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the iniquities of their race without forgetting
the greater wickedness of Europeans — every-
one concedes the pre-eminence of that race
in wickedness — ^but either ascribe it to the
will of God, or the fact that one great age is
coming to a close prior to the thorough regen-
eration of the whole world. But alas ! the dif-
ficulty is that they wiD not be converted, even
when they seem almost convinced. They
appear to have put shrewd questions. When
a physician, who has come from a great dis-
tance, hears him inveigh against a plurality
of gods, he asks how he accounts for the
Trinity. That, says Ziegenbalg, is a great
mystery, and explains it by analogy with the
soul of man, which is distinct, and yet one,
with both will and understanding.

"But," says the physician, "so do we
argue with our many Gods. They are Lieu-
tenants of our God."

"God would make use of Lieutenants
like Himself," roars Ziegenbalg triumph-
andy ; ** not Robbers and Adulterers."

Yet, with all his energy, they will not be
converted. The name Christianity is no
news to them. St. Thomas is believed to
have established a church on that coast
w^hich received bishops from Babylon for
some 1,300 years. On their arrival the Por-
tuguese captiu-ed several of these Babylonish
bishops and sent them to Lisbon and Rome,
where they were judged out of orders, one
of them dying in a monastery. Finally the
Portuguese stopped the supply from Baby-
lon, and forcibly put one of their own num-
ber, a layman apparently, in the chair ; but
him the primitive Christians resisted with
arms. These facts, however, conjoined with
others worse, such as the license and rapacity
of Europeans, the real corruptions in Christ-
ian churches, do not seem to be the actual
obstacle to conversions. The reasons lie
much deeper. One thing always seems to
have won their approval : Ziegenbalg*s hearty
denunciation of the slothful Brahmans.
That struck the popular fiber. But when he
argued in a mixed company of Brahman
and Mohammedan priests, who were politely
noting the resemblances of their religion to
his, they may have been amused, but were
certainly not convinced, by the kind of para-
ble he applied to them. For he informed
them that certain masters of families, who
were blind men, went to visit an elephant,
having heard much talk of the beast. One,

laying hold of his tail, reported to his wife
and children that an elephant resembles a
great pole. Another, who touched his ear,
announced that the animal is Uke a besom ;
while a third, in feeling for the beast, caught
his trunk in his hand, and returned to his
home, well satisfied that an elephant was the
image of an apothecary's pesde. But their
famUies always held these difierent beliefs.

One conference is with certain poets, who
finally ask for employment. " First get con-
verted," says the wily Ziegenbalg, " and then
we will see." But the poets wish to show
their skill at once, and on any subject he
may give them. Accordingly, in his humor-
ous way, he gives a subject on his side of the
recent controversy :

^^There is one God in whom we believe ;
and those that know Him not^ but adore the
Malabarian false gods^ are heathens^ and are
in danger of being damned forever^

The poets, however, are equal to the
emergency, for in a short time they write him
a very fine poem against plurality of gods.

" What a pity," he says, delighted with
their work, " that such genius should go to
waste among heathens ! "

"Well, we were bom here," the poets
answer, " and must live. If we turned against
the gods, no one would employ us."

" At this rate," retorts Ziegenbalg, " you
would rather go to hell in Malabar company
than to heaven in the company of strangers ! "

Unfortunately for him it was too true.
They would prefer what he was pleased to
call hell, but which was heaven in their
estimation, although, by so choosing, they
were obliged to await the national transit of
the soul from the body to the chair of Emen,
Judge and God of Death. It seems that
when the soul is breathed out of the Tamil
body, Emendudakel, the messenger of that
god, receives it in a kind of sack, and runs
away with it through briars and thorns, and
burning whirlwinds, which torment the soul
to the bank of the Fiery Current, through
which it has to pass to the God of Death.
This is the usual proceeding. If Emen assigns
hell to the new arrival, he is ushered into " a
large fiery cellar, where are fiery leeches."
Doubtless the good poets knew they had done
nothing to deserve these fiery leeches, and
therefore had no fear of their hell, while
Ziegenbalg's place of punishment must be
heaven, for it was to contain their gods 1

One may smile at the vehemence of Bar-
tholomgeus Ziegenbalg, but what shall be said
of those ten years in which his energy, as far
as relates to his real object, was wasted ?

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It is pathetic to hear the bitterness break-
ing through his " conferences," and not less
so is the brave face he puts on in the preface
to his Tamil Grammar. His conversions, it
is to be feared, were even fewer than i}[i^
number he gives, and of those assured, how
many were from interested motives ? Let
those answer who have been missionaries in
Oriental lands. With him the difficulty was
the same that missionaries find at the present
day, but he had not the means of judging
which we now possess. When his headien
opponents acknowledged the folly and wick-
edness of their rites, he could not see why
they should hesitate; but they were perfectiy
aware that their debased religion rested on as
sound precepts as his, and, like his, was daily
perverted from the truth. He made the great
mistake of treating Brahmans as heathen.

It is one thing to attack the savage rites of
a barbarous tribe, and another, the ingrained
religious observances of a mighty and deep
religion. Zic^enbalg could not get sight of
those m3rsterious sacred books the priests
spoke of, and which we now know as the
Vedas, and therefore concluded that they
were m3rths ; he looked upon the Tamils as

low-grade savages, who allowed tfaemsciii
to be imposed upon by the priests, vhikt
latter juggled them with idols. \Vtm
said was partly true, but he did not ki;^
that the faithful inquirer, who peDCtratd
last into the arcana, discovered there the sn
great truths which imderlay Ziegoii
faith ; that was the knowledge he
perhaps fortunately lacked, for it might
weakened that fiery energy of his, and
West would have been compelled to
still longer for the Tamil Grammar.

Thus from two great nations, which ii
no one knows when, fix)m some Cecl
Asiatic region, no one knows where,
priests to the Tamil. The Brahmans
first, and Ziegenbalg found their work
They had permitted idols, fostered the gi]
of sacrifices, reaped for Aemsdves the '
efits of appeals to charity, given the
the kind of outward religion suited to
development. The Teutonic missi(
arrived centiuies later, and attempted!
introduce among them a religioD of
highest European stamp. It was asiif
had come to Tranquebar with a carg(i|
hooks, and found in all Damulia no


Ah, friend of mine,
I1ie old enchanted story! — Oh,

I cannot hear a word!
Tell some poor child who loved a bird,
And knows he holds it stained and

"It flies— in Fairyland!
Its nest is in a palm-tree, on a hill;

Go, catch it — ^if you will."

Ah, friend of mine,
The music (which ear hath not heard ?)

At best wails from the skies.
Somehow, into our funeral cries!
The flowers (eye hath not seen ?) still fail

To hide the coffin-lid.
Against this face so pitiless now and

Czn the high Heavens avail?

Ah, friend of mine,
I think you mean — to mean it iDI

But then an angel's wing
Is a remote and subtle thing,
(If you could show me any such

In air that I can breathel)
And surely Death's cold hand has much,»

About it we can touch!

Ah, friend of mine.
Say nothing of the thorns — and then

Say nothmg of the snow.
God's will ? It is — that thorns must grow,
Despite our bare and troubled feet.

To crown Christ on the cross;
The snow keeps white watch on the unrisdi

And yet — ^the world is sweet.

Ah, friend of mine,
I know, I know — all you can know!

All you can say is— this:
" It is the last time you can kiss
This only one of all the dead.

Knowing it is the last;
These are the last tears you can ever shed

On this fair fallen head."

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Notwithstanding his assumed ease and
a certain relief, which was real, Gabriel was
far from being satisfied with the result of his
visit to Mrs. Markle. Whatever may have
actually occurred, not known to the reader
except through Gabriel's own disclosure to
Oily, Gabriel's manner hardly bore out the
boldness and conclusiveness of his statement
For a day or two afterward, he resented any
allusion to the subject fi-om Oily, but on the
third day he held a conversation with one
of the Eureka Bar miners, which seemed to
bear some remote reference to his experi-

"Thar's a good deal said lately in the
papers," began Gabriel, cautiously, "in
regard to breach o' promise trials. Lookin*
at it, by and large, thar don't seem to be
much show for a feUer ez hez been in enny
ways kind td a gal, is thar ?"

The person addressed, whom rumor de-
clared to have sought One Horse Gulch as
a place of refuge fix>m his wife, remarked
with an oath that women were olank fools
anyway, and that on general principles they
were not to be trusted.

" But thar must be a kind o' gin'ral law
on the subject," urged Gabriel. "Now
what would be your opinion if you was on
a jury onto a case like this ? It happened
to a firiend o' mine in Frisco," said Gabriel,
with a marked parenthesis, " a man ez you
don't know. Thar was a woman — we'll say
a widder — ez had been kinder hangin' round
him oflf and on for two or three year, and
he hadn't allowed anything to her about
marryin'. One day he goes down thar to
her house, kinder easy-like, jest to pass the
time o' day, and be sociable "

" That's bad," interrupted the cynic.

" Yes," said Gabriel, doubtingly, " p'r'aps
it does look bad, but you see he didn't
mean anythin'."

" Well ? " said the adviser.

« Well ! thet's all," said Gabriel.

" All ! " exclaimed his companion, indig-

" Yes, all. Now this woman kinder allows
she'll bring a suit agin him to make him
marry her."

" My opinion is," said the adviser, blundy,

" my opinion is diat the man was a

fool, and didn't tell ye the truth, nuther, and
I'd give damages agin him, for being such a

This opinion was so crushing to Gabriel
that he turned hopelessly away. Neverthe-
less, in his present state of mind, he could
not refrain from pushing his inquiries farther,
and in a general conversation which took
place at Briggs's store, in the afternoon,
among a group of smokers, Gabriel artfully
introduced the subject of courtship and

" Thar's diflferent ways of getting at the
feelins of a woman," said the oracular John-
son, after a graphic statement of his own
method of ensnaring the affections of a
former sweetheart, "thar's different ways
jest as thar's different men and women in
the world. One man's way won't do with
some wimmen. But thar's one way ez is
pretty sure to fetch 'em allers. That is, to
play off indifiRerent — to never let on ye like
'em ! To kinder look arter them in a gin'ral
sort o' way, pretty much as Gabe thar looks
arter the sick ! — ^but not to say anythin' par-
ticler. To make them understand that
they've got to do all the courtin', ef thar's
enny to be done. What's the matter, Gabe,
ye ain't goin*?"

Gabriel, who had risen in great uneasi-
ness, muttered something about " its being
time to go home," and then sat down again,
looking at Johnson in fearful fascination.

" That kind o' thing is pretty sure to fetch
almost enny woman," continued Johnson,
" and a man ez does it orter be looked arter.
It orter be put down by law. It's tamperin',
don't yer see, with the holiest affections.
Sich a man orter be spotted whar'ever

"But mebbe the man don't mean any-
thin' — mebbe it's jest his way," suggested
Gabriel ruefully, looking around in the feces
of the party, " mebbe he don't take to wim-
men and marriage nat'ral, and it's jest his

* Copyright, 1875, by Bret Hartr. All rights reserved.

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" Way be blowed ! " said the irate John-
son, scornfully. " Ketch him, indeed ! It's
jest the artfuUest kind o' artfulness. If s
jest begging on a full hand."

Gabriel rose slowly, and, resisting any fur-
ther attempts to detain him, walked to the
door, and, after a remark on the threatening
nature of the weather, delivered in a man-
ner calculated to impress his audience with
his general indifference to the subject then
under discussion, melted dejectedly away
into the driving rain that had all day swept
over One Horse Gulch, and converted its
one long narrow street into a ditch of tur-
bulent yellow water.

"Thet Gabe seems to be out o' sorts
to-day," said Johnson. "I heerd Lawyer
Maxwell asking arter him this momin'; I
reckon thafs suthin' up ! Gabe ain't a bad
sort of chap. Hezen't got enny too much
sabe about him, but he's mighty good at
looking arter sick folks, and thet kind o*
man's a power o' use in this camp. Hope
thar ain't anything ez will interfere with his
sphere o' usefulness."

"May be a woman scrape," suggested
Briggs. " He seemed sort o' botmd up in
what you was sa3ring about women jest now.
Thar is folks round yer," said Briggs, drop-
ping his voice and looking about him, " ez
believes that that yer Oily, which he lets on
to be his sister, to be actooally his own
child. No man would tote round a child
like that, and jest bind himself up in her,
and give up winunen and whisky, and
keerds, and kempeny, ef it wasn't his own.
Thet ain't like brothers in my part of the

" It's a mighty queer story he tells, enny-
ways — all this yer stuff about Starvation
Camp and escapin'," suggested another.
" I never did, somehow, take enny stock in

" Well, it's his own lookout," concluded
Johnson. " If s nothin' to me. Ef I've been
any service to him pintin' out sick people,
and kinder makin' suggestions here and
thar, how he should look arter them, he's
welcome to it. I don't go back on my
record, if he hez got into trouble."

" And I'm sure," said Briggs, " if I did
allow him to come in here and look arter
thet sick Mexican, it ain't for me to be
expected to look arter his moril character
too." But here the entrance of a customer
put a stop to further criticism.

Meanwhile the imfortunate subject of this
discussion, by clinging close to the walls of
houses, had avoided the keen blast that

descended from the mountain, and had at
last reached the little trail that led through
the gulch to his cabin on the opposite hill-
side. Here Gabriel hesitated. To follow
that trail would lead him past the boarding-
house of Mrs. Markle. In the light of the
baleful counsel he had just received, to place
himself so soon again in the way of danger
seemed to him to be only a provocation of
fate. That the widow and Sal might swoop
down upon him as he passed, and compel
him to enter; that the spectacle of his pass-
ing without a visit might superinduce instant
hysterics on the part of the widow, appeared
to his terror-stricken fancy as almost a cer-
tainty. The only other way home was by
a circuitous road along the ridge of the hill,
at least three miles further. Gabriel did not
hesitate long, but began prompdy to ascend
the hill.

This was no easy task in the face of a
strong gale and torrents of beating rain, but
the overcoming of physical difficulties by
the exercise of his all-conquering muscles,
and the fact that he was doing something,
relieved his mind of its absurd terrors.
^ When he had reached the summit he noticed
"for the first time the full power of those
subtle agencies that had been silendy at
work during the last week's steady rain. A
thin trickling mountain rill where he had
two weeks before slaked his thirst during
a ramble with Oily, was now transformed
into a roaring cataract ; the brook that they
had leaped across was now a swollen river.
There were slowly widening pools in the
valleys, darkly glancing sheets of water on
the distant plains, and a monotonous rush
and gurgle always in the air.

It was half an hour later, and two miles
further on his rough road, that he came in
view of the narrow precipitous gorge through
which the Wingdam stage passed on its way
from Maiysville. As he approached nearer
he could see that the litde mountain stream
which ran beside the stage road had ah:eady
slightly encroached upon the road-bed, and
that here and there the stage road itself was
lost in drifts of standing water. " It will be
pretty rough drivin' up that canon," said
Gabriel to himself as he thought of the
incoming Wingdam stage, now nearly due ;
" mighty onpleasant and risky with narvous
leaders, but thar's worse things than that in
this yer world," he meditated, as his mind
reverted again to Mrs. Markle, " and ef I
could change places with Yuba Bill, and
get on that box and Oily inside — I'd do it!"
But just then the reservoir of the Wingdam

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ditch came in view on the hill beside him,
and with it a revelation that in a twinkling
displaced Mrs. Markle, and seemed almost
to change the man's entire nature I What
was it ? Apparently nothing to the eye of
the ordinary traveler. The dam was full,
and through a cut-oflf the overplus water
was escaping with a roar. Nothing more ?
Yes — to an experienced eye the escaping
water was not abatmg the quantity in the
dam. Was that all ? No ! Half-way down
the rudely constructed adobe bank of the
dam, the water was slowly oozing and trick-
ling through a slowly widening crevice, over
the rocks above the gorge and stage road
below! The wall of the dam was giving

To tear off coat and all impeding gar-
ments, to leap fix)m rock to rock, and bowl-
der to bowlder, hanging on by slippery
chimisal and the decayed roots of trees; to
reach at the risk of .life and limb the canon
below, and then to run at the highest speed
to warn the incoming stage of the danger
before it should enter the narrow gorge, was
only the resolve and action of a brave man.
But to do this without the smallest waste
of strength that ought to be preserved, to
do this with the greatest economy of force,
to do this with the agility and skill of a
mountaineer, and the reserved power of a
giant ; to do this with a will so simple, direct,
and unhesitating, that the action appeared
to have^ been planned and rehearsed days
before, instead of being the resolution of the
instant, — this belonged to Gabriel Conroy !
And to have seen him settle into a long
swinging trot, and to have observed his calm,
grave, earnest, but unexcited face, and quiet,
steadfast eye, you would have believed him
some healthy giant simply exercising himself.

He had not gone half a mile before his
quick ear caught a dull sound and roar of
advancing water. Yet even then he only
slighdy increased his steady stride, as if he
had been quickened and followed by his
trainer rather than by approaching Death.
At the same moment there was a quick
rattle and clatter in the road ahead — a halt,
and turning back, for Gabriers warning
shout had run before him like a bullet But
it was too late. The roaring water behind
him struck him and bore him down, and the
next instant swept the coach and horses a
confused, struggling, black mass, against the
rocky walls of the canon. And then it was
that the immense reserved strength of
Gabriel came into play. Set upon by the
almost irresistible volume of water, he did
Vol. XL— 24.

not waste his power in useless opposition,
but alloiyed himself to be swept hither and
thither until he touched a branch of chimisal
that depended from the canon side. Seizing
it with one sudden and mighty eflfort, he
raised himself above the sweep and suction
of the boiling flood. The coach was gone ;
where it had stood a few black figures strug-
gled, swirled, and circled. One of them
was a woman. In an instant Gabriel plunged
into the yellow water. A few strokes brought
him to her side ; in another moment he had
encircled her waist with his powerful arm
and lifted her head above the surface, when
he was seized by two despairing arms from
the other side. Gabriel did not shake
them ofid '* Take hold of me lower down
and I'll help ye both,'' he shouted, as he
struck out with his only free arm for the
chimisal. He reached it; drew himself up
so that he could grasp it with his teeth, and
then, hanging on by his jaw, raised his two
clinging companions beside him. They had
barely grasped it, when another ominous
roar was heard below, and another wall of
yellow water swept swiftly up the canon*
The chimisal began to yield to their weight
Gabriel dug his Angers into the soil about
its roots, clutched the jagged edges of a rock
beneath, and threw his arm about the woman,
pressing her closely to the face of the wall.
As the wave swept over them, there was a
sudden despairing cry, a splash, and the man
was gone. Only Gabriel and the woman

They were safe, but for the moment only.
Gabrid's left hand, grasping an insecure pro-
jection, was all that sustamed their united
weight Gabriel, for the first time, looked
down upon the woman. Then he said, hesi-
tatingly :

" Km ye hold yourself a minnit ? "


Even at that critical moment some occult
quaUty of sweetness in her voice thrilled

"Lock your hands together hard, and
sling *em over my neck."

She did so. Gabriel freed his right hand.
He scarcely felt the weight thus suddenly
thrown upon his shoulders, but cautiously
groped for a projection on the rock above.
He found it, raised himself by a supreme
effort, until he secured a foothold in the
hole left by the uprooted chimisal bush.
Here he paused.

" Kin ye hang on a minnit longer ? "

" Go on," she said.

Gabriel went on. He found another pro-

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jection, and another, and gradually at last
reached a ledge a foot wide, near the top of
thecliflf. Here he paused. It was the woman's
turn to speak.

" Can you climb to the top ? " she isked.

« Yes— if you "

" Go on," she said, simply.
* Gabriel continued the ascent cautiously.
In a few moments he had reached the top.
Here her hands suddenly relaxed their grasp ;
she would have sHpped to the ground had
not Gabriel caught her by the waist, lifted
her in his arms, and borne her to a spot
where a fallen pine-tree had carpeted and
cushioned the damp ground with its withered
tassels. Here he laid heir down with that
exquisite delicacy and tenderness of touch
which was so habitual to him in his treat-
ment of all helplessness as to be almost
unconscious. But she thanked him, with such
a graceful revelation of small white teeth,
and such a singular look out of her dark
gray eyes, that he could not help looking at
her again. She was a small, light-haired
woman, tastefully and neatly dressed, and
of a type and class unknown to him. But
for her smile, he would not have thought
her pretty. But even with that smile on
her face, she presently paled and fainted.

At the same moment Gabriel heard the
sound of voices, and, looking up, saw two
of the passengers, who had evidently escaped
by climbing the cliff, coming toward them.
hxA then — I know not how to tell it — ^but
a sudden and awe-inspiring sense of his
ambiguous and peculiar situation took pos-
session of him. What would they think of
it ? Would they believe his statement ? A
sickening recollection of the late conversa-
tion at Briggs's returned to him ; the indig-
nant faces of the gaunt Sal and the plump
Mrs. Markle were before him; even the
questioning eyes of little OUy seemed to
pierce his mmost soul, and, alas ! this hero,
the victorious giant, turned and fled !


When Gabriel reached his home it was
after dark, and Oily was anxiously waiting
to receive him.

" You're wet all through, you awful Gabe,
and covered with mud in the bargain. Go

Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 63 of 163)