|CHAPTER XXVII. -- CONFERENCE AT MONROVIA--ENTERTAINING THE BISHOP--SIERRA -- LEONE--GRAND CANARY--A STRANGE DREAM--CONFERENCE -- AT BASSA--BISHOP TAYLOR.|
I had not heard directly from Bishop Taylor, but as the Conference was to be held at Bassa, we heard flying reports of the Bishop's movements: he was to stop at Monrovia, and he was to spend three months in the regions round about, go to Bopora, etc.
Not that the Bishop had given it out, or knew anything about it; but then some people feel they have a right to draw on their imagination, or invent just whatever will suit the case; and many times one will find himself all at sea; for when you think you have a fact, lo! it is not there. But amid all this, there are some facts that remain, and will to the end of time.
An American vessel came in--the bark Monrovia--and as it was going to Bassa, though it was a week before the opening of the session of Conference, I thought I had better go, as I wanted to go, and this might be my only chance; for though a steamer was due, it might not stop at Monrovia.
The captain of the vessel was kind enough, through a good word spoken him by my son (for so he was to me all the time I was in Liberia, God bless the dear young man), B.Y. Payne, and put himself out considerably to accommodate me, and my friend who went with me, Mrs. Emma Cooper. I think we were about twenty-four hours on what they called a "good sea."
Well we had a week before the Conference opened. As I had not been there for some time, I spent the week in visiting among the people--the poor and sick, and others on all sides.
I remember one morning I called on a poor, young German, who was sick with fever. He had not been in Africa long. He was a young man who was well raised and trained, well educated, and bore about him all the marks of a gentleman. He had charge of a German store in Bassa. As he was alone, and lonesome, he would often in the evening come over and talk with Mr. Gus. Williams, who was his neighbor, and kept a large store on the same street.
Poor fellow! how glad he was when I called to see him. He said that he was better; but I saw from his looks that he needed help, and good nursing, and medical attention quick, or he would not stay long; the poor fellow tried to be cheerful, and I said nothing to alarm him. I encouraged him to do all he could for himself, and put his trust in God. He was not religious, but very
In the course of a week or two he was dead. How glad I was that I had gone and done my duty by this poor man. I was laughed at and criticised at the time. "The idea of your going and praying with that white German trader!"
Well, I know that as a rule they only have respect for Africa for the money they get out of it.
"But, Oh!" I said, "he has a soul, and a poor mother somewhere; I believe she would thank me for going to see her boy if no one else did."
Oh, how often I have pitied these young men; some of them were well bred, and well raised, from Scotland and Germany. I have seen them at Calabar, and also at Lagos. I believe they sign a contract to stay a certain length of time; and, being young, and unused to the climate, and having no one to look after them but their native men that help around, many of them in a short time die. How my heart ached as I stood in the grave yard at old Calabar, on a beautiful hillside facing the great ocean--the missionaries' burying ground. Some missionaries from Scotland, and Jamaica, West Indies, and young men from England and Germany.
As I stood and looked as they were pointed out to me--their friends have sent many of them beautiful tomb-stones--I wept as I thought of the song that Bishop Taylor taught me sitting in the boat on the Cavala River; I shall never forget it, how he sang it the first time I ever heard it:
"At the sounding of the trumpet, when the saints shall gather home,
We will greet each other by the crystal sea;
With the friends and all the loved ones that are waiting us to come,
What a gathering of the faithful that will be."
"What a gathering, gathering,
At the sounding of the glorious jubilee,
What a gathering, gathering,
What a gathering of the faithful that will be."
But to return to my story. I think the Conference was to convene on the 29th, and the Bishop got in several days before the time, also. It was well that I left Monrovia on that vessel, for the steamer that brought the Bishop did not stop at Monrovia; only at Bassa; so I should have missed it, if I had waited for that steamer.
I was at Lower Buchanan, and did not know the Bishop had arrived until several hours after; and I went up to Edina, the seat of the Conference, and there was quite a stir. The Bishop had arrived. The brethren were coming in from their different stations, and several had got in, taking their opportunities as best they could. It was not very convenient for them always to get to Conference in Africa. Sometimes they had to go two or three days ahead in order to be there in time.
Brother Rust, Sr., was pastor in charge of the church at Edina, and the old gentleman was a little peculiar; and as the Bishop had come unexpectedly, and he had not got a notification in due time, as he thought he ought to have done, he was feeling quite out of sorts. And besides, he was getting his house shingled; and he being pastor, of course the Bishop, when he arrived, was sent to his house.
I was told all this, and how unpleasant they were feeling, so as I knew them very well, I thought I would go up and help a little bit. So I went to the house and found that the old gentleman, and his wife, too, were feeling just as I had heard. They began to tell me how unprepared they were, etc. I talked to them, and told them the Bishop was very plain, and would not expect them to do any extra fixing for him. Of course I talked quietly, for the Bishop was in the room near by.
They thought someone else could have accommodated him better. But this one was afraid because he was "Bishop," and another one did not like to do it, because he was "Bishop." So as I was talking and explaining to Brother and Sister Rust as best I could, the dear Bishop overheard what we were saying, and he called out:
"Oh, brethren, don't trouble about me; I can sleep outdoors; I would prefer to do so."
And when I went into the room, there he sat, smiling, and mending his mosquito net.
"Well," he said, "Amanda, how are you?"
"Very well, Bishop; God bless you."
"Have you got a thimble? I cannot get on so well without a thimble."
So I got a thimble and helped him mend his mosquito net. But he didn't have to sleep outdoors.
As the Bishop had arrived several days before the Conference, he had an extra Sunday, and Brother Morgan, who had charge of our church at Hartford, came down to Edina and insisted on the Bishop's going up and preaching for them on Sunday at Hartford. Edina was a larger town, and the Bishop would have preached on Sunday to a larger number of people; but as the people had never seen him up in that part, Brother Morgan was very anxious that he should go up, and he asked me if I would accompany the Bishop.
Of course I went and if he had not asked me I should have gone anyhow, because I knew all the people up there. I had been up there about six months, and I knew I would be of some service to look after the Bishop a little, and do all I could; and having been up there before, I had the hang of things a little, and I was quite sure I would be of service.
So on Saturday afternoon Brother Rust, the Bishop, myself and several others went to Hartford.
It was not as convenient for Brother Morgan's folks as it would have been for some others that I knew to entertain the Bishop, but he thought as he was pastor, and had invited the Bishop, it was his duty to entertain him. So his sister-in-law, Miss Barclay, and myself arranged the room the best we could. I stopped with a friend not far away, and went back and forth and did all I could.
The dear old Bishop was as kind, and gentle, and pleasant, as if he had been in a palace. He sat and conversed, and made the poor things feel comfortable, because he saw they were doing the best they could.
My! as I think it over now, I wonder what some of our Bishops at home would have done. There are no hotels in Africa like there are here, but there are some pleasant and comfortable homes. But these are not always the people that take the Bishop. Brother Morgan was a grand man; a black Englishman, born, raised and educated in the West Indies; a very intelligent man. His wife, also, was a West Indian--a Miss Barclay.
The family of Barclays are as fine a family as there is in Liberia. Mr. Arthur Barclay is a leading lawyer in Monrovia,
The Bishop preached at Hartford Sunday morning and evening in our little church. On Monday we went to Fortsville, and he preached there Monday night. Tuesday we came back to Edina, had a rest of a day or so, and then the Conference.