till the coil untwists itself. This looks dangerous, and when the game
was first invented we rather demurred. But we are wiser now, and we let
them spin. Lulla especially enjoys this madness. It is startling to see
the tiny thing whirl like a reckless young teetotum. But if you weakly
interfere, Lulla thinks you want to learn the art, and goes at it with
even madder zest, till her very curls are dizzy.

Dimples and Lulla in disgrace are a piteous spectacle. Dimples opens her
mouth till it is almost square, and the most plaintive wail proceeds
from it for about a minute and a half. Then she stops, looks sadly on
the world, surprised and hurt at its unkindness to her, and then
suddenly she discovers something interesting to do; and hastily rubbing
her knuckles into her eyes to clear them as quickly as maybe of tears,
she scrambles on to her feet, and forgets her injuries. Once she had
been very naughty, and had to be smacked. It is never easy to smack
Dimples, and fortunately she seldom requires it; but hard things have to
be done, so that morning the fat little hands, to their surprise, knew
the feel of chastening pats. "She daren't laugh, and she wouldn't cry";
this description, her Piria Sittie's, is the best I can offer of that
baby's attitude. The thing could not possibly be a joke, but if meant
otherwise, it was an indignity far past tears.

Lulla is quite different. She drops on the floor, if admonished, as if
her limbs had suddenly become paralysed, and takes absolutely no notice
of the offending disciplinarian. She simply ignores her, and gazes
mutely beyond her. The offence is not one for explanation, and if
invited to repent, her aloofness of demeanour is perfectly withering.
But take her up in your arms, and she buries her curls in your neck, and
coos her apologies (or is it forgiveness?) in your ear, and loves you
all the better for the momentary breach.

Our babies are often parables. Lulla stands for the Single Eye. How
often we have watched her and learned the lesson from her! She sees
someone to whom she wants to go at what must seem to her an immense
distance. And the distance is filled with obstacles, some of them quite
enormous. But Lulla never stops to consider possibilities. Difficulties
are simply things to be climbed over. She looks at the goal and makes
straight for it. Her only care is to reach it. Sometimes at afternoon
tea, when she is sitting on someone's lap, facing an empty,
uninteresting plate, she sees another plate three chairs distant, and
upon that plate there is a biscuit or some other sweet attraction. Upon
such occasions Lulla all but plunges into space between the chairs, in
her singleness of purpose. Having reached the lap nearest that plate,
she turns and smiles at her late entertainer just to make sure she is
not offended. But even if she knew she would be, Lulla would not
hesitate. Curly head foremost, eyes on the goal: that is Lulla.

We have a custom at Dohnavur which perplexes the sober-minded. We call
most of our possessions by names other than their own. These names are
entirely private. We have to keep to this rule of privacy, otherwise we
get shocks. "O Lord, look upon our beloved Puppy, and make her tooth
come through; and bless Alice (in Wonderland), whose inside has gone
wrong," was the petition offered in all seriousness, which finally moved
us to prudence. We do not feel responsible for these names, for they
come of themselves, and we see them when they come. That is all we have
to do with them. Besides the Beetle and the Sea-anemone we have a dear
Cockatoo, who screws her nose and her whole face up into a delightful
pucker when she either laughs or cries, and then suddenly unscrews it in
the middle of either emotion and looks entirely demure. This is the
little Vimala, who, under God, owes her life to her Piria Sittie's
splendid nursing. This baby has always got a private little secret of
joy hidden away somewhere inside. We surprise her sometimes, sitting
alone on the floor talking to herself about it; and then she tells us
bits of it--as much as she thinks we can understand. But most of it is
still hidden away, her own private little secret. And there is an Owlet,
a Coney, a Froglet, and a Cheshire Cat, a Teddy-bear, a Spider, a
Ratlet, and a Rosebud. We are aware that this list is rather mixed; but
to be too critical would end in being nothing, so we are a Menagerie.

The Rosebud is like her name, small and sweet. When she wants to kiss
her friends, which is whenever she sees them, her mouth is like the pink
point of a moss-rose bud just coming through the moss. George Macdonald,
perfect interpreter of babies, must have had our Preethie's double in
his mind when he wrote:--

          Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
          Three angels gave me at once a kiss.
          How did you come to us, you dear?
          God thought of you, and so I am here.

The Owlet is twin to that quaint little bird, so its name flew to her
and stayed. This babe has round eyes with long curling lashes. When she
is good, these round eyes beam, and every one forgets that anything so
fascinating can ever be other than good. When she is naughty the case is
exactly reversed. This baby's proper name is Lullitha, which means
Playfulness, and illustrates a side of her character undiscovered by the
visitor who only sees the Owlet sitting on her perch with serious,
watchful, unblinking eyes, regarding the intruder. But most babies are
complex characters, and are not known in an hour.

The Teddy-bear is a fine child with perfect lungs, a benevolent smile,
and an appetite. Her ruling passion at present is devotion to her food.
She feels unjustly treated because we do not see our way to feed her
lavishly at her own five meal-times and also at the meal-times of all
the other babies in the nursery.

On Sunday morning, when we are in charge, we hear her views upon this
subject expressed in a manner wholly her own. She has just drained her
own bottle, and is indignantly explaining that it is not nearly enough,
when another bottle arrives for another baby, and this is too much for
Teddy's equanimity. We all know how hard it is to keep up under the
shock of adversity. Teddy does not attempt to keep up; she invariably
topples over. But the way she does this is instructive. She sits stiff
and straight for one brief moment, her milky mouth wide open, her hands
outstretched in despairing appeal; then she clasps her head with her
hands in a tragic fashion, absurd in a very fat infant, sways backwards
and forwards two or three times till the desperate rock ends suddenly,
as the poor Teddy-bear overbalances and bursts with a mighty burst. But
the storm is too furious to last, and she soon subsides with a gusty sob
and a short snort.

Poor little injured Teddy-bear! If it were not for her splendid health
we might believe her oft-repeated tale of private starvation. "They only
feed me when you are here to see! Other times they give me nothing at
all!" She tells us this frequently in her own particular language, but
the sturdy limbs belie it. This babe in matters of affection and
mischief is as strenuous and original as she is about the one supreme
affair pertaining to her elastic receptacle--to quote a Tamil friend's
polite reference to the cavity within us--and many more edifying scenes
might have been shown from her eventful life. But undoubtedly the
predominating note at the present hour is her insatiable hunger, and
when her name is mentioned in the nursery there is a smile and a new
tale about her amazing appetite.



CHAPTER XXI

More Animals


[Illustration: MORE ANIMALS: DEPRESSED.

Nurses: Karuna to left (the Duckling of "Things as They Are"); and
Annamai, to right, Lulla's beloved.]

IN full contrast to Teddy-bear is that floppy child, the Coney. In
Hart's _Animals of the Bible_, there is a picture of this baby, only the
fore-paws should be raised in piteous appeal to be taken up. The Coney
is really a pretty child with pathetic eyes and a grateful smile; but
she was long in learning to walk, and felt aggrieved when we
remonstrated. Her feet, she considered, were created to be ornamental
rather than useful, and no amount of coaxing backed up with massage
could persuade her otherwise. So she was left behind in the march; and
when her contemporaries departed for the middle-aged babies' nursery,
she stayed behind with the infants. And the infants had no pity. They
regarded her as a sort of hassock, large and soft and good to jump on.
More than once we have come into the nursery and found the big, meek
child of three kneeling resignedly under a window upon which an
adventurous eighteen-months wished to climb; and often we have found her
prostrate and patient under the dancing feet of Dimples.

However, the Coney can walk now. This triumph was effected with the help
of an Indianised go-cart, which did what all our persuasions had
entirely failed to do. But the process was not pleasant. The poor Coney
would stand mournfully holding the handle of her instrument of torture,
longing with a yearning unspeakable to sit down and give it up for ever.
Someone would pass, and hope would rise in her heart. She would be
carried now, carried out of sight of that detested go-cart. But no, the
callous-hearted only urged her to proceed. She would howl then with a
howl that told of bitter disappointment. Sometimes she would sit down
flat and regard the thing with a blighting glance, the hatred of a
gentle nature roused to unwonted vehemence. Always her wails accompanied
the rumbling of its wheels.

"The Conies are but a feeble folk, yet they make their houses in the
rocks." One day in deep depression of spirits the Coney arrived at the
kindergarten. She sat down before the threshold, which is three inches
high, and climbed carefully over it. She found herself in a new world,
where babies were doing wonderful things and enjoying all they did. The
Coney decided to join a class, and was offered beads to thread. Life
with beautiful beads to thread became worth living, and it may be in the
course of time that the tortoise will overtake the hare. In any case we
find much cheer in the conclusion of the verse, for if our Coney builds
in the Rock her being rather feeble will not matter very much.

Those who possess that friend of our youth, _Alice_, as illustrated by
Sir John Tenniel, may find the photograph twice reproduced of our fat
Cheshire Cat. This baby is remarkable for two things: she smiles and she
vanishes. The time to see the vanishing conducted with more celerity
than Alice ever saw it, is when the babies' warning call is sounded
across the verandah and a visitor appears in the too near horizon. This
baby then vanishes round the nearest corner. There is nothing left of
her, not even a smile. In fact, the chief contrast between her and the
cat among the foliage is that with our Cat the smile goes first.

Sunday morning, to return to the beginning, is full of possible
misadventure. Sometimes the babies seem to agree among themselves that
it would be well to be good. Then their admiring Sittie and Ammal have
nothing to do but enjoy them. But sometimes it is otherwise. First one
baby pulls her sister's hair, and the other retaliates, till the two get
entangled in each other's curls. Piria Sittie flies to the rescue,
disentangles the combatants and persuades them to make friends.
Meanwhile three restless spirits in bodies to match have crept out
through the open door (it is too hot if we shut the doors), and we find
them comfortably ensconced in forbidden places. The Beetle is a quiet
child. She retires to a corner and looks devout. Presently a sound as of
scraping draws our attention to her. "Beetle! Open your mouth!" Beetle
opens her mouth. It is packed with whitewash off the wall. Then a scared
cry rings through the nursery, and all the babies, imagining awful
things imminent, tumble one on top of the other in a wild rush into
refuge. It is only a large grasshopper which has startled the Cheshire
Cat, whose great eyes are always on the look-out for possible causes of
panic. The grasshopper is banished to the garden and the Cheshire Cat
smiles all over her face. Peace restored, Dimples and the Owlet remember
a dead lizard they found in a corner of the verandah, and set off to
recover it. These two walk exactly like mechanical toys; and as they
strut along hand in hand, or one after the other, they look like
something wound up and going, in a Christmas shop window. Presently they
return with the lizard. Its tail is loose, and they sit down to pull it
off. This is not a nice game, and something else is suggested. Dimple's
mouth grows suddenly square; she wants that lizard's tail.

Then a dear little child called Muff (because she ought to be called
Huff if the name had not been already appropriated), who has been
solemnly munching a watch, decides it is time to demand more individual
attention. She objects to the presence of another baby on her Sittie's
lap. Why should two babies share one lap? The thing is self-evidently
wrong. One lap, one baby, should be the rule in all properly conducted
nurseries. Muff broods over this in silence, then slides off the crowded
lap and sits down disconsolate, alone. Tears come, big sad tears, as
Muff meditates; and it takes time to explain matters and comfort,
without giving in to the one-lap-one-baby theory.

[Illustration: TUBBING.]

We have several helpful babies. Dimples has been discovered paying
required attentions to things smaller than herself; and the Wax Doll
pats the Rosebud if she thinks it will reassure her, when (as rarely
happens) that pet of the family is left stranded on a mat. But Puck is
the most inventive. It was one happy Sunday morning that we came upon
her feeding the Ratlet on her own account. The Ratlet was making
ungrateful remarks; and we hurried across to her and saw that Puck,
under the impression doubtless that any hole would do, was pouring the
milk in a steady stream down the poor infant's nose. Puck smiled up
peacefully. She was sure we would be pleased with her. But the Ratlet
continued eloquent for very many minutes.

Sometimes (but this is an old story now) our difficulties were increased
by the Spider's habit of whimpering, which had a depressing effect upon
the family. This poor baby was a weak little bag of bones when first she
came to us. The bag was made of shrivelled skin of a dusty brown colour.
Her hair was the colour of her skin, and hung about her head like
tattered shreds of a spider's web. She sat in a bunch and never smiled.
Something about her suggested a spider. Her Tamil name is Chrysanthemum,
which by the change of one letter becomes Spider. So we called her
Spider.

At first we were not anxious about her; for such little children pick
up quickly if they are healthy to begin with, as we believed she was.
But she did not respond to the good food and care, and only grew thinner
and more miserable as the weeks passed, till she looked like the first
picture in a series of advertisements of some marvellous patent food,
and we wondered if she would ever grow like the fat and flourishing last
baby of the series. For two months this state of things continued; she
grew more wizened every day; and the uncanny spider-limbs and attitude
gave her the air of not being a human baby at all, but a terrible little
specimen which ought not to be on view but should be hidden safely away
in some private medical place--on a shelf in a bottle of spirits of
wine.

We are asked sometimes if such tiny things can suffer other than
physically. We have reason to think they can. As all else failed, we
took a little girl from school for whom the Spider had an affection, and
let her love her all day long; and almost at once there was a change in
the sad little face of the Spider. She had been cared for by an old
grandfather after her mother's death, and it seemed as if she had
fretted for him and needed someone all to herself to make up for what
she was missing.

This little girl, the Cod-fish by name, was devoted to the Spider. She
nestled her and played with her--or attempted to, I should say, for at
first the Spider almost resented any attempts to play. "She doesn't know
how to smile!" said the Cod-fish disconsolately after a week's petting
and loving had resulted only in fewer whimpers, but not as yet in
smiles. A few days later she came to us, and announced with much
emotion: "She has smiled three times!" Next day the record rose to
seven; after that we left off counting.

The Spider is fat and bonnie now. Her skin is a clear and creamy brown,
and her hair has lost its dustiness; but she still likes to sit crumpled
up, and a small alcove in the kitchen is her favourite haven when tired
of the world. Seen unexpectedly in there, bunched in a tight knot, her
dark, keen little eyes peering out of the light-coloured little face,
she still suggests a spider. But it is a cheerful Spider, which makes
all the difference.



CHAPTER XXII

The Parrot House


[Illustration: RED LAKE AND HILL.

As seen (without the water) from the Taraha Nursery.]

THE time to see the Taraha nursery at its best is between late evening
and early morning, and again about noon. It is perfectly peaceful then.
Thirty mats are spread upon the floor. Thirty babies are strewn upon the
mats. All the thirty are asleep. A sleeping baby is good. Thirty babies
all good at once is something we cannot promise at any other hour.

Shading your lantern, and walking carefully so as not to tread on more
scattered limbs than may be, you wander round the nursery and meditate
upon the beautiful ways of childhood. There is something so touching in
sleeping innocence, and you are touched. Here two chubby babies are
lying locked in each other's arms. You have to look twice before you see
which limbs belong to which. There another is hugging a doll minus its
head. Next to her a baby sleeps pillowed on another, and the other does
not mind. In the middle of the floor, far from her mat, a sturdy
three-year-old sprawls content. You pick her up gently and lay her on
her mat. With an expression of determined resolution the baby rolls off
again; and if you attempt another remove, an ominous pucker of the
forehead warns you to desist. You wonder if the babies are quite as
good as they seem. One of the dear, fat, devoted little pair you
noticed at first, stirs, disentangles herself from her neighbour, and
gives her a slight kick. There is a smothered, sleepy howl, and the kick
is returned. "Water!" wails the first fat baby. "Water!" wails the
second. You get water, give it, pat both fat babies till they go to
sleep, and then cautiously retire. It would be a pity if all the babies
were to waken thirsty and kick each other. At the door you turn and look
back. Graceful babies, clumsy babies, babies who lie extended like young
pokers, babies curled like kittens. All sorts of babies, good, bad, and
middling, but all blessedly asleep.

              Sleep, baby, sleep!
              Thy father guards his sheep,
          Thy mother shakes the dreamland-tree
          Down fall the little dreams for thee,
              Sleep, baby, sleep!

              Sleep, baby, sleep!
              Our Saviour loves His sheep.
          He is the Lamb of God on high,
          Who for our sakes came down to die.
              Sleep, baby, sleep!

The pretty German lullaby rises unbidden, and is pushed away by the
quick, sad thoughts that will not listen to it. For under all the
laughter and nursery frolic and happiness, we cannot but remember why
these little ones are here. Round about the compound in a great triangle
there are three Temple towers. They are out of sight though near us, but
we cannot forget they are there. They stand for that which deprives
these children of their birthright. Oh for the day when those Temple
towers will fall and the reign of righteousness begin! There was a time
when it seemed impossible to desire that the fire should be allowed to
touch the stately and beautiful things of the world. Now there is
something that satisfies as nothing else could in the vision of that
purifying fire; and the promise that stands out like a light in the
darkness is that which tells that the Son of Man shall send forth His
angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom, all things that
offend.

In the tiny babies' nursery many a crooning Indian lullaby is sung
to the babies in their swinging white cradles; but in the Taraha
nursery we sing sweet old hymns, in Tamil and English, and then all
sensible people are supposed to go to sleep. But one evening after
the singing, two little tots settled down for a talk. Said one lying
comfortably on her back with her two hands clasped behind her head:
"Who takes care of us at night when we all go to sleep?" Said the
other in a mixture of Tamil and English: "Jesus-tender-Shepherd takes
care of us--Jesus-loves-me-this-I-know." The first baby rolled over upon
her small sister with a crow of derision. "It is not! It is Accal! I
woke one night and saw her!" The other baby insisted she was making a
mistake. "Accal sleeps, all people sleep; they lie down like us and go
to sleep. Only Jesus stays awake, and never, never goes to sleep."
"Never, never?" questioned the first, and was quiet for a minute
considering the matter; then with a sceptical little laugh, "Did you
ever wake up and see Him?"

If the babies were always in a state of calm repose, the Taraha's pet
name, Parrot-house, would be inappropriate: but for nearly ten hours of
the day they are awake and talkative. Talk, however, is a mild word by
which to describe their powers of conversation. Sometimes we wonder if
they never tire of chattering, and then we remember they have only
lately learned to talk. They have not had time to tire.

[Illustration: CHILDREN WADING]

Once we listened, hoping that the trailing clouds of glory so recently
departed had left some trace of illumination in this their first
expression in earth's language of their feelings and emotions. But we
found them very mundane. Most of the conversation concerned their
"saman," a comprehensive Indian word used by people with limited
vocabularies to express all manner of things to play with. Their "saman"
was various. Dolls, of course, and the remnants of dolls; tins and the
lids thereof; bits of everything which could break; corks, stones,
seeds, half cocoa-nut shells; rags of many ages and colours; scraped
down morsels of brick; withered flowers and leaves; sticks of all sorts
and sizes; English Christmas cards, sometimes with much domestic
information on the back; unauthorised sundries from the
kindergarten--delivered up with a smile intended to assure you that they
were only being kept for Sittie; and pûchies. Pûchies are insects. We
have one baby who collects pûchies. "Look!" she said, one morning before
prayers, "Deah little five pûchies!" and she opened her hand and five
red and black beetles crawled slowly out, to the delight of the devout,
who scrambled up from their orderly rows with shrieks of appreciation.

But if the babies' conversation was unenlightening, their chosen
avocations are not uninteresting. They are always busy about something,
and, from their point of view, something important. There are, of
course, some among the thirty who are unimaginative and unenterprising.
These sit in the sand and play. Others have more to do. Life to them is
full of the unknown. The unknown is full of possibilities. The great
thing is to experiment. Nothing is too insignificant to explore, and all
five senses are useful to the thoroughly competent baby.

They knew, of course, all the flowers, and the discovery of anything
fresh was always followed by a scene which suggested a colony of
small and active ants hauling some large object to their nest; for the
nearest grown-up person was invariably hailed, and pulled, and pushed,
and hurried along till the "new flower" was reached. Then, if the object
was incautious enough to stoop down to examine it, the ants, ant-wise,
would envelope it, climbing, swarming all over it, till there was
nothing to be seen but ants.

[Illustration: CHILDREN WADING.]

They knew the habits of caterpillars, and especially they had knowledge
about the wonderful silver chrysalis which pins itself to the pointed
leaves of the oleander. They knew what was packed up inside, and some
with wide-open eyes had watched the miracle slowly evolving as the
butterfly unpacked itself, and sunned its crumpled velvet wings, till
the crumples smoothed, and the wings dried, and the butterfly fluttered
away. They knew, too, the less approachable ways of the wild bees, and
where they hive, and what happens if they are disturbed; and they knew
the private feelings of calves, and which likes to be treated as a
brother and which resents such liberties. Crows they knew intimately,
and squirrels a little; for infants fallen from their nests have often
been taken care of, much against their foolish wills, until old enough
to look after themselves. Their namesakes, the parrots, they knew very
well; and the dainty little sunbirds that flash from flower to flower
like little living jewels in the sunlight; and the clever tailor-bird,
which sews its own nest, knotting its thread like a grown-up human
being; and the wise leaf-insect that can hardly be found till it moves;
and the great, green, frisky grasshopper that seems to invite a chase.

We found they knew, alas, too much about the misuse of everything
growing in the field! The tamarind fruit makes condiment, but eaten raw
it gives fever; and the babies think we are wrong here, and they are
fond of forgetting our rules. Many kinds of grasses are very good to
eat; and here again we are mistaken, for we know not the flavour of
grasses. Seeds may be useful to plant; but those who think their use
ends there, are short-sighted and ignorant people. Upon these and other
matters the babies feel we have much to learn.

[Illustration: ESLI AND LITTLE KOHILA.

Taken a year earlier.]

One weird joy has been theirs, and they never will forget it. For one
whole blissful afternoon they followed the snake-charmer about at a
respectful distance; and they cannot understand why we are not anxious
they should dance as he danced, and pipe as he piped, round the hopeful
holes they discover in the red mud walls.

Other things they had learned to do, not wholly innocent. They must have
made friends with the masons who built their new nursery, and persuaded
them to do their work in a sympathetic spirit; for they knew the weak
points hidden from our eyes, and how pleasant it is to scoop mortar out
of cracks between the bricks of the floor. They had learned how most of
their toys were made, and how a doll could be most easily dissected, and
the particular taste of its inside. They knew, too, the lusciousness of
divers sorts of sand--this last, however, being a mixture of crime and
disease, and treated as such, is not a popular sin. Finally, to our
lasting disgrace, they had learned, after a series of thoughtful
experiments, how best to obey a command and yet elude its intention;
thus on a wet day, when they were commanded not to go out, their Sittie
found them lying full length in a long row on the edge of the verandah,
their heads protruding so as to catch the lovely drip from the roof. And
all these things they had carefully learned in spite of a certain amount
of supervision; and, being entirely unsuspicious, they will take you
into their confidence and let you share the forbidden fruit, if you are
so inclined.

But, after all, perfection of goodness would make us more anxious than
even these enormities; we should fear our babies were growing too
good--a fear not pressing at present. The Parrot-house only overwhelms
when the birds begin to sing. Then indeed all who can, flee far away,
for the babies once started are difficult to stop. They are sure you
like it as much as they do, and are anxious to oblige you when you visit
their world. So they sing with the greatest earnestness, and as they
invariably hang on to every available part of you, and punctuate their
melodies with kisses and embraces, escape is not always practicable.

The Taraha nursery was our first substantial building. It is built upon
foundations raised well off the ground, and has a wide verandah. When
first it was opened and the children were invited to take possession,
they did so most completely. One quaint little person of barely three,
called Kohila, whose small, repressed face in the photograph gives no
hint of character, used to stalk up and down the verandah with an air of
proprietorship which left no doubt in any mind as to her opinion on the
subject. Another (sharing the swinging cot with Kohila in the photo) sat
on the top step and smiled encouragingly to visitors. It was nice to be
smiled at, but there was something very condescending in the smile.
Another stood guard over the plants, which grew in pots much bigger than
herself all the way down the verandah. If any presumed to touch them,
she would dart out upon them with an indignant chirrup. For days after
the great event--the opening of the Taraha--small parties waited on
visitors, formed in procession before and behind, and escorted them
round, explaining all mysteries, and insisting upon due admiration.
Everything had to be interviewed, from teaspoons to pots of fern. This
concluded, the guests were politely dismissed, and departed, let us
hope, properly penetrated with a sense of the kindness of the babies.

There have always been some who object to visitors. One of these showed
her objection, not by crying and running away, as undignified babies do,
but by sitting exactly where she was when she first caught sight of the
intruder, and staring straight into space with a very stony stare. A
sensitive visitor could hardly have had the temerity to pass her, but
normal visitors are not sensitive. Sometimes they attempted to make
friends. This was too much. One fat arm would be slowly raised till it
covered the baby's eyes, and in this position she would sit like a small
petrifaction, till the horror had withdrawn.

[Illustration: PREETHA AWARE OF A FOE.

Tara on the left: the Coney on the right.]

This baby, Preetha by name, has in most matters a way of her own. One of
her little peculiarities is a strong preference for solo music as
compared with concert. She listens attentively to others' performances,
then disappears. If followed, she will be found alone in a corner, with
her face to the wall and her back to the world; and if she thinks
herself unobserved, you will be regaled with a solo. This experience is
interesting to the musical. It is never twice alike. Sometimes it is a
succession of sounds, like a tune that has lost its way; sometimes, a
recognisable version of the chorus lately learned. At other times she
delivers her soul in a series of short groans and grunts, beating time
with her podgy hands. If she perceives through the back of her head that
someone is looking or listening, she stops at once; and no persuasions
can ever produce that special rehearsal again. Of late this baby, being
now nearly three, has awakened to a sense of life's responsibilities,
and she evidently wishes to prepare to meet them suitably. Yesterday
evening she came to me with an exceedingly serious face, pointed in the
direction of the kindergarten room, and then tapping herself, remarked:
"Amma! I kindergarten." No more was said; but we know we shall soon see
her solemnly waddling into the schoolroom, and we wonder what will
happen. Will she continue to insist upon a corner to herself?



CHAPTER XXIII

The Bear Garden


[Illustration: JULLANIE AMONG THE GRASSES.]

"THE fruit of the lotus--a capsule--ripens below the surface of the
water. When the seeds are ripe and leave the berry, a small bubble of
air attached to them brings them to the surface, and the seeds are
carried wherever the wind and waves take them until the bubble bursts;
when the seed, being heavier than water, sinks to the bottom, and then
begins to grow to form a new plant, which may be at some distance from
the parent one. In this simple way the lotus plant is enabled to
spread." So says our botany book; and the thought of the lotus seed in
its little air-boat floating away over the water to be sown, perhaps,
far from the parent plant, is full of suggestion, and leads us straight
to the Bear-garden.

A lotus-pool, a bear-garden--the connection is not obvious. _Alice_ in
her wanderings never wandered into bewilderment more profound than such
a mixture of ideas. But this is the way we get to it: We have called
these little children Lotus-buds--for such they are in their youngness
and innocence; and the underlying thought runs deeper, as those who have
read the first chapter know--but the Lotus-buds must grow into flowers
and must be sown as living seeds, perhaps far away from the happy place
they knew when they were buds. The little air-boat will come for them.
The breath of the Spirit that bloweth where it listeth will carry them
where it will, and we want them to be ready to be sown wherever the
pools of the world are barren of lotus flowers. And this brings us
straight to the newest of our beginnings in Dohnavur--the Kindergarten.

An ideal kindergarten is a place where the teachers train the scholars,
and we hope to have that in time; at present the case is opposite, and
that is why it has its name, the name that conflicts with the
lotus-pool--the Bear-garden.

In this peaceful room Classes B, C, and D have taken their young
teachers in hand--Rukma, Preena, and Sanda. Of these Rukma (Radiance)
has the clearest ideas about discipline; Preena (the Elf) knows best how
to coax; and Sanda, excellent Mouse that she is, has the gift of
patience. These three (who after all are only school-girls, continuing
their own education with their Préma Sittie) are attempting to instruct
the babies on the lines of organised play; but the babies feel they have
much to teach their teachers, and this is how they do it:--

Préma Sittie goes into the room when the kindergarten is in progress,
and from three classes at once babies come springing towards her with
squeals of joy, and they clasp her knees and look up with eyes full of
affection and confidence in their welcome. "Go back to your place!" she
says, and tries to look severe; with a chuckle the children obey, and
she looks round and takes notes.

Chellalu is lying full-length on the bench, with a look of supreme
content on her face, and her two feet against the wall. Pyârie has
turned her back to the picture that is being shown, and is tying a
handkerchief round her head. Ruhinie, an India-rubber-ball sort of baby,
has suddenly bounced up from her seat, and is starting a chorus, of
which she is fond, at the top of her not very gentle voice; and Komala,
a perfect sprite, is tickling the child who sits next to her. "Sittie!"
exclaims the distracted teacher, "they won't learn anything!" Or if she
happens to be the Mouse, she is calmly engaged with the one good child
in her class.

The next group is stringing beads on pieces of wire. "Look, look!" and
an eager babe holds out her wire for admiration, and probably spills her
beads in her effort to secure attention. If she does, there is a general
scramble, beads rolling loose on the floor being quite irresistible. One
wicked baby sits by herself and strings her beads on her curls.

A few minutes later it is mat-plaiting; and the agile little fingers are
diligently weaving pieces of blue and yellow material, bits over from
their elder sisters' garments, beautifully unconscious that they are
supposed to be working the colours alternately. Sometimes in the gayest
way they exclaim: "Sittie! It's wrong! it's wrong!" Occasionally there
is a howl from a child who has been pinched by another, or whose
neighbour has helped herself to her beads. Sittie crosses the room
hurriedly. "What's the matter?" With tears rolling down her cheeks the
victim points to her oppressor. "May you do that?" is the invariable
English question. It is answered by a shake of the head, the tiniest
baby understanding that particular remark. The injured baby smiles. A
reproof, or at worst a pat on the fat arm next to hers, satisfies her
sense of justice, and she is content.

When an English lesson begins, those afflicted with delicate nerves are
happier elsewhere. One class has a toy farmyard, another a set of
tea-things, the third a doll which every member of the class is aching
to embrace. The teachers and children alike are inclined to talk with
emphasis; and if you stand between the three classes you hear queer
answers to queerer questions, and wonder if the babies at Babel were
anything like so bewildering.

But this vision of the kindergarten is hardly a fortnight old; for
Classes B, C, and D are of recent development, and are made up of some
heedless characters, as Chellalu and Pyârie, who could not keep up with
class A, and a few more young things from the nursery who were wilder
than wild rabbits from the wood when we began. Also it should be stated
that from the babies' point of view white people are only playthings.
"They were very good before you came!" is the unflattering remark
frequently addressed to us; and as we discreetly retire, the babies do
seem to become suddenly beautifully docile. But even so they might be
better, as an unconscious comedy over-seen this morning proves. I was in
the porch outside the door, when Rukma, pointing to a blackboard on
which were written sundry words, told Chellalu to show her "cat," and I
looked in interested to know if Chellalu really knew anything of
reading. Chellalu brandished the pointer, then turned to Rukma with a
confidential smile, "Cat? Where is it, Accal? Is it at the top or at the
bottom?" Rukma, who has a keen sense of the comic, seemed to find it
difficult to look as she felt she ought. Chellalu caught the twinkle in
her eye, and throwing herself heartily into the spirit of the game,
which was evidently intended to be a kindergarten version of Hunt the
Mouse through the Wood, she searched the blackboard for cat. Then to
Rukma: "Accal! dear Accal! Tell _me_, and I'll tell _you_!"

There is nothing that helps us so much to be good as to be believed in
and thought better than we are; and the converse is true, so we do not
want to be always suspecting Chellalu of sin; but this last was entirely
too artless, and this was apparently Rukma's view, for she sent Chellalu
back to her seat and called up another baby, who, fairly radiating
virtue, immediately found the cat.

The next room--which Class A (the first to be formed) has to itself--is
a haven of peace after the Bear-garden. It is a pleasant room like the
other, pretty with pictures and with flowers. And the little bright
faces make it a happy place, for this class, though serious-minded, is
exceedingly cheerful. There is the demure little Tingalu, the good child
of the kindergarten, its hope and stay in troublous hours, and the
quaint little trio, Jeya, Jullanie, and Sella--this last is called
Cock-robin by the family, for she has eyes and manners which remind us
of the bird, and she hardly ever walks, she hops. Mala and Bala are in
the class, and a lively scamp called Puvai.

The kindergarten is worked in English, helped out with Tamil when
occasion requires. This plan, adopted for reasons pertaining to the
future of the children, is resulting in something so comical that we
shall be sorry when the first six months are over and the babies grow
correct. At present they talk with delightful abandon impossible to
reproduce, but very entertaining to those who know both languages. They
tack Tamil terminations to English verbs, and English nouns make
subjects for Tamil predicates. They turn their sentences upside down and
inside out, and any way in fact which occurs to them at the moment, only
insisting upon one thing: you must be made to understand. They apply
everything they learn as immediately as possible, and woe to the unwary
flounderer in the realm of natural science who offers an explanation of
any phenomena of nature other than that taught in the kindergarten. The
learned baby regards you with a tender sort of pity. Poor thing, you are
very ignorant; but you will know better in time--if only you will come
to the kindergarten, the source of the fountain of knowledge.

The ease and the quickness with which a new word is appropriated
constantly surprises us. As for example: one morning two babies wandered
round the Prayer-room, and, discovering passion-flowers within reach,
eagerly begged for them in Tamil. One of the two pushed the other aside
and wanted all the flowers. "Greedy! greedy!" I said reprovingly, in
English. "Greedy _mine_!" was the immediate rejoinder, and the little
hand was held out with more certainty than ever now that the name of the
flower was known. "Greedy _my_ flower! _Mine!_"

But some of the quaintest experiences are when the eloquent baby,
determined to express herself in English, falls back upon scraps of
kindergarten rhyme and delivers it in all seriousness. On the evening
before my birthday I was banished from my room, and the children
decorated it exactly as they pleased. When I returned I was implored not
to look at anything, as it was not intended to be seen till next
morning. Next morning the babies came in procession with their elders,
and while I was occupied with them out on the verandah, Chellalu and her
friend Naveena, discovering something unusual in my room, escaped from
the ranks and went off to examine the mystery. I found them a moment
later gazing in astonished joy at the glories there revealed. "Who did
it all?" gasped Chellalu, whose intention, let us hope, was perfectly
reverent. "God did it all!"

The one kindergarten class taught entirely in Tamil is the Scripture
lesson, illustrated whenever possible by pictures; and being always
taught about sacred things in Tamil, the babies have no doubt about the
language in use in Bible days. But sometimes a little mind is puzzled,
as an instructive aside revealed a day or two ago. For their teacher had
told them in English, not as a Scripture lesson, but just as a story,
about Peter and John and the lame man. The picture was before them, and
they understood and followed keenly; but one little girl whispered to
another, who happened to be the well-informed Cock-robin: "Did Peter and
John talk English or Tamil?" "Tamil, of course!" returned Cock-robin,
without a moment's hesitation.

The Scripture lessons are usually given by Arulai, whose delight is
Bible teaching. "So that as much as lieth in you you will apply yourself
wholly to this one thing, and draw all your cares and studies this way,"
is a word that always comes to mind when one thinks of Arulai and her
Bible. She much enjoys taking the babies, believing that the impressions
created upon the mind of a little child are practically indelible.

Sometimes these impressions are expressed in vigorous fashion. Once the
subject of the class was the Good Samaritan. The babies were greatly
exercised over the scandalous behaviour of the priest and the Levite.
"Punish them! Let them have whippings!" they demanded. Arulai explained
further. But one baby got up from her seat and walked solemnly to the
picture. "Take care what you are doing!" she remarked impressively in
Tamil, shaking her finger at the two retreating backs. "Naughty!
naughty!"--this was in English--"take care!"

One of the favourite pictures shows Abraham and Isaac on the way to the
mount of sacrifice. This story was told one morning with much reverence
and feeling, and the babies were impressed. There were tears in Bala's
eyes as she gazed at the picture, but she brushed them away hurriedly
and hoped no one had noticed. Only Chellalu appeared perfectly
unconcerned. She had business of her own on hand, and the story, it
seemed, had not touched her. The babies are searched before they come to
school, and all toys, bits of string, old tins, and sundries are removed
from their persons. But there are ways of evading inquisitors. Chellalu
knows these ways. She now produced a long wisp of red tape from
somewhere--she did not tell us where--and proceeded to tie her feet
together. This accomplished, she curled herself up on the bench like a
caterpillar on a leaf, and to all appearances went to sleep. Why was she
not awakened and compelled to behave properly? asks the reader, duly
shocked. Perhaps because on that rather special morning the teacher
preferred her asleep.

[Illustration: ARULAI AND RUKMA, WITH NAVEENA.]

The story finished, the children were questioned, and they answered with
unwonted gravity. "What did Isaac say to his father as they walked alone
together?" An awed little voice had begun the required answer, when
Chellalu suddenly uncurled, sat up, and said in clear, decided Tamil:
"He said, 'Father! do not kill me!' _Yesh!_ that was what he said."

When first the babies heard about Heaven, they all wanted to go at once,
and with difficulty were restrained from praying to be taken there
immediately. There was one naughty child who, when she was given
medicine, invariably announced, "I will not stay in this village: I am
going to Heaven! I am going now!" But they soon grew wiser. It was our
excitable, merry little Jullanie who summed up all desires with most
simplicity: "Lord Jesus, please take me there or anywhere anytime; only
wherever I am, please stay there too!" Some of the babies are carnal:
"When I go to that village (Heaven), I shall go for a ride on the
cherubim's wings. I will make them take me to all sorts of places, just
wherever I want to go."

The latest pronouncement, however, was for the moment the most
perplexing. "Come-anda-look-ata-well!" said Chellalu yesterday evening,
the sentence in a single long word. The well is being dug in the
Menagerie garden and is surrounded by a trellis, beyond which the babies
may not pass, unless taken by one of ourselves. As we drew near to the
well, Chellalu pointed to it and said: "Amma! That is the way to
Heaven!" This speech, which was in Tamil, considerably surprised me, as
naturally we think of Heaven above the bright blue sky. The yawning gulf
of the unfinished well suggested something different.

But Chellalu was positive. "It is the way to Heaven. _I_ may not go
there, but _you_ may! Yesh! _you_ may go to Heaven, Amma, but _I_ may
not!" She had nothing more to say; and we wondered how she could
possibly have arrived at so extraordinary a conclusion, till we
remembered that it had been explained to the babies that any baby
falling in would probably be drowned and die, and so until it was
finished and made safe no baby must go near it. Chellalu had evidently
argued that as to die meant going to Heaven, the well must be the way to
Heaven; and as only grown-up people might go near it, they, and they
alone apparently, were allowed to go to Heaven.

These babies are nothing if not practical. Arulai had been teaching the
story of the Unmerciful Servant; and to bring it down to nursery life,
supposed the case of a baby who snatched at other babies' toys, and was
unfair and selfish. Such a baby, if not reformed, would grow up and be
like the Unmerciful Servant. The babies looked upon the back of the
offender as shown in the picture. "Bad man! Nasty man!" they said to
each other, pointing to him with aversion. And Arulai closed the class
with a short prayer that none of the babies might ever be like the
Unmerciful Servant.

The prayer over, the babies rushed to the table where their toys were
put during the Scripture lesson. Pyârie got there first, and, gathering
all she could reach, she swept them into her lap and was darting off
with them, when a word from Arulai recalled her. For a moment there was
a struggle. Then she ran up to Tingalu, the child she had chiefly
defrauded, poured all her treasures into her lap, and then sprang into
Arulai's arms with the eager question: "Acca! Acca! Am I not a
_Merciful_ Servant?"



CHAPTER XXIV

The Accals

          "This sacred work demands not lukewarm, selfish,
          slack souls, but hearts more finely tempered than
          steel, wills purer and harder than the
          diamond."--PÈRE DIDON.


[Illustration: PONNAMAL, WITH PREETHA ON HER KNEE, AND TARA BESIDE HER.]

THE Accals, without whom this work in all its various branches could not
be undertaken, are a band of Indian sisters (the word Accal means older
sister) who live for the service of the children. First among the Accals
is Ponnamal (Golden). With the quick affection of the East the children
find another word for Gold and call her doubly Golden Sister.

Sometimes we are asked if we ever find an Indian fellow-worker whom we
can thoroughly trust. The ungenerous question would make us as indignant
as it would if it were asked about our own relations, were it not that
we know it is asked in ignorance by those who have never had the
opportunity of experiencing, or have missed the happiness of enjoying,
true friendship with the people of this land. Those who have known that
happiness, know the limitless loyalty and the tender, wonderful love
that is lavished on the one who feels so unworthy of it all. If there is
distance and want of sympathy between those who are called to be workers
together with the great Master, is not something wrong? Simple,
effortless intimacy, that closeness of touch which is friendship indeed,
is surely possible. But rather we would put it otherwise, and say that
without it service together, of the only sort we would care to know, is
perfectly impossible.

[Illustration: SELLAMUTTU AND SUSEELA.]

In our work all along we have had this joy to the full. God in His
goodness gave us from the first those who responded at once to the
confidence we offered them. In India the ideal of a consecrated life is
a life with no reserves--which seeks for nothing, understands nothing,
cares for nothing but to be poured forth upon the sacrifice and service.
Pierce through the various incrustations which have over-laid this pure
ideal, give no heed to the effect of Western influence and example, and
you come upon this feeling, however expressed or unexpressed, at the
very back of all--the instinct that recognises and responds to the call
to sacrifice, and does not understand its absence in the lives of those
who profess to follow the Crucified. Who, to whom this ideal is indeed
"The Gleam," that draws and ever draws the soul to passionate
allegiance, can fail to find in the Indian nature at its truest and
finest that kinship of spirit which knits hearts together? "And it came
to pass when he had made an end of speaking, that the soul of Jonathan
was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own
soul": this tells it all. The spring of heart to heart that we call
affinity, the knitting no hand can ever afterward unravel--these
experiences have been granted to us all through our work together, and
we thank God for it.

Ponnamal's work lies chiefly among the convert-nurses and the babies.
She has charge of the nurseries and of the food arrangements, so
intricate and difficult to the mere lay mind; she trains her workers to
thoroughness and earnestness, and by force of example seems to create an
atmosphere of cheerful unselfishness that is very inspiring. How often
we have sent a young convert, tempted to self-centredness and
depression, to Ponnamal, and seen her return to her ordinary work braced
and bright and sensible. We are all faulty and weak at times, and
every nursery, like every life, has its occasional lapses; but on the
whole it is not too much to say that the nurseries are happy places, and
Ponnamal's influence goes through them all like a fresh wind. And this
in spite of very poor health. For Ponnamal, who was the leader of our
itinerating band, broke down hopelessly, and thought her use in life had
passed--till the babies came and brought her back to activity again. And
the joy of the Lord, we have often proved, is strength for body as well
as soul.

Sellamuttu, who comes next to Ponnamal, is the "Pearl" of previous
records, and she has been a pearl to us through all our years together.
She is special Accal to the household of children above the baby-age--a
healthy, high-spirited crow of most diverse dispositions; and she is
loved by one and all with a love which is tempered with great respect,
for she is "all pure justice," as a little girl remarked feelingly not
long ago, after being rather sharply reproved for exceeding naughtiness:
"within my heart wrath burned like a fire; but my mouth could not open
to reply, for inside me a voice said, 'It is true, entirely true; Accal
is perfectly just.'"

This Accal, however, is most tender in her affections, and among the
babies she has some particular specials. One of these is the
solemn-faced morsel of the photograph, to save whom she travelled,
counting by time, as far as from London to Moscow and back; and the baby
arrived as happy and well as when the friends at "Moscow" sent her off
with prayers and blessings and kindness. But the photograph was a shock.
"Aiyo!" she said, quite upset to see her delight so misrepresented,
"that is not Suseela! There is no smile, no pleasure in her face!" We
comforted her by the assurance that any one who understood babies and
their ways would consider the camera responsible for the expression.
And at least the baby was obedient. Had she not told her to make a
salaam, and had not the little hand gone up in serious salute? A
perfectly obedient baby is Sellamuttu's ideal, and she was satisfied.

[Illustration: TO THE RIGHT, SUHINIE, AND HER BABY SUNUNDA]

Both these sisters came to us at some loss to themselves, for both could
have lived at home at ease if they had been so inclined. Ponnamal lost
all her little fortune by joining us. She could, perhaps, have recovered
it by going to law, but she did not feel it right to do so, and she
suffered herself to be defrauded. "How could I teach others to be
unworldly if I myself did what to them would appear worldly-minded?"
That was all she ever said by way of explanation.

Next to Ponnamal and Sellamuttu come the motherly-hearted Gnanamal and
Annamai. They came to us when we were in circumstances of peculiar
difficulty. The work was just beginning, and we had not enough
trustworthy helpers; so, wearied with disturbed nights, we were almost
at the end of our strength. "Send us help!" we prayed, and went on each
trying to do the work of three. It was one hot, tiring afternoon, when
we longed to forget everything and rest for half an hour, but could not,
because there was so much to do, that a bright, capable face appeared at
the door of our room, and Annamai, Lulla's beloved, came in and said:
"God sent me, and my relative" (naming a mission catechist) "brought me.
And so I have come!"

And Gnanamal--we were in dire straits, for a dear little babe had
suffered at the hands of one who thought first of herself and second of
her charge, and the most careful tending was needed if the baby was to
survive--it was then Gnanamal came and took charge of the delicate
child, and became the comfort and help she has ever continued to be.
When there is serious illness, and night-nursing is required, Gnanamal
is always ready to volunteer; though to her, as to most of us in India,
night work is not what the flesh would choose. Then in the morning,
when we go to relieve her, we find her bright as ever, as if she had
slept comfortably all the time. We think this sort of help worth
gratitude.

The convert-workers, dear as dear children, but, thank God, dependable
as comrades, come next in age to the head Accals. Arulai Tara (known to
some as "Star") is what her name suggests, something steadfast,
something shining, something burning with a pure devotion which kindles
other fires. We cannot imagine our children without their beloved
Arulai. Then there is Sundoshie (Joy), to the left next Suhinie in the
photo, a young wife for whom poison was prepared three times, and whose
escape from death at the hand of husband and mother-in-law was one of
those quiet miracles which God is ever working in this land of cruelty
in dark places. And Suhinie (Gladness), whose story of deliverance has
been told before;[E] and Esli, the gift of a fellow-missionary, a most
faithful girl; and others younger, but developing in character and
trustworthiness. All these young converts need much care, but the care
of genuine converts is very fruitful work; and one interesting part of
it is the fitting of each to her niche, or of fitting the niche to her.
Discernment of spirit is needed for this, for misfits means waste energy
and great discomfort; and energy is too good a thing to waste, and
comfort too pleasant a thing to spoil. So those who are responsible for
this part of the work would be grateful for the remembrance of any who
know how much depends upon it.

Among the recognised "fits" in our family is "the Accal who loves the
unlovable babies." This is Suhinie. We tried her once with the Taraha
children; but the terrible activity of these young people was altogether
too much for the slowly moving machinery of poor Suhinie's brain, and
she was perfectly overwhelmed and very miserable. For Suhinie hates
hurry and sudden shocks of any sort, and the babies of maturer years
discovered this immediately; and Suhinie, waddling forlornly after the
babies, looked like a highly respectable duck in charge of a flock of
impertinent robins.

[Illustration: THREE CONVERT WORKERS.]

It was quite a misfit, and Suhinie's worst came to the top, and we
speedily moved her back again to the Prémalia nursery.

For there you see Suhinie in her true sphere. Give her a poor, puny
babe, who will never, if she can help it, let her Accal have an
undisturbed hour; give her the most impossible, most troublesome baby in
the nursery, and then you will see Suhinie's best. We discovered this
when Ponnamal was in charge of the Neyoor nursery. Ponnamal had one
small infant so cross that nobody wanted her. She would cry half the
night, a snarly, snappy cry, that would not stop unless she was rocked,
and began again as soon as the rocking was stopped. Ponnamal gave her to
Suhinie.

"Night after night till two in the morning she would sing to that
fractious child"--this was Ponnamal's story to me when next I went to
Neyoor. "She never seemed to tire; hymn after hymn she would sing, on
and on and on. I never saw her impatient with it; she just loved it from
the first." And a curious thing began to happen: the baby grew like her
Accal. This likeness was not caught in the photograph, but is
nevertheless so observable that visitors have often asked if the little
one were her own child.

This baby, Sununda by name, is greatly attached to Suhinie. As she is
over two years old now, she has been promoted to the Taraha, and being
an extremely wilful little person, she sometimes gets into trouble. One
day I was called to remonstrate, and a little "morning glory" was
required, and I put her in a corner to think about it. Another sinner
had to be dealt with, and when I returned Sununda was nowhere to be
found. I searched all over the Taraha and in the garden, and finally
found her in the Prémalia cuddled close to Suhinie. "She has told me all
about it," said Suhinie, who was nursing another edition of difficult
infancy; and she looked down on the curly head with eyes of brooding
affection, like a tender turtle-dove upon her nestling. Then the roguish
brown eyes smiled up at me with an expression of perfect confidence that
I would understand and sympathise with the desire to share the troubles
of this strange, sad life with so beloved an Accal.

The question of discipline is sometimes rather difficult with so many
dispositions, each requiring different dealing. We try, of course, to
fit the penalty to the crime, so that the child's sense of justice will
work on our side; and in this we always find there is a wonderful
unconscious co-operation on the part of the merest baby. But the older
children used to be rather a problem. Some had come to us after their
wills had become developed and their characters partly formed. Most of
them were with us of their own free will, and could have walked off any
day, for they knew where they would be welcome. Discipline under these
circumstances is not entirely easy. But three years ago something of
Revival Power swept through all our family. It was not the Great Revival
for which we wait, but it was something most blessed in effect and
abiding in result; and ever since then the tone has been higher and the
life deeper, so that there is something to which we can appeal confident
of a quick response. But children will be scampish; and once their
earnestness of desire to be good was put to unexpected and somewhat
drastic proof.

At that time the mild Esli had charge of the sewing-class, and the class
had got into bad ways; carelessness and chattering prevailed, so Esli
came in despair to me, and I talked to the erring children. They were
sorry, made no excuses, and promised to be different in future. I left
them repentant and thoroughly ashamed of themselves, and went to other
duties.

[Illustration: SEWING-CLASS IN THE COURTYARD.]

Shortly afterwards Arulai found them in a state of great depression.
They told her they had promised to be good at the sewing-class, but were
afraid they would forget. Arulai's ideas are usually most original, and
she sympathised with the children, but told them there was no need for
them ever to forget. They asked eagerly what could be done to help them
to remember. They had prayed, but even so had doubts. Was there anything
to be done besides praying? Arulai said there was, and she expounded
certain verses from the Book of Proverbs. "Sometimes the best way to
make a mark upon the mind is to make a mark upon the body," she
suggested, and asked the children if they would like this done. The
children hesitated. They were aware that Arulai's "marks" were likely to
be emphatic, for Arulai never does things by halves. But their devotion
to her and belief in her overcame all fears; and being genuinely anxious
to reform, they one and all consented. So she sent a small girl off to
look for a cane; and presently one was produced, "thin and nice and
suitable," as I was afterwards informed. The younger children were
invited to take the cane and look at it, and consider well how it would
feel. This they did obediently, but still stuck undauntedly to their
determination, in fact, were keen to go through with it. Then Arulai
explained that when the King said, "Chasten thy son while there is hope,
and let not thy soul spare for his crying," he must have been thinking
of a very little boy who had not the sense to know what was good for
him. They had sense. The mark on the body would be waste punishment if
it were not received willingly and gratefully; so if any child cried or
pulled her hand away, she would stop. Then the children all stood up and
held out their hands--what a moment for a photograph! Arulai's "mark
upon the body" was a genuine affair, but the class received it with
fortitude and gratitude.

When I heard this history, an hour or so after its occurrence, I rather
demurred. The children had appeared to be sincerely sorry when I spoke
to them, and if so, why proceed to extremities? But Arulai answered with
wisdom and much assurance: "They have been talked to before and have
been sorry, but they forgot and did it again. This time they will not
forget." And neither did they. As long as that class continued, its
behaviour was exemplary; and "the mark upon the mind," to judge by their
demeanour, remained as fresh as it must have been on that memorable day
when the "mark" upon the body effected its creation. The story ought to
end here; but most stories have a sequel, and this has two.

The first occurred a few weeks later. A little girl, one of the
sewing-class, had slipped into the habit of careless disobedience,
followed too often by sulks. If we happened to come across her just when
the thunder-clouds were gathering, we could usually divert her attention
and avert the threatened trouble; but if we did not happen to meet her
just at the right moment, she would plunge straight into the most
outrageous naughtiness with a sort of purposeful directness that was
difficult to deal with. Knowing the child well, we often let her choose
her own punishments; and she did this so conscientiously that at last,
as she herself mournfully remarked, "they were all used up," and there
was nothing left but the most ancient--and perhaps in some cases most
efficacious, which, the circumstances being what they were, I was
naturally reluctant to try. But the child, trained to be perfectly
honest with herself, apparently thought the thing over, and calmly made
up her mind to accept the inevitable; for when, anxious she should not
misunderstand, I began to explain matters to her, I was met by this
somewhat astonishing response: "Yes, Amma, I know. I know you have tried
everything else" (she said this almost sympathetically, as if
appreciating my dilemma), "and so you have to do it. I do not like it at
all, but Arulai Accal says it is no use unless I take it willingly, so
Amma, please give me a good caning." (The idiom is the same in Tamil as
in English, but there is a stronger word which she now proceeded to use
with great deliberation.) "Yes, Amma, a _hot_ caning--with my full mind
I am willing. And I will not cry. Or if I do cry" (this was added in a
serious, reflecting sort of way), "let not your soul spare for my
crying!"

The second is less abnormal. Esli, whose placid soul had been sadly
stirred at the time of the infliction of the "mark," was so impressed by
its salutary effect that she conceived a new respect for the methods of
King Solomon. The application of "morning glory" is a privilege
reserved, as a rule, for ourselves; but one day, being doubtless hard
pressed, Esli produced a stick--a very feeble one--and calling up the
leader of all rebels, addressed herself to her. Chellalu, as might have
been expected, was taken by surprise; and for one short moment Esli was
permitted to follow the ways of the King. But only for a moment: for,
suddenly apprehending the gravity of the situation, and realising that
such precedent should not pass unchallenged, Chellalu, with a quick
wriggle, stood forth free, seized the stick with a joyous shout, snapped
it in two, and flourished round the room: then stopping before her
afflicted Accal, she solemnly handed her one of the pieces, and with a
bound and a scamper like a triumphant puppy, was off to the very end of
her world with the other half of that stick.

When the Elf came to us on March 6, 1901, and we began to know some of
the secrets of the Temple, we tried to save several little children,
but we failed. The thought of those first children with whom we came
into touch, but for whom all our efforts were unavailing, is
unforgettable. We see them still, little children--lost. But we partly
understand why we had to wait so long; we had not the workers then to
help us to take care of them. We had only some of the older Accals, who
could not have done it alone. These convert-girls, who now help us so
much, were in Hindu homes; some of them had not even heard of Christ,
whose love alone makes this work possible. For India is not England in
its view of such work. There is absolutely nothing attractive about it.
It is not "honourable work," like preaching and teaching. No money would
have drawn these workers to us. Work which has no clear ending, but
drifts on into the night if babies are young or troublesome--such work
makes demands upon devotion and practical unselfishness which appeal to
none but those who are prepared to love with the tireless love of the
mother. "I do not want people who come to me under certain reservations.
In battle you need soldiers who fear nothing." So wrote the heroic Père
Didon; and, though it may sound presumptuous to do so, we say the same.
We want as comrades those who come to us without reservations. But such
workers have to be prepared, and such preparation takes time. "Tarry ye
the Lord's leisure," is a word that unfolds as we go on.

Yet we find that the work, though so demanding, is full of
compensations. The convert in her loneliness is welcomed into a family
where little children need her and will soon love her dearly. The
uncomforted places in her heart become healed, for the touch of a little
child is very healing. If she is willing to forget herself and live for
that little child, something new springs up within her; she does not
understand it, but those who watch her know that all is well. Sometimes
long afterwards she reads her own heart's story and opens it to us. "I
was torn with longing for my home. I dreamed night after night about it,
and I used to waken just wild to run back. And yet I knew if I had, it
would have been destruction to my soul. And then the baby came, and you
put her into my arms, and she grew into my heart, and she took away all
that feeling, till I forgot I ever had it." This was the story of one, a
young wife, for whom the natural joys of home can never be. But if there
is selfishness or slackness or a weak desire to drift along in easiness,
taking all and giving nothing, things are otherwise. For such the
nurseries hold nothing but noise and interruptions. We ask to be spared
from such as these. Or if they come, may they be inspired by the
constraining love of Christ and "The Glory of the Usual."

FOOTNOTE:

[E] _Overweights of Joy_, ch. xxiii. Suhinie left the nursery for a few
hours' rest at noon on February 2, 1910. She fell asleep, to awaken in
heaven.



CHAPTER XXV

The Little Accals

          But Thou didst reckon, when at first
            Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
          What it would come to at the worst
                  To save.
          Perpetual knockings at Thy door,
          Tears sullying Thy transparent rooms.


[Illustration: THREE LITTLE ACCALS.]

THESE lines come with insistence as I look at the little Accals, who
follow in order after the Accals, convert children, most of them, now
growing up to helpfulness. If part of the story of one such young girl
is told, it may help those to whom such tales are unfamiliar to
understand and to care.

December 16, 1903, was spent by three of us in a rest-house on the
outskirts of a Hindu town. We were on our way to Dohnavur from Madras,
where we had seen Mr. and Mrs. Walker off for England. The two days'
journey had left us somewhat weary; and yet we were strong in hope that
day, for we knew there was special thought for us on board ship and at
home, and something special was being asked as a birthday gift of joy.
Arulai (Star) and Preena (the Elf), the two who were with me, were full
of expectation. The day had often been marked by that joy of joys, a
lost sheep found; and as we looked out at the heathen town with its
many people so unconscious of our thoughts about them, we wondered where
we should find the one our thoughts had singled from among the crowd,
and we went out to look for her.

[Illustration: PREENA AND PREEYA

(To left and right) getting ready for a Coming-Day Feast.]

Up and down the long white streets we looked for her; on the little
narrow verandahs, in the courtyards of the houses, in their dark inner
rooms when we were invited within, out again into the sunshine--but we
could not find her. That evening I remember, though we did not say so to
each other, we felt a little disappointed. We had not met one who even
remotely cared for the things we had come to bring.

No one had responded. There was not, so far as we knew it, even a little
blade to point to, much less a sheaf to lay at His feet. After nightfall
a woman came to see us. But she was a Christian, and beyond trying to
cheer her to more earnest service among the heathen, there was nothing
to be done for her. She left us, she told us afterwards, warmed to hope;
and she talked to a child next morning, a little relative of her own,
whose heart the Lord opened.

For three months we heard nothing; then unexpectedly a letter came. "The
child is much in earnest, and she has made up her mind to join your
Starry Cluster" (a name given by the people to our band, which at that
time was itinerating in the district), "so I purpose sending her at
once." The parents, for reasons of their own, agreed to the arrangement,
and the little girl came to Dohnavur. It was wonderful to watch her
learning. She is not intellectually brilliant, but the soul awakened at
once, and there was that tenderness of response which refreshes the
heart of the teacher. She seemed to come straight to our Lord Jesus and
know Him as her Saviour, child though she was; and soon the longing to
win others possessed her, and a younger child, who was her special
charge among the nursery children, was influenced so gently and so
willingly, that we do not know the time when, led by her little
Accal, she too came to the Lover of children.

But one day, suddenly, trouble came. The parents appeared in the
Dohnavur compound and claimed their daughter; and we had no legal right
to refuse her, for she was under age. We shall never forget the hour
they came. They had haunted the neighbourhood, as we afterwards heard,
and prowled about outside the compound, watching for an opportunity to
carry the child off without our knowledge. But she was always with the
other children, so that plan failed. When first she heard they had come,
she fled to the bungalow. "My parents have come! My father is strong!
Oh, hide me! hide me!" she besought us. "I cannot resist him! I cannot!"
and she cried and clung to us. But when we went out to meet them, she
was perfectly quiet; and no one would have known from her manner as she
stood before them, and answered their questions, without a tremble in
her voice, how frightened she had been before.

"What is this talk about being a Christian?" the father demanded
stormily. "What can an infant know about such matters? Are you wiser
than your fathers, that their religion is not good enough for you?" And
scathing mockery followed, harder to bear than abuse. "Come! Say salaam
to the Missie Ammal, and bring your jewels" (she had taken them off),
"and let us go home together." The child stood absolutely still, looking
up with brave eyes; and to our astonishment said, as though it were the
only thing to be said: "But I am a Christian. I cannot go home."

We had not thought of her saying this. We had, indeed, encouraged her as
we had encouraged ourselves, to rest in our God, who is unto us a God of
deliverances; but we had not suggested any line of resistance, and were
not prepared for the calm refusal which so quietly took it for granted
that she had no power to refuse.

The father was evidently nonplussed. He knew his little daughter, a
timid child, whose translated name, Fawn, seems to express her exactly,
and he gazed down upon her in silence for one surprised moment, then
burst out in wrath and indignant revilings. "Snake! nurtured in the
bosom only to turn and sting! Vile, filthy, disgusting insect, born to
disgrace her caste!" And they cursed her as she stood.

Then their mood changed, and they tried pleadings, much more difficult
to resist. The father reminded her of his pilgrimage to a famous Temple
at her birth: "He had named her before the gods." Her mother touched on
tenderer memories, till we could feel the quiver of soul, and feared for
the little Fawn. Then they promised her liberty at home. She should read
her Bible, pray to the true God, "for all gods are one." I saw Fawn shut
her eyes for a moment. What she saw in that moment she told me
afterwards: a fire lighted on the floor, a Bible tossed into it, two
schoolboy brothers (whose leanings towards Christianity had been
discovered) pushed into an inner room, the sound of blows and cries.
"And after that my brothers did not want to be Christians any more."
Poor little timid Fawn! We hardly wonder as we look at her that she
shrank and shut her eyes. I have seen a child of twelve held down by a
powerful arm and beaten across the bare shoulders with a cocoa-nut shell
fastened to the end of a stick; I have seen her wrists twisted almost to
dislocation--seen it, and been unable to help. I think of the child, now
our happy Gladness, lover of the unlovable babies; and I for one cannot
wonder at the little Fawn's fear. But aloud she only said: "Forgive me,
I cannot go home."

The father grew impatient. "Get your jewels and let us be gone!" Fawn
ran into the house, brought her jewels, and handed them to her father.
He counted them over--pretty little chains and bangles, and then he eyed
her curiously. A child to give up her jewels like this--he found it
unaccountable. And then he began to argue, but Fawn answered him with
clearness and simplicity, and he could not perplex her. She knew Whom
she believed.

At last they rose to go, cursing the day she was born with a curse that
sounded horrible. But their younger daughter, whom they had brought with
them, threw herself upon the ground, tearing her hair, beating her
breast, shrieking and rolling and flinging the dust about like a mad
thing. "I will not go without my sister! I will not go! I will not go!"
And she clung to Fawn, and wept and bewailed till we hardly dared to
hope the child would be able to withstand her. For a moment the parents
stood and waited. We, too, stood in tension of spirit. "They have told
her to do it," whispered Fawn, and stood firm. Then the father stooped,
snatched up the younger child, and departed, followed by the mother.

All this time two of our number had been waiting upon God in a quiet
place out of sight. One of the two went after the parents, hoping for a
chance to explain matters to the mother. As she drew near she heard the
wife say in an undertone to her husband: "Leave them for to-day. Wait
till to-night. You have carried off the younger in your arms against her
will. What hinders you doing the same to the elder?" And that night we
prayed that the Wall of Fire might be round us, and slept in peace.

As a dream when one awaketh, so was the memory of that afternoon when we
awoke next morning. And as a dream so the parents passed out of sight,
for they left before the dawn. But weeks afterwards we heard what had
happened that night. They had lodged in the Hindu village outside our
gate. There has never been a Christian there, and the people have never
responded in any way. It is a little shut-in place of darkness on the
borders of the light. But when the parents proposed a raid upon the
bungalow that night they would not rise to it. "No, we have no feud with
the bungalow. We will not do it." The nearest white face was a day's
journey distant, and a woman alone, white or brown, does not count for
much in Hindu eyes. But the Wall of Fire was around us, and so we were
safe.

If the story could stop here, how easy life would be! One fight, one
fling to the lions, and then the palm and crown. But it is not so. The
perils of reaction are greater for the convert than the first great
strain of facing the alternative, "Diana or Christ." Home-sickness
comes, wave upon wave, and all but sweeps the soul away; feelings and
longings asleep in the child awake in the girl, and draw her and woo
her, and blind her too often to all that yielding means. She forgets the
under-side of the life she has forsaken; she remembers only the
alluring; and all that is natural pleads within her, and will not let
her rest. "Across the will of Nature leads on the path of God," is
sternly true for the convert in a Hindu or Moslem land.

And so we write this unfinished story in faith that some one reading it
will remember the young girl-converts as well as the little children.
Fawn has been kept steadfast, but she still needs prayer. These last
five years have held anxious hours for those who love her, and to us, as
to all who have to do with converts. "Perpetual knockings at Thy door,
tears sullying Thy transparent rooms," are words that go deep and touch
the heart of things.



CHAPTER XXVI

The Glory of the Usual


[Illustration: AFTER HER BOTTLE.]

"AND all things were done in such excellent methods, and I cannot tell
how, but things in the doing of them seemed to cast a smile"--is a
beautiful sentence from Bunyan's _Holy War_, which has been with us ever
since we began the Nursery work. Lately we found its complement in a
modern book of sermons, _The Unlighted Lustre_, by G. H. Morrison. "No
matter how stirring your life be, it will be a failure if you have never
been wakened to the glory of the usual. There is no happiness like the
old and common happiness, sunshine and love and duty and the laughter of
children. . . . There are no duties that so enrich as dull duties."

The ancient voice and the new voice sing to the same sweet tune; and we
in our little measure are learning to sing it too.

As we have said, India is a land where the secular does not appeal. When
we were an Itinerating Band, we had many offers from Christian girls and
women to join us, as many in one month as we now have in five years.
Sometimes it has seemed to us that we were set to learn and to teach a
new and difficult lesson, the sacredness of the commonplace. Day by day
we learn to rub out a little more of the clear chalked line that someone
has ruled on life's black-board; the Secular and the Spiritual may not
be divided now. The enlightening of a dark soul or the lighting of a
kitchen fire, it matters not which it is, if only we are obedient to the
heavenly vision, and work with a pure intention to the glory of our God.

[Illustration: NORTH LAKE AND HILLS.]

The nursery kitchen is a pleasant little place. We hardly ever enter it
without remembering and appreciating John Bunyan's pretty thought, for
there things in the doing of them seem to cast a smile. Ponnamal, who,
as we said, superintends the more delicate food-making work, has trained
two of her helpers to carefulness; and these two--one a motherly older
woman with a most comfortable face, the other the convert, Joy--look up
with such a welcome that you feel it good to be there. Scrubbing away at
endless pots and pans and milk vessels is a younger convent-girl, who,
when she first came to us, disapproved of such exertion. She liked to
sit on the floor with her Bible on her lap and a far-away look of
content on her face until the dinner-bell rang. Now she scrubs with a
sense of responsibility.

All the younger converts have regular teaching, for they have much to
learn, and all, older and younger, have daily classes and meetings;
above all, it is planned that each has her quiet time undisturbed. But
it is early understood that to be happy each must contribute her share
to the happiness of the family; and one of the first lessons the young
convert has to learn is to honour the "Grey Angel," Drudgery, and not to
call her bad names.

The kitchen has an outlook dear to the Tamil heart. A trellis covered
with pink antigone surrounds it, but a window is cut in the trellis so
that the kitchen may command the bungalow. "While I stirred the milk I
saw everything you did on your verandah," remarked one of the workers
lately, in tones of appreciation. The opposite outlook is the mountain
shown in the photograph; only instead of water we have the
kitchen-garden with its tropical-looking plantains and creeping marrows.
"And the warm melon lay like a little sun on the tawny sand," is a line
for an Eastern garden when the great marrows ripen suddenly.

The kitchen thus favoured without, is adorned within, according to the
taste of its owners, with those very interesting pictures published by
the makers of infant foods. "How do you choose them?" we asked one day.
"The truest and the prettiest," was the satisfactory answer. Our
Dohnavur text, which hangs in every nursery, looks down upon the
workers, and, as they put it, "keeps them sweet in heart": "Love never
faileth."

When first we began to cultivate babies we were very ignorant, and we
asked advice of all who seemed competent to give it. The advice was most
perplexing. Each mother was sure the food that had suited her baby was
the best of all foods, and regarded all others as doubtful, if not bad.
One whom we greatly respected told us Indian babies would be sure to get
on anyhow, as it was their own land. And one seriously suggested
rice-water as a suitable nourishment. Naturally we began with the
time-honoured milk and barley-water, and some throve upon it. But we
found each baby had to be studied separately. There was no universal
(artificial) food. We could write a tractlet on foods, and if we did we
would call it "Don't," for the first sentence in it would be, "Don't
change the food if you can help it." This tractlet would certainly close
with a word of thanks to those kind people, the milk-food manufacturers,
who have helped us to build up healthy children; for feelings of
personal gratitude come when help of this kind is given.

The nursery kitchen is a room full of reminders of help. "I have
commanded the ravens," is a word of strength to us. Once we were very
low. A little child had died under trying circumstances. One of the
milk-sellers, instead of using the vessel sent him, poured his milk
into an unclean copper vessel, and it was poisoned. He remembered that
it would not be taken unless brought in the proper vessel, so at the
last moment he corrected his mistake, but the correction was fatal, for
there was no warning. The milk was sterilized as usual and given to the
child. She was a healthy baby, and her nurse remembers how she smiled
and welcomed her bottle, taking it in her little hands in her happy
eagerness. A few hours later she was dead.

At such times the heart seems foolishly weak, and things which would not
trouble it otherwise have power to make it sore. We were four days'
journey from the nursery at the time, and had the added anxiety about
the other babies, to whom we feared the poisoned milk might have been
given, and we dreaded what the next post might bring. Just at that
moment it was suggested, with kindest intentions, that perhaps we were
on the wrong track, the work seemed so difficult and wasteful.

It was mail-day. The mail as usual brought a pile of letters, and the
top envelope contained a bill for foods ordered from England some weeks
before. It came to more than I had expected, in spite of the kindness of
several firms in giving a liberal discount; and for a moment the
rice-water talk (to give it a name which covers all that type of talk)
came back to me with hurt in it: "To what purpose is this waste?" But
with it came another word: "Take this child away (away from the terrible
Temple) and nurse it for Me." And with the pile of letters before me,
and the bill for food in my hand, I asked that enough might be found in
those letters to pay it. It did not occur to me at the moment that the
prayer was rather illogical. I only knew it would be comforting, and
like a little word of peace, if such an assurance might even then come
that we were not off the lines.

Letter after letter was empty. Not empty of kindness, but quite empty
of cheques. The last envelope looked thin and not at all hopeful.
Cheques are usually inside reliable-looking covers. I opened it. There
was nothing but a piece of unknown writing. But the writing was to ask
if we happened to have a need which a sum named in the letter would
meet. This sum exactly covered the bill for the foods. When the cheque
eventually reached me it was for more than the letter had mentioned, and
covered all carriage and duty expenses, which were unknown to me at the
time the first letter came, and to which of course I had not referred in
my reply. Thus almost visibly and audibly has the Lord, from whose hands
we received this charge to keep, confirmed His word to us, strengthening
us when we were weak, and comforting us when we were sad with that
innermost sense of His tenderness which braces while it soothes.

Surely we who know Him thus should love the Lord because He hath heard
our voice and our supplication. Every advertisement on the walls of the
little nursery kitchen is like an illuminated text with a story hidden
away in it:--

          When Thou dost favour any action,
            It runs, it flies;
          All things concur to give it a perfection.

The nursery kitchen, we were amused to discover, has a sphere of
influence all its own. Our discovery was on this wise:--

One wet evening we were caught in a downpour as we were crossing from
the Taraha nursery to the bungalow, and we took shelter in the
kindergarten room, which reverts to the Lola-and-Leela tribe when the
kindergarten babies depart. The tribe do not often possess their Sittie
and their Ammal both together and all to themselves, now that the
juniors are so numerous, and they welcomed us with acclamations. "Finish
spreading your mats," we said to them, as they seemed inclined to let
our advent interrupt the order of the evening; and we watched them
unroll their mats, which hung round the wall in neat rolls swung by
cords from the roof, and spread them in rows along the wall. Beside each
mat was what looked like a mummy, and beside each mummy was a matchbox
and a small bundle of rags.

Presently the mummies were unswathed, and proved to be dolls in more or
less good condition. Each was carefully laid upon a morsel of sheet, and
covered with another sheet folded over in the neatest fashion. "If we
teach them to be particular when they are young, they will be tidy when
they are old," we were informed. It was pleasant to hear our own remarks
so accurately repeated.

The matchboxes were next unpacked; each contained a bit of match, a
small pointed shell, a pebble (preferably black), and a couple of minute
cockles. "I suppose you don't know what all these are?" said Lola,
affably. "That," pointing to the match, "is a spoon; and this," taking
the pointed shell up carefully, "is a bottle. This is the 'rubber,' of
course," and the black pebble was indicated; "and these" (setting the
cockle-shells on a piece of white paper on the floor) "are bowls of
water, one for the bottle and the other for the rubber." We suggested
one bowl of water would hold both bottle and rubber; but Lola's entirely
mischievous eyes looked quite shocked and reproving. "Two bowls are
better," was the serious reply; "it is very important to be clean."
"What does your child have?" we inquired respectfully. "Barley-water and
milk, two-and-a-half ounces every two hours--that's five tablespoonfuls,
you know." "And Leela's?" "Oh, Leela's child is delicate. She has to
have Benger. Two ounces every two hours; and it has to be a long time
digested." "Do all your children have their food every two hours?" Lola
looked surprised, and Leela giggled: how very ignorant we seemed to be!
"No, only the tiny ones; our babies are very young. After they get older
they have more at a time and not so often. That child there," pointing
to another mat, "has Condensed, as we haven't enough cow's milk for them
all. It suits her very well. She has six ounces at a time; once before
she goes to sleep, and then none till she wakens in the morning. She's a
very healthy child." "How do you know the time?" we asked, prepared for
anything now. "Oh, we have watches. This is mine," and a toy from a
Christmas cracker was produced; "Leela's watch is different" (it was
indeed different--a mere figment of the imagination), "but she can look
at mine when she wants to." "Why does your child sleep with Leela's?"
(All the other infants had separate sleeping arrangements.) Lola looked
shy, and Leela looked shyer. These little matters of affection were not
intended for public discussion.

By this time the rain had cleared, so we prepared to depart, and the
further entertainments provided for us by the cheerful tribe that
evening do not belong to this story. We escaped finally, damp with much
laughter in a humid atmosphere. "Come every evening!" shouted the tribe,
as at last we disappeared, and we felt much inclined to accept the
invitation.

The kitchen is a busy place in the morning, and again in the evening,
when the fresh milk is carried to it in shining aluminium vessels to be
sterilized or otherwise dealt with. But even in the busiest hours there
is almost sure to be a baby set in an upturned stool, in which she sits
holding on to the front legs in proud consciousness of being able to sit
up. Or an older one will be clinging to the garments of the busy
workers, or perched beside them on a stool. Once we found Tara and Evu
seated on the window-sill. Ponnamal was making foods at the table under
the window, and the little bare feet were tucked in between bowls and
jugs of milk. "But, indeed, they are quite clean," explained Ponnamal,
without waiting for remark from us, for she knew what we were thinking
of her table decorations. "We dusted the sand off their little feet
before we lifted them up." The babies said nothing, but looked
doubtfully up at us, as if not very sure of our intentions. But
Ponnamal's eyes were so appealing, and the little buff things in blue
with a trellis of pink flowers for background made such a pretty
picture, that we had not the heart to spoil it. Then the little faces
smiled gratefully upon us, and everybody smiled. The kitchen is a happy
place of innocent surprises.



CHAPTER XXVII

The Secret Traffic

          "Sir, to leave things out of a book because they
          will not be believed, is meanness."--DR. JOHNSON.


WHEN first, upon March 7, 1901, we heard from the lips of a little child
the story of her life in a Temple house, we were startled and
distressed, and penetrated with the conviction that such a story ought
to be impossible in a land ruled by a Christian Power. The subject was
new to us; we knew nothing of the magnitude of what may be called "The
Secret Traffic of India"--a traffic in little children, mere infants
oftentimes, for wrong purposes; and we did not appreciate, as we do now,
the delicacy and difficulty of the position from a Government point of
view, or the quiet might of the forces upon the other side. And though
with added knowledge comes an added sense of responsibility, and a fear
of all careless appeal to those whose burden is already so heavy, yet
with every fresh discovery the conviction deepens that something should
be done--and done, if possible, soon--to save at least this generation
of children, or some of them, from destruction.

"It is useless to move without a body of evidence at your back," said a
friend in the Civil Service to us at the close of a long conversation.
"If you can get the children, of course they themselves will furnish the
best evidence; but, anyhow, collect facts." And this was the beginning
of a Note-book, into which we entered whatever we could learn about the
Temple children, and in which we kept letters relating to them.

By Temple children throughout this book we mean children dedicated to
gods, or in danger of being so dedicated. Dedication to gods implies a
form of marriage which makes ordinary marriage impossible. The child is
regarded as belonging to the gods. In Southern India, where religious
feeling runs strong, and the great Temples are the centres of Hindu
influence, this that I have called "The Traffic" is worked upon
religious lines; and so in trying to save the children we have to
contend with the perverted religious sense. Something of the same kind
exists in other parts of India, and the traffic under another name is
common in provinces where Temple service as we have it in the South is
unknown. Again, in areas where, owing to the action of the native
Government, Temple service, as such, is not recognised, so that children
in danger of wrong cannot, strictly speaking, be called Temple children,
there is yet need of legislation which shall touch all houses where
little children are being brought up for the same purpose; so that the
subject is immense and involved, and the thought of it suggests a net
thrown over millions of square miles of territory, so finely woven as to
be almost invisible, but so strong in its mesh that in no place yet has
it ever given way. And the net is alive: it can feel and it can hold.

But all through this book we have kept to the South--to the area where
the evil is distinctly and recognisably religious. Others elsewhere have
told their own story; ours, though in touch with theirs (in that its
whole motive is to save the little children), is yet different in
manner, in that it is avowedly Christian. India is a land where
generalisations are deceptive. So we have kept to the South.

We ourselves became only very gradually aware of what was happening
about us. As fact after fact came to light, we were forced to certain
conclusions which we could not doubt were correct. But at first we were
almost alone in these conclusions, because it was impossible to take
others with us in our tedious underground hunt after facts. So the
question was often asked: "But do the children really exist?"

I have said we were almost alone, not quite. Members of the Indian Civil
Service, who are much among the people, knew something of the custom of
child-dedication, but found themselves unable to touch it. Hindu
Reformers, of course, knew; and two or three veteran missionaries had
come into contact with it and had grieved over their helplessness to do
anything. One of these had written a pamphlet on the subject twenty
years before our Nursery work began. He sent it to me with a sorrowful
word written across it, "Result? Nil." But we do not often meet our
civilian friends, for they are busy, and so are we; and the few
missionaries whose inspiring sympathy helped us through those earlier
years were in places far from us, and so were all the Reformers. So
perhaps it was not wonderful that, beset by doubting letters from home
and a certain amount of not unnatural incredulity in India, we sometimes
almost wondered if we ourselves were dreaming. "Well, if they do exist,
I hope you will be able to find them!"--varied by, "Well, if you do find
them, they will be a proof of their own existence!"--were two of the
most encouraging remarks of those early days.

From the beginning of this work, as stated before, we have tried to
collect facts about the traffic and the customs connected with it. Notes
were kept of conversations with Hindus and others, and these notes were
compared with what evidence we were able to gather from trustworthy
sources. These brief notes of various kinds we offer in their
simplicity. We have made no attempt to tabulate or put into shape the
information thus acquired, believing that the notes of conversations
taken down at the time, and the quotations from letters copied as they
stand, will do their work more directly than anything more elaborate
would. Where there is a difference of detail it is because the customs
differ slightly in different places. No names are given, for obvious
reasons; but the letters were written by men of standing, living in
widely scattered districts in the South. The evidence contained in them
was carefully sifted, and in many cases corroborated by personal
investigation, before being considered evidence: so that we believe
these chapters may be accepted as fact. Dated quotations from the
_Madras Mail_ are sufficient to prove that we are not writing ancient
history:--

_January 2, 1909._--"The following resolution was put from the chair and
carried unanimously: 'The Conference (consisting of Hindu Social
Reformers) cordially supports the movement started to better the
condition of unprotected children in general, and appreciates
particularly the agitation started to protect girls and young women from
being dedicated to Temples.'"

_May 8, 1909._--"Once more we have an illustration from Mysore of the
fact that the Government of a Native State are able to tread boldly on
ground which the British Government in India are unable to approach. At
various times, in these columns and elsewhere, has the cry raised
against the employment of servants of the gods in Hindu Temples been
uttered; but, as far as the Government are concerned, it has fallen, if
not on deaf ears, on ears stopped to appeals of this kind, which demand
action that can be interpreted as a breach of that religious neutrality
which is one of the cardinal principles of British rule in India. The
agitation against it is not the agitation of the European whose
susceptibility is offended at a state of things that he finds hard to
reconcile with the reverence and purity of Divine worship; but it is the
outcry of the reverent Hindu against one of the corrupt and degrading
practices that, in the course of centuries, have crept into his
religion. In this particular instance the Mysore Government cannot be
accused of acting hastily. As long ago as February, 1892, they issued a
circular order describing the legitimate services to be performed in
Temples by Temple women. In 1899, the Muzrai Superintendent, Rai Bahadur
A. Sreenivasa Charlu, directed that the Temple women borne on the
Nanjangud Temple establishment should not be allowed to perform _tafe_
(or dancing) service in the Temple; but that the allowances payable to
them should be continued for their lifetime, and that at their death the
vacancies should not be filled up. Against this order the Temple women
concerned memorialised H.H. the Maharajah as long ago as 1905, and the
order disposing of it has only just been issued. In the course of the
latter the Government say:--

"'From the Shastraic authorities quoted by the two Agamiks employed in
the Muzrai Secretariat, it is observed that the services to be performed
by Temple women form part and parcel of the worship of the god in Hindu
Temples, and that singing and dancing in the presence of the deity are
also prescribed. It is, however, observed that in the case of Temple
women personal purity and rectitude of conduct and a vow of celibacy
were considered essential. But the high ideals entertained in ancient
days have now degenerated. . . . The Government now observe that whatever
may have been the original object of the institution of Temple women in
Temples, the state in which these Temple servants are now found fully
justifies the action taken by them in excluding the Temple women from
every kind of service in sacred institutions like Temples. Further, the
absence of the services of these women in certain important Temples in
the State has become established for nearly fifteen years past, and the
public have become accustomed to the idea of doing without such
services.'

"The exclusion of Temple women from Temple services obtains in Mysore in
the case of a few large Temples whose _Tasdik Pattis_ have been revised.
But the time has come, the Government think, for its general
application, and they therefore direct that the policy enunciated in the
abstract given above should be extended to all Muzrai Temples in the
State. It is to be hoped that the good example thus set will bear fruit
elsewhere, where the Temple women evil is more notorious than it was in
Temples of Mysore."

A copy of the Government document to which this cutting relates lies
before me. It is bravely and clearly worded, and its intention is
evident. The high-minded Hindu--and there are such, let it not be
forgotten--revolts from the degradation and pollution of this travesty
of religion, and will abolish it where he can. _But let it be remembered
that, good as this law is, it does not and it cannot touch the great
Secret Traffic itself. That will go on behind the law, and behind the
next that is made, and the next, unless measures are devised to ensure
its being thoroughly enforced._

Cuttings from newspapers, quotations, evidence--it is not interesting
reading, and yet we look to our friends to go through to the end with
us. Let us pause for a moment here and remember the purpose of it all;
and may the thought of some little, loved child make an atmosphere for
these chapters!



CHAPTER XXVIII

Blue Book Evidence

          "The precipitous sides of difficult questions."--E. B. B.


OUR first evidence consists of abridged extracts from the Census Report
for 1901. After explaining the different names by which Temple women are
known in different parts of the Madras Presidency, the Report continues:
"The servants of the gods, who subsist by dancing and music and the
practice of 'the oldest profession in the world,' are partly recruited
by admissions and even purchases from other classes. . . . The rise of
the Caste and its euphemistic name seem to date from the ninth and
tenth centuries, during which much activity prevailed in South India
in the matter of building Temples and elaborating the services held in
them. . . . The duties then, as now, were to fan the idol with Tibetan
ox-tails, to carry the sacred light, and to sing and dance before the
god when he is carried in procession. Inscriptions show that in A.D.
1004 the great Temple of the Chola king at Tanjore had attached to it
four hundred women of the Temple, who lived in free quarters in the four
streets round it, and were allowed tax-free land out of its endowments.
Other Temples had similar arrangements. . . . At the present day they
form a regular Caste, having its own laws of inheritance, its own
customs and rules of etiquette, and its own councils to see that all
these are followed, and they hold a position which is perhaps without a
parallel in any other country. . . .

"The daughters of the Caste who are brought up to follow the Caste
profession are carefully taught dancing and singing, the art of dressing
well, . . . and their success in keeping up their clientele is largely
due to the contrast which they thus present to the ordinary Hindu
housewife, whose ideas are bounded by the day's dinners and babies."

Closely allied to this Caste is that formed by the Temple musicians, who
with the Temple woman are "now practically the sole repository of Indian
music, the system of which is probably one of the oldest in the world."
In certain districts the Report states that a custom obtains among
certain castes, under which a family which has no sons must dedicate one
of its daughters to Temple service. The daughter selected is taken to a
Temple and married there to a god, the marriage symbol being put on her
as in a real marriage. Henceforth she belongs to the god.

Writing in 1904, a member of the Indian Civil Service says: "I heard of
a case of dedication (three girls) at A. at the beginning of this year,
but I could not get any evidence. The cases very rarely indeed come up
officially, as nearly every Hindu is interested in keeping them dark."
We, too, have had the same difficulty, and the evidence we now submit is
doubly valuable because of its source. It is very rarely that we have
found it possible to get behind the scenes sufficiently to obtain
reliable information from those most concerned in this traffic.

The head priest of one of our Temples admitted to a friend who was
watching for opportunities to get information for us that the "marriage
to the god is effected privately by the Temple priest at the Temple
woman's house, with the usual marriage-symbol ceremony. To avoid the
Penal Code (which forbids the marriage of children to gods) a nominal
bridegroom is sometimes brought for the wedding day to become the
nominal husband. This Caste is recruited by secret adoption."

A Temple woman's son, now living the ordinary life apart from his clan,
explains the very early marriage thus: "If not married, they will not be
considered worthy of honour. Before the children reach the age of ten
they must be married. . . . They become the property of the Temple
priests and worshippers who go to the Temple to chant the sacred songs."

A Temple woman herself told a friend of ours: "The child is dressed like
a bride, and taken with another girl of the same community, dressed like
a boy in the garb of a bridegroom. They both go to the Temple and
worship the idol. This ceremony is common, and performed openly in the
streets." In a later letter from the same friend further details are
given: "The child, who should be about eight or nine years old, goes as
if to worship the idol in the Temple. There the marriage symbol is
hidden in a garland, and the garland is put over the idol, after which
it is taken to the child's home and put round her neck." After this she
is considered married to the god.

A young Temple woman in a town near Dohnavur told us she had been given
to the Temple when she was five years old. Her home was in the north
country, but she did not remember it. She had, of course, understood
nothing of the meaning of the ceremony of marriage. She only remembered
the pretty flowers and general rejoicing and pleasure. Afterwards, when
she began to understand, she was not happy, but she gradually got
accustomed to it. Her adopted relations were all the friends she had.
She was fond of them and they of her. Her "husband" was one of the
Temple priests.

A Hindu woman known to us left home with her little daughter and
wandered about as an ascetic. She went to a famous Temple, where it is
the custom for such as desire to become ascetics to enter the life by
conforming to certain ceremonies ordained by the priests. She shaved her
head, took off her jewels, wore a Saivite necklet of berries, and was
known as a devotee. She had little knowledge of the life before she
entered it, and only gradually became aware of the character borne by
most of her fellow-devotees. When she knew, she fled from them and
returned to her own village and the secular life, finding it better than
the religious.

In telling us about it she said: "I expected whiteness, I found
blackness." She told us that she constantly came into contact with
Temple women, none of whom had chosen the life as she and her
fellow-ascetics had chosen theirs. "Always the one who is to dance
before the gods is given to the life when she is very young. Otherwise
she could not be properly trained. Many babies are brought by their
parents and given to Temple women for the sake of merit. It is very
meritorious to give a child to the gods. Often the parents are poor but
of good Caste. Always suitable compensation and a 'joy gift' is given by
the Temple women to the parents. It is an understood custom, and ensures
that the child is a gift, not a loan. The amount depends upon the age
and beauty of the child. If the child is old enough to miss her mother,
she is very carefully watched until she has forgotten her. Sometimes she
is shut up in the back part of the house, and punished if she runs out
into the street. The punishment is severe enough to frighten the child.
Sometimes it is branding with a hot iron upon a place which does not
show, as under the arm; sometimes nipping with the nail till the skin
breaks; sometimes a whipping. After the child is reconciled to her new
life, occasionally her people are allowed to come if they wish; and in
special circumstances she pays a visit to her old home. But this is
rare. If she has been adopted as an infant, she knows nothing of her
own relations, but thinks of her adopted mother as her own mother. As
soon as she can understand she is taught all evil and trained to think
it is good."

As to her education, the movements of the dance are taught very early,
and the flexible little limbs are rendered more flexible by a system of
massage. In all ways the natural grace of the child is cultivated and
developed, but always along lines which lead far away from the freedom
and innocence of childhood. As it is important she should learn a great
deal of poetry, she is taught to read (and with this object in view she
is sometimes sent to the mission school, if there is one near her home).
The poetry is almost entirely of a debased character; and so most
insidiously, by story and allusion, the child's mind is familiarised
with sin; and before she knows how to refuse the evil and choose the
good, the instinct which would have been her guide is tampered with and
perverted, till the poor little mind, thus bewildered and deceived, is
incapable of choice.



CHAPTER XXIX

"Very Common in those Parts"

          "The dark enigma of permitted wrong."--F. R. H.


THE mixture of secrecy and openness described by the Temple woman is
confirmed by Hindus well acquainted with Temple affairs. "All the Temple
women are married to the gods. In former times the marriages were
conducted upon a grand scale, but now they are clandestinely performed
in the Temple, with the connivance of the priest, and with freedom to
deny it if questioned. Some ceremonies are performed in the Temple, the
rest at home. Sometimes the marriage symbol is blessed by the priest,
and taken home to the child to be worn by her. In all these cases the
priest himself has to tie it round her neck. The previous arrangements
for the marriage are made by the priests with the guardians of the child
who is to be initiated into the order of Temple women.

"The ceremony of tying on the marriage symbol is never in our district
performed in public. None but intimate friends know about it. There is a
secret understanding between the priests and the Temple women concerned.
When the time arrives for the marriage symbol to be tied on, after the
usual ceremonies the priest hands over the symbol hidden in a garland of
flowers.

"Of course, there is music on the occasion. When outsiders ask what all
the noise is about, the people who know do not say the real thing. They
say it is a birthday or other festival day. The symbol is tied on when
the child is between five and eleven, after which it is considered
unholy to perform the marriage ceremony. The symbol is at first hidden
from the gaze of the public. Later it is shown publicly, but not while
the girl is still young."

This tallies exactly with our own experience. More than once an eager
child in her simplicity has shown me the marriage symbol, a small gold
ornament tied round her neck, or hanging on a fine gold chain; but the
Temple woman in whose charge she was has always reproved her sharply,
and made her cover it up under her other jewels, or under the folds of
her dress.

The reason for this secrecy, which, however, is not universal, is, as is
inferred in the evidence of the head priest, because it is known to the
Temple authorities that what they are doing is illegal; though, as a
matter of fact, as will be seen later, prosecutions are rare, and
convictions rarer still.

The Caste is recruited, as the Blue Book states, by "admissions and even
purchases from other classes." On this point a Brahman says: "When the
Temple woman has no child, she adopts a girl or girls, and the children
become servants of the gods. Sometimes children are found who, on
account of a vow made by their parents, become devotees of the gods."
Another Brahman, an orthodox Hindu, writes: "In some districts people
vow that they will dedicate one of their children to the Temple if they
are blessed with a family. Temple women often adopt orphans, to whom
they bequeath their possessions. In most cases the orphans are bought."

The position of the Temple woman has been a perplexity to many. The
Census Report touches the question: "It is one of the many
inconsistencies of the Hindu religion, that though their profession is
repeatedly vehemently condemned in the Shastras (sacred books), it has
always received the countenance of the Church." Their duties are all
religious. A well-informed Hindu correspondent thus enumerates them:
"First they are to be one of the twenty-one persons who are in charge of
the key of the outer door of the Temple; second, to open the outer door
daily; third, to burn camphor, and go round the idol when worship is
being performed; fourth, to honour public meetings with their presence;
fifth, to mount the car and stand near the god during car-festivals."
The orthodox Hindu quoted before remarks on the "high honour," as the
Temple child is taught to consider it, the marriage to the god confers
upon her.

We have purposely confined ourselves almost entirely to official and
Hindu evidence so far, but cannot forbear to add to this last word the
confirmatory experience of our own Temple children worker: "When I try
to persuade the Hindus to let us have their little ones instead of
giving them to the Temples they say: 'But to give them to Temples is
honour and glory and merit to us for ever; to give them to you is
dishonour and shame and demerit. So why should we give them to you?'"

We have said that convictions are rare. This is because of the great
difficulty in obtaining such evidence as is required by the law as it
stands at present. One case may be quoted as typical. A few years ago,
in one of our country towns, a father gave his child in marriage to the
idol "with some pomp," as the report before us says. He was prosecuted,
but the prosecution failed, for the priest and the parents united in
denying the fact of the marriage; and the evidence for the defence was
so skilfully cooked that it was found impossible to prove an offence
against the Penal Code.

Once, deeply stirred over the case of a little girl of six who was about
to be married to a god as her elder sisters had been a few months
previously, we wrote to a magistrate of wide experience and proved
sympathy with the work. His letter speaks for itself:--

"I have been waiting some little time before answering your letter,
because I wanted time to think over your problem. As far as I can make
out, there is no way in the world of preventing a woman marrying her own
daughter to the gods at any age; but you can prosecute her if she does.
If you could get her into prison for marrying the elder girls, the
younger might be safe; but I don't think you can do anything directly
for her. She is not being 'unlawfully detained'; and even if she were,
all you could do would be to get her returned to her parents and
guardians, which would be worse than useless.

"The question is whether you can hope to get a conviction in the other
case.

"I don't see how you can. You can say in court that you saw the little
girls with their marriage symbol on, and that they said they had been
married to the god. The little girls will deny it all, and say they
never set eyes on you before. Moreover, I don't think the ordinary Court
would be satisfied without some other evidence of the fact of
dedication; and considering how everyone would work against you, I think
you would find it extraordinarily hard. The local police would be worse
than useless."

To every man his work: it appears to us that expert knowledge is
required, and ample means and leisure, if the expenditure involved is to
result in anything worth while; and a careful study of all available
information regarding prosecutions, convictions, and, I may add,
sentences, has convinced us, at least, of the futility of such attempts
from a missionary point of view: for even if convictions were certain,
_as long as the law hands the child back to its guardians after their
unfitness to guard it from the worst that can befall it has been
proved_, so long do we feel unable to rejoice exceedingly over even the
six months' rigorous imprisonment, which in more than one case has been
the legal interpretation of the phrase "up to a term of ten years,"
which is the penalty attached to this offence in the Indian Penal Code.

In this connection it may be well to quote a paragraph from the _Indian
Social Reformer_:--

"The Public Prosecutor at Madras applied for admission of a revision
petition against the order of the Sessions Judge, made in the following
circumstances:--

"One, S., a priest, was convicted by the first-class subdivisional
magistrate of having performed the ceremony of dedicating a young girl
in the Temple of N., and thereby committing an offence punishable under
Section 372 of the Penal Code. He accordingly sentenced him to six
months' rigorous imprisonment. On appeal, the Sessions Judge reduced the
sentence to two months, on the ground that the rite complained against
was a very common one in those parts. The Public Prosecutor based his
petition on the ground that it had been held in a previous case 'that
such a dedication was an offence, and that it was highly desirable that
the interests of minors should be properly protected.' This protection,
it was submitted, could only be vouchsafed by making offending people
understand that they would render themselves liable to heavy punishment.
The present sentence would not have a deterrent effect, and he
accordingly applied for an enhancement of the same. His lordship
admitted the petition, and directed notice to the accused."

It is something to know the six months' sentence was confirmed. But is
not the fact that a Sessions Judge should commute such a sentence, on
the ground that the offence was "very common," enough to suggest a doubt
as to the deterrent effect of even this punishment?



NOTE


During the last few months the Secretary of State for India has
addressed official inquiries to the Government of India regarding the
dedication of children to Hindu gods, and the measures necessary for the
protection of such children.

If the anticipated change in the law is to result in more than a Bill on
paper--a blind, behind which things will go on as before only more out
of sight--it is, we believe, needful to ensure:

          1st. Protection for all children found to be in
          moral danger, whether or not they are or may be
          dedicated to gods.

          2nd. That, irrespective of nationality or
          religion, whoever has worked for and won the
          deliverance of the child should be allowed to act
          as guardian to it.

          3rd. That such a Bill shall be most thoroughly
          enforced.

_February, 1912._

                                       To face p. 268.



CHAPTER XXX

On the Side of the Oppressors there was Power


I HAVE been looking over my note-book, in which there are some hundreds
of letters, clippings from newspapers, and records of conversations
bearing upon the Temple children. It is difficult to know which to
choose to complete the picture already outlined in the preceding
chapters. A mere case record would be wearisome; and indeed the very
word "case" sounds curiously inappropriate when one thinks of the
nurseries and their little inhabitants; or looks up to see mischievous
eyes watching a chance to stop the uninteresting writing; or feels,
suddenly, soft arms round one's neck, as a baby, strayed from her own
domain, climbs unexpectedly up from behind and makes dashes at the
typewriter keyboard. Such little living interruptions are too frequent
to allow of these chapters being anything but human.

The newspaper clippings are usually concerned with public movements,
resolutions, petitions, and the like. There is one startling little
paragraph from a London paper, dated July 7, 1906; the ignorance of the
subject so flippantly dealt with is its only apology. No one could have
written so had he understood. The occasion was the memorial addressed to
the Governor in Council by workers for the children in the Bombay
Presidency:--

"Society must be very select in Poona. There has been a custom there for
young ladies to be married to selected gods. You would have thought that
to be the bride of a god was a good enough marriage for anyone. But it
is not good enough for Poona." It is time that such writing became
impossible for any Englishman.

In India the feeling of the best men, whether Hindu or Christian, is
strongly against the dedication of little children to Temples, and some
of the newspapers of the land speak out and say so in unmistakable
language. The _Indian Times_ speaks of the little ones being "steeped
deep from their childhood" in all that is most wrong. A Hindu, writing
in the _Epiphany_, puts the matter clearly when he says: "Finally, one
can hardly conceive of anything more debasing than to dedicate innocent
little girls to gods in the name of religion, and then leave them with
the Temple priests"; and another writer in the same paper asks a
question which those who say that Hinduism is good enough for India
might do well to ponder: "If this is not a Hindu practice, how can it
take place in a Temple and no priest stop it, though all know? . . . In
London religion makes wickedness go away; but in Bombay religion brings
wickedness, and Government has to try to make it go away." This immense
contrast of fact and of ideal contains our answer to all who would put
sin in India on a level with sin in England.

Christian writers naturally, whether in the _Christian Patriot_ of the
South or the _Bombay Guardian_ of the West, have no doubt about the
existence of the evil or the need for its removal. They, too, connect it
distinctly with religion, and recognise its tremendous influence.

But we turn from the printed page, and go straight to the houses where
the little children live. The witnesses now are missionaries or trusted
Indian workers.

"There were thirteen little children in the houses connected with the
Temple last time I visited them. I saw the little baby--such a dear,
fat, laughing little thing. It was impossible to get it, and I see no
hope of getting any of the other children."

"When I was visiting in S. a woman came to talk to me with her three
little children. Two of them were girls, very pretty, 'fair' little
children. 'What work does your husband do?' I asked; and she answered,
'I am married to the god.' Then I knew who she was, and that her
children were in danger. I have tried since to get them, but in vain.
Everyone says that Temple women never give up their little girls. These
two were dedicated at their birth. This is only one instance. We have
many Temple women reading with us, and many of the little children
attend our schools."

"There are not scores but hundreds of these children in the villages of
this district. Here certain families, living ordinary lives in their own
villages, dedicate one of their children as a matter of course to the
gods. They always choose the prettiest. It is a recognised custom, and
no one thinks anything of it. The child so dedicated lives with her
parents afterwards as if nothing had happened, only she may not be
married in the real way. She belongs to the god and his priests and
worshippers."

"The house was very orderly and nice. I sat on the verandah and talked
to the women, who were all well educated and so attractive with their
pretty dress and jewels. They seemed bright, but, of course, would not
show me their real feelings, and I could only hold surface conversation
with them."

We are often asked if the Temple houses are inside the walls which
surround all the great Temples in this part of the country. They are
usually in the streets outside. Most of the Brahman Temples are
surrounded by a square of streets, and the houses are in the square or
near it. There is nothing to distinguish them from other houses in the
street. It is only when you go inside that you feel the difference. An
hour on the shady verandah of one of these houses is very revealing. You
see the children run up to welcome a tall, fine-looking man, who pats
their heads in the kindest way, and as he passes you recognise him. Next
time you see him in the glory of his office, you wish you could forget
where you saw him last.

Sometimes we are asked who the children are. How do the Temple women get
them in the first instance?

We have already answered this question by quotations from the Census
Report, and by statements of Hindus well acquainted with the subject. It
should be added that often the Temple woman having daughters of her own
dedicates them, and as a rule it is only when she has none that she
adopts other little ones. A few extracts from letters and notes from
conversations are subjoined, as they show how the system of adoption
works:--

"We are in trouble over a little girl, the daughter of wealthy parents,
who have dedicated her to the gods and refuse to change their mind. The
child was ill some time ago, and they vowed then that if she recovered
they would dedicate her."

"The poor woman's husband was very ill, and the mother vowed her little
girl as an offering if he recovered. He did recover, and so the child
has been given."

"It is the custom of the Caste to dedicate the eldest girl of a certain
chosen family, and nothing will turn them from it. One child must be
given in each generation."

"She is of good caste, but very poor. Her husband died two months before
the baby was born, and as it was a girl she was much troubled as to its
future, for she knew she would never have enough money to marry it
suitably. A Temple woman heard of the baby, and at once offered to adopt
it. She persuaded the mother by saying: 'You see, if it is married to
the gods, it will never be a widow like you. It will always be well
cared for and have honour, and be a sign of good fortune to our
people--unlike you!' (It is considered a sign of good omen to see a
Temple woman the first thing in the morning; but the sight of a widow at
any time is a thing to be avoided.) The poor mother could not resist
this, and she has been persuaded."

"The mother is a poor, delicate widow, with several boys as well as this
baby girl. She cannot support them all properly, and her relatives do
not seem inclined to help her. The Temple women have heard of her, and
they sent a woman to negotiate. The mother knew that we would take the
little one rather than that she should be forced to give it up to Temple
women; but she said when we talked with her: 'It cannot be wrong to give
it to the holy gods! This is our religion; and it may be wrong to you,
but it is not wrong to us.' So she refused to give us the baby, and
seems inclined to go away with it. It is like that constantly. The thing
cannot be wrong because it is religious!"

"I heard of two little orphan girls whose guardian, an uncle, had
married again, and did not want to have the marriage expenses of his two
little nieces to see to. So at the last great festival he brought the
children and dedicated them to the Saivite Temple, and the Temple women
heard about it before I did, and at once secured them. I went as soon as
I could to see if we could not get them, but she would not listen to us.
She said they were her sister's children, and that she had adopted them
out of love for her dead sister."

A lawyer was consulted as to this case, but it was impossible to trace
the uncle or to prove that the children were not related to the Temple
woman. Above all, it was impossible to prove that she meant to do
anything illegal. So nothing could be done.

As a rule the Temple woman receives little beyond bare sustenance from
the Temple itself. In some Temples when the little child is formally
dedicated, she (or her guardian) receives two pounds, and her funeral
expenses are promised. But though there is little stated remuneration,
the Temple woman is not poor. Poverty may come. If she breaks the law of
her caste, or offends against the etiquette of that caste, she is
immediately excommunicated, and then she may become very poor. Or if she
has spent her money freely, or not invested it wisely, her old age may
be cheerless enough. But we have not found any lack of money among the
Sisterhood. No offer of compensation for all expenses connected with a
child has ever drawn them to part with her. They offer large sums for
little ones who will be useful to them. We have several times known as
much as an offer of one hundred rupees made and accepted in cases where
the little child (in each case a mere infant) was one of special
promise. A letter, which incidentally mentions the easy circumstances in
which many are, may be of interest:--

"K. is a little girl in our mission school. Her mother is a favourite
Temple woman high up in the profession. She dances while the other women
sing, and sometimes she gets as much as three or four hundred rupees for
her dancing. She is well educated, can recite the 'Ramayana' (Indian
epic), and knows a little English. She spends some time in her own
house, but is often away visiting other Temples. Just now she is away,
and little K. is with her. . . . Humanly speaking, she will never let her
go."

The education of the mission school is appreciated because it makes the
bright little child still brighter; and we, who know the home life of
these children, are glad when they are given one brief opportunity to
learn what may help them in the difficult days to come. We have known of
some little ones who, influenced by outside teaching, tried to escape
the life they began to feel was wrong, but in each case they were
overborne, for on the side of the oppressors there was power. I was in a
Temple house lately, and noticed the doors--the massive iron-bossed
doors are a feature of all well-built Hindu houses of the South. How
could a little child shut up in such a room, with its door shut, if need
be, to the outside inquisitive world--how could she resist the strength
that would force the garland round her neck? She might tear it off if
she dared, but the little golden symbol had been hidden under the
flowers, and the priest had blessed it; the deed was done--she was
married to the god. And only those who have seen the effect of a few
weeks of such a life upon a child, who has struggled in vain against it,
can understand how cowed she may become, how completely every particle
of courage and independence of spirit may be caused to disappear; and
how what we had known as a bright, sparkling child, full of the
fearless, confiding ways of a child, may become distrustful and
constrained, quite incapable of taking a stand on her own account, or of
responding to any effort we might be able to make from outside. It is as
if the child's spirit were broken, and those who know what she has gone
through cannot wonder if it is.

And then comes something we dread more: the life begins to attract. The
sense of revolt passes as the will weakens; the persistent, steady
pressure tells. And when we see her next, perhaps only three months
later, the child has passed the boundary, and belongs to us no more.



CHAPTER XXXI

And there was None to Save

          Thou canst conceive our highest and our lowest
            Pulses of nobleness and aches of shame.

                                   FREDERIC W. H. MYERS.


IN speaking of these matters I have tried to keep far from that which is
only sentiment, and have resolutely banished all imagination. I would
that the writing could be as cold in tone as the criticism of those who
consider everything other than polished ice almost amusing--to judge by
the way they handle it, dismissing it with an airy grace and a hurting
adjective. Would they be quite so cool, we wonder, if the little wronged
girl were their own? But we do not write for such as these. The thought
of the cold eyes would freeze the thoughts before they formed. We write
for the earnest-hearted, who are not ashamed to confess they care. And
yet we write with reserve even though we write for them, because nothing
else is possible. And this crushing back of the full tide makes its
fulness almost oppressive. It is as though a flame leaped from the page
and scorched the brain that searched for words quite commonplace and
quiet.

The finished product of the Temple system of education is something so
distorted that it cannot be described. But it should never be forgotten
that the thing from which we recoil did not choose to be fashioned so.
It was as wax--a little, tender, innocent child--in the hands of a
wicked power when the fashioning process began. Let us deal gently with
those who least deserve our blame, and reserve our condemnation for
those responsible for the creation of the Temple woman. Is it fair that
a helpless child, who has never once been given the choice of any other
life, should be held responsible afterwards for living the life to which
alone she has been trained? Is it fair to call her by a name which
belongs by right to one who is different, in that her life is
self-chosen? No word can cut too keenly at the root of this iniquity;
but let us deal gently with the mishandled flower. Let hard words be
restrained where the woman is concerned. Let it be remembered she is not
responsible for being what she is.

In a Canadian book of songs there is a powerful little poem about an
artist who painted one who was beautiful but not good. He hid all trace
of what was; he painted a babe at her breast.

          I painted her as she might have been
            If the Worst had been the Best.

And a connoisseur came and looked at the picture. To him it spoke of
holiest things; he thought it a Madonna:--

          So I painted a halo round her hair,
            And I sold her and took my fee;
          And she hangs in the church of St. Hilaire,
            Where you and all may see.

Sometimes as we have looked at the face of one whose training was not
complete we have seen as the artist saw: we have seen her "as she might
have been if the worst had been the best." There was no halo round her
hair, only its travesty--something that told of crowned and glorified
sin; and yet we could catch more than a glimpse of the perfect "might
have been." So we say, let blame fall lightly on the one who least
deserves it. Perhaps if our ears were not so full of the sounds of the
world, we should hear a tenderer judgment pronounced than man's is
likely to be: "Unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing. . . . For there
was none to save her."

Our work at Dohnavur is entirely among the little children who are
innocent of wrong. We rarely touch these lives which have been stained
and spoiled; but we could not forbear to write a word of clear
explanation about them, lest any should mistake the matter and confuse
things that differ.

       *       *       *       *       *

We leave the subject with relief. Few who have followed us so far know
how much it has cost to lead the way into these polluted places. Not
that we would make much of any personal cost; but that we would have it
known that nothing save a pressure which could not be resisted could
force us to touch pitch. And yet why should we shrink from it when the
purpose which compels is the saving of the children? Brave words written
by a brave woman come and help us to do it:--

"This I say emphatically, that the evil which we have grappled with to
save one of our own dear ones does not sully. It is the evil that we
read about in novels and newspapers for our own amusement; it is the
evil we weakly give way to in our lives; above all, it is the destroying
evil that we have refused so much as to know about in our absorbing care
for our own alabaster skin; it is that evil which defiles a woman. But
the evil that we have grappled with in a life and death struggle to save
a soul for whom Christ died does not sully; it clothes from head to foot
with the white robe, it crowns with the golden crown."

       *       *       *       *       *

There remains only one thing more to show. It was evening in an Indian
town at a time of festival. The great pillared courts of the Temple were
filled with worshippers and pilgrims from all over the Tamil country and
from as far north as Benares. Men who eagerly grasped at anything
printed in Sanscrit and knew nothing of our vernacular were scattered in
little groups among the crowd, and we had freedom to go to them and give
them what we could, and talk to the many others who would listen.
Outside the moonlight was shining on the dark pile of the Temple tower,
and upon the palms planted along the wall, which rises in its solid
strength 30 feet high and encloses the whole Temple precincts. There
were very few people out in the moonlight. It was too quiet there for
them, too pure in its silvery whiteness. Inside the hall, with its
great-doored rooms and recesses, there were earth-lights in abundance,
flaring torches, smoking lamps and lanterns. And there was noise--the
noise of words and of wailing Indian music. For up near the closed doors
which open on the shrine within which the idol sat surrounded by a
thousand lights, there was a band of musicians playing upon stringed
instruments; sometimes they broke out excitedly and banged their drums
and made their conch-shells blare.

Suddenly there was a tumultuous rush of every produceable sound;
tom-tom, conch-shell, cymbal, flute, stringed instruments and bells
burst into chorus together. The idol was going to be carried out from
his innermost shrine behind the lights; and as the great doors moved
slowly, the excitement became intense, the thrill of it quivered through
all the hall and sent a tremor through the crowd out to the street. But
we passed out and away, and turned into a quiet courtyard known to us
and talked to the women there.

There were three, one the grandmother of the house, one her daughter,
and another a friend. The grandmother and her daughter were Temple
women, the eldest grandchild had been dedicated only a few months
before. There were three more children, one Mungie, a lovable child of
six, one a pretty three-year-old with a mop of beautiful curls, the
youngest a baby just then asleep in its hammock; a little foot dangled
out of the hammock, which was hung from a rafter in the verandah roof.
We had come to talk to the grandmother and mother about the dear little
six-year-old child, and hoped to find their heart.

But we seemed to talk to stone, hard as the stone of the Temple tower
that rose above the roofs, black against the purity of the moonlit sky.
It was a bitter half-hour. Some hours are like stabs to remember, or
like the pitiless pressing down of an iron on living flesh. At last we
could bear it no longer, and rose to go. As we left we heard the
grandmother turn to her daughter's friend and say: "Though she heap gold
on the floor as high as Mungie's neck, I would never let her go to those
degraded Christians!"

Once again it was festival in the white light of the full moon, and once
again we went to the same old Hindu town; for moonlight nights are times
of opportunity, and the cool of evening brings strength for more than
can be attempted in the heat of the day. And this time an adopted mother
spoke words that ate like acid into steel as we listened.

Her adopted child is a slip of a girl, slim and light, with the ways of
a shy thing of the woods. She made me think of a harebell growing all by
itself in a rocky place, with stubbly grass about and a wide sky
overhead. She was small and very sweet, and she slid on to my knee and
whispered her lessons in my ear in the softest of little voices. She had
gone to school for nearly a year, and liked to tell me all she knew. "Do
you go to school now?" I asked her. She hung her head and did not
answer. "Don't you go?" I repeated. She just breathed "No," and the
little head dropped lower. "Why not?" I whispered as softly. The child
hesitated. Some dim apprehension that the reason would not seem good to
me troubled her, perhaps, for she would not answer. "Tell the Ammal,
silly child!" said her foster-mother, who was standing near. "Tell her
you are learning to dance and sing and get ready for the gods!" "I am
learning to dance and sing and get ready for the gods," repeated the
child obediently, lifting large, clear eyes to my face for a moment as
if to read what was written there. A group of men stood near us. I
turned to them. "Is it right to give this little child to a life like
that?" I asked them then. They smiled a tolerant, kindly smile.
"Certainly no one would call it right, but it is our custom," and they
passed on. There was no sense of the pity of it:--

          Poor little life that toddles half an hour,
          Crowned with a flower or two, and then an end!

We had come to the town an hour or two earlier, and had seen, walking
through the throng round the Temple, two bright young girls in white. No
girls of their age, except Temple girls, would have been out at that
hour of the evening, and we followed them home. They stopped when they
reached the house where little Mungie lived, and then, turning, saw us
and salaamed. One of the two was Mungie's elder sister. Little Mungie
ran out to meet her sister, and, seeing us, eagerly asked for a book. So
we stood in the open moonlight, and the little one tried to spell out
the words of a text to show us she had not forgotten all she had
learned, even though she, too, had been taken from school, and had to
learn pages of poetry and the Temple dances and songs.

The girls were jewelled and crowned with flowers, and they looked like
flowers themselves; flowers in moonlight have a mystery about them not
perceived in common day, but the mystery here was something wholly
sorrowful. Everything about the children--they were hardly more than
children--showed care and refinement of taste. There was no violent
clash of colour; the only vivid colour note was the rich red of a silk
underskirt that showed where the clinging folds of the white
gold-embroidered _sari_ were draped a little at the side. The effect was
very dainty, and the girls' manners were modest and gentle. No one who
did not know what the pretty dress meant that night would have dreamed
it was but the mesh of a net made of white and gold.

But with all their pleasant manners it was evident the two girls looked
upon us with a distinct aloofness. They glanced at us much as a
brilliant bird of the air might be supposed to regard poultry, fowls of
the cooped-up yard. Then they melted into the shadow of an archway
behind the moonlit space, and we went on to another street and came upon
little Sellamal, the harebell child; and, sitting down on the verandah
which opens off the street, we heard her lessons as we have told, and
got into conversation with her adopted mother.

We found her interested in listening to what we had to say about
dedicating children to the service of the gods. She was extremely
intelligent, and spoke Tamil such as one reads in books set for
examination. It was easy to talk with her, for she saw the point of
everything at once, and did not need to have truth broken up small and
crumbled down and illustrated in half a dozen different ways before it
could be understood. But the half-amused smile on the clever face told
us how she regarded all we were saying. What was life and death
earnestness to us was a game of words to her; a play the more to be
enjoyed because, drawn by the sight of two Missie Ammals sitting
together on the verandah, quite a little crowd had gathered, and were
listening appreciatively.

"That is your way of looking at it; now listen to my way. Each land in
all the world has its own customs and religion. Each has that which is
best for it. Change, and you invite confusion and much unpleasantness.
Also by changing you express your ignorance and pride. Why should the
child presume to greater wisdom than its father? And now listen to me!
I will show you the matter from our side!" ("Yes, venerable mother,
continue!" interposed the crowd encouragingly.) "You seem to feel it a
sad thing that little Sellamal should be trained as we are training her.
You seem to feel it wrong, and almost, perhaps, disgrace. But if you
could see my eldest daughter the centre of a thousand Brahmans and
high-caste Hindus! If you could see every eye in that ring fixed upon
her, upon her alone! If you could see the absorption--hardly do they
dare to breathe lest they should miss a point of her beauty! Ah, you
would know, could you see it all, upon whose side the glory lies and
upon whose the shame! Compare that moment of exaltation with the
grovelling life of your Christians! Low-minded, flesh-devouring,
Christians, discerning not the difference between clean and unclean!
Bah! And you would have my little Sellamal leave all this for that!"

"But afterwards? What comes afterwards?"

"What know I? What care I? That is a matter for the gods."

The child Sellamal listened to this, glancing from face to face with
wistful, wondering eyes; and as I looked down upon her she looked up at
me, and I looked deep into those eyes--such innocent eyes. Then
something seemed to move the child, and she held up her face for a kiss.

This is only one Temple town. There are many such in the South. These
things are not easy to look at for long. We turn away with burning eyes,
and only for the children's sake could we ever look again. For their
sake look again.

It was early evening in a home of rest on the hills. A medical
missionary, a woman of wide experience, was talking to a younger woman
about the Temple children. She had lived for some time, unknowingly,
next door to a Temple house in an Indian city. Night after night she
said she was wakened by the cries of children--frightened cries,
indignant cries, sometimes sharp cries as of pain. She inquired in the
morning, but was always told the children had been punished for some
naughtiness. "They were only being beaten." She was not satisfied, and
tried to find out more through the police. But she feared the police
were bribed to tell nothing, for she found out nothing through them.
Later, by means of her medical work, she came full upon the truth. . . .
"Why leave spaces with dotted lines? Why not write the whole fact?"
wrote one who did not know what she asked. Once more we repeat it, to
write the whole fact is impossible.

It is true this is not universal; in our part of the country it is not
general, for the Temple child is considered of too much value to be
lightly injured. But it is true beyond a doubt that inhumanity which may
not be described is possible at any time in any Temple house.

Out in the garden little groups of missionaries walked together and
talked. From a room near came the sound of a hymn. It was peaceful and
beautiful everywhere, and the gold of sunset filled the air, and made
the garden a glory land of radiant wonderful colour. But for one woman
at least the world turned black. Only the thought of the children nerved
her to go on.



CHAPTER XXXII

The Power behind the Work

          "To Him difficulties are as nothing, and
          improbabilities of less than no account."--_Story
          of the China Inland Mission._


THE Power behind the work is the interposition of God in answer to
prayer.

Recently--so recently that it would be unwise to go into detail--we were
in trouble about a little girl of ten or eleven, who, though not a
Temple child, was exposed to imminent danger, and sorely needed
deliverance. I happened to be alone at Dohnavur at the time, and did not
know what to answer to the child's urgent message: "If I can escape to
you" (this meant if she braved capture and its consequences, and fled
across the fields alone at night), "can you protect me from my people?"
To say "Yes" might have had fatal results. To say "No" seemed too
impossible. The circumstances were such that great care was needed to
avoid being entangled in legal complications; and as the Collector
(Chief Magistrate) for our part of the district happened just then to be
in our neighbourhood, I wrote asking for an appointment. Early next
morning we met by the roadside. I had been up most of the night, and was
tired and anxious; and I shall never forget the comfort that came
through the quiet sympathy with which one who was quite a stranger to
us all listened to the story, not as if it were a mere missionary
trifle, but something worthy his attention. But nothing could be done.
It was not a case where we had any ground for appeal to the law; and any
attempt upon our part to help the child could only have resulted in more
trouble afterwards, for we should certainly have had to give her up if
she came to us.

As the inevitableness of this conclusion became more and more evident to
me, it seemed as if a great strong wall were rising foot by foot between
me and that little girl--a wall like the walls that enclose the Temples
here, very high, very massive. But even Temple walls have doors, and I
could not see any door in this wall. Nothing could bring that child to
us but a Power enthroned above the wall, which could stoop and lift her
over it. I do not remember what led to the question about what we
expected would happen; but I remember that with that wall full in view I
could only answer, "The interposition of God." Nothing else, nothing
less, could do anything for that child.

Her case was complicated, if I may express it so, by the fact that
though she knew very little--she had only had a few weeks' teaching and
could not read--she had believed all we told her most simply and
literally, and witnessed to her own people, whose reply to her had been:
"You will see who is stronger, your God or ours! Do you think your Lord
Jesus can deliver you from our hand, or prevent us from doing as we
choose with you? We shall see!" And the case of an older girl who had
been, as those who knew her best believed, drugged and then bent to her
people's will, was quoted: "Did your Lord Jesus deliver her? Where is
she to-day? And you think He will deliver you!" "But He will not let you
hurt me," the child had answered fearlessly, though her strength was
weakened even then by thirty hours without food; and, remembering one of
the Bible stories she had heard during those weeks, she added, "I am
Daniel, and you are the lions"--and she told them how the angel was sent
to shut the lions' mouths. But she knew so little after all, and the
bravest can be overborne, and she was only a little girl; so our hearts
ached for her as we sent her the message: "You must not try to come to
us. We cannot protect you. But Jesus is with you. He will not fail you.
He says, 'Fear thou not, for I am with thee.'" That night they shut her
up with a demon-possessed woman, that the terror of it might shake her
faith in Christ. Next day they hinted that worse would happen soon. Our
fear was lest her faith should fail before deliverance came.

Three and a half months of such tension as we have rarely known passed
over us. Often during that time, when one thing after another happened
contrariwise, as it appeared, and each event as it occurred seemed to
add another foot to the wall that still grew higher, help to faith came
to us through unexpected sources like voices blown on the winds.

Once it was something Lieut. Shackleton is reported to have said to
Reuter's correspondent concerning his expedition to the South Pole:
"Over and over again there were times when no mortal leadership could
have availed us. It was during those times that we learned that some
Power beyond our own guided our footsteps." And the illustrations which
followed of Divine interposition were such that one at least who read,
took courage; for the God of the great Ice-fields is the God of the
Tropics.

Once it was a passage opened by chance in a friend's book--Pastor
Agnorum. The subject of the paragraph is the schoolboy's attitude
towards games: "Glimpses of his mind are sometimes given us, as on that
day at Risingham when you refused to play in your boys' house-match,
unless the other house excluded from their team a half-back who was
under attainder through a recent row. They declined, and you stood out
of it. The hush in the field when your orphaned team, in defiance of the
odds, scored and again scored! Their supporters, in chaste awe at the
marvel, could hardly shout: it was more like a sob: a judgment had so
manifestly defended the right. The cricket professional, a man naturally
devout, looked at me with eyes that confessed an interposition, and all
came away quiet as a crowd from a cemetery. It was not a game of
football we had looked at, it was a Mystery Play: we had been edified,
and we hid it in our hearts."

And once, on the darkest day of all, it was the brave old family motto,
on a letter which came by post: "Dieu défend le droit." It was something
to be reminded that, in spite of appearances to the contrary, the
kingdom is the Lord's, and He is Governor among the people.

"Eyes that confessed an interposition." The phrase was illuminated for
us when God in very truth interposed in such fashion that every one saw
it was His Hand, for no other hand could have done it. Then we, too,
looked at each other with eyes that confessed an interposition. We had
seen that which we should never forget; and until the time comes when it
may be more fully told to the glory of our God, we have hid it in our
hearts.

The reason we have outlined the story is to lead to a word we want to
write very earnestly; it is this: Friends who care for the children, and
believe this work on their behalf is something God intends should be
done, "pray as if on that alone hung the issue of the day." More than we
know depends upon our holding on in prayer.

All through those months there was prayer for that child in India and in
England. The matter was so urgent that we made it widely known, and some
at least of those who heard gave themselves up to prayer; not to the
mere easy prayer which costs little and does less, but to that waiting
upon God which does not rest till it knows it has obtained access,
knows that it has the petition that it desires of Him. This sort of
prayer costs.

But to us down in the thick of the battle, it was strength to think of
that prayer. We were very weary with hope deferred; for it was as if all
the human hope in us were torn out of us, and tossed and buffeted every
way till there was nothing left of it but an aching place where it had
been. God works by means, as we all admit; and so every fresh
development in a Court case in which the child was involved, every turn
of affairs, where her relatives were concerned (and these turns were
frequent), every little movement which seemed to promise something, was
eagerly watched in the expectation that in it lay the interposition for
which we waited. But it seemed as if our hopes were raised only to be
dashed lower than ever, till we were cast upon the bare word of our God.
It was given to us then as perhaps never before to penetrate to the
innermost spring of consolation contained in those very old words: "I
should utterly have fainted, but that I believe verily to see the
goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Oh, tarry thou the
Lord's leisure: be strong, and He shall comfort thine heart; and put
thou thy trust in the Lord."

This Divine Interposition has been very inspiring. We feel afresh the
force of the question: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" And we ask
those whose hearts are with us to pray for more such manifestations of
the Power that has not passed with the ages. Lord, teach us to pray!

For it has never been with us, "Come, see, and conquer," as if victory
were an easy thing and a common. We have known what it is to toil for
the salvation of some little life, and we have known the bitterness of
defeat. We have had to stand on the shore of a dark and boundless sea,
and watch that little white life swept off as by a great black wave. We
have watched it drift further and further out on those desolate waters,
till suddenly something from underneath caught it and sucked it down.
And our very soul has gone out in the cry, "Would God I had died for
thee!" and we too have gone "to the chamber over the gate" where we
could be alone with our grief and our God--O little child, loved and
lost, would God I had died for thee!

Should we forget these things? Should we bury them away lest they hurt
some sensitive soul? Rather, could we forget them if we would, and dare
we hide away the knowledge lest somewhere someone should be hurt? For it
is not as if that black wave's work were a thing of the past: it has
gone on for centuries unchecked: it is going on to-day.

Several months have passed since the chapters which precede this were
written. We are now, with some of our converts who needed rest and
change, in a place under the mountains a day's journey from Dohnavur. It
is one of the holy places of the South; for the northern tributary of
the chief river of this district falls over the cliffs at this point in
a double leap of one hundred and eighty feet, and the waters are so
disposed over a great rounded shoulder of rock that many people can
bathe below in a long single file. To this fall thousands of pilgrims
come from all parts of India, believing that such bathing is meritorious
and cleanses away all sin. And as they are far from their own homes, and
in measure out on holiday, we find them more than usually accessible and
friendly. This morning I was on my way home after talk with the women,
and was turning for a moment to look back upon the beautiful sorrowful
scene--the flashing waterfall, the passing crowd of pilgrims, the
radiance of sunshine on water, wood, and rock, when a Brahman, fresh
from bathing, followed my look, and glancing at the New Testament and
bag of Gospels in my hand, smiled indulgently and asked if we seriously
thought these books and their teaching would ever materially influence
India. "Look at that crowd," and he pointed to the people, his own caste
people chiefly. "Have we been influenced?"

Then he told me the story of the Falls, how ages ago a god, pitying the
sins and the sufferings of the people, bathed on the ledge where the
waters leap, and thereafter those waters were efficacious to the
cleansing of sin from the one who believingly bathes. To the one who
believes not, nothing happens beyond the cleansing of his body and its
invigoration. "Even to you," he added, in his friendliness, "virtue of a
sort is allowed; for do you not experience a certain exhilaration and a
buoyancy of spirit and a pleasure beyond anything obtainable elsewhere
[which is perfectly true]? This is due to the benevolence of our god,
whose merits extend even to you."

He was an educated man; he had studied in a mission school, and
afterwards in a Government college. He had read English books, and parts
of our Bible were familiar to him. He assured me he found no more
difficulty in accepting this legend than we did in accepting the story
of our Saviour's incarnation. And then, standing in the Temple porch
with its carved stone pillars, almost within touch of the great door
that opens behind into the shrine, he led the way into the Higher
Hinduism--that mysterious land which lies all around us in India, but is
so seldom shown to us. And I listened till in turn he was persuaded to
listen, and we read together from the Gospel which transcends in its
simplicity the profoundest reach of Hindu thought: "In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We did not
pause till we came to the end of the paragraph. I could see how it
appealed, for deep calleth unto deep; but he rose again up and up, and
that unknown part of one's being which is more akin to the East than to
the West, followed him and understood--when the door behind us creaked,
and a sudden blast of turbulent music sprang out upon us, deafening us
for a moment, and he said, "It is the morning worship. The priests and
the Servants of the gods are worshipping within." It was like a fall
from far-away heights to the very floor of things.

Then he told me how in the town three miles distant, the Benares of the
South, the service of the gods was conducted with more elaborate
ceremonial. "I could arrange for you to see it if you wished." I
explained why I could not wish to see it, and asked him about the
Servants of the gods, and about the little children. "Certainly there
are little children. The Servants of the gods adopt them to continue the
succession. How else could it be continued?"



CHAPTER XXXIII

If this were All


AN hour earlier three of us had stood together by the pool at the foot
of the Falls, and watched the people bathe. At the edge of the rock an
old grandmother had dealt valiantly with an indignant baby of two, whom,
despite its struggles, she bathed after prolonged preparation of divers
anointings, by holding it grimly, kicking and slippery though it was,
under what must have seemed to it a terrible hurrying horror. When at
last that baby emerged, it was too crushed in spirit to cry.

Beyond this little domestic scene was a group of half-reluctant women,
longing and yet fearing to venture under the plunging waters; and beyond
them again were the bathers, crowding but never jostling each other, on
the narrow ledge upon and over which the Falls descend. Some were
standing upright, with bowed heads, under the strong chastisement of the
nearer heavier fall; some bent under it, as if overwhelmed with the
thundering thud of its waters. Some were further on, where the white
furies lash like living whips, and scourge and sting and scurry; and
there the pilgrims were hardly visible, for the waters swept over them
like a veil, and they looked in their weirdness and muteness like martyr
ghosts. Further still some were carefully climbing the steps cut into
the cliff, or standing as high as they could go upon an unguarded
projection of rock, with eyes shut and folded hands, entirely oblivious
apparently to the fact that showers of spray enveloped them, and the
deep pool lay below.

I had never seen anything quite like this: it was such a strange
commingling of the beautiful and sorrowful. The women--"fair"-skinned
Brahman women they chanced to be--were in their usual graceful raiment
of silk or cotton, all shades of soft reds, crimson, purple, blue,
lightened with yellow and orange, which in the water looked like dull
fire. Their golden and silver jewels gleamed in the sunlight, and their
long black hair hung round faces like the faces one sees in pictures.
The men wore their ordinary white, and the ascetics the salmon-tinted
saffron of their profession.

Then, as if to add an ethereal touch to it all, a rainbow spanned the
Falls at that moment, and we saw the pilgrims through it or arched by it
as they stood, some at either end of the bow where the colours painted
the rock and the spray, and some in the space between. The sun struck
the forest hanging on the steeps above, and it became a vivid thing in
quick delight of greenness. It was something which, once seen, could
hardly be forgotten. The triumphant stream of white set deep in the
heart of a great horseshoe of rock and woods; the delicate, exquisite
pleasure of colour; and the people in their un-self-consciousness,
bathing and worshipping just as they wished, with for background rock
and spray, and for a halo rainbow. To one who looked with sympathy the
picture was a parable. You could not but see visions: you could not but
dream dreams.

Then from the quiet heights crept a colony of monkeys, their chatter
drowned in the roar of the Falls. On they came, wise and quaint, like
the half-heard whispers of old-time jokes. And they bathed in the mimic
pools above, as it seemed in imitation of the pilgrims, holding comical
little heads under the light trickles.

And below the scene changed as a company of widows came and entered the
Falls. They were all Brahmans and all old, and they shivered in their
poor scanty garments of coarse white. Most of them were frail with long
fasting and penance, and they prayed as they stood in the water or
crouched under its weight. Such a one had sat on the stone under the
special fall which, as the friend who had taken me observed with more
forcefulness than sentiment, "comes down like a sack of potatoes." I had
tried to stand it for a minute, but it pelted and pounded me so that
less than a minute was enough, and I moved to make room for a Brahman
widow who was bathing with me. And then she sat down on the stone, and
the waters beat very heavily on the old grey head; but she sat on in her
patience, her hands covering her face, and she prayed without one
moment's intermission. How little she knew of the other prayer that rose
beside hers through the rushing water--it was the first time I at least
had ever prayed in a waterfall--"Oh, send forth Thy light and Thy truth;
let them lead her!" She struggled up at last and caught my hand; then,
steadying herself with an effort, she felt for the iron rod that
protects the ledge, and blinded by the driving spray and benumbed by the
beat of the water, she stumbled slowly out. But the wistful face had a
look of content upon it, and her only concern was to finish the
ceremonial out in the sunshine--she had brought her little offerings of
a few flowers with her--and so, much as I longed to follow her and tell
her of the cleansing of which this was only a type, it could not have
been then. Oh, the rest it is at such a time to remember that the Lord
is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.

Below the pool, in the broad bed of the stream and on its banks, all was
animation and happy simple life. Here the women were drying their
garments, without taking them off, in a clever fashion of their own.
There some were washing them in the stream. Children played about as
they willed. But in and among the throng, anywhere, everywhere, we saw
worshippers, standing or sitting facing the east, alone or in company,
chanting names for the deity, or adoring and meditating in silence.
Doubtless some were formal enough, but some were certainly sincere; and
we felt if this were all there is to know in Hinduism, the time must
soon come when a people so prepared would recognise in the Saviour and
Lover of their souls, Him for whom they had been seeking so long, "if
haply they might feel after Him and find Him."

But this is not all there is to know. Back out of sight behind the
simple joyousness of life, to which the wholesome waters and the
sparkling air and the beauty everywhere so graciously ministered, behind
that wonderful wealth of thought as revealed in the Higher Hinduism
which is born surely of nothing less than a longing after God--behind
all this what do we find? Glory of mountain and waterfall, charm and
delight of rainbow in spray; but what lies behind the coloured veil?
What symbols are carved into the cliff? Whose name and power do they
represent?

This book touches one of the hidden things; would that we could forget
it! Sometimes, through these days as we sat on the rocks by the
waterside, in the unobtrusive fashion of the Indian religious teacher,
who makes no noise but waits for those who care to come, we have almost
forgotten in the happiness of human touch with the people, the lovable
women and children more especially, that anything dark and wicked and
sad lay so very near. And then, suddenly as we have told, we have been
reminded of it. We may not forgot it if we would. It is true that the
thing we mean is disowned by the spiritual few, but to the multitude it
is part of their religion. "Of course, Temple women must adopt young
children; and they must be carefully trained, or they will not be meet
for the service of the gods." So said the Brahman who only a moment
before had led me into the mystic land, deep within which he loves to
dwell: what does the training mean?

A fortnight ago the friend to whom the child is dear took me to see the
little girl described in a letter from an Indian sister as "a little
dove in a cage." I did not find that she minded her cage. The bars have
been gilded, the golden glitter has dazzled the child. She thinks her
cage a pretty place, and she does not beat against its bars as she did
in the earlier days of her captivity. As we talked with her we
understood the change. When first she was taken from school the woman to
whose training her mother has committed her gave her polluting poetry to
read and learn, and she shrank from it, and would slip her Bible over
the open page and read it instead. But gradually the poetry seemed less
impossible; the atmosphere in which those vile stories grew and
flourished was all about her; as she breathed it day by day she became
accustomed to it; the sense of being stifled passed. The process of
mental acclimatisation is not yet completed, the lovely little face is
still pure and strangely innocent in its expression; but there is a
change, and it breaks the heart of the friend who loves her to see it.
"I must learn my poetry. They will be angry if I do not learn it. What
can I do?" And again, "Oh, the stories do not mean anything," said with
a downward glance, as if the child-conscience still protested. But this
was a fortnight ago. It is worse with that little girl to-day; there is
less inward revolt; and to-morrow how will it be with her?



CHAPTER XXXIV

"To Continue the Succession"


FOR to-morrow holds no hope for these children so far as our power to
save them to-day is concerned. It will be remembered that we felt we
could do more for them by working quietly on our own lines than by
appealing to the law; but lately, fearing lest we were possibly doing
the law an injustice by taking it for granted that it was powerless to
help us, we carefully gathered all the evidence we could about three
typical children: one a child in moral danger, though not in actual
Temple danger; another the adopted child of a Temple woman; the third a
Temple woman's own child: and we submitted this evidence to a keen
Indian Christian barrister, and asked for his advice.

L., the first child he deals with, the little "dove in the cage," is in
charge of a woman of bad character, by the consent and arrangement of
her mother. The mother speaks English as well as an Englishwoman, and
her eldest son is studying for his degree in a Government college.
Although Temple service is not intended, the proposed life is such that
a similar course of training as that to which the Temple child is
subjected, is now being carried on. This is the barrister's reply to my
letter:--

"I have carefully perused the statements of the probable witnesses. L.'s
mother is not a Temple woman, and the foster-mother also is not a Temple
woman. The law of adoption relating to Temple women does not apply to
them. The foster-mother, therefore, can have no legal claim to the
child. But the mother has absolute control over the bringing-up of the
child, and it would not be possible in the present state of the law to
do anything for the child now."

S. This is the little one who whispered her texts to me in the
moonlight, and whose foster-mother told her to tell me she was being
trained for the Service of the gods. She is evidently destined to be a
Temple woman. "The first question for consideration is how the old woman
is related to her. If she is the adopted mother, or if she could
successfully plead adoption of the child, the Civil Courts will be
powerless to help. If we can get some reliable evidence that the child
has not been adopted" (this is impossible) "we may be able to induce the
British Courts to interfere on her behalf and say she shall not be
devoted to Temple service until she attains her majority; but it would
not be possible to induce the Courts to hand the child over to the
Mission."

K., the little girl whose own mother is a Temple woman. She has been
taught dancing, which to our mind was conclusive proof of her mother's
intentions. To make sure we asked the question, to which the following
is the reply: "No children of [good] Hindu parents are taught dancing.
Even the lowest caste woman thinks it beneath her dignity to dance,
excepting professional devil-dancers, who are generally old women,
mostly widows, of an hysterical temperament. When young children of
women of doubtful character are taught dancing, it means they are going
to be married to the idol. When children of Temple women are taught
dancing the presumption is all the greater. But the difficulty in the
case of K. is to get one who has higher claims to guardianship than the
mother. In the case of a Temple woman's child there is no one.

"It is this which makes it impossible for the well-wishers of the
children to interfere. . . . The law punishes only the offence committed
and not the intent to commit, or even the preparation, unless it amounts
to an attempt under the Penal Code."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bluebeards are not an institution in England; but if they were, and if
one of the order were known to possess a cupboardful of pendent heads,
would Englishmen sit quiet while he whetted his butcher's knife quite
calmly on his doorstep? Would they say as he sat there in untroubled
assurance of safety, feeling the edge of the blade with his thumb, and
muttering almost audibly the name of his intended victim, "We have no
right to interfere, he is only sharpening his knife; an intent to
commit, or even the preparation for crime, is not punishable by law,
unless it amounts to an attempt, and he has not 'attempted' yet."
Surely, if such intent were not punishable it very soon would be. It
would be found possible--who can doubt it?--to frame a new law, or amend
the old one, so as to deal with Bluebeards. And a Committee of Vigilance
would be appointed to ensure its effectual working.

Of course, the simile is absurdly inadequate, and breaks down at several
important points, and the circumstances are vastly more difficult in
India than they ever could be in England, just because India is India;
but will it not at least be admitted that the law meant in kindness to
the innocent is fatal to our purpose?--which is to save the children
while they are still innocent.

       *       *       *       *       *

We do not want to ask for anything unreasonable, but it seems to us that
the law concerning adoption requires revision. In Mayne's _Hindu Law and
Usage_ it is stated that among Temple women it is customary in Madras
and Pondicherry and in Western India to adopt girls to follow their
adopted mother's profession: and the girls so adopted succeed to their
property; no particular ceremonies are necessary, recognition alone
being sufficient. In Calcutta and Bombay such adoptions have been held
illegal, but in the Madras Presidency they are held to be legal. In a
case where the validity of such adoption was questioned, the Madras High
Court affirmed it, and it has now, "by a series of decisions, adopted
the rule . . . which limits the illegality of adoption to cases where
they involve the commission of an offence under the Criminal Code."
This, as we have said, makes it entirely impossible to save the child
through the law before her training is complete; and after it is
complete it is too late to save her. Train a child from infancy to look
upon a certain line of life as the one and only line for her, make the
prospect attractive, and surround her with every possible unholy
influence; in short, bend the twig and keep it bent for the greater part
of sixteen years, or even only six--is there much room for doubt as to
how it will grow? An heir to the property may be required; but with the
facts of life before us, can we be content to allow the adoption of a
child by a Temple woman to be so legalised that even if it can be proved
to a moral certainty that her intention is to "continue the succession,"
nothing can be done?

Then as to the guardianship: again we do not want to ask too much, but
surely if it can be shown that no one else has moved to save the child
(which argues that no one else has cared much about her salvation) we
should not be disqualified for guardianship on the sole ground that we
are not related? In such a case the relatives are the last people with
whom she would be safe. An order may go forth from that nebulous and
distant Impersonality, the British Government, to the effect that a
certain child is not to be dedicated to gods during her minority. But
far away in their villages the people smile at a simplicity which can
imagine that commands can eventually affect purposes. They may delay the
fulfilment of such purpose; but India can afford to wait.

_We would have the law so amended, that whoever has been in earnest
enough about the matter to try to save the child from destruction,
should be given the right to protect her, if in spite of the odds
against him he has honestly fought through a case and won._

"Is it not a sad thing," writes the Indian barrister--we quote his words
because they seem to us worthy of notice at home--"that a Christian
Government is unable to legislate to save the children of Temple women?
I am sorry my opinion has made you sad. Giving my opinion as a lawyer, I
could not take an optimistic view of the matter. _The law as it stands
at present is against reform in matters of this kind._ Even should a
good judge take a strong view of the matter, the High Court will stick
to the very letter of the law."

So that, as things are, it comes to this: We must stand aside and watch
the cup of poison being prepared--so openly prepared that everyone knows
for which child it is being mixed. We must stand and wait and do
nothing. We must see the little girl led up to the cup and persuaded to
taste it. We must watch her gradually growing to like it, for it is
flavoured and sweet. We must not beckon to her before she has drunk of
it and say, "Come to us and we will tell you what is in that cup, and
keep you safely from those who would make you drink it"; for "any
attempt to induce the child to come to you, or any assistance given to
help her to escape to you, would render you liable to prosecution for
kidnapping--a criminal offence under the Penal Code." Any one of us
would gladly go to prison if it would save the child; but the trouble
is, it would not: for the law could only return her to her lawful
guardians from whose hold we unlawfully detached her. We, not they,
would be in the wrong; they did nothing unlawful in only preparing the
cup. Does someone say that we put the case unfairly--that the law does
not forbid us to warn the child, it only forbids us to snatch her away
when the cup is merely being offered her? But remember, in our part of
India at least, these cups are not given in public. The preparation is
public enough, the bare tasting is public too; but the cup in its
fulness is given in private, and once given, the poison works with
stealthy but startling rapidity. Warn the child before she has drunk of
it, and she does not understand you. Warn her after she has drunk, and
the poison holds her from heeding.

Besides, to be very practical, what is the use of warning if we may only
warn? Suppose our one isolated word weighs with the child against the
word of mother or adopted mother, and all who stand for home to her;
suppose she says (she would very rarely have the courage for any such
proposal, but suppose she does say it): "May I come to you? and will you
show me the way, for it is such a long way and I do not know how to find
it? I should be so frightened, alone in the night" (the only time escape
would be possible), "for I know they would run after me, and they can
run faster than I!" What may we say to her? What may I say to the
Harebell supposing she asks me this question? She is only six, and there
are six long miles over broken country between her home and ours. We
could not find it ourselves in the dark. But supposing she dared it all,
and an angel were sent to guide her, have we any right to protect her?
None whatever. If there are parents, or a parent, they or she have the
right of parentage; if an adopted mother, the right of adoption.[F]

We know that the law is framed to protect the good, and the rights of
parentage cannot be too carefully guarded; but to one who has not a
legal mind, but only sees a little girl in danger of her life, and has
to stand with hands tied by a law intended to deal with totally
different matters, it seems strange that things should be so. This is
not the moment (if ever there is such a moment) to choose, for
deliberate lawlessness; but there are times when the temptation is
strong to break the law in the hope that, once broken, it may be
amended. Only those who have had to go through it know what it is to
stand and see that cup of poison being prepared for an unsuspicious
child.

The last sentence in the barrister's letter begins with "I despair." The
sentence is too pungent in its outspoken candour to copy into a book
which may come back to India: "I despair": then unto Thee we turn, O
Lord our God; for now, Lord, what is our hope? truly our hope is even in
Thee: oh, help us against the enemy; for vain is the help of man. Hath
God forgotten to be gracious? Will the Lord absent Himself for ever? O
God, wherefore art Thou absent from us for so long? Look upon the
Covenant, for all the earth is full of darkness and cruel habitations.
Surely Thou hast seen it, for Thou beholdest ungodliness and wrong. The
wicked boasteth of his heart's desire. He sitteth in the lurking-places
of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent. He
saith in his heart, "God hath forgotten: He hideth His face; He will
never see it." Arise, O Lord God, lift up Thine hand! Up, Lord,
disappoint him, and cast him down; deliver the children! Show Thy
marvellous lovingkindness, Thou that art the Saviour of them which put
their trust in Thee, from such as resist Thy right hand. Thy voice is
mighty in operation: the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice. We wait
for Thy lovingkindness, O God: be merciful unto the children: O God, be
merciful unto the children, for our soul trusteth in Thee, and we call
unto the Most High God, even unto the God that shall perform the cause
which we have in hand. For Thou hast looked down from Thy sanctuary; out
of heaven did the Lord behold the earth, that He might hear the
mournings of such as are in captivity, and deliver the children
appointed to death. Arise, O God, maintain Thine own cause! Our hope is
in Thee, Who helpeth them to right that suffer wrong. The Lord looseth
the prisoners. God is unto us a God of deliverances. Power belongeth
unto Thee. Our soul hangeth upon Thee: Thou shalt show us wonderful
things in Thy righteousness, O God of our salvation, Thou that art the
hope of all the ends of the earth. And all men that see it shall say,
This hath God done; for they shall perceive that it is His work. He
shall deliver the children's souls from falsehood and wrong; for God is
our King of old; the help that is done upon earth He doeth it Himself.
Sure I am, the Lord will avenge the poor, and maintain the cause of the
helpless. Why art thou so heavy, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted
within me? Oh, put thy trust in God; for I will yet praise Him which is
the help of my countenance and my God!

Are there any prayers like the old psalms in their intense sincerity? In
the times when our heart is wounded within us we turn to these ancient
human cries, and we find what we want in them.

Let us pray for the children of this generation being trained now "to
continue the succession," whom nothing less than a Divine interposition
can save. The hunters on these mountains dig pits to ensnare the poor
wild beasts, and they cover them warily with leaves and grass: this
sentence about the succession is just such a pit, with words for leaves
and grass. Let us pray for miracles to happen where individual children
are concerned, that the little feet in their ignorance may be hindered
from running across those pits, for the fall is into miry clay, and the
sides of the pit are slippery and very steep.

More and more as we go on, and learn our utter inability to move a
single pebble by ourselves, and the mighty power of God to upturn
mountains with a touch, we realise how infinitely important it is to
know how to pray. There is the restful prayer of committal to which the
immediate answer is peace. We could not live without this sort of
prayer; we should be crushed and overborne, and give up broken-hearted
if it were not for that peace. But the Apostle speaks of another prayer
that is wrestle, conflict, "agony." And if these little children are to
be delivered and protected after their deliverance, and trained that if
the Lord tarry and life's fierce battle has to be fought--and for them
it may be very fierce--all that will be attempted against them shall
fall harmless at their feet like arrows turned to feather-down; then
some of us must be strong to meet the powers that will combat every inch
of the field with us, and some of us must learn deeper things than we
know yet about the solemn secret of prevailing prayer.

FOOTNOTE:

[F] To-day (February 16, 1912) as I go through proofs of the second
edition, I hear by post of a young girl in a distant city who lately
escaped to a missionary, and asked for what he could not give
her--protection. She had to return to her own home. In her despair, she
drowned herself.



CHAPTER XXXV

What if she misses her Chance?

          "Who would be planted chooseth not the soil
           Or here or there, . . .
           Lord even so
           I ask one prayer,
           The which if it be granted
           It skills not where
           Thou plantest me, only I would be planted."

                                          T. E. BROWN.


TWO pictures of two evenings rise as I write. One is of an English
fireside in a country house. The lamps have been lighted, and the
curtains drawn. The air is full of the undefined scent of
chrysanthemums, and the stronger sweetness of hyacinths comes from a
stand in the window. Curled up in a roomy arm-chair by the fire sits a
girl with a kitten asleep on her lap. She is reading a missionary book.

The other this: a white carved cupola in the centre of a piece of water
enclosed by white walls. People are sitting on the walls and pressing
close about them in their thousands. A gorgeous barge is floating slowly
round the shrine. There is very little moon, but the whole place is
alight; sometimes the water is ablaze with ruby and amber; this fades,
and a weird blue-green shimmers across the barge, and electric lamps at
the corners of the square lend brilliancy to the scene. The barge is
covered with crimson trappings, and hundreds of wreaths of white
oleander hang curtain-wise round what is within--the god and goddess
decked with jewels and smothered in flowers. Round and round the barge
is poled, and in the coloured light all that is gaudy and tawdry is
toned, and becomes only oriental and impressive; and the white shrine in
the centre reflected in the calm coloured water appears in its
alternating dimness, and shining more like a fairy creation than common
handiwork.

We who were at the festival, three of us laden with packets of marked
Gospels, met sometimes as we wandered about unobserved, losing ourselves
in the crowd, that we might the more quietly continue that for which we
were there; and in one such chance meeting we spoke of the English girl
by the fireside, and longed to show her what we saw; and to show it with
such earnestness that she would be drawn to inquire where her Master had
most need of her. But no earnestness of writing can do much after all.
It is true the eye affects the heart, and we would show what we have
seen in the hope that even the second-hand sight might do something; but
words are clumsy, and cannot discover to another that poignant thing the
eye has power to transmit to the heart. And it is well that it is so,
for something stronger and more consuming than human emotion can ever be
must operate upon the heart if the life is to be moved to purpose. "A
moving story" is worth little if it only moves the feelings. How far out
of its selfish track does it move the life into ways of sacrifice? That
is the question that matters. What if it cost? Did not Calvary cost?
Away with the cold, calculating love that talks to itself about cost!
God give us a pure passion of love that knows nothing of hesitation and
grudging, and measuring, nothing of compromise! What if it seem
impossible to face all that surrender may mean? Is there not provision
for the impossible? "In the Old Testament we find that in almost every
case of people being clothed with the Spirit it was for things which
were impossible to them. To be filled with the Spirit means readiness
for Him to take us out of our present sphere and put us anywhere away
from our own choice into His choice for us." These words hold a message
alike for us as we meet and pass in that Indian crowd, and for the girl
by the fireside at home who wants to know her Lord's will that she may
do it, and whose heart's prayer is: "May Thy grace, O Lord, make that
possible to me which is impossible by nature."

Let us have done with limitations, let us be simply sincere. How ashamed
we shall be by and by of our insincerities:--

          Thy vows are on me, oh to serve Thee truly,
            Pants, pants my soul to perfectly obey!
          Burn, burn, O Fire, O Wind, now winnow throughly!
            Constrain, inspire to follow all the way!
                Oh that in me
                Thou, my Lord, may see
                Of the travail of Thy soul,
                And be satisfied.

We had only a few hours to spend in the town of the Floating Festival;
and being anxious to discover how things were among the Temple
community, I spent the first hour in their quarter, a block of
substantial buildings each in its own compound, near the Temple. I saw
the house from which two of our dearest children came, delivered by a
miracle; it looked like a fortress with its wall all round, and upstairs
balcony barred by a trellis. The street door was locked as the women
were at the Festival. In another of less dignified appearance I saw a
pretty woman of about twenty, dressed in pale blue and gold, evidently
just ready to go out. One of those abandoned beings whose function it is
to secure little children "to continue the succession" was in the house,
and so nothing could be attempted but the most casual conversation. All
the other houses in the block were locked as the women were out; but I
saw a new house outside, built in best Indian style, and finely
finished. It had been built for, and given as a free gift, to a noted
Temple woman.

These houses would open, in the missionary sense of the word, but not in
an afternoon. It would take time and careful endeavour to win an
entrance. Such a worker would need to be one whom no disappointment
could discourage, a woman to whom the word had been spoken, "Go, love,
. . . according to the love of the Lord." When will such a worker come?

As I left the Temple quarter, I met my two companions who had been at
work elsewhere, and we walked together to the place of festival.
Tripping gaily along in front was a little maid with flowers in her
hair. It was easy to know who she was, there was something in the very
step that marked the light-footed Temple child. Poor little
all-unconscious illustration of India's need of God!

Later on we saw the same illustration again, lighted up like a great
transparency, the focus for a thousand eyes. For on the daïs of the
barge, in the place of honour nearest the idols, stood three women and a
child. The women were swathed in fold upon fold of rich violet silk,
sprinkled all over with tinsel and gold; they were crowned with white
flowers, wreathed round a golden ornament like a full moon set in their
dark hair; and the effect of the whole, seen in the luminous flush of
colour thrown upon them from the shore, was as if the night sky
sparkling with stars had come down and robed them where they stood. Then
when it paled, and sheet-lightning played, as it seemed, across water
and barge and shrine, the effect was wholly mysterious. The three
swaying forms--for they swayed keeping time to the music that never
ceased--resembled one's idea of goddesses rather than familiar
womenkind. To the Indian mind it was beautiful, bewilderingly beautiful;
and the simple country-folk around drew deep breaths of admiration as
they passed.

The little girl looked more human. She too was in violet silk and
spangles and gold, and her little head was wreathed with flowers. It may
have been her first Floating Festival, for she gazed about her with eyes
full of guileless wonder, and the woman beside whom she stood laid a
light, protecting hand upon her shoulder.

That little child! How the sight of her held us in pity as the barge
sailed slowly round. She was so near to us at times that we could almost
have touched her when the barge came near the wall; and yet she was
utterly remote, miles of space might have lain between; it was as if we
and she belonged to different planets. And yet our little ones who might
have been as she, were so close--we could almost feel their loving
little arms round our necks at that moment--this child, how far away she
was! Had one of us set foot on the place where she stood, the friendly
thousands about us would have changed in a second into indignant furies,
and so long as the memory of such impiety remained no white face would
have been welcome at the Floating Festival.

We stood by the wall awhile and watched; the sorrow of it all sank into
us. There in the holiest place of all, according to their thinking,
close to the emblems of deity, they had set this grievous perversion of
the holy and the pure. Right on the topmost pinnacle of everything known
as religious there they had enthroned it, and robed it in starlight and
crowned it as queens are crowned. "Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of
holiness!" "One thing have I desired of the Lord . . . to behold the fair
beauty of the Lord"--such words open chasms of contrast. God pity them;
like those of old, they know not what they do.

We came away, our books all sold and our strength of voice spent out,
for everywhere people had listened; and as we came home, strong
thanksgiving filled our hearts, thanks and praise unspeakable for the
little lives safe in our nursery, for the two especially who but for
God's interposition might have been on that barge--and oh, from the
ground of our heart we were grateful that He had not let us miss His
will concerning these little children. We thought of those special two
with their dear little innocent ways. We could not think of them on the
barge. We could not bear to think of it--again and again we thanked God,
with humble adoring thanksgiving, that He kept us from missing our
chance.

But the mere thinking of that intolerable thought brought us back upon
another thought. What of that girl by the fireside? What if she misses
her chance? We know, for letters confess it, that many a life has missed
its chance. What of the woman, strong and keen, with pent-up energies
waiting for she knows not what? What of the girl by the fireside
crushing down the sense of an Under-call that will not let her rest? The
work to which that Call would lead her will not be anything great: it
will only mean little humble everyday doings wherever she is sent. But
if the Call is a true Call from heaven, it will change to a song as she
obeys; and through all the afterward of life, through all the loneliness
that may come, through all the disillusions when her "dreams of fair
romance which no day brings" slip away from her--and the usual and
commonplace are all about her--then and for ever that song of the Lord
will sing itself through the quiet places of her soul, and she will be
sure--with the sureness that is just pure peace--that she is where her
Master meant her to be.

Not that we would write as if obedience must always mean service in the
foreign field. We know it is not so: we know it may be quite the
opposite; but shall we not be forgiven if we sometimes wonder how it is
that with so much earnest Church life at home, with so many evangelistic
campaigns, and conventions, there is so poor an output so far as these
lands abroad are concerned? Can it be that so many are meant to stay at
home? We would never urge any individual friend to come, far less would
we plead for numbers, however great the need; we would only say this:
Will the girl by the fireside, if such a one reads this book, lay the
book aside, and spend an hour alone with her Lord? Will she, if she is
in doubt about His will, wait upon Him to show it to her? Will she ask
Him to fit her to obey? "And this I wish to do, this I desire;
whatsoever is wanting in me, do Thou, I beseech Thee, vouchsafe to
supply."

Forgive if we seem to intrude upon holy ground, but sometimes we see in
imagination some great gathering of God's people, and we hear them
singing hymns; and sometimes the beautiful words change into others not
beautiful, but only insistent:--

          The Lord our God arouse us! We are sleeping,
            Dreaming we wake, while through the heavy night
          Hardly perceived, the foe moves on unchallenged,
            Glad of the dream that doth delay the fight.
          O Christ our Captain, lead us out to battle!
            Shame on the sloth of soldiers of the light!

                 *       *       *       *       *

          Good Shepherd, Jesus, pitiful and tender,
            To whom the least of straying lambs is known,
          Grant us Thy love that wearieth not, nor faileth;
            Grant us to seek Thy wayward sheep that roam
          Far on the fell, until we find and fold them
            Safe in the love of Thee, their own true home.



CHAPTER XXXVI

"Thy Sweet Original Joy"

          Beacons of hope, ye appear!
          Languor is not in your heart,
          Weakness is not in your word,
          Weariness not on your brow.


WITHIN the last few months a friend, a lover of books, sent me _The
Trial and Death of Socrates_, translated into English by F. J. Church.
Opening it for the first time, I came upon this passage:--

_Socrates:_ "Does a man who is in training, and who is in earnest about
it, attend to the praise and blame of all men, or of the one man who is
doctor or trainer?"

_Crito:_ "He attends only to the opinion of the one man."

_Socrates:_ "Then he ought to fear the blame and welcome the praise of
the one man, not the many?"

_Crito:_ "Clearly."

And Socrates sums the argument thus: "To be brief; is it not the same in
everything?"

Surely the wise man spoke the truth: it is the same in everything. The
one thing that matters is the opinion of the One. If He is satisfied,
all is well. If He is dissatisfied, the commendation of the many is as
froth. "Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall have much peace."

But Nature is full of pictures of bright companionship in service; the
very stars shine in constellations. This book of the skies has been
opening up to us of late. Who, to whom the experience is new, will
forget the first evenings spent with even a small telescope, but
powerful enough to distinguish double stars and unveil nebulæ? You look
and see a single point of light, and you look again and twin suns float
like globes of fire on a midnight sea; and sometimes one flashes golden
yellow and the other blue, each the complement of the other, like two
perfectly responsive friends. You look and see a little lonely cloud, a
breath of transparent mist; you look and see spaces sprinkled with
diamond dust, or something even more awesome, reaches of radiance that
seem to lie on the borderland of Eternity.

And the shining glory lingers and lights up the common day, for the
story of the sky is the story of life.

          Far was the Call, and farther as I followed
          Grew there a silence round my Lord and me--

is for ever the inner story, as for ever the stars must move alone,
however close they are set in constellations or strewn in clusters; but
in another sense is it not true that there is the joy of companionship
and the pure inspiration of comradeship? God fits twin souls together
like twin suns; and sometimes, with delicate thought for even the
sensitive pleasure of colour, it is as if He arranged them so that the
gold and the blue coalesce.

And we think of the places which were once blank, mere misty nothings to
us. They sparkle now with friends. Some of them are familiar friends
known through the wear and tear of life; some we shall never see till we
meet above the stars. And there the nebula speaks its word of mystery
beyond mystery, but all illuminated by the light from the other side.

In the work of which these chapters have told there has been the
wonderful comfort of sympathy and help from fellow-missionaries of our
own and sister missions; and, as all who have read, understand, nothing
could have been done without the loyal co-operation of our Indian
fellow-workers whose tenderness and patience can never be described. We
think of the friends in the mission houses along the route of our long
journeyings; we remember how no hour was too inconvenient to receive us
and our tired baby travellers; we think of those who in weariness and
painfulness have sought for the little children; and we think of those
who have made the work possible by being God's good Ravens to us. We
think of them all, and we wish their names could be written on the cover
of this book instead of the name least worthy to be there. And now
latest and nearest comfort and blessing, there are the two new
"Sitties," whose first day with us made them one of us. What shall I
render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?

The future is full of problems. Even now in these Nursery days questions
are asked that are more easily asked than answered. We should be afraid
if we looked too far ahead, so we do not look. We spend our strength on
the day's work, the nearest "next thing" to our hands. But we would be
blind and heedless if we made no provision for the future. We want to
gather and lay up in store against that difficult time (should it ever
come) a band of friends for the children, who will stand by them in
prayer.

There has been another compelling influence. We recognise something in
the Temple-children question which touches a wider issue than the
personal or missionary. Those who have read _Queen Victoria's Letters_
must have become conscious of a certain enlargement. Questions become
great or dwindle into nothingness according as they affect the honour
and the good of the Empire. We find ourselves instinctively "thinking
Imperially," regarding things from the Throne side--from above instead
of from below.

We fear exaggerated language. We would not exaggerate the importance of
these little children or their cause. We have said that we realise, as
we did not when first this work began, how very delicate and difficult a
matter it would be for Government to take any really effective action,
and less than effective action is useless. We recognise the value of our
pledge of neutrality in religious matters, and we know what might happen
if Government moved in a line which to India might appear to be contrary
to the spirit of that pledge. It would be far better if India herself
led the way and declared, as England declared when she passed the
Industrial Schools Amendment Act of 1880, that she will not have her
little children demoralised in either Temple houses recognised as such,
or in any similar houses, such as those which abound in areas where the
Temple child nominally is non-existent. But must we wait till India
leads the way? Scattered all over the land there are men who are against
this iniquity, and would surely be in favour of such legislation as
would make for its destruction. But few would assert that the people as
a whole are even nearly ready. A great wave of the Power of God, a great
national turning towards Him, would, we know, sweep the iniquity out of
the land as the waters of the Alpheus swept the stable-valley clean, in
the old classic story. Oh for such a sudden flow of the River of God,
which is full of water! But must we wait until it comes? Did we wait
until India herself asked for the abolition of suttee? Surely what is
needed is such legislation as has been found necessary at home, which
empowers the magistrate to remove a child from a dangerous house, and
deprives parents of all parental rights who are found responsible for
its being forced into wrong. Surely such action would be Imperially
right; and can a thing right in itself and carried out with a wise
earnestness, ever eventually do harm? Must it not do good in the end,
however agitating the immediate result may appear? Surely the one calm
answer, "_It is Right_," will eventually silence all protest and still
all turbulence!

Such a law, it is well to understand at the outset, will always be
infinitely more difficult to enforce in India than in England, because
of the immensely greater difficulty here in getting true evidence; and
because--unless that River of God flow through the land--there will be
for many a year the force of public opinion as a whole against us, or if
not actively against, then inert and valueless. Caste feeling will come
in and shield and circumvent and get behind the law. The Indian
sensitiveness concerning Custom will be all awake and tingling with a
hidden but intense vitality; and this, which is inevitable because
natural, will have to be taken into account in every attempt made to
enforce the law. The whole situation bristles with difficulties; but are
difficulties an argument for doing nothing?

"Whoever buys hires or otherwise obtains possession of, whoever sells
lets to hire or otherwise disposes of any minor under sixteen with the
intent that such minor shall be employed or used for . . . any unlawful
purpose or knowing it likely that such minor will be employed or used
for any such purpose shall be liable to imprisonment up to a term of ten
years and is also liable to a fine."

_But_ where it appeared that certain minor girls were being taught
singing and dancing and were being made to accompany their grandmother
and Temple woman to the Temple with a view to qualify them as Temple
women, it was held that this did not amount to a disposal of the minors
within the meaning of the section.

Ought this interpretation of the Indian Penal Code to be possible? The
proof the law requires at present, proof of the sale of the child or its
definite dedication to the idol, is rarely obtainable. The fact that it
is being taught singing and dancing (although it is well known, as the
barrister's letter proves, that among orthodox Hindus such arts are
never taught to little children except when the intention is bad) is not
considered sufficient evidence upon which to base a conviction. To us it
seems that the presence of the child in such a house, or in any house of
known bad character, is sufficient proof that it is in danger of the
worst wrong that can be inflicted upon a defenceless child--the
demoralisation of its soul, the spoiling of its whole future life,
before it has ever had a chance to know and choose the good.

[Illustration: From the Rock, Dohnavur.]

And so we write it finally as our solemn conviction that there is need
for a law like our own English law, and we add--and those who know India
know how true this sentence is--_such legislation, however carefully
framed, will be a delusion, a blind, a dead letter, unless men of no
ordinary insight and courage and character are appointed to see that it
is carried out_.

God grant that these chapters, written in weakness, may yet do something
towards moving the Church to such prayer that the answer will be, as
once before, that an angel will be sent to open the doors of the
prison-house!

The frontispiece shows the rock to which we go sometimes when we feel
the need of a climb and a blow. It is associated in our minds with a
story:--"Between the passages by which Jonathan sought to go over unto
the Philistines' garrison there was a sharp rock on the one side and a
sharp rock on the other side. . . . And Jonathan said to the young man
that bare his armour: 'Come and let us go over unto the garrison of
these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there
is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.' And his
armour-bearer said unto him: 'Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee,
behold I am with thee according to thy heart.'"

We have a rock to climb, and there is nothing the least romantic
about it. We shall have to climb it "upon our hands and upon our feet."
It is all grim earnest. "We make our way wrapped in glamour to the
Supreme Good, the summit," writes Guido Rey, the mountaineer, in the joy
of his heart. But later it is: "One precipice fell away at my feet, and
another rose above me. . . . It was no place for singing." Friends, we
shall come to such places on the Matterhorn of life. As we follow the
Gleam wherever it leads, may we count upon the upholding of those for
whom we have written--the lovers of little children?

And now, in conclusion, all I would say has already been so perfectly
said, that I cannot do better than copy from the writings of two who
fought a good fight and have been crowned--Miss Ellice Hopkins, brave,
sensitive, soldier-soul on the hardest of life's battlefields; and
George Herbert, courtier, poet, and saint. "Often in that nameless
discouragement," wrote Miss Hopkins, as she lay slowly dying, "before
unfinished tasks, unfulfilled aims and broken efforts, I have thought of
how the creative Word has fashioned the opal, made it of the same stuff
as desert sands, mere silica--not a crystallised stone like the diamond,
but rather a stone with a broken heart, traversed by hundreds of small
fissures which let in the air, the breath, as the Spirit is called in
the Greek of our Testament; and through those two transparent mediums of
such different density it is enabled to refract the light, and reflect
every lovely hue of heaven, while at its heart burns a mysterious spot
of fire. When we feel, therefore, as I have often done, nothing but
cracks and desert dust, we can say: So God maketh His precious opal!"

We would never willingly disguise one fraction of the truth in our
desire to win sympathy and true co-operation. There will be hours of
nameless discouragement for all who climb the rock. For some there will
be the "broken heart."

And yet there is a joy that is worth it all a thousand times--well worth
it all. Who that has known it will doubt it? This reach of water
recalls it. The palms, as we look at them, seem to lift their heads in
solemn consciousness of it. For the water-side--where we stand with
those for whom we have travailed in soul, when for the first time they
publicly confess their faith in Christ--is a sacred place to us.

[Illustration: THE PLACE OF BAPTISM.]

Has our story wandered sometimes into sorrowful ways? To be true it has
to be sorrowful sometimes. We look back to the day of its beginning, the
day that our first little Temple child came and opened a new door to us.

          Since that time many a bitter storm
          My soul hath felt, e'en able to destroy,
          Had the malicious and ill-meaning harm
                  His swing and sway;
          But still Thy sweet original joy
          Sprung from Thine eye did work within my soul,
          And surging griefs when they grew bold control,
                  And got the day.

It is true. Many a bitter storm has come; there have been the shock and
the darkness of new knowledge of evil, and grief beside which all other
pain pales, the grief of helplessness in the face of unspeakable wrong.
But still, above and within, and around, like an atmosphere, like a
fountain, there has been something bright, even that "sweet original
joy" which nothing can darken or quench.

          If Thy first glance so powerful be
          A mirth but opened and sealed up again,
          What wonders shall we feel when we shall see
                Thy full-orbed love!
          When Thou shalt look us out of pain,
          And one aspect of Thine spend in delight,
          More than a thousand worlds' disburse in light
                In heaven above!

And not alone, oh, not alone, shall we see Him as He is! There will be
the little children too.

_Those who care to know how the Temple Children's work began will find
the story in_ "THINGS AS THEY ARE." _Preface by Eugene Stock; 320 pp.
and Thirty-two Illustrations from Photographs taken specially for this
work. Cloth, 2s. 6d. net (post free 2s. 10d.) Also,_ "OVERWEIGHTS OF
JOY." _Preface by Rev. T. Walker, C.M.S. With Thirty-four Illustrations
chiefly from Photographs taken specially for this work. Cloth, 2s. 6d.
net (post free 2s. 10d.), Morgan & Scott Ld., 12, Paternoster Buildings,
London._



ONLY A LIMITED NUMBER OF COPIES REMAIN

OF THE


ORIGINAL EDITION OF

LOTUS BUDS


CONTAINING

FIFTY PHOTOGRAVURE ILLUSTRATIONS.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cloth Boards, 14s. 6d. _net_ (_post free_, 15s.).

       *       *       *       *       *

"THE MOST STRIKING MISSIONARY BOOK EVER PUBLISHED."

_Her Majesty Queen Alexandra graciously accepted a copy._

          "The feature of the book is fifty photogravure
          illustrations from photographs specially taken of
          the children. Many of these--indeed, all of
          them--are very charming. Some of them are mere
          babies, others of larger growth, but in each case
          the photographer has succeeded in presenting
          pictures which will elicit high admiration. The
          laughing faces, curly hair, and fine physical
          development of the little Indians, make
          photographs exceedingly attractive. Indeed, we
          have never seen a more 'taking' series of children
          of the Orient. . . . The book will interest not only
          supporters of missions but all lovers of
          children."--_The Westminster Gazette._

          "The photogravure illustrations--fifty in
          number--are perfect as works of art. Some are
          pictures of scenery; most are characteristic
          representations of the children. All are
          full-page."--_British Weekly._

          ". . . the beautiful little faces depicted in the
          photogravures which adorn the volume. There are
          fifty of these photogravures in the book, the
          major portion being of children, and we regard it
          as extremely improbable that more splendid
          pictures are to be found in any other
          work."--_Baby._

          "The most wonderful photographs."--_Contemporary
          Review._

          "We have seldom seen more attractive illustrations
          than those of the Indian children which are here
          reproduced."--_East and West._

          "They are the finest photographs of children we
          have ever seen, and beautifully produced."--_The
          Record._

          "We must, in conclusion, compliment all concerned
          in the manner in which this appeal for the
          children has been issued--the author, the artist,
          and the publishers (Messrs. Morgan & Scott Ld.),
          having combined to produce in 'Lotus Buds' a fine
          piece of work."--_The Publishers' Circular._

       *       *       *       *       *

          MORGAN & SCOTT LD., 12, Paternoster Buildings, London, E.C.



ALSO BY AMY WILSON-CARMICHAEL

       *       *       *       *       *

THINGS AS THEY ARE: MISSION WORK IN SOUTHERN INDIA

With Preface by EUGENE STOCK. 320 pages, and Thirty-two beautiful
Illustrations from Photographs taken specially for this work. Ninth
Edition. Paper, 1s. 6d. _net_ (_post free_, 1s. 9d.); Cloth Boards,
2s. 6d. _net_ (_post free_, 2s. 10d.).

DR. A. RUDISILL, M.E. Press, Madras:--"In 'Things as They Are' are
pictured by pen and camera some things as they are. It is all the more
needful now when so many are deceived, and are being deceived, as to the
true nature of idolatry, that people at home who give and pray should be
told plainly that what Paul wrote about idolaters in Rome and Corinth is
still true of idolaters in India."

"The account of native life, of the customs of the people, of the few
pleasures they enjoy, and the many sorrows that oppress them, is as
accurate as it is lucid and entertaining. It will be well to give this
book studious attention; it is so completely sincere and so free from
prejudice; and there are many excellent illustrations after
photographs."--_Literary World._


OVERWEIGHTS OF JOY: MISSION WORK IN SOUTHERN INDIA

Preface by Rev. T. WALKER, C.M.S. 320 pages, and Thirty-four beautiful
Illustrations from Photographs taken specially for this work. Paper 1s.
6d. _net_ (_post free_, 1s. 9d.).; Cloth Boards, 2s. 6d. _net_
(_post free_, 2s. 10d.). (Companion Volume to "Things as They Are.")

"There is a life and enthusiasm and devotion, combined with literary
ability and winsomeness of style, which make the book very captivating,
as well as very touching. It is quite wonderfully illustrated with
sunsets on the Ghauts and all kinds of wonders, and withal it is a song
of spiritual triumph from a soul that feels intensely the cost of the
Cross. A book, indeed, for every Christian home."--_The Churchman._

"One of the most striking and inspiring missionary books of recent
years."--_The Christian World._


THE BEGINNING OF A STORY

Being the story of the beginning of the work among Temple children,
related for the friends of the Temple children. Bound in Art Covers,
tied with silk cord. Artistic design embossed in gold, 6d. _net_
(_post free_, 8d.).

"This little book tells a touching story. It is hoped that many who are
interested in the work on behalf of Indian children exposed to terrible
peril will circulate this booklet to further a cause which has aroused
widespread and prayerful interest."--_Irish Baptist Magazine._

"This is a delightful booklet in its attractive blue and gold covers,
and with the picture of the smiling Indian maiden looking out upon
us."--_Bible Standard._

       *       *       *       *       *

MORGAN & SCOTT LD., 12, Paternoster Buildings, London, E.C.



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

The original contained each chapter number and title on a page preceding
the actual start of the chapter. These repeated Chapter Titles were
removed to avoid redundancy.

Varied hyphenation, such as "armchair" and "arm-chair", was retained.
The Bear Garden is not hyphenated when used in titles but is hyphenated
within the text.

Page 8, "puchies" changed to "pûchies" (kill the poor pûchies)

Page 8, "puchie" changed to "pûchie" (each detested "pûchie")

Page 22, "subjeect" changed to "subject" (is the subject of)

Page 102, "Premalia" changed to "Prémalia" (scene to the Prémalia)

Page 237, "form" changed to "from" (from Bunyan's)

Page 237, "C. H." changed to "G. H." (by G. H. Morrison)

Page 238, "suprintends" changed to "superintends" (superintends the
more)

Page 256, "opportunties" changed to "opportunities" (watching for
opportunities)

Page 256, "aviod" changed to "avoid" (To avoid the Penal)

Page 298, "own their" changed to "their own" (from their own homes)





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