A Wreath of Indian Stories
A WREATH OF INDIAN STORIES.
A. L. O. E.,
HONORARY MISSIONARY AT AMRITSAR,
Author of “The Young Pilgrim,” “Rescued from Egypt,” &c., &c.
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
The following stories have been written byA. L. O. E. since her arrival in India, for theuse of native readers. It is deemed mostdesirable by those who thoroughly know thepeople, that their minds should be trained in the firstprinciples of morality, as well as of religion, by meansof amusing fictions, as they are particularly fond of stories.A. L. O. E. desires, therefore, to devote her pen to theservice of the land of her adoption, as there are, comparativelyspeaking, hardly any writers who enjoy the advantageof having the peculiar habits and failings of Hindus,Mohammedans, Sikhs, and native converts, perpetuallybrought before their notice, as is, or should be, the casewith a member of a missionary band.
If her little “Indian Stories” be acceptable in her dearnative land, she will be thankful; but the object whichshe chiefly aims at is to write in a way to amuse, andthrough amusement to instruct, the people of the countryof her adoption.
As stories placed in the hands of Oriental readers wouldbe comparatively useless unless written in an Orientalstyle, and describing scenes and customs familiar to natives,A. L. O. E. has tried to adopt such a style, and depictsuch scenes. When she reviewed her work, with themental question, “What would be thought of this inEngland?” she felt how fanciful and affected her writingsmight appear to European readers, and almost gave up allidea of sending them home. And yet, as quaint and oftengrotesque ornaments brought from the East are not despisedin Britain because they are unlike our own manufactures,but are sometimes even prized for their very quaintness,it is possible that a few of A. L. O. E.’s Oriental stories maynot be unacceptable in her native land. They may evenserve to awaken a little interest in a vast country likeIndia, where a Native Church is struggling against surroundingevil influences,—a Church as yet small comparedwith the myriads of its opponents, yet gaining strength yearby year. That infant Church needs tender care and indulgencefrom those who have been brought up in a landbathed in the light of Christianity,—a land where childrenare taught almost from the cradle the value of honesty andtruth, and where little is known of the fearful difficultiesand trials which beset converts to the pure faith of thegospel.
|I.||THE RADIANT ROBE,||9|
|II.||THE CHURCH WHICH GREW OUT OF ONE BRICK,||28|
|III.||THE PUGREE WITH A BORDER OF GOLD,||58|
|IV.||THE PINK CHADDAR,||76|
|V.||THE STORY OF THREE JEWELS,||91|
|VII.||THE BROKEN FENCE,||133|
|VIII.||SHINING IN THE DARK,||150|
|IX.||THE PAPER PARABLE,||165|
|X.||THE OLDEST LANGUAGE UPON EARTH,||170|
|XI.||STORIES ON THE TEN COMMANDMENTS:—|
|1. The Broken Bridge,||175|
|2. The Burning Hut,||179|
|3. The Marks on the Sand,||182|
|4. The Beautiful Garden,||185|
|5. The Blind Mother,||189|
|6. A Dangerous Village,||192|
|7. The Beautiful Pardah,||196|
|8. The Bearer’s Dream,||201|
|9. The Cracked Scent-Bottle,||204|
|10. The Fall, the Cheetah, and the Cup,||208|
A WREATH OF INDIAN STORIES.
The Radiant Robe.
Fagir, the government clerk, sat in hishouse, when the work of the day wasover. He had partaken of his eveningmeal; he had smoked his hookah; his bodilyframe was at ease, but his mind was working withmany thoughts. His wife was beside him—Kasiti,the gentle and obedient. Kasiti had long ago embracedthe gospel and become a Christian in heart,but many months had passed before her husbandhad suffered her to be baptized. He had chiddenher, and she had not answered again; he had beenharsh, and she had been loving. Kasiti had madeher faith appear beautiful by her life, and herpatience had at length won the victory. Fagir hadnot only consented to his wife’s baptism, but he hadread her Bible; he had searched its pages diligently,comparing the Old Testament with the New. Andnow Fagir’s intellect was convinced of the truth ofChristianity; light dawned upon his soul, but itwas as light without warmth. Fagir believed inChrist as the Messiah, but refused still to receiveHim as a Sacrifice for sin.
“Such a sacrifice is not needed; at least, for thosewho walk uprightly and in the fear of God,” saidFagir to Kasiti, who was seated at his feet, with aBible on her knees. “It would be mockery forsuch as I am to repeat what the Christians aretaught to say—‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’I, at least, am no sinner, but a just and uprightman, even judged by the laws contained in thatBible. I can hold my head erect before God andman; for I serve God with fasting and prayer, andman have I never wronged, but have bestowed largealms on the poor.”
It was not for Kasiti to reply; she read to herselfin silence; but the thought of her heart was,“Had not Christ died for sinners, there would havebeen no heaven for me.”
The evening was hot; the motion of the gently-movingpunkah disposed Fagir to sleep. His eyesgradually closed, and slumber stole over him wherehe sat, reclining on soft cushions. And as the wearyman slept he dreamed, and his dream was as vividas the realities of daily life could be.
Behold in his dream a beautiful angel appearedunto Fagir. A crown of light was on the head ofthe messenger of Heaven; glory was as a mantlearound him, and when he shook his silvery wings ashower of stars seemed to fall upon earth. Fagirtrembled at the sight of the pure and holy beingwho floated in the air before him without touchingthe ground with his shining feet.
“O Fagir, thou art bidden to the banquet of Paradise!”said the angel; and his voice was as musicat night. “Receive this white robe, in which, if itretain its whiteness, thou mayst be meet to appearin the presence of the great King. But beware ofsin; for every sin shall be as a stain on thy robe.Keep it white for but one day, and all the joys ofParadise shall be thine eternal reward.”
As the angel spake, he cast round the form ofFagir a radiant robe, white as the snow on themountains. Then the angel touched the broad borderof the robe, and on the border appeared in lettersof gold, Fear God, and keep his commandments(Eccles. xii. 13). Fagir gazed in wonder on theinscription; but even as he gazed it faded away.He turned to look on the angel, but behold! thebright messenger had vanished. Nothing remainedbut the pure white robe, which Fagir still wore inhis dream.
Then the soul of Fagir was filled with hope andtriumph. “I have kept the commandments frommy youth!” he exclaimed; “and shall I breakthem now, when my reward is so near at hand?Only one day of trial, and then I shall be walkingin my radiant robe in the garden of celestial beauty,and have for companions such beings as the brightangel who left heaven to bear a message to me, theupright and the pious.”
Then there came a change in the dream of Fagir:he deemed that he had risen, as was his wont, atsunrise, to go forth to the business of the day. Histhoughts were not now on Paradise, nor on themessage borne by the holy one; but still he worethe mysterious robe which the angel had thrownaround him.
And on what were the thoughts of Fagir intentas he took his early meal before starting for thecutcherry, in which, as a government official, heworked day after day? It might have been supposedthat one so pious would have reflected onholy things, when the first rays of the morning sunbade him thank God for sleep and protection duringthe hours of darkness. But no; the thoughts ofFagir were all on his worldly gains. He had foryears set his heart on buying a piece of land whichbelonged to a neighbour of the name of Pir Bakhsh,feeling certain that he could derive much profit fromits possession; but Pir Bakhsh had always refusedto sell the ground. But Fagir thought in his dreamthat Pir Bakhsh had suddenly died in the night; hisheir was only a child, and Fagir rejoiced in the hopethat the land would now be sold, as the estate wasencumbered with debt.
“The piece of ground is worth four hundredrupees at least,” Fagir said to himself, “and Ishall manage now to buy it for two hundred rupees.I shall then contrive to make the Magistrate Sahibpurchase it for a garden, as it lies so close to hisbungalow; and a goodly sum he shall pay! I ama less sharp fellow than I take myself to be, if,before the year is over, my two hundred rupees havenot swelled into seven hundred rupees at the least.”
Fagir laughed to himself at the double profitwhich he would make, first as purchaser, then asseller. But his mirth suddenly ceased when hisglance chanced to fall on his mysterious robe.
“I thought that this garment was whiter thanmilk!” he exclaimed; “whence comes, then, thisdull gray tint upon it?” The answer to his questioncame in an inscription which for a moment,and only a moment, appeared on the border,—Thelove of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. vi. 10).
Fagir felt pained and surprised; he had oftenheard the Christian padre say that the religion ofthe Lord Jesus reached even to the thoughts