|CHAPTER XXIII. -- INDIA--NOTES FROM MY DIARY--BASSIM--A BLESSING AT FAMILY PRAYER--NAINI TAL--TERRIBLE FLOODS AND DESTRUCTION OF LIFE.|
When we arose she said, "The Lord has given me the assurance that this house will not go down." I said, "Amen."
After we went out, the engineer, who had been examining the hillside, came by and said to Mr. Buck, "I think this end of your house will go; but the other end is on the rock, and I think it is safer.
About nine o'clock the baker came. We got several loaves of bread, for that was about all we could get to eat. I bought two loaves for my men; they had not had anything to eat, and they were shivering with the cold, and were wet and hungry; but their caste feeling was so deep, that, hungry as they were, they would not touch the bread. One of them seemed for a moment to have forgotten; and just as I picked up a loaf and handed it to him, the other shouted to him, "Don't you do it!" and he threw it down as though he had had a snake.
Poor fellows, how I pitied them! One day one of my boys was suffering with a pain in his stomach, and came to me for some medicine, he said. I had some Jamaica ginger, and I mixed some with some water and sugar, and brought it to him; I never thought but he would drink it right down; but, no, he said, he could not.
"Well," I said, "what are you going to do?" And he went to a tree and got a leaf, and shaped it, and I had to pour the liquid in the leaf, then he drank it out of the leaf. If he had drunk it out of the glass he would have broken his caste.
Oh, how they are anchored to that caste feeling! But God is delivering them. The door is open. Light is coming. Praise the Lord.
The hotel was a very short distance from the mission house: perhaps a half block. There was a lady, whose name I have forgotten, who had come up from the plains a few days before, and was staying at the hotel (her father's), with her two children, and her native nurse. The youngest child was about a year old; the other about two years old. The nurse was giving the baby his bath in their room, and the mother had taken the other little boy, and gone out in the breakfast room to breakfast. She had not more than got out of the room when the side of the hill came down and buried the nurse and baby.
Mr. Buck and I were standing on the veranda. Mr. Buck said, "Well, Sister Smith, this is terrible."
"What will we do?" I said.
It would be as dark almost at times as six o'clock in the evening. Then it would lighten up, and you would hope that the sun was coming out; but, no.
After awhile Mr. Buck looked up the hill toward Government House. Government House was a large house where the Governor lived. It stood on a beautiful hill; and, though it was quite a ways up to Government House, it was beautiful to look from; the sight, when you got up, was charming, every way you would look.
So, standing on the veranda, we could look eastward and see Government House quite distinctly, though it was about two and a half or three miles away. And, as Mr. Buck stood looking, he said to me, "Why, Sister Smith, just look at those trees."
And just as I turned to look, the trees were swaying first one way, then another, and all at once there was a crash, and they went down so gracefully, and the earth plowed like a great avalanche.
Well, there was a panic. Everybody left the house, and got out as quickly as he could; the news spread rapidly, and in a little while there were a hundred and fifty or two hundred men, many of them English soldiers, digging, trying to get out this child and nurse; and while they were digging away as hard as they could, and we were lamenting, and feeling the sadness that had come upon this family, the earth gave way again, and buried them.
They didn't see the danger, and we couldn't alarm them; their heads were down as they were digging; and it struck the other part of the hotel and swept on, then it passed on like a great moving mountain; I never saw such a sight; it moved on, carrying great boulders on its face!
The next was the large reading-room and postoffice that stood on the lake, the Hindoo Temple, and Bell's large store.
I had just seen from the veranda some ladies and gentlemen go into the reading-room, and they had not come out; and there were persons in Bell's store whom I knew; one, a lady who was a very earnest Christian. I said to Mr. Buck, "Oh, Bell's store," and I had hardly got the words out of my mouth when it was swept away! Then "The Reading Room," and I had no more than said it till it was taken! "And there goes the Temple next" and there it was in the lake!
The lake was about a half-mile wide, and, perhaps, three miles in length; but the whole thing swept into the lake, and the noise was like the blast of a cannon, and the smoke ascended upwards; it swept everything clear; and there was not a brick of the chimney, or a piece of wood left. The horror of that hour I never want to see again!
Then the men came and said we would all have to leave the house; so we started. We thought we would go to the Methodist Church; but the native Christian Church had been swept away, and so they had taken refuge in the church.
The first native Christian had died on Friday night. She had been sick for quite a while, and Mrs. Buck and all went and did everything they could for her.
She was in one of the outhouses on the hill. So Mrs. Buck and I went up and prepared her for her burial. Mrs. Buck dressed her in a nice white gown, combed her hair, washed her, and got her all ready to bury, and we left her lying on her bed and went down to the house; and about an hour and a half after it seemed like the Lord buried this woman Himself; for the house gave way, the ground opened, and she went down, bed and all, and was covered up. I never heard that she ever had any other burial!
Well, when they told us we would have to leave the house, we thought we would go to Mr. Sasha's; he was a photographer. Everybody had to look out for himself; and I felt I was alone, and everybody had so many more cares, and so I had to do the best I could for myself. Miss Sparks and I were the last to leave the house.
As we started down to Sasha's I thought I would go over to Mrs. Fleming's, which was about a quarter of a mile further along from our place. Mrs. Fleming had a large dressmaking establishment. Her men, who worked for her (for the native men do all the dressmaking, pretty much, there), are called derzies; sometimes she would have twelve men, all sitting down on the floor in a row, sewing. She did the cutting and fitting, and these derzies did all the other work; the trimming and fixing of all kinds.
Her men were all gone. They had sent the children away, and Mr. and Mrs. Fleming were the two last to leave the house, and they were going on horseback. I said to Mrs. Fleming, "I don't know what to do, or where to go."
"Well," she said, "go with us as far as Sasha's."
The sweeping away of the Hindoo Temple had made the Hindoo so vexed; they felt, and thought, the Gods were angry with the missionaries, and so had destroyed their temple; and there was an expression of indignation on the countenance of every one.
I remember as I was going along I would put my foot on what seemed to be a piece of turf, but it would give way, and sometimes I would go down almost to my knee; sometimes when I would step on it I would stick in tight; once or twice I thought I was stuck fast; two or three of these men passed by, and with a scornful sneer they grinned as though they hoped I could not get out.
I prayed to the Lord to help me, and finally I got to Sasha's. I went in. Miss Sparks, and Miss Leighton, and some others, had gathered there. Mrs. Sasha had a very sick baby; but she had had the servant get them a cup of tea, and they were getting a little refreshed; so when I got in they gave me a cup of tea, and Mrs. Sasha got me a pair of dry stockings; and just as I got my stockings on, and drank part of my tea, Mr. Mooney, an Englishman, came and said, "You will have to get out of here as quick as you possibly can; all the houses on this hillside are falling down."
Mrs. Sasha picked up her baby, supposed to be dying, in her arms, and started; we begged her to wait a little. She said, "It is easy for you all; you have got religion, and something to comfort you; but I have not."
Then clasping her little baby she ran. Mr. Sasha got the hammock and sent the boys after her, with some other things, for she went without a bonnet.
I was the last to get out of the house. I was so weak I trembled from head to foot. I was not excited; I was just weak; and it seemed to me I could never get my things on. But when I did get them on, Mr. Mooney--God bless that man; all the rest had gone--took me by the arm, and literally dragged me. He was a very strong man. As I think it over now it seems I can feel the grasp of his hand on my right arm.
We went from there to a Mr. Frazier's, about a mile away, on the other side of the hill altogether.
As I went along I said to myself, "The idea of running away from God." I said to Mr. Mooney, "I don't mean to go another