« ForrigeFortsæt »
wistfully, and she found some Norah. "The age of paragons passage in her book extremely fascinating.
"I'd as soon recommend you neckties," she remarked, with an attempt at playfulness.
"And I know exactly the sort of wife to suit me," he proceeded.
"Listen a moment to this," she interrupted hurriedly, with a laugh, and read a passage in the book. He listened, laughed politely, though, indeed, the humour of it was not great; plunged again into more important things. "She must be good and wise and beautiful."
"Mormon ! It is not one wife you want, but three," said
is ended. If I were you I would confine my requirements to a single one, which might console me for the absence of the others."
"As what?" he asked, and she looked embarrassed.
"What's wanted most in Schawfield-money," she replied, with an effort at an air of badinage.
"I'd prefer that she had none; my ideal lady hasn't a single penny. I go out, like Quixote, this very hour to look for her," he said, rising to the door, and Norah, looking after him, shrugged her shoulders.
(To be continued.)
BY EDMUND CANDLER.
WE were talking of Prophets and Mahdis and Incarnations. Dalling, the civilian, had known Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Quadian, the anti-Jehad man, with his four hundred thousand disciples.
"I never trust them," he said, "when they smooth away religious differences. You'll find the single-minded man who believes himself inspired is a schismatic.”
I asked Malaher if he believed in the ingenuousness of any modern founder of a sect.
"I've never met one," he said. "That is to say, not a live one. When I come to think of it, I did know a saint once, but his sect was posthumous, and he would not have approved of it."
Dalling, the compiler of gazetteers, wanted more information.
"I am afraid he is not in your line," Malaher said. "The last time I passed by his shrine his followers numbered eleven. They may have increased. You would put them down in your census as animists."
"And the founder?"
"He was a white man. He was not what you would call an ascetic, and there was nothing uncomfortably intense about him. He was a big man, with a bull's voice, and a grip of steel. The first time I met him he was roaring like a wounded bison. It was in
a forsaken district somewhere at the edge of the Jeypore Agency, a place called Agni Hôtrodu. You get at it from Vizianagram, and when you are there you make tracks out of it if you are wise. I struck it on the road to big game. The place is in a cup, out of the way of any breeze. It absorbs heat. The natives say that Agni, the fire god, lives there in Я cave under the earth. In April you feel exactly as if you were being turned on a spit, and it goes on getting hotter every day until the rains break. Then you are boiled in steam. I can believe that the hard volcanic rock hisses when the first drops strike it. 'I am cooked twice every year,' Père Caillard said with his huge bellowing laugh,
and I prefer myself grilled.' He was there of his own choice. It was the headquarters of his beat.
"Heath and I had pitched camp at Agni Hôtrodu. We would not have known there was a white man anywhere near if our evening walk had not led us in the direction of a great disturbance. We hurried towards it and found Père Caillard at bay. He stood in his gateway brandishing a heavy stick. In the lane outside a dozen or more Brahmins, whom he had driven down the path from his verandah, were shouting and picking up
stones "The little naked gnomelike man removed the pieces sadly. He was winning tonight,' Père Caillard explained with a laugh.
missiles sticks and and clods of earth. We noticed that he had an ally, a little aboriginal, who kept making darts from behind a gatepost. When one of them stooped he would trip him up or tug at his loin-cloth or turban and scamper back under cover again. For a moment they looked as if they were going to close in, but the priest's deep bass vibrating through the hubbub and his whirling ash stick were enough to disconcert them. They wavered. Then a lump of olay struck him on the chest. By the time we came up stones were flying. Of course it was a rout when they saw us.
"Père Caillard stood between the gateposts to receive us, six foot two in his mud-stained cassock. The sweat was pouring down his face. He laughed a little breathlessly, and looked as if he had rather enjoyed it. But when I asked him what had started it all, his face clouded.
"I cannot repeat it,' he said. 'They blasphemed.'
"I was glad to hear the homely French accent. We walked with him down the path to his tumble- down thatched bungalow. It was three-quarters chapel. His own room was barely furnished -a bench, a charpoy, and a board fixed into the wall for a table. Some one had chalked out a rude draught-board on the verandah floor, and the black and white pebbles pointed to an interrupted game.
"Teendu,' Père Caillard called. Clear these away and bring out the bench.'
"Teendu was evidently a free companion. He fought and played by his master's side.
"We carried Père Caillard off to dine with us in our tent. He made no protest-he was the friendliest of men. The type was new to us both. I had not met many missionaries in those days, but the few I had come across gave me the impression of continually having their vocation before their eyes. I was accustomed to the professional manner, the sad, earnest consciousness of being different. I knew the grave and diplomatic priest, with his precarious little flock straying in and out of the pen; and the evangelist who is so tightly wrapped up in his message that his humanity has no play; and the less certain type of enthusiast, who seems to be clinging to a standard to which he has attached himself rashly, and to be always looking up from it to satisfy himself and others that he has a firm hold. Such a man in Père Caillard's place would have folded his arms and prayed for lapidation. The evangelist would have hugged martyrdom and called a blessing on his assailants. The wise pastor would have retreated gravely to his house, barred himself in, and prayed that the hearts of his persecutors might be softened. But Père Caillard did just what you or I should have
done. He was infernally angry. I am not sure that he was not the aggressor." "That is to say, he was not disciplined to his work," Dalling said. "He did not play the game according to his lights."
"Perhaps not. The man was a great child. But think of the provocation. It was just as if they had taken the image of the Virgin from the altar and thrown it in the mud. All the chivalry of the man was on fire; he was a Crusader for the moment.
"We enjoyed his company that night. The thing that struck us most was his cheerfulness. You would have thought the wilderness must have cowed him. You know how lost and abstracted one feels after being alone on an expedition; one is a non-conductor; one has lost touch; one wants lubricating. A few months of a place like Agni Hôtrodu would turn the average worldling into a savage. Père Caillard had not seen a white man for nearly a year; he had not sat down at a table to eat; he lived on rice and ohapatties like a native, and his income was twenty-five rupees a-month-generally in arrears. He had no one to talk to, and the climate-well, it was Agni Hôtrodu. Père Caillard was great on the subject. He entertained us with stories of its odd effects half through dinner. He told us of the mining prospector who died of heat apoplexy and returned the same night for a blanket. He resuscitated the dead and
buried old joke with explosions of mirth.
"The light in his eyes was of good fellowship. It was not the rapt ecstasy of the ascetic. There was no fanaticism there to support him in his privations, though you would have thought it necessary if he was to endure and keep sane. He did not seem to need it. He had made the one great sacrifice, but he waved none of the insignia of renunciation. enjoyed a square meal. would eat or drink or smoke anything you offered him, but he would not express a preference. That seemed his only disability as far as fleshpots were concerned.
"By the time the smokes came round we felt as if we had known him all our lives.
"Will you have whisky or claret?' Heath asked. "Which you please.' "Will you have a cheroot or brown paper?'
"Whichever you like. That is-but that is very droll. Ha, ha, ha, ha!' And for the next few minutes, as the joke took hold, he could not inhale or imbibe anything. We were reduced to brown paper ourselves when we had been out a month, for Heath left nearly all the smokes behind for the dear old fellow.
"Heath turned in early, and I escorted Père Caillard home. We sat up for hours talking and smoking in his verandah, and exchanging confidences like schoolboys after the holidays. Père Caillard had no reserve; he was the most natural learnt all soul alive. I soon
When he told me "None at all,' he said. Nor is it possible to have any. Sometimes they come and pretend when they want anything, but I discover it and rebuke them. Then they ask questions which are difficult to answer. They play with words; they speak of holy things lightly, and I send them away. One ought always to be patient, but I get very angry sometimes.""
"You do not understand,' he answered. 'You tell me you are married. Would you not go to Klondyke or Dahomey for your wife? Well, then. So would I for my GOD. He is here. It is not difficult. Besides, I was told to come. I had no choice.'
"I began to understand what it was that he had inherited. It was nothing less than the simple Apostolic faith in its complete perspective, the rare power to visualise without the human disabilities that attend it. The bright outlines of his faith were not blurred by the Schools. He was living there with his vision, never doubting, simply obeying the words of his Master to go out to the ends of the world and compel them to come in, as if he had felt His hand on his shoulder but yesterday, content without visible reward.
"Have you any converts?' I asked him.
"Only the Sowarahs. They are good little men, but they don't understand. They will believe anything the last person has told them for a little while, then they forget.'
"His flock was aboriginal. They came from the Ghats,Teendu and the like. I asked him if he had any converts among the Hindus.
"That is not at all according to Xavier," Dalling remarked. "Père Caillard belonged to the order of St Francis de
Sales. He was a wild young
"I asked him if his parents did not protest. 'No,' he said, but they were very sorry." His brother had not the heart to go with him to the embarking stage on the lake. They embraced in a hay-field, and Père Caillard left the boy lying on the grass with his face to the earth sobbing. His father and mother came to the pier, but I can imagine the old lady's face was stone.