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Title: Beyond the Black Waters
Author: A. L. O. E.
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Beyond the Black Waters" ***

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                        BEYOND THE BLACK WATERS

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  Illustration: “_‘I would tell you everything,’ said Oscar, ‘were
                  not your peace dearer to me than my own.’_”

                                                        _Page 117._

                        BEYOND THE BLACK WATERS

                            By A. L. O. E.

  Illustration: _Oscar gave in the letter with a hand that did
                not tremble._

                                                        _Page 173._

                          T. NELSON AND SONS

                    London, Edinburgh, and New York

                        BEYOND THE BLACK WATERS

                               _A Tale_


                             A. L. O. E.,

         Author of “Pictures of St. Peter in an English Home,”
                “Driven into Exile,” “Harold’s Bride,”
                           “War and Peace,”
                                &c. &c.

                     Illustration: (‡ decoration)

                        THOMAS NELSON AND SONS
                          35 Paternoster Row

                        EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK



The title of this work would probably convey no definite idea to the
minds of most Europeans; it might be considered as merely a figurative
expression. It is otherwise with the native of Hindostan. The Black
Waters are to him those that cut off from happiness and home the
criminals of that vast region to which he belongs. Beyond the Black
Waters lie the Andaman Islands, where, at the present time, about
_thirteen thousand_ convicts of both sexes――thieves, murderers, and
murderesses――endure the punishment of exile, the due reward of their

A kind of mysterious pall seems to hang over the isles beyond the
Black Waters. The convicts are under Government protection and
Government control; nor can there be communication with them (at any
rate with those confined in jail) without Government permission. The
criminals are not treated harshly; the place of their exile is fruitful
and fair. Nature smiles upon the Andaman Islands; it is man, guilty
man, who seems to have forgotten how to smile.

To turn to a brighter part of the background of my tale: the stories
of the Karens, their traditions, and of the remarkable man who stands
amongst them conspicuous as a lighthouse at night, are no invention of
mine. These belong to fact and not to fiction. If I would fain awaken
pity for the sinners, I would also kindle admiration for the saints,
and a keener and more practical interest in England and America for
missionary labours in the lands of the East.



































                       BEYOND THE BLACK WATERS.

                              CHAPTER I.

                            NEWLY ARRIVED.

“You’ll see it, Mr. Lawrence, you’ll see it――everything will be changed
in England now that the old king is dead and the sailor William on the
throne. The people are mad for changes, and shout for reform, as if it
meant bread to their butter, or rather beef-steaks and plum-pudding.”

“But the Duke――” began Mr. Lawrence; but Dr. Pinfold cut him short ere
he could finish the sentence.

“The Iron Duke is facing the mob like a man, but he’ll have to give
way to popular excitement. Westminster is not Waterloo; let Londoners
roar as they will, he can’t say, ‘Up, Guards, and at them.’ The Duke
can no more stem the current than he can stop with his field-marshal’s
baton one of those new-fangled monster engines which crushed out poor
Huskisson’s life.”

The two gentlemen who were discoursing on politics were the chaplain
of Moulmein and the doctor of the station. Their path was along a
cactus-bordered road, where every here and there the plantain waved
its broad green leaves aloft, as if proud of the heavy clusters of
fruit forming below. The two men were very different in appearance:
the clergyman was small, slight, pale, and fair-haired; the doctor
was somewhat portly, with grizzled eyebrows and a copious beard. He
was full of the subject of politics, to which Mr. Lawrence gave very
divided attention.

“Every ship from England brings stirring tidings,” continued the doctor.
“Have you seen the papers to-day?”

“Not yet,” replied the chaplain. “I was rather absorbed in the perusal
of home letters. I am by no means indifferent to what is passing in
the dear old island at the other end of the world; but the sounds of
political changes, roaring mobs, and exciting orations in London, only
reach me here at Moulmein as the distant plash of surges breaking on
the shore.”

“So it is,” observed the doctor philosophically. “What is near always
affects us most, a button close to the eye shuts out the landscape,
and excludes even the sun. It is of more importance to me that my
_bhansamar_ should cook my _pillau_ to my taste than that the Tories
should secure a majority in the House. Perhaps your small parish here
in Moulmein (if it can be called a parish at all)――your handful of
soldiers, and a few scattered Europeans, take up more of your attention
than the affairs of England, with Scotland and Ireland to boot.”

“Perhaps so,” replied the chaplain; “but my interest in what concerns
Siam and Burmah is by no means confined to what you call my parish
in Moulmein. I have hearty sympathy to give to our American brethren,
labouring nobly and successfully amongst the native races.”

“The natives!” repeated Dr. Pinfold in a tone of contempt. “Do you
think that all the praying and preaching in the world can wash the
niggers white, or get the blackness out of their blood? The Yankees
could as easily turn pomegranates into potatoes, or make monkeys into

Mark Lawrence held a different opinion, but he saw that there would be
no use at that time in pressing his views on the cheerful, corpulent
doctor, from whom his own button of personal comfort shut out the
view of anything of a higher nature. Dr. Pinfold’s favourite maxim was
_Live, and let live_: the first, and to him more important, part of the
proverb meaning what is called _good-living_――not a mere seat, but a
well-cushioned chair; not simple food, but a banquet, washed down with
old wine. It must be owned that the second clause of the proverb was
by no means forgotten. Dr. Pinfold was popular as a medical man; and
not without reason, for he was not only clever in his profession, but
he took a pleasure in curing his patients. Pinfold liked to relieve
pain, and to see people happy; and he had a feeling of general goodwill
towards all his fellow-countrymen which passed for benevolence, though
his charity was ever of the kind which begins at home, and is limited
to a conveniently small circle beyond it.

“I wish to know something of the family who arrived yesterday from
England _via_ Calcutta――the Coldstreams, to whom you are going to
introduce me,” said Mark Lawrence, changing the subject of conversation.
“I think that we are now approaching their bungalow; a very pleasant
dwelling it appears to be.”

“It’s a capital house,” observed the doctor; “there’s not a prettier
one in Moulmein. It is fitted up too with perfect taste; for, you see,
Oscar Coldstream arranged everything himself, and built and ornamented
the house for the girl to whom he was engaged, whom he has just brought
out as his wife. Coldstream came out first, two years ago, to get
everything ready; a sensible plan, to my mind, for it is folly to bring
a pretty girl still in her teens to face all sorts of discomforts in a
heathenish country like this.”

“What sort of man is Mr. Coldstream?” inquired Mark Lawrence. “I like
to know every member of my flock.”

“Oscar Coldstream is not much like a sheep,” said the doctor gaily;
“more like a vigorous, energetic shepherd, who, like the Jewish hero,
could catch a lion by the beard or conquer a giant one day, and sing
psalms all the next.”

The young chaplain’s rather melancholy face brightened with pleasure.
“I may find in him a helper then,” he observed.

“Yes; Coldstream is one of _your_ sort,” said Pinfold, with a
slight emphasis on the pronoun which implied “not one of _my_ sort.”
“But he’s a good fellow, a right good fellow, notwithstanding a
little Puritanical strictness. Coldstream is a capital shot; he is a
first-rate companion on a shooting expedition――can tell you a story
to set you in roars of laughter, and is more lively on cold water than
most men are when sipping good wine. He does a good business down at
the wharf, and has no lack of rupees to jingle. I saw a good deal of
Coldstream last year,” continued Dr. Pinfold; “for I am an old friend
of the Thorns, the family into which he was going to marry. I had
played with his lady-love before she was out of baby-clothes. I used
to carry her round and round the room perched on my shoulder. I was
proud to act _gee-gee_ to the dimpled, laughing, dark-eyed child, whose
chubby hand grasped my shaggy poll as her rein. Ha! ha! ha! how missie
urged me to speed by vigorous movements of her tiny foot encased in its
dainty pink kid shoe! That merry child and I were grand playmates; and
even when she was promoted to pinafores, and her clustering curls were
imprisoned in braids, Io delighted to challenge me to a game. I see
her now――dodging me round chairs, defying me to catch her, hiding, and
then betraying her hiding-place by an irrepressible laugh. Coldstream
thoroughly enjoyed my long stories about his betrothed. My friendship
with the Thorns was the one grand link between us; for if ever a
man was over head and ears in love, that man was Oscar Coldstream.
Certainly Io is worthy of any man’s love.”

“And now Mr. Coldstream is a happy married man,” observed Lawrence,
perhaps with something of envy, for his own hopes had been blighted by
one of the letters received from England.

“A married man certainly,” replied Dr. Pinfold, “but whether happy
or not I cannot yet tell, as I have only seen the pair once since they
landed. I went down to the wharf to welcome them to their new home
in Moulmein. You know that the ship arrived only yesterday evening.
I had not much more time than to shake hands, say a little appropriate
nonsense to the pretty little bride, and help to look after the luggage.
I shall know more about the wedded couple when I have seen them in
their own house.”

“Mr. Coldstream no doubt looked very happy,” said the chaplain. “He has
everything to make life bright.”

“He looked very much changed,” said the doctor, with a grave expression
on his usually cheerful face. “Coldstream hardly seemed to be the same
man as he who, in the wildest spirits, not a year ago, embarked in
the ship bound for old England. Such a buoyant step was his, such a
sparkling eye, as if the cup of joy awaiting him intoxicated him by
anticipation! Certainly there is a difference now.”

“What kind of difference?” asked Mark Lawrence.

“The difference between a handsome lamp lighted, and the flame turned
up high, and the same lamp turned down, almost extinguished. Oscar
looked like his own elder brother――a grave, thoughtful man; not in the
least like a jolly bridegroom.”

“Perhaps he was ill,” suggested the chaplain.

“He said not, for I asked him the question. Then the bonnie bride told
me that Coldstream had been very ill just before his marriage, but that
he had long ago recovered his health. I’ve my doubts about that――my
doubts about that,” continued the doctor, slightly shaking his head in
a professional way. “People don’t lose flesh and colour at Coldstream’s
age if there’s nothing the matter. I should like to have asked some
questions; found out the state of his――. But here we are at the house,
and yonder’s a _koi-hai_ to take in your card. I shall not waste my bit
of pasteboard; none is needed when you call on a young lady who knows
your name as well as her own. I shall be Io’s ‘_Doctor Pinny_’ to the
end of the chapter.”

                              CHAPTER II.

                             THE PRODIGY.

The two visitors were conducted through a long veranda, paved with a
delicate mosaic of many-coloured tiles, and overhung with blossoming

“Coldstream planted every one of these with his own hand,” observed
the doctor, as his companion stopped for a moment to admire a specially
magnificent creeper. “His lady-love always delighted in flowers. She
used, when a child, to stick one into each of my button-holes; and
would have hung daisy-chains round my neck, but that I was impatient
of fetters, even when forged by pretty, plump, dimpled hands.” Dr.
Pinfold’s face always wore a benevolent expression when he thought of
the little godchild who had been dear to the old bachelor, and whose
innocent affection had been his best tie to his fellow-creatures.

The visitors then entered a pleasant apartment, which looked shady and
cool after the glare outside. The white walls were ornamented with the
graceful arabesque designs in painting in which Oriental artists excel.
There were on them also a few choice water-colour drawings, executed
by Mr. Coldstream himself. He had considerable artistic talent, and
had been stimulated to make finished pictures from rough sketches taken
in England, that his bride might have pleasant reminders of home. The
skins of a tiger, a bear, and two leopards, brought down by Oscar’s gun,
were spread as rugs on the matted floor.

Dr. Pinfold looked around for his friends, but the sole occupant of the
apartment was a lad about sixteen or seventeen years of age, who, with
a large book open before him, sat with his chin resting on the palms
of his thick hands. The youth seemed to be so much absorbed in what he
was studying, that he at first hardly noticed the entrance of visitors.
Dr. Pinfold on seeing him uttered an exclamation of astonishment rather
than of pleasure.

“Why, Thud, _you_ here! is it possible?” cried the doctor, moving
forward and holding out his hand.

The lad who was thus addressed rose slowly, lazily, advanced two steps,
and then rather touched than shook the extended hand, almost with the
air of one who grudges the trouble of exchanging common civilities.

“What on earth brought you here?” exclaimed Pinfold.

“Of course one must travel if one wishes to absorb new ideas; science

“Oh, never mind science just now,” cried the doctor. “Did you come with
your brother and sister?”

“I came with my sister and her husband,” was the reply. Thud was
glancing at his open book as he spoke, as if he thought time lost in
such commonplace conversation.

“How was it that I did not see you yesterday, Thud, when I went to the
ship? I did not notice you when I was overhauling the luggage.”

“I was not going to overhaul luggage,” said Thud, with a touch of
contempt in his tone. “I got out of the noise and racket as soon as
I could, and took a stroll on the beach to look for conchological

“Just like you――just like you,” muttered the doctor; “always out of the
way when anything useful is to be done.”

“I’m sometimes in the way,” said Thud.

“You never said a truer word in your life, my boy!” cried the doctor
laughing. “You are very frequently _in the way_ of others.”

Thud did not look angry; he was too perfectly satisfied with himself to
be sensitive to satire. To hit the lad was like thumping a bag of wool.
In looking at Thud the chaplain was irresistibly reminded of an owl.
A somewhat beaked nose in the midst of a full round face, half-closed
eyes under rounded brows, a low forehead surmounted by a mop of
hay-coloured hair, with a trick peculiar to Thud of poising his head
a little on one side when any idea of peculiar magnitude weighed on
his brain, made him resemble the bird of Minerva. The large head was
planted, almost without the intervention of neck, on a short, thick
figure, the legs being particularly curtailed in length. Thud was not,
however, a dwarf; and he had a good opinion of his own appearance, as
well as of everything else appertaining to himself.

“Where are Mr. Coldstream and Io?” asked the doctor.

“Don’t know,” was the curt reply; then the young sage condescended to
add, “I s’pose they’ve gone out.”

“You’ll please to find them,” said the doctor a little tartly. “Tell
Coldstream that our chaplain, the Rev. Mark Lawrence, has called
to see him; and let Io know that her old friend is waiting.――Pray,
Mr. Lawrence, take a seat.”

“I’ll send a servant――” began Thud.

“No, sir, you’ll please to go yourself,” said the doctor; “you are more
likely to find the pair, and more able to explain who have come to see
them, than any native could be. Besides, you could not give a message
in any tongue but your own; though I daresay that Io has learned a good
deal of the language during the voyage from England.”

Thud again gave a regretful glance at his book, then slowly and
unwillingly quitted the room. The only notice which he took of the
chaplain as he passed him was shown by an awkward nod of the head.

“That most unmitigated owl!” exclaimed the doctor, throwing himself
into the most luxurious lounging-chair in the room. “What could
have induced Oscar Coldstream to hamper himself with such an incubus
as that? It has been one of his magnanimous acts of self-denial.
Coldstream has wished to relieve his bride’s widowed mother of the
burden of supporting, the worry of trying to manage a conceited, lazy
fellow, who is ready enough to eat, and then spout scientific nonsense,
but who has never earned a penny in his life, and is never likely to
earn one. I see now why poor Coldstream looks so grave and gloomy. I
guess that Sindbad the sailor did not feel very lively with the old
man of the sea on his back, and Thud would be an even more intolerable
burden to any sensible man. Coldstream had, I’ll be bound, flared up
at some piece of arrogant folly, and――for he has pepper and mustard
in him――given his precious brother-in-law a good set down, or maybe a
well-earned box on the ear; then Oscar had seen Io look vexed, and had
reproached himself for being hard on the owl, and had ended by begging
his pardon! Coldstream is absurdly conscientious. I can tell you a
curious anecdote which shows the nature of the man. Some time last
year one of his assistants made a very provoking blunder in a shipping
account. Coldstream thought it something worse than a blunder, and
taxed the fellow, in the presence of some half a dozen of us, with
cooking the accounts. It appeared afterwards, on examination, that the
man had been only a fool, not a knave. Would you believe it? Coldstream
collected together every individual who had heard his hasty accusation,
and in the presence of all made a public apology to his own assistant!
I call such conduct a little absurd.”

“Honourable――generous!” was the comment of the young chaplain. “I feel
impatient to be introduced to your friend.”

“You’ll find Coldstream a decided improvement on Thud,” observed
Dr. Pinfold smiling.

“How came the lad by such an uncommon name?” asked Lawrence.

“His real name is Thucydides Thorn,” replied Pinfold. “His father,
my old school-fellow, was a somewhat eccentric fellow, like his
boy. However, he resembled Thud only in this, that he wanted to do
everything in a different way from every one else. Beaten paths were
Tom Thorn’s aversion; he would rather flounder through a bog than walk
along a highway. There is a little smack of vanity in this, I take it,
Mr. Lawrence; but Tom Thorn was really a clever man. Happily he married
a sensible sort of woman, who minded his house, and was not put out
if her husband sat up all night star-gazing, or forgot his dinner when
studying a Greek poem. Your genius should never marry a genius; one
partner in the matrimonial firm should serve as ballast, if the other
be all inflated sail.”

Pinfold paused, and the chaplain’s faint smile expressed assent. Then
the doctor went on with his story.

“The first child born was a girl. Tom Thorn did not think much of
the little creature who came when he was translating Euripides and
disturbed him by her squalling: she was called Jane, after her mother.
The father was a bit disappointed that the little brat was not a boy.
Then came a second girl――another disappointment; but she turned out
to be a little beauty, so Thorn consoled himself by giving her the
classic name of Io. I thought the name absurd, till some twenty months
afterwards I heard it from the cherry lips of the little prattler who
bore it. Io always made two distinct syllables of the two letters,
leaning on the first; and I found that the word was charming. One
day――she was just four years old, and wearing her pink birthday
sash――Io came running to me with the grand news that some one, she
thought perhaps an angel, had brought her a baby brother. The little
pet’s eyes sparkled with joy; she danced about the room with delight:
she could not know that poor Thud was hardly the gift that an angel
would be likely to bring. This boy, whom Thorn expected to turn out a
genius, was christened Thucydides, this being a name which ‘nobody can
speak, and nobody can spell.’ It was soon shortened to Thud. So Thud,
theoretical Thud, the boy will be to the end of his days.”

“I suppose, from what I have seen and heard of the lad, that it
was rather the father than the mother who conducted his education,”
observed Mr. Lawrence.

“Education!” repeated the doctor, with a very significant compression
of his full lips and a turning down of the corners of his mouth.
“Thud was fed on polysyllables instead of pap, caught the trick of his
father’s dogmatic manner, and lisped nonsense with the air of a Solon.
Of course the boy was too clever to be much troubled with a Primer;
I think his found its way into the fire. When Thud could neither
read nor write he was watching his father’s scientific experiments;
for with Thorn, who was an erratic genius, classics had given way
to science, and his whole mind was full of theories about electric
currents. I remember his boy at dinner one day (we were never free from
his presence and prating at meals), when the pudding had been somewhat
burnt in the oven. Master Thud (he still wore a bib) pushed away his
plate, and gave out his authoritative dictum, ‘Pudding ought to be
cooked by electricity.’ Thorn looked with parental pride on his hopeful
prodigy. ‘Depend upon it, Pinfold,’ he said to me across the table,
‘that boy will make his mark.’ I could not help making the sarcastic
observation, ‘Folk who make their mark are those who don’t know how to
write.’ Then turning towards the little prig――‘What do you know about
electricity?’ I asked. ‘I knows _all_ about the electric――’ The boy
stopped; the ‘currents’ would not come to the juvenile memory. But
Thud never lost his self-assurance. ‘I knows all about the electric
_gooseberries_’ came out, as if all the wisdom of a Newton were crammed
into that heavy head. We all burst out laughing, Thud laughing the
loudest of all. I believe that he thought that he had said a remarkably
clever thing. Ha! ha! ha!”

“I daresay that electric gooseberries became proverbial in the family,”
observed the chaplain smiling.

“This is but a specimen anecdote,” continued the doctor. “Master
Thucydides Thud was always

                 ‘As who should say, I am Sir Oracle,
                  And when I speak――let no dog bark.’

And Coldstream has actually brought out this owl to hoot in Moulmein!”

                             CHAPTER III.

                            DEAD OR ALIVE?

The conversation was interrupted by the return of Thud, who seemed
to be slightly excited, though his visage usually expressed nothing
but self-satisfaction, the solemn look befitting one with an inward
consciousness that he was seated in a professor’s chair to enlighten
the world with his wisdom.

“What’s the matter, boy?” asked the doctor quickly. “Where are Io and
her husband?”

“Looking after a wretched native woman whom an ox has gored and
trampled upon,” replied Thud. “If Oscar had not rushed up and broken
his umbrella over the brute, the woman would have been killed outright.
I think that she _is_ killed,” continued the lad, “or more than half.
You never saw such a horrid rush of blood from the wound! Io tied
her silk scarf round the woman to stop it;――the scarf will have
to be thrown away. ’Tis no use to try to save the creature. I’ve
a theory,”――Thud had relapsed into his natural, or rather unnatural
manner,――“that when people are at the last gasp it’s better to leave
them to die in peace.”

“We’ll remember your counsel when an ox gores you,” said the doctor
tartly. He had risen from his seat on hearing of the accident, taken up
his solar topi and umbrella, and was about to start with the chaplain
to see if his surgical skill could avail.

“No use in going out; they are all coming into the veranda,” said Thud.
“I informed them that the doctor was here.”

Dr. Pinfold gave rapid orders to a native servant who was waiting
outside regarding things which might be needed in a surgical case.
Whilst he was speaking, Oscar, with another man, bore into the veranda
the slight form of a Karen woman. Her long black hair hung over Mr.
Coldstream’s supporting shoulder, her garments were dabbled with blood,
her eyes were closed; the poor creature gave no sign of life, not
even a groan. A little Karen girl, some ten or twelve years of age,
weeping as if her heart would break, hung over the _charpai_ on which
her mother was now laid――the simple light bedstead which is so easily
carried, and which in the East seems to be always at hand. It had been
brought from a servant’s house in the compound by the order of Oscar.

“Bring water――brandy!” cried Dr. Pinfold. Io was off in a moment and
quickly brought both, whilst the doctor was examining the fearful wound
of the patient. The glass was put to the poor woman’s lips, but they
did not unclose; the liquid ran down on either side of the mouth, not a
drop was taken in. The eyes under those heavy lids would never see the
daylight again.

“No use; all’s over――she’s gone!” said Dr. Pinfold, after pressing his
fingers on her wrist to feel the pulse which no longer beat. He saw
that the woman was dead. “Nothing remains to be done but to carry off
the body for burial.”

“So soon!” exclaimed Io in a tone of expostulation. “Is it not possible
that life may linger?”

“Life is quite extinct,” said the doctor.

“She is deceased――annihilated――I told you so,” joined in Thud.

“We bury quickly in these latitudes,” observed Dr. Pinfold; “and it
would not be well to keep a corpse in the house to which Coldstream has
just brought his bride.”

“See, the veranda is desecrated by blood-stains,” said Thud, “and so is
Io’s apparel.”

“Go and change it, my love,” cried Oscar with a look of pain almost
amounting to horror.

“A few minutes――just let me stay a few minutes to try to comfort this
poor child,” said Io. “Let me try to find out from her whether she has
a father, brother, any protector, or whether she is alone in this wide,
wide world.” Putting her arm round the sobbing girl, Io spoke to her
in tender tones and in her own language, to the great surprise of Dr.
Pinfold. Io’s words were evidently understood; for while preparations
were being made for the removal of the corpse, Io drew from the young
Karen the fact that she had no father, no relation――that to her that
dead mother had indeed been all in all. The girl clung to the body
with wild tenacity, heedless of all that the chaplain, doctor, or
Oscar could say; yet, with a kind of instinctive obedience, loosened
her hold when Io laid her white hand on the brown one. Then the
child fell weeping at the feet of the lady, and kissed the hem of her
blood-stained robe.

“O Oscar dearest, if we can find no relation, will you not let me adopt
this poor child?” said Mrs. Coldstream, her bright eyes dewy with tears.

“Do whatever your kind heart prompts you to do,” was her husband’s
reply. “Your will is law here. The girl shall be brought up as your
little attendant.”

Io persuaded the young Karen to follow her to her own apartment, and
Oscar and Mr. Lawrence made arrangements for the removal of the body on
the _charpai_. The two Englishmen needed no introduction to each other,
meeting, as they did, under such solemn circumstances beside the form
of the dead. Mark Lawrence had been prepared to like Mr. Coldstream;
and now Oscar’s brave though fruitless attempt to save a poor native,
and the fact that he had himself carried her lifeless body, roused a
feeling of admiration in the heart of the lonely pastor which seemed
certain to warm into friendship. Mark thought that he had at last
found one to share his interests and cares, some one whose sympathy
would lighten his burdens. He looked at the high pale brow and the
fine features of Coldstream, and felt that he had never met with so
interesting a man. Oscar’s gentle courtesy to his wife had not escaped
the chaplain’s notice; and Mark silently thanked God for having sent to
Moulmein a pair whose friendship might, even to a disappointed man like
himself, make life a less sad and weary thing.

The two gentlemen went out to walk together, and Thud chose to make an
unwelcome third. Oscar and Mark found their conversation perpetually
interrupted by pedantic remark or tiresome question. Thud wanted to
give Mr. Lawrence an early impression of his own remarkable sagacity
and knowledge, and only succeeded in producing a conviction that
Coldstream must be a model of self-denial to make his roof-tree a perch
for such a self-conceited owl.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                         THE MYSTERIOUS CLOUD.

“I’ll wait and see Io and have a talk with her,” said Dr. Pinfold, as
he again made himself comfortable in the easy-chair, after possessing
himself of a newspaper which happened to lie on the table. It was
full of political articles and news, but just then politics had
little attraction for Dr. Pinfold. He was thinking a great deal of his
god-daughter Io――recalling the old times when she used to sit on his
knee, and dive in his pocket for the sweets which he took care that she
should find there. Pinfold wanted a long talk, a confidential talk with
his favourite, and was as much relieved by the absence of Thud as the
other gentlemen were troubled by his presence.

Io did not know that her old friend was waiting, and it was some time
before she made her appearance in fluttering garments white as snow,
over which fell her auburn ringlets. The fair lady smiled with pleasure
at finding her old doctor still in the room, and took a low seat close
beside him.

“She looks lovelier than ever,” thought Dr. Pinfold.

“It was very good in you to wait so long,” said Mrs. Coldstream. “I
have kept you an unreasonable time, but I could not quiet the poor
child at once. Now she has cried herself to sleep.”

“How is it that you could talk to her, my rosebud?” asked the doctor.
“I was astonished to hear you speak Karen. I know hardly anything of
that language myself, just enough to ask a few medical questions when
Karens find their way to the dispensary. These people are scattered
amongst the Siamese and Burmese like poppies amongst corn.”

“Which are the poppies, which the corn?” asked Io in her old playful
way. “From what Oscar has told me, it seems that these Karens are a
race whom both Siamese and Burmese conspire to oppress, but who are
more to be trusted than either.”

“It may be so,” said the doctor.

“My smattering of their language is easily accounted for,” continued
Io. “On my husband’s first return to England, nearly three years ago,
he brought with him a little Karen boy, whom he had rescued from some
horrid Siamese tyrant. After our engagement, when Oscar was obliged
to return to Moulmein, he left this boy in my charge, the poor little
fellow being too ill to travel.”

“A kind of big keepsake to keep your lover in mind, I suppose,”
observed Pinfold, “like a miniature framed in ebony.”

“I liked the child for his own sake as well as his master’s,” said Io.
“I talked a great deal with him, taught him something, and he taught me
his language in return. I was sorry that he only knew Karen, for that
is not what is most spoken here; but I thought that to learn it was
better than learning nothing, and, curiously enough, the first native
in Moulmein with whom I have to do is a Karen. You cannot think how
much pleased I was when I found myself understood by the motherless

“You’ll be making a match one of these days between your two brown
_protégés_,” said the doctor gaily.

“Ah no; the poor dear boy sleeps in an English churchyard,” replied Io
with a sigh. “Oscar has had a little monument placed over his grave――a
cross, for the boy died a Christian.”

“Well, now, let us speak of Oscar himself,” said the doctor, who felt
little interest in the death and burial of a brown Karen boy. “I want
you to answer some questions about his health, for he has grown paler,
and thinner, and graver. It is not natural that a man should look ten
years older in less than ten months. Do you think that your husband is

The doctor almost wished the question unspoken, for it brought such a
look of distress to his favourite’s face. Io, however, answered clearly
and distinctly every interrogation; she had been longing to consult her
experienced old friend.

“Eats as usual, you say; complains of no pain; can take a great deal of
exercise; seems to have lost no physical strength! How do you account
for his altered looks?”

“I suppose that I must tell you everything, dear godfather,” said Io,
resting her clasped hands on the arm of the doctor’s chair; “indeed it
is a great comfort to be able to consult you. How often I have wished
to do so when you were far away! You know how happy, how very happy
we were at the time of our engagement, for you were in England then,
before Oscar returned to Moulmein.”

“You both seemed perfectly satisfied with the number which you had
drawn in life’s lottery,” said the doctor smiling; “till the gilding
wears off the prize, I suppose that lovers usually are so. Coldstream
was certainly proud of what he had won, and bore with a fair amount of
philosophy all the jests and banter of your madcap cousin Walter Manly.”

“Ah, poor Walter!” sighed Io; then she continued her narration:――“Of
course our first parting was a great trial, but I need not dwell
upon that; we looked forward to meeting again, and the arrival of
Oscar’s letters was a frequent source of delight. At last the time of
separation drew to a close. Oscar wrote, ‘I shall, please God, arrive
almost as soon as this letter. Be sure that you send me a welcome by
the pilot.’ We knew that Oscar would land at Dover, for our house was
scarce two miles from the castle. I need not say how I counted the days,
how I watched every large vessel coming up the Channel. As we could not
tell the exact time when the _Argus_ would arrive, I prepared a long
letter to be sent to the office at Portsmouth to greet Oscar before he
should quit the vessel, as it was arranged that the pilot should take
it. A very long journal letter it was――”

“Containing sweet things, as the white comb holds honey?” asked the
playful doctor.

Io slightly blushed as she replied, “There were all sorts of things
in my letter: scraps of news――whatever amused me, and I thought
would amuse Oscar. I remember that I wrote of various friends, and of
presents which I had received. I told of the favourite hunter on which
Walter won the steeplechase――”

“Ah, that Walter!” interrupted the doctor; “I prophesied years ago that
he would break his neck in some wild prank!”

“Your prophecy came but too true,” said Io sadly. “You must have heard
of the foolish bet which cost him his life.”

“Ay, ay; he would climb up some inaccessible cliff,” observed Pinfold.
“I read about it in the papers at the time. But let us return to the
subject of Oscar.”

“We had arranged that a swift messenger should bring us instant news
when the _Argus_ came in sight,” continued Io; “but a sea-fog prevented
the vessel’s being seen until she was almost in port;――she was to touch
at Dover on her way up Channel. Not many minutes elapsed between my
hearing of Oscar’s arrival and my seeing him myself.”

“You had a joyful meeting of course,” said the doctor.

Io’s head drooped, and she pressed her hand over her dark eyes, as if
to hide some painful object. She was for some moments unable to speak.

“You must tell me all,” said the doctor. “How can a medical man
possibly judge of a case unless he knows all the symptoms?”

Io, with her eyes still covered, made reply in a hurried, tremulous

“I shall never forget that evening. It was about an hour after sunset,
and dark, but the servant was bringing in the lamps. A wild February
wind had succeeded the fog――such a boisterous wind; it disturbed me,
for I was straining my ear to catch the sound of a messenger’s feet,
and the howling and shrieking of the blast which had suddenly risen
drowned all other noises. It seemed an instinct which made me run to
the hall door and open it. I was almost thrown down by the gust which
rushed in and extinguished the lamp which I held in my hand. But there
was the messenger indeed, and I thought of――cared for――nothing else.
I cried, ‘Is the _Argus_ in?’ I could scarcely make the question heard,
but the answer made me the happiest woman on earth. I flew to my mother
and sister, and proposed that we should all go forth and meet the
newly arrived, for he would not tarry on the way. My mother and Jane
expostulated, and spoke of the storm, which was increasing; but I
rather enjoyed the rough weather, for the wind had speeded the _Argus_.”

Pinfold suspected, and with reason, that Io lingered over these
unnecessary details in order to postpone some painful disclosure.
As she paused with a gasp, he observed, “I suppose that your lover
appeared before you had persuaded your good mother to go forth in the
darkness and storm.”

“He appeared,” said Io, and paused again.

“How did he appear? I really must know,” said the doctor.

“It was dreadful――too dreadful to tell,” faltered Io. “The hall was
dark, except for light which came from a room that was sheltered from
the wild wind. A form came――almost staggered in; I could scarcely see
the face, but I knew that it was Oscar’s. ‘Oh, I am so glad that you
have come!’ I exclaimed, running to meet him. ‘_Are you glad?_’ he
cried, in a voice quite unlike his own. Oscar caught hold of both my
wrists, as if to push me from him, stumbled, and fell down at my feet,
almost dragging me down in his fall.”

“Extraordinary, most extraordinary!” exclaimed the doctor; “do you
think that he was in a fit?”

“Something like it, I suppose, for Oscar had to be raised, like a dead
weight, and carried into the drawing-room, which we had just left, and
laid on the sofa. Of course we sent at once for the nearest medical man,
who bled him at once.”

“That looked like a fit,” observed Pinfold. “Did the bleeding soon
bring him to himself?”

“Yes; Oscar awoke, but it was a terrible awaking. I do not like to
speak, even to think of that fearful night and the painful days which
followed.” Io’s voice was choked by a sob, and tear-drops forced their
way between the slender fingers which concealed the upper part of her

“I want to know the symptoms of the disease;――I suppose that you helped
to nurse him. Was Coldstream like one suffering from brain-fever?”
asked the doctor.

“He would not let me nurse him,” murmured Io, in an almost inaudible
voice; “he could not endure to have me near him――that was the worst
trial of all.”

Dr. Pinfold looked exceedingly grave; his experience told him that this
symptom was of a very alarming nature. As a medical man, he knew that
hatred shown towards the very being once most tenderly loved is a not
unfrequent sign of madness.

“My poor child!” said Dr. Pinfold, as he laid his hand gently on the
soft auburn ringlets of the young head drooping beside him; “how long
did this painful phase of the malady last?”

“It seemed to me for ages,” said Io, “but I believe for not many days.
I used to wander in misery up and down the passage into which opened
the door which I dared not enter. My mother, herself suffering from a
recent bereavement, nursed my Oscar. Everything that could possibly
excite or distress him was kept from him. He was not told of the death
in our family; nor of the breaking of the bank in which all our small
property had been lodged, so that, except my mother’s trifling pension,
absolutely nothing remained. Oscar knew not of our trouble, our poverty.
He never asked questions; he scarcely ever uttered a word.”

“Madness,” said the doctor to himself, then he asked the question aloud,
“What broke this spell of silence?”

“I went one day into our little parlour to get pen and ink to write a
note to the medical man. I saw papers of Thud’s lying about,――he often
writes on scraps or backs of letters. My eyes fell on a sealed letter
which I recognized at once. Its outside was scribbled all over with
some calculation made by Thud, but I knew my own handwriting in the
address. The letter was directed to O. Coldstream, Esq., passenger on
board the _Argus_; to be forwarded by the pilot-boat. The letter had
never been opened――never sent; Thud had forgotten to take it to the

“He deserved to have his neck wrung!” cried the indignant doctor. “What
did you do on discovering your letter?”

Io uncovered her eyes; she looked pale, but her manner was calmer than
before. “The sight of that letter gave me a gleam of hope,” she said.
“I could now see some kind of reason for Oscar’s displeasure. I had
promised to write by the pilot, and I had apparently broken my word.”

“An absurd reason for a man’s behaving like a maniac,” said Dr. Pinfold;
“but those in love sometimes act like fools. What did you do when you
found the letter?”

“I said to myself, ‘This is my last chance of regaining his――what
I have lost. I _will_ venture into the room; I _will_ have a full

“Go on, go on,” said Pinfold, with impatient interest.

“Oscar was seated writing at a table, for he was not then confined to
a sick-bed; indeed he hardly ever went to sleep, but, night and day,
paced up and down his apartment. Summoning all the courage I could,
I walked straight up to Oscar,――I felt my life’s happiness was at
stake,――and I silently laid my letter on the table before him. Oscar
started at the sight of the address, and eagerly, almost passionately,
tore the letter open. His hand trembled violently as he read the
contents. I could not see his face, for I stood behind him; but Oscar
knew that I was there. Suddenly he started up from his seat and faced
me. ‘You did then love me!’ he exclaimed. ‘More than life,’ I answered.
‘Oh that I had received this before!’ cried Oscar, with a sound like a
convulsive sob; and he took me into his arms――to his heart.”

“Now, this is a very romantic story, very,” said Dr. Pinfold, speaking
partly to give Io time to recover from her agitation; “but to an old
bachelor like myself it seems incomprehensible that a man, a sensible
man too, should make himself and every one else wretched merely because
a letter miscarried. Dry your eyes, dear, and tell me the rest. I
suppose that after the explanation all went merry as a marriage bell.”

“More like a funeral bell,” sighed Io. “Oscar became well――that is,
he recovered his bodily health, but not his spirits. He joined us
in the sitting-room, he was willing to have me constantly near him,
but he never asked me to settle a time for our marriage. Oscar never
even entered on the subject; which distressed my poor mother, who was
beginning to be in actual straits. Then my mother and Jane consulted
together, and agreed that Oscar must be told of the breaking of the
bank and the loss of our fortunes. It was only honourable to let him
know that if he wedded me at all, it would be as a portionless bride.
Of course I was anxious that Oscar should be made aware of our losses.”

“How did he take the news?” asked the doctor.

“Hearing of our poverty seemed to be to him almost a consolation. With
more animation than he had shown in his manner since his illness, my
dear generous Oscar told me how much gratified he would be if my mother
would permit him to settle on her an annual allowance, and, to give him
some right to such a privilege, he asked if I would name a day when he
might call me his wife.”

“Just like him――just like him,” said Pinfold; “and Coldstream cumbered
himself with your precious brother into the bargain.”

“That was such a relief to my mother,” said Io. “Oscar promised to
help to educate Thud himself, and to try to procure for him some little
employment here.”

“And that after the fellow had played you such an owlish trick with
the letter!” exclaimed Pinfold. “I should have been tempted to kick him
downstairs. And how did Master Thud get on with his studies under your
husband?” The doctor wanted to coax a smile into his god-daughter’s

“Not very well, I must confess. The studies were begun on board ship,
and Oscar was wonderfully patient; but when he attempted to teach, Thud
was determined to argue. I believe that he considers himself to be a
good deal more clever than Oscar. Thud says that philosophers are born,
not made.”

“The only way to make that boy do anything for his own living is to
treat him as they do young dogs,――fling him into the middle of a pond
to teach him to swim.”

“But what if the poor dog should sink?” observed Io.

“Likely enough, with a mill-stone of nonsensical theories hanging
about his neck,” cried the doctor; “but there is no other plan that
has a chance of success. Turn Thud out of your comfortable house, for
he will never work as long as he can eat good mutton at your table,
without even the trouble of carving the slice. But now, let’s return
to the subject of your wedding,” continued Pinfold, for, looking at
Coldstream’s conduct from a medical point of view, he was anxious for
precise information.

“Ours was a very, very quiet wedding,” said Io gravely.

“But Coldstream did not do anything――very peculiar?” inquired the
medical man.

“No,” said Io, with a little hesitation; “only, when he took my hand
in church,――it was on a hot day in June,――his felt cold as ice, cold
as the hand of a corpse.”

“Strange, very strange!” muttered Pinfold under his breath, as he tried
to recall to mind any similar case. “Do you see any change in him as
regards other matters?” he asked, looking keenly at the young wife.

“No――except――I’d rather not say,” replied Io, a flush rising to her
pale cheek.

“But it is as a medical adviser that I wish to know all,” said Pinfold.

“This has nothing to do with medical matters. I do not wish to say more;
I have had as much as I can bear,” said Io, rising from her low seat.

The doctor felt that it was time to end the interview, which had caused
a most painful strain on his young friend. He also rose, and bade Io
good-bye in his own lively manner, which, however, was a little forced
on the present occasion. The good-natured doctor looked grave enough as
he passed through the flower-mantled veranda.

“Poor fellow! poor fellow!” he muttered to himself. “I never heard that
there was insanity in the Coldstream family. I must try to find out;
but it would be awkward to ask a man like Mr. Coldstream whether either
of his parents was ever in a lunatic asylum. Perhaps Oscar had a touch
of the sun during his voyage in the _Argus_. I should like to question
on this point one of his fellow-passengers. As good luck will have it,
yonder comes Pogson, who went home in that vessel on short leave to see
a sick mother. I’ll hail him, and ask a question or two, to decide the
point of sunstroke. If Coldstream had a sharp one, that might account
for all.”

The young man called Pogson, a clerk in Government employ, approached,
taking a cigar from his mouth to return the greeting of the doctor.

“Pogson, you went home in the _Argus_ with Coldstream?” said Pinfold,
almost as soon as the two met.

“Yes, we went home together; but I had to return earlier than he did,”
was Pogson’s reply.

“Had Coldstream any illness, anything like sunstroke on the voyage?”
asked the doctor.

“Not he; no one had better health,” replied Pogson.

“But he was a bit melancholy, perhaps――had occasional fits of

Pogson burst out laughing at the question. “Coldstream was merry as a
lark,” he said. “He was the life and soul of our party.”

“Then there must be a taint of hereditary madness,” mused Pinfold,
as he again went on his way. “I don’t pretend to be a saint, like
Coldstream, but I do say this for myself, that had I been in his place
I would not have done so unprincipled, so cruel a thing as to have
linked my fortunes with those of a bright, happy, trusting young
creature like Io!”

                              CHAPTER V.

                          ANCIENT TRADITIONS.

Io had been obliged in her interview with a medical adviser to give
a detailed account of occurrences which had caused her the keenest
pain; she had had to draw back a curtain to reveal a picture of the
past on which it was agony to gaze. But Io’s naturally bright and
buoyant disposition did not allow her to nurse her griefs for the past
and her fears for the future, as some sufferers seem to find a morbid
satisfaction in doing. The curtain was dropped again over the picture
of woe. “Let the past be――as far as possible――forgotten; and for
the future,” thus mused Io, “is there not a pitying Father who hath
promised that all things shall work together for good to them that love
Him? Can I not trust that promise, and so lay down my burden of fears?
I have so much, so very much, to make me thankful and happy. I am the
cherished wife of one of the noblest of men. Oscar has wonderfully
recovered from his distressing illness, and though everything is not
yet bright, I believe――yes, I do believe――that joy is coming. I will
trust, and not be afraid; but oh! I would give all that I have in the
world to hear Oscar laugh again.”

Io was like the fair lily which refuses to sink though the waters
encompass it around. It lifts its bright head above them all, and
smiles in the face of the sun. It even covers over those dark waters
with the verdant leaves of hope; and if some drops, like tears, rest
on the spreading leaves, even those tears, like diamonds, glitter in
the light. It seemed less impossible to Io than it is to most people to
_rejoice always_, for her trustful, restful spirit had found the secret
of peace.

Mrs. Coldstream had also a perpetual source of pleasure in giving
pleasure, of comfort in comforting others. She found delight in
receiving the poor Karen as a gift from God. Mah-A (Io shortened the
name to Maha) was something to cherish, to make happy, to lead to
God, even as the Karen boy had been. Io was not self-absorbed; she
knew little of that concentration of the mind on one’s own desires,
pleasures, even failings, which perpetually drives the mind back on
the centre of self. The natural flow of Io’s thoughts was outward and
upward――towards the many whom she loved upon earth, and the One whom
she worshipped in heaven. Thus Io rarely lacked something to make her
happy, and she was constantly adding to the happiness of others.

Poor bereaved Maha could not resist the fascination of that loving
manner, that winsome smile, which was to her sore heart like balm on a
bleeding wound. The young Karen intuitively clung to her young mistress,
and delighted to sit at her feet. As Maha looked up trustfully into
Io’s face, Mrs. Coldstream thought that the dark eyes raised towards
her were lovely; that there was beauty in the clearly-pencilled
eyebrows and the fine, albeit tangled, black hair. Perhaps others would
not have thought Maha pretty――Thud called her a flat-nosed fright――but
none could deny that the young Karen’s figure was perfectly formed, and
that her movements were graceful. The girl’s voice, too, was soft and

“I am going to try to teach Maha a little about our blessed religion,”
said Io to her husband one morning at breakfast.

“I’ve a theory that natives cannot understand anything that they cannot
manipulate with their hands and masticate with their teeth,” was the
formal dictum of Thud. “They cannot even imagine a god unless they see
some hideous image with black face and half-a-dozen arms.”

“Karens are said to be free from idolatry,” was Coldstream’s quiet

“Oh, people may say so, but I don’t believe it,” said Thucydides Thorn.
“I’m trying to discover why all brown and black skinned nations worship
idols.” Thud’s head was poised a little on one side, for this was a
weighty subject.

“You had better make sure that your theory, whatever it may be, is
founded on facts,” observed Coldstream.

“Theories first, facts come afterwards,” said Thud solemnly――an
observation which made Oscar faintly smile, and Io burst into a silvery

“You will next have a theory that trees should be planted root upwards,
and people walk on their heads!” cried she.

“You need not laugh,” said Thud, a little offended; “you women know
nothing of logic. I can prove my assertion to be correct. Pray, which
comes first――a thought, or an act?”

“The thought, if it prompt the act,” replied Io.

“There, I have caught you!” cried Thud triumphantly. “Theories are
thoughts, and acts are facts; so facts must be founded on theories,
not theories on facts;” and confident that he had gained a victory, and
said something very logical and clever, Thucydides quitted the room,
carrying his heavy head as high as his very short neck would allow.

After attending to household arrangements, Io called her dear little
Karen to take her first Scripture lesson. “I had better commence from
the beginning,” thought the lady, as she placed her large picture book
on the sofa open at the representation of the serpent tempting Eve.
Maha took her seat on the ground at her lady’s feet, and surveyed the
picture――the first which she ever had seen――with grave and thoughtful

“I am going to tell you a little of what is written in God’s great
book, the Bible,” began Io in broken Karen, which was, however, almost
always intelligible to the young girl. “I am going to tell you how sin
and sorrow came into the world. You see the woman in the picture: she
was the first who ever lived on earth, and she is our mother――yours and
mine. She lived with her husband in a beautiful garden. God placed them
there――the great God who made and who loves us all.”

“I know that story,” said Maha quietly. “All we Karens who come from
Bassein know it; our fathers told it to us, as their fathers told it to

“What did they tell?” asked Io with interest, wondering whether it were
possible that any legend of the Fall could exist amongst a race who,
but a short time before, had not even a written language.

“Does the sahiba wish to hear the whole story of the first man and
woman who lived in the garden?” asked Maha.

“Tell me everything that you know,” said Mrs. Coldstream.

Maha began in a half-chanting tone the following legend,[1] to which,
as she went on, her lady listened not only with curiosity, but with
great pleasure and surprise:

“God created man. And of what did He create man? He created man at
first from earth. The creation of man was finished. He created a woman.
How did He create a woman? He took a rib out of the man and created
again a woman. The creation of woman was finished.”

“Why, this is just what is written in the Bible!” cried Io. “Who taught
you to read the holy Book?”

“We had no books; we knew nothing. It was like that,” said Maha in
her natural tone, pointing to a ladder which was leaning against a
pillar in the veranda. Maha rose, went to the spot, placed her hand
on the ground, and said, “This is Maha;” then touching the first rung,
“this father;” the second, “this father’s father; up, up, fathers and
fathers――no count. I don’t know who was the top one――that father long,
long way off, perhaps right up in the clouds.”

“In the cloud of antiquity indeed,” thought Io. “I must hear more of
this legend. Come back here, Maha; sing me the rest of your song.”

Maha obeyed at once, resumed her place at Io’s feet, and with an
occasional glance at the picture beside her, went on in the same
chanting tone:――

“Father God said, ‘My son and daughter, your Father will make and give
you a garden. In the garden are seven different kinds of trees bearing
seven different kinds of fruit; among the seven one is not good to eat.
Eat not of its fruit; if you eat you will become old and will die: eat
not. All I have created I give to you. Eat and drink with care. Once in
seven days I will visit you. All I have commanded you, observe and do.
Forget me not. Pray to me every morning and night.’”

“Every _seven_ days!” thought Io to herself. “Have we amongst these
poor natives a trace of the institution of the Sabbath, when man should
specially meet his God?――Go on, my child,” she said aloud.

“I shall have to tell you of a very bad king,” said Maha; “that
is Ku-plau [_the deceiver_], but some call him Yaw-kaw [_the
neck-trodden_].” It was not till afterwards that Io learned the meaning
of these strangely appropriate titles given to the enemy of man. We
shall change them to the name of Satan, as being more familiar to
English readers.

“Afterwards Satan came and said, ‘Why are you here?’――‘Our Father
God put us here,’ they replied.――‘What do you eat here?’ Satan
inquired.――‘Our Father God created food and drink for us, food without
end.’――Satan said, ‘Show me your food.’ And they went, with Satan
following behind them, to show him. On arriving at the garden, they
showed him the fruits, saying, ‘This is sweet, this is sour, this is
bitter, this is sharp [astringent], this is savoury, this is fiery; but
this tree, we know not whether it is sour or sweet. Our Father God said
to us, “Eat not of the fruit of this tree; if you eat you will die.” We
eat not, and do not know whether it be sour or sweet.’”

As she sang Maha touched the fruit which appeared on the tree in the
picture, evidently connecting it with that in her legend.

“And what did Satan say to the man and woman?” asked Io.

“Very bad words,” answered the girl, and she then went on with her

“Satan replied, ‘The heart of your Father God is not with you. This is
the richest and sweetest; it is richer than the others, sweeter than
the others. And not merely richer and sweeter, but if you eat it you
will possess miraculous powers: you will be able to ascend into heaven
and descend into the earth; you will be able to fly. The heart of your
God is not with you. The desirable thing he has not given you. I love
you, and tell you the whole. Your Father God does not love you; he did
not tell you the whole. If you do not believe me, do not eat it. Let
each one eat carefully a single fruit, then you will know.’ The man
replied, ‘Our Father God said to us, “Eat not the fruit of this tree,”
and we eat not.’ Thus saying he rose up and went away.”

“How wonderfully this legend accords with what St. Paul reveals to us!”
thought Io. “‘_Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was
in the transgression._’”

“Is the sahiba tired of my song?” asked Maha.

“Oh no; I like extremely to hear it,” was Mrs. Coldstream’s reply.

Again rose the soft Karen chant:――

“But the woman listened to Satan, and thinking what he said was rather
proper, remained. Satan deceived her completely, and she said to him,
‘If we eat, shall we indeed be able to fly?’――‘My son and daughter,’
said Satan, ‘I persuade you because I love you.’ The woman took of the
fruit and ate. Satan laughing said, ‘My daughter, you listen to me well;
now go, give the fruit to your husband and say to him, “I have eaten
the fruit; it is exceedingly rich.” If he does not eat, deceive him
that he may eat.’ The woman, doing as Satan told her, went and coaxed
her husband, till she won him over to her own mind, and he took the
fruit from the hand of his wife and ate. When he had eaten, she went
to Satan and said, ‘My husband has eaten the fruit.’ On hearing that he
laughed exceedingly, and said, ‘Now you have listened to me; very good,
my son and daughter.’”

“Is there any more?” inquired Io, as Maha paused.

“A great deal more, but I did not learn to the end. I can sing what I

“The day after they had eaten, early in the morning God visited them;
but they did not, as they had been wont to do, follow Him with praises.
He approached them and said, ‘Why have you eaten of the fruit of the
tree that I commanded you not to eat?’ They did not dare to reply, and
God cursed them. ‘Now you have not observed what I commanded you,’ He
said. ‘The fruit that is not good to eat I told you not to eat; but you
have not listened, and have eaten, therefore you shall become old, you
shall be sick, you shall die.’”

“That is all that I know well,” said Maha; “but father told me how
Satan taught the man and woman to worship demons and sacrifice pigs.
Our first old father forbade his children and grandchildren to do such
bad things.”

“How wonderful is this legend!” thought Io; “it describes the Fall far
more naturally than our great Milton ever did. One could fancy that in
exactly such words Eve told the sad story to her two little boys, Cain
and Abel.” Then the lady said aloud, “Did your great old father tell
you anything of the Flood?”

“I don’t know much about that, only very little,” replied Maha. “There
is one song something like this: ‘It thundered; tempests followed;
it rained three days and three nights, and the waters covered all the
mountains.’ I did not like that story so well as that of the woman and

Io asked a few more questions, but found Maha utterly ignorant of
anything else contained in the Scriptures, except some dim tradition
of men separating because they did not love each other. “Their language
became different,” said the girl, resuming her chanting tone, “and they
became enemies to each other and fought.”

Io kissed her little pupil, and sent her to play with a kitten. “It is
I, not Maha, who have been the learner to-day,” thought the lady.

                              CHAPTER VI.

                           MODERN THEORIES.

On that day the dinner of the Coldstreams, partaken of an hour or two
before sunset, was shared by the chaplain and the doctor. Conversation
flowed freely before the party sat down to the meal, Pinfold and Thud,
as usual, taking a prominent part; but when the actual business of
eating commenced, the two, being the most busily engaged with their
knives and forks, became the most silent of those at the table. During
the latter part of the social meal Io gave a rather full account of the
traditions embodied in the song of the young Karen. She was listened
to with an amount of interest varying with the different characters of
those who heard her.

“This is most curious, most interesting,” observed Coldstream. “To have
such a full, independent account of the Fall is such a confirmation of
the record contained in the book of Genesis as may well silence infidel

“I don’t see that,” quoth pragmatical Thud, speaking with his mouth
full of pudding. “Of course these Karens got that story of theirs from

“Pardon me,” said Mr. Lawrence politely; “the tradition of the Fall,
and a good many others, existed before a Christian had set his foot in
Burmah, Siam, or Pegu.”

“I found that Maha knows nothing at all about our Saviour,” observed Io,
“and Christians would assuredly have spoken of Him.”

Thud was not easily put down. “Then the Karens got their old stories
from Jews,” he said authoritatively. “Jews are always wandering about,
and turning up in every country under the sun.”

“Permit me again to correct you,” said the chaplain. “I happen to have
made some researches amongst Karen traditions, and I find that they
do not contain the slightest allusion to either Abraham or Moses. This
shows that the ancestor whose accounts they rehearse must have lived
at a yet more remote period. No son of Abraham would have omitted all
mention of the father of the faithful, or of the great lawgiver Moses.
The traditions cannot have come from the Jews.”

Thud was not yet beaten from his ground. “The traditions came from Jews
who were not descended from Abraham,” he boldly asserted.

The clergyman and Oscar exchanged glances; Io smiled; Dr. Pinfold burst
into a roar of laughter. “You’re a rare scholar, you are,” he exclaimed
to Thud.

“I’m glad that you’ve found that out at last,” said Thud with
perfect gravity, as if he had received a well-merited compliment.
This misapprehension of the doctor’s playful satire made Pinfold throw
himself back in his chair with a louder explosion of mirth than the

“Thucydides Thorn, if I die of apoplexy from a fit of laughing, my
death will lie at your door!” cried the doctor as soon as he had
recovered some amount of gravity. He pushed back his chair and rose
from the table. “Excuse me, Io. I must be off to a patient; I’ve a leg
to cut off while the daylight lasts.――Mr. Coldstream, look after that
sage brother-in-law of yours; if you don’t get him into regular harness
quickly, he’ll die of theories on the brain.” As Dr. Pinfold walked
along the veranda he was heard laughing to himself still, though the
words which he muttered did not reach their subject――“O Thucydides
Thorn, thou art indeed an incomparable owl!”

“Dr. Pinfold gives sound advice, Thud,” said Oscar; “it is high time
that you should be harnessed to regular work. I am afraid that you have
not even begun to study the language.”

“Oh! no need to study it; I’ll drink it in,” replied Thud, with
sublime indifference to anything like reproof. “I’ve a theory that
language floats about in the air in invisible globules, like cholera or
small-pox. We don’t set babies to learn grammar or idioms; they catch
them exactly as they catch measles.”

“It is a pity that Dr. Pinfold is not here to benefit by your medical
theory,” said Io playfully.

“Dr. Pinfold is a man of very dull wit; he cannot take my theories in,”
said the learned Thud. “I don’t like a fellow who is always cutting
stupid jokes: when he wishes to laugh at nothing he laughs at me.”

“Surely you do not reckon yourself _nothing_,” observed Io.

Thud did not see the point of the observation, so went on with his
explanation of the nature of speech. “My theory about the existence
of a variety of languages is this,”――the head of the speaker inclined
to its position of deep thought as he went on after a pause,――“every
country has its peculiar language, just as it has its peculiar _fauna_
and _flora_: we don’t meet with alligators in Oxford Street, or gather
buttercups at the North Pole. When tribes of ancient times wandered to
India, Japan, or England, they gradually, by absorbing air-globules in
each region, breathed them out again in various tongues.”

The chaplain slightly raised his eye-brows in surprise on hearing
notions so original propounded in so solemn a manner.

Io observed, “We have a very different reason for the confusion of
tongues given in the Bible.”

“Oh, the Bible is an antiquated book,” said the owl; “the present
enlightened age demands fresh theories and ideas.”

“Boy!” exclaimed Oscar Coldstream sternly, “take off the shoes of thy
folly when treading on holy ground.”

Even Thud looked somewhat startled at his brother-in-law’s unexpected
rebuke. The soul of Io was quivering with joy, as when the chalice of
the white water-lily trembles in the soft south breeze. Her joy was
not on account of Thud’s receiving a well-earned reproof, though she
thought that it might do him good; it was because her husband had been
able and willing to give it. Oscar, since his illness, had appeared so
crushed that he had almost lost not only his spirits but his spirit.
Even Thud had never roused him to a display of indignation till now.

“That flash of anger was just like the gleam of lightning which tells
us that longed-for rain is coming!” thought the hopeful young wife.
“Oscar, my darling, looked almost like his former self for a moment;
and he spoke in defence of God’s Word. Oh, all will be well yet; we
shall be so happy again!”

Thud was by no means so well pleased as his sister. To be called a boy,
and reprimanded for folly, was more than the poor owl could bear. “I
am going out,” he said sulkily, rising and moving towards the door,
but not before providently filling one of his hands with almonds and
raisins from the dish before him.

“Stay,” said Oscar in a milder tone: “I want to come to a clear
understanding with you, Thud, about this matter of work; for I am sure
that Dr. Pinfold is right in saying that you should now be put into
harness, and do something to gain your own living. I am willing, as far
as possible, to indulge your natural tastes and inclination. For what
kind of employment do you think yourself most fit?”

“I should fit a good many,” replied Thud, “but the mischief is that
they do not fit me.”

“What do you think would suit you?” asked Oscar.

Thud reflected for a few moments, and then sententiously replied, “I
should like the charge of an elephant-stud.”

“There is no elephant-stud in Moulmein,” observed Oscar Coldstream.

“I’ve seen elephants here,” said Thucydides Thorn.

“I think that the rajah has three,” observed the chaplain.

“I know of no other here but the one employed at the wharf.”

“And why should you wish to have charge of elephants, Thud?” asked Io

“I wish it because I want to substantiate a theory which I have
formed about the proboscis of the elephant,” said Thud, with his air
of most profound reflection. “I believe that the proboscis is but an
elongated snout, developed and gradually lengthened by cultivation and
civilization――or rather, I may say, by practical science.”

“O Thud, Thud, you are joking!” cried Io.

“I am not joking at all; I scorn jokes!” said Thucydides Thorn. “You
women understand nothing about development. Man can alter the shapes of
living organizations to an indefinite extent. Look at China: did nature
form the tiny feet of its women? See how English ladies can gradually,
by tight-lacing, alter their figures till they resemble wasps. I tell
you, science can work unimagined wonders. Man saw that elephants would
be far more useful creatures if possessing something like a hand,
something that could hold and pull――not a mere snout that could only
grub in the ground. Gradually, slowly no doubt, the transformation was
effected; I will make it my business to find out in what way.”

“How is your theory to be reconciled with the fact that the wild
elephant possesses a proboscis?” asked Mr. Lawrence with a smile.

“I deny the fact,” said Thud. “I believe the elephant to be only a
large species of a highly-developed pig, and that the wild one has only
a good long snout.”

“You can easily test your theory,” observed the chaplain, “for one
of the elephants of the rajah is quite untamed; it was caught in the
jungle only last week.”

“I’ll be off and see it at once,” said Thud, moving more quickly
than he usually did, for he desired no repetition of the conversation
regarding putting him into harness.

“I shall send the boy to the warehouse to-morrow morning,” said Oscar
Coldstream. “I will place him under my clerk Smith, appoint Thud a
certain task to perform before dinner-time, and let him understand that
he is not expected back here until the task is finished.”

“I rather pity Smith,” thought the chaplain; “it is no easy task to
bring such a born philosopher to submit to being harnessed.”

                             CHAPTER VII.

                        EXPECTED AND WELCOMED.

The Coldstreams and their guest now adjourned into the veranda to
enjoy the evening air, and the golden glow on foliage and flower
which gives such a charm to the sunset hour in the East. Io brought
out her work; she was knitting a delicate shawl for her mother. The
young matron felt tranquilly happy. She was much pleased to see the
friendship which appeared to be already growing up between her husband
and the fair-haired, gentle and earnest chaplain.

“It is just what Oscar needed,” thought Io, as her fingers plied the
ivory needles, whilst her eyes rested on the two gentlemen conversing
together. “My husband required a brother-like, pious friend with whom
to speak freely on religious subjects――one whose pleasant society may
rouse him at last from his mysterious sadness. Mr. Lawrence will be to
Oscar in spiritual things what dear old Dr. Pinny will be in matters
relating to health. My beloved one will gradually――oh, may Heaven grant
it!――recover his natural tone of mind. I shall take care to invite the
good chaplain very often to the house. I like his quiet, unobtrusive
manner; he is just the person to win the confidence of my husband.”

The conversation in the veranda chiefly related to the curious
traditions existing amongst the Karens. Mark Lawrence had made them
his study, and they had beguiled many an hour that might otherwise
have been sad and lonely. The young chaplain had hitherto met with
no kindred spirit in the limited society of Moulmein. Full of earnest
devotion himself, and a warm sympathizer in the missionary cause,
Mark had been discouraged by the difficulty of imbuing others with his
own zeal; it was like dragging a heavy load up a hill. The easy-going
worldliness of the doctor, the carelessness of Pogson, the stolidity
of Cottle, the vulgar loquacity of his wife, made Mark often sadly
contrast his position in Moulmein with the happy life which he had
led in England in a rural parish where he had almost as many friends
as hearers, and where he was a member of a large family circle.
Now and then the chaplain had met with missionaries whose names are
still honoured and whose work still flourishes. Those days had been
red-letter days to Mark Lawrence; but they had been “few and far
between”――little oases in a dull, sandy plain. Now, in the accomplished,
highly-educated young merchant who had come to reside in Moulmein, the
chaplain thought that he had found a real friend――one who would join
with him in every labour of love.

“You were much struck, I saw at the tradition of the Fall,” said
Mr. Lawrence to Oscar; “but still more curious, at least to my mind,
are the prophecies which amongst the Karens have been handed down from
father to son during ages which no one is able to count.”

“What kind of prophecies?” asked Oscar.

“Mysterious foretellings of both the first and second Advent of
our Lord,” was the reply,――“foretellings which force us on to the
conclusion that the ancient ancestor of this singular race must have
been a kind of post-diluvian Enoch, inspired by the Spirit of Truth.”

“You greatly raise my curiosity,” said Oscar. “Can you remember any of
these remarkable predictions?”

“Hear the following, which I have committed to memory as well as
written down,” replied Mr. Lawrence. “What I am about to repeat seems
clearly to relate to a Divine Being appearing in great humility on
earth:――‘Before God comes, Satan will come deceiving men; but follow
him not, children and grandchildren. After Satan will come One with
scarcely clothes enough to cover Him. Follow Him; that one is God. When
God comes, He will take the appearance of the poorest of men, and will
dress in rags. Follow Him!’”

“Oh, is it not as if the ancient sage had caught the sound of the
Saviour’s then unuttered words――_Follow Me!_” exclaimed Io.

“_The poorest of men_,” repeated Oscar meditatively; “He who had not
where to lay His head!”

“But you said that there is a prophecy of the second Advent also,”
cried Io. “If you can remember it, pray repeat it.”

“The ancient prophet bursts into a triumphant song which has a
true Advent ring about it,” said the chaplain; and with animation he
repeated a translation of the Karen poem:――

             “God comes down, comes down,
              God descends, descends;
              He comes――blowing a trumpet:
      Blowing He gathers men, like the flowers of the areca,
      Sounding He gathers people, like the flowers of the areca;
              The glittering, the angels of Heaven,
              The dazzling, the angels of Heaven,
          The great trumpet that God comes blowing,
          The great one that strikes the golden harp.”

“That is glorious!” exclaimed Io, with kindling eyes. “We might set
that translation to music and sing it in church.”

“Such traditions must have wonderfully prepared the way for Christian
missionaries,” observed Oscar.

“They did indeed,” replied the chaplain. “The Word of God was received
and welcomed too; for there was a prophecy that something was coming
which would affect the destiny of the Karen race. This curious prophecy
runs thus: ‘Children and grandchildren, if the thing come by land,
weep; if by water, laugh. It will not come in our days, but it will in

“The English came by water!” exclaimed Io.

“Yes; and they came bringing the Word of Life. The once down-trodden
Karens joyously sang:――

             ‘The sons of God, the white foreigners,
              Dress in shining black and shining white;
              The sons of God, the white foreigners,
              Obtained the words of God.’

The gospel,” continued the chaplain, “has made rapid progress amongst
the Karens, and the work, as far as I know, seems to be thorough and

“I shall take double pleasure in teaching my little Maha now,”
observed Io. “I shall not regard her as one of a savage race, but as
the descendant of some ancient mysterious prophet who, like Enoch,
walked with God.”

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                              A REFUSAL.

The conversation was here interrupted by the return of Thucydides
Thorn, who came hastily into the veranda. It needed a good deal to
disturb the calm self-assurance which his round, heavy countenance
habitually showed, but he now looked rather pale and excited.

“What is the matter, Thud?” cried Io. “Has the rajah’s wild elephant
being playing on you any prank?”

“I have an idea that we are going to have a rising of the blacks,” said
Thud, in a very serious tone. “Passing through the bazaar, I heard a
furious rebel haranguing the mob, who listened open-mouthed while he
preached rebellion.”

“How do you know that he preached rebellion?” asked Oscar.

“I could tell it by his flashing eyes and his eager speech. Crowds
gathered round him, fascinated by his wild gestures. Take my word for
it, that man was inciting the niggers to cut all our throats.”

“What sort of a man was the orator in appearance?” asked Lawrence,
looking rather interested than alarmed.

“He is not young――about fifty or sixty years old,” was the reply; “he
was just a common native.”

“A very _uncommon_ native,” said Mr. Lawrence, “if you have seen, as
I have reason to suppose, the Karen apostle, Ko Thah Byu. I have been
expecting him to pass through Moulmein, and am heartily glad that he
has come. I shall feel my house honoured if that Karen evangelist sleep
to-night under my roof.”

“He does not look as if he were much accustomed to sleep under roofs,”
observed Thud. “I daresay that the beggar has seldom had anything
better than a tree over his head.”

“You judge correctly,” said Mr. Lawrence. “Ko Thah Byu was originally
but a village boy, and he was afterwards the servant of Mr. Hough, and
then of a native Christian.”

“I daresay that he was a bad servant,” observed Thud, who was rather
annoyed at his dangerous rebel and incendiary proving to be nothing but
a harmless preacher.

“Again you are right, Mr. Thorn,” said the chaplain: “the now devoted
Christian was, before his conversion, a very bad servant and a very
bad man. But when Ko Thah Byu became a believer in Christ, he also
gradually became an altered character. If there ever were in this dark
land a devoted and successful evangelist, that evangelist is Ko Thah

“I daresay that he is successful in taking in missionaries,” remarked
Thud; “they will find him out to be a hypocrite in the end.”

Io saw that both the gentlemen looked annoyed at the idle remark, and
she made a diversion in the conversation.

“Thud, you know less of missions and converts than of natural history,”
she playfully observed. “Tell us the result of your scientific
researches to-day. Had the wild elephant a trunk, or a snout according
to your new theory?”

Thud looked sulky but not disconcerted. “_This_ one had a proboscis,”
he reluctantly owned; “but exceptions prove the rule.”

“Oh, own yourself beaten for once!” cried Io.

Thud never owned himself beaten, but to avoid being further pressed
he availed himself of the usual resource of the vanquished, and beat
a retreat.

“I wish, Mr. Lawrence,” said Oscar, “that you would take that boy a
little in hand. He does not seem to care for his sister’s advice and

“But no doubt the youth receives religious teaching from yourself,”
observed Mr. Lawrence.

“No; I never speak on spiritual subjects,” was the grave, almost stern
reply, and Oscar rose from his seat as he made it.

The chaplain looked greatly surprised. “I have heard of your taking a
lead in religious exercises,” he said.

“I never do so now,” answered Coldstream in the same constrained tone,
looking on the ground as he spoke.

“I hope――I do hope, that you will kindly make an exception in my favour
to-morrow,” said the young clergyman. “I have a little Saturday meeting;
it is but poorly attended, but I trust that a blessing may be granted
at last. If you would kindly conduct it to-morrow, some might come
to hear you who would not cross the road to listen to me. I own that
I speak selfishly,” continued Mr. Lawrence, a slight flush rising to
his cheek. “I have long looked forward to the pleasure and privilege
of spending one day with Ko Thah Byu――of accompanying him as he goes
preaching in the villages around, and listening to the untutored
eloquence which has such power with the natives. To-morrow may be my
single opportunity of gratifying this long-cherished wish, and the
only obstacle to my going is this little Saturday meeting. If you would
consent to take it――” Lawrence turned towards Mrs. Coldstream with the
intention of asking her to further his request, and was almost startled
by seeing her gaze of intense anxiety, as with her eyes riveted on her
husband she waited to hear his reply.

“I cannot――I will not speak on the subject of religion,” said Oscar,
still looking on the ground.

“But, dear friend――let me call you so,” pleaded the chaplain――“I have
heard of the power of your addresses. In refusing to speak for the
Master may you not be burying a talent, may you not be hiding a light?”

Then Oscar raised his eyes to meet the gaze of Mark Lawrence. The
gloomy expression in them was such as the chaplain could never forget,
or the bitterness of the tone in which Coldstream replied to his
friend’s remonstrance: “Would you think it meet to take an unrinsed
glass from a publican’s counter and use it as a chalice?” Then, without
waiting for a reply, Oscar turned on his heel and strode out of the
veranda into the garden beyond.

“Is the poor fellow insane?” thought the chaplain.

“O Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Lawrence, do not let this make you misjudge my
husband!” exclaimed Io in bitter distress; “he is one of the best――yes,
one of the most religious of men!” The poor lady was unconsciously
wringing her hands as she spoke.

“I would not willingly misjudge any one,” said the chaplain gently,
“especially one for whom I already feel respect and regard.”

“You cannot respect him too much,” said the wife; “I cannot think
why my husband should speak as he did.” Io could not bear to tell the
chaplain what she had concealed from the doctor, of that which was the
bitterest trial which she had had to endure in her married life. Oscar
had refused to conduct even family prayer, though he daily read the
Bible to Thud and herself. Coldstream was willing that his wife should
pray; he never restrained her devotions either by look or word; but he
seemed to be kept back by some invisible and incomprehensible barrier
from audibly joining in them himself.

There was a painful pause for several minutes, which was broken by Mr.
Lawrence. The chaplain had risen to take his leave, but was arrested by
a thought which had just occurred to his mind.

“Perhaps it is Mr. Coldstream’s very great conscientiousness, his
shrinking from anything approaching to hypocrisy, that makes him act
in this way,” suggested the clergyman.

“You think so?” asked Io anxiously, like one catching at a straw of
hope. “All seems to me so dark.”

“Perhaps I may throw a little gleam of light on the cause of Mr.
Coldstream’s depression,” said the pitying chaplain. “I believe that
early this year he returned to England in the _Argus_, in which ship
Mr. Pogson was his fellow-passenger. May I ask whether your husband has
spoken much regarding that voyage?”

“He has never said a word to me about it,” was Io’s reply; “I never
even heard the name of Mr. Pogson.”

“I am not surprised at that,” observed Mr. Lawrence; “there would
be little in common between Mr. Coldstream and Pogson. The young man
holds a small Government appointment, and this year, like your husband,
paid a short visit to England, from whence he returned a few weeks
ago. Pogson told me of another passenger in the _Argus_, a Mr. Mace,
whom I happen to know. Mr. Mace is a clever man, but unhappily quite
a freethinker. Pogson informed me that Mr. Mace used often to discuss
religious questions with Mr. Coldstream.”

“My husband would never be overcome in argument by a freethinker,”
exclaimed the young wife.

“Probably not,” was the chaplain’s reply; “but infidels fight with
poisoned weapons, and even a scratch, so to speak, on a mind so
delicately conscientious as that of your husband would be likely to
fester and cause acute pain.”

“It would indeed,” said Io.

“Had Mr. Coldstream any doubt, however slight, on a point regarding
Christian doctrine, he might make it a point of honour, even of
conscience, not to make much profession of piety until that doubt
should quite disappear.”

“Oh, thank you, bless you for that word!” exclaimed Io. “Then our
trouble must be short-lived, for every doubt will――must disappear
in the light of the truth, and my husband will again serve God with
gladness, and come into His presence with thanksgiving, as in the happy
old times. If any evil has been put into Oscar’s mind, you will by
God’s help remove it; you will speak to my husband on religion, on the
evidences of our holy faith.”

“I shall try to do so,” said the chaplain, “but perhaps not just at
once. A little time may―― But here comes your husband again,” continued
Mark Lawrence, looking towards a tall figure that was approaching
through the deepening twilight.

Oscar Coldstream went up straight to his guest. “Mr. Lawrence,” he
said, “I must ask your forgiveness for having left you so abruptly.”
The gentlemen exchanged a kindly grasp of the hand, and then Oscar went
on, “You touched a sensitive point; may I request you kindly never to
broach that subject again?”

Mark Lawrence made no promise, but after shaking Mrs. Coldstream’s hand,
silently took his leave.

                              CHAPTER IX.

                            QUIET CONVERSE.

“My first Sabbath in this land of the East!” thought Io, as her eyes
first unclosed on Sunday morning. “This is a Communion Sabbath too.
Oh, shall I to-day be granted the priceless blessing, which I have not
enjoyed since my marriage, of having my heart’s beloved at my side when
I approach the Lord’s table? May my Oscar, as well as his wife, make
this a day of new consecration to any work which the Master may give us
to do! May we both begin a closer ‘walk with God,’ and find happiness
in the consciousness of His abiding presence!”

Such were Io’s hopes; her fears need not be recorded.

The Coldstreams preferred walking to church, though Io was to return
in a palanquin to avoid the heat of the sun as the day advanced. Thud
sauntered along beside his sister.

“I shall like to hear the chaplain preach,” observed Io.

“I don’t expect much from that pale little man, though I daresay he’s
a good sort of fellow,” said Thud in a patronizing way. “I don’t think
he’ll give us anything new.”

“In religion the old things are best,” remarked Io. “So in nature what
we have had longest we value most; indeed, speaking of such things,
‘old’ is not the right word. The sun, moon, stars, the breezes, the
glorious sea, never grow old. Even of the flowers I like to think that
we see the very same kind of blossoms that bloomed under the eye of

“But ‘the trail of the serpent is over them all,’” murmured Oscar under
his breath.

“Not all――oh, not all!” exclaimed Io, catching the figurative meaning
of Moore’s mournful line. “Such love as ours is a pure fragrant flower
of Eden――resembling this.” Io plucked a very beautiful rose from a bush;
for in southern climes even November and December have their roses.

“That rose has a worm in it,” said Thud; “don’t you see the little
round hole in the petals?”

“You are quick-sighted to see the blemish in the beautiful,” observed
Oscar Coldstream.

“Oh yes, I am pretty quick-sighted,” said Thucydides Thorn with

The church was at no very great distance. The congregation was small,
but to Io there was peaceful joy in finding herself again in a place of
worship, and hearing in her native tongue dear familiar words of prayer.
She sang God’s praises with heart and soul, though the music was hardly
such as would have pleased a critical ear, and the rich, deep voice
which used formerly to blend with hers was silent now. Only once did
Oscar join in a single verse, “From lowest depths of woe,” and then he
was silent again. Oscar knelt silently during the prayers, save that
in a low tone he repeated the first responses in the Litany; in the
Thanksgiving Io could not catch the sound of his voice.

It has been mentioned that the Moulmein congregation was a small one;
at the Communion Service it became smaller still. Io noticed with a
pang that Oscar left her side and walked out of the church before that
part of the service began. Thud had departed almost before the blessing
was pronounced. He did not walk home with Oscar, but joined young
Pogson, whose society was more congenial to the lad.

“I say, it must be jolly to you to have a comfortable nest to roost
in, with such a pretty sister to keep house, and such a gay, lively
companion as Coldstream, instead of having to elbow your way through
the world like me,” observed Pogson, who was lighting a cigar.

“Gay――lively!” echoed Thud with as much surprise as his heavy
countenance could express. “Why, Oscar’s as grave as judge, jury, and
criminal all put together!――Give me a cigar, will you?” Thud thought it
a dignified thing to smoke.

“Coldstream must be wonderfully changed then since his marriage,” quoth
Pogson. “I thought that he looked very grave, but he always was solemn
in church.”

“I’ve a theory that marriage does make men grave and solemn,” said Thud.
“Marriage alters them altogether. I never mean to marry, or let any
girl have a chance of altering me.”

“You think that no alteration could be an improvement,” said Pogson
with a smile. The sarcasm was lost on Thucydides Thorn; he seldom
understood when he was the object of satire.

Joy and sorrow, hope and fear, were commingled in the heart of Io
Coldstream as she returned in her palanquin to her new home. The
service in church had refreshed her spirit; it was sweet to the young
Christian to try to lay her burden down at the Saviour’s feet. But she
still felt where the burden had chafed; there was not perfect repose
in her soul. Often and often did Io review in her mind her conversation
with the chaplain on the subject of Oscar’s depression.

“Very holy men have before now had spiritual difficulties and mental
trials,” reflected Io. “Does not Bunyan represent even his Christian
and Hopeful in Doubting Castle under the tyranny of Giant Despair? They
indeed had strayed from the narrow path. I cannot think that Oscar has
ever thus strayed, but yet he may have his giant to fight. Christian
had the key of promise in his bosom, and so, I am sure, has my husband.
I will be Oscar’s Hopeful, and we will escape together. No doubts can
for long imprison those whom the truth has set free.”

Io found Oscar sitting in the veranda, a volume of Herbert’s poems in
his hand, but he did not appear to be reading. Mr. Coldstream rose when
the palanquin was set down by the bearers, and helped his wife out of
the conveyance. He then brought another chair from the house, and he
and Io sat down together. The lady wished to bring on conversation on
some religious subject, and naturally recurred to the chaplain’s sermon,
the first which the Coldstreams had heard from his lips.

“Did you not think the preacher’s words very comforting?” said Io after
a pause, feeling that she must be the first to break the silence.

“Searching, incisive,” was the reply.

“To what part do you allude, dear Oscar? The address was all upon
following the Lord and receiving His blessing.”

“A conditional blessing,” said Oscar.

“Surely not, dearest. Our salvation is free; Mr. Lawrence pressed that
point on us,” observed Io Coldstream.

“Was there nothing in the sermon about cutting off the right hand and
plucking out the right eye?” asked her husband.

“That is but a figure of speech.”

“A figure, I grant you, but conveying a fact. It is too much the way
with men to take all that is pleasant and soothing in Scripture and to
leave out the sterner truths. That figure does imply the surrender, at
any cost, of what is dear as a hand or an eye.”

There was rather a prolonged silence; then Io lovingly laid her hand on
her husband’s arm, and softly said, “Do you not think that the greatest
trial which we can ever be called on to bear is to lose one whom we

“No; there is a heavier cross even than that,” muttered Oscar, as if
speaking to himself rather than to his young wife.

Io felt a little perplexed, and even hurt; but she ventured not to
ask for any explanation of words so strange. She was pleased to see
Mr. Lawrence at a little distance approaching the house.

“I will leave him and my husband to have a quiet talk together,”
thought Mrs. Coldstream. Rising, and saying that she had not yet given
Maha her Sunday lesson, Io glided into the house.

During his walk to the dwelling of the Coldstreams Mark’s soul had
been engaged in fervent prayer. The Saturday evening had been chiefly
devoted to searching learned books, written for the special purpose of
refuting infidel views and clearing up doubts on difficult doctrines.

Oscar received his visitor with his usual courtesy, and Mark was
invited to occupy the seat which Io had quitted.

The chaplain had revolved in his mind how he could best lead the
conversation with his friend to the point which he had in his view.
He must not wound, he must not startle, above all he must not offend.
After a few insignificant observations, which with our shy nation
seem indispensable as a shoe-horn to real conversation, Mr. Lawrence
observed, “You went home, I believe, in the _Argus_?”

Coldstream assented by a slight movement of the head.

“You must have met on board a passenger of the name of John Mace?”

There was again the mute sign of assent.

“May I ask what you thought of him?” inquired the chaplain.

“I thought him intelligent and gentlemanly,” replied Oscar, “but he had
imbibed some very erroneous views.”

“I know it――I know it,” said Mark Lawrence. “Mr. Mace made no secret of
them here. Did you ever enter into conversation with him on religious

“Very often,” was the quiet reply.

Mark felt that he was drawing near to his point. “May I ask what
impression Mr. Mace made on your mind?” said the chaplain.

“At first a painful impression; but Mace was candid, and open to
conviction. He came on board the _Argus_ an infidel; he left it, I have
good reason to hope, a truly converted man.”

“Is it possible!” exclaimed the clergyman joyfully. “And you――_you_
were the happy instrument of his conversion?”

Oscar’s face did not reflect the look of pleasure on that of his friend.
“God sometimes uses strange instruments,” was his only reply.

“But this is a thing to be a joy to you all your life!” exclaimed Mark.
“You have then never had doubts yourself?”

“Any difficulties which suggested themselves to my mind in my younger
days were but as thin vapours which rather clothe a rock than hide it.
They only led me to examine more closely, and so believe more firmly.
I could always see the rock behind the vapour, and I long since planted
my feet firmly upon it.”

“Thank God! thank God!” was Mark’s inward ejaculation. “But if it be no
doubt on speculative religion that oppresses my poor friend, what cause
can there be for his deep-rooted sadness? Coldstream is happily married;
he has good social position, competence, and high reputation; why
should he be as one oppressed by a secret grief?”

Again came the painful suspicion, “Can this be melancholy madness?”

                              CHAPTER X.

                         THE SCORPION’S STING.

“Where have you been, Thud?” inquired Io, as, a few hours after
her return from church, her brother sauntered into the drawing-room,
smelling of tobacco, and with his thumbs in his waistcoat pockets.

“I’ve had a good chat and smoke with Pogson,” replied Thud, throwing
himself on the sofa; “and as talking and tobacco make one dry, we had
something to wet our whistles. He’s no water-drinker, like Oscar.”

“I do not think that Pogson is a good companion for you, Thud,” said Io.

“That’s little you know,” was the rude reply. Thud could treat his
sister as he liked when her husband was absent.

“What did you talk about?” inquired Io.

“Oh, a lot of things, scientific and other; but Pogson is not
scientific. He only laughed at my theory of there being animalcula
in fire, as well as in water and air. He said I’d burn my fingers in
trying to find them, though it goes to reason that what is found in
three elements is sure to be in the fourth, though philosophers have
not yet found them out.”

“I do not wonder at Pogson’s not caring for such theories,” said Io.
“Perhaps your search for animalcula in the candle will result in the
grand discovery of some poor moths who have singed off their wings in
the flame.”

“We talked of other matters too, not scientific,” said Thud, who was
busying himself in picking out threads from the fringe of a handsome
cushion. “Pogson told me a great deal about his voyage in the _Argus_.
You would have liked that, for he spoke so much about Oscar.”

“What did he say of my husband?” asked Io, roused to interest.

“Oh! that he was very sociable and very amusing; sang songs and told
anecdotes without end, except when he walked up and down the deck,
holding grave discourse with a man called Mace. During the latter part
of the voyage, however, Oscar was much taken up with reading poetry,
and carrying about chairs for, and playing the agreeable to, a handsome
widow whom they picked up at Malta.”

“What widow?” asked Io Coldstream.

“One whose husband had died at Malta, and who took the opportunity
of returning home in the _Argus_. Pogson says that she was a former
friend of Oscar, a very particular friend, probably before her marriage.
Anyways, Mrs. Mortimer――that’s her name――told Pogson that she has a
picture in which she and Oscar are taken together, she sitting on a
mossy bank, and Oscar offering her a rose.”

“Thud, you talk nonsense!” exclaimed Io indignantly. Her cheek was
flushed and burning, but her hands trembled as if with cold.

“I never talk nonsense,” said Thud majestically, “and I have no
reason to think that Pogson does so either. The widow’s Christian name
is Adelaide, for she said that hers is the same as the Queen’s. She
usually addressed Oscar by his Christian name, in quite a familiar way.
He used to take great care of her; she was clearly a very particular
friend indeed. You had better ask Oscar about her.”

Io felt as if her heart had suddenly become like a stone; but she
reproached herself indignantly for giving one moment’s credit to such
idle gossip. She would not let Thud see that he had inflicted a pang;
but had his thick fingers not been so engaged in spoiling the fringe,
had he glanced up for a moment, even Thud would have seen in his
sister’s face the annoyance caused by his words.

“I wish that you would leave that cushion alone,” said Io sharply. It
was to hide her agitation under the semblance of anger.

“You are as cross as a crustacean to-day,” said Thud, throwing the
cushion away. “I don’t see the use of your church-going, if you come
back in such a bad temper;” and so saying, he quitted the room.

“How foolish, how absurd, how wrong in me to think anything of such
talk!” said Io to herself. “My dear husband is always courteous, to a
widow he would be doubly so; as for what that silly fellow said about
the picture, I would not credit it for a moment. Adelaide Mortimer!” Io
revolved in her mind whether she had ever heard the name from Oscar’s
lips; but no, she could not recall his having once mentioned to her
this very particular friend.

It still wanted an hour to dinner time; that hour might be pleasantly
and profitably spent in reading, especially if Io read with Oscar.
The lady chose her book, and then went into the veranda to look for
her husband. Oscar was not there, but he had left the small volume of
Herbert’s poems on the chair on which he had been seated during his
interview with the chaplain.

“A few of Herbert’s quaint verses will be refreshing,” thought Io.
“I never possessed a copy of his works of my own. What dainty delicate
binding!” and the lady took up the pretty volume.

Io opened at the title-page to see who had published the graceful
edition. But it was not on title of work or publisher’s name that
her eyes were riveted now; it was no thought of Herbert that made her
cheek, so lately flushed, turn almost as white as the paper on which
she looked. Above the printed title was written, in a delicate feminine
hand: _Oscar William Coldstream. With Adelaide Mortimer’s love._

Io uttered no exclamation, gave no start; she gazed for several minutes
on the inscription, and then deliberately closed the volume and laid
it down again in the place from which she had raised it. Io went back
into the house, entered her own room, closed the door and bolted it,
but almost like one who walks in a dream. Her soul was in a state of
wild chaos; it was some time before she could sufficiently collect her
thoughts to draw any inferences, form any conjectures.

Then, like machinery suddenly put into violent motion, Io’s mind began
to work on the few facts from which she might draw some clue to the
cause of the terrible change in Oscar when he returned to England. He
had been happy when he had embarked, wretched when he landed. One idea,
like wheel within wheel, linked itself with another, while Io’s brain
seemed to turn round with the action of passionate thought.

Had Oscar loved Adelaide before he had even known of the existence of
Io? Had Mrs. Mortimer’s marriage divided her from a former lover by an
impassable gulf? After a bitter disappointment, had Oscar tried to find
solace by winning the love and confidence of an unsuspecting heart, and
asked in marriage a girl to whom he could but offer an empty casket,
from which the jewel of affection had been stolen away? On arriving in
Malta, had Oscar found the once impassable gulf bridged over; had the
unexpected meeting with Adelaide, no longer as far removed from him
as a star, revived old memories, kindled new hopes? And then had Oscar
remembered with pain that he had bound himself in honour to marry one
whom he never could love as he once had loved?

Io could not have put such ideas into words, but they were working,
and tearing her heart as a machine rends and wrenches a human limb
entangled amongst its whirling wheels. She could hardly reason, but
she keenly suffered. Hard did Io strive so to collect her ideas as to
find out whether her new discovery would account for that gloom in her
husband which had seemed to her so mysterious. Oscar had received no
letter from her at Malta, none by the Channel pilot: had her apparent
neglect caused him pain, or perhaps a sense of relief? Had he caught at
a hope that he might be _free_? What had prompted that strange question
when they met, “_Are you glad?_” Had he wished her to turn away and
say “No”? Oscar was evidently undergoing some terrible inward struggle,
and was suffering still from its effects. Was it the struggle between
inclination, love, passion, and a sense of honour, a feeling of duty?
Io remembered, almost with horror, that during the first part of his
illness Oscar could not endure to have her near him; that he only
suffered her presence when the sight of the letter which Thud had
detained had shown him the depth of the affection which, as Io now
thought in her anguish, he knew that he could never fully return. Oscar
had not even asked that a wedding-day should be fixed, till he found
that to break off his engagement would be to leave his betrothed to
poverty as well as to distress. Oscar had generously sacrificed himself
to save her, preferring honour to happiness, giving pity instead of
love! Io literally writhed under such thoughts.

“Oh, why did Oscar not speak out frankly! why did he not tell me that
he could not give me a heart which was no longer his own!” exclaimed
Io in the bitterness of her anguish. “I would not have upbraided him;
I would have set him free; I would have severed the bond between us,
had my poor heart been broken too. Oscar should never have stood at the
altar to give me that cold, corpse-like hand, or to take vows which are
now an intolerable burden to a sensitive conscience like his.”

Alas for the woman who lets the scorpion jealousy creep into the shrine
of her heart! It brings with it a brood of other reptiles――wounded
pride, unreasonable dislike, doubt of the truth of human affection,
too often doubt of the love of God. Poor Hopeful was indeed now in
the dungeon-keep of the giant. The water-lily that had risen above the
waters of trouble now appeared to be withering, dying, from the worm
secretly gnawing at its root.

In the midst of her agony of mind Io was loyal to her husband. She did
not blame him; he was generous, good, and kind. Oscar was, Io felt,
doing his utmost to keep faithfully vows that should never have been
made. He was trying by constant, most considerate kindness to make up
for the absence of love. What should she do now? She could do nothing
but accept the gracious pity which for her had a sting. _Pity!_ How Io
hated the word, and how she hated herself for so doing! In the morning
of that Sabbath day she could not have believed that she could have
fallen so far. Io seemed to herself a different being from the young
wife who had so peacefully walked to church leaning on the arm of her
husband. How some sudden temptation often opens our eyes to our own
inconsistency of character, our weakness, worthlessness, and sin! We
thought that we were safe and strong, and behold, a perilous fall!

             “Perhaps the angel’s slackened hand
                Hath suffered it, that we may rise,
              And take a firmer, surer stand;
                Or trusting less to earthly things,
                May henceforth learn to use our wings.”

Whilst Io was agonizing in her own room, Oscar was in his study,
kneeling, with clasped hands, in the attitude of prayer, but the words
gasped out were not words of submission. “Any sacrifice but this, any
cross but _this_!” was all that burst, as if wrung by extreme mental
suffering, from his pale lips.

                              CHAPTER XI.

                            A PRESCRIPTION.

As may be imagined, the dinner which was soon afterwards partaken of by
the family was anything but a cheerful meal. For the first time Io sat
opposite to her husband gloomy and silent, scarcely touching the food
before her.

“Are you not well, my love?” asked Oscar anxiously. “I ought not to
have suffered you to walk to church in the heat.”

“It did me no harm; it was my own will to walk,” replied Io coldly.

Oscar gave an uneasy, questioning glance. Io did not choose to meet it.
“I don’t want his pity,” she said to herself.

There was a long, dreary pause, which only Thud filled up by a vigorous
onslaught on the mutton. He had almost satisfied his appetite, and was
beginning, in nautical phrase, to get his talking-tackle on board, when
the circle was joined by Pinfold.

“Ha! ha! happy to catch you just at dinner-time. I hope our friend
Thud has left something for me!” cried the jovial doctor, as he laid
down his sun-hat and umbrella, and wiped his heated forehead. Then,
advancing to the table, Pinfold greeted his god-daughter in very
paternal fashion. The doctor considered himself to be a privileged
person, one who need never wait for an invitation, being always certain
to find a welcome.

Mr. Coldstream intensely disliked the intrusion, and the vulgar
familiarity of his guest. Oscar had been on civil terms with Pinfold
during his first sojourn at Moulmein, but intimate he never had been.
The two men had nothing in common between them: the mirth of the one
had been refined wit, like a sparkle over deep waters; the fun of the
other had the coarse scent of the oil-fed torch. But Oscar resolved
to show no sign of dislike towards one whom his wife regarded as her
oldest friend; Pinfold should always have a seat at the table of her
who had sat on his knee when she was a little rosy-cheeked child. Oscar
would endure the doctor’s society, and not betray, even by a look, that
he found that it required some self-command to do so.

“Why, my dear,” said Pinfold, addressing himself to Io, “you don’t look
well; you are losing your roses!”

“I am quite well. Please sit down, dear Dr. Pinny. I am afraid that the
meat is a little cold.”

“I must come rather earlier next time,” said the doctor, taking a
seat.――“Well, Thud, what new discoveries have you been making in
science?――A little more fat, Coldstream, if you please.”

“I’ve been directing my attention to the moon,” said Thud sententiously,
laying down the knife and fork which he had been diligently plying.

“No doubt the moon is flattered by the attention shown to her. Ha!
ha! ha! I am not surprised at your thoughts being turned in a lunatic
direction. How often have you seen the new moon rise in the east?”

“Often,” replied Thud, looking surprised at the question.

“Clever dog! you have then seen what no one else ever saw!” cried the

“You don’t mean to say that the moon ever rises in the _west_!” cried
Thucydides Thorn, which set the doctor off laughing again. When he had
recovered his gravity, Pinfold resumed his questioning.

“May I ask what discoveries you have made in the lunatic direction?”

“I’ve made no decided discoveries yet,” replied Thud; “but a theory is
gradually developing itself in my brain.”

“Ah! that brain. It will have some day to be put into spirits and
deposited in a museum!” cried the doctor.

“I’ve no objection,” said the young philosopher, who was rather
gratified by the idea; “but it must be after I’m dead.”

This gave the doctor another uproarious fit of mirth, which almost
occasioned a choke.

“Now for your theory,” he cried, as soon as he had recovered his breath.

“I can’t talk whilst you laugh so,” said Thud.

“Come, I’ve had my laugh out; I want to hear your original views
regarding our satellite,” said Pinfold.

“Some philosophers declare that the moon has no atmosphere,” began Thud,
as if commencing a lecture.

“That is, I believe, pretty generally acknowledged,” observed
Coldstream. “Most powerful telescopes have been brought to bear upon
the moon, and no trace of atmosphere has been discovered.”

“Not on the surface, I grant you,” said Thud sententiously. “What
I maintain is that the atmosphere is _under_ the surface, so that no
telescope can reveal it. I have an idea,” Thud glanced up towards the
ceiling, as if the idea were floating somewhere above the heads of
his hearers――“I’ve a notion that the moon is full of air, something
like a balloon, and that as that air expands by the action of heat, or
contracts, the moon assumes the shape of the orb or crescent.”

Again the doctor gave way to his mirth. “You would make out the queen
of night to be a kind of big bladder-ball! O Thucydides Thorn, when
will you leave off playing at ninepins! You put up your wooden theories
to let us have the fun of knocking them down.”

“It is I who knock down old wooden theories like ninepins,” said Thud,
blinking like an offended owl. “I am aiming after something original
and new. We learn by finding out the mistakes of our elders. Every
generation stands on the heads of the last.”

The doctor threw himself back on his chair, half convulsed with
laughter. “A difficult kind of intellectual gymnastics,” he cried.
“Of course, at the top of the philosophical pyramid will stand――Mr.
Thucydides Thorn.” The doctor glanced at Io, expecting to see her join
in his mirth, but her grave, pale face reflected no spark of amusement.

“I say, Coldstream, you’ll have to put your wife under my care,” said
the doctor abruptly; “she has neither appetite for her food nor spirit
for a joke.”

“I am a little uneasy about her,” began Oscar, but the doctor rather
rudely cut him short.

“You’d better be more than a little uneasy; I never saw her look so ill
and pale in my life.”

“I have a slight headache,” said Io, rising. It was very unpleasant
to her to have attention called to her looks, so she made an excuse
for retiring which was at least a true one. Pinfold followed his
god-daughter as far as the door of her room, to put a few questions
and feel her pulse. He then returned to the dining-room, where he found
Oscar alone, and looking exceedingly anxious. A terrible dread had
arisen in the mind of Coldstream that he was to be chastised through
the sufferings of his young wife.

“I can’t find out that there’s anything particular the matter with
Io,” said Pinfold, resuming his seat; “but she’s out of spirits. And
no wonder: flowers always lose their colour if kept in the darkness
of a cellar. My pretty god-child needs more light, more sunshine, more
cheerful society. She――by nature full of fun, the merriest, most lively
of girls――cannot keep up her spirits whilst she never sees a smile on
the face of her husband.”

Pinfold had resolved on getting to the bottom of the mystery of Mr.
Coldstream’s melancholy; the doctor had often revolved in his mind how
to approach so delicate a subject, and now, seeing the evil affecting
his favourite’s happiness, the old man resolved on throwing false
delicacy aside. Coldstream had to endure close questioning, and bore it
as he might have done the pain of an operation, only lancet and knife
would not have inflicted suffering so acute to a sensitive nature. To
Pinfold’s questions Oscar returned short, straightforward replies. As
he had perceived that the chaplain had suspected him of freethinking,
so he was perfectly aware that the doctor doubted his sanity, and
Oscar determined to lay that question to rest. No, none of his family
had ever been mentally afflicted; he himself had never been in youth
subject to depression; he had never been bitten by dog or fox.

“Then why are you so changed――so gloomy?” asked Pinfold. “Any pecuniary
trouble? Perhaps you have fallen into debt?”

Coldstream shook his head. “I have neither lent nor borrowed; I have no
anxiety connected with money.”

“Then what _is_ on your mind?” asked the baffled inquisitor.

“That question hardly lies within the province of a medical man,” said
Coldstream rather sternly, for patience had been strained to the utmost

Even Pinfold saw that he had gone too far. Rising, he concluded the
disagreeable interview with a few emphatic injunctions:――

“I’m going to send Io a tonic, but her best tonic would be a more
cheerful home. You must amuse her and make her happy. You can do more
for your wife’s health, mark me, Coldstream, than the whole college of
physicians can do.”

                             CHAPTER XII.


Earnestly did Coldstream strive to impart cheerfulness to his young
wife, but he could not give what he himself did not possess. He read
aloud to her lively books, brought Shakespeare and Hood for evening
amusement; but Hood’s jests fell utterly flat, and even Petruchio
caused no smile. The doctor recommended horse exercise: the prettiest
pony in Moulmein was instantly purchased. Oscar procured flowers of
the most rare kind, fruits of the most delicate flavour. Thud enjoyed
the fruits, Io languidly admired the flowers; but the rose did not
return to the lady’s cheek, nor the smile to her lips. At first Oscar’s
considerate kindness but raised the thought, “How conscientiously my
poor husband tries to do his duty, and hide from his wife that he only
married her from pity!” Gradually, however, another thought arose,
“All this beautiful tenderness cannot be feigned. My Oscar can never

There was a great deal of gossip in the small society of Moulmein
regarding the Coldstreams. Mrs. Cottle, a vulgar, bustling little woman,
declared that she knew for certain that Mr. Coldstream ill-treated
or at least neglected his wife. It was clear that they did not “pull
together.” Dr. Pinfold doubted whether the climate of Moulmein suited
the constitution of Io. Thud, in slow measured tones, as if pronouncing
a medical opinion founded on deep study of the case, declared that
his sister had caught some kind of malady from that Karen girl who
was always dangling at her heels; the fact being that almost the
sole pleasure which Io was now able to enjoy was that of tending and
teaching the docile and grateful orphan.

The friend who took the most earnest and prayerful interest in what
concerned the Coldstreams was Mark Lawrence, the chaplain. He noticed
that Io now looked almost as sad as her husband, and Mark naturally
attributed her sorrow to the too evident fact that something was hiding
the light of God’s countenance from Oscar Coldstream. It was a cause of
grief to the wife (of this Mark felt assured) that lips once eloquent
for the Master were strangely sealed; that a sincere Christian, as the
chaplain believed his friend to be, could not, or would not, enjoy the
child’s privilege of approaching his Father’s table. The more earnest
the wife’s piety, the deeper her sorrow if her husband could not
participate in its comfort.

“But the wife takes a wrong way if she seeks to win a wanderer back
by reproaches, even if conveyed but by sorrowful looks,” thought Mark.
“I do not believe a word of what Mrs. Cottle says of unkindness on
Coldstream’s part, but his manner may betray that he is wounded and
hurt. A small, almost imperceptible rift may be widened, a slight
injury be fretted into a sore.”

Such thoughts were on the mind of the pastor as he bent his steps one
day to the dwelling of the Coldstreams. Mark found the lady in the
veranda, and alone.

Io had had no opportunity of speaking quietly with Mr. Lawrence since
he had had that private conversation with her husband which has been
recorded above. Io had longed to know whether the chaplain’s fears as
to the evil influence of Mr. Mace had been dissipated or confirmed.
A feeling of delicacy prevented Io from asking any question, but
Mark anticipated her wish. The chaplain had scarcely done more than
exchanged greetings with the lady, and taken a seat near her, when he
entered himself on the subject which was uppermost in each mind.

“Mrs. Coldstream,” said Mark, “I had done injustice to your husband
when suspecting, even for a moment, that the words of an infidel could
have the slightest effect on a mind so clear and steady as his. Let me
repeat to you Mr. Coldstream’s own words. He said that any difficulties
on the subject of Christianity which might have arisen in his mind in
his youth had been but as light vapours; they had led him but to more
close examination of the Rock behind them, and on that Rock he had long
since planted his foot.”

“Thank God for that!” exclaimed Io.

“You have yet more for which to thank Him,” said the chaplain. “Far
from Mr. Mace having drawn away your husband from that Rock, the
freethinker has been drawn towards it by the Christian, and the result
of that intercourse has been the salvation of the infidel’s soul.”

“Most blessed work!” murmured Io, joyful tears suffusing her eyes.

“I am persuaded,” continued Mr. Lawrence, “that it is only some passing
cloud that now casts a shadow over my dear friend, and prevents him
from being able to enjoy the full privileges of a believer. The cloud
will pass, I feel assured that it will pass for ever away, and my
friend, himself rejoicing in the light, will again throw himself, heart
and soul, into the happy service of his Lord.”

“God grant it!” said Io fervently, the tears which had glistened
beneath her dark lashes now bedewing her cheeks. “I hope much from your
counsel and friendship.”

“Nay, let your hope rest on God’s mercy and love,” said Mark Lawrence,
“and hasten the blessing by faith and prayer. You can do far more than
I can, Mrs. Coldstream, to restore happiness to your husband.”

“What can I do?” asked Io faintly.

“You can show him that _you_ have the light on your soul; that _you_
know by experience the joy of a true believer; that your religion is
indeed your comfort; that you have found that all her ways are ways of
pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace.”

The clergyman’s words came to Io as a gentle reproof, and she accepted
it in a child-like spirit. Its effect was deepened by a rude remark
which had been made by Thud in the morning. “I have an idea,” he had
said, “that wives think it their duty to worry their husbands. You
never thought of being so sickly and stupid before you were married.”

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                            THE EXPEDITION.

When Mr. Lawrence’s short visit was ended, Io meditated over what she
had heard with self-reproach and abasement.

“I have been adding to my Oscar’s troubles,” she said to herself,
“instead of trying to lighten his burden. If he has indeed made a
painful sacrifice to honour and duty, shall I, by my pride and sullen
gloom, show him that as regards my happiness it has been made in vain?
Shall I not gratefully accept the affection which he gives me, though
it be not the all-absorbing, idolatrous love which my selfishness, my
pride demands? May I not be risking all by requiring too much? That is
my Oscar’s step! with what joy I would once have sprung forth to meet
him!” Io dried her eyes, and rose as Coldstream entered the veranda,
an anxious, careworn look on his face.

“Io, my love, I have just been speaking with Pinfold about you,” he
said. “The doctor suggests that a change of air and scene might do
you more good than medicine. What say you to a little camping out――an
expedition to Tavoy?”

“I should like it extremely,” replied Io in her natural tone. She felt
that it would be pleasant to escape from curious eyes, and wearisome
inquiries after her health, to enjoy freedom in the wild woods, with
Oscar for her companion. Her husband was pleased at the readiness and
cheerfulness of her reply.

“You are not afraid of a little roughing it?” inquired Oscar tenderly,
taking a seat beside his wife. “We should have to sleep in my little
tent.” He had taken Io’s hand in his own, and was gently caressing it
as he spoke.

“I should enjoy the life,” was Io’s reply; “only, I was forgetting one
thing: I could not leave my Maha behind, there is no lady in Moulmein
to whom I could trust the poor child.”

“You shall take Maha with you,” said Oscar; “she shall share your tent
at night, and wait on you by day.”

“But where would you sleep, my Oscar?”

“Under the trees――I’ve done so before; that is nothing to an old
sportsman like me. A knapsack for a pillow, a rug for a bed――in this
fine climate that is luxury enough for a man.”

“For you, I daresay, but not for me,” observed Thud, who had joined
the Coldstreams in the veranda, and so had heard the conversation
between them. “I have an idea that sleeping under trees is bad for the

“By all means remain under a roof,” said Oscar, who was not anxious to
have the company of Thucydides Thorn. “I shall ask Mr. Lawrence to let
you live with him during our absence, and you will go on with your work
at the wharf.”

“With Mr. Lawrence!” said Thud dolefully; “I’d rather be sent to prison
at once. Fancy being boxed up with a parson! I’d rather by far chum
with Pogson.”

“I will not consent to your chumming with Pogson. As long as
your mother trusts you to my care, you must allow me to make your
arrangements,” said Coldstream, with that quiet decision which even
Thud was learning to respect.

“Then I’ll go to Tavoy,” decided Thud. “I daresay that you can get
another tent for my use.”

“Not without expense and delay,” replied Oscar. “I am anxious to start
on Monday, so as, if possible, to reach Tavoy by the end of the week.
Remember that all our luggage has to be carried on mules. A large
cavalcade is not to be desired. I should like you to stay in Moulmein.”

“And I should like to go to Tavoy,” said the lad. “If I must sleep
under a tree, I must. I’ll have two rugs and a blanket. Camping out
will give me fine opportunities of adding to my knowledge of natural

“Yes; you will have the opportunity of finding out whether the mosquito
has a proboscis not due to man’s cultivation,” said Io archly.

“How would you like to travel, my love?” inquired Oscar of his wife.
“To ride your pony all the way would be far too fatiguing, and there
is no proper carriage-road. What say you to a litter, or a howdah on
an elephant’s back?”

“I should like an elephant of all things,” exclaimed Io, with so much
of her old playfulness that Oscar’s face relaxed into something like a

“I should like it of all things too!” cried Thucydides Thorn.

“The howdahs used here are very small,” observed Oscar; “there is room
for but two persons in them.”

“All right. You prefer walking, or riding a _tat_ [country pony]; Io
and I will sit in the howdah.”

“You forget the young Karen,” said Oscar. “She must sit with her lady.”

“Oh, I say!” exclaimed Thud with more of the school-boy than of
the philosopher in his manner and tone; “a dirty brown beggar on an
elephant’s back, and I on a wretched tat!”

“No one obliges you to go at all,” observed Coldstream.

But Thud was resolved to make one of the party, even if a tat were
to be his only means of conveyance. Besides, he had thought of a less
ignoble steed.

“I’ll ride Io’s pony, Lightfoot,” said he.

“Io may choose sometimes to ride him herself,” observed Oscar. “We
shall take a lady’s saddle with us.”

“Besides that, dear Thud,” said Io, “you might spoil Lightfoot’s paces
or harden his mouth; you have only as yet ridden donkeys.”

To be told that he did not know how to ride was an insult almost too
great for Thud’s philosophy to endure. He made a silent resolve that
he _would_ ride, and ride Lightfoot, but the presence of Coldstream
prevented his making a reply. He only looked like an owl in the sulks.

Every one now was busy with preparations, and the work was good both
for Oscar and Io. The latter felt her spirits rebound at the prospect
of the change. Io resolved, if possible, to help Oscar to regain his
lost cheerfulness, and not herself let her mind dwell on depressing

“I will try to forget that such a being exists as Adelaide Mortimer,”
said Io to herself, as she dived into the depths of one of her large
trunks, to bring out such things as would be most suited for the
intended expedition. “I will try to forget that there was ever a woman
who so came between me and my betrothed that to renounce her cost him a
terrible illness, and has ever since darkened his life with gloom. Let
a thick curtain be drawn over the past; may grace be given me to make a
better use of the present, and look forward with more hope and faith to
the future!”

Thud sauntered into the room where Io was standing surrounded by a
heterogeneous collection of articles scattered on the floor, things
hastily pulled out of the box to be replaced in it as soon as a
selection should have been made. Thud had in him something of the
forager as well as the sage: the owl does not think it below its
dignity to pounce down on a mouse.

“Ah! that muslin――it will just suit me for a _pagri_ [turban]; one must
wear a _pagri_ twisted round one’s hat to keep off the heat of the sun
even in what they call the cold weather.”

“Take it, and welcome,” said Io.

“And that piece of American waterproof cloth――that’s just what I want,”
cried Thud.

“But I happen to want it too,” said Io good-humouredly; “I brought it
to wrap up the first parcel which I intend to send to dear mother in

“You can easily get more such cloth; you can wait, and I can’t, if
we’re to start on Monday,” said Thud. “You must make for me a big bag
or case with a dozen pockets; I’ll show you just what I want. I’ll have
a label sewn on each――one pocket for minerals, one for beetles, one for
butterflies, one for feathers, one for eggs, one for my journal (for I
must take no end of notes), and one for fishing-hooks and flies (for I
must have ichthyological specimens too).”

“And is this big case to be hung round your neck?” asked Io.

“Not a bad idea, to have it handy. I could not get at it if it were
packed amongst other luggage on a mule, and I shall be wanting it every

Io was an indulgent sister. She gave the cloth and patient attention
besides, and with the assistance of the _darzi_ (tailor) the bag was
made. Thud insisted on its being bound with red braid, also drawn from
Io’s stores, with strong strings of red ribbon to fasten it on securely.
The lad looked at his “specimen case,” as he called it, with pride: it
was to be the nucleus of the museum which in his mind’s eye he already
beheld――a museum with portico and pillars, containing the valuable
collection of Thucydides Thorn, with some eight or ten mysterious
capitals after his name.

Thud appeared to be too busy even to go to church on the following
Sunday. Notwithstanding Io’s expostulations, she had to leave him to
write labels and affix them on his specimen case.

                             CHAPTER XIV.

                             A DISCOVERY.

Monday came. The huge bulk of the elephant, with its howdah outside,
darkened the veranda; servants were busy lading mules; there were boxes
of provisions, the small tent, trunks, knapsacks, cooking vessels, and
many other _et cætera_ to be packed, the weight duly apportioned, and
the ropes securely fastened. To start on a camping expedition in Siam
is a very different thing indeed from going on a railway journey in
England. Foresight is required, readiness of resource, and a large
amount of patience; no necessary article must be forgotten, no possible
contingency overlooked.

Io, who had completed her packing arrangements, sat in the drawing-room
writing her letters for the English mail, to have them sent off before
she should start. Every now and then she laid down her pen, that she
might run to the veranda to see how the packing was progressing. The
novelty and bustle of the scene were to the youthful Englishwoman
somewhat amusing.

Io was just finishing her despatch when Oscar entered the room, with
his little packet of letters in his hand.

“Is your letter to your mother ready?” said he. “We had better send off
our budget to the post before we start.”

Io folded up her large sheet in the then approved style (envelopes
are a modern invention; paste wafers, now a thing of the past, were in
common use then, when the more formal wax seal was not required). As
lucifer matches were unknown, sealing was a more troublesome operation
in those days than in the reign of our gracious Queen.

“Is all ready for our start?” asked Io, as she pressed the seal down
on the wafer. “Is the luggage at last all packed on the mules, and
Lightfoot saddled and bridled? I think that I shall set out on my pony.”

“I am sorry to say that we cannot take Lightfoot at all,” replied Oscar.

“Why? Nothing the matter, I hope?”

“Master Thud had his own reasons for staying away from church
yesterday,” answered Coldstream in a tone of displeasure. “The boy
chose to ride Lightfoot, and let him down. Thud has no idea of riding.”

“Oh, I hope that my poor pony is not much hurt!” cried Io.

“Not permanently injured, I think,” replied Oscar; “but he is
lame, and must not be mounted till our return. I am annoyed at your
disappointment, and have been rebuking Thud pretty sharply; but he is
so encased in self-complacency that it is not easy to touch him. He
told me that the fall was entirely the fault of the pony.”

“I fear that poor Thud is a great trial to you, dear Oscar,” observed

“He would have been a greater trial to those at home. I do not regret
that we brought him. I own that if we had any one with whom to leave
him, Thud should not, after this last prank, accompany us to Tavoy. But
I cannot burden poor Lawrence, and Pogson is out of the question――so
are the Cottles.”

“Dr. Pinny?” suggested Io.

Oscar Coldstream shook his head. “I would not say a word against your
old friend,” he observed; “but you yourself would hardly think the good
doctor a desirable guardian for your young brother.”

“No, perhaps not,” said Io slowly, looking down as she spoke; and as
she did so her eyes fell on the little packet of Oscar’s letters which
he had laid down on her writing-table whilst speaking of Thud. The
address on the uppermost of those letters made Io start and flush to
her temples. It was directed to _Mrs. Mortimer_.

“Who is she?” exclaimed Io, impatience and indignation forcing out the
words against her will.

Oscar looked at his wife with surprise. “She is my more than friend,”
he replied. “You must often have heard of her from me.”

“I never heard the name from your lips,” exclaimed Io.

“What! not heard of my mother’s old friend, my godmother――she who wrote
to you so warmly after our engagement?”

“That was Mrs. Winter, the dear, sweet lady who nursed you through the
small-pox when you were quite a little child.”

“Mrs. Winter and Mrs. Mortimer are one. I must have forgotten to
tell you of her second marriage, which took place when I was last in
Moulmein. My friend married a cousin of her own who was going, in a
state of hopeless consumption, to Malta. Mrs. Winter married him in
order to be able to go with the dying sufferer and nurse him to the

“O Oscar, what a fool I have been!” exclaimed Io, bursting into tears;
but the tears were those of relief, and shed on the bosom of her

“And can it be,” said Oscar, in a tone of gentle reproach, “that my Io
for one moment thought me so base, so utterly worthless, as to be even
in thought faithless to her to whom I had pledged my troth? Could you
not trust me, Io?”

Io, very penitently, took her husband’s hand and kissed it passionately.
“Oh, forgive me, forgive me!” she sobbed; “we should never, never doubt
one whom we love.”

Oscar’s reply was a heavy sigh, almost a groan.

Io looked up anxiously into his face. “O my beloved husband,” she
cried, “you have now found out the secret of my sadness; and now that
you know all, my soul is relieved of its burden. Will you not also open
your heart? will you not tell me why your life has lost its brightness?
There should be no secret between husband and wife.”

Oscar took both hands of his Io, and his eyes gazed into hers with
an expression of mingled love and sorrow which she remembered to her
dying day. “There should be no secret between us. Io, I would tell
you everything were not your peace dearer to me than my own.” (‡ See

“Any knowledge is better than ignorance,” exclaimed Io in an agitated

“Did Eve find it so?” asked Oscar. “No, my beloved,” he continued,
still holding her hand in his own; “on this one subject you must not
press me to speak. You cannot relieve me of my burden; you cannot even
help me to bear it. Let this be the last time that you even allude to
its existence. I ask only your silence and your prayers.” Oscar pressed
a tender kiss on Io’s brow, took up his letters, and quitted the room.

                              CHAPTER XV.

                            MOUNT AND AWAY.

“Ha! ha! Master Thucydides Thorn, you are evidently a second Don
Quixote, bent on adventures, or you would not start with a square yard
of black sticking-plaster, bound ‘with red rags to look like blood,’
hanging round your neck! That is something like business. Ha! ha! ha!”

It was Dr. Pinfold who thus chatted and laughed. He had come to see Io
start on her expedition, and was rejoiced to find his favourite looking
already in much better health. Io’s spirits had rebounded after their
late depression, the cause of that depression having been suddenly
removed. She looked bright and quite ready to enjoy herself as she
gazed up laughingly at the elephant, wondering how she should ever
reach the height of his back.

“Make the brute kneel to his lady, as in duty bound!” cried the doctor
to the _kahaut_ [driver], who was perched on the elephant’s neck. The
man shook his head, and jabbered something unintelligible to most of
the party.

“He says that this elephant is not trained to kneel,” said Oscar,
coming up at the moment. “We have a short elephant-ladder which we will
carry with us.――Io, my love, are you ready to mount?”

With the aid of her husband and the doctor Io very soon reached the
howdah, and smiled down on those who had helped her to attain her lofty

“A little queen on her throne!” cried the doctor.

“Please help Maha too,” said Io. But the active little Karen needed no
help; she clambered up the steps like a cat.

“Now, knight of the sticking-plaster, let us see you on your tat,” said
Pinfold gaily.

“This is not sticking-plaster; do you not see the labels?” cried Thud.
“This is what I am going to stow my specimens in――this is the nucleus
of a museum.”

“You’ll have some rare treasures in it,” said the merry doctor. “I hope
you’ve left a pocket for bandages and salve, in case you come to grief
in your specimen-hunting.――Coldstream, how do you travel?”

“On foot. I like the exercise,” replied Oscar. “We shall proceed but
slowly. I can easily keep up with the elephant.”

“But hardly with the tat. Ha! ha! ha!――Mind, Thud, how you get up; the
brute looks as if he were given to biting. No, no, don’t venture behind
him; he puts back his ears――he’s certain to kick.”

“Hold him, will you? and don’t laugh!” cried Thucydides Thorn. “I don’t
like the looks of the beast.”

Awkwardly the heavy lad mounted, secretly regretting the accident to
Lightfoot, which had prevented his having the chance of a better mount.
The Burmese tat might have tried the mettle of a better rider than Thud.
First, Ma Ping――such was his name――determined not to stir from the spot.
In vain Thud tried to coax him to go on, then cautiously touched him up
with the whip, Pinfold looking on and laughing.

“Give it him, Thud!” cried the doctor, bestowing on the tat a
gratuitous whack with his own umbrella.

The unexpected blow from behind had instantaneous effect. Ma Ping
suddenly bolted off at a pace which almost unseated his rider. Off came
Thud’s _pagri_ and hat; but he clung desperately to the pommel with
which the native saddle was happily furnished, without the aid of which
the youth would certainly have come to the ground.

“‘Away went Gilpin, who but he!’” exclaimed Pinfold in high glee;
indeed, no one acquainted with Cowper’s poem could have seen Thud
at that moment without being reminded of the “citizen of credit and
renown.” The tat’s rapid motion had twisted round Thud’s black case,
and, hanging by its red strings, it streamed like a pennon behind him.

The tat was, however, brought up in its career by a cactus hedge; and
Thud, panting and frightened but unhurt, awaited the coming up of the
elephant and the rest of the party.

Thud made another attempt to arrange that Maha should change places
with himself; the tat would suit a Karen, he declared, and he would
prefer a howdah. But to this arrangement Oscar decidedly objected. He
again gave his brother-in-law the alternative of remaining in Moulmein,
but to this suggestion the lad would not listen. The specimen case
was twisted round to its proper position, the hat and dusty _pagri_
replaced, and Thud proceeded on his tat in rather a sulky condition.

Io enjoyed her ride; everything was to the youthful Englishwoman so
strange and new. The party passed by paddy-fields, in which men and
women were working together. The peasants stopped their labours to
stare in wonder at a fair lady, who in return gazed down with curiosity
upon them.

“O Oscar, look at that boy smoking a cigar three times the size of Dr.
Pinny’s, with another stuck in each ear! How strange everything looks
to my English eyes! What wonderfully tall grass we are approaching! It
would almost hide my elephant; the tat will be lost in it altogether.
Graceful bamboos! with what dignity they raise aloft their feathery
crowns; and surely that is a banyan, that tree of which I have read
so often, that looks like a dark green roof resting on gnarled brown
pillars, with big roots, like snakes, curling at their bases. This
bird’s-eye view of a new world is very amusing. What a flight of
parrots――lovely green, screaming parrots! And see that bird with
flashing blue wings――such an exquisite metallic tint! Certainly, if
our English birds excel those of the East in song, these far excel ours
in plumage.”

With such cheerful chat Io Coldstream beguiled the way. Oscar
encouraged his wife to talk, gathered for her wild flowers wherever
he could see any remarkable for beauty, and bade Io employ Maha’s deft
fingers in making garlands for the howdah. He told stories of hunting
adventures, and promised his wife specimens of birds to take home, as
he had not forgotten to bring his gun.

“I think that my Oscar is getting back his spirits; the change is
already doing him good,” such was the hope which brightened everything
to Io. She was almost sorry when the first stage of the journey came
to an end, and the party halted to rest their animals, and themselves
partake of a meal which they found ready cooked, as Coldstream had sent
on servants in front to prepare it.

“Tired? Oh no, not in the least tired,” cried Io, as her husband helped
her down the elephant-ladder; “I am only hungry after my delightful

“I’m famishing!” exclaimed Thud. “My ride has been anything but
delightful. I’m as stiff as if I’d been beaten.”

“There is still time for you to return,” observed Oscar.

“I don’t want to return; but I want to ride the elephant――he’s a quiet,
sensible sort of beast. Can’t the beggar girl go on the tat?”

Again the proposition met with a decided negative from Oscar.

“It seems hardly worth while to pitch the tent now,” observed
Coldstream to Io; “we shall have to do so at night.”

“But not now, oh, not now! with this delightful cluster of trees to
spread over us their shade and shed their golden blossoms upon us,”
was the cheerful reply.

Thud ate ravenously, and then solaced himself for his fatigues and
perils by sleeping on a soft, luxurious rug spread on the ground.
Oscar, after his long walk, and with another before him, also stretched
himself on the grass, but he did not sleep. He was listening to the
voice of his Io, warbling to herself a sweet, happy lay. Io sang as the
birds sing, pouring forth the rich notes as if they came spontaneously
from a thankful, trustful heart:――

               “The angry thunder-cloud
                  Pours its showers on the vine;
                Safe in their downy shroud
                  Unhurt the clusters shine.
                The raindrops trickle down the spray;
                They cannot harm, they cannot stay.

               “On ocean the sea-mew
                  Fearless braves the stormy weather,
                Safe in the oily dew
                  On each soft and glist’ning feather.
                Though o’er her dash the briny spray,
                It cannot harm, it cannot stay.

               “In hours of grief acute
                  Thus peace religion brings,
                Like the bloom upon the fruit,
                  Or the oil upon the wings.
                Though tears fall fast in sorrow’s day,
                They cannot harm, they cannot stay.”

“Sing that again, my love,” said Oscar.

“I did not know that you were listening; I thought that I had lulled
you to sleep,” said Io. “So you like my little song?”

“Your music is my solace,” replied Oscar; “it tells me that you are
happy, and to see you so is my greatest earthly desire.”

“I have one song which you have not heard yet,” observed Io. “I stole
the air from the world; it is a pretty old English tune. You know that
Luther said that the evil one should not have the best music.”

“Sing it by all means,” cried Oscar; and his wife cheerfully obeyed:――

           “I’m waiting for the dawn of day,
              When joy shall end earth’s sin and sadness,
            When every shade shall pass away――
              The world, with all its guilt and madness.
            Oh, how happy――Christ possessing――
            Close, close to Him, the Fount of Blessing.
                      His smile so bright,
                      My joy, delight,
            And every thought a thought of pleasure.”

Thus Io sang song after song. To Oscar each one seemed sweeter than the
last. Was the loving minstrel not charming the dark spirit of sorrow
away? It was not till the sun was sloping towards the west that, the
burdens being replaced on the mules, Io and Maha mounted again to the

“This has been such a happy day!” observed Io to her husband, as again
the little cavalcade moved on.

But the day was not to close without its adventure. Thud, tired of his
troublesome tat, asked Oscar to mount the animal. “You may bring the
brute into order; I don’t mind walking a little. Perhaps I may find
something to put into my specimen bag.”

But Thud soon became weary of walking. A stubble field afforded no
materials for his museum, and the path was thickly covered with dust.
The tat, ridden by Oscar, looked quiet enough, and Thucydides Thorn
expressed a wish to try him again.

Oscar dismounted, and held the tat’s bridle to enable his companion to
get up――a feat not very easily accomplished by Thud, who was awkward at
mounting. But once in the saddle, the lad’s self-confidence revived; he
resolved to show his mastery over the tat.

“I understand him now,” exclaimed the youth, shaking the rein and
flourishing the whip. “I’ve a notion that an animal soon finds out what
sort of man is on his back. My theory is――”

What Thud’s theory was remains amongst things unknown; for the tat made
a sudden caper, first turning completely round, then darting with speed
in the direction of Moulmein.

“Stop him! stop him!” cried Thud; and as the tat dashed past the loaded
mules, one of the drivers tried to catch at the rein. The tat swerved,
made a plunge, and Thud measured his short length on the dusty road!

“Oh, I trust that he is not hurt!” exclaimed Io, who was near the place
where her brother had fallen, but who could not dismount without aid.

The reply came in a howl of mingled anger and pain from the prostrate
rider. Oscar hastened to the spot where Thud, who had now raised
himself to a sitting position, was roaring like a two-year-old child,
and pressing his handkerchief to his mouth.

“Help me down, Oscar,” cried the pitying Io. “I must see how much my
poor boy is hurt.”

“There is not much harm done, I think,” observed Mr.
Coldstream.――“Stand up and shake yourself, Thud. There are certainly
no bones broken; the road was perfectly soft. Leave off crying, Thud;
tears are unworthy of any one but a baby. There seems to be very little
the matter.”

“Little the matter!” howled Thud. “Would you have called the matter
little if you had had your two front teeth knocked out?” and, removing
his handkerchief, Thud showed a tear-stained face, with a mouth whose
beauty was by no means improved by an unsightly gap in the upper row of
his teeth.

Thud carefully preserved the two teeth. Dr. Pinfold’s prediction had
come true: these rare treasures, at least to their owner, were the
first to be placed in the specimen bag.

                             CHAPTER XVI.

                           THE LONE VILLAGE.

Thud could not be persuaded to mount Ma Ping again. Io pleaded to be
allowed to walk, at least for a part of the stage; so she and Maha
descended the elephant ladder, and for an hour Thud had the howdah all
to himself. Coldstream then made the lazy lad descend, to walk the rest
of the way, while his sister and her attendant resumed their places.
Thud grumbled not a little, and thought the stage interminable. However,
the halting-place for the night was reached at last: it was under a
thick banyan tree, whose dense foliage would protect from the night
dews those who had to sleep on the ground. The servants were busy
pitching the small tent which Coldstream had brought for his wife.

“I can’t sleep on the bare earth,” said Thud doggedly; “it is so hard,
and I should catch my death of cold.”

“I am going to sleep on the ground,” observed Oscar. “We have plenty of
rugs and wraps. I have often made my bed beneath a tree.”

“_You_, I daresay; but I’m different. I’ve a theory that development of
brain makes the bodily frame more delicate, and that philosophers need
to sleep softer and fare better than other men.”

“You were forewarned as to what you would have to meet,” was Oscar’s
quiet reply.

“And then on the ground one is not safe from all sorts of
reptiles――ants, caterpillars, centipedes, scorpions, snakes!” cried
Thud, raising his voice to more emphatic pitch till he reached his
climax of horrors.

“Specimens for your natural history collection,” said Oscar.

“O Thud! look at that glorious full moon rising over the plain; feel
the fresh, sweet air on your cheek. There is pleasure――luxury, in this
camping out!” cried Io.

“For those who like it,” growled Thud.

The night passed peaceably with the travellers; even Thud had no
cause to grumble. Coldstream was up with the first dawn of light. A
magnificent imperial pigeon, and two green ones brought down by his gun,
afforded the travellers a sumptuous breakfast, and put even Thud into
comparative good-humour. Moreover, he put some of the feathers into his

Then put howdah on elephant, saddle on tat, burdens on mules, and off
and away!

The country soon changed its character as the travellers wended on
their way. Instead of paddy-fields, bamboo clumps, and occasional
groups of trees, the ground rose into hills, and progression became
more difficult. The elephant came at last to places where it seemed to
be impossible that so heavy an animal should make its way. At one spot
there was an incline so steep that Io, though a girl of spirit, became
a little nervous.

“I do not think that we _can_ get down there,” she said to her husband.
“I should be frightened to see you attempt to ride down on the tat; the
elephant would certainly come to grief.”

“Can he manage it?” asked Coldstream of the _kahaut_, who was perched
on the animal’s neck.

“He manage it cleverly,” was the reply.

And the creature did manage the descent cleverly. A sudden movement,
which jerked Io and Maha backward in the howdah, and made them cling
to its sides, gave notice that the huge beast which they rode had knelt
on his hinder legs; then, putting the thick fore legs together, the
elephant slid down the steep incline, and perfectly preserving his
balance, landed safely at the bottom.

“I say, that’s what I call clever!” cried Thud. “I should not like to
have been on the back of the beast!”

“My brave wifie!” exclaimed Oscar; “you did not look in the least

“But I felt so――rather; and I held on very fast,” was the candid reply.

The descent was also cleverly managed by the active little tat and the
sure-footed mules. Only Thud concluded his performance of the feat by a
roll in the dust.

After proceeding for another hour the travellers came in sight of a
village nestling under the shelter of a palm-crowned height.

“What a picturesque little place, with its bamboo huts and thatched
roofs!” exclaimed Io. “I wish, Oscar, that you had brought your
sketch-book as well as your gun.”

“The village would make a good subject for a picture, and is pleasing
at a distance,” said Oscar. “But peaceful and fair as it looks, how
much of vice, misery, superstition, and idolatry are likely to be found
in its dwellings!”

“I do not like to think that,” said Io. “See the cattle grazing
about, and the goats with their kids; look at the buffaloes enjoying
themselves in the big pond, with only their snouts and horns above the
surface of the water.”

“Where there are cows I have an idea that there must be milk,”
observed Thud. “I’m as thirsty as a frog, and as tired as a hack on
Holborn Hill.”

“Oh! a drink of milk would be a luxury,” cried Io.

“I will try to procure some at once,” said her husband.

“Might we not go to the village ourselves?” suggested Io; “it would be
something so novel, so amusing.”

Io’s slightest wish was a law to Oscar. The little ladder was at hand,
and he helped his wife to descend from her lofty perch. Maha, as before,
needed no assistance.

“She’s a kind of monkey,” observed Thud with contempt.

The party proceeded towards the village, Io leaning upon the arm of
her husband. By the side of the path sat a very old man, wrinkled and
bent. He lifted up his head at the sound of strangers’ feet, and the
Coldstreams then perceived that he was quite blind.

“Blind, poor, and so old!” exclaimed Io. “Oscar dear, have you a coin
about you?”

The coin was produced and silently dropped by Io into the old man’s

“The Lord reward you!” ejaculated the old native in the Karen tongue.

The Coldstreams were surprised at the expression used.

“You have had a hard life, father,” said Io gently.

“There is a better life to come,” was the Karen’s reply. “I shall soon
be with my Saviour.”

“Who is your Saviour?” asked Io.

“The Lord Jesus Christ,” answered the blind Karen, reverently bowing
his hoary head.

“From whom have you heard of Him?” asked Oscar with interest.

“From our brother, Ko Thah Byu,” was the slowly-uttered reply.

A little farther on, a small girl, very scantily dressed, was happily
engaged in sucking a bit of sugar-cane. She took it out of her mouth,
and looked up in innocent wonder as the Europeans approached her.

“She will be our little guide,” observed Oscar.――“My child,” he said to
the girl, “will you take us to the house of your mother?”

The girl understood him, but shook her black locks. Oscar repeated his

“Mother up there――with the Lord,” said the child, pointing to the blue,
cloudless sky.

“Who told you that your mother had gone to the Lord?” asked Io.

The same reply came from the child as had been uttered by the old man,
“Brother Ko Thah Byu.”

“This is very striking――very, very interesting,” said Io. “Hark! is not
that the sound of a gong? There are boys gathering under yon tree.”

“I daresay to worship some hideous idol,” suggested Thud. “It is
not safe to disturb savages at their horrible rites.” Thud had not
understood a word of the Karen language spoken, and his ideas of
savages were principally taken from “Robinson Crusoe.”

“There is no idolatry here,” observed Io. “The boys, in orderly
fashion, are sitting down in a circle. This looks for all the world
like a little school. The gong only summoned the pupils.”

“We will go nearer and inquire,” said Oscar.

Yes, it was a school in that secluded village in Siam. The master was
a simple Karen peasant, and his lesson-book a portion of the Bible. The
Coldstreams felt as if they had unexpectedly lighted on a jewel.

“Who started this school?” inquired Oscar of the Karen teacher, who
rose from his squatting position in surprise, whilst all his young,
half-naked pupils forgot their lessons to gaze open-mouthed on the
apparition of a white lady wearing a hat and veil.

“Who started this school?” repeated Oscar.

“Brother Ko Thah Byu,” was the reply.

“He must be a very remarkable man,” observed Oscar to his wife. “I am
very sorry that I did not meet him when he was actually passing through

“I would give anything to see this Karen apostle,” said Io.

The visitors were hospitably treated in the Karen village: not only
milk, but _kur_ (coarse brown sugar) and rice were placed before
them, and when Oscar offered payment it was refused. Further inquiries
regarding Ko Thah Byu elicited the information that this evangelist
had successfully preached the gospel in many places, both in Burmah
and Siam, but that it had been most welcomed by those of his own Karen
race, who were scattered in both countries, often greatly oppressed,
except where protected by the power of the English, to whom the Karen
Christians seemed greatly attached.[2]

“Our white brothers, who came by water as our great father foretold,
spread a big shield over the poor Karens,” said the village teacher;
“our white brothers are welcome.”

The Coldstreams and Thud remained some time in the hospitable village
of Mouang. Maha was delighted to find herself amongst her own people,
and laughed and chatted gaily with the women. The party quitted Mouang
with regret, and Io said that the hour spent with the Christian Karens
had been amongst the happiest of her life.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

                            IN THE FOREST.

Again the little cavalcade moved forward, and again Oscar heard a sweet
voice warbling from the height of the howdah. Well he knew that the
song was meant for his ear.

“Thank Heaven! Io is happy,” thought he; “happy in pure memories of the
past, in the innocent joys of the present, and in the unclouded hope of
the glory to come. What a strange fate it was that linked this bright,
joyous being’s life to mine! Will Io miss me in the mansions of light?
Amidst her thoughts of gladness will there be one of tender regret for
one who loved her as no other man ever loved?”

It was not long before Oscar’s attention had to be given to new
difficulties on the road. The path, for it was not a highway, led
through a dense forest, where thick branches interlaced above formed an
unexpected barrier which no elephant carrying a howdah could possibly

“Oscar, what is to be done?” exclaimed Io, as the huge animal which she
rode came to a sudden halt.

“This is very annoying,” said Oscar. “I was assured that the road the
whole way to Tavoy might be traversed on an elephant’s back. I will
send men to the right and left to ascertain if indeed there be no
practicable path through the wood.”

The search was made in vain. There was evidently no way to proceed but
through the tangled forest. Oscar, who had joined in the search, came
back to his wife.

“It is evidently impossible to go on,” said he. “No howdah could pass
under these trees.”

“Then what is to be done?” repeated Io. “I can hardly attempt to walk
the whole way to Tavoy,” she added, in as cheerful a tone as she could
command; “and if I tried the tat without a lady’s saddle, I fear that
I should come to grief, like Thud.”

Oscar reflected for a moment. “We might try what I first proposed――a

“What! make an improvised one of branches?” cried Io gaily. “But where
are the bearers to carry me?”

“We had better return to our new friends at Mouang,” observed Oscar;
“they may supply us with some rude substitute for litters, and men to
carry them also.”

“But if you go back to the village it makes the distance greater,”
growled Thud. “I am already walked off my legs; my boots have holes,
and my feet are blistered.”

“Get up on the elephant, Thud,” said Io. “Maha and I will walk back to
Mouang; I shall really enjoy the change.”

The lofty seat in the howdah just suited the taste of Thucydides Thorn,
who liked to look down on the rest of the world, and feel himself in
the high position to which he was always aspiring. Oscar did not wish
the laden mules to return――they could make their way through the wood;
and his servants had to prepare food and pitch the tent at the end of
the next long stage.

Io had a delightful walk by the side of Oscar, and found the distance
to the village only too short.

The Karens were surprised at the travellers making so speedy a return,
though the shrewder amongst them had guessed that the elephant would
never get through the forest. The villagers welcomed the party very
kindly. Coldstream soon made the Karens understand what he required.
Litters there were none at Mouang, but rude substitutes could be made
out of _charpais_ (small bedsteads), ropes, and the bamboos which
were abundant. Nothing was required but dexterity and a moderate
space of time. The Karens cheerily lent their aid; Oscar not only
gave directions, but worked vigorously with his own hands; Io and Maha
helped to tie ropes and spread rugs over the improvised litters. Thud,
without descending from the howdah, watched all at their work with his
thumbs in his pockets. He felt himself to be a presiding genius.

Though the best possible speed had been made, some hours passed before
the litters were completed, and the Karens who were to carry them were
ready to start.

“What is to be done with the elephant?” asked Thud.

“The elephant must return to Moulmein,” was Coldstream’s reply; “he
cannot carry his howdah through land clothed with thick forest trees.”

“Then I’ll return with him,” cried Thud. “I’ve had enough and too much
of gipsy life, going on tramp up hill and down hill, tearing one’s
clothes, scratching one’s skin, spoiling one’s boots, and hurting one’s
feet. I’ll go back to more civilized life.”

It cannot be said that either Oscar or Io regretted their brother’s
wish to turn back. The former, however, exacted a promise from the lad
that he would put up at the chaplain’s house till his sister’s return,
and go on with work at the office. So the party separated, the elephant
going one way and the litters the other, the Karens willingly carrying
the latter, pleased with the liberal pay which the English gentleman

“Good-bye, Thud,” cried out Io, looking up and waving her hand to her
brother. “I hope that you will have filled every pocket in your bag
before our return.”

Thucydides grinned, displaying the unsightly gap in his row of front
teeth, and secretly resolving to show his sister something worth
seeing. He had a theory that he could produce black blossoms on her
fine creepers by watering them with ink! Thud had also an idea that
Lightfoot might be cured of his lameness by steady application of
mustard plasters.

“Let’s make the best haste that we can,” said Io, as she seated herself
on her litter. “The delay has made me more than ready for dinner. Thud
has carried off our sandwich-box and all the biscuits, and the sun is
getting low.”

“We must indeed make the best speed we can,” said Coldstream. “It is
not desirable to go through the forest at night, for the thick foliage
cannot be penetrated by the rays of the moon. Had I known how long we
should be delayed at Mouang, I would have ordered my men to stop and
pitch our tent at this side of the wood.”

“I wish that we had torches,” suggested Io.

“I took the precaution of securing two, and oil to feed them, when we
were at Mouang,” said Oscar.

The party reached the edge of the forest just as the sun’s round red
globe touched the horizon.

“Our people have evidently gone on,” observed Oscar; “we can see the
track of feet and hoofs on the path before us.”

“Then we had better follow, and quickly too,” cried Io, “for we can
have neither food nor tent till we catch up with the mules.”

Entering the sombre forest was almost like plunging into sudden night,
so dense was the leafy shade. Coldstream ordered the peasants to light
the torches, that there might be no risk of losing the track of the
party in front. Io admired the picturesque effect of the red light on
huge trunks, gnarled roots, and overhanging boughs, and suppressed, as
far as she could, all signs of fatigue and hunger. She could not help
thinking of the possibility of leopards, even tigers, haunting those
dark, desolate woods. Her ear was quick to detect the slightest sound
which imagination might convert into a distant growl, and her glance
anxiously scanned the thick undergrowth of bushes to detect the glare
of the eye of any wild beast. Oscar had left his gun on one of the
mules; except that a few of the Karens had sticks, the party were
utterly unarmed and defenceless in case of attack.

Io kept her fears to herself, and whenever she addressed her husband,
did so in as cheerful a tone as she could command; but she was
exceedingly weary. Oscar walked on silently, being anxious on account
of his wife, except when he broke the stillness of the woods by a shout,
in hopes that the muleteers might not be far ahead, but able to hear
and reply. At last the travellers came to an open space in the forest,
which had been formerly cleared for the erection of an idol temple, of
which a few ruins still remained. The moon, now from almost vertical
height, threw her silvery light on these ruins and the dark encircling
wood around. From this open space the road divided; two ways appeared
before the travellers, one bearing towards the right, one towards the
left. The party came to a halt.

“It is evident which path the muleteers have taken,” observed Oscar, as
both moonlight and torchlight showed the marks of hoofs and naked feet
on the road which bore to the left.

“Wrong――go wrong; way to Tavoy lie that way!” cried the foremost Karen,
who bore one of the torches, pointing towards the right.

“Are you certain of that?” asked Oscar.

Almost with one voice the Karens replied, “Mules gone wrong
way――drivers know nothing――never get to Tavoy.”

Oscar felt extremely annoyed and perplexed. His wife, faint with
fasting, might have to spend the whole night in the wood. Io was
keeping up bravely, but her husband knew that she suffered. He was
undecided as to what course to pursue: if he took the right path,
he gave up hope of overtaking the mules which carried the tent and
provisions; if he took the left, he and his party might be lost in the
dark depths of the forest. Oscar thought of returning to Mouang; but
he had already gone so far that he was unwilling to retrace his steps.

“Which course shall we take?” said Coldstream to his wife, after
explaining to her the difficulty of coming to a decision.

“Let us ask God to guide us, dearest,” was the reply of Io, a reply
given with a smile, though she was struggling to keep down tears.

                            CHAPTER XVIII.


The question was decided in a startling manner. First, there was the
sound of crashing of boughs, as if wild beasts were forcing their way
through the thicket; then a burst of yells, which certainly came from
human throats. The Karens started with alarm, put down the litters,
and cried out, “Shans,” which Coldstream knew to be the name of a tribe
living farther towards the north. The next minute the clearing in the
wood was filled with a wild band of half-clothed Siamese, shouting and
flourishing rude weapons which flashed in the moonlight. Coldstream had
no time to make even an attempt at resistance. The Shans knew that the
Englishman was the one of the party most likely to show fight, so they
made a determined rush from all sides on the unarmed man. A heavy blow
brought Oscar to the earth, and as he struggled to regain his feet a
dozen dark hands seized him, and with ropes wrenched from Maha’s small
litter Coldstream was tightly bound to a tree with his arms fastened
behind him. The whole affair passed so rapidly that the bewildered,
terrified Io had scarcely time to understand what had happened before
she saw her husband a helpless prisoner, and herself in the hands of
a wild, lawless band! Io’s alarm was great, but even her terror was
as nothing compared to the agony of mind endured by her husband, who
forgot his own danger in witnessing hers. Oscar could not even gasp
forth a prayer; the fearful thought which had come to him before, that
he was doomed to suffer through the wife whom he passionately loved,
came on him again with agony so intense that a dagger plunged into his
side would have inflicted less pain. Could Oscar’s thoughts have been
clothed in words they would have been, “I refused to pluck out the
right eye; and now _both_ eyes will be torn from me, and nothing remain
to a wretch but the blackness of darkness for ever.”

It was a terrible moment, but scarcely more than a moment, for suddenly,
as if he had dropped from the skies, another form appeared on the scene.
The Shans who had seized the shrieking Maha relaxed their grasp and
fell back; they evidently recognized the new-comer, and re-echoed the
exclamation which burst from the lips of every one of the Karens, “Ko
Thah Byu!”

The Karen evangelist strode fearlessly into the very midst of the
throng, and sternly wrenched away a dark hand that was grasping the
shoulder of Io. The Shans fell back as if awed by the presence of one
whom they knew to be a messenger of God.

Ko Thah Byu was not a man of majestic presence, nor did his appearance
denote remarkable personal strength. He was past the meridian of life,
and his dark hair and eyebrows were here and there streaked with white;
but the eyes that flashed under those grizzled brows, and his firm,
resolute mouth, marked the Karen as one born to exercise sway over
his fellow-men. It has been written of the Karen apostle, when he had
been seen preaching to a large congregation of Burmese, that “their
attention seemed to be riveted on his flashing eyes, less apparently
from love than from an indescribable power that may best be compared to
the fascinating influence of the serpent over an unconscious brood of

Like a master startling his slaves in the commission of an act of
disobedience, Ko Thah Byu’s silent look conveyed stern reproof to the
robbers. One glance, one gesture of his hand, and a Shan at once gave
up to the Karen a gleaming knife. Ko Thah Byu walked up to the tree
to which Oscar was tied and cut his bonds. Not a single word had been
spoken by the singular Karen, but when he opened his lips there came
forth a burst of indignant eloquence, unintelligible to his English
hearers, who knew not the dialect of the Shans, but which had evidently
a thrilling effect on the untutored listeners around. The Shans shrank
back, as if ashamed, while a murmur of assent and applause burst from
the Karens.

Then the stern manner of Ko Thah Byu changed, and with simple native
courtesy he approached Mr. Coldstream, whom he addressed in the Karen

“Let not our white brother and sister fear aught,” he said; “no one
will lay a finger upon them.”

At a gesture from Ko Thah Byu the Karens began trying to replace the
ropes that had been wrenched from Maha’s litter.

“No use――they have been cut. I will walk; my brothers are around me,”
said Maha.

Only Karens were left, for the Shans were retiring into the jungle from
which they had so unexpectedly emerged.

“Will the sahib and mem return to Mouang?” said Ko Thah Byu. “It is not
well to pass through the forest at night.”

Oscar assented by a silent inclination of the head. At first he could
not utter a word, the revulsion from utter despair was so great. Io
made up for her husband’s silence by giving fervent thanks to her
deliverer in broken Karen, as she resumed her seat on her litter.

“It was all God’s doing, mem sahib,” said Ko Thah Byu in gentle tones,
which curiously contrasted with his loud, impassioned address to the
Shans. “Ko Thah Byu was on his way to Mouang, hoping to reach it before
night should make the forest path dark. Ko Thah Byu sat by yon ruin,
and read his book, and fell asleep, like the man in the pilgrim-story
of whom the _padri_ [clergyman] tells. Ko Thah Byu rose, and forgot his
book, and went on his way, and trod many steps towards Mouang ere his
loss was known. Karen servant of Christ had to go back; but he found
the book, and now the reason why he lost it is clear as the moon in the
sky. Karen at Mouang would not know of the white mem’s trouble; Karen
in the wood could give help. All was right――all is ever right that our
Father God does for His children.”

“All was indeed ordered in mercy,” observed Io to her husband as he
walked beside her litter, which was borne on again by the Karens. “My
Oscar, at the worst, the very worst, I thought that the Lord would come
to our help. I prayed very hard in my terror, and I am sure that you
prayed too.”

“No, I did not pray,” was the gloomy reply, which astonished and
distressed the young wife.

“O Oscar! I felt as if the Lord’s loving hand were holding me up,” she

“You saw the hand stretched forth to save; I saw the hand upraised to

Oscar had no sooner uttered the unguarded words than he wished them
unsaid. The party were passing under the deep shadow of the dark trees;
the torches were some way in front. Oscar could not see on his wife’s
face the effect of the sentence which had escaped from him in a moment
of anguish; still less could he know its effect on her mind, for Io
uttered not another word until Mouang was reached. The exclamation of
Oscar had been to her like a fearful revelation――a sudden gleam on a
dark subject, but such a gleam as a flash of forked lightning might

“Oscar not pray――at such a moment of peril not be able to pray!” so
ran Io’s troubled current of thought. “He――the noble, the good, the
pious――he could only see our loving Father’s hand upraised to strike!
What fearful mystery lies beneath this? We have long seen my husband’s
sadness, and made guesses――oh, what wrong guesses!――as to its cause.
What could so shut out a Christian from communion with God but _sin_?
My beloved one’s life is as pure as mortal’s can be; there can be
nothing in the present to weigh so heavily on his conscience as to
crush out the spirit of prayer. Can it be possible that there has been
something in the past which to one so sensitive to the least touch of
evil, one who so abhors the smallest error, may appear to be a very
serious sin? Oh that Oscar would confide all to his wife, to one who
would not love him less whatever he might have done!”

Then Io’s thoughts fell naturally into the channel of prayer. She
had very often before pleaded for her husband――she had wrestled in
intercession at the time of his illness, and again and again after
her marriage――but never with more intense, agonized earnestness than
she did now, with her litter for an oratory, and the black, sombre
night as a curtain around her. Her head bowed on her clasped hands,
and the tears wetting her pale cheeks, Io prayed in the gloomy forest.
Then suddenly the litter emerged into moonlight, and the calm holy
brightness around seemed like an earnest of answer to prayer.

“We are going for the third time to Mouang,” thought Io as she leant
back in her litter and closed her eyes, Oscar thought in sleep. “It
seems as if some invisible cord drew us to a spot of which yesterday we
knew not even the name. May it be that some strange blessing awaits us
there. May it be that the guiding Hand which is leading us on in this
land of strangers is taking us to a place where my Oscar’s darkness
will pass away, and where he will see and know that goodness and mercy
have followed, and will follow him still, all the days of his life.”

                             CHAPTER XIX.

                             THE PREACHER.

So entirely was Io absorbed in prayer that she did not notice when
Mouang was reached.

“What are your wishes, my love?” asked Oscar, as he helped his wife
out of the litter. “Shall we to-morrow proceed again towards Tavoy, or
return to Moulmein?” Coldstream had to repeat the question before Io
could even understand it; she was like one awakened from sleep.

“I do not wish to go on,” Io then replied in a faint voice. “Let us
rest for a while in the village if you will, and then go back to our

Io’s extreme quietness disturbed Oscar; it was not in her nature to
be so passive. There was no talking over the night’s adventures, no
remarks about the Karen deliverer. If she spoke, it was like one who
speaks in a dream.

“It is the effect of past terror,” said Oscar to himself; but he was
mistaken in the supposition. Io had almost for the time forgotten the
danger through which she had passed, her mind was so filled with the
question, “What can it be that separates my beloved from his God?”

The Karen villagers were asleep in their huts when, at the dead of
night, the travellers approached Mouang; but the voice of Ko Thah Byu
soon roused them from their slumbers. Everything that could be done for
the comfort of the white strangers was done with all possible haste.
The family who occupied the cleanest bamboo hut hospitably gave it
up to the lady. It was not the hour for milking cows or goats, fruit
was scarce, bread and green vegetables not to be had; but a fire was
lighted, rice hastily boiled, and dried river-fish, with the dainties
of red chillies and garlic, with leaves for plates, supplied the
Coldstreams and Maha with a midnight meal. Io could eat little――her
appetite was gone; but she was thankful to lie down and rest, and try
to forget her troubles in sleep.

Io was awakened in the morning by the beating of a small gong suspended
from the branch of a tree. She started to a sitting posture, a little
alarmed by the sound.

“It is only the call for the villagers to assemble for morning prayer,”
said Oscar, entering the hut with a large earthen vessel of fresh milk
in his hand. “Would you like to be present, my love?”

Io assented; and Oscar, who had been up for some time, left her to make
her morning preparations, and offer up her early devotions. During the
course of the night, the lost mules with their drivers had made their
appearance at Mouang, Ko Thah Byu having sent a Karen guide after them
to show them the way.

Before Io rejoined her husband, the early meeting for prayer was half
over. It was held in the open air: peasants, men and women, some of
the latter with babes in their arms and little children beside them,
listened to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which Ko Thah Byu,
standing on a slight eminence, read and expounded. The Scriptures which
missionaries had caused to be translated and printed in the tongue of
the Karens, was a treasure gladly welcomed and still dearly prized by
this people.

A fragment of one of Ko Thah Byu’s addresses having been preserved in
his memoir, is inserted here, as a specimen of the untutored eloquence
of this remarkable man. The evangelist, in his own impressive and
vehement way, denounced that love of the world and its pleasures which
is found even in the secluded villages from which one might deem such
temptations excluded.

“A worldly man is never satisfied with what he possesses. Let me have
more houses, more lands, more buffaloes, more slaves, more clothes,
more children and grandchildren, more gold and silver, more paddy and
rice, more boats and vessels; let me be rich: this is his language.
He thinks of nothing so much as of amassing worldly goods; of God
and religion he is quite unmindful. But watch that man. On a sudden
his breath departs; he finds himself deprived of all he possessed
and valued so much. He looks around, and sees none of his former
possessions. Astonished, he exclaims, ‘Where are my slaves? where
are my buffaloes? I cannot find one of them! Where are my houses and
my chests of money? What has become of all my rice and paddy that I
laid up in store? Where are the fine clothes which cost me so much?
I can find none of them. Who has taken them? And where are my wives
and children? Ah, they are all missing; I can find none of them. I
am lonely and poor indeed――I have nothing!’ But what is this?” The
impassioned preacher here entered upon a description of the sufferings
of the sinner that is lost; after which he represented the rich man as
taking up this lamentation: “Oh, what a fool I have been! I neglected
God, the only Saviour, and sought only worldly goods while on earth,
and now I am undone.”

“All in this world is misery,” pursued the preacher: “sickness and
pain, fear and anxiety, old age and death, abound on every hand. But
hearken; God speaks from on high: ‘Children, why take ye delight and
seek happiness in that low village of mortality, that thicket of briers
and thorns? Look up to Me; I will deliver you and give you rest, where
you shall be for ever blessed and happy.’”

                              CHAPTER XX.

                            DARK MEMORIES.

The mules having returned and had some hours’ rest, there was
nothing now which need delay the travellers’ departure from the
village; but Oscar wished to see a little more of the Karen apostle
before starting for Moulmein. After partaking of breakfast with his
wife, Mr. Coldstream quitted the hut, and went in search of Ko Thah
Byu. On inquiring where he could be found, one of the peasants directed
Coldstream to a small clump of bushes with the remark, “Ko Thah Byu

Though hesitating a little as to whether he should intrude on the
solitude of the Karen preacher, Oscar yet overcame his scruples, as
another opportunity for conversation with his preserver might not occur.
Coldstream found Ko Thah Byu seated on a large mossy stone, with his
Bible on his knee; he was in the act of closing the holy book when the
Englishman appeared, and the Karen rose to meet him.

“I have not yet thanked you, as I now do from my heart,” said
Mr. Coldstream, “for my own preservation, and, far more, for that of my
wife. Only show me how I can prove my gratitude. Is there anything that
I can offer――”

An expressive movement of the native’s brown hand, and a contraction
of his brow, made Mr. Coldstream pause. Oscar felt that it would be
as impossible to press gold on this moneyless Karen as upon a European
noble. It was scarcely necessary for Ko Thah Byu to express his
thoughts in words, though he did so with a native dignity which gave
them force. “Ko Thah Byu wants nothing from his white brother. Ko Thah
Byu did only his duty. Keep money for those who need.”

“I should like to have a little conversation with you, my friend,” said
Mr. Coldstream, seating himself on the trunk of a felled tree which
happened to be near, and motioning to the Karen to resume his former
seat. “I should like to know something of your former history; I desire
to hear what it was that first led to God one whom I regard as one of
the noblest of men.”

“_The noblest of men!_” repeated Ko Thah Byu with an emphasis of scorn
that had in it something almost savage. “The sahib knows not of whom he
speaks. _The noblest of men!_” again repeated the Karen. “A few summers
past, if the demons of hell had been asked, ‘Who is blacker than we?
who should have a deeper place in the pit?’ the demons would have
clapped their hands and yelled out, ‘Ko Thah Byu!’” Then the fierce
expression on the Karen’s stern features strangely softened, and his
voice became soft as a woman’s as he went on, “And now if the angels
in heaven be asked, ‘Who should praise most of all? who should wet
Christ’s feet with most tears, and kiss them with most exceeding great
love?’ the angels would lift up their hands and cry, ‘Ko Thah Byu! Ko
Thah Byu! for he has been most forgiven!’”

“Can this be so?” exclaimed Oscar Coldstream: “were you, before your
conversion, so much worse than other men?”

“In childhood Ko Thah Byu was wicked――ungovernable,” was the reply.
“The sapling was crooked, bent, and black; what could the tree become?
Even now Ko Thah Byu has in his heart a fierce wild beast that is
chained, but which too often breaks his chain, and then men wonder
that the Karen Christian should be so unlike his Master.”[3]

Coldstream looked at the Oriental’s rugged features and flashing eyes,
and could imagine how formidable his bursts of passion might be if not
tamed down and subdued by grace.

“Ko Thah Byu was a slave once,” pursued the Karen, “knowing
nothing――very dark――man’s slave and a slave of Satan. Padri Judson
set slave free from man’s bonds, but the worse bonds held him tightly
still. Ko Thah Byu then learned something of the good, but he followed
the bad. Got debt; Christian brother Ko Shway Bay paid debt――took Ko
Thah Byu as servant. But servant bad, very bad; master could not keep
such servant――sent him away. All men say Ko Thah Byu no Christian,
Ko Thah Byu got very black heart. But Good Shepherd see that leopard
could be turned into sheep; Christ could change wild beast’s spots,
Christ could put love in black dead heart. The Lord caught Ko Thah Byu
when sinner just dropping into hell――over edge, falling down, down,
down――Christ caught hold, and saved, and pulled sinner up, and washed,
and set upon Rock!” Tears gushed from the Karen’s dark eyes as he told
of redeeming love.

“You had fierce temper and evil habits,” observed Coldstream, who was
listening with intense interest to the tale of the convert; “but you
had perhaps never committed any great crime.”

“Many,” was the Karen’s reply, uttered with startling vehemence. “God
commands, _No steal_; Ko Thah Byu great robber. God commands, _Do no
murder_; Ko Thah Byu wound, stab, kill!”

“Did you kill a man?” exclaimed Oscar, starting to his feet from
emotion too strong to be repressed.

“Kill many men, more than these fingers thrice told,” was the reply of
Ko Thah Byu, as he stretched out his dark muscular hands.

“And you yet found grace――a murderer found grace!” cried Oscar.

“Sahib, Christ’s blood wash even murderer white,” was the earnest
reply; “washed David, who sinned the murderer’s sin. David’s song is Ko
Thah Byu’s song, the history of Ko Thah Byu’s life;” and with a fervour
that appropriated every word as if it were a spontaneous burst from his
own heart, the Karen repeated the first part of the thirty-second psalm,
which fell on Oscar with all the force of a new revelation:――_Blessed
is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is
the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit
there is no guile. While I kept silence, my bones waxed old through
my roaring all the day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon
me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer._ The Karen’s
voice dropped, his head drooped; he seemed again to feel the crushing
pressure, the wasting thirst of the soul, and was too much occupied
with his own memories to notice the effect of his words on his hearer.
Then raising his head again, and looking upwards with such a glance as
seemed to tell of heaven itself opening before him, Ko Thah Byu went on
with the psalm:――_I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity
have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord;
and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin._

For the first time since, when a boy, he had stood by a mother’s grave,
Oscar Coldstream was sobbing!

He started on hearing a step, and turned a few paces aside, that no
one might see his agitation. A Karen had come to call Ko Thah Byu to
the hut of a peasant taken suddenly ill. The evangelist hastened to the
place, and Oscar was left alone with his thoughts. With his back turned
towards the abodes of men, the Englishman strode up and down, and the
exclamation burst from his lips, “But for Io, I would tell all, and
find peace.”

                             CHAPTER XXI.


“What would Oscar do but for Io? is it Io who keeps him from peace?”
A white trembling hand was on Coldstream’s arm, and he turned to meet
the wistful, pleading gaze of his wife, whose light footstep he had not
heard when she came to seek him. Her husband could not reply.

“O Oscar――my life! there is some terrible secret which you would keep
even from me. You have done something――something wrong. This is like a
thorn in your conscience; you cannot find peace until it is taken away.”
Io unconsciously pressed very tightly the arm which she grasped.

“I cannot take the thorn out of my own breast to plant it in yours,”
said her husband.

“I would welcome it, if my sorrow could give you peace,” exclaimed Io.
“Mine own, my beloved, tell me all; let me judge――let your Io judge
whether there is anything too painful for her to suffer, if she can
only help to remove from her Oscar this secret, terrible pain. It is
my desire――my entreaty――my _right_――at least to judge for myself.”

“Judge then, for you shall know all. I will hide nothing, even
if confession should rob me of my most precious possession――your
affection,” said Oscar gloomily, motioning to Io to sit down on the
large trunk, and then taking his place at her side. Io would have
rested her head on her husband’s breast, but he made a movement to
prevent her so doing. “Not now, not now,” murmured Oscar; “wait till
you have heard all.”

Io waited for several minutes till Oscar should break the silence which
followed. She felt somewhat as a wretch condemned to be blown from a
cannon might feel while awaiting the fatal explosion. When Oscar spoke
at last it was with rapid utterance, as if to shorten suspense and pain.

“You remember our happiness at the time of our engagement――happiness
almost perfect, till one day I showed petulance, and cost you the first
tears which I ever saw you shed.”

“Yes,” replied Io sadly: “you were annoyed when Walter climbed higher
than yourself to bring a flower from a very steep place, and I was
foolish enough to put the flower in my hair. I was a silly, vain child,”
she added humbly. “It was new to me to be loved as you loved me; I am
afraid that I liked to tease, and show my power by playing with your

“A woman who does so plays with edge-tools,” muttered Oscar.

“But all was set right at once,” cried Io. “I convinced you that I had
never loved any man but yourself; that I merely amused myself with poor
Walter because he was my cousin, brought up in the same nursery, and
I liked his fun and his practical jokes. Surely I quite convinced you,

“You did convince me, Io. I saw that I had been a jealous, unreasonable
fool. You and I were happy once more.”

“And it was never possible that my unfortunate cousin could give
you a moment’s uneasiness again,” said Io. “He died about the time
of your return. Walter had made a foolish bet that he would climb an
inaccessible cliff; he failed――fell――and, alas! perished.”

“Walter did not fail, nor fall――till he was thrown down by these
accursed hands,” said Oscar abruptly. He dared not look at his wife as
he spoke; he could not have met her look of horror.

“Now you know why I could not lead the devotions of others, why I
dared not approach the Holy Table. Could I――wretch that I am――offer
up petitions with guilty lips, take the emblems of redeeming love into
a murderer’s blood-stained hand? No, I could not have so played the
hypocrite, or I might have been struck dead on the spot.”

“I cannot believe this frightful tale,” gasped Io; “you have been
dreaming it in some fit of delirium. Why should you injure my poor
cousin, from whom you parted in friendship, and whom you had not even
seen for two years?”

“You know the worst; now hear what may possibly extenuate a little
my madness――my guilt.” Oscar spoke in a calmer tone, for he already
felt something of relief from frank confession. “When I started from
Moulmein to return and claim you as my bride, I was the happiest mortal
on earth. Paradise seemed to open before me. The first check to my joy
came at Malta, where I found no letter from Io.”

“The one which Thud detained told you why. My mother had been suddenly
taken with a fit; in my great anxiety for her dear life I had forgotten
the day for writing to Malta. But surely the missing of one post need
not have caused you much distress.”

“I was only somewhat troubled,” continued Oscar; “I thought that
my betrothed might be ill, I never thought that she could be false.
When the pilot met us in the Channel I made sure of a letter, and
was foremost in the throng that crowded to the vessel’s side to seize
on the contents of his bag. To my great disappointment there was no
letter for me in your familiar hand, only one in your cousin’s. I tore
that open with feverish haste: Walter would tell me whether you were
ill, perhaps――as my fears suggested――dying. There were only two lines
written in that fatal letter; they were branded on my brain as with
burning iron――‘_Io is mine; I have won the prize._’”

“Oh, the poor foolish boy!” exclaimed Io. “He did not tell you that he
had given my name to his hunter, and that in a steeple-chase she was
first. I remember Walter’s saying to me that he had played on you a
practical joke.”

“A joke which cost the poor fellow his life, and has blasted mine,”
groaned Oscar. “The jealousy which I had deemed stifled for ever
suddenly blazed up within me, till my soul was as a furnace sevenfold
heated. When the _Argus_ neared Dover pier I sprang out, narrowly
missing falling into the sea――spectators must have thought me mad.
Would that I had been drowned, and so had never lived to look on him
whom I hated! I determined to see you at once, and learn the whole
truth from your lips. I hurried along the shortest path, that at the
top of the cliffs, so often trodden with you. As I passed on I heard
a voice gasp out my name; I saw two hands grasping the ground not two
yards from the path, and I saw the head of the climber who had just
reached the top of the cliff. The face had the flush caused by violent
physical effort, but I deemed it the flush of triumph. It was Walter’s
face; he had just breath enough left to cry, ‘_I’ve won!_’ Those were
his last words. For a moment I appeared to be possessed by a demon――I
was possessed, for I did the deed of which I repented even before I
heard the sound of the crash below.”

Io hid her face in her hands and shuddered.

“Then on I sped――a second Cain――resolved but on one thing――to see you,
to tax you with your perfidy, and then――I knew not what would follow.
You met me with open arms and a cry of delight. You know the rest. For
me there is memory of nothing but a kind of hideous dream, till――I know
not how long afterwards――you laid before me that letter which proved
that you had always been true, and that I had been not only a villain
but a fool. Io, for some time I felt that I could not offer you a
murderer’s hand; that I should fly from you and the world. Then your
altered circumstances, and your mother’s, made me change my mind. I
might still give you a husband’s protection, more than a husband’s love,
and you should never know that marriage had linked you to one whom you
might justly abhor. Io, do you not hate me?”

Io’s only reply was throwing herself on her husband’s breast, with her
arms clinging round his neck. Oscar’s confession, made at cost of so
much shame and anguish, made him seem dearer than ever.

“Oscar, I love you, oh so fondly! God loves you too, and He will
forgive. Remember the thief on the cross.”

“He confessed and found mercy, but it was from a cross,” said Oscar
Coldstream. “I have not yet taken up mine; I have shunned it――I shun
it still.”

“What do you mean?” cried Io, raising her head; “you have confessed,
and fully. You are not a Romanist; you look not for priestly

“Io, I have not only broken God’s law, but the laws of my country.
Justice demands a victim. My cross is to let the world know my guilt,
publicly to confess my crime and accept its penalty, even should
it be a death of shame. Nothing less than this can give to a guilty
conscience peace. You have said that it is your desire――your right――to
judge; judge then what course should I take. I leave the decision in
the hands of my wife.”

“I cannot judge, I cannot think――my brain turns round,” faltered Io,
her white lips with difficulty uttering the words, while she pressed
her head with both her hands.

“Sahib, all ready for starting.” How strangely the native servant’s
commonplace announcement broke on the terrible stillness which had
followed the exclamation of Io.

Mrs. Coldstream started to her feet. “Let us go, let us go quickly!”
she cried wildly; “let us leave this terrible spot! I must have time
to think――time to pray. I will give you my answer――_to-morrow_!”

                             CHAPTER XXII.

                              HOME AGAIN.

Io’s yearning was for quietness and solitude, but in the village
neither was now to be found. The Karens, smiling, and with little
offerings in their hands, came to see the white travellers start. There
were crying babies and laughing children, quiet girls and noisy boys,
such as are always to be expected in a mixed crowd. Several women came
with their palms pressed together, as if preferring a request. One
bowed down almost to the ground, so as to touch the lady’s feet. There
was a good deal of talking, apparently addressed to Io; but her senses
were so bewildered by the late shock, that she could not take in a
single word. Io looked helplessly at her husband for an explanation.

“They are begging you to leave Maha with them, my love. The woman says
that she has lost her only child, and desires to adopt Maha as her
daughter. I have spoken to Ko Thah Byu, who gives to the widow a high
character for piety.”

The object of the petition was mutely standing by with her hands
clasped, and her dark eyes watching the face of her mistress.

“Does Maha wish to stay here?” asked Io. She spoke in English, and
Oscar translated the question.

“These are Karens, mine own people,” replied Maha, with a wistful
glance at the widow; “and she is so like my dead mother.”

“Would it pain you to part with your _protégée_, my Io?” asked Oscar.

“Pain? no, nothing pains now, but――” She paused, and pressed her hand
on her heart. Io was somewhat like the poor victim broken on the wheel,
who, after the first crushing blow had paralyzed sensation, mocked at
the idea of any other stroke having power to hurt.

Oscar hastily completed the arrangement, and then, turning towards Ko
Thah Byu, warmly grasped his brown hand.

“You have done much for me――more than you know, my brother,” said the
Englishman to the Karen. “You have helped to release me from bonds
which I believed would have bound me for ever.”

It was a relief to the Coldstreams when Mouang was left behind, though
Maha and others followed Io’s litter for more than a mile, the Karen
girl weeping bitterly at parting from the mistress whom she honoured
and loved. At length the last farewell was said, and Io felt alone;
for Oscar dropped behind the litter, respecting his wife’s wish for
absolute silence――a wish which, after the excitement of the morning, he
fully shared. Io closed her eyes to shut out all sights, but the mind’s
eye could not be closed. The less she saw the more she thought. The
face of poor Walter, her childhood’s companion, continually rose before
her! It was some comfort to her now, as it had been when she had first
heard of his sudden death, that her merry hare-brained young cousin had
had serious thoughts on religion; that with all his giddiness he had
received the truth with the simple faith of a child. Io would not have
had this comfort had her brother been the one to be suddenly taken.

The halting-place for the night was reached at last, where the
little tent was already pitched, the fire lighted, the meal prepared.
Coldstream avoided any allusion to painful subjects as he sat beside
his pale wife, and helped her to food which Io in vain attempted to
eat. Coldstream related all that he had heard from Ko Thah Byu of the
Karen’s former life; and Io, though she made no comment on the strange
tale, readily understood what influence it had had on the mind of her

The lady early laid herself down to rest, but not to sleep. Feverish
and restless Io remained through what appeared to be an almost
interminable night. If a few minutes of slumber came, they were
rendered horrible by dreams in which the terrible tragedy of the cliff
was acted over again. But Oscar was able to sleep; his wife marvelled
to see how calmly he rested. The cause of this was partly physical
fatigue and reaction after a violent inward struggle, but partly that
his confession to his wife had in some measure relieved his conscience.
He had taken the first step――or rather desperate leap――under the weight
of the cross which he had at last dared to take up.

Day dawned, and with it came the morning’s preparations, the morning’s

“Oscar, will you arrange that we do not reach Moulmein till quite after
dark?” said Io, as she took her place in the litter. “The moon does not
rise now so early. I wish no one to know of our arrival. I could not
endure to-day to meet Thud or the doctor.”

“There is no fear of our meeting till to-morrow morning,” replied
Oscar. “All the English residents of Moulmein were invited to spend
this Thursday evening at a _fête_ given by the rajah.”

“Thursday! I thought that this was Saturday,” said Io dreamily. “It
seems as if this week would never come to an end.”

It was not till after dark that the Coldstreams reached their home,
where they were expected by no one. All their servants, except one lame
old man, had gone to see the rajah’s fireworks. No fires were lighted
in the compound, no lamp in the dwelling. It was with some difficulty
that even the door was opened to receive the master of the house. The
furniture was in the holland wrappings in which Io had left her things
when expecting to be absent for weeks. It was a dreary coming home, but
more congenial to sad feelings than a cheerful greeting would have been.

“I will go to rest at once,” said Io. Nature was demanding sleep; after
the last two terrible nights the lady could scarcely keep her eyes open.

“Shall we first pray together?” suggested Oscar.

Blessed rift in the dark, dark cloud! Oscar could at last kneel down
by the side of his wife and pray aloud. And what a prayer was his! It
seemed to be poured out at the feet of a Saviour in visible presence――a
pleading, imploring prayer for mercy on the guiltiest of the guilty.
But it was a prayer uttered in faith and hope――faith that there is
indeed a Fountain to wash away sin; hope that its stain had already
been removed from a penitent’s soul. The sinner was prostrate indeed,
but, like Saul of Tarsus, in deep humility, not in despair. Io drank
in each word of the prayer. It refreshed her, it strengthened her,
while it made her tears flow fast. When the supplication was ended,
the “Amen” came from her lips with a sob.

Then the husband and wife arose from their knees. Oscar knew that the
mail for Calcutta would start on the morrow, and Io had promised to
give her answer on the day which had now passed into night.

“What would you have me do now, my beloved?” Oscar inquired, taking the
hand of his wife.

Io knew what he meant. “Whatever you think right,” was the faltered

The husband pressed a long, tender kiss on Io’s cold brow. Not another
word passed between them. Io went to her own room, and Coldstream
retired to his study.

Seated in that study, Oscar wrote a brief but full account of his crime
in an official letter addressed to Government House. He omitted nothing,
except the cause of the hatred which he owned that he had felt towards
his unfortunate victim; he made not the slightest reference to his wife.
Oscar wrote with a strange calmness which was to himself a matter of
surprise. He then lighted a taper and sealed up his document, placed
it in his desk, which he locked, read awhile in his Bible, and then
retired to rest.

                            CHAPTER XXIII.

                              AN ORDEAL.

Oscar arose very early, before his wife was awake. He went to his
study, and, after long fervent prayer, took out the large sealed
letter and carried it himself to the post. The postmaster was making
up the bag for the Calcutta mail, whistling a light air as he did so.
Oscar gave in the letter with a hand that did not tremble, and turned
away with the thought, “I _have_ plucked out the right eye.” (‡ See

Coldstream did not at once direct his steps homewards. He went
first to a kind of warehouse with a deep veranda half filled up
with advertisements on placards, pieces of second-hand furniture too
large to be stowed inside, empty packing-cases, and other articles
of a heterogeneous nature. This was the establishment of Hersey the
agent, who monopolized most of the custom of the European residents in
Moulmein. The proprietor, seated in the veranda, was taking his morning
cup of coffee before business hours should commence.

Mr. Coldstream was well known to Hersey, who had procured for that
gentleman most of the furniture of his house. Hersey rose, put down his
cup, raised his hat, and wished Mr. Coldstream good-morning. He offered
Oscar a seat, but his offer was declined. Mr. Coldstream preferred

Much astonished was Hersey when he found on what business his early
visitor had come, when Coldstream informed the agent that he wished to
put his dwelling, with all its fittings, into his hands for sale in the
following month.

Hersey expressed his surprise. He could hardly believe that Mr.
Coldstream could really intend to dispose of the house prepared at the
cost of much labour and expense, which was generally acknowledged to be
the one best fitted up in the station.

“It is my wish to sell it furnished,” said Mr. Coldstream. “My wife and
I are about to quit Moulmein.”

“I am sure, sir, we shall be very sorry to lose you,” said Hersey.

After settling this affair, Coldstream, with a quick step――for he
wished to get over painful business as rapidly as he might――proceeded
to his own office, which opened on the wharf. Coldstream, as he
expected, found Smith overlooking labourers at work in the extensive
yard which adjoined the premises. There were some repairs going on, and
the sound of hammer and saw rose in the morning air. Smith respectfully
greeted his chief, and made a remark on the work on which the labourers
were employed.

“A fine bit of timber that, Mr. Coldstream; one does not see such every
day,” he observed.

“No; the tree must have been a grand one before it fell beneath the
axe,” said Oscar.――“Smith, come with me to the office; I have some
matters which I wish to talk over with you there.”

The two men were soon seated in the office. Smith, a shrewd,
intelligent man of business, thoroughly master of his work, listened
with unfeigned surprise to a proposal made by his employer by which
his own position in life would be entirely changed. The reader need
not be troubled by details. Coldstream’s plan, matured during his
long pedestrian journey, was to make over his whole business to a man
who had twice managed it satisfactorily during his own absence. An
agreement would have to be drawn up by a lawyer by which Smith would
engage to pay a certain yearly sum to Mrs. Coldstream as interest on
the capital which his former employer had sunk in the business. The
offer was a liberal one, and its acceptance would at once place Smith
in a position to which he had never hoped to attain.

“But, my dear sir, Mr. Coldstream, why should you give up the
business?” cried Smith. “You are in the prime of life; thoroughly
master of the work. I have served you, and your respected father before
you, for more than twenty years. I never looked even to partnership;
and now you would place everything in my hands! I hope that your health
is not failing――nothing the matter with your heart.” The honest man
looked with affectionate anxiety at the pale, worn face of his chief,
that anxiety mitigating but not destroying the pleasure which he
naturally felt at the prospect of his own advancement.

“It is not want of health that takes me from Moulmein,” replied Oscar.

“But you will return, my dear sir――you will certainly return and take
up the business again? I will act under your orders and in your name,
as I have twice done when you were absent in England.”

Mr. Coldstream shook his head gravely. “No, Smith; I wish to make
an arrangement definite――final. I shall never return to Moulmein.”
Then, after a pause, he went on: “I have one other stipulation to make,
though it cannot be put into legal form like the arrangement in favour
of Mrs. Coldstream. I must add the condition that you give employment
at a moderate salary to her brother, young Thorn, who has come to
Moulmein in the hope of finding some means of earning his living.”

Smith raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders a little.
Something like a smile came to his lips.

“I willingly agree to take the young master into the business,” said
he, “and give him a sufficient salary, with prospect of increase; but
I cannot engage to keep him on unless he shows himself willing to work.
Master Thorn is so desirous to instruct, that I find it uncommonly hard
to get him to learn; and we can’t get into any profession by jumping
over the wall――we must take the trouble of opening the gate.”

“Do you think the lad deficient in intellect?” inquired Mr. Coldstream.

“Oh dear, no, sir! he has as much brain as most other boys; only he
thinks that he has a thousand times more,” replied Smith with a grin.
“Master Thorn is lazy too, he is; he ought to have been at his work
here more than an hour ago.”

“I see him coming; I will go and meet him. I will tell him of our
arrangement, and say that you agree to give him a trial.”

“Yes, sir, a trial. I’ll do what I can, for your sake and the lady’s;
but Master Thorn should know that the result must depend on his own

“Young Thorn needs the spur of necessity,” observed Mr. Coldstream;
“he may do better when we are away.” Then, bidding Smith good-morning,
Oscar quitted the office, and went with quick step to meet Thud, who
was approaching with a slow one.

“Why――I say――you back already! I did not expect you for a fortnight!”
exclaimed Thud. The lad’s heavy face showed signs of the effect of the
festival of the last evening; his cheeks were more puffed and his eyes
a little more blinking than usual.

“We met with an adventure,” replied Oscar, “and both Io and I decided
to return at once. Besides, I have many arrangements to make. We are
going to leave Moulmein.”

“Oh, I am glad of that!” cried Thud. “It’s the most stupid place under
the sun; it has not so much as a club-room or a museum. When shall we

“It is not a case of _we_,” replied Mr. Coldstream; “I am compelled to
leave you behind in Moulmein.”

“I won’t stay behind when you go,” said Thud bluntly.

“I am afraid that you will hardly have a choice,” replied his
brother-in-law; and Oscar explained to Thud the arrangement which
he had made for his benefit, and tried to show him how much to his
advantage it was to be received at once as a paid assistant, instead
of being simply apprenticed.

“_I_――an assistant to that low fellow Smith, the son of a London
tailor!” exclaimed Thud, with intense disgust.

“No matter whose son he may be; he is a good, honest, sensible man, who
has worked his own way up in the world. Mr. Smith is the only person
whom I know willing to give you such a chance.”

“I’ll go with you. Where are you going?” asked Thud.

“Where we go is not the question; I have told you already that you
cannot go with us.”

Thud ground his teeth in anger. “I’ll return to England at once,”
growled he.

“Who will pay for your passage? I certainly shall not,” said Oscar.
“Listen, my boy,” he continued, laying his hand in a kindly way on the
shoulder of Thud. “I believe that the separation will be for your good.
Thrown on your own resources, you will show what mettle is in you; you
will learn to work so as to be a help to a widowed mother, and not a
burden. You have an opportunity of redeeming the time; the ball is at
your foot――”

Thud showed what he was likely to do with the symbolical ball by
violently kicking a large stone which lay in the way, to the detriment
of his boot and the bruising of the foot which it covered.

“Think over the matter,” said Oscar. “I tell you again that I have
done for you the best that I possibly can. Now go to your work; I have
business elsewhere.”

Thud did not go to his work; he was in a violent passion, partially
restrained before Oscar, but about to burst in full fury on Io.
Hurrying home, Thud found his sister buried in painful thought; for she
felt certain that the letter of terrible import had been sent――that her
husband had done what was right, facing results that might be fearful.
Thud never noticed his sister’s distressed looks, never greeted her
after her absence, but burst like a tornado upon her.

“I say, Oscar has behaved shamefully――disgracefully――brutally!”
exclaimed the lad, his short hair appearing to bristle up with anger.

Io started to her feet in alarm. Was it possible that Thud knew the
fatal secret――that he was speaking of Walter’s death by her husband’s
hand? The next sentence sputtered forth reassured her on this point at

“He has lured me here to this detestable place by promising to find
me occupation, as a rat is lured into a trap by cheese; and so he
has caught me, and I cannot get out. Oscar has treated me abominably!
_I_――Thucydides Thorn――_I_ an assistant to the son of a tailor! I’d
sooner be sewn up in a sack and thrown into the sea!”

Io tried her utmost to soothe her brother. She appealed to his love for
his mother, his love for herself; she tried to touch on motives higher
still. But even her winning gentleness had little or no effect. Thud
was indignant at Io’s refusing to promise to use all her influence to
induce Oscar to change his mind. He called her conduct unnatural and
unkind. The interview was to the half broken-hearted Io like vinegar
on a fresh wound. She was almost relieved to see Mrs. Cottle’s short,
thick figure coming bustling up the path, for she knew that Thud would
avoid meeting one who laughed at him more mercilessly than did Dr.
Pinfold himself. Mrs. Cottle had never before ventured to call before
breakfast, and her company was far from congenial to Io; but it was
something that her approach closed the conversation which was becoming
painful almost beyond endurance. Thud went off in high dudgeon to pour
out the tale of his wrongs to Pogson. The poor dog was indeed being
thrown into the water to teach him to swim, and great was the splash
and the struggle.

Mrs. Cottle had been too full of eager curiosity to wait for the
visiting-hour. She was glad to catch Io in the veranda, giving the poor
lady no time to retreat into the house.

“My dear, dear Mrs. Coldstream,” cried the visitor, taking both of Io’s
hands and shaking them with unusual warmth of manner. “Goodness me,
how ill you look! and one cannot wonder at it. What is it that I hear?
I dropped in early at Hersey’s to look at the screen which he has for
sale, and he told me――but I’m sure that it cannot be true――that Mr.
Coldstream is going to carry you off, and sell this beautiful house!”

“Please sit down, Mrs. Cottle,” said poor Io, releasing her hands
from her visitor’s grasp, but unable to avoid the gaze of her peering,
curious eyes.

Mrs. Cottle plumped down on a chair, and made it crack with her weight.
Io also seated herself, for she was hardly able to stand.

“Only tell me, my dear, that this shocking rumour is not true,” cried
Mrs. Cottle.

“It is true that we must quit Moulmein,” said Io sadly; “and of course
Mr. Coldstream will part with the house.”

“Such a beauty! green poplin furniture――curtains to match――pictures,
mirrors!” cried Mrs. Cottle, glancing around, the idea of auction-sale
and cheap bargains flitting through her mind. “My dear, you must make a
stand――you must persuade; and if persuasion won’t do, must resist.”

“I never resist my husband’s will,” replied Io, an indignant flush
giving a brief colour to her pale cheek.

“That’s it,” said Mrs. Cottle; “you’re much too soft. Men love to play
the tyrant and lord it over the meek Griseldas. We all see what you

“Mrs. Cottle, I am not accustomed to such language, and I will not bear
it!” cried Io, rising from her seat. “I have the best, the kindest of
husbands, and would willingly go with him to the end of the world!”
Unable to bear the conversation longer, Io made a hasty apology to her
visitor, and retreated into the house.

“Ah, that’s what always happens,” said Mrs. Cottle to herself, as she
went on her way. “You can’t come between a man and his wife. If he
were beating her to death, and you interfered, she would tell you to go
about your business. But I’m sorry for that poor, silly girl! I always
said that she had made a dreadful mistake in marrying a gloomy tyrant
like Coldstream.”

Mrs. Cottle went to comfort herself for the briefness of her interview
with Io by talking over the miseries of a woman wedded to a Bluebeard
with every gossip in the station.

Even in her home, shut up in her own room to be more safe from
intrusion, Io was not to be left to herself. Presently Dr. Pinfold’s
loud voice resounded through the dwelling.

“Io, my dear, where are you? I’ve come to see you,” cried the doctor,
the visitor who could never be shut out. Even had his god-daughter
been ill in her bed, that would not have excluded the medical man. Io
screwed up her courage as best she might, and came forth to greet her
old friend, heartily wishing herself back in the solitude of the woods.

“Bless me, my child, what’s the matter?” exclaimed Pinfold, with real
concern, when his favourite made her appearance. “You look like a
criminal going to be hanged!” Io winced at the terrible word. “You are
trembling like an aspen, my girl. What on earth has pulled you down

Io made a desperate effort to smile and assume a cheerful manner,
as she made her old friend sit down on the sofa beside her. “Dear Dr.
Pinny, shall I relate some of our adventures?” she said. “First, poor
Thud fell from the tat――”

“And lost his teeth and his beauty,” laughed Pinfold. “He wanted me to
put the teeth in again; but I told him that they could only be put into
a museum.”

Io was well pleased at having diverted attention from her own looks.
She then, with a desperate energy which surprised herself, went on to
give a description of the alarming night-adventure――Oscar knocked down,
seized, and bound to a tree; she herself in the hands of the Shans. Her
vivid description elicited many an exclamation from the old doctor.

“I thought that a pleasure-trip would do you good,” cried the
kind-hearted man; “but it seems that I was pouring vitriol down my
patient’s throat to serve as a tonic! I never bargained for savages
and robbers. I hope that Coldstream gave the fellow who saved you a
handsome present. And now you must try to forget your fright――or write
a novel about it; and you must be well nourished up――_àpropos_ to which
the savoury scent from the dining-room tells me that our breakfast is

Io was not sorry, under the circumstances, that business had delayed
Oscar’s return, and that he, at least, would not have to eat his
breakfast under the eye of the doctor.

“By-the-by,” said Pinfold, as he poured the hot milk on the _suji_,
“what means this nonsensical report about your and your husband’s
leaving Moulmein?”

How often had the Coldstreams to endure the ordeal of such questions
during the next few days! They almost dreaded the sight of a European
visitor, except that of the chaplain, who had too much consideration to
show curiosity. Had there not been so much business to be settled, so
many arrangements to make, the Coldstreams would have tried to escape
from daily annoyance by making a second excursion.

“One comfort is that to-morrow the English ship comes in,” thought
Io, after a day of peculiar vexation. “I shall have the luxury of a
nice long letter from my darling mother, who knows nothing yet of our
trouble. It will contain some loving token for Christmas, which is now
so near, and interesting particulars of dear Jane’s engagement, only
briefly mentioned in the last letters. In news from my loved English
home I shall find some comfort still.”

                             CHAPTER XXIV.


The mail came, but not the comfort. The only letter was a black-edged
one addressed to Oscar. He came to his wife with the letter open in
his hand, and sadly and tenderly broke to her its contents. A fit,
resembling that which had attacked Mrs. Thorn in the early part of the
year, had this time proved fatal. Jane wrote to her brother-in-law from
the chamber in which lay a dear form in the stillness of death.

Many tears did Io shed over the letter; and yet both to her and to
Oscar there came a mournful consolation in the thought that the gentle
lady had been saved from knowledge of the cause of the frightful
death of her nephew Walter, her sister’s orphan child, whom she had
brought up with her own. The dark shadow over Io’s home would throw
no blackness over her mother’s grave.

Thud’s grief for the loss of his parent was shown in more violent form
than Io’s. He flung himself on the sofa, and cried and howled like a
passionate child. There was no small admixture of selfishness in the
sorrow of the poor lad. He had lost a home as well as a parent, and had
now no resource to fall back upon when he needed money or help. Thud
realized at last that he _must_ swim by his own exertions, unless he
intended to sink. There was in Thud at least a temporary improvement;
for a while he built up no fanciful theories, obtruded on others no
foolish opinions, and quietly went to his work. Io earnestly hoped that
the vain lad would grow up at last into the useful, sensible man.

There was a change also in Oscar, apparent in manner and mien, and
shown in his countenance, which was grave but no longer gloomy. A
deep peace had followed confession. No cloud hid the brightness of the
Saviour’s face from the penitent sinner. Oscar had committed a crime,
and was prepared to bear its penalty; but it would be in this world and
not in the next. Coldstream was at last in the position of the thief
on the cross: the criminal saw the blood flowing for his salvation, and
heard in his heart the voice speaking in mercy and love, “Thou, even
thou, shalt be in paradise with Me.”

Especially did Oscar realize the blessing on him whose transgression is
pardoned when he attended divine service on Christmas day. Io had given
orders that every bud and blossom should be stripped from her garden
to adorn the church. She had not had heart to join in the work herself;
but when the Coldstreams entered the building, the soft fragrance
around reminded them of the ointment poured forth on the Saviour’s
feet from the broken box of alabaster. Husband and wife each brought
a broken and contrite heart; both knew that it was for such that the
Lord of glory had come to earth.

At a later hour in the day, Oscar, when taking a solitary walk, was
joined by the chaplain. Mark Lawrence had noticed with deep interest
and hope the change in the expression of the face of his friend. He
had observed something like hesitation in the manner of Coldstream
before he turned away to quit the church in which his wife stayed to
Communion. The heart of the young clergyman yearned with a brother’s
love over his friend. With some hope that Oscar might at length speak
freely, Lawrence came on that Christmas afternoon to his side. To the
chaplain’s satisfaction, Coldstream was the first to break silence on
the subject uppermost in the minds of both.

“I did not turn my back to-day on the holy table because I thought
that my Lord would forbid my approach,” said Coldstream in a quiet tone.
“I believe that the feast is spread for the prodigal son, and that even
I would be welcomed now to the Father’s table. I kept back on account
of others, because, when that is known which must soon be known,
communicants might be scandalized and shocked to think that they had
shared the cup of blessing with a criminal such as I am.”

Lawrence was silent. He was of too delicate a mind by a single word to
hasten on a confession. Coldstream passed on to a somewhat different

“In another world how think you that a Paul would meet with a Stephen,
a Manasseh with Isaiah, David with the man whom he had foully wronged,
deceived, and slain?”

“I think that all the redeemed will meet as brethren in the Father’s
home,” replied Lawrence; “there the most deeply injured will forgive.”

Oscar gave a sigh, but it was as much a sigh of relief as of sorrow.

“And do you believe,” said he, “that amongst those whose robes are
washed white the bitterness of remorse for crimes committed on earth
will not remain to taint even the bliss of heaven?”

“I believe, my dear friend, that God having blotted out all sin as a
cloud is blotted from the sky, leaving no stain behind, no grief will
remain, but only more fervent gratitude from those who have had the
heaviest debt. Those whom Christ saves are justified, those who are
justified are glorified too; no blot can rest on the beams of those
who shine like the sun.”

“Thanks,” said Coldstream earnestly; “and may I hope that even when you
know what a sinner you have called your ‘dear friend,’ you will still
retain some kindly, indulgent feeling towards him?”

“I will never feel anything but warm friendship towards you whatever
you may have done,” cried Mark Lawrence.

With these words, and a warm press of the hand, the two men separated,
for their paths lay in different directions. The brief conversation
with Oscar often recurred to the mind of Lawrence, even when he sat at
a festal Christmas board, with lively talk going on around.

“If my conjecture be correct,” reflected the chaplain, “Coldstream has
killed some man in a duel, and has bitterly repented of the deed.”

                             CHAPTER XXV.


It need not be said that the Coldstreams awaited with more than
interest the important reply to Oscar’s letter, though they never
spoke about it. There were but two mails in the course of each week.
Carefully had the days been calculated the lapse of which would render
an acknowledgment of Coldstream’s confession possible. Communication
between different stations in the East was comparatively slow in the
time of King William.

The first day on which a reply from Calcutta could be expected was the
day after Christmas. It was not without emotion that the letter-bag was
opened by Coldstream. Was it a disappointment or a relief to find in it
nothing but a newspaper and a note from a tradesman? Io, in a fever of
anxiety, had stolen into the room to learn if the dreaded despatch had
come. The question was asked only in a look, and a slight shake of the
head was the silent reply.

Coldstream had made every arrangement for quitting Moulmein after
the second Calcutta mail should arrive. He had taken a passage for his
wife and himself in a schooner which was to start on the noon of the
day when the mail would be due: better, he thought, to run the risk of
forfeiting the passage money than that of having to remain in Moulmein
four days after his crime should be publicly known there. Io had
everything prepared for a start.

The next mail came on a Tuesday, the last Tuesday of the year. Io
watched the opening of the bag, and gasped with agitation as a large
official despatch with a Government seal was drawn forth. Oscar lifted
up his heart in silent prayer before he broke that seal.

The document was couched in stiff official language. Mr. Coldstream’s
communication was acknowledged. As the affair had occurred in England,
the case would be referred to the authorities at home, where doubtless
a record of the inquest held on the body of Mr. Walter Manly had
been preserved. Until directions should be received from England,
Mr. Coldstream was required to surrender his person to the police
authorities in Calcutta.

“Mine own! mine own! I will share your imprisonment,” cried Io,
pressing her husband’s hand to her lips.

“No, my love; you will live near, and obtain permission to visit me
often,” said Oscar. “We will await the final decision from England with
faith, patience, and submission. And now, is all ready for our start?”

“We have not bidden good-bye to poor Thud,” said Io; “I have not seen
him to-day.”

“No; I sent him off to the office as soon as he had had his early
breakfast. As Thud is close to the wharf, he will come to see us off
ere the vessel starts. We wish no prolonged good-byes.”

It is not a matter of wonder that when final arrangements had to
be made, the keys of the house placed in the agent’s hands, and
the inventory looked over, the Calcutta newspaper which had arrived
that morning should lie unopened on the table, beside the packets of
groceries and such like things that had been prepared for the voyage.
But other copies of that newspaper had reached Moulmein, and had not
been equally neglected. One was in the hands of Mrs. Cottle as she was
sitting at breakfast with her husband. Being busily occupied with his
fried fish and anchovy sauce, Cottle had deferred the perusal of the
paper, and left his wife to look out first for the paragraphs of gossip
and scandal which were to her the sauce to a dry dish of politics and

“Bless my heart! bless my heart! _bless my heart!_” exclaimed
Mrs. Cottle, each repetition of the blessing made in a louder and more
emphatic tone, which roused the attention of her spouse.

“What is it, my dear?” quoth Cottle.

“I always knew it; I always said it. He was no fit company for us, the
hypocritical, sneaking, bloodthirsty villain.”

“Who is it, my dear?” asked Cottle, laying down his knife and fork to
listen with more undivided attention.

“Here is a paragraph――look; it is easy enough to make out its meaning,”
cried Mrs. Cottle, and with terrible emphasis she read aloud from the

  “MURDER BY A GENTLEMAN.――It is reported that a Mr. C―――― of
  M――――n has confessed to having killed, by throwing down a cliff,
  a person against whom he had a grudge. As Mr. C―――― is said
  to be of very good family, with high connections, the case is
  likely to excite great interest in England amongst the upper ten

“But we are not of the upper ten thousand, so what is it to us?” said
honest John Cottle.

“We know Mr. Coldstream, and it must be he!” cried his partner; “M――――n
must stand for Moulmein.”

“It might stand for Moultan or Macedon,” quoth Cottle. “And C is a
common letter enough; it might stand for my name.”

“What nonsense you talk!” cried his irreverent spouse. “C―――― is
Coldstream, and M――――n Moulmein; it does not need two grains of sense
to understand that.”

Cottle put on his glasses, and stretched out his hand for the paper.
Mrs. Cottle, as she poured out the coffee, again exclaimed, “Bless my

After breakfast was concluded the dame sallied forth to communicate the
exciting news to others. The first person whom she chanced to meet was
the chaplain.

“O Mr. Lawrence, have you seen the horrible news about Mr. Coldstream?”
she cried, hoping that she might be the first person to impart it to
the clergyman.

“I have seen the papers,” said Mark very gravely. He wished to pass on,
but Mrs. Cottle was determined to have out her say.

“To think of such a wretch kneeling in the same church as ourselves!
A felon having the audacity to dine with respectable people!”

Mrs. Cottle would have rattled on, but she was stopped by the sternest
rebuke which she had ever heard from the lips of the chaplain: “Judge
not, that ye be not judged; condemn not, lest ye be condemned.” And
with these words Mark Lawrence went on his way, his brow knitted as if
from pain, and a heavy weight on his heart.

The paragraph in the papers had also been read by Dr. Pinfold, as
he was lounging in his easy-chair before going out to make his round
amongst his patients. He had perused a column and a half of political
news before his eye was attracted by the paragraph headed in large
capitals which had at once arrested the attention of Mrs. Cottle.
Pinfold’s interest in Io was much stronger than hers, and, though
less loudly expressed, his indignation against her husband was
proportionately greater.

“The villain! and he dared to propose marriage to _her_; to offer the
sweetest girl in England a blood-stained hand!” exclaimed the doctor,
flinging down the paper and rising from his seat. “I suspected him of
being a madman; I never thought of his being a murderer. My poor Io!
innocent, unfortunate victim, if I can I will rescue you yet.”

So as Io, just about to quit her house, was buttoning on her boots, a
servant placed a letter on the table before her.

“It is from dear old Pinny; I know his handwriting. Please read it to
me, Oscar. I thought that the doctor had bidden us his final good-bye
last night.”

Oscar opened the letter, looked surprised at its contents, and, without
comment, handed it on to his wife. The doctor’s scrawl ran thus:――

  “MY DEAR CHILD,――I always thought your marriage a mistake, but
  I never knew till now what a great one. You must not think of
  sacrificing yourself by accompanying your miserable husband. His
  conduct cancels all obligations entered into through ignorance
  of the truth. I offer you a home here in Moulmein. You are my
  god-child, the daughter of my old friend; I will adopt you as my
  own. Whilst I live you shall find a parent in your old Pinny.”

Io flushed with indignation as she read; then tore the letter into
minute fragments, and trampled them under her foot.

“It was kindly meant,” observed Oscar.

“What! to insult you to your own wife! to endeavour to divide me from
you! O Oscar, Oscar, how little he knows me! I would rather never see
daylight again than be separated from my husband!”

“Then let us now go on our way,” said Oscar, “and meet trial and
misfortune together. Your palanquin waits outside.”

Io silently entered it. She put down the curtains on either side as
she started for the place of embarkation, that no one might see her
tear-bedewed face. Oscar walked to the docks, but by a round-about
route amongst low narrow lanes, frequented only by natives. He pulled
his hat over his brow, and never raised his eyes from the path before
him, for the doctor’s letter had shown to him plainly that his secret
was a secret no longer. Coldstream’s circuitous route brought him
to the docks a little after his wife. His arrival interrupted a
distressing conversation which she was having with Thud, who was making
a last desperate attempt to persuade his sister to take him with her to

“You know that mother would never have treated me so,” cried the lad;
“now she is gone, and you desert me. It is cruel, it is unnatural! it
is because you are such a slave to――” Here Thud suddenly paused, for
Coldstream was at his side.

“Farewell, Thud,” said Oscar, holding out his hand. “Do your duty to
man and to God, and may He prosper and bless you.――Io, my love, enough
of this; the sooner we are on board the better.”

The Coldstreams were soon treading the deck of the _Dolphin_, but the
plank which connected the vessel with the shore was not yet raised.
Smith came to see his friend and benefactor depart, and again express
hopes of his happy return. Smith had not seen the newspapers; he never
read them till business hours were over.

“Would that we were fairly off!” thought Oscar; but another good-bye
was before him yet ere the keel of the _Dolphin_ should plough the
green waves.

“Ah, Mr. Lawrence!” exclaimed Io.

The chaplain crossed the plank, pale with suppressed emotion. He walked
up straight to Oscar, and took his hand in both his own.

“You know all, and yet you do not turn from me,” said Oscar.

“I have come to give you my parting blessing――to unite with you,
perhaps for the last time, in prayer.” The chaplain could scarcely
command his voice as he added, “I honour you for having done all that
you could do to――” Here Mark Lawrence fairly broke down; he could not
finish the sentence.

“Clear boards. You’d better be off, sir, unless you mean to make the
voyage with us,” said the captain of the _Dolphin_ gruffly. “We’re
weighing anchor, you see.”

There was no more time for conversation, for nothing but cordial
pressure of hands. The plank was raised the minute after Mark Lawrence
had passed over. The wind swelled the sails, and the vessel moved on,
leaving a brief track on the waters behind her.

“Even as those bubbles on the waves will earth’s darkest trials pass
away,” thought the chaplain as he watched the departing ship. “There
goes a man who is as a gallant vessel that has suddenly struck on a
rock and been almost wrecked, that has all but sunk below the billows,
but which, through God’s grace, has been given power to rise above them.
Its cargo of earthly reputation and earthly joy is indeed lost; but
it is bravely struggling on, though with torn sail and shattered mast,
towards that port where the rock cannot crush nor the tempest toss,
where the pardoned penitent finds peace for ever.”

Mark Lawrence turned homewards, repeating to himself the well-known

               “Though tempest-torn, and half a wreck,
                My Saviour through the floods I seek;
                Let neither wind nor stormy main
                Force back my shattered bark again!”

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

                             PRISON LIFE.

“This is the last day of the year,” observed Io to her husband, when
they stood together on the deck as the vessel, sailing up the muddy
Hoogly after a very rapid voyage, neared the city of palaces――“the last
day of the year which begun with such hope and joy.”

“And closes with such sorrow,” thought Oscar. Husband and wife each
silently revolved the question, “What will the new year bring?”

“Even what God will,” was the answer in Coldstream’s heart. “The worst
is over, and I can peacefully await whatever He may send.”

The new year began to Oscar within the walls of a prison, but he was
subjected to no rigorous confinement. The man who had been his own
accuser was treated as a gentleman by the officials; was allowed a
separate cell, and permitted to receive daily visits from his wife.
Io would have entreated to be allowed to share the cell, but Oscar
forbade her making any such application. A quiet home was found for
the poor young wife in a missionary’s dwelling, situated not very far
from the prison; and every morning a palanquin might be seen going from
that house in the direction of the gloomy building which held all that
Io loved best upon earth; every day a slight form, dressed in deep
mourning, passed through its stern archway. Io heard the heavy bolts
drawn behind her, and glided, under the jailer’s escort, along the
dreary passages which none so fair and innocent as she had ever trodden
before. Something of the spirit of a Gertrude von Wart was in the bosom
of Io. In a yet more terrible trial she could have said from her inmost

             “Hath the world aught for me to fear
                When death is on thy brow?
              The world――what means it? mine is _here_,
                I will not leave thee now.”

But the long hours spent daily by Io in her husband’s cell were by no
means hours of unmitigated grief. Oscar’s calmness had an effect upon
the spirit of his wife, naturally so buoyant and cheerful. It was a
real pleasure to Io to sit beside her husband whilst he read aloud to
her, for books were not denied him. Sometimes Io would write to Oscar’s
dictation――a privilege which she highly prized. The prisoner found
congenial occupation in composing short meditations on the fifty-first
psalm. Each day brought its verse for prayerful reflection, and each
verse seemed to contain exactly the spiritual food which the penitent’s
spirit required. _Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O Lord!_ found
a strong echo in the prisoner’s soul, while the broken and contrite
heart drank in with thanksgiving the assurance that it was not despised
even by a perfectly holy God. Io, by Oscar’s permission, sent these
meditations to the press, and they were read with profit by many who
little imagined that they had been penned in a prison.

Even hymns of praise, where two voices blended in humble thanksgiving,
arose from Coldstream’s cell. Criminals confined near it listened and
wondered, and the head jailer declared that he thought that God’s
angels had begun to visit the prison. Oscar was no longer in darkness,
though he was rather in twilight than in sunshine; not the evening
twilight, resembling sweet memories of a happy day passed away, but
rather the early twilight of hope, after a gloomy starless night, seen
before the full glory bursts forth in the Eastern sky.

By her husband’s express desire, Io wrote a letter to Dr. Pinfold,
thanking him for kindness shown in old days, and not containing any
allusion to the offer made by him which had given so much pain to the
wife. Io also wrote repeatedly to her brother. But neither her letters
to Thud nor that addressed to Dr. Pinfold ever received a reply. The
Coldstreams were uneasy about the youth whom they had left at Moulmein,
and at length made inquiries regarding him from Smith, his employer.
The reply received was unsatisfactory. For some weeks young Thorn had
worked fairly well under constant supervision; but as soon as he had
received his first month’s salary, Thud had thrown up his situation as
one unworthy of his merits, and had started off for Rangoon. Here all
trace of the lad was lost. Letters sent to Rangoon were returned by
the dead-letter office; nothing was known of him to whom they had been
addressed. Io was never to find out what had become of her brother.
In the ensuing chapter, however, the reader will find information
regarding the career of Thucydides Thorn.

                            CHAPTER XXVII.

                         ADVENTURES OF AN OWL.

No one had expressed more indignation at Coldstream’s crime than
did Thud when the news of it reached him. The lad had never liked
his brother-in-law, of whom he had stood in some awe. Oscar had never
appreciated Thud’s wisdom, had sometimes rebuked him, and had actually
compelled him to work! Thud revenged himself now by calling Coldstream
a disgrace to the family, and declaring that he would never have
intercourse either with him or his wife. Thud destroyed two kind
letters which he received from Io, and scorned to send a reply. The
manner in which the youth spoke of Coldstream roused the indignation
of Smith, who was loyal to his old employer, and who called Thud to
his face an ungrateful puppy. It is not to be wondered at that Master
Thucydides Thorn soon quitted Moulmein.

Nor did he stay long at Rangoon. Thud did little there beyond selling
his watch to enable him to go to another place. We will not follow him
in all his wanderings. The poor lad travelled far and wide in search
of a field for his talents, but never seemed to light on the right
one. Thud wore out his stockings, he wore out his shoes, and he utterly
wore out his patience. Sometimes Master Thucydides Thorn had to carry
a porter’s burden before he could eat a dinner. Though his proud spirit
rose against begging, more than once Thud was driven to beg; but even
in this he had but slender success. Was it the world’s fault or that
of Thucydides Thorn that one with his talents should be driven to such
pitiful straits? Certainly the youth laid the blame on the former, as
many proud, foolish sluggards have done before. The world was blind,
hard, and senseless; it had kept a Worcester in prison, and persecuted
a Galileo.

For nearly two years this struggle with poverty went on. Thud had
grown thinner, sadder, and ten years older in appearance; but all his
sufferings had not overcome the conceit and self-confidence which had
been fostered in him from childhood.

At length, in one of the largest cities of India, Thud found himself,
as he thought, favoured by fortune, for he looked not up to a Higher
Power. Lingering sadly outside the gate of a kind of zoological
garden, more hungry than the wild beasts within, Thud’s eye fell
on the following advertisement fixed on the wall: _Wanted a keeper
who has some knowledge of animals and experience in managing them._
Thud’s experience was of a very limited character, but he believed
his knowledge to be immense. Thud at once went to the manager, and
presented himself to him as a candidate for the office of keeper.

The manager was a sickly man, with a yellow complexion which told of
liver complaint. Mr. Blane was very impatient indeed to escape for a
while to a cooler place; but the death of one of his keepers, and the
dismissal of another for having helped himself systematically from
grain provided for birds under his charge, had made it impossible for
the manager to get even a few days’ respite from work, however urgently

When Thud entered the room of Mr. Blane, the manager was by no
means favourably impressed by the appearance of the candidate for
the situation of keeper, and was at first disposed to bid the ragged,
hunger-pinched young man go about his business. But when Blane gave
Thud a hearing, the manager began to think that to send him off
summarily might be a mistake. Young Thorn had natural history at
the end of his fingers: he talked of feline, canine, and equine,
carnivorous, granivorous, and omnivorous as familiarly as household
words; he declared with such an air of conviction that he could find
ways of feeding animals and keeping them healthy at half the usual
cost, that Blane began to hope what he desired――that he had lighted
on a treasure. The manager asked Thud for his credentials; of course
none could be produced. Thud said that he was an unfortunate gentleman
of good family, who had come to Moulmein to make scientific researches,
and had found, like many others, that it was harder for a philosopher
to earn his living there than it was for a coolie.

Mr. Blane then inquired his visitor’s name.

“Thucydides Thorn,” replied Thud, with an assumed dignity which
comically contrasted with the torn state of his jacket, and his
shoeless, stockingless, blistered feet.

“Thorn! why, my grandmother was a Thorn,” cried Blane, “and it is not
a common surname. What part of England do you hail from, my man?”

Then followed a catechising about family names, dates, and places of
residence, from which the manager found out, without possibility of
mistake, that he saw a second cousin once removed in the poor barefoot
gentleman before him.

This was a delightful discovery for Thud, and was scarcely less
pleasant to Blane, who shook his cousin heartily by the hand, and,
without further inquiry, installed him in office. Thud was at once
clothed in Blane’s left-off garments, given his second pair of boots,
and invited to share his dinner. The half-famished young man was
disposed to do full justice to the best repast of which he had partaken
since leaving Moulmein. After dinner, Thud was introduced by Blane to
the limited collection of birds, beasts, and reptiles under his charge.

“They have been dying off pretty fast lately,” observed Blane; “the
last keeper embezzled money given for their food. The lion (alias
_cheetah_) did not get the lion’s share.”

“Of course you have preserved and stuffed the skins,” quoth Thud.

“Yes, yes; we’ve more stuffed creatures now than live ones, and they
give less trouble,” observed Blane. “You see this building to the
right? That is our little museum.”

Museum! the word was nectar to Thud. The bright vision rose before
him of a day when he should be not only keeper but manager――nay, more,
proprietor――of a museum, filled not merely with stuffed monkeys and
snakes, but with all the curiosities of the East.

That evening Mr. Blane started for his too long deferred holiday trip,
which illness obliged him to prolong from days to weeks.

Thud was at first in his glory, monarch of all he surveyed, “lord of
the fowl and the brute.” But troubles will come even to scientific
keepers of Zoological Gardens. A theory of Thud’s, that carnivorous
beasts may be trained to thrive on boiled grain, when worked out
did not prove a success. Thud wondered why animals, even when
scientifically treated, would sicken and die. They seemed to do so
on purpose to spite him.

The young philosopher felt a great want of companions. The Gardens had
few visitors, and those visitors did not appreciate Thucydides Thorn,
or the theories which he was always eager to propound. Thud was almost
thrown for society on a one-eyed discharged soldier, who now, as a
porter, kept the gate. This man, Colin Champer, was discovered by Thud
to be a remarkably shrewd, intelligent man. Champer won this character
because he was a good listener; he echoed every wise saying dropped by
Thud, having no imagination of his own, and gave implicit credence to
whatever his oracle said.

One day, after being for some time buried in thought, Thud raised
his head with a kind of scientific inspiration, for a new theory had
entered his brain.

“Champer,” said he to the porter, “how was the keeper cured who, as you
told me, was bitten here by a snake?”

“He had ammonia rubbed in, and had ammonia mixed with water poured down
his throat,” was Champers reply.

“And he recovered?” asked Thud.

“Yes, he recovered,” replied the man with a grin; “but the snake warn’t
a poisonous un.”

“Still, its clear that ammonia is the antidote to a serpent’s poison.”

“Maybe it is, maybe it ain’t,” said the man.

“And no one can deny,” pursued Thud, “that with every evil under the
sun the wise thing is to go to the fountain-head, the source.”

“The fountain-head, the source,” echoed Champer, without the slightest
comprehension of what the oracle meant.

“Now, what is the source, the fountain-head of a serpent’s poison. Is
it not the serpent’s fang?” cried Thud.

“Certainly, the serpent’s fang,” said the echo.

“Then my theory is, that if ammonia corrects poison in the blood
of a bitten man, it would be far more effectual, and economical too,
to introduce it, not into the wound, but into the jaws that might
inflict such a wound. Is not this self-evident?” asked the philosopher,
appealing to Champer.

“Self-evident,” repeated the echo, but with a very faint comprehension
of the orator’s logic.

“You grant this,” said Thud. “Then the sure way to prevent deaths from
snake-bites would be to pour ammonia on the fangs of the snakes.”

“If you could catch ’em,” suggested old Champer.

“We have four snakes in the case,” continued Thud. “No, I remember
that two died yesterday; but we have the cobra still. From this little
glass-stoppered bottle of ammonia I mean to pour some drops into his
mouth, and so render his poison innocuous for ever.”

“If the cobra don’t object,” observed Champer, grinning again.

“Here’s the case with its strong wire-work covering,” said Thud. “I am
going to prove the truth of my theory.”

Feeling like a second Jenner, Thucydides Thorn advanced to the case.
The cobra looked sleepy, and averse to experiments being tried upon
him. He would not be stirred up, even when Thud poked him with a straw
introduced between the wires. The sulky snake would not open his jaws.

Thud dropped a little ammonia from the bottle through the wire cover;
it fell on the cobra’s head and on one of its glittering eyes. The
reptile was thoroughly roused, swelled out his hood, and twisted about
in angry contortions.

“I have not managed to get the ammonia on his fangs yet,” cried Thud;
“but he’s opening his jaws wide enough now.”

The young experimentalist, holding the bottle ready, and eagerly
watching for an opportunity, bent over the cage. The reptile evidently
saw him, for the cobra darted out his forked tongue, and seemed ready
to spring; but Thud felt no fear, for he knew that strong wire-work
effectually imprisoned the serpent. But whilst the philosopher held the
bottle in his right hand, he unconsciously let the left press heavily
on the wires, which were not so close as to prevent a small portion of
a finger being exposed to the enemy’s attack. There was a spring from
below, a cry from above.

“Oh, I am bitten!” cried Thud, staggering back from the cage and
dropping the bottle.

“Then you are a dead man!” ejaculated Champer.

The prognostication was too soon fulfilled: poor Thud had received his
mortal wound, and expired within half-an-hour of receiving the bite.
His end was in character with his career. There was no epitaph over
Thud’s grave, or it might have run thus: “Here lies Thucydides Thorn,
a victim to his own theories, a martyr to science, of which he spoke
so much and comprehended so little.”

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

                         UNWILLING WITNESSES.

The confession of Oscar Coldstream received in London, and published in
all the papers, did indeed excite a great deal of interest in England.
It was the subject of articles in religious periodicals, was commented
on from pulpits, and was looked upon as an unprecedented instance of
the power of conscience.[4]

Nowhere was greater excitement caused than in a small sitting-room in
a second-class lodging-house in Dover, where two elderly ladies were
sitting together, one engaged in knitting. Miss Deborah was reading
aloud to Miss Betsy a newspaper lent to them by a neighbour, for the
sisters did not indulge in the luxury of taking one in for themselves.
Suddenly Deborah stopped short, and her mittened hands shook so
violently that she almost dropped the newspaper.

“What is the matter, Deborah?” asked her sister in alarm. “You look as
if you had seen a ghost!”

“Oh, it is all out――the murder is out! The wretched man has confessed
that it was he who threw poor young Manly down the cliff on that
terrible, terrible day!”

Betsy was usually slow and sedate, but she now almost snatched the
paper from Deborah’s hand, that her eyes might confirm the witness of
her ears. She read the paragraph headed _A Murderer’s Confession_ with
tears running down her cheeks.

To explain the cause of such strong emotion, we must recur to what had
happened more than a year before.

The reader may have inferred from silence on the subject that there had
been no witnesses of Walter’s fatal fall. Such, however, had not been
the case. It is true that Manly had purposely chosen for his difficult
and dangerous ascent a time when Dover was attracted by the “new and
astounding exhibition” of a conjurer who was going his rounds. Walter
felt that the presence of spectators would affect his chance of winning
his foolish bet――a shout of encouragement or a cry of alarm from
below might make him lose his foothold. But not every one cared for
the conjurer’s exhibition, and the Misses Demster could not easily
spare their shillings to see it, so they took an evening stroll on
the beach instead. They were the daughters of a deceased clergyman;
highly respectable ladies with moderate means, who tried to eke out a
slender patrimony by letting out furnished lodgings in the season, and
occupying them themselves when visitors were few. The Misses Demster
were specimens of a pretty numerous class of reduced gentlewomen, whom
poverty does not rob of a claim to respect. Both were of kindly nature
and pious character, and they were strongly attached to each other.
Miss Deborah looked on her elder sister as a model of perfection.
Deborah could not claim such merit for herself; she had the care
of the housekeeping, and housekeeping on slender means is often a
trial to temper. The good lady knew that she was often angry with the
butcher, and impatient with Lizzie, the dull-witted maid-of-all-work.
Miss Betsy, who was not exposed to such daily temptation, and who was
brought little in contact with any one but a sister who deemed her an
oracle of wisdom and a model of virtue, was rather disposed to accept
Deborah’s opinion as a correct one. Miss Betsy never put the thought
into words, was scarcely sensible that she harboured it, but her real
estimate of herself was not much unlike that of the Pharisee in the
parable: “Lord, I thank Thee that we are not as other women are. We, on
our narrow means, never run into debt, but give to charities a tithe of
all we possess. We go to church daily, fair weather or foul, and teach
in a Sunday school. We pay wages and bills with regularity; we harm
no one, and are useful to many.” Miss Demster set up her own standard
of perfection, and was honestly convinced that she had nearly if not
quite attained thereto. She taught Sunday scholars that our duty is to
love God with all our heart, soul, and strength, and our neighbour as
ourselves; but it never occurred to Betsy to test her own character by
a standard so high, so divine.

The two ladies were taking their walk beneath the cliffs on that
evening when Manly was attempting his perilous feat. Deborah saw him
climbing, and tightly grasped the arm of her sister.

“O Betsy! Betsy! look! look! that must be that hare-brained Walter
Manly, who won the steeple-chase, attempting to climb to the top! Oh,
mercy! I cannot bear to see him; he will fall, and be dashed to pieces!”

Miss Demster, with equal interest, watched the young man’s ascent.

“He’ll never do it,” exclaimed Deborah. “See what a place he has
reached; he will never get up that. What fools these boys are to risk
precious life for nothing!”

“He’s a wonderful climber!” cried Betsy, as she breathlessly watched
efforts which seemed to her almost superhuman.

“He’s nearly at the top now; he’s stopping to take breath; he dare
not look down or he’s lost!” exclaimed Deborah in nervous excitement.
“There――there――he has one hand on the top of the cliff!”

“Now the other; he will swing himself up!” cried Betsy. But even as
the words were on her lips her look of interest changed to one of
intense horror, and the next moment poor Walter fell, turning over head
foremost in the terrible fall. The once fine powerful climber lay a
corpse with a broken neck at the foot of the cliff.

The two ladies hastened to the spot, overwhelmed with horror and

“Dead, quite dead!” exclaimed Deborah in much sorrow. “We cannot carry
the poor corpse ourselves; we must hasten off for assistance.”

“Stop! stop!” gasped Miss Demster, shaking as if in a violent fit of
ague. “You saw it as well as I. He did not slip; he was flung down. Oh,
mercy! he was _murdered_! I saw the wretch who did the deed.”

“I saw some one too,” cried Deborah.

“I shall never forget the murderer’s face――the handsomest face that
ever I saw in my life, but fierce as a demon’s. I could swear to it in
a court of justice,” said Betsy.

“Oh, don’t talk of swearing or of courts of justice,” exclaimed the
younger sister nervously; “it would be too dreadful to think of.”

“Of course there will be an inquest,” said Miss Demster. “We shall be
called as witnesses.”

“I would not go for the world!” cried Deborah. “Besides, if we took an
oath to tell _all_ the truth, we should have to speak of the murder.”

Betsy’s thin lips turned white as she faltered out, “We might get a man

“Oh, horrible! horrible!” exclaimed poor Deborah; “I would almost
rather be hanged myself.”

“We had better hurry away then, and leave some one else to find the
body――some one who would not be mixed up in a murder case, as we should
be certain to be.” Seizing her sister by the arm, Miss Demster almost
dragged her away from the spot.

But the ladies had not gone far before they both stopped as by a common
impulse. “Are we doing right?” came almost simultaneously from the lips
of both.

“Suppose that through us a murderer escape?” said Miss Demster. “If
he commit another murder, shall we be quite clear of the guilt of the

“Or the murder may be discovered, but not the right person, and an
innocent man be hanged.” Deborah’s terrible suggestion made both the
ladies shudder.

“I tell you what we’ll do,” said Miss Demster, after some minutes
of painful reflection: “we’ll hurry home and say nothing about the
matter, unless some innocent poor man be seized, and then we’ll come
forward and declare all that we saw, and give evidence that it was a
gentleman――I mean, one who looked like a gentleman――who committed the

This was a compromise with conscience, and any compromise with
conscience is a dangerous thing. However, for the time it half quieted
the minds of the two poor ladies.

They hurried home, hardly heeding the furious blast which suddenly
rose, and which, had they been at the top of the cliffs, would almost
have blown them off their feet. Miss Demster opened the door of her
house with a trembling hand. There was a kind of hope in her mind that
once within the quiet little dwelling trouble, like the stormy wind,
could be shut out; but memory and consciousness of having evaded a duty
could not be excluded. Hard did the sisters try to persuade themselves
that they had only done what was natural and right. Betsy thought of
the history of Achan, and recalled other instances in Scripture of sin
being brought to light. Deborah remembered stories of murder having
been found out when there had seemed to be no clue by which to discover
who had committed the crime.

A neighbour dropped in just when the ladies were attempting to eat
their frugal supper, for which all appetite was gone. The storm by this
time had lulled.

“O Miss Demster, Miss Deborah, have you heard the shocking, shocking
news?” cried the visitor, throwing herself down on a seat. “Poor young
Manly has been found, with his neck and ever so many other bones broken,
at the bottom of a cliff!”

“Indeed!” exclaimed the sisters, their consciences pricking them sorely
for expressing such hypocritical surprise.

“He had evidently fallen when attempting an impossible feat. You
were intending to take a walk in that direction, I know. Did you hear
nothing, see nothing, of this dreadful accident?”

Miss Demster actually knocked over the tea-tray, smashed her cherished
china, and sent the boiling contents of the pot over the carpet and
her visitor’s feet. It was her desperate resource for avoiding giving
a reply.

The doctoring of the scalded feet, the picking up of the broken
fragments of china, did divert attention from the subject of poor
Walter. Betsy made many excuses for awkwardness――she who was never
awkward; Deborah ran for cotton-wool to put over the scald; the visitor
presently departed limping (her house was but two doors off), and the
Demsters had kept their terrible secret.

“Deborah, we can’t stand this kind of thing!” exclaimed Betsy, as soon
as the outer door was shut. “Manly’s fall will be the talk of all Dover,
and I can’t break cups and saucers every time that an uncomfortable
question is asked. We’ll be off to London by the stagecoach to-morrow.”

And off the Demsters did go, though at great inconvenience. They could
ill afford the serious expense, and a journey in February gave severe
colds to both the sisters. They did not return till the nine days’
wonder was over; and a coroner’s inquest having been held on the body
of Walter, a verdict had been given――“Accidental death by a fall from
a cliff.”

It is a true saying that a little sin troubles more than a great deal
of sorrow, and its truth was proved by the amiable ladies in Paradise
Square. The quiet, even tenor of their lives was destroyed; they
felt almost like hypocrites when they taught Sunday scholars to be
straightforward and truthful; they took no pleasure in going to church;
they were half afraid to partake of Holy Communion.

“And yet what would every one say if we turned away?” cried Betsy.

“Oh, how wretched we should feel!” sighed Deborah. “Oh that we had
had the courage to do what was right! And yet I am afraid, should all
happen over again, that I should never dare to give evidence that might
cause a man to be hanged.”

A thorn in the flesh often brings a man nearer to God; a thorn in the
conscience severs from communion with God. The former may be endured
with patience; the latter must be drawn out, or the wound rankles and

The reader will now understand the emotion with which the Misses
Demster read of Oscar Coldstream’s confession.

“That poor sinner has some good in him,” observed the elder――“he has
had the courage to speak the whole truth. Perhaps he acted under great
provocation, and repented of the deed as soon as it was done.”

“He has done all he can to redeem the past,” said Deborah, wiping her
eyes. “I wonder what will be done with the poor gentleman. They will
hardly hang him for telling the truth.”

“You see that a commission is coming to Dover to inquire into the
matter,” observed Miss Demster, pointing to the end of the paragraph.
“Deborah, Deborah, ought we not even now to make clean breasts, and
confess all that we know?”

“That was just what I was thinking,” replied poor Deborah. “We have had
no peace since we hid that dreadful matter, and now our speaking out
will not cause any one to be hanged.”

“That Mr. Coldstream――whatever else he may be――is a brave and
conscientious man,” observed Betsy. “I think――though it would be an
effort, a horrible effort――that we ought to give evidence now.”

And the poor ladies did appear in court, their heads bowed down with
shame, and veils over their faces. They received meekly and with much
self-abasement the reproof of the eminent lawyer appointed to examine
into the case.

“Ladies, you may hitherto have suppressed facts, and tried to defeat
justice, from motives of humanity,” said he; “but know that he who
conceals another’s crime becomes an accessory after the deed; he who
shields a murderer from justice may be regarded as being, in some
measure, a partaker in his guilt.”

It was a consolation to the poor Misses Demster that Oscar Coldstream
was not to be hanged after all. His crime had been unpremeditated
and voluntarily confessed; he was therefore recommended to mercy.
Instructions were forwarded to the Indian Government that the murderer
of Walter Manly should be transported to the nearest penal settlement,
to remain there for the term of his natural life.

                             CHAPTER XXIX.

                             THE SENTENCE.

Banishment for life to the Andaman Islands――to the place which the
natives of India speak of as “beyond the black waters,” a kind of
Stygian pit into which the foul drains of guilt, the slimy streams of
vice throughout Hindostan, empty themselves; where there is the society
of murderers and thieves; a place of mysterious misery, like the
fabled infernal regions;――to Oscar Coldstream this was a sentence more
terrible even than that of public execution. Such banishment was a kind
of living death which, to one not yet thirty years of age, might endure
for forty years or more! What frightful consequences had been entailed
on Oscar by half a minute’s yielding to passion! When he received the
final sentence, Coldstream realized to the full extent what earthly
misery he had brought on himself.

By the same ship which carried the decision regarding Oscar’s fate,
came also a letter from his sister-in-law, Jane Thorn, addressed to
himself. Jane deplored Oscar’s miserable condition; but earnestly,
solemnly implored him not to let his innocent wife share in his exile.
The home which was about to be Jane’s should always, she wrote, be
shared by her dearly-loved sister. Let Io return to England and try
to forget the past.

“Yes, let her forget me――the unworthy, the guilty! Why should her
young life be blighted? I do not wish to be remembered in my living
grave!” And with the brief comment, “You had better do what your sister
desires,” Oscar handed the open letter to Io.

Her eyes streaming with tears, her hands clasped round the neck of her
husband, Io replied in the words of Ruth, “Entreat me not to leave thee,
nor to depart from following after thee; for where thou goest, I _will_
go; and where thou diest, I will die.” The last word was lost in a sob.

“But, my beloved, you have not permission to go with――a convict,” said
Oscar, scarcely able to command his voice.

“I will have it! I will have it!” cried Io.

The door of the cell opened; the jailer was bringing in the prisoner’s
meal. Io availed herself of the opportunity of quitting the place in
which she had been locked up with her husband. Repeating, “I will have
it; I will not return without it,” she ran――she almost flew――down the
long corridor, like a bird escaping from a snare. Until the rebound
came, Io had scarcely realized how heavy had been the pressure of a
weight on her heart――the fear, the secret dread that Oscar’s might
be a capital sentence. Relieved from that weight, the poor wife’s
spirit rebounded almost into joy. “He is safe――his precious, precious
life is safe!” Io kept repeating to herself, as she quitted the dark,
dismal prison. “The Lord can make him happy yet; and as for me, it is
happiness to be with him.”

Io did not find the palanquin at the entrance, for no one had expected
her to quit the prison so soon. She stopped the first empty conveyance
which she saw. “To Government House” was the direction which she gave
to the driver. She had entered that lordly building but once before――on
her arrival as a bride at Calcutta. Io had gone in goodly apparel,
and her beauty had attracted much admiration. “Coldstream has drawn a
prize,” had been the Governor-General’s remark to a friend. How changed
was all now! And yet Io was fairer in the dark weeds which she wore for
her mother, nobler in the devotion which she showed to a husband ruined
and disgraced, than she had been at her presentation at a semi-regal

On her arrival at the stately palace in which the ruler of India
resided, Io found that her humble vehicle could not be driven up to
the handsome entrance. Before the pillared portico stood a splendid
carriage drawn by tall camels with trappings of scarlet and gold,
preceded by outriders on gaily-caparisoned steeds. The Governor-General
was going out to attend a review.

“I am just in time,” thought Io, as she threw open the door of her
conveyance and sprang out. Through the little crowd of gaping Orientals
waiting to see the Lord Sahib “eat the air,” past outriders, and all
the glittering paraphernalia of princely state, glided Io Coldstream,
too intent on her errand to heed anything around her.

The Governor-General was at the top of the flight of broad steps, which
he was about to descend, conversing with one of the _aides-de-camp_ who
were in attendance on the great man. Io rapidly mounted the steps, all
gazing at her, but no one hindering. She fell at the Governor-General’s
feet, clasped her hands, and in a voice of passionate entreaty
exclaimed, “Oh, grant me leave to share my husband’s exile!”

“Mrs. Coldstream! my dear lady!” exclaimed the Governor-General,
raising the suppliant, whom he had at once recognized, “is it possible
that you can wish to go to the settlement, where all the surroundings
will be so utterly uncongenial?”

“I care not for surroundings; I have but one desire, one favour to
implore――to be allowed to go with my husband. You cannot, you will not,
refuse that one little boon!” cried Io.

“Madam, I honour your devotion; I sympathize with your sorrows; I
cannot refuse your petition,” said the Governor, visibly affected.

Mrs. Coldstream was not suffered to depart in the humble vehicle
in which she had come, gladly as she would have escaped from the
uncongenial glare and glitter; for, now that her petition was
granted, Io realized her position as the wife of a felon. A handsome
carriage was placed at her disposal, and the highest officer in the
Governor-General’s suite would have been proud to act as her escort. Io
was impatient of delay, for the vessel which was to bear its sad cargo
of criminals to the place of punishment was to sail in two days. There
were preparations to be made for the voyage and the life-long exile.
Io very gratefully thanked the Governor-General for all his kindness;
but it was with a sigh of relief that she found herself at last on the
way to the missionary’s house in which, through all the long months of
suspense and waiting, she had found a quiet home.

The missionary’s wife received her guest in the veranda. Mrs. Leveson,
like the rest of the Calcutta world, had heard of Mr. Coldstream’s
sentence. She took the weary young wife into her motherly arms.

“Oh, dear Mrs. Leveson, I have so much, so very much to do and to
think of!” cried Io. “I so need to have the quiet waiting spirit of a
Mary, but I must do the work of a Martha. I have so much purchasing and
packing before me, that I shall hardly have time to-morrow even to go
to my husband.”

“I will do the purchasing and packing, dear child,” said the
kind-hearted lady. “You have nothing to do but to give me a list of
what you require.”

Very thankfully was this kindness accepted. Io would scarcely wait
to throw off her bonnet, tired and heated as she was, before sitting
down to draw up her list of requirements. As she was completing it,
Mrs. Leveson glanced over her shoulder. “My dear child, ‘a _colour-box_
and a supply of _cardboard_!’” she read out in a tone of surprise.

“Yes, my Oscar paints beautifully; he will need every resource. I am
taking his flute also. Alas! he has not touched it since our marriage!”

“And you have forgotten a waterproof cloak for yourself when going to a
place noted for dampness,” said Mrs. Leveson. “Dear Mrs. Coldstream, I
shall have to revise your list, as well as to execute your commissions.”

                             CHAPTER XXX.


As soon as Io quitted the prison cell of her husband, Oscar gave
vent to the anguish which he had hardly been able to restrain in her
presence. Leaving the loathed food untouched, the unhappy criminal
paced up and down the narrow space in which he was confined, with hands
tightly clasped and raised towards heaven with a gesture of something
like despair.

“The brand of Cain is upon me!” he groaned; “and like Cain, I am driven
forth a vagabond on the earth. Like him, I cry, ‘My punishment is
greater than I can bear!’ Is it sinful to pray that this misery may not
be a prolonged one? Is it sinful to implore to be soon released from
the worse than Egyptian bondage to which my mad wickedness has brought
me, and to which I am dragging down with me my sweet, innocent wife?”

The unexpected sound of footsteps in the corridor, then that of the
key grating in the lock of his cell, startled the prisoner, for no one
usually came at that hour. The heavy, nail-studded door slowly unclosed,
the jailer entered to introduce a visitor, and then himself retired.

“Lawrence!”――“My friend!” The brief greetings were exchanged, and the
chaplain and the prisoner embraced, as brothers might embrace who were
never again to meet in this world.

For some minutes no other word was spoken. Oscar was the first to break
the silence.

“How came you to see me here――in my prison?” he asked.

“I could stay away no longer,” was the chaplain’s reply. “I felt that
I must see my friend once more.”

“You call me _friend_,” said Oscar gloomily.

“Friend――yes, brother!” cried Lawrence.

“You forget _why_ I am here,” said the criminal.

“No, I do not forget that you are here because you had the courage
to confess your deed; because you preferred punishment and disgrace
to honour and ease; because _you dared to pluck out the right eye_.
Coldstream, do you repent having made a confession?”

“Never!” was the emphatic reply. “I would rather suffer any earthly
misery than the terrible separation from God which I once had to

“Then indeed you are my brother in Christ,” said the chaplain. “Are we
not both sinners redeemed by grace?”

Lawrence’s coming was to Oscar as a draught of cool and sweet
refreshing water to one perishing of thirst. The friends sat down
together, and long was the conversation which ensued. Coldstream spoke
more freely to Lawrence of his grief than he had done to Io, for he was
less afraid of inflicting pain. Lawrence gave heart-felt sympathy, and
he gave consolation besides. The chaplain spoke of the tears of a David
and the penitence of a Peter. He touched on the story of the woman
deeply sunken in sin, who was offered freely the water of life by Him
who was to die to procure it. Was not that woman to become a missionary
to her own people? Was not David to prepare for the building of the
Temple? Was not Peter to live an apostle and die a martyr?

“God may have some work for you to do even in the place of your
exile,” said Lawrence. “The Lord asks not, ‘Hast thou ever sinned
greatly against Me?’ but He says, ‘Lovest thou Me?’ You can give the
same answer as did the penitent Peter.”

“I can, I can,” murmured Coldstream under his breath.

“Then, though severed from country and friends, you have a Home and a
Father on high.”

After a few minutes of silent thought, Oscar said, in a hesitating tone,
“Do you think that it would be sinful presumption in me to partake once
more of the Supper of the Lord?”

“One of my chief objects in coming to Calcutta was to see if you could
receive from me Holy Communion,” said Mark.

“It would be a great comfort, a great privilege,” said Coldstream; “one
from which sin has for long shut me out.”

The prison authorities put no difficulties in the way; they had from
the first treated their unhappy charge with consideration. On the
following morning the dreary cell became, as it were, a chapel. Over
the rude table, on which former criminals had carved their names, a
spotless white cloth was spread, covering every mark and unsightly
stain. Before it knelt Oscar and his wife, with their missionary
friends. It was a holy, peaceful service. Oscar felt that there
was a blessing even for a sinner such as he. _Blessed is he whose
transgression is pardoned, and whose sin is covered; blessed is the
man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin._

                             CHAPTER XXXI.

                              THE VOYAGE.

Away, away over the wide waters; farewell, a long, a last farewell to
the civilized world! Coldstream’s parting with Lawrence is over; both
felt that they should never look on each other’s face on this side the
grave, but that they should meet on the other side. The breeze fills
out the swelling sails; the vessel bounds over the waves. The smell of
the sea, the glitter on the waters, the sense of having only the blue
sky above, exercised a sensible influence on both the Coldstreams. A
slight tinge of colour came to Oscar’s pale, thin cheeks, and Io’s dark
eyes brightened with something like pleasure.

“It is nice to be again on the free billows,” she said; and she
mentally added, “These so-called black waters are wondrously blue.”

There were other convicts on board besides Coldstream, but with most
of them no communication could be held, such a diversity of tongues is
found in the vast extent of India. There were, however, one Burmese man,
and a woman who was a Bengali. Some knowledge of the language of the
latter Io had picked up during her weary stay in Calcutta.

The Burmese looked with curiosity on the fair, youthful lady, bound,
like himself, to the Andaman Islands. Oscar heard the man muttering to
himself, “I wonder what bad thing _she_ has done? She doesn’t look like
one of our sort.”

“The lady has done nothing bad,” said Coldstream; “she only goes into
exile because she will not desert her husband.”

“My boy’s mother is not like that,” observed the Burmese with a gloomy
smile; “she would never go across the black waters for me, though it
was through her that I got into all this trouble.”

“What did you do?” asked Oscar, who saw that the manly-looking fellow
seemed inclined for conversation.

“A rascally Mussulman pulled off the veil of my boy’s mother. I was not
going to stand that, so I stuck my knife into him. But he did not die,”
added the Burmese.

“Are you not glad that he did not die?” asked Oscar.

“Not I,” was the fierce reply. “I would as soon be hanged as sent
across the black waters. If the thing came over again, I’d do just the
same as I did.”

Io, in the meantime, had gone up to the Bengali woman, who, in her
soiled _sari_, was crouching on the deck in an attitude of hopeless

Io made the most of her little stock of Bengali; her gentle, winning
manner went further than her words. She at length made the convict look
up, and, after a considerable time, drew from her something like the
following tale:――

“The children’s father[5] did not love me. He wanted a boy, and only
girls came――one, two, three, _four_ girls! The last was very little; I
could carry her in my hand――like that. I could give her no nourishment;
baby was thin――you could count all her bones. She cried all day and all
night. Baby’s father was angry at the crying; he said he would throw
her into the Ganges. So I put her under water; and a sahib saw it, and
gave me into the charge of the sepoys. If I had put a little poison
into baby’s mouth, no one would have known anything about it.”

“How horrible!” exclaimed Io, intuitively drawing back. “How could you
hurt your own baby?”

“I did not hurt her; I put her to rest,” said the woman, who was
utterly unconscious of having committed a sin.

Io went and compared notes with her husband, who had had a long talk
with the Burmese convict.

“Neither of these poor creatures has any sense of the heinousness of
their guilt,” observed Oscar. “The man acted from an idea of honour;
the woman thought it no cruelty to still the wailings of a miserable,
unwelcomed babe.”

“O Oscar, if these be specimens of our future companions in banishment,
you have a grand, a glorious work before you!”

The same thought had flashed across the mind of Coldstream. Was it
not possible that the Lord was indeed guiding by His eye one unworthy
of the least of all His mercies, and guiding to a position of greater
usefulness than Coldstream had ever occupied before?

The Coldstreams, during the rest of the voyage, devoted much time to
teaching their convict companions, and, both with Burmese and Bengali,
the seed of the Word appeared to fall into ground softened by sorrow.
Poor Lachmi, who had been down-trodden by man, and terrified by legends
regarding demon-like deities, clung to the thought that there was one
religion of love. The Burmese received the truth in simplicity, and
rejoiced to hear that there was One who would stand his Friend, though
the world had cast him off. Nor was this all. Coldstream found ready
listeners in the Lascars who manned the vessel, and who had never
before had any one to speak to them of a Saviour. The captain, a rough,
honest Englishman, watched with surprise the quiet but earnest work
which was turning his ship into a floating Bethel.

“I don’t know how such as you ever found your way into a penal
settlement,” observed Captain Partridge to Coldstream on the evening
before they landed. “I think I’ve a Jonah on board.”

“One brought from lower depths than ever was Jonah,” was Oscar’s reply.

“And going to preach to worse sinners than those of old Nineveh,” said
the captain. “I see that you’ve brought your gourd with you,” he added,
as he glanced at Io, who was standing gazing in the direction of the
land from which “the spicy breezes” were already wafted over the ocean.

“God grant that I may not love her too well or lose her too early,”
thought Coldstream; “she is all that is left to me upon earth.”

                            CHAPTER XXXII.


“O Oscar! this can be no penal settlement; it is a paradise, a perfect
paradise of beauty!” was Io’s delighted exclamation as, aided by her
husband, she stepped on shore. Imagination had pictured the Andamans as
some hot waste of sand, or some burning rock, fit abode for criminals
driven forth from their fellow-men; but perhaps the whole earth holds
no fairer spot, none more favoured by nature, than these beautiful
Eastern islands――“emeralds set in the ring of the sea.” There plants
grow in the richest luxuriance; there verdure clothes the forest, and
flowers spangle the earth. Where the green waves gently lap the shore,
corals of marvellous beauty may be seen through the transparent depths.
Well worthy of artist’s pencil or poet’s lay are the dreaded Andaman

Oscar, rapt in admiration, gazed on the scene around him.

“Strange――most wonderful!” burst from his lips. “Adam was for one sin
banished from paradise, and my sin, far more detestable than his, has
brought me into another Eden.”

“Not your sin, beloved one, say not your sin!” exclaimed Io; “rather
your repentance, the brave sacrifice which you made in indeed plucking
out the right eye.”

“And what gave me courage to make the sacrifice?” asked Oscar, looking
gratefully at his wife. “Was it not my Io’s brave words when, at the
crisis of my life, she said, ‘Do what you think is right’?”

The Andaman Islands are governed in a humane and liberal spirit. There
is no dungeon there――no chains, unless it be in Viper’s Island, to
which only the most desperate ruffians are transported to be kept under
stricter ward. The chief commissioner has indeed the power of life
or death, and soldiers to carry his orders into effect; but when the
Coldstreams arrived they found themselves under the sway of a wise and
beneficent ruler. The commissioner received Oscar with grave politeness,
his wife with chivalrous courtesy.

“I am afraid, Mr. Coldstream,” said the commissioner, “that I must make
no exception in your favour. Our people here have small allotments of
land, and are expected to cultivate them with their own hands.”

“I wish for no exception in my favour, sir,” was the convict’s reply;
“I deserve none, for there is no one in these islands who has sinned so
grievously against the laws of God and man as myself.”

To Oscar Coldstream his manual labour became a pleasure. No land was
better cultivated than his; and he made his hut a bower of beauty, in
which the bird of paradise was Io.

But the principal labour of both the Coldstreams was amongst the
convicts of either sex. The English couple were earnest missionaries
without the name. Year by year souls were won for the Master, and out
of the chaos of misery and crime a little church of lowly believers
gradually rose. Oscar had no children. This was to him not a matter
of regret, for he could not have endured to leave to his offspring
a heritage of disgrace, the name of the sons of a felon. But the
Coldstreams were granted many spiritual children, and the ties formed
in the Andaman Islands were to Oscar and Io so close and so dear, that
even had a pardon come they would have declined leaving their place
of exile, or rather their sphere of work. Oscar was known amongst the
people as the _pir_, or saint――a title which he always repudiated, but
which clung to him still.

Letters connected the Coldstreams with the outer world, and not
unfrequently the chief commissioner lent newspapers to read. Oscar
knew when a fair young queen ascended the throne which this worthy
descendant of Alfred still fills. He received from Mark Lawrence the
glad news that after years of loneliness his home was to be brightened
by the presence of a wife. The chaplain’s former disappointment had
been in itself a blessing, for without it he would have been linked to
one who would not have made him happy.

With one scene in the life of the Coldstreams, about eight years after
their arrival in the Andaman Islands, my little story concludes.

“There is a vessel in the offing, my Oscar,” said Io one morning;
“shall we go down and see the arrivals?”

Oscar was just putting the last touches to a beautiful water-colour
picture which was to be a birthday present to Io; but he rose at once,
put down his brush, and prepared to accompany his wife.

“Formerly,” observed Oscar, “it was with sadness that we saw new-comers
arriving; now hope counterbalances pity. We look upon prisoners coming
to the Andaman Islands less as sinners to be punished than as souls
that may be saved.”

“But these are not prisoners; they come in the commissioner’s yacht.
There are nice white English faces,” exclaimed Io joyfully, quickening
her pace, “and one is a lady! O Oscar, Oscar!” she continued in the
excitement of pleasure, “I am certain that yonder is Mark Lawrence, and
she who leans on his arm must be his wife!”

Oscar hurried on so fast at the word that Io had to run to keep up with
his pace. Here was a great and unexpected pleasure indeed! In a few
minutes the friends who had deemed that they were parted for ever as
regards this world were greeting each other with cordial delight.

“You never thought――I never thought of my being appointed chaplain
to the troops in the Andaman Islands!” cried Mark, after having
with pleasure and pride introduced his young wife. “Why, Coldstream,
the climate of the place must suit you, for you look little changed
after so many years of residence, only more strong and a little more
sunburnt.” Lawrence might have added, “and a great deal more happy,”
for Coldstream’s fine countenance now wore an expression of peace.

And Io was blooming still, not a silver thread in the auburn hair, not
a wrinkle of care on the white smooth brow. The water-lily had again
opened its chalice to the sunshine, and was smiling in the light which
came from heaven, and was reflected by very many objects around her.

That day was one of the happiest which the Coldstreams had ever known.
No stranger seeing the group that sat eagerly chatting over old days
would have dreamed that the one gentleman was a chaplain, the other
a convict. Oscar himself was the only one to whose mind came the
recollection of his great crime; in his heart of hearts was written,
“Jesus Christ came to save sinners, _of whom I am chief_.”

A party to visit a spot of singular beauty was arranged for a later
hour of the day. The distance was so short that in the evening even the
ladies could walk.

“I have a double object in selecting Palm-tree Point,” observed
Coldstream: “I have just received notice that a Karen is lying in a hut
there with a broken leg. I have not seen him yet, for he is a recent

“I could almost wish that it were our old friend Ko Thah Byu,” said

“One would hardly find him _here_,” rejoined Coldstream.

In the softened light of a rich sunset the Lawrences and Coldstreams
made their way to the beautiful spot. They found the Karen, not in the
hut, but stretched on a _churpai_ under a tree. None of the visitors
had ever seen the man before, but the fact of his being a Karen
awakened additional interest.

After kindly salutation, and making inquiries after the injury which
the convict had received, Coldstream, taking a seat on a mat, opened
his Karen Bible. The ladies rested themselves luxuriously on a mossy
bank garlanded with rare ferns.

“Ah, that is the book which Ko Thah Byu so loved!” observed the Karen.

“Did you know him?” asked Oscar.

“I knew him well,” said the sufferer. “Ko Thah Byu often came to our
village to give the good tidings of great joy. If I had minded all that
he said I should never have come to this place.”

“I must try to find out where he is,” observed Lawrence, “and give him
news of you.”

The convict shook his head sadly. “Ko Thah Byu is where news cannot
reach him,” said the Karen. “Our brother has gone to be with the Lord.
I was at his side when he died.”

The tidings were received with sorrow. How apt are we to grudge the
victor his crown, the weary labourer his rest! We grieve to think
that a familiar voice shall never again on earth proclaim God’s truth,
though we believe that it is swelling the chorus of His praise in

Inquiries elicited a few particulars of the last days of the first
Karen convert and apostle. Ko Thah Byu had latterly been afflicted with
painful sickness, and blindness had quenched the light of his piercing
eyes. The evangelist had had to close his long itinerancies, and wander
no more amongst the heathen. Yet as long as Ko Thah Byu could preach,
he preached, bearing fruit even in old age. Then, as a ripe sheaf meet
for the Master’s garner, the saint fell asleep amongst his own people,
honoured, beloved, and lamented.

“Of the Karen apostle it may well be said,” observed the chaplain,
“that he will have many stars in his crown.”

“May I, unworthy as I am, be reckoned amongst them!” said Oscar
Coldstream with emotion. “I should, humanly speaking, never have known
peace on earth or glory in heaven had I not been taught by the Karen
the force of the inspired words: _Blessed is he whose transgression is
forgiven, whose sin is covered.... I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and
mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions
unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin._”


Whilst some readers will skip the appendix altogether, to others it
may appear the best part of my book, as it will give some information
regarding the present state of the Karens, and will show what sorts of
fruit now grow on the tree planted by the devoted American missionaries
and their first convert, Ko Thah Byu.

I will not dwell long on the fact mentioned in secular newspapers, that
when the English took possession of Burmah those of the inhabitants
_trusted with arms_ were loyal Karens, as they would defend the laws.
Such courage was displayed by the Karens that they were given by the
English Government a large reward.

It is more interesting to know how the Christian Karens have honoured
the memory of their apostle, Ko Thah Byu. I will give some extracts
from his memoir, to which I have been already indebted:――

“On the 16th of this month, May 1878, occurred the fiftieth anniversary
of the baptism of the first Karen convert, Ko Thah Byu. He was not only
the first in time. As a humble, persistent, and prayerful teacher of
the gospel to his heathen countrymen, he ranks easily first amongst the
hundreds of faithful men who have succeeded him.”

A school and building fund was raised, not only with a view to
usefulness in the growing church, but to erect a worthy monument to
Ko Thah Byu. To give another extract:――

“It was voted, in view of the exigency and the jubilee, to make a
special thank-offering, that the missionary hall might be dedicated
without delay. It was the hottest time of the year, but every man,
woman, and child stayed at his post. An enthusiasm for giving fell
on the people. On the day of dedication our new building fund, which
we had set at the modest figure of 20,000 rupees (less than £2,000),
reached the sum of 42,342 rupees. The debt was extinguished; there was
abundance of material on hand, and over 8,000 rupees in cash.... To sum
up, since 1868 the Karens of Bassein alone have sent 43,050 rupees for
the erection of permanent and substantial buildings.”

Then follows a detailed description of the opening of the Ko Thah Byu
Mission Hall, the winding up of which we will give to our readers:――

“On the wall of the south veranda we have carved in large gilded
Burmese characters――

                      1828. KO THAH BYU. 1878.

And our prayer is that the building may long stand, and do its part
towards training and sending forth hundreds of men and women far better
equipped for the service of the Master than Ko Thah Byu, and with a
spirit no less fervent and devoted.”

To bring the account of the Karens to a still later date, I give an
extract of a comparatively recent speech made by a lady, the only
Karen missionary at a large conference.[6] Speaking of the interesting
people amongst whom she laboured, she said: “Without any literature,
they had a tradition about some old book which had been taken from them,
but which some day the white men would bring back to them. They were
therefore ready to receive the gospel, and when it reached them they
yielded readily to its power. Now there are _over 450 parishes, with
their own pastors and schools_. They also send out missionaries to the
regions beyond. _There are 30,000 Church communicants._ Many of the
young men have gone with their wives across the hills far north amongst
strange peoples, and are there preaching the gospel.... There is a
Women’s Karen Missionary Society.”


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    1 – The legend is copied almost word for word from a most
        interesting work which I procured from Calcutta, “The
        Karen Apostle, or Memoir of Ko Thah Byu,” by the Rev.
        Francis Mason, D.D., missionary to the Karens. I am
        indebted to this work for the information contained in
        this story regarding a very remarkable race, as well
        as regarding the singular man who is the subject of the

    2 – It is a remarkable fact that when the English, many
        years after the date of my story, took possession of
        Upper Burmah, they trusted Karens with weapons, and found
        them do good work as gallant police in bringing that
        troublesome district into order.

    3 – Ko Thah Byu’s account of himself is strictly authentic.

    4 – If unprecedented then, not a solitary instance now, as
        Constance Kent voluntarily confessed herself guilty of
        murder, and was sentenced to imprisonment for life in the
        present reign.

    5 – It would be deemed very improper for a woman to say “my

    6 – Held, I think, in 1888, but it may have been in the
        previous year.

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