"AND so I am really going out with a mission! O my God, I thank Thee that Thou hast at length granted me my heart's desire!" exclaimed a young priest, Juan Granilla, as he stood on the deck of the vessel which was bounding outward under the influence of the fresh spring breeze.
It was, in sooth, as lovely a morning as you could desire to see. Above, the sky was a deep, pure blue: while, below, the little waves danced and sparkled in the light of the early sun, looking like a mass of diamonds and emeralds strewn with gold: and behind, in a soft purple haze, lay stretched the outline of the Portuguese coast, gradually melting away and receding from view.
Father Juan stood in deep thought, gazing backwards at the slowly narrowing line of horizon. Much as his whole soul was turned with an ardent longing to the life of a missionary, do not imagine that he had no sad, regretful thoughts, in thus leaving for ever his father-land.
No--his eye was on the sunny waves, but his heart was far away, in a little village among the Pyrenees, where the chesnut woods went sloping down [1/2] to the brimming river, and the tall mountain-tops stood clear out against the azure sky. He thought of the little church, where the bell would now be ringing out for mass, and Father Diego would enter the low dark porch with his kindly smile, and a blessing for the little children who offered him their bunches of wild-flowers fresh with morning dew. He thought, too, of a steep winding path from the village, up which would be slowly advancing two figures, an old, old bowed-down woman, and a young girl with a pale face, and dark beautiful eyes flashing from under her veil; and Juan drew a heavy sigh, as he thought of his grandmother and his only sister, his dear little Eulalia.
But he checked these thoughts, the remembrance of the last ties that bound him to earth, and from which every onward movement of the ship severed him further and further; and he dwelt rather on the glorious work in which he was about to engage. Ignatius had sent him out, with three other priests, to help Father Francis Xavier in India. The joy of serving Christ under such a leader and in such a work was consolation indeed.
He was young, and had only just been ordained priest, and had therefore never dared to hope for such an honour as being permitted to join the mission. It was more than he could ever have looked for, and from the bottom of his heart he thanked God, "Who had granted him his heart's desire, and fulfilled all his mind."
 They were wondering thoughts, too, which filled his brain. Thoughts of a new land, a strange land, separated from Europe by the wide sea; a land of new people, of new customs, of new animals and new plants; a land where the path of life was thickly planted with sharp and briary crosses, and usually terminated at the goal of martyrdom.
Even on board ship much was new to him. The sailors hurrying hither and thither, the strange cries, the passing of orders, the straining of cordage, and other sounds incidental to the working of a vessel; all these were new, and afforded sources of interest to him. But what most attracted him after a while was a band of Portuguese soldiers on board, sent out by John III. to assist his garrisons in India. They were a wild and lawless set; they swaggered about with their fierce, savage faces, and disordered though rich dresses,--with their hands occasionally laid on the hilts of their long swords, as if ready to draw on any affront, real or fancied. Their conversation was full of oaths and blasphemy; they cared not for religion or anything connected with it,--if they knew of any, which was indeed doubtful. Their spare time was spent in playing cards and dice, and scarcely a game but ended in quarrels. The soldiers sent out to India were indeed the very scum of the earth, the most utterly reckless, profligate, abandoned of mankind.
Dom Joao de Castro, their commanding officer, was but a rough soldier himself, and the only hold he had over his lawless troop was by a stern will [3/4] and brute force. Very good were they on the field of battle, and would fight to the death with a kind of animal courage, or recklessness, whichever you please to call it; but woe betide whoever fell into their hands when the fight was over; then, plunder their sole aim, they cared not for man, woman, or child who came in their way.
"A lovely morning," said Antonio Criminal, one of the priests who had been sent from Italy by Ignatius Loyola, and who was afterwards the first of the long list of martyrs furnished by the Society of Jesus.
"It is passing fair, my father," replied Granilla, raising his head: "see how the tiny waves catch the light, and seem as it were to sparkle with joy. Ah, the last bit of coast has disappeared entirely! Fare thee well, Portugal, for I may never see thy shores again. Does it not seem hard, on so bright a morning, to be bidding adieu to one's home and one's country for ever?"
"One's home and one's country, my brother! Here we have no abiding-place. Our home, to which we must look forward, is that heavenly Jerusalem in the Land which is very far off, but which I pray we may some day behold, and now, how soon God knows! Nay, nay, do not regret what you are leaving. Think rather of Him who has promised to those who give up all for His sake a hundred-fold reward. Think what it would be to die a martyr for His sake, the King of martyrs."
"Oh, do not imagine that for aught the world [4/5] has to give, I would for one instant think of turning back from the glorious work upon which I am now entering! Oh no! This is but the fulfilment of my most cherished hopes, and those regretful feelings were but a device of the tempter. No! I have bid adieu to all earthly hopes and loves, and I would not exchange the prospect of all the toils and labours which lie before me for the wealth of the empire or the crown of Charles himself."
"Yes; we are indeed happy to be thus able to give up all and devote ourselves so entirely, body and soul, to our Master's service, when we think of the many who have the desires but lack the means of so doing. There is the young Duke of Gandia, cousin to Charles, who would give up all, wife, children, riches and honour, to put on our black cassock and enrol himself amongst us. But God has ordered otherwise, and he lives on in the world, but not of the world, doing his duty nobly, and trusting that some day may see the fulfilment of his hopes."
"I have heard much of the holiness of the Duke of Gandia," replied Juan; "men say he leads as strict a life in the court as a hermit in his cell. I have seen him once, at Barcelona, where Father Aroas was preaching, and he has a noble bearing and a sweet face. God grant him the accomplishment of his wishes, that he may join with us some day in our labour for the salvation of souls."
"He may do much, very much, in the way of gaining souls to God where he is, more perhaps in some [5/6] ways than he could were he an ecclesiastic. Charles the Emperor has lately bestowed new dignities upon him, and he has used the power thus placed in his hands so well, so wisely, that, save for his own happiness, one can scarcely wish him to be any other than what he is--Duke of Gandia. He has built so many schools for the education of the poor, and, heaven knows, not before they need it; and what he has done towards putting down robbers and guerillas is unknown."
"A fine morning, my father," said Manoel Mendoza, a young Portuguese gentleman, now setting forth to try his fortune as a soldier in the colonies, as he came slowly up, with a large cloak hanging gracefully over his shoulder, half concealing his rich dress, and put on perhaps as much from motives of vanity, being becoming to himself, as to serve for a protection against the brisk sea breeze.
"A bright day to set forth on; and the soldiers seem in very good spirits," remarked Father Juan.
"Ay, the dogs! They're good-humoured enough now, they've the prospect of plenty to get in the land where they are going, and that's all they care for--fight, and plunder, and die."
"And what then, Señor? They have souls I conclude, after the fashion of other people, and I also suppose that those souls should be saved," said Criminal.
"Ah, yes,--I daresay they have. However, their souls are more your business than mine, rather, and [6/7] so that they fight well with their bodies, that is all I care for. It seems to me, however, that Caesar has as much as they,--eh, old boy?" and he held out his hand to the magnificent wolf-hound that was standing by his side rolling out his tongue and slowly wagging his tail, while his large intelligent brown eyes were fixed on his master's face.
"I think, Señor Mendoza, that unless your ideas on human nature alter considerably, the less you speak on this subject the better: may God, who died on the bitter cross for these poor creatures, forgive you."
"Holloa, Father, I crave your pardon: I never set up for a theologian, and it doesn't much concern me one way or another. There's a fresh air here, despite the sun is so bright;" and he drew his dark cloak completely over the slashed doublet of mulberry velvet, so that the long plume which fell from his broad hat on to his shoulder, looked spotlessly white contrasted with the sombre garment.
Father Juan, still young, and in whose breast energetic zeal predominated over human kindness, looked contemptuously on Señor Manoel; the elder priest, whose greater experience had more fully developed his organ of love and charity, bent a pitiful and compassionate eye on him.
"To judge by all one hears, a fresh breeze will be what we shall sigh for when we arrive at our destination, and for what we may sigh in vain," said Criminal.
 "Ah, yes: confoundedly hot, I've heard say. That's what makes those men black, I suppose. By the bye, do you think to convert many of them? can they understand anything?"
"Not only do I think to convert some of them, but I have the firm belief that, if God spare me in His strength, I shall. Heard you not the blessed accounts of all the great deeds rather Xavier and his priests are even now performing in those lands?"
"Xavier?--Oh, that's the priest who went out four years ago, is it not? he made a great fuss at court, and the King took an immense fancy to him. A right personable man was he, I remember seeing him, well. Yes; if any one wanted to twist me round their fingers and stick me into a black cassock with a breviary under my arm, that is the man who could do it. I doubt if even he could make me read my breviary, though."
"Well, I think just at present a black cassock would suit you about as much as reading the breviary would," said Criminal, seriously, looking at the young man, who was twisting his little pointed black moustache, and surveying his boots (which at that time displayed a symmetrical leg to the greatest advantage) with a complacent air.
"I must say I agree with you there," replied he; "but I see yonder Dom Joao looking out for me, so I must bid you farewell for the present: come along, Caesar," and he sauntered slowly away, followed by the dog.
 "Humph! A nice idea heathens must have of us Christians if they draw their deduction from such a specimen," remarked Father Granilla.
"Poor youth! he's like numberless others, and not so bad as many: though I misdoubt me that, unless some great change takes place, he'll worsen with years. He's a kind of man who'll go through this life pretty easily, with plenty of good-nature, and a prepossessing person and manners; but as to how he will fare in the next, is a different question. We must hope for the best."
The ship sped on, and as day by day she drew nearer to the close of her voyage, the heart of Father Juan beat high with longing expectation.
They touched at Mozambique, a low flat island, full of stagnant marshes, caused by the inundation of the sea, which on retiring, left its waters, which turned fetid under the heat of the sun, and the vapours arising thence rendered the air so unhealthy that it was commonly known as the "Sepulchre of the Portuguese."
During the voyage the attention of the priests had been turned towards endeavouring to render the soldiery somewhat less of brute animals and more of Christians than they were. They preached from the foot of the main-mast on Sundays and festivals, after the example of Francis Xavier, and strove by all the means in their power to touch their rough hearts.
It was a still evening a few days before they set sail from Mozambique; the vessel lay idly at anchor, and the languid waves plashed up on the flat shore; the [9/10] thick poisonous white mists were rising from the marshes, and there was not a breath to shake the heavy leaves of the isolated palms scattered about here and there. The continual croak! croak! of the frogs sounded, and mingled with the sounds of bustle on the shore,--the calling hither and thither, the loud laugh, and too often, I am sorry to say, a violent word and an oath intermixed with the noise of voices.
Father Juan was slowly pacing up and down the deck, gazing out on the melancholy, desolate view before him; the other three priests were all gone on shore, and he was left there alone.
In a corner two soldiers were sitting astride a gun, busily engaged in some game of chance with dice, and so wrapped up in it that they never raised their heads as Juan passed and repassed them in his solitary walk. Their voices grew louder and more angry, however, as the game proceeded, and one of them laid his hand on the hilt of his poniard, which peeped out from under his doublet.
"I say you cheated, Miguel: I saw it: return it instantly, or--"
"Cheat yourself!" returned Miguel. "I care not a straw for you and your threats. Mai de Decs! I will not return the die. I cheat! A. pretty thing, indeed! Far more likely yourself."
"You lie!" answered the other. "I saw it with my own eyes."
"You did not,"--with an oath.
"------I say you did, and am ready to prove it."
 Miguel, with another oath, drew his dagger and made a stab at the soldier's arm, who drew back to avoid it, at the same time pulling out his own weapon.
In an instant Juan sprang between them. "Peace, peace, my sons; what means this brawling?"
"Get out of the way, Señor priest, or you may chance to rue it," said Miguel, endeavouring to shake off the hand laid on his right arm, and to attack the other without injuring the Father. "Leave go, Father, this is no business of yours. I should be loath to hurt you, but I must, an' you move not."
"I shall not move until I see those daggers replaced, and it is my business to keep you from sin. For my own self I care not, but can I see two men for whom Jesus Christ died, fighting hand to hand, and endeavouring to shed each other's blood, and stand by without attempting to stop you? Shame on you, shame on you; two baptized Christians, calling yourselves such, to be brawling together in a heathen land. Is this the example of Christianity you set? Is this the way to make the Gospel of Christ revered by the Gentiles?"
One of them, Pedro by name, hung down his head, and seemed inclined to let his dagger slip back again into the sheath, but Miguel answered,--"We are not priests, to be telling our beads and saying Pater Nosters all the day. You mind your affairs, Father, and leave us to ours. You go and preach to the heathen, and set them an example of [11/12] Christian virtue, it is what you came out for: we came to fight, and fight we will, by heaven," and again he endeavoured to wrest his arm from the strong grasp which retained it.
Father Juan was a powerful, muscular man; had he been otherwise, he could not have held Miguel's arm firmly during his efforts to free it.
"Stop," said he; "stop, I command you. Will you then, in the face of the Divine law, persist in this wickedness? Oh think, I beseech you! Repent while yet there is time. Remember you are brethren, and as such you should love one another: love one another for the sake of Him who died for you."
Pedro's dagger gradually dropped into the sheath, and he held out his hand to Miguel and offered to embrace him.
The latter seemed as though he would have refused, but he at length did it coldly, and putting his weapon into his belt with a jerk, he walked away, stamping hard with the heels of his thick boots at every step.
Father Juan looked mournfully after him, and then, turning to Pedro, who was standing half bashfully by his side, as if he knew not what to do next, and fumbling with the hilt of his sword, he spoke to him long and seriously, entreating him for the sake of his own soul to follow up the good step he had just taken, and to endeavour to lead a better life than the lawless one he had hitherto.
The man listened attentively, and as the priest went on, becoming more and more energetic and earnest as [12/13] he proceeded, he burst into a flood of tears, and covering his face with his hands, sobbed out:--"I am a great sinner, the most miserable of sinners: pray to God that He may have mercy on me, my father."
The Father drew him aside to a corner where he might speak to him unobserved; for some of the men who had been ashore were beginning to return, it being nearly dark.
The poor man in a few words narrated his history. Brought up by a pious mother, he had spent the first years of his life as a shepherd, but a restless spirit made him discontented with this humble employment, and immediately on her death he enlisted as a soldier, and his life since then had been one of the most reckless and profligate.
"But the good God was with me, watching over me, through all my sinful wickedness," said he. "Twice has He most marvellously spared my life: once when I was wounded to the death, and again when I was left in charge of some plunder; I fell asleep, and some one stole it, and I was to have been hanged; the cord was round my neck, but the Capitaino Andreas remitted my punishment. Oh! God has been very merciful, very forbearing with me; and how have I returned all His love!"
"You must now strive to make up for this long neglect; you must work out your own salvation in fear and trembling, and you must pray that He, who has loved you with an everlasting love, may [13/14] deign to have mercy on you. Return Him your deepest thanks that He has at length touched your hard heart, and made the rivers to flow forth from the rock of stone."
"O Father, Father, for one so desperately wicked as I have been, can there be hope of forgiveness?"
"There is not only hope, but certainty, if you will only strive with all your might to be worthy of it. The dying thief received promise of pardon at the last hour; none need then despair:" and he proceeded to comfort and bind up the broken and contrite heart with words of healing.
The next day the ship hove anchor, and was not to touch again before she reached Goa.
Goa was the head-quarters of the Portuguese in India: it had a cathedral, and an archbishop, although the latter possessed but a most inefficient staff of clergy, quite inadequate to do all that needed doing amongst the heathen Indians and half-heathen Portuguese in the country. The town is situated on a little island in a bay on the east of Hindostan, and had been built by the Moors forty years before the Europeans set foot in India: Dom Affonso d'Albuquerque took it from them about five-and-thirty years before the date of this story, and since then it had been in the hands of the Portuguese, and was their chief seat of commerce.
When Francis Xavier landed there, four years before this tale begins, he found the religion of the people in a sad state, inconsistent and decaying.
 The Portuguese resident there thought more of extending their temporal conquests, and enriching themselves, than of enlarging the empire of Christ, and bestowing upon the poor benighted souls of the Indians the only true riches of the Gospel. Ambition and avarice so filled their hearts that there was no room left for Christian love: and, in consequence, those heathens who were converted, seeing the un-edifying life of the Catholics, fell back into a state of heathenism worse than before, and practised the grossest crimes with impunity. Did any seek to return to Christianity, he was most cruelly persecuted by the Mahometans; and the Portuguese, shameful to say, did not attempt to interfere in the matter, alleging they were not yet sufficiently strong to do so. Indeed, they themselves lived more like heathens than Christians. Scarcely one but had as many mistresses as he pleased, each holding the rank of a legitimate wife; justice was sold at the tribunals, and if the offender was rich enough to bribe his judges, the most enormous crimes were left unpunished. Assassination went for nothing; nay, it was boasted of as rather a fine thing than otherwise.
The Bishop, John D'Albuquerque, a Franciscan, did what he could to try and arrest this torrent of wickedness: he preached, he cut them off from participation in the sacraments, but all in vain. Nothing could touch their hard hearts, who mocked at the anathemas of the Church, and by their sneers [15/16] prevented those few from seeking the solace of religion who otherwise would have done so.
What could the poor Bishop do? You can imagine the joy with which he hailed the arrival of an energetic, earnest, zealous man like Xavier, whose whole desire was to spend and be spent for the salvation of souls, and who possessed not only the desire but the capabilities of doing so. The whole state of affairs was considerably bettered by his efforts before our missionaries landed, but they found them bad enough, and it made their hearts ache as they looked around on the miserable vice and wickedness predominant everywhere.
It was a bright sunny morning succeeding the day they landed: the sky was pure, clear blue, and the domes and mosque buildings of the town glittered in the sunlight.
Father Juan Granilla was walking in the garden of the college of Saint Faith, where the priests were lodged, with Francis Mansilla, one of the principals, and an ecclesiastic of the society.
The tall palms were waving in the morning breeze, as they stood there with their long, rough stems, and bunch of fresh green shady leaves springing out of the top; the flowers of the aloe in their glaring beauty, as though basking in the warm rays; the [16/17] orange, with its polished, emerald leaves; the coffee-tree with its snowy blossom; the pink rhododendron, and the almond with its delicate flowers and hoary coloured foliage; the yellow-flowered cotton-tree; the nutmeg, a mass of thick foliage, glittering as if every leaf were varnished, and the trailing cactus, its thick fleshy stem crawling over the ground like a huge snake, catching at the stray branch of any near tree, and twisting and interlacing into itself, with the brilliant scarlet flowers scattered here and there among the sharp thorns with which it is covered, was a sight to rejoice the heart of one who for five long months, with the exception of touching now and then at land, had seen nothing but the sky and sea.
The high walls of the garden, covered with luxuriant vines, shut out all view of the streets, but the sound of the noise and bustle of the chief seat of commerce in India (at that time) rose up distinctly, mingled with the sound of the sea as the tide was slowly receding.
The happy voices of the little Indian children as they played about, sounded most sweet, after having for so long heard nothing but the rough language and coarse oaths of the soldiers and sailors, and the soul of Juan was filled with joy and thankfulness that he had at length reached the promised land so long hoped for.
"Ah," said Mansilla, smiling, as Juan gave vent to an outburst of delight; "you are but new among us, my brother: see if your heart does not ache ere [17/18] you have been here a short time longer. Were it not for this seminary, these poor lambs would be left, not only to spiritual, but in many cases temporal, destitution also. Goa will have cause to bless Tago Borba that he has been the means of providing a refuge for these poor little ones.
"Father Borba! did he, then, found it?" asked Juan.
"Yes. About five years ago he was so struck with the miserable state of the children of the faithful who were left orphans, and of young Indians newly converted, and cast out by their parents, that he stirred up Michael Yaz, the grand vicar, to try and do something for them; and in a short time, by the grace of God, a brotherhood was formed, called the Guild of St. Mary of Light, from the name of the church where they met to discuss the rules of the new establishment. The commencement was merely a seminary for children from Goa and the environs, but the revenues increased so, through the liberality of Dom Estevao de Gama, Governor of the Indies, and of our king, that now we receive Christian children from all parts, wherever it may be; we have also been so blessed as to have had surplus sufficient to build a church adjoining the college; you saw that this morning. Borba wanted to place the seminary in the hands of Father Xavier when first he came, but the Father felt that he was called by God to extend his labours further than merely within the walls of one town. Borba therefore [18/19] wrote to Simon Rodriguez, at the Portuguese court, and he sent hither myself and Father Paul de Camerin."
"Then what do you do here? what are your labours, I would say?"
"Father Camerin has the supreme charge of instructing the youths from Borba, I teach under his direction, and we endeavour to train them up in the faith; and I must say that so far they amply repay our labours."
"Where, then, is Father Xavier? I had hoped to have found him at Goa; one of whose saintliness one has heard so much it must be such an unspeakable pleasure to see."
"Our Father, the Great Father, as the Indians call him, is now absent in Malacca; it is more than a year that he has been gone. Oh, my brother, how you would reverence and love him did you but know him! So sweet, so tender, compassionate to the infirmities of all others; he is rigorous only towards himself. Methinks I can see him as he used to walk through the streets of the town every morning, ringing a bell, entreating parents and masters, for the love of God, to send their children and their slaves to be taught and catechised, and how the children loved him. I have seen him sitting in the church with crowds of them round him, listening to his gentle teaching, as he explained things so clearly and well to them, and they drank in the stream of the Gospel from his lips."
 "But he will return, surely; I trust so, I have such a desire to see him."
"If his life is spared amidst the many dangers with which he is surrounded, he will, undoubtedly."
"Now tell me, have you laboured much, or at all, in the distant missions, or has all your work been at Goa? I am anxious to know somewhat of the character of the people to whom I am sent, and of the difficulties with which I shall have to contend."
"Ah, my brother, of difficulties and dangers you will have plenty, as St. Paul says, 'In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, (alas, that it should be so!) in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in penis in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness;' but, as the saint also adds, 'if I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.' I will not discourage you, but you ask me concerning these things, and I must reply; every soldier is desirous of knowing the points of attack, and the various dangers he may expect in the battle and at his post."
"Oh yes," cried Juan; "hardship and danger I am prepared for, and even martyrdom, did God permit. Anything for the sake of Jesus; I long to do something for His sake: as blessed Kempis saith, 'Sweet Jesus makes all things sweet.'"
"I rejoice to see you so zealous, but take heed [20/21] that you fail not when what you long for really comes. You are as yet young, and what seems bright and pleasant now, when you come face to face with it is stern and rugged; remember the fall of St. Peter, and take heed to our dear Lord's words, 'Watch and pray.' However, I would not check your zeal, I merely spoke to warn you. But, as to your question, Father Xavier, on my arrival, sent me to the coast of the Pearl Fishery, with three other priests; while for himself he penetrated further into the interior of the country, until he arrived at a land where he could not understand their language, nor they his. He wrote to me himself, that all he could do was to baptize the children and attend to the sick. I know not the name of the land, and he did not remain there long, for the Badages, a savage nation of robbers, made an attack upon the Christians of the Fisheries, who fled to the desert isles and rocks which lie between Comorin and Ceylon; I was absent also at the time, and therefore unable to assist them in any way: what they suffered on those barren rocks, exposed to the ardour of the sun's rays, dying of hunger and weakness, and in terror lest their enemies should arrive and destroy them, is impossible to describe. But imagine their delight when Xavier arrived among them, bringing with him twenty boats laden with provisions: the sight of his face alone, I have heard them say, restored them to life, as it were, and re-animated their sinking forces. He took them back to their land; but they are even now [21/22] in a state of great poverty, as the Badages had carried off everything they possessed. After a time Xavier placed me in charge of the Christians at Travancor, which is a country on the Malabar coast, and I am only just returned thence."
"Then, with regard to the religion of the people, the Brahminical differs totally from the Mahometan. [ suppose they are nearly all Mahometans in this town?" said Juan.
"The merchants and rich people are all followers of Mahomet; indeed, I believe most are here, but the religion of some of these poor creatures is most gross; there are some, in fact, so totally without it, that they will worship the first thing they come across in the morning, be that what it may, dog, serpent, or anything. The Hindoo religion has countless gods, one of whom, Vishnu, is said to have descended a thousand times to the earth under different forms; and from another, called Brahma, they pretend that their priests, or Brahmins, are descended. They refuse to eat anything that has life, and at times practise great austerities; whereas at others they give themselves up to the worst lusts of the flesh without compunction. They have idols called pagodas, most hideous monsters; the wonder is that the people do not think them devils, instead of adoring them as gods. The priests persuade the people that they eat, like mortals, by way of inducing them to offer presents of food; and of course we know to whose support that goes. It is Bel and the Dragon [22/23] over again. They believe, moreover, that the cow is a sacred animal, and would not kill one for the world. They are clever men, very, and believe about as much of the doctrines they palm upon the people as I do. They have, something like ourselves in Europe, large monasteries in different parts of the country; I have never been inside one myself, but Eather Xavier has; he tried to convert some of their inmates, but could not."
"O God, would I might set out immediately to labour for the conversion of these souls who are thus perishing!" cried Juan.
"Patience, brother Juan, you shall go all in good time; you are but just arrived, you know, so there is plenty of time for work; but I must say I am truly thankful to have more help, and I do not doubt but that ere long Father Xavier will give you enough to do. But you have the language to learn yet. And now, here have I been talking all this time about India, and what is going on here, and never asking a word how things fare in Europe; though, sooth to say, one's mind is so taken up with the mission work that one has scarce time to spare a thought for home. Now tell me, how fares it with our brethren there?"
Granilla then gave Mansilla an account of how Ignatius had sent preachers into Germany, France, and Spain, and of the success they had had; of how the Society was increasing under the wise rule of their founder; of the home he had founded for the [23/24] Order at Rome, and with what trials and troubles they had to contend.
Those were the early days, when the Society of Jesus was still in the pristine purity of its first love, ere the duplicity and love of power which afterwards made it so hated and dreaded, and which finally caused its suppression for a while, had crept in.
How would the hearts of Xavier, of Rodriguez and Laynez, those earnest, zealous men, have revolted could they have only looked onward a very few years, and seen the fearful corruptions which crept into the Society. Would they have sanctioned those horribly degrading, almost even blasphemous doctrines, against which Blaise Pascal wrote in such a strain of keen, honest sarcasm and indignation? Would they have countenanced the proceedings of the brethren in Holland with regard to the Jansenist Church there? Would they have approved of all the duplicities, the intrigues, the lowering the Church to the people on pretence of all being for the salvation of souls, which those later Jesuits practised? I trow not.
But even while these iniquitous proceedings were going on in Europe, we must not forget the noble work carried on in the steps of Xavier and Criminal among the heathens of India and Japan. What those zealous missionaries suffered, how they toiled and laboured, and how many thousands of souls they saved from perdition, will never be known until the last great day. It seems strange to think, as we read of the luxuries, the wickedness, and the pomp of [24/25] Louis Quatorze, the Regency, and Louis Quinzième, that while those pampered courtiers and sensual politic priests were idling away their lives in self-indulgent vice and worse than idleness, far away, among the wild jungles of Hindostan, and the scattered islands of the Indian Ocean, there were men, their countrymen, at that very time passing their lives in spending and being spent for others; acting up to that saying of Arnauld, the doctor, "Time to work in, eternity to rest in," for no rest did they know on earth.
Well, that is looking onward more than a hundred years from the date of our story, so we will, if you please, make a retrograde movement, until we find ourselves once more at our starting-point of 1545.
A few days after the conversation last recorded, Father Juan and Antonio Criminal walked out into the town in the cool of the evening, after Vespers in the Church of St. Paul, adjoining the College of Saint Faith. The streets were in all the turmoil and bustle of a large commercial town: Indians, hurrying hither and thither, bearing large bales and packets on their backs; portly Mahometan merchants and traders, stepping haughtily along, and scowling at the priests as they passed; rough, dirty Portuguese sailors lounging about, with an impudent, careless air; swaggering, gaudily-dressed soldiers, (albeit not a whit cleaner than the sailors,) with their long, uncombed moustache hanging fiercely over their mouths, and their longer swords clanging by their sides as [25/26] they walked; Indian skippers of little crafts, and merchantmen come to trade; and here and there some Portuguese officer or Mahometan grand man, riding on his richly-caparisoned charger, and looking with a disdainful air on those around him. Now and then they encountered a group of men in hot dispute, which usually terminated in a set-to with their long knives, while a war of bad language and oaths was carried on in unison with the clashing weapons.
The evening sun was shining brightly on the glittering sea, spread before them in all its beauty, with the tall masts of the ships standing up black and clear against the sky. They passed on, and began to walk on the bank of the river Mendoua, which flowed wide and deep, covered with little crafts, past the city, till it poured its glassy waters into the bosom of the ocean. A soldier met them, and looked hard at Granilla, at the same time touching his cap to him.
"Ah Pedro, how are you to-night?" asked the priest.
"Well, I return your Reverence many thanks. All, Senior, 'tis a pleasure to find oneself on firm land once more."
"Ay, it is indeed. And now, my son, how fares it with yourself? how are you getting on?"
Pedro coloured: "Ah, your Reverence, 'tis very hard at times; I do try, I do, indeed, to be better; but it is hard to resist temptation: when a fellow says [26/27] something, or does something that puts one's blood up, I feel as though I most revenge myself."
"Poor fellow, I daresay it is hard; but, my son, remember who suffered greater insults and provocations than you ever can, and who bore them meekly and patiently for your sake."
"Yes, Señor, I do think of that, and it is that, and the kind counsel you have given me, which keeps me often from doing wrong."
"Most truly thankful am I if any poor words of mine have been of comfort to you: but I would speak further with you when I have a more convenient opportunity; let me see, if you will come to-morrow noon to the church of St. Paul, I will speak with you there. Good-bye for the present, and God's blessing be on you."
Again touching his hat, Pedro passed on, and Father Juan turning to Criminal, said, "I have a great interest in that poor man; you remember my telling you concerning him when we were at Mozambique. Now, at all events, he seems to be trying to do right; it remains to be proved how long he can resist temptation and remain firm in his determination."
"Trust in God, and hope for the best," said Criminal. "I have known cases in which those whose hearts were touched, have been turned back by the force of bad example and the wiles of the tempter; and again, I could tell of many who have persevered in their good course, after conversion from [27/28] a life of sin, and having gone on from strength to strength, have (we trust) appeared to the God of gods in Sion; and of some, too, who after backsliding for a time, have been again recovered. Good seed is seldom lost when sown in faith and prayer."
"Well, I hope that man may. If a------ why, there is Señor Manoel Mendoza, is there not? Surely that is he," cried Granilla.
It was so; that worthy young man, mounted on a handsome Spanish steed, whose glossy, dappled grey skin contrasted well with the scarlet trappings which he bore, was there talking to one or two officers.
Mendoza himself looked brisk enough, and was talking and laughing to his heart's content with his comrades. He nodded as he saw the priests, in token of recognition, and a minute after they had passed, they heard a horse's step behind, and looking round, they saw Mendoza's grey stepping up alongside them.
"Now, then, my good fathers," he cried, "and how do you fare to-day? A charming place, this, is it not? save that it is so redolent of Mahometanism and heathenism, that I should think the air would scarcely prove salubrious to your worthy selves."
"It was just for the sake of purifying that air that we crossed the ocean and came hither," said Father Criminal. "I hope, ere very long has passed, that, with the grace of God, you shall see this town marvellously changed, as it is now from what it was before Father Xavier laboured here," added he.
 "Ah, by the bye, where is that Xavier? I thought to have seen him here," said Manoel.
"He is in a country they call Malacca, as Father Mansilla tells me, though, where that may be I know not," replied Juan.
"Oh, some heathenish place, I daresay, where he is converting black men by dozens. I must confess I am rather sorry, though; I should have liked to have seen the Father," answered Manoel. "I say, my Father," he added after a pause, "I wish you would convert some more of our soldiers; there are one or two whom you have taken in hand, and they have done their duty twice as well as ever they did before, especially that rascal Pedro; he and Michael Zepeda were the two worst of the whole band, but now he is quite altered; I could scarce credit him to be the same. The others laugh at him a good deal, but he doesn't seem to mind it."
"Doesn't shew he minds it, Señor. I believe he feels it keenly," answered Juan.
"Perhaps he may; I know I shouldn't like it myself. But I must wish you a good evening now; I sup with Dom Joao de Castro to-night, so it would not do to be late, and displease his Excellency. Good night, Señors," and turning his horse's head, he trotted off, looking perfectly well satisfied with himself and all his doings.
The short twilight of India was fast fading away, and the stars were beginning to shew their bright faces reflected in the deep waters of the Mendoua, [29/30] which rolled slowly on, looking pitchy black in the increasing darkness; and the two priests bent their steps homewards towards the College, not without feeling grieved, as they wound their way through the streets, to see the wickedness perpetrated all around.
The wish of Juan's heart was soon granted: a letter arrived from Francis Xavier, desiring Paul de Camerin, the head of the College under Borba, to send out some of the missionaries newly arrived from Europe to the Coromandel coast.
Camerin pitched upon Juan Granilla, and another priest named Enrico, and they were to depart immediately.
During the short time they had been at Goa, the four newly-arrived missionaries had laboured there strenuously; in the prisons among the most vicious of the vicious, in the hospitals amongst the wretched sick, among the children, teaching and catechizing them, besides preaching in the churches and in the streets; and now, after this probation, as it were, it pleased God to call Juan to--scarcely perhaps more active--but more exciting work for His service.
Much as he desired it, he could not help feeling sorrow at parting with the good Antonio Criminal, his companion from Portugal, and his guide and counsellor since. The Father's sweet gentleness had [30/31] a soothing effect on his own spirit, which was naturally wild and impetuous, and inclined to be impatient of slowness or stupidity. He was aware of this fault, and knew he could never make a good priest until he had acquired more patience and gentleness, and therefore he felt glad to have Criminal with him as a check upon his impetuosity.
Enrico was younger, and not of so calm a disposition or so experienced as Criminal, so he could not supply his place to Granilla.
The evening preceding his departure he spent with Criminal, receiving his instructions and counsel, and commending to his care the few souls over whom he had a special charge, Pedro the soldier among the number. Long and earnestly they talked, seated in the good Father's little bare room, with the light flickering on the rough plaster wall, the only adornment of which was a plain wooden crucifix, fixed up above the hard pallet on which he lay.
The next morning he accompanied Juan and Enrico to the ship in which they were to sail, a little trading vessel bound for Meliapor, and manned by Indians.
"Farewell, my son," said he, as he embraced Juan: "Farewell; God's blessing rest upon you; pray for me that if it be His will I may even also be called to more active work for Him, and that I may also, if He will deign to accept it, offer up my life for His glory. And now, once more, farewell."
Yes, Antonio Criminal, your prayer will be granted. Could you only look on to a future day!
 And now the vessel departed, and the sun glittered on the white buildings of Goa, on the domes and minarets of the mosques; but the little church of St. Paul did not raise its head high enough to be visible amongst the other buildings, although Juan eagerly sought it out. The ship coasted along Canara and Malabar, rounded Cape Comorin, and passed up the Coromandel coast, touching at different towns in the way, until it arrived at Meliapor.
This place is celebrated throughout the world as being the scene of the martyrdom of the Apostle St. Thomas. The Indian inhabitants had a report that the town itself was swamped by the sea; and the Jesuit fathers who were there at the time of Francis Xavier, report that under the waters are to be dimly seen the ruins of some splendid buildings. The present town was built by the Portuguese, by the seaside; they had established the Christian religion there, and there was a resident vicar, and a church built on the spot where was found the ruins of one believed to have been erected by the Apostle St. Thomas.
The priests were lodged at the vicar's residence, adjoining the church.
The following morning he took them to visit the vicinity, dear to the heart of every Christian, as having been the scene of the labour of one who had seen the Lord face to face.
"'Tis a pity you were not here a while sooner," said he, "for the Father Xavier was staying here, and [32/33] truly, a more saintly man, I think, I never came across; a worthy successor of the blessed Thomas as a labourer in this vineyard of the Lord."
"We hope soon to join the Father at Amboyna," replied Enrico, "and there to work under him. Did he stay here long?"
"Ay, for some time; and converted many to the faith, upon whom I had tried my poor powers with but little success. It was almost marvellous to me, the manner he had of winning people to him, children especially. You may imagine how the Brahmins and Mussulmans detested him, as indeed they do me, or any other priest; for is it not written, 'Every shepherd was an abomination unto the Egyptians,' especially such a zealous one as he."
They had left the town, and were ascending a little hill, hard by the walls, where they could look down on the city below.
It was early morning, and the sun had not as yet attained much force: the dew lay thick on the grass and shrubs, and hung like diamonds on the sharp thorns of the cactus, as they wound their way up until they reached a little cave, the entrance to which was overhung with creeping plants, drooping in deep festoons from the rock.
Just at the mouth of the cave stood a cross, cut out in the solid stone, from the foot of which poured forth a limpid stream, which went sparkling down with a cool, refreshing murmur.
"It is reported that here the blessed Apostle hid [33/34] himself during the persecution of the Indians," said the Vicar, "and a better place I cannot well imagine. There were formerly more shrubs and underwood surrounding the cavern than there are now; this stream would afford him drink, and He who fed Elijah by the brook Cherith would not permit His faithful servant to perish for lack of food."
They stood awhile in silence, contemplating the scene, till the Vicar said,--"Now, then, there are more relics of the holy Thomas if you will come a little further."
They proceeded on to a larger mountain, on the summit of which stood a little chapel, built of stone.
There they stood and gazed around. The scene seemed formed for solitude and contemplation. On one side lay the sea, spread out like molten gold under the early sun, and stretching far out to the blue horizon; on the other a grove of ancient, gigantic evergreen trees, with their gray gnarled trunks and dark green polished leaves, through which the fresli breeze soughed with a melancholy sound.
The stillness was almost oppressive: not a sound was to be heard save the distant plash of the waves and the monotonous whisper of the leaves, with now and then the scream of a peacock from the wood below, or the whirr of a wild pheasant as it broke from the underwood on the hill side.
"This is the spot," said the Vicar," where Thomas was used to retire with his disciples for prayer and meditation; and when our countrymen rebuilt [34/35] Meliapor, they found on the exact place where that little chapel now stands, the ruins of one built of stone. Wishing to rebuild it, they dug to the foundations, and discovered, deep beneath the earth, a slab of white marble, on which was graved a cross, and some characters which said that 'Christ the Son of God was born of Mary; that God is eternal; that God taught His law to twelve apostles, and that one of them came to Meliapor, and there built a church; and that the Kings of Malabar, of Coromandel, of Pandi, and many others, submitted to the law of St. Thomas.' This piece of marble being stained with blood, they concluded that it was upon it that the holy man was martyred. However this may be, they placed it upon the altar when they had built their church, and, if report be true, what worthier altar for the holy sacrifice, than the marble which received the blood of an apostle and a martyr?"
"What a wondrous tale if it may be true," said Juan. "My father, let us see this holy altar."
"It is in the chapel," replied the Vicar; and uncovering their heads, they entered the little building.
For some minutes they gazed upon the slab in silence and veneration, till Juan pressed forward, and bending the knee, devoutly kissed the cold stone, and the others followed his example. They all four spent some time in prayer, and then came out, and descended the mountain in silence.
The trading vessel which had brought them to Meliapor would not proceed further, but was going [35/36] to return to Goa as soon as the master had executed his business; it was therefore necessary that the missionaries should look out another ship to take them to Amboyna.
After some difficulty they found a little vessel, like that which had brought them from Goa, and which was to depart in a few days, so they sought the captain to make arrangements for a passage.
"To Amboyna, Señors!" said he, when Juan had stated his request. "It is a long passage, and I cannot take you for nothing; I shall be cruising about among the Moluccas, but yet three men are three men, and take up room in my craft, and I must have something for it."
"Poor priests cannot give much," said Enrico: "as blessed Peter said, 'Silver and gold have I none.'"
"Umph, I pity that fellow, whoever he may be," said the Captain. "I trust to Brahma that I may never have cause to repeat his speech. But, Saniassis, (the Indian name for the missionaries,) something I must and will have, or you never put foot in my bark."
"Bah! Let us seek another captain," cried Juan in a low voice to Enrico; "this mercenary fellow is not the only ship-master in Meliapor!"
The man, finding that Juan, after repeating he could not offer more than a certain sum, seemed as though he would draw off, and try to find another vessel, at length yielded, though somewhat ungraciously, and agreed to take them.
 "Remember, Saniassis, I start to-morrow evening, and wait for no man," said he, as he turned on his heel and strode off to a house on the shore where the one or two natives who composed his crew were getting ready for the voyage.
That evening, seated under the palm-tree by his door, the Vicar gave them an account of his labours among his flock.
"What you will find most difficult to the progress of Christianity with the Indians," said he, "are what are called castes, or diverse grades, that exist among them. Many a man has given me as his sole reason for not becoming a Christian, that should lie do so lie would be degraded from his caste, and be as it were an outcast." (Had the Vicar been an Englishman, he would have perceived the pun, but we are merely translating his words, which of course in Portuguese are nothing of the kind.) "And besides tills, there is a class of men called gourous, who stand in about the same relation to them as we priests do to Christians. Now these gourous exercise an extraordinary influence over them, and threaten them with untold miseries from the displeasure of the gods should they neglect to pay certain sums to themselves, and therefore of course it is greatly to their interest to keep them from becoming converts, as every fresh conversion takes away so much from their support. Ay, and when they get the poor creatures back, they impose on them for a penance, that they should forfeit [37/38] I know not what of money and goods, as the only hope of propitiating their deities."
"It makes me sick to think of it," broke in Juan. "I can scarcely bear to hear of those atrocious wretches tyrannising so over the poor ignorant heathen. Oh, it makes my heart burn within me to feel myself in the midst of such a land, and then to feel how powerless one is to do good to the multitude of perishing souls!"
The Vicar smiled.
"Ah, you are young, my son, but do not say so. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Even a dozen zealous missionaries scattered about India may do untold good. Why, for instance, look what Francis Xavier and his little staff have already done, not only in India, but in Malaya and the Eastern Archipelago, and in four years only."
"Never think I meant to despair, my father," cried Granilla. "God forbid! Nay, I can but be lost in marvel as I look on all that He has wrought by the hands of His servants in this land."
"Marvellous indeed; and I believe most firmly, that if we only work with all our hearts, He will prosper our further labours for Him. It is written, 'Their sound shall go out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world;' and lie will not permit the handiwork of His servants to fall to the ground until this has been accomplished. When, we know not; all we know is, that it will be in His own [38/39] good time, though we may have to wait even centuries for it."
"That is what Father Xavier says in one of his letters," answered Enrico; "and truly if works and prayers avail aught, his would go far towards the conversion of India. Besides, we have the prayers of our brethren in Europe."
"Yes," cried Juan; "unceasingly do they pray for all the missionaries out here: I remember how often I have offered up my poor petitions in behalf of this work, thinking of it with love and interest, or ever I dared to hope that one day I might have the inestimable joy of really labouring in it myself."
The dews were falling thick around, and the Vicar proposed that they should adjourn to rest, reminding them of the long voyage that lay before them. "But first," he said, "we will sing Compline together; it may be the last time we may see each other's faces."
The little vessel of Rangamati, in which the three priests sailed, sped on, touching here and there: now passing the shores of the peninsula of Malaya, where the snowy blossoms of the coffee-trees clustered down to the water's edge, where the country is as a paradise, and the inhabitants as fiends; now threading its way through the tiny islands dotted about in the straits of Sumatra; now winding its way through the Flores Sea, until it drew near to the island of Amboyna.
During the voyage, one of the sailors had been very ill, suffering from fever, and Juan had attended [39/40] him assiduously, striving, at the same time that he ministered to his bodily needs, to do something for the far more important ones of his soul. One choking hot day, as lie lay tossing about on the heap of straw that formed his bed, "Oh, that I were on the banks of the Ganges," he cried, "where whoever bathes therein at the time of his death merits a place in the paradise of the gods!"
"Hush, hush, my son, say not so," said Father Granilla, as he offered an earthen pitcher of water to the poor man's parched lips; "think rather on Him who has power to save you, and place you in His celestial paradise, wherever you die, and who can bestow upon you the gift of everlasting life, of life free from pain or uneasiness, a glorious life, which can never, never end."
"Ah," cried Ratmuna, half raising himself, "know you not that the holy Ganges flows from paradise, and that once in a hundred years it bears on its waters a fruit from the ever-blooming trees which grow there, and whoever eats of this fruit shall live for a hundred years? Oh, if I could only be on its shores! it may be now the hundredth year since the last was rolled down, and if I could but get it, and have this life prolonged a hundred years! Oh, how cool and refreshing would be its juices, dropped from the eternal trees, and luscious as the food of the gods! Saniassis, give me to drink, it makes me thirst even to think of it."
Again Granilla gave him drink of the half warm, [40/41] insipid water, and as he sank off to a restless sleep, knelt by his side in earnest prayer for his conversion.
"Holloa!" cried the rough voice of the Captain, Rangamati, as he stalked up: "Holloa! what's this going on here? what are you doing, Saniassis, by the bedside of a dying dog like this," kicking the recumbent man with his foot. "I beg you will not convert him, as you call it; an you do so, all the worse for you and him too, so mind that. By the beard of my father, I'll throw the rascal overboard if he turns Christian. Better do so at once, I think, and get quit of the trouble of him, for he's not worth it;" and bestowing another kick on the poor wretch, he walked on deck again, swearing at all fools of missionaries.
The priest bent over the man, and dipping his hand in the water, parted the ragged hair from his hot brow.
"The Lord have mercy upon thee, and turn thy heart, and bring thee, an erring sheep, back to His own safe sheepfold!" murmured he.
For some time Ratmuna hovered between life and death, but at length he took a turn for the better, and Father Juan, who had never left his side during his delirium, remained as constant in his attendance on his convalescence. It was the Christian character of mildness and charity exemplified in the behaviour of the Father that, as much as his teaching, turned the heart of the Indian; but the threat of Rangamati [41/42] prevented his avowing to Juan his desire of embracing Christianity, although the priest had perceived his strong leaning that way.
"Ratmuna," said he one afternoon, as they were standing on the deck, the convalescent leaning on the priest's arm, and gazing out on the billowy ocean, which was evidently blowing up for a storm; "Ratmuna, do not deny it any longer,- -you are a Christian; you believe in the one true God, and in Jesus Christ His only Son."
The Indian did not reply, but his arm that lay within the priest's quivered, and he could see by the working of his face that he was in great agitation.
"Oh, my son, if you do really believe this, why do you delay telling me? You know how much I have your conversion at heart, why do you not acknowledge the infinite power of God, who is leading you to all truth?"
Again Ratmuna made no answer, but glanced nervously towards the Captain, who was busy at the other end of the vessel.
Juan comprehended all that that glance contained, and called to mind what Rangamati had said.
"'Fear not them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can destroy; but fear rather Him who has power to cast both body and soul into hell,'" he murmured in a low voice. "Come now, why are you afraid of me? I am neither Brahmin nor Moslem, that you should dread me."
Little by little the Father drew out of him the [42/43] confession of his conversion; little by little he instilled into him a clearer knowledge of that faith which he professed to believe. And so the afternoon passed away, and night drew on. The sky was inky black, and the roaring waves boiled and lashed below, with scuds of white foam on their dark surface. The wind whistled through the rigging with a shrill, melancholy sound, and the little bark tossed and plunged at the mercy of the waves.
The Captain grew uneasy, and fussed and fidgeted, and looked at the weather, and swore at the sailors, and altogether behaved like a bad man in a great fright.
"We shall want all hands to-night, and there is that cursed wretch not able to help more than a cat could," said he, as he strode up and down.
"We can help," said Enrico, "and are glad to do so."
"You help! Very likely; much you know about it!" and he walked off, muttering, "A curse on those dogs of missionaries, 'tis all through their being here that we are in all this trouble."
"What will become of me should the ship be lost, and I unbaptized, and through my own fault in delaying to tell you?" said Ratmuna in a hoarse voice to Father Juan.
"Be of good courage, my son; you shall be baptized this very night, God willing. Only trust in Him, and do not let your faith waver."
That night, amidst the howling of the tempest [43/44] and the overwhelming sea, down in that narrow, dark, dirty, stifling little cabin, was a soul made regenerate. The only light was a smoky, flaring torch; the font was the coarse earthen pitcher; the officiating priest was Juan Granilla, and the trembling neophyte was supported by Enrico. They could scarcely keep their footing from the pitching of the ship, and the voice of Granilla could hardly be heard for the roar of the waves, and the scuffling of feet on deck, as he said, "Thomas, I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,"
The cross was signed on his brow, and Ratmuna, now named Thomas, after the apostle of the Indies, rose from his knees, no longer a servant of Satan and destined to eternal misery, but a child of God and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.
Juan embraced him tenderly: "God be praised that this day has come," said he.
Now that this was accomplished they had all to turn their thoughts towards the safety of the vessel, which was indeed very precarious. There were rocks scattered about, and Rangamati feared to be cast on one of them, for even through the pitchy blackness of the night the white lines of breakers were distinctly visible.
What a long, long night it was; it seemed as if the devil had stirred up all the elements to make war upon them, as though dreading any victories gained by them in these islands which were [44/45] included in his kingdom. Now the wind yelled and shrieked like the cries of lost spirits, while the sea rose up like great mountains, dark, heavy, and opaque, ridged with white lines of foam, and threatening every instant to swamp the little bark. The mast swayed and shook, the cordage strained, creaked, and gave way, the vessel lurched almost over, while the heavy sea swept the deck again and again.
Father Juan thought of St. Paul, and believed that He who had brought the Castor and Pollux safe to land, even though it might be on planks and broken pieces of the ship, would not now fail them in their distress. As for the Captain, the more he was frightened the worse his temper became; he almost shrieked with rage. He encountered Thomas at the top of the gangway, with his hands clasped together, and in the fervour of his spirit, forgetting those who might be by, he ejaculated, "O Jesus Christ, have mercy; spare us, Lord Jesus!"
"You have become a Christian! Then by------ you shall go to join the God of the Christians: take that, you cursed scum of the earth, you worse than a Pariah:" and he dealt him a blow that sent him crashing down the stairs, where he lay senseless at the bottom with his ribs broken.
Walking up to Juan: "You took upon you to convert one of my crew, you Christian dog you, but by the beard of the Prophet you shall not have him to boast of. You remember what I said: I am a man of my word."
 "Silence," cried Juan. "How dare you, when the God of heaven and earth is making His awful Presence to be known, how dare you fight against Him in the person of one of His servants?"
"I warned you once, you heeded not, and now you shall see me fulfil my word," answered Rangamati, turning on his heel.
Juan left his post on deck, having seen that the other priest was fully employed, and went to the succour of his poor convert.
The night wore on, and as day began to break, gradually the violence of the tempest decreased, and the battered ship pursued her way peacefully.
Captain Rangamati was too busy seeing to her repairs the next day to pay much attention to Juan or his patient; indeed, the latter was too much injured for the priest to like to leave him. Two of his ribs were smashed, he could scarcely breathe, and every now and then quantities of blood poured from his mouth. But he was quite conscious, and would fix his large dark eyes earnestly on the Father as he repeated the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and various little acts of hope, faith, contrition, &c, aloud. Every now and then he took his hand and pressed it affectionately to his lips, and liked to lie there holding it between his own.
In the afternoon, as they were sitting there, came a heavy tramping footstep down the gangway, and the form of Rangamati appeared.
"Ratmuna, you dog, get up directly, and go and [46/47] clean the deck," cried he, with a kick which caused the poor man to groan and writhe with agony. "Get up, I say,"--kick,--"you lazy dog,"--kick, kick,--"or I'll make you,"--kick, kick, kick. The blood poured forth, saturating the bandages, and staining the floor with a dark crimson.
"You brute, you inhuman brute!" cried Juan, his indignation nearly overcoming all remembrance of his priestly character, as his hot Spanish blood throbbed within him, and it was only by a violent effort that he restrained himself from striking down the brutal bully by a blow. "Strike him again if you dare," cried he, putting himself before the poor man, just in time to receive such a kick on his chest as nearly turned him sick.
The Captain, brute though he was, had no intention, just at first, of in any way bodily injuring a missionary. In the first place, he would almost certainly lose the money for their passage; in the next, there might be disagreeable inquiries, and the Portuguese Commander might be displeased, in which case he might chance to get in for more than he bargained for: so when his foot rattled on the breast-bone of the priest, instead of making a soft dig into the bandaged side of the poor Indian, the Captain, swearing a round oath that he'd make him work, took his departure.
Thomas was more distressed at Juan's having received a blow, than at any of those which had fallen so mercilessly upon himself; and expressed his grief [47/48] as well as he was able, more by signs than words, for he could scarcely speak: but Juan, dissembling the pain he felt in his chest, comforted him, and assured him it was nothing.
The next morning he left him for a little while, to speak with Father Enrico, who was on deck. It was a fresh, breezy morning, bright and sunny. He felt relieved and refreshed, after a whole day and night spent in the stifling den--for it was no better--with the sick man, and he inhaled the clear bright air with avidity. However, having said his say to his companion, he hurried down again, wishing he could carry some of the fresh air with him for poor Thomas. What was his horror and disgust on descending, to find the Captain forcing the poor fellow by blows and threats to ascend and do his work. He had crawled from the place where he lay, trailing his course with blood, to the foot of the ladder, and was endeavouring to ascend as Juan appeared on the top; but he had scarcely put his hands on the third step from the bottom, ere, overcome with pain and dizziness from the weakness caused by loss of blood, he sank backwards. Rangamati kicked him. The dark stream gushed forth with redoubled violence, and the Captain drew back his blood-stained foot from the warm stream of life which ran over the floor.
It was but one bound that the priest made from the top to the bottom.
 "You will go up the ladder, if you please," he said, commanding his voice with the utmost difficulty, while his throat swelled as if it would burst, and his large dark Spanish eyes glared out from his white face like fire.
Somehow or other, how he did not know, the Captain felt awed for the moment by the priest.
He turned his foot, which glided on the floor, made slippy with blood, and went up on deck.
Juan raised Thomas in his arms, and laid him on the straw. He was evidently dying, and the priest fetched Enrico down to assist him by his prayers.
He himself knelt, supporting him in his arms, while Enrico recited in Hindostanee the office for the dying.
Even that bright morning the cabin was shaded in obscurity, but a sunny ray of light lay across, bathing Enrico's head in a stream of glory, and falling over his book.
Above was the tramping of feet, and the shouts of the sailors: below, silence, save for the gasping breath of Thomas, the clear low tones of Enrico's voice, and the swash of the waves outside.
"We commend to Thee, O God, the soul of Thy servant Thomas; and we beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, that Thou wouldst not refuse to admit into the bosom of Thy patriarch a soul for which, in Thy mercy, Thou wast pleased to come down on earth."
There was a quiver throughout the whole [49/50] emaciated frame; the heavy eyes lit up with a ray of joy, and with an effort to press the hand of Juan, the soul of Thomas passed away, leaving the torn body on the heap of straw.
Yes, happy soul, thou wert borne far away from that dark cabin, far away from toil, and care, and misery, to rest in Jesus' bosom, and be His own for ever and ever.
"And this our light affliction, which endureth but for a moment, worketh for us an exceeding weight of glory."
Towards nightfall they touched at a little desert island, and there, under a waving palm-tree, the two missionaries buried Thomas, and planted a rough wooden cross over his grave.
It was a high festival, and on many an altar in Europe the holy Eucharist was being celebrated, and holy anthems sung.
In Eome, before the altar of the Jesuit Church, was Ignatius Loyola, kneeling in prayer for his many children. At Milan, surrounded by all that was gorgeous in ceremonial, the slow solemn chant of the Agnus Dei rolled through the deep aisles of that splendid cathedral, intoned by the voices of a perfect choir; and young Carlo Borromeo, a thin, dark, ugly lad, destined to be in after years the reformer of the [50/51] Church and a second St. Ambrose, knelt in profound devotion. In a quiet convent at Prato, Catherine de Ricci, a simple-minded, lowly nun, is kneeling among her black-robed Dominican sisters; while amidst the silence and seclusion all around, the priest bestows upon each of them the Food that nourishes unto life eternal.
Yes, much as the cankerworm of corruption had gnawed into the heart of the Church, so deep that nothing save the drug of the Reformation to take away the mud from her waters could have prevented their growing to yet greater foulness and stagnation; much as the fine gold was changed since the days of St. Ambrose, St. Benedict, and St. Bernard, still among her members at that period there was many a one that had pure faith, uncontaminated by the corruption around; many a true-hearted follower of God; catholic in the true sense of the word, and such as we of the reformed Church may rejoice to own as brethren.
We cannot allow Rome to claim all the saints of the middle ages. Do not those saints already mentioned, do not St. Vincent de Paul and St. Francis de Sales, do not the Jesuit missionaries in India in the eighteenth century, do not Sueur Rosalie and Marie de Lamourous, belong to the universal Church? Of course they do. They are catholic, and, as such, the property of the whole Church, and not of one branch only, and that a very rotten one. Do you think those grand old men and women [51/52] would be particularly pleased to be put in company with the modern Ultramontane, Mariolatrous Romanists, and cut and sent to Coventry by the rest of the Church? No. They are catholic, and claim us as brethren fully as much,--indeed, on most points, I think we should agree with them far better than modern Romans would.
Now, having said my say so far, and having shewn you how they kept the festival in Italy, be so good as to accompany me across the ocean to the scattered East Indian isles, where we shall join company with some people who are not altogether unknown to us.
After having peeped in upon the splendid churches of Italy, with their marble, their jewels, and their choirs, (even the little convent chapel at Prato was very pretty, though there was no incense or display of jewelry, and the only choir were the feminine voices of the sisters,) I fear this little hut (for it is no better) built of mud and thatched with palm - leaves, will seem a very poor place of worship.
It was built on a fair spot though, with the golden sands stretching away to the clear blue sea, a grove of banyan laden with its scarlet fruit behind, the coffee-bushes clustering around, and the tall palms throwing up their heads into the bright azure sky.
The three missionaries landed early in the morning, and on their enquiries, heard that the Father Xavier had just gone to celebrate mass in the church.
Thither then they bent their steps, under the [52/53] guidance of a Portuguese soldier from the garrison which lay not far off.
The morning sun streamed through the windows on to the crowd of worshippers inside, chiefly natives, some few soldiers.
"The Father has just begun, Señors," said the soldier, as he looked in; "you will find room higher up."
"You will come in, now you are come so far, surely," said Mansilla to the soldier.
"Umph! well, I may as well, but its confoundedly hot in here." The priests got a corner towards the east end, where they knelt on the earth among the natives.
At the rude altar stood a tall priest, with a strongly built, athletic figure; his face was handsome, and there was that about it that you could not help being attracted by it, a face you could not pass without turning again to look. A broad, open brow, and large, piercing, dark blue eyes, were the chief characteristics of it; it seemed as if he had naturally a high complexion, but four years constant fatigues and exposure to all weather had tanned the face, from which his austerities in Europe had already banished all colour.
His voice was singularly clear and sweet, as he pronounced the words of the service with a slight Spanish accent; but there was an air of such combined holiness and majesty about him, that Juan Giauilla, who had never seen him before, was struck with love, and almost awe.
 As he turned to the people, his keen eye, which seemed to take in all at a glance, fell upon the three missionaries, and a ray of joy shot across his countenance.
When the service was over, Xavier went to a corner of the church, where he took off his vestments, and the two waited while the natives left the church. This, however, did not seem to be by any means a quick operation; many waited, some in, some outside, to speak to the Father before he went away. Juan had now leisure to look round him and survey the building. The walls were of rough, plastered mud, with slits for windows; behind the altar, which was a clumsy erection of wood, was hung up a piece of red cloth; and as it was a festival, the place was adorned with flowers.
In two earthen bowls on the altar were arranged the lotus, the cactus, and the aloe flowers, while the walls on either side of it were decorated with boughs of the coffee and banyan-trees.
The place was very hot and close, as the soldier had said, so they strolled forth, and stood under the shade of the palm-trees outside.
Some of the people, seeing by their dress that they were priests, came round them, begging them to baptize their infants, or to come and see a relation who was sick; but though they guessed by their gestures that they wanted them for some purpose of the kind, not understanding their language they could not be of any help to them.
 Presently there was a universal rush among the crowd, and looking towards the church-door, the tall form of Xavier appeared, towering among the islanders. What a crowding there was, how they all pressed upon him, while he passed along smiling, with each of his hands tightly grasped by a little child.
It was some time before he could free himself from them, and then he advanced towards the cluster of palm-trees.
"Welcome, my sons," said he, embracing them. "Eight glad I am to see two fellow-labourers coming to spend and to be spent with us; there is work enough here for many. This very moment I have been asked by six women to baptize their children, and by two children to visit their dying parents. But now, come with me to my cabin and refresh yourselves with what poor refreshments I have to offer, for I am sure you need it."
He led the way to a little hut, built after the fashion of the country, of plastered clay, with a roofing of palm-trees.
"Now, my sons, you must excuse a poor priest if he has nothing better to lay before you than a little boiled rice, but short time as you have been out here, I daresay you have heard of, and perchance have shared in, some of the hardships of missionary life."
"Oh Father, to suffer any privation for the name of Christ is what we look forward to," answered [55/56] Juan. "For myself, I have longed so ardently to suffer anything for Him, that any hardship seems a pleasure to me."
"Well, my son, I am sure you will be satisfied here, for there is plenty in store for you. But come, now,--how does our dear Father, Ignatius?"
And Juan told him, as he had told Paul de Camerin at Goa, of all that was going on in the Order when he sailed from Europe.
Xavier listened with almost tears in his eyes, and then exclaimed: "Oh! if I could but see thee once more, my beloved Father; however," he added, smiling, "we shall have a happy meeting in heaven, a meeting from which we shall part no more. But tell me of yourselves, of your voyage; I trust you had a calmer one than I had when I came here."
The mention of the voyage rekindled all Granilla's indignation and grief; and he related the whole account of the conversion of Thomas, the Captain's brutality, and the death of the poor convert.
"After we had buried the poor fellow on an island not so far from here, Rangamati seemed to have a kind of mingled fear and hatred of us during the remainder of the voyage: and most thankful did he seem when he dropped us here."
"Unhappy man!" said Xavier. "Pray earnestly, my sons, that it may please God to touch his heart, and convert him to that faith which he now so abhors and despises: and while we do so, let us thank Him for having given poor Thomas grace to hold out to [56/57] death, and for having so highly favoured you, by making you the instrument of his conversion."
"Yes, indeed; you, my Father, can know the joy and pleasure I felt on seeing his Christian death, and most truly thankful do I feel for it."
Xavier then in his turn narrated to them what progress he had made since he had been in the Indian island; and how the faith was gradually spreading, like circles on a piece of water after a stone has been flung in, wider and wider around.
His was, indeed, the tale of the sower who went out to sow; but he was able to say that it was the greater part that fell on the good ground, even though some must necessarily be choked up with thorns, or scorched from the hard and flinty rock.
Like St. Paul, Francis Xavier could thank God and take courage, and this courage he implanted into the hearts of his two newly-arrived coadjutors.
They were incapable of teaching at first, from not knowing the language, and could therefore only baptize and perform a few other offices; but among the Portuguese soldiery there was ample labour for any priest.
The garrison was not large, but composed of the general run of those soldiers sent out to the Indies; rough enough at first, and from their life out there, eddying into that voluptuousness and luxury acquired from the habits of the country.
It did not take long, however, to learn the language enough to be able to assist Xavier in his [57/58] labours among the natives, and they then joined him in his mission works.
Not very long after their arrival there, three Portuguese vessels came in laden with soldiers, and had scarcely departed, before six Spanish men of war came also.
The Spanish ships had come from Mexico to conquer the Moluccas in the name of Charles V.--so they said; but the enterprise not succeeding, after two years of cruising about among the East Indian Archipelago, they touched at Amboyna, on their way to India, whence they purposed returning to Europe.
They were engaged in an unjust expedition against the rights of Portugal, and though in the name, without the sanction, of Charles V., for when Joao III. complained to him, he replied that he disowned them as his subjects, and they might treat them as corsairs if they liked.
The Portuguese didn't, but vengeance fell on them another way.
"Father," said Juan, one morning, as Xavier came out of church from early mass: "Father, there is a report that a contagious fever has broken out among the Spanish soldiers; God grant it be not true."
"We must find out," said Xavier; "if it be so, we must go and do what we can for them. You and Enrico go in and get some breakfast, I will go down to the beach and enquire."
 "No, no, let me go; at all events, let me go with you," cried Juan.
"You will go and get some breakfast, my son," replied Xavier, very quietly, and motioning him with his hand.
Casting a longing, lingering look after the priest, as he strode in the direction of the sea, his tall commanding form, in the ragged cassock patched by his own hands, being plainly visible at some distance, Juan followed Enrico to the hut.
In a short time hasty footsteps were heard approaching; a long shadow lay across the doorway, and Xavier entered.
"It is too true," said he: "a most grievous fever is among the soldiers, and there are many down with it already. Poor fellows, we must go and help them to the utmost of our power."
"You will have some food before you go to them," said Enrico.
"No, I have not the time; but stay, you are sure you have each eaten, it is safer for you to go so than with an empty stomach."
Being all ready, they proceeded on their mission. As they reached a little eminence they saw a sad sight; the whole beach was dotted over by men, stretched out under the sun, which was beginning to attain some degree of heat, and parched and burnt up with raging fever. Calling in the assistance of some men from the garrison, and of some native Christians who were only too happy to assist, they [59/60] knocked up some coverings of stakes and palm-leaves to shelter them from the sun.
All around, the air re-echoed with cries of delirium mixed with curses and blasphemies, the groans of pain, and calls for water.
Juan and Enrico could not but be struck by Xavier's manner as he walked along, ministering to the poor creatures, so gentle and soothing, so sympathizing, and yet full of command; even in the shrieks of delirium, the rough words and oaths were checked by his very presence, as it were. His light hand smoothed the heated brow, and administered the cooling drink, with a word of comfort which soothed the wretched sufferer.
Juan was busy with one man whom he found extended, with his head resting on a stone, in the full heat of the sun, crying vainly for water.
He looked a most ghastly sight. A great tall man he was, with thick matted hair and beard, and blood-shot eyes glaring out wildly with the light of fever.
"Confound you," he called out, "what do you want with me? Leave me alone, or give me something to drink. Oh, how the sun falls on my head! it will split; it is splitting. God, the pain!"
"My poor fellow, here is some water,"--and he gave him some.
"Now then, Philip," said he to a young Indian catechumen who had accompanied Xavier from the Coromandel coast, and who was now assisting them [60/61] in their work, "you help me to lift him up, and we will put him under yonder shelter."
It was not without some struggling on his part that the priest and Philip succeeded in carrying him off, and placing him with two or three others under a temporary hut.
Xavier entered while they were arranging him on the ground, bearing a lad in his arms, quite insensible.
"Now, my friends," said he, as he came in, "have you any room here for another poor fellow? Ah, yes, there is a little corner will just do. Poor lad, he is very near going."
"Father Granilla, and you Enrico, I shall leave all these on shore in your charge for a little while, and I shall go on board the vessels and see what I can do for those who are ill there; it is very likely a good deal worse for them than for these, because they cannot get what even there is to be had: that is not much though, certainly," he said, smiling, ns he stepped out of the shade of the hut, and the rays of the sun poured almost vertically on his head. "Well then, my sons, you will look after these men, will you not? and Philip shall come with me."
"Oh yes, my Father," they both exclaimed, "we will do all in our power for them."
And so they did: who could not, after the example of Xavier just before their eyes? They worked like any Sisters of Charity, though Juan's hot temper [61/62] was sometimes rather ruffled when, after having done all he could for any one, his refractory patient would curse him, curse all priests, and call for drink.
Oh, it was a wearisome labour all that day, going from one hut to the other, in the burning, parching, scorching sun; finding every hut full of groans and oaths. It was not like waiting upon even heathen Indians, who had never been regenerate, and who knew no better; but here were baptized Christians, who had all at one time or another participated in the sacraments of the Church, but had cast off all restraint alike of religion and morality, and were living more like brutes than men: now, of course, in their delirium, and having no check upon themselves, the words they used, and the bits here and there of wild, fearful deeds they talked of, horrified the young priest. All he could hope was, that perhaps in the ravings of fever they exaggerated, or fancied these things; but Enrico, to whom he said this, and who was more experienced in these things than he, mournfully shook his head.
"What a relief it was when the blood-red sun dipped behind the ocean, and the moon mounted up, cold and white in the purple mists above the mountains; though their toil even then did not cease, yet the coolness arid the calm beauty of the night seemed to soothe their wearied spirits.
So it went on, the contagion increasing rather than otherwise. In addition to the ministering to [62/63] the sick, there was the labour of burying the dead, which they usually performed at night.
There was a Portuguese, by name John Araus, with whom Xavier had sailed from Malacca, and to him he applied for wine, which was much needed as a cordial among them.
Araus gladly gave it, for had he refused, I know not what they would have done: but the demand for it was incessant.
The man whom Juan had picked up, and whose name they found was Hans Strauss, a German by birth, and a soldier of fortune, seemed to be getting better, thanks partly to an iron constitution, partly to the care bestowed upon him. The poor lad, Ferdinand, whom Xavier had brought in insensible, did not seem to give much hope of recovery: the fever had abated, and he was now perfectly sensible, and liked to talk to the priests if they had a moment to spare to say a word to him; but he was so weak, and had such fainting fits, that he was only kept alive by the good wine of John Araus.
From the conversation they had had with him, they found he was a good lad in the main, and had gone out as a soldier with his father, who, getting killed in a fight with the Portuguese at the Spice Islands, had left Ferdinand to live as he could. We all know the truth of that saying of the Wise Man, "Evil communications corrupt good manners," and it did not prove less true in Ferdinand's case. But the plant of evil was only just beginning to take root [63/64] in him, so it was easily pulled up, and the priests enacted the part of good horticulturists in performing that operation.
Xavier had placed that hut, among several others, in Juan's especial charge, and he took a great interest from finding that Ferdinand was a countryman of his, having lived, before he went out to the wars, hard by his own home in the Pyrenees. He knew old father Diego, and it was from his hands in the little mountain church that he had received his first communion. "First and last," he said, mournfully, "I was ten years old then, and that is six long years a»o. Would I were what I then was!"
"But, my son," said the Father, "if you most truly and earnestly desire it, there is no reason why you should not receive that blessed sacrament here; we will see about this to-morrow, for the present you must be quiet; drink this wine, and do not go off in another fainting fit on any account."
"Wine! who talks of wine? Give me some then, priest, and don't pour it all down the throat of that young hypocrite there," shouted out Hans Strauss, sitting up very white and ghastly, with his ragged locks streaming, and his shirt all torn open, displaying his great brawny breast, marked with many a scar.
"Señor, take it to him," murmured Ferdinand, "do not give me any more, pray; indeed, I shall do quite well."
"Quite well, I daresay, you drunken little scamp," [64/65] said Hans, who overheard him. "I say, Josef," and he dug his bony elbow into the side of a man who lay by him, "that boy pulls away at the wine till he hardly knows whether he's on his head or his heels, and then humbugs that young ass of a priest about giving it me, just when he feels he can't drink any more."
"Wish he'd give me some," groaned out Josef.
"Now then, my man," said Juan, coming up to him, "you must have some wine. How's the pain in your side?"
"No better, Señor."
"Well, then, drink this, and we'll see if we can't make it better."
"Hang him, wine won't do his side any good; give it me," said Hans, stretching out his large, bony hand; and grasping the cup, spilling half on Josef's face, he conveyed it to his own great mouth, and swallowed the contents with infinite gusto.
"That's the thing to set a fellow up, Father; and now I've drunk his share, I'll trouble you for my own;" and the hard, brown fist was again extended.
"You have had what is necessary for you, and more," said Juan. "Josef, my poor fellow, drink this;" and he knelt down, and held the cup with his own hands to the man's mouth.
What to do with Hans Strauss, the poor youth--for Juan was but a youth, only four-and-twenty--[65/66] did not know: how great then was his joy on turning round, to see Xavier (who usually looked in upon all the sick once a-day, at least) standing in the doorway.
"What is all this going on?" he said, in his quiet, gentle voice. "My sons, my sons! quarrelling among those who are at the gates of the grave, or who only are saved by the mercy of God from being cut off in their sins! Hans Strauss, what are you doing there? Lie down and keep quiet immediately, and thank God that you are where you are, and were not taken away with all your wickednesses unrepented of, as so many of your fellow-soldiers have been. Philip," and he turned to the catechumen, "you will stay here a little while, and look after these poor men, and Father Juan shall come with me."
Poor Juan! he was so weary with labouring night and day, with the heat, and the bad, close air in the hut, with the groanings of pain, and the querulousness of those who were convalescent, that his temper was quite out of order; and he felt so thankful for a little quiet, as Xavier took him out with him, and drawing his arm in his, said, "My poor child, now tell me all about it, all your troubles; I have to go to yonder hut in the distance by the palm - tree, so we will have a little talk on the way."
He told all to Xavier, and returned, soothed and comforted, and in better spirit for the work, with [66/67] the words of the old Church hymn ringing in his mind:--
Wherefore, man, take heart and courage
Whatsoe'er thy present pain;
Such untold reward through suff'ring
Thou may'st merit to attain;
And for ever in His glory
With the Light of lights to reign.
A sultry afternoon, when everything seemed powerless to move, from the intense heat, when there was not a breath of wind to flap the quiet leaves of the palm-tree, when the sea was spread out, still and blue, oh how blue! like a vast mirror, with the ships lying motionless on it, their white sails and every line of rigging reflected in the glassy water,--
As idly as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean;--
when the land and rocks seemed to scorch the feet of the passers-by with their burning heat, it is on such an afternoon that we must look, and the scene is the shores of the island of Amboyna.
Hans Strauss was recovered, and had left the hut, much to the relief of all parties; Josef was dead, and Ferdinand still lingered on, though painfully weak, and subject to fainting fits.
Most of those who had not died had recovered and gone away, still the priests were kept in constant occupation; fresh work was continually springing up.
 "Ah, Señor, does not one long for one breath of fresh air from our Pyreneean mountains on such a day as this?" said Ferdinand to Juan, who was sitting by him.
"Yes, one does indeed. Think, Ferdinand, how beautiful they would be, with the wind rustling among the thick trees, and the river gushing below, and the air so fresh and sweet: we will not talk of it, the contrast is too painful."
"Yet, Señor, I cannot but think of them; I can call to mind that old grey rock, covered with moss and lichens, hard by the chesnut-tree, where I used to scramble after birds' nests in the spring. I daresay you know it well, Señor; you could see a bit of the church from the top, and down below the stream made a little cascade over some broken rocks."
"Yes, I know it well; often and often have I scrambled up it too, as a boy."
"Oh, Señor, do you not love it? And the little stream, how fine and clear it was. Oh, to think that I shall never see it again!"
"There is a River which maketh glad the city of God," said Juan. "Think, my son, of that far more beautiful land to which you are hastening, the flowers of which are more sweet and fair than the heart of man can imagine, and where the songs of the angels are never-ceasing. How can you regret aught on this poor earth?"
"Nay, my father, I did not mean that; do not think I regret what I am leaving, for what is it? [68/69] A soldier's life, knocked up and down in the world, exposed to every temptation and every danger. No, I am far, far happier."
And happy he looked, though very pale and weak; in a few moments, though, he turned deathly white, and Juan saw he had fallen into another fainting fit.
There was no more wine, the last drop had been used. He went to the next hut, where Xavier was engaged ministering to the sick.
"Yes, we want some more wine," he said, when Juan had told his errand, "but somehow, lately, Araus has seemed unwilling to let us have any; he has almost refused once or twice, and at other times given it grudgingly: still, do you go and ask him for some, and I will attend to the poor lad."
Juan passed along towards the town, past the garrison,--where the soldiers were stretched in the shade, with dice and cooling drinks to while away the time,--up to the house of Araus.
"More wine do you want?" he said, when Juan proffered his request. "I am sure the wine I have given to those wretches is more than they are worth. What shall I do when you have taken all I have? where shall I get any more in this place? No, you cannot have any."
"But, Señor, consider, I only want a little, just for one poor boy who is very weak; you will not let me go back and see him perish for lack of it?"
"It matters little to me whether he perish or no," rejoined Araus. "Wine is wine, and when it is [69/70] gone, where can I get more? It is all very well for you to come asking me for more. I want it for my family, and cannot give all I have up to every dirty beggar that chooses to fall ill, and want it. Nevertheless, to save trouble, I will give you some this once, but remember and tell Father Xavier that it is the last I ever will give, and neither you nor he need ever trouble to come to me again for it. There is what I can spare you, and now begone;" and putting a small flask into Juan's hands, he turned away. Juan returned and related this to Francis. The soul of the good man was moved with virtuous indignation.
"Of what is Araus thinking," he exclaimed, "to keep his wine for himself, and to refuse it to the members of Jesus Christ? God forgive him the sin, and turn his heart."
It was not much longer, though, that anything was needed for Ferdinand: two days after, he died, a calm and happy death, and Juan laid a cloth over the wasted, lifeless body, which he put in a corner of the hut, intending to bury it at night.
"How are your patients getting on, Father?" asked one of the officers who was lounging about with some others under a shady cluster of palm-trees, as Juan was passing by on his way to the town.
"Better, much better, thank God. The poor boy Ferdinand died this morning, but the others are rapidly improving, and we have very few compared with what we had."
 "Ferdinand? that was that tall, white-faced boy, was it not? a quiet kind of a lad, but with plenty of spirit if it was necessary. Poor fellow, I'm sorry for him, but it can't be helped; as well die that way as another, I suppose,--for him at least,--I had rather not."
"Nor I," "Nor I," said the others. "When the time comes, I had rather die a short death and an easy, and not linger away with horrid pains, and all that kind of thing," added one: and it had better be observed, that all the time the fever had been prevalent, not one of those who were in health, of the ships' crews, had come near their sick comrades if it could possibly be avoided.
That night the body of the Pyreneean youth was laid in the ground, and Xavier read the service over it: it was a very still night, and the beautiful words of calm and repose amalgamated soothingly with the sleep of nature.
When it was over, Juan turned to go back to the hut, but Xavier put his hand on his shoulder, and said,--"No need to return just yet; there are so few sick just now, and they so convalescent as not to require such constant watching. Philip and Father Enrico are with them, and a little stay out in this sweet fresh night before the mists rise will do you good. I kept Enrico out yesterday, and you shall come today," and he drew him along with him, nothing loth.
"Now, then," he said, as he stopped under a clump of palm-trees, "now we will say Compline together; [71/72] it is past the canonical time, rather, I am afraid, but poor missionaries must get in their own prayers as they can, and in many cases must pray God to accept the will for the deed."
And how strangely, but cheeringly, sounded the service on the wild shore of the East Indian isle, which was repeated throughout Christendom, in exactly the same form and language,--"Noctem quietam, et finem perfectum concedat nobis Dominus Omnipotens;" but they all reached to the throne of grace, whether they rose from the quiet chapel of the convent, the gorgeously decked church, or from the temple of nature, where the stems of the palm-trees were the pillars, the only music the plash of the advancing tide, and the lights the many brilliant stars with which the firmament was studded, and the soft white moon which rose like a silver globe over the ocean.
They walked up and down on the beach, strewn with wondrous shells and seaweeds, such as sailors bring home to their little ones as remembrances from the "Land beyond the Sea/' while the tide rolled up steadily, wave after wave, and broke with a swash, in lines of white foam on the yellow sand; while all around, as far as eye could see, the broad ocean, the thick nutmeg bushes and spreading bananas, the lofty palms, and the rocks rising up behind, with the stiff, prickly aloes growing on them, were all bathed in moonlight, looking like molten silver.
What a choking flood of thoughts rushed upon [72/73] Juan's mind! Thoughts of his youthful visions of the far-off lands, of trials and labours to be gone through for the sake of Christ, of hundreds of souls converted, and, to crown all, a martyrdom whereby he might receive the reward of his labours. And now these boyish dreams were come to a stern reality, so far at least, and how did they answer to his expectations? That was a question which he could scarcely answer himself. Remember, he was young, and of an ardent, impatient temperament, and to go on day after day, waiting patiently by the bedside of the sick, and ministering to them, was certainly not the kind of work he looked for, and wished for. His ideas were of going over the country, preaching, baptizing, and teaching, and of suffering persecution. All this would be more congenial to his temper; and all this he told Xavier, as they paced up and down.
The good priest smiled.
"It may be, my son, that for that very reason it is appointed that you should have this sort of work, at first at least; it is very likely by this means that God is preparing and fitting you for greater labours (in the common acceptation of the word) for Him; there is some little germ of evil sprouting up, which would mar your work, and which wants cutting off, before you are ready to do fully what He has in store for you."
"That is comfort, Father," said Juan; "but at times I do weary of it so much, and I cannot do it well."
 "You remember the motto of our Order," answered Xavier, "'Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam;' keep that continually in mind, and all, or any work, will seem sweet to you. Preaching and converting may be more interesting, but you know our holy Father Ignatius' favourite words, 'What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, and to lose his own soul?' If you converted this whole archipelago, and India and China to boot, and yourself were a castaway, what would it profit you? Nothing. Now do not be downhearted, for if I do not mistake, the work you so long for will come, be it sooner or later." "Thank you, Father; I pray God it may." "I can well remember," continued Xavier, musingly, "when I myself entertained such bright visions as you speak of, but, I am sorry to say, not with so high an aim. I was told, and I felt it myself, that I had more talent than most men: I was applauded by the world, and I delighted in the hollow praise: I thought to raise myself to some high pinnacle among my fellow creatures; to have my name known far and wide, and celebrated in after years for my genius and learning; but one man, whom I scoffed and jeered at for a crack-brained enthusiast, (Heaven forgive me for it!) one man taught me the true value of the world, and all it has to give; he taught me to despise all earthly greatness, and to raise my thoughts higher and higher; to seek, instead of the faded laurel-wreath of worldly applause, a fadeless crown from the hand of the great [74/75] Shepherd, and Oh, what do I not owe to him for all he has done for my poor soul!"
"But," said Juan, "supposing a person, highly gifted, and fitted to occupy any position as a man of letters, devotes himself to a life where his talents will be left to rust as utterly useless, and where one, whose capabilities are not of the highest order, would do equally well, and perhaps work better, would you not call that throwing himself away, and not fulfilling the particular mission God has given him in the world?"
"No, most certainly not, provided always that he act from conscientious motives, and with the advice of those who are set over him. Take, for instance, the great St. Bernard: when he entered the Cistercian Order, do you not believe that he imagined he was giving up all that was most dear to him in the way of learning,--and who more highly gifted than himself?--and was about to devote himself to a life of bodily toil and labour, only relieved by the hours of prayer; a life (he might have said to himself) by which a person possessed of more bodily strength, of mediocre talents, might glorify God, while he, upon whom the spirit of wisdom had been so largely poured, might be called on to promote His glory by his writing and preaching? So he might have argued with himself, and with reason: but no--he chose the higher path of self-devotion and the subduing of his own will, and behold, out of what seemed most blasting to his hopes, God brought forth abundant crops,--the dry stick budded and blossomed. During [75/76] the very labour which seemed to preclude him from all mental exercise, did the great doctor meditate most sweetly upon the mysteries of Holy Writ, and the fruit of those meditations are the food of the Church to this day."
"Yes, I see it is pride and self-love in many cases that make one imagine one is chosen out to be a light to others, and to neglect the more irksome works to the preference of what is more congenial to one's nature. Not that I speak in this case of myself," added Juan, smiling. "I never had any talent to boast of, and always preferred athletic sports and bodily labour to any study; but this subject is one we have often discussed at college, and which I had never quite got settled satisfactorily in my own mind."
"And which you have now?" asked Xavier. "Well, rest assured of this, to give up whatever we prize most dearly for the love of God, is always the best rule to follow: as St. Alexis, who gave up his betrothed bride, lest love of her should distract him from love of God; St. Matthew the Publican, who gave up all that he had and followed Jesus; St. Katharine, who neglected her deep and wondrous studies for love of the heavenly Bridegroom; and so we might find examples in abundance amongst the records of holy men and women who have, as it is expressed in the Song of Songs, come from Lebanon, and gone to the mount of myrrh to await the Everlasting Daybreak. And what," continued he, [76/77] after a pause, "what is anything we can give up to be compared with the inestimable delights of the love of God? What would one not have given up to have been as the disciple whom Jesus loved, and who lay on His bosom? You do not know,--why should I tell you, though?--but at times when I meditate upon the divine charity, I feel as if my breast must burst with the delicious magnitude of the thought--words cannot express what it is: all I can do is to cry out to the Lord that He will not pour forth of His delights upon this frame of clay which is unable to bear them, but will reserve them for the day (if I am deemed worthy to see it) when I shall behold Him face to face."
There was a pause. Juan was silent, and Francis Xavier seemed so wrapt up in the words he had uttered, as to be unable to say more, and they paced the shore in silence, with the white moon looking down upon them, and the great ocean flinging itself upon the land. But the mists began to gather, those mists so fatal to Europeans in tropical climates, and Xavier, feeling a slight shiver creep over him, said, "We must go in."
A few days after, the Spanish fleet sailed: the crews quite, or nearly, restored to health, thanks to the kind offices of the three priests, though their labour, so far as regarded this life, was
"All for love, and nothing for reward,"--
for very little thanks, save from some few, did they get from the Spaniards.
 One day, a Portuguese vessel touched for water and supplies on her way out to the Moluccas, with a transport of soldiers on board.
Juan was come from baptizing a dying child, in a hut which was some way inland, and he was passing the garrison to return home, admiring the rich crimson and orange colour of the sky, as the sun sank behind the horizon, vividly reflected in the sea, and tinging the landscape with a golden hue, when suddenly a hand was laid on his shoulder, and turning round, he beheld Manoel Mendoza.
"Holloa, Father, you didn't expect to see me here, I daresay: but his Excellency Dom Joao sent me out with these fellows to the Moluccas, we just touched here for a few things we want, and therefore you see me. "Well, how are you?"
"Pretty well, thank you j but how long do you stay?" "Oh, I don't know, Fm sure; a week or thereabouts, is Father what's-his-name, Father Xavier I mean, here?"
"Close at hand: we were even now going to vespers: you will come and see him, will you not?"
"By all means; I should like to have a look at him, I've heard so much about him. I suppose the service isn't very long, is it? for I can't abide long prayers."
"Not so long as to keep you out, Señor; you will come in with me, and then see the Father afterwards."
Accordingly Mendoza did go into vespers, at which Xavier was not present, having been called out [78/79] suddenly to some sick person. After service, Juan took Mendoza to their hut, where they found the good Father just returned.
The wild soldier seemed struck by the priest's manners; he had heard so much of his sanctity, and rigidity towards himself, that he expected to see a stern ascetic, whose discourse would be most harsh and unbending, rather like a very dry sermon broken into small pieces than the conversation of an ordinary man. But, to his surprise, he found an agreeable, polished gentleman, as courteous and polite as any courtier of King João's, with wonderful conversational powers, which he had the art of adapting to any person or any condition.
He felt himself fascinated, he scarce knew how, and drawn on to talk more open-heartedly and deeply than he had ever done before.
During several days that the ship was anchored at Amboyna, he was almost constantly with the Father, who by some insensible means brought him to think more earnestly of religion, and his duties as a Christian, and to implant good desires and resolves of amending his life, within his heart.
The evening before they were to sail, Mendoza came to Juan and said, smiling,--"Well, Father, do you remember what I told you on our passage to Goa one day?"
"You told me so many things, Señor, that at the present moment I really cannot pretend to guess which of them it was."
 "Don't you remember my saying once that if ever there was a man who could make me think seriously, it would be Francis Xavier?"
"And you can prove the truth of your saying, then?"
"I can. I don't know what there is about him, he laughs and talks like any other man, and is ten times more agreeable than most, and yet all the while one feels as if one was growing better; and then, by some means or other, he brings you round to religion, you hardly know how, and you find yourself talking about yourself, and all that kind of thing. It passes my comprehension how he does it, but he does somehow, for I feel it in me, don't you see?"
"And most heartily do I thank God for it, Señor Mendoza, and so ought you. You must sail a happier man than you landed, I should think."
"Ah, yes; of course,"--and Señor Manoel Mendoza stood and twisted his black moustache, which had grown considerably during his residence in India. "Maybe I shall see you and him again as we come back."
"I hope so. Well, good-night, I have a poor boy to visit before nightfall. I shall not see you again, I suppose, so I will bid you farewell, and may God be with you."
"Good-bye, Father, and accept my poor thanks for what you have done for me;" and he gave him a hearty Portuguese embrace, and turned away towards the garrison.
 The next few months Xavier spent in visiting the islands lying round Amboyna, half desert for the most part, or peopled with rude barbarians, who lived in caves and dens of the earth. He took Juan with him, and left Enrico to take the spiritual charge of the garrison and the Amboyna Christians.
The Isle of Rosalao was inhabited by a still more barbarous people than the other, extremely vicious and brutal, and having little more of humanity about them than the form.
Xavier preached and exhorted, but with less than his usual success: one man only was the fruit of his labours.
"Scarcely worth coming here, was it, my father?" asked Juan, as they set sail from the island.
"It was worth coming to gain one soul to Jesus Christ," replied the good man: "and if I misdoubt not, this Francis" (for so he had baptized him) "will live well and die holily: I feel somehow a kind of presentiment of it: God grant it may come true!"
And come true it did: for forty years afterwards, when he entered the Portuguese service as a soldier, he was wounded to the death in a fight with the Saracens, and died, calling on the Name of Jesus.
One reads about the missions in India and the Indian Isles, of the lovely scenes, the warm skies, the splendid flowers and rich vegetation, of the conversion of thousands which they effected, and it all sounds very pleasant, very romantic; an exciting, interesting way of doing God's work; and so it is; and [81/82] it is all very well to fancy and dream about, but look at the stern reality; ask those noble-hearted soldiers of Christ who laboured year after year among those lands, whether it was all such a romance as we imagine.
They would tell you rather of toils and weariness, of pain and hunger, contumely and suffering, borne patiently for Jesus' sake; of the wounds they received from the thorns and briars of the wilderness in seeking therein for the lost sheep; of dreariness, and loneliness, and isolation amidst the savage heathen of the wild and stormy seas, the barren lands, and the miserable living, stript of everything that can make life sweet:--would you call that a romance?
All this Juan shared with Xavier: he witnessed his patient endurance of scoffs and ill treatment, his cheerfulness under every privation, his holiness and purity; and what wonder that he loved him with all the powers of his soul, and dreaded the day when they must separate, and when he, having finished his apprenticeship in the mission life, must labour on alone, away from his beloved master.
All he suffered seemed sweet, suffered with him, and he felt as if he could scarcely struggle onwards through his work without that kind voice to encourage him and that loving example before him.
But it was better that he should work alone, and learn to depend upon another Arm than that of flesh, for insensibly he was getting too much to depend upon Xavier, and was neglecting the words, [82/83] "Put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man."
Xavier with his penetration knew this, and was only awaiting a convenient opportunity to place the young priest in some other field of labour. At length, having determined to send Antonio Criminal to the coast of the Fisheries, he thought it well that Juan should go with him, and therefore he sent him off by a vessel that was returning to Tutucurin.
You can imagine how bitter was the parting: bitter as when St. Paul left Miletum, and the disciples wept sore, even so was the parting between this apostle of the Gentiles and his spiritual son.
Juan stood on the deck, and gazed at the tall black figure upon the receding shore, till it lessened and lessened, and became a little speck, and then was lost in haze. And the blinding tears rushed thickly to his eyes, till with a kind of shame he brushed them away, and turning to the sailors began to speak cheerfully on some indifferent subject.
Time rolls on, quickly or slowly according to the way we have spent it and the work in which we have been engaged.
You have seen the beginning of Father Juan Granilla's missionary labours, will you then look in upon the end?
 Twelve years have passed since we saw him, and the youth of four-and-twenty is now thirty-five. And no life of idleness has his been, as his sun-burnt, worn countenance, and hair already streaked with grey, can prove. He has had to struggle on by himself, and nobly he has done it. The two he loved most were both taken from him: Antonio Criminal fell, bathed in blood, by the hands of the heathen Paravas, at Pumacael; and Francis Xavier died, like Moses, in sight of the promised land. Alone, neglected, with none near him, did his pure and holy soul depart to Him whom he loved, and for whom he had spent and been spent.
The scene of Juan's labours, originally on the coast of the Fisheries, had gradually extended more inland towards Madura; and he had now a little church, built of clay and bamboos, beside which he lived in a small hut, whence he made journeys out among the villages around.
He had made a good many Christians in his own village, who loved and revered the Saniassis with all their hearts; and he was sent for whenever they required it, by Christians living at a distance, he being the only priest in those parts.
At sunset one day he was returning home, through the forest. It was at the time of the rains, and the ground, swampy and boggy, formed little pools where ever he placed his foot, while the red rays of the sinking sun glittered on the wet trunks and foliage of the trees, which clashed their boughs together with a melancholy sound, and every now and then a serpent [84/85] glided across the path and hid itself among the underwood.
He was tired, having had a hard day's work, and a great relief he felt it when he came in sight of the church and his little dwelling; which, like the church, was built of earth, thatched with straw, having at the entrance a little room about ten feet long, open on one side, where he gave instruction to the neophytes who sought his advice. In summer this was covered with creeping plants, which clustered all over it, but now it looked most deplorably wretched, inside and out: the floor was all mud and the walls dripping wet; there was no admittance for light, save through the door, and the only furniture was three or four earthen vases, one of which contained the vessels for the altar, the others the rice which served him for food.
Worn out, he sat down on the floor, and taking a large palm-leaf, his substitute for a plate, lie kneaded up some rice, pepper, and black sugar into a ball, and was about to partake of the only fare permissible to a Saniassis, (for the Brahmins leading such ascetic lives in public, the missionaries were obliged to do so likewise, notwithstanding all their labours, in order to preserve the respect of the people,) when a step was heard in the outer room, and the form of an Indian youth, one of Juan's catechists, appeared in the doorway.
"My father, here is Iago Ponghenour, come to say that his brother is lying dangerously sick of a fever, and has sent to ask you to go and see him."
 "What, poor Francis, whom I baptized last month?"
"The same; but you will surely not dream of going to see him to-night: you are over-wearied already, and he lives at an immense distance, with two rivers to cross, and the roads almost impassable even in daylight--no, my father, you cannot go."
"The salvation of a dying man is of more consequence than a little fatigue to myself, Jerom; where is Iago? I would speak with him."
"He is waiting in the outer room, your reverence."
"Well, I will go to him,"--and putting aside the broad leaf, with the scarcely touched supper upon it, he went out.
It appeared that Francis was suffering from a severe attack of fever, and amidst his delirium had called out incessantly for the Saniassis, and therefore his wife begged Iago to go and seek him; he agreed with Jerom that the roads would be scarcely possible to traverse in the night, especially by one not well acquainted with them, and several other catechists advised the Father to wait till daylight, alleging that he would now most probably only lose his way, and run a good risk of losing his life in the bargain, and what would that benefit the sick man? whereas, if he waited till morning, under safe guidanceship he would arrive there, and be able to administer the ghostly relief that was needed.
The last consideration only weighed with Granilla: [86/87] fear for himself he had none, and weariness he recked not of, and he accordingly returned to lie down and sleep till daybreak, and then start on his journey. With the first glimpse of light he was up, and summoned Jerom to accompany him and Iago.
This Jerom was a young man whom he had converted and baptized about five years ago, and who had remained with him ever since. He was an active, intelligent fellow, tall and spare, with a good set of features, and a bright smile.
Accordingly they set forth, at what I suppose you would call sunrise, but very little of that might you see, for the rain was falling heavily, and in a few moments they were wetted to the skin.
The roads were, indeed, very bad; they sank up to their knees in soft mud at every step, and this mud being full of thorns and briars, Juan's feet were soon streaming with blood.
On they went, putting one leg in and drawing out the other: the rain fell down in columns rather than in drops, and the great thorns pierced their skin, ripping it open, while the mud entered the wounds, and made them painfully sore.
"We could never have come last night, Jerom, you were quite right about that," said the Father.
Presently they came to the brink of a small river, the waters of which, swollen by the rains, were gushing rapidly along, bearing on their current young trees, pieces of wood and stick, that it had swept away in its progress.
 "Can you swim?" asked Iago.
"Perfectly well," replied the priest.
"You of course can?" said the Indian, turning to Jerom, who replied in the affirmative.
They accordingly plunged in, and with some difficulty succeeded in gaining the opposite shore; and nasty work it was securing your footing, when you had got there. The soft mud sank beneath the least touch, and they floundered about in the squash, among the slimy reeds, in mortal dread of serpents, and in danger of getting choked. At last they got hold of the stump of a tree, and one by one dragged themselves up on to the bank.
Then, again, another long walk through the mud and jungles, with the pouring rain falling all the time, till a black line before them, and the sound of many waters, told them they were approaching another river.
"This is twice the size of the one we have just passed, Father, and it will most likely be tremendously swollen; I doubt your being able to pass it."
"You passed it yesterday, did you not?" asked Juan.
"With difficulty; and I am accustomed to such things."
"Well, we can but try."
It was an unpromising prospect. The great broad river rolled on, with a hoarse roar, its waters looking inky black, and as if they were fathomless, such as you might imagine the Styx to be, only for those [88/89] poor souls there was no Charon with his ferry-boat to convey them across.
"This is terribly swollen since yesterday," said Iago, looking despairingly down the dark stream, bordered by brushwood, now half covered with the flood, so that only the green tops appeared, swaying backwards and forwards with the violence of the water.
"Is there no narrower place?" asked Juan.
Iago shook his head.
"This is the narrowest that I know of, but it is some time since I have been here," said Jerom.
"I'll tell you what we had better do, Jerom," said Iago; "you and I will make up three bundles of faggots, and we can cross that way."
Accordingly they bound up a number of sticks into three faggots, and prepared to swim across after the fashion of the country, supported upon the bundles.
"You can do this, my father, can you not?" asked Iago.
"It will not be the first time I have done so, will it, Jerom?" said Juan.
And so they plunged into the Styx-like water.
How the foaming current rushed and roared around them, sweeping them down the river so that it seemed almost impossible that they should make any way towards the opposite shore. Little by little, by slow degrees, they reached the bank.
"Thank God that is passed!" fervently ejaculated Father Juan, as he looked back on the roaring torrent, [89/90] and then at the spot where they had plunged in, and which was a good way higher up, so far down had they been borne.
It was not pleasant journeying after that, for more than half a league they had to walk along in a canal, where the water reached to their chests, and weary and worn was Juan when they at length reached the village.
"This way, my father," said Iago, directing him to the hut, which lay low, not far from the water's edge, and looked as if fever might haunt the place.
The sick man was much better; the delirium was gone, and he knew the Father perfectly, and seemed delighted to see him, although he was too weak to speak: but alas, his youngest child, yet unbaptized, was dangerously ill with it, and, as it seemed, could scarcely live through the day.
"We must baptize her directly," said Juan. "Bring me some water, some of you."
Iago took an earthen bowl down to the canal, and returned with it full.
A sad baptism--outwardly--was that of the little Indian child. The priest stood there, in his wet cassock, with the drops falling drip, drip, from his hair and sopping clothes, on to the muddy floor, with his catechist beside him; and there was the little babe, with its hot, dry, tiny hands, stretched feebly out, as it lay tossing restlessly in its mother's arms; and behind was Francis, watching it all intently, though unable to move himself, while Iago [90/91] stood beside him, and wiped the damp hair from his brow, as the rain streamed from it over his face.
"Mary, I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And before many hours was over, the little creature, thus admitted within the pale of Christ's Church, was transported from this world of toils and sorrows, to bloom in the flower-garden of the Lord Jesus.
She took the cup of life to sip, Too hitter 'twas to drain, She meekly put it from her lip, And went to sleep again.
"Your child is at rest, and happier far than had she lived here, to struggle on in this naughty world, and perchance fail of gaining the crown she now wears," said Juan.
The mother could only sob, and hang over the lifeless form of her little one. Again the priest spoke words of comfort and consolation to her, and her brother-in-law entreated her to be consoled.
"I know it, I know it," she sobbed. "My babe is happier than I could ever have made her, and I shall see her again some day: but--"and again she broke forth into a fit of sobbing.
And by every means in his power did Juan console her, and turned her thoughts from her dead child to her living husband.
"God has been very gracious to you, my daughter; He has taken your child, whom He can replace by many children, and has spared the life of your [91/92] husband, who is bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh."
That evening they buried little Mary, and the following morning they prepared to return, leaving Francis much better.
The rainy season would not be over before Christmas, to which it wanted more than a week, and Juan was anxious to see the priest of another mission, who lived some way down the stream, and wished, if the roads were passable, to return home that way.
"We could go round by Camien-Nakempati; the stream gets narrower there, and it would not be so much further," said Jerom.
"You are sure of this? Then we will do so," said Juan: and so they bid farewell to the family of Francis, and set forth.
After the custom of the country, they only took a little boiled rice with them, to serve for provision; and the first night, not being near any habitation, they had to sleep on the damp earth under a banyan-tree, and very little rest Juan got, as you may imagine; his limbs ached and felt stiff, and he had a bad pain in his head. However, he did not complain, and walked cheerfully on, discoursing with Jerom concerning the affairs of the mission and the village, and most chiefly of one old Nana, a Gourou, who was much opposed to them, and worked them much mischief.
A Gourou, you must understand, was a kind of heathen priest, who stood in about the same light [92/93] with regard to the Indians as a spiritual father to the Christians. He had the direction (if one can so speak) of their consciences, and inflicted penances for sins, these penances generally consisting in some forfeiture either in money or goods to himself. All the Gourous owed subjection to one chief, called the great Gourou, who was very highly honoured and looked up to.
Now this Nana had some most devoted partisans among the heathen about Ramcuttah, (the village where Juan's mission was situate,) whom he drew around him, many from dislike to the Christians, many from fear of the vengeance he assured them would fall upon their heads did they give any heed to the preaching of the Saniassis; indeed, there were one or two who had a pretty hard penance inflicted upon them for having, through curiosity, held some conversation on religious matters with one of Juan's catechists.
From conversation about the Gourou, they turned to a subject far nearer Jerom's heart.
At Ramcuttah there lived a girl, named at her baptism Mary: her mother and father were Christians too, but she had several brothers, wild young men, who were all heathens.
Jerom for some time had thought much of Mary, and it was agreed that after Christmas they should be married; but a certain heathen, and a friend of Mary's brothers, was desirous of having her himself, and the brothers wished it too, but she stedfastly [93/94] refused to marry a heathen. These young men, then, were some of the strongest of the Gourou's party, and very troublesome they proved too.
All this was discussed between the two, and Jerom's heart beat high as he thought of his Mary, and the glad smile of welcome that would beam from her large, quiet, dark eyes, on his return home.
This night they came to a wayside inn, so called. It was a rough construction, merely of poles, with a roof on the top, and open on all sides to the weather; but it was better than sleeping out in the open air, and they got a tolerable night's rest under it.
About forenoon the next day they arrived at the missionary's house. It was built opposite the little church, with a kind of square yard between the two, on low ground, with a torrent rushing along only fifty paces off. Father Luis Manao, the priest of the mission, was overjoyed to see a countryman and a fellow priest, and received him most gladly; but poor Juan seemed scarcely capable of appreciating his kindness fully, for hardly had he dragged his aching limbs within the cabin, ere he was seized with an attack of fever, the consequence of over-fatigue and the hardships he had undergone, very likely owing, too, to his having been with Francis Ponghenour's fever-stricken family.
All the next day he was most assiduously nursed by Manao and Jerom, and towards evening he seemed much better, though very weak.
Meanwhile the rains went on increasing [94/95] prodigiously: the situation, as I said, was flat, and now resembled a large pool of water, and the torrent that evening was swoln to such a degree, that it threatened every instant to sweep over the church and mission-house.
As they sat there together, Manao bending over Juan, and talking to him every now and then in a low, gentle voice, Jerom with two or three catechists of this mission in another corner of the room, and the daylight fast dying away, the roar of the waters sounded awful.
"Hark, Thomas!" said Luis Manao, starting; "it seems to me that the torrent is coming near; listen."
The catechist rose, and went to the door. It was now nearly dark; he could just discern the outline of the church opposite, of a large tree which grew beyond, and the light from the open door reflected his figure in the flood outside.
The roar was tremendous, and it seemed to him as if it came nearer and nearer. He fetched a torch, and waded out, and before he had got past the great tree, by the movement of the water he could see plainly that the torrent was gradually advancing towards the house, and would sweep it away, with all it contained. Hastening back, he told Father Luis.
"What can we do?" said the Father, biting his thumbs with a look of perplexity, and gazing down on the helpless figure of Juan.
"There is no time to be lost, Father, it is coming [95/96] on every minute;" and as he spoke the mud walls of the cabin shook, from the waters outside being swayed up against them.
"Can't we get out, and escape that way?" asked Manao.
"The floods are out so very deep, and the night is so dark, you would be almost certain to fall into some hole and get drowned; besides, consider, my father, you could not drag a sick man along up above his waist in water."
"No, you are right there, Thomas; but what can we do? see, the house is falling:" and as he spoke a great piece of the mud wall dropped in, and a gush of water came through the hole.
"Take my advice, Father. You know the great tree by the church?"
"Yes, I know that well enough."
"Well, then, we will take off the door of the house, and I and these others can fasten it to the branches, (they are very strong and tough,) and then you and the other father can pass the night there very well."
"I see, Thomas; a good idea, a very good idea: but what will you do?"
"Oh, we can easily manage to sleep among the branches, we are used to it."
"Very well, then."
"Quickly did the Indians take off the door, made of boards nailed together, and fastened it to two of the toughest boughs with ropes, while the little house [96/97] shook worse than ever, and great pieces of the wall came tumbling down in all directions.
As quickly and gently as he could, Luis told Juan of what they were going to do, and why; and sooner than he could have hoped, he heard the splash, splash, of their returning footsteps.
Jerom and the Father carried Juan, while the others bore some torches, which cast a wild, red glare all around in the darkness, and reflected their figures on the waters, long, and black, and unearthly.
The strong tree shook and trembled as the weight of the flood came against it, and Luis Manao could sometimes scarcely keep his footing. At last they raised the sick man up safely, and Luis placed himself at his side.
"Are you all comfortable up there, Father?" cried one.
"Not comfortable, but we shall do," answered Luis.
"Is my father all safe?" asked Jerom.
"Quite safe," returned Luis.
"Well, then," said Thomas, "we must get up now;" and the four Indians scrambled lightly up, and ensconced themselves snugly among the thick branches.
Very little sleep was there for Luis Manao, though.
Faster and faster, stronger and stronger, came on the torrent: the roar of many waters was terrible; the tree bent lower--lower--lower, before the force of the stream, and Luis trembled lest it should be [97/98] uprooted. Jerom tried as well as he could to shield Juan from the violence of the rain; he was perfectly conscious of what was going on, and his thin face looked ghastly white in the torch-light, with the large, bright, dark eyes standing out, with purple rims round them.
Every bone in his body ached from the uncomfortable posture in which he was placed, but Jerom and Father Luis between them, somehow continued to make it a little easier.
"How awfully the tree sways," said Luis; "I doubt its standing against all this pressure."
"It is deep rooted, and will bear a great deal, I think," replied Thomas.
How slowly the hours of the night passed on, while the elements of wind and water raged with the utmost violence.
Presently there was an awful crash and splash. They all started.
"Madre de Dios! What is that 1" exclaimed Father Luis, springing up, and almost upsetting the equilibrium of the door.
"The church, I believe, Father," answered Thomas; "the sound seems to come from that direction."
"Alas! my poor little church, my dear little church, have the wild waters swept over thee, too?" cried Luis. "You had a torch there, one of you, can you not make shift to light it, and let us see?"
"Impossible; the wind put it out when I had it alight before, it is so very high; besides, the torch [98/99] has got wet through: but it cannot want so many hours till daylight now."
"No, I suppose not: the night has seemed long enough, in all conscience," replied the priest. "And where to get a shelter when we are safely down, (if God should permit us to be spared through the night,) I know not."
"I know of a place," answered one of the catechists. "Andrew Kholee, who lives about a bow-shot off on a little hill, would, I feel sure, gladly take us in."
"Ah yes, poor Andrew, I daresay he would. If, as I said, we are spared, you can see about it in the morning."
Father Luis, I should have told you, had not long come to the mission, and he was as yet but imperfectly acquainted with the people, and their ways of going on. Were I to speak the truth, I must say I rather wonder how Laynez (the then head of the Order) thought fit to send out such a man on a mission. Most earnest and good-intentioned was he, but wanting in just those qualities which constitute a good missionary. He had no promptitude or decision of character; when an accident or anything that impeded his smooth progress happened, instead of immediately applying his shoulder to the wheel, and scrambling through the difficulty or removing the obstacle, he stood undecided and frightened, and bit his thumb nails, calling on his catechists to help him. Such was not the man calculated to gain souls to God, and to carry the standard of the Cross into heathen lands: he was not wanting in talent and [99/100] learning, and would have done excellently well for the instruction of youth at some college, whereas here he was totally misplaced and thrown away. The superiors in India perceived this before he had been there long, they therefore removed him, and gave him an appointment at the College of St. Paul, at Goa, where he was in his element, and did very well.
However, that is skipping on a good bit; and at the time we now behold him, he is sitting, not amidst a circle of youthful students, but on some wet boards, among the boughs of a tree, with the rain and wind beating upon his head, on a dark night in the jungle.
Poor Father Luis!
Truly, indeed, might those desolate ones cry out in the sorrow of their hearts, "Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?" and the wind among the branches replied, "The morning cometh:" but long and weary was the time of its coming. By degrees the violence of the storm abated, the wind lulled, and the rain fell less heavily, and at last, oh joy of joys! dawn began to appear.
But on what a scene did the daylight break! All around one vast lake, with the course of the torrent marked out by the current, bearing swiftly along oa it pieces of bamboo and wood, and bits of stuff that had been used in the decoration of the church. A carved wooden cross, that had been placed up at the east end, on the roof, had drifted towards the tree, and one of its arms having caught against the trunk, it had remained there. Thomas espied this, and scrambling down, rescued the sacred symbol.
 "Poor cross!" sighed Father Luis; "I remember but a short time ago how sweetly thou stoodst out, marked against the crimson evening sky, as it were to hallow nature by thy presence."
"Now then, Father, I will go and seek Andrew Kholee, and ask him to let us have shelter," said Thomas, as he let himself down from bough to bough, and went flop into the water. They watched him as he went on his way, wading along with a pole in his hand in the direction of some rising ground in the distance; and before very long, he returned, bringing with him Andrew and one or two others.
"Now, my father," cried Thomas, "this good man has promised us food and shelter, and we are come to take you down and convey you to his house."
Work enough it was for the poor priest (at no time one of the most nimble) to descend from his perch; he was so drenched with rain, and blown upon by the wind, added to the cramped position in which he had spent the night, that his limbs were quite stiff, and almost refused to perform their office. When he was safely down, they unslung the door, and conveyed Juan upon that to Andrew's hut. Thanks to Jerom, who had formed of his own body a protection for Juan against the tempest, he had not suffered so much from the night's exposure as might have been feared; some days, however, he spent at the hut, and then, Jerom having by some means borrowed a horse for him, he returned to Raincuttah in time for Christmas.
Christmas! what a pleasant feeling the word brings, as we think of our English Christmases. Christmas Eve, when we sit at the window watching for the waits, with the dark, deep, blue sky above, gemmed with frosty stars, making one think of that star which appeared to the wise men; and the merry peal of bells ringing forth from the grey church-tower, and answered by the distant sound of other bells far off, and then at last the waits coming, and as they stand there upon the snowy ground, pouring forth old hymns and carols, in their hoarse, untrained voices,--who is there does not remember this from a child? And so three hundred years ago, in the far East, the mission priests were keeping their Christmas in their little mud churches.
Here, if you care to see it, is a letter Father Juan wrote to one of his superiors in Europe about this time:--
"Feast of the Holy Innocents,
"My Reverend Father,
"The peace of our Lord.--I cannot express to you the delight and gratitude I felt, when I received the letter with which you were kind enough to honour me. Thanks be to God, we are getting on here better than I could even have hoped; the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few, and it is my constant prayer that it will please the Lord of the harvest to send [102/103] forth more labourers into the harvest. I have baptized during the last year more infants than I can remember the number of, besides many adults; and my heart overflows with joy, as I think of so many souls admitted into Christ's Church, and saved from eternal damnation. The mission where I labour is more isolated than most; indeed, the nearest station to it is more than seventeen leagues distant, and I am frequently sent for to visit some one a great way off. A most woeful accident befel the house and chapel at that mission,"--here follows a long account of what was related rn the last chapter. "The attack of fever with which it pleased God to afflict me, is now, thanks be to Him, perfectly gone, and I was able to celebrate the festival of the Nativity in our little church, at which all the faithful attended, and I was much edified by witnessing their devotion. In the middle of the service, while they were chanting, a serpent glided in, and winding its way through the men, penetrated to the place set apart for the women, and twisted itself round the arm of a little girl. The child, when she discovered it, set up a cry, and flung it off her arm among the women, without thinking of where it went: they set up a series of shrieking and yelling, and there was an alarming disturbance, until one of the men caught and killed it, and the service went on as before. I thought much of you, my father, at this holy season, and hoped for a share of your prayers. At times one feels very lonely out here, for save Father Luis Manao, I have not seen a European for more than a year. My greatest comfort are my dear catechists: they are so earnest and zealous, that I rejoice in them, thanking [103/104] the Lord alway, who has thus manifested His grace in His servants. All the converted Indians are remarkable for their gentleness and docility; this, as I told you in a former letter, is the great characteristic of the natives, and it is a good deal owing to this that we have been enabled to make so much way among them.
"Just now I am in some trouble. One of my catechists, called Jerom, was to have been married to a girl, both whose parents are Christians, about this time; but a friend of her brothers, who are heathens, has been desirous of having her as his wife, and backed by these brothers, he has pressed his suit, Mary the while steadily saying that she can never wed a heathen. This has been going on some time, and we took no notice of it, believing that when Rhamoon met with another girl, to whom he took a fancy, he would quite forget all about Mary; but it seems, however, that he thinks I am backing him up, and he has therefore turned his spite against myself and Jerom. He is at the head of the heathen party about here, and very bitter they are against us. How it will end, I know not, but the wedding has been put off until Easter.
"The rainy season is just leaving us now, for which I feel thankful, as the floor of my cabin is a mass of soft mud, which is not of all things the most pleasant to sleep upon;--but what am I doing that I speak of such things? Should I not rather glory in tribulations and rejoice that I am counted worthy to suffer anything for the sake of the Lord Jesus? At times I have such a yearning longing that it would please Him to remove me hence, such a desire to be with Him, to feel that I have finished my course in faith and am deemed [104/105] worthy to wear the crown; and yet what may this be but presumption, when I have not finished the work He has given me to do, of longing for rest before the toil of the day is over? Pray for me, my father, that I may be faithful unto death, and that I may not faint on the way. And now, reverend father, humbly craving your blessing, I remain the least of all your sons in our dear Lord Christ Jesus.
"Juan Granilla, S.J."
Poor Juan; he was indeed worn out. He had borne the burden and heat of the day, and somehow he felt a kind of presentiment that there was not much longer for him to remain toiling all night, and that the morning would soon come when Jesus would stand on the shore and welcome him home, poor wearied soul.
Well;--Christmas and Christmas-tide passed away, and the rainy season passed away, and the heat of the Indian summer began. It was Lent, and Father Juan, abstemious as he was obliged to be at all times, contrived by some means so to pinch and curtail his daily food, as to keep his Lent too.
It was a lovely evening; the sun was verging towards the horizon, and the golden rays came slantwise through the thick trees, dipping the stems and foliage in an amber light, every now and then reflected in dazzling colours on the plumage of a peacock, whose shrill scream rang through the welkin, while the monkeys chattered and jabbered away, and the great snakes glided through the long rank grass.
 See how glorious are those large lotus flowers, reposing still and calm on the little stream, the waters of which glide on without disturbing the majesty of the quiet plant?, like the faithful soul, firmly anchored on the cross, gazing upward to the heavens, while the current, of the world rushes past with its noise and bustle, all unheeded.
Hard by is a little hut, the hut where are centred all Jerom's affections, the hut which contains the being he holds dearest on earth, which is to him more precious than a palace.
Hark! There was the tinkle, tinkle of a bell sounding across the woods. It was the vesper bell from the mission chapel, and forth from the hut came the figure of a young girl, tall and very slight, with a face almost too thin and spare to be strictly hand-some, though the features are good, and the eyes--they are splendid, large, and dark--a full realization of that most striking description in the Canticles, "Like the fishpools in Heshbon," so deep in their beauty, like as when one gazes down upon a piece of water, with the faint reflection of the starlight glimmering through the trees on to its surface.
How gracefully she wended her way through the narrow, tangled path, her light step scarcely crushing the grass beneath her little feet, as she passed on, her dress brushing against the many-thorned cactus or the trailing branches of the banana.
As she crossed the open space round the little church, a young man came out of the priest's cabin. [106/107] It was Jerom; and what a flash of joy lit up those eyes of hers, and how you could see the carnation mantle on her brown cheek. They interchanged a greeting, and then quietly took their places in the church.
And truly, as her lips repeated the Magnificat, one could have applied those most sweet words of the greatest of saints to this her Indian namesake, as she stood there with downcast head, in her meekness and purity.
Service over, they spoke together in the porch of the church, and Jerom said, smiling, "But a short time, and there will be no separation for us, my Mary; it wants but a week to Easter, and after Easter--"
"I know not how it is, but my heart misgives me; I feel some strange presentiment as though something will happen which will put a check on our happiness. It may be only my foolish fancy, Jerom, so think no more of it," she added, cheerfully, as his brow clouded over, and he looked scrutinisingly into her face.
"Well, my daughter, and how is all with you?" asked Father Juan, as he came out of the church. "How is your mother to-night?"
"Tolerably well, for her, my father. She hopes to come to church next Sunday, if she continues as she is at present."
"Ah, that's well, I shall hope to see her there. Lucy, you here!" he added, turning to a woman who was standing by, with a baby in her arms, and who looked pleased and happy as the Father spoke kindly [107/108] to her, and took notice of the little brown infant, who was slumbering peacefully, pressed against its mother's breast.
And so he passed on, from one to the other, with a bright word and look for all, though, to judge by his own worn face, he was one who needed comfort and consolation as much as any,--in a bodily way, I would say; mentally, there was such an unearthly peace shed over his sharpened features, as one sees in some of the pictures of saints painted by the grand old masters, looking so holy with their stiff drapery, and quaint, unanatomical figures.
As he turned away from the group to enter the house, he gazed over the darkening woods into the far, crimson west, as though his eyes could pierce beyond that soft sea of light to the land where angels dwell, and could, like blessed Stephen, behold the King in His beauty.
Now that we have seen that summer evening, and the pair of lovers in the church porch, we will see what Jerom is doing with himself the following day.
Under the shade of the spreading banyan-tree he was sitting, instructing a group of neophytes who were gathered round him, listening attentively to his words; and, to do him justice, he taught very well, and explained things very clearly to them. He was in the middle of his teaching, when an exclamation from one of those who stood farthest off, made him look up, and there, with a most savage expression of face, stood the Gourou, gazing sourly upon them.
 In a snappish voice he demanded who Jerom was, what was his caste, his employment, and what was the book out of which he was teaching?
As briefly as the Gourou demanded, as briefly did Jerom answer, and to every reply the Gentile gave a most expressive snort of contempt.
"Give me the book," he said, extending his hand.
Jerom yielded it up to him. It was a compilation of Francis Xavier's, for the use of neophytes and catechumens; and more contemptuous grew the expression of the Gourou's face as he stood holding the book with the ends of his thumbs and fingers, and turning over the pages. His eye lit upon a passage which spoke of the falsity of the Hindoo deities.
"Humph! A rare doctrine, truly," said he, "and more than you can undertake to prove to me, beardless boy."
"Not so, I crave your pardon," replied Jerom; and quietly and as shortly as possible he laid before him the recital of the life of Vishnu, which was but a string of robberies, adulteries, murders, and all the vilest crimes which pollute the human race. "That is only one of your gods. If it please you, I can relate the lives of several more, for before I received the illumination of baptism from the hand of the Saniassis, I was well acquainted with these foul doctrines of devils."
"I do not wish that you should repeat any more of your garbled accounts of the holy gods; what I want [109/110] is for you to give me proofs of the truth of this new religion which you are so busily teaching."
"New, it is not: for proofs of its truth, see with your own eyes how rapidly it is spreading over this country;" and as briefly and quietly as he had spoken of the abominations of Vishnu, did he now speak of the truths of Christianity and the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
"Hold!" cried the Gourou: "prate not to me of that abominable stuff. Bah! It makes me ill to hear of it. Law of the Prauguis, (the Indian name for the Portuguese,) indeed! law of miserable Parias, I call it: law of infamy--"
"Pardon me," interrupted Jerom; "it beseems not a Christian to sit quietly and hear the religion which he holds dearer than his life, abused; the Law is without spot or blemish: and if you call it the law of Parias, why not call the sun, which is equally adored by them and Brahmins, the sun of the Parias?"
"Insolent! Paria thyself! Dost thou insult me, dog?" and raising a stick which he had in his hand, he struck the Catechist several blows upon the face and head with it. The red blood gushed from his mouth, where a blow had broken his teeth. "Get thee hence! begone, vile wretch!" cried the Gourou; and calling together some of those who were continually hanging about him, they drove him away from the spot, with reproaches and menaces, and, tearing his book, scattered the pages to the winds.
 Staggering along, half stunned with the blows on his head, with his mouth and face frightfully swelled, and despite his five years of Christianity, his heart burning indignantly, did Jerom return to the mission, and laid his griefs at the feet of Father Juan.
"My poor fellow," said Juan, taking him in his arms and embracing him tenderly,--"My poor fellow, 'Blessed are they who are counted worthy to suffer for righteousness' sake,' and though it may be hard for flesh and blood to bear, yet the spirit should rejoice that it is called upon to undergo anything for the Name of Jesus. Why, Jerom," he said, smiling, "you do not know how I envy you this; the hurt I know you do not care for, and what is the disgrace? Nothing. Come now, and let me see to your bruises; I have a little balm that will be nice and cooling to lay on them. 'Tis a bad place, certainly, but I would give a great deal to be able to have been in your place."
"Why, you have been threatened enough with I know not what tortures," said Jerom.
"Threatened, ay! Had they fulfilled all the threats with which I have been menaced, there would not be much of Father Juan's body left; but, to my grief, they have hitherto stopped short at threats, and here I find my young son in the faith has obtained that for which I have been longing these twelve years."
"Nay, Father, I pray you say not so; this is, as you say, nothing; and who knows what may be in store for you."
 "Who knows, indeed! You must pray, Jerom, that if it be God's will, I may be deemed worthy to suffer somewhat for Him ere I die; and above all, pray for him who has thus injured you, that God may have mercy upon him and turn his heart to better things. You will do this, will you not?
"Assuredly I will, with all my heart."
There was great joy among the heathen party in consequence of that day's proceedings, and Rhamoon swore a tremendous oath that what had then been begun should be followed up; that Jerom should never have Mary, and that the Saniassis Pranguis should rue the day when he ever introduced this new religion among these parts.
So swore Rhamoon, and I think he was the kind of man who would keep his word in such a case.
However, the marriage of Jerom and Mary was fixed for the Monday following Low Sunday, and Mary's heart beat high with joy as she sat working at the door of the little hut, with the tall trees waving overhead and the broad stream gurgling on below.
Juan was called out on Easter Tuesday to communicate Father Luis Manao, who was ill, and had sent for him as being the nearest priest to be found; and at the end of the week, leaving Manao much better, he set out on his return home. Contrary to his usual custom, lie had not taken Jerom, or any other of his catechists, with him, so he journeyed on, as St. Gregory says of St. Benedict, "alone with himself." At sunset he came up to a temple, to which the inhabitants [112/113] of a neighbouring village had just sent fruit, flowers, vegetables, and suchlike things to the priest, for a grand sacrifice. Personally they took no part in it; when they had sent their offerings, they thought their duty to the gods amply performed by drinking, dancing, and singing, in honour of the festival. Juan thought he might as well take shelter for the night within the walls of this temple as elsewhere, and accordingly entered.
I daresay if we could have looked into his mind, we should have seen he was thinking of the legend of St. Gregory the Wonder-worker and the temple of Apollo, though with all humility in likening his case to that of so great a saint.
There he found the priest making all ready for the sacrifice, and preparing the incense, the rice, and the vegetables. He was a courteous man, and greeted the Christian courteously.
After a little conversation,--"I marvel," said Juan, "that you can spend your life in the service of these pieces of carved wood," pointing to the idols; "preparing food for those who cannot eat, and sweet odours for those who have no power of smelling. Why not renounce these foolish superstitions, and turn to the worship of the one true God, and not spend your precious life in child's play,--for it is no better: man's life is too great, too noble a thing to be thus wasted."
"Life is not wasted, nor is it child's play, Saniassis, to devote one's whole time to the service of the [113/114] immortal gods: you speak blasphemously of them, but you know no better, therefore I forgive you. Your life is devoted to the service of your God, wherefore blame me for doing likewise by mine?"
"Our God, the God of Christians, is the Lord of heaven and earth; the gods whom you worship are but devils; our God is perfect Purity, perfect Wisdom, perfect Truth, a God without iniquity, just and right is He; your Khrisna, and all your numberless other gods, can you tell me one single action of their lives that is not an abomination? Where do you find in them the essence of Deity, which is all purity, all truth?"
The Hindoo priest seemed uneasy, and busied himself with making up the rice into small balls. "Do not sleep here, Saniassis," he said at length; "the place is full of robbers, who would plunder and murder you. Take my advice, and get a shelter in the village hard by."
"I am so poor, that I have nothing about me they could take; and if they kill me, I fear it not; I have desired death too long to shrink back from him when he comes. I do not fear sleeping here."
Without any reply, the priest took up the incense, and in a few minutes raised so thick a cloud of smoke, that Juan was nearly choked, and obliged in self-preservation to go into the open air, coughing violently. Go, however, quite away he would not, and from outside the door he could see all that went on, as the smoke gradually cleared off.
 Having finished preparing the food in a corner, the priest took a large pitcher, which he filled with water and dashed over the idols several times, and then rubbed them clean with his hands, for a long time. The next operation was to put some incense on the lid of a pot, and present it to the nose of each idol, pronouncing some cabalistic words the while. The scene was really too absurd to witness without a smile, were it not for the pity one feels for the poor blinded creatures who believe in it all; but there sat that row of hideous images, fixed and immoveable, each with a frightful grin on his face: and there was the priest, a tall, manly man, of a good age, and gifted with quite the ordinary share of talent and intellect,--there was he, with the utmost gravity imaginable, presenting the scent to the row of inanimate noses; it was more than absurd, it was horrible, degrading, to witness; and accustomed as he was to the sight of the performance of heathen rites, Juan could not repress a shudder as he gazed upon this. But this was not all; he took up the food upon a dish made of leaves sewn together, and offered it to each idol, at the same time making it a profound reverence, as though inviting it to partake of the feast, and then placing it on the ground before them, he sat down, and made a hearty supper of it himself.
Juan scarcely waited to see the conclusion, such a horror did he feel; and with the words, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," upon his lips, he turned away, and walked through the [115/116] gathering twilight to the village, where a charitable woman gave him shelter for the night.
The following evening he drew near upon Ramcuttah, and you may guess how hastily he walked through the woods to reach his home. Though the sun was only at his setting, beneath the shade of those great trees it was gloomy and sombre enough, and the wind soughed with a melancholy sound among the leaves.
As he walked along, some chord of memory, long untouched, was awakened within him, and carried him back to the days of his boyhood: the whisper of the leaves reminded him of the times long gone by, when he had wandered among the Pyreneean woods on the dim autumn evenings, and heard the winds wailing and sighing among the great branches, and there came into his mind some long-forgotten lines which one of those evening rambles had inspired him with, and which were now most fully realized:--
In dusky red, and bath'd in dull gray mist,
The sun had set beyond the distant hills,
And the long path grew dark between the trees.
An indescribable, unearthly gloom
Had sunk around: and through the rustling leaves
Whistled November's melancholy wind:
It seem'd strange voices blended with it were
Crying all mournfully amid the soughs,
'Souls! souls to save! What shall it profit one
To gain the world, and yet to lose his soul?
O think on souls' salvation, think on those
There are to win in this wide world below!'
And the wild breeze died off monotonous,
Sighing and wailing by the chesnut-trees,
But rose again in a loud, shrieking gust,
'Think on the souls to save! Think on the souls
Living, undying, that are lost for aye!'
And the brown leaves came dropping round my head,
Trembling and shaking on the damp, cold ground,
While the rough blast sobb'd as in agony.
Yes: how that carried him back again to old times, and from old times to the commencement of his labours out here, when the rose-coloured spectacles, through which he had looked at life, were taken from his eyes, and he saw things as they were, in their natural roughness and dulness of colouring. He thought of the good Antonio Criminal, and of Manoel Mendoza, who after a few years had returned to Portugal, and was now the husband of Juan's only sister. Eulalia, and a good husband he was, too; he thought much of Francis Xavier, and there was a kind of strange presentiment in his mind, as if it should not be so very long before he should see him again.
By the bye, what strange things presentiments are! and how true are those words of Shakespeare's, "Coming events cast their shadows before!" Henri IV. felt the phantom of Ravaillac's knife in his bosom, long before he was really stabbed by the assassin; the Highland soldiers predicted the death of Claverhouse, if he engaged personally in the battle of Killiecrankie; and there are a hundred such instances in history; as if God, in His infinite mercy, were not willing to take men totally by surprise, but by a forewarning gave them time for preparation. Scarcely [117/118] ever, since he had worked in the mission, had Juan thought so much of his Spanish fatherland and of his own boyish days, as this night, during his solitary walk. How it was he could not tell, he had no clue to which he might trace it, but it was so, undoubtedly. How glad he felt when he came in sight of his little church, with its black shadow thrown on the dewy grass, and the cross by which it was surmounted just catching a bright beam from the rising moon, and standing out in strong relief against the background of dark, weird-looking trees. As he entered his cabin, his first idea, having said his evening prayers in the church, was to fling himself down and enjoy the repose he so much needed, but some unaccountable impulse induced him to strike a light before lying down in the corner where he usually slept. Having done so, the torch cast a ruddy glare all around, and revealed, curled up exactly on the spot where Juan would have lain down, a large black serpent, one of a deadly kind. You can fancy Juan's horror. He put down the torch, flaring and guttering, on the floor, and with the aid of a thick, knotted stick, he killed the reptile and flung him out of doors. With what a feeling of thankfulness did he now stretch his weary limbs upon the hard earth, and abandon himself to sleep, while the moon shone cold and white through the hole that served for a window, looking in like a mother, with her kindly beaming smile, watching over the poor, worn-out child of earth.
How brightly shone the sun on the morning of Jerom's wedding-day, and the tall trees waved their heads gently to and fro, as the golden beams kissed their leaves, and the bright breeze made melody among their branches.
God maketh His sun to shine on the evil and on the good; on that pair who were kneeling before the altar with their earnest, loving faces, and on the wild, savage countenances of those men who are lurking among the snowy blossoms of the coffee-trees.
It was a pretty sight, was that wedding. The altar was decorated with fresh flowers, and the green boughs on the walls both kept the church cool and concealed the ugly mud plaster of which they were constructed. The bride had a little wreath of pink almond blossoms among her neatly-braided, dark hair, and the long lashes that swept her brown cheek concealed the joy that beamed in her great eyes. Jerom stood by her, tall and upright, a meet support and helper for the slight creature at his side; his looks were a good deal spoiled by the treatment he had received from the hands of the Gourou and his friends, but what did that matter? The service proceeded, the blessing was given, and Jerom and Mary were wedded man and wife, whom nought save death could part.
And then the priest proceeded on to another holy rite, and the young husband and wife received at [119/120] his hands the Bread of Life, which would preserve their souls unto everlasting salvation. Scarcely had the priest turned again to the altar, with the paten still in his hands, when there was a strange crackling noise heard on the left side of the chancel, among the wooden posts and beams which formed the framework for the mud plaster, and a minute after the same noise was heard on the left, and a thick, choking cloud of smoke rolled up. He hastily consumed what remained of the sacred elements, and rolled up the holy vessels in the white linen that was spread upon the altar, for the greater convenience of carrying them away. When he turned round, the body of the church was full of smoke, and the yellow flames ran along the woodwork, spreading rapidly, for the weather had been very hot and dry, and the wood caught directly. Some of the people tried to rush out and escape through the door, (there was only one,) but the outside was guarded by a savage crew, who stood looking on exultingly, and flinging flaming firebrands on to parts that had not caught yet. "With a look of agony that no words can express, Jerom turned to Mary: she was perfectly calm and resigned. "My soul, my life! is there no way of saving you?" he said, frantically; and taking her up in his arms, he strode towards a gap made in the wall, through the falling-in of a portion; a yellow, smoky sheet of flame swept before him, and when that retreated and he was crunching over the logs of hot wood that lay smoking on the floor, pressing on regardless [120/121] that every step he took burnt his feet severely, he was met by the hideous face of Rhamoon, leaning on a spear and "grinning a ghastly smile" of satisfied revenge. Were it not for the tender burden in his arms, Jerom would have sprung forward, and felled the ruffian where he stood. He turned back, his throat swelling almost to suffocation. The roof was falling in, and the flames danced, and crackled, and roared, above, around, below, everywhere.
Those who were in the body of the church had left their places, and were crowding round Juan. Still clasping the sacred vessels, he had knelt down, and in a clear, firm voice was intoning the forty-third Psalm.
As Jerom glanced round, with Mary, half-suffocated with the smoke, hanging over his arm, the wreath of flowers gone, and the dark hair all scorched and burnt, he again encountered Rhamoon's eye. It lit up with the expression of a demon, and a yell of savage delight escaped his lips as he pointed derisively at Jerom. "Good-luck to your wedding, and a pleasant merry-making with the Saniassis Pranguis to wind up the day."
"O send out Thy light and Thy truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to Thy holy hill, and to Thy dwelling," repeated the clear notes of the priest's voice through the tumult of the flames and the shouting of those outside.
The flames were wrapping round them, and the thick smoke was choking up their throats.
 "I will go unto the Altar of God ---" there was a crash; the roof of the chancel fell in, and a cloud of smoke enveloped all inside.
The multitude yelled and hooted, as with a final smash the whole building came to the ground, and the red and yellow flames leaped and danced over the bodies of the martyrs.
"I will go unto the Altar of God." Yes, unto that golden Altar in the heavenly Jerusalem; unto that "holy hill," and to that dwelling where the Lamb is the everlasting light; the city that hath no need of the sun nor of the moon to shine in it, where God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.
There, Jerom, you will not be separated from your Mary, but ye shall both enter together into the joy of your Lord, and drink of His pleasures as out of a river.
And Juan; he shall receive the reward of his labours, the crown that the Holy One hath laid up for them that stayed at His command, and did not faint in their watches; the King has introduced him into His wine-cellars, to inebriate him with heavenly delights; and what he so long hungered after, that he now tastes in its fulness, how fully no mortal man can tell.
O Jesu, mea sola fames, mea sola voluptas!
Quam sapis ipse, tui si sapit ipsa fames!
There was no grave to receive the ashes of the [122/123] Spanish missionary, they were scattered to the winds, and will not be recovered until that last great day, when the dead shall arise with their own bodies.
And now, gentle reader, I trust I have not tired your patience by asking you to go with me through a few of the toils and troubles of a Christian missionary, one among the many hundreds who have carried the royal banner into India and the East; who have laboured and perished, unknown; leaving no record of their lives and works behind them, but whose bones have made those distant lands one vast cemetery.
Truly India is rich in martyrs, from St. Thomas the Apostle down to the last who perished in the Indian mutiny three years ago. Let them all, I pray you, have a share in our remembrance, when we join in the glorious chant,--
The noble army of martyrs praise Thee!