|CHAPTER XXIII. -- INDIA--NOTES FROM MY DIARY--BASSIM--A BLESSING AT FAMILY PRAYER--NAINI TAL--TERRIBLE FLOODS AND DESTRUCTION OF LIFE.|
From Chaculdah I went to Lenoula. I kept this wine and champagne in my lunch basket, well covered up. I was so afraid somebody would see it, and if the natives saw it, I would not be able to explain. I thought I would take it to Bombay and give it to old Sister Miles, who was a grand, good woman, in the hospital at Bombay and, like Dorcas, "full of good works all the time."
"Well," I said to myself, "Mrs. Whitlock said I could do with it what I pleased, and I will give it to Sister Miles. She is so judicious and careful, she will know whom to give it to--the very weak and faint ones who are about to die; I don't think it would be any harm to give it to them."
Brother Fox was Presiding Elder, and it was Quarterly Meeting at Lenoula. So after resting all day, they had meeting Friday night. At first I thought I would not go out, as it was quite a little walk from the house to the church. Then the moon was so beautiful and the evening was so pleasant, that I decided to go.
The Lord's hand was in it. He had a great lesson to teach me. Brother Fox preached. A number of natives were taken in. Then we had an after meeting. It was full of interest and spirit.
Just as Brother Fox went to close the meeting, a man rose in the rear of the church, a fine looking Englishman; how well I remember him; I can see him now. He was a man that weighed about a hundred and fifty, and was about five feet and something in height; he was dressed in pure white, and had a full, round, flush, English face, with black hair and black eyes. I had noticed he had sat very seriously looking and listening all through the service. But now he was on his feet, and he called out:
"Brethren, I want to speak a word."
"Go on, certainly," Brother Fox said.
And he said, in a most deploring, pleading way, "Oh, brethren, brethren, whatever you do, be careful about strong drink. Don't ever advise any one to take it, under any circumstances," etc.
My! I trembled. I thought, "There, now, everybody knows I have those bottles."
They were in the lunch basket, well covered up, away back under the bed in my room. But it seemed to me somebody had found it out.
Well, I heard the story of this man. He said: "I have been a man that has been addicted to strong drink, and I have been overcome. It has been my ruin. But I came here and was converted,
And then he sat down.
"Lord," I said, "help."
There was a sad feeling that went over the house. Then Brother Fox got up and emphasized what he had said, and told an experience similar that he knew of, and then another, and another.
One man stated another case: He said that he knew a man who was very ill. They took him to the hospital. He was about dead, as they thought, so he prayed and gave himself to the Lord, and was very peaceful and happy. It pleased the Lord after awhile to restore him so that he became quite convalescent, and one day a friend went to see him and he looked so weak and pale that he thought that just a little wine might refresh and strengthen him, so he got some wine and took it to him. It brought on the old appetite so strong that that night this man slipped away from the hospital and went into the town and got some cheap whisky and got so terribly drunk that next morning when they found him he was in the gutter dying.
"Lord, deliver me," I thought, "can it be that they know I was going to take this wine to Sister Miles? By the grace of God I will never do it. Though she is judicious and careful, it might not be the thing."
On Monday morning, about five o'clock, I left Lenoula for Bombay. I never told anybody about what I had. They all supposed it was nothing but lunch in my basket, as everybody carried a lunch basket. And after the train left the station and we got pretty well under way, and there was nobody in the compartment but myself (the Lord helped me to be alone, for I said, "Now, Lord, help me to get rid of this champagne and wine"), I took the bottle of champagne, and just as we were crossing a very deep cut, about fifty or a hundred feet deep, I threw out the bottle and heard it rumble and gurgle as it went down.
"Dust to dust. ashes to ashes," I said, then out went the other bottle.
No one saw me, and I expect they are there yet, for the cut was so deep that no mortal would ever go down after them, I think. And that is the way I got deliverance from my champagne and wine.
The day we left for Chaculdah we prayed around--Miss Wheeler, Miss Frow, and I, last. I had been so deeply touched at seeing the sacrifice and need of these poor girls. They were there all alone. Fifty-one miles was the nearest railway station. And but two or three English families within two miles of them, except some English officers' headquarters.
Two of these officers had their wives there some of the time, but they are often, both husbands and wives, far from being Christians, and have but little sympathy with missionaries and their work. So these two girls, being there alone, were looked upon with a kind of suspicion. No woman had ever been known to build a house before. But Miss Wheeler had been her own architect and superintended her work, bought her lime, and tiles, and thatch, and everything.
I have known her while I was there to be out counting tiles from six o'clock in the evening till nine and sometimes ten o'clock at night.
The native men whom they had to deal with, felt like some of the English officers who were there. They thought that a woman had not sense enough to build a house, and if she had she ought not to do it, for it was lowering her dignity as a woman.
So the men gave them a great deal of trouble. They would come and make fine promises, then you must pay them so much money before they brought the things you needed or ordered. Then they would go away, and you might see them again in two or three day, or a week, or maybe not all. All this time you could do nothing, but you must wait.
A thing of that kind might happen two or three times during a month. So the work was delayed, and they had much to contend with.
It was three miles to the nearest village, of more than two thousand inhabitants, where Miss Wheeler used to go almost every day and do her missionary work in the zenanas, or preach to a crowd in some open space in the village, or under a tree. Then they had a room where she dispensed medicines two or three times a week, as the case might be.
Miss Lucy Drake, now Mrs. William B. Osborn, of Hacketstown, with Miss Wheeler, was the first to start the work at Bassim, under the auspices of Dr. Cullis, of Boston, but after a year or so Miss Drake's health failed and she returned to America, but Miss Wheeler remained. She has never been home since she left. She is a marvel. Her powers of endurance and stick-to-it-iveness and deep heart loyalty to God have made her rightly called one of God's noble women.
If they needed a loaf of bread, or a pound of sugar or flour, or the most trivial article, if they didn't happen to have it in the house, they had to go, or send, fifty-one miles for it, which generally took about three days, with a slow-going ox cart, as we would say, but bullock wagon, as they say in India.
Those were the pioneer days. God has wrought wonders since then. Praise His name. How I did pity and sympathize with these poor girls.
So while I was praying the morning before I left the Spirit of the Lord came upon me in a wonderful manner, and I was led to pray, "Oh, Lord, put it into somebody's heart to build a railroad through this part of the country, so it will not be so hard for those who are isolated to get the things they so often need."
I shall never forget how I felt as I prayed. And these words came to me: "Therefore I say unto you, all things whatsoever you ask in faith believing, ye shall receive." And I saw a railroad as really as I ever saw a railroad, by faith.
When I rose they laughed at me, and said, "You think we will have a railroad?"
"Yes," I said, "God will do it. You will see."
And it did come to pass in less than two years after, that the East Indian Railroad Company put a railroad right through that section of country and, I was told, a station within two miles of Bassim Faith Mission House. That was the name inscribed on the front of the building.
While I was in Africa a Mrs. Wills, from Bassa, Liberia, was in London on a visit. She went to a meeting at Miss Mason's House of Rest, and there she met a lady who told her to tell me when she got back to Africa that the prayer I had prayed in India for a railroad to Bassim had been answered, and the railroad was finished.
That was the first I knew of it from the time I prayed, and I said, "Praise the Lord. Is there anything too hard for God?"
Naini Tal, India, Wednesday, September 15, 1880. The morning is beautiful. Miss Fannie Sparks and I take our men and go up to what is called the snow seat. It is about two miles, I suppose, right up hill. The men who carry you in the dandies, when they get to a certain point on the hill, turn you round, and carry you up backwards. I don't know why they do this, but I think they have an idea that you are not so heavy carried that way. Miss Sparks had four men and I had four. When we got up to the top of the hill we found it very broad, a kind of tableland. You can look for miles away, and the hills are covered with snow.
When they put us down, and we stepped out of our chairs and turned round, we looked right on the great mountain ridge of snow, beautifully white, and the sun shining on it like silver. Oh! I thought I never saw anything so beautiful. I wanted to shout right out, and wave my hat.
But then one has to be so careful, because the natives watch you, and they think that it means you are worshiping the snow or the great mountains. So I had to restrain myself from shouting and dancing.
Oh! the sight was glorious to behold! Miss Sparks and I walked about, and then we sat down and had a nice little Bible reading together, and then we knelt down and had such a blessed prayer meeting. I shall never forget that morning.
That night, Wednesday night, was our prayer meeting. We were not very spiritual, still we had a good meeting.
Thursday, September 16th. The day the great flood began. It rained all day Thursday. Sometimes it would lighten up, and seem as though it was going to clear off; then a heavy cloud and fog would set in, and the rain would pour. All day Thursday, all night Thursday night, all day Friday, and all night Friday night.
By that time we began to get serious; we wondered; for the water ran in torrents; great trenches would give way in the ground; banks were falling in; and we did not know but danger was coming to us.
Miss Sparks, and dear Miss Leighton, who has recently gone to her rest, were staying at the Mission House, with Mr. and Mrs. Mudge, and we were expecting to return to the plains the following week. Mr. G.N. Cheney was pastor of the Methodist Church. Rev. Mr. Buck was pastor of the native work. I stayed
Friday night we didn't sleep much. Mr. Buck was up most of the night, working; he and the boys. I had four boys and Miss Swain had four. We generally had to keep these boys by the month, so as to have them when we wanted to go anywhere; for we could not walk up the hills, they were so steep and long. We didn't pay them much wages; we didn't have anything to do with finding their food, or anything of that kind. We gave them a suit, which was their outfit.
In this, the Lord was good to me, for dear Mrs. Fleming gave my boys their suits, and made them; and they didn't cost me anything. I remember so well what they were, and how nice they looked; they were of a kind of brown flannel; the pants just reached to their knees; the coats were bound with red round the bottom and sleeves; and a little skull cap bound with red; they were very picturesque. There are always outhouses where the servants stay. These boys used to get wood and sell it days when they did not have anything else to do; so they kept along very nicely; I used to buy the wood from them sometimes.
Well, Mr. Buck and the boys worked all night almost. When Mr. Buck came in in the morning, he was very much exhausted. How pale he looked. We could not get any breakfast; nobody seemed to want anything to eat.
He said we would have to pile up all the things in the house. So we began. The people up at the Mission House had piled their trunks outside. The water began to come in on them.
Between three and four o'clock in the morning Miss Sparks and Miss Leighton came down to our house. We had got our things out of one part of the house, and piled them in the parlor; then we took them from there and piled them on the veranda outside.
When morning came we were all in the parlor having a little rest. Some one said we ought to have a prayer meeting; so we got down and prayed as best we could; then we rose, and were quietly thinking what was the next thing to be done.
I went to my room, for I felt I could pray a little better alone. After awhile Miss Sparks came in, and she knelt down by the bed beside me, and we prayed. I shall never forget Miss Sparks' prayer.