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CHAPTER II - Part 1

[46]

CHAPTER II

Thus ended the carefree, the relatively irresponsible and the easy part of my life.  It had lasted for 22 years, and was the only time in my entire life when I formed part of a family and had the background, the prestige and the security that this entailed.  I had a good time; I had met many people; I had travelled a lot.  I forget how often I have crossed the English Channel to the Continent and back for I have crossed so often.  Fortunately I am a first class sailor and I love the sea no matter how rough.  I cannot remember any personal friends except one, and she and I are still friends and exchange letters.  We had met in Switzerland and together had learnt to make Irish needlepoint lace.  I was always proud of that achievement and specially proud when I once sold two yards of flounces for $30 a yard, the proceeds going to the Church Missionary Society, as in those days I needed no money.

But the time had now come when I felt the need to make myself of some use in the world and to justify my existence.  In those days I expressed this urge in terms of "Jesus went about doing good," and I, as His follower, must do the same.  So I began, furiously and fanatically, to "do good."  I became an evangelist in connection with the British army.

Looking back to the time when I was working as an evangelist among British troops, I realise that it was the happiest and the most satisfactory time of my entire life.  I quite liked myself and all that concerned me.  I was doing what I wanted to do and I was very successful.  I had not a care in the world and (apart from my chosen sphere of work) I had not a single responsibility.  I realise, [47] however, that it was an important cycle in my life and that it completely altered all my attitudes.  What happened to me during that period was unrealised at the time, but great interior changes took place.  I was, however, so extroverted in my thinking and activities that I was relatively unaware of them.  I had made a clean break with my family and had brought my life as a society girl to an end.

When I say "a clean break" I do not mean that I had severed all relations.  I have always kept in touch with my family from then till now, but our paths have wandered far apart, our interests were and are widely different, and our relationship now is that of friends and not cousins, etc.  Taking it by and large I believe I have had a more interesting and exciting life than they have.  I have never felt that ties of physical blood amount to much.  Why should people like each other and cling together because—fortunately or unfortunately—they happen to have the same grandparents?  It does not seem reasonable, and I think has led to a lot of trouble.  It is a happy thing when friendship and relationship coincide, but to me friendship, mutual interests and similar attitudes to life are far more important than blood ties.  I want my daughters to like me because I am their friend and have proved myself friendly and worth liking.  I am not expecting their confidence and liking because I am their mother.  I personally love them for themselves and not so particularly because they are my children.  I think once the need for the physical care of small children is no longer required that parents would do well to cultivate the friendship angle.

I was absolutely sure (how wonderful that seems to me today and how delightfully young) of everything—God, doctrine, my ability to do things, the sureness of my knowledge and the infallibility of any advice I might give.  I had an answer for everything and knew just what should be [48] done.  I handled life and circumstances at that time with the sure touch of complete inexperience and my answer to every problem, and my cure for every ill was always to be found in the answer to the one question:  "What would Jesus do in similar circumstances?"  Having decided what He would do (I wonder how I knew?) I went ahead and did it or advised others to follow the same rule.  At the same time, unrealised and unexpressed, I was beginning to ask questions, though refusing to answer them, and underneath all the surety and dogmatism, great changes were taking place.  I know that this period saw me take a definite step forward along the Path.  Slowly, and without knowing it in my brain consciousness, I was transitting from authority to experience and from a narrow theological belief in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures and the interpretations of my particular school of religious conviction, into a certain and sure knowledge of the spiritual verities to which the mystics of all time have borne witness and for which many of them have suffered and died.

I found myself eventually possessed of a knowledge which has stood the test of time and trouble, as my earlier beliefs did not.  It is a knowledge which reveals to me steadily and continuously how much, how very much, more I need to know.  Real knowledge is never static; it is but a door opening on to vaster reaches of wisdom, achievement and understanding.  It is a process of living growth.  Knowledge should lead from one unfoldment to another.  It is as if one had climbed a mountain peak and—at the moment of gaining the summit—suddenly there stretches before one a promised land to which one must inevitably proceed; but (across that promised land and away in the distance) another peak is seen emerging, hiding still vaster reaches of territory.

At one time in my life I used to look out of my bedroom [49] window and see in the distance that stupendous mountain pile, Kinchengunga, one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas.  It looked so close, almost as if a day's walking would bring me to its foot but I knew that it would take at least twelve weeks hard trekking to get an able bodied climber there, and then there would be the terrific climb to its summit—a feat seldom accomplished.  So it is with knowledge.  That which is worth having is seldom of easy attainment and in itself only constitutes a foundation for more knowledge.

The people who fill me with a sense of compassion and the recognition of the need of patience are those who think they know and who have all the answers.  That was my condition in those early days and I had not then the sense to be amused at myself.  I was in deadly earnest.  Today, I can laugh and today I am quite sure that I do not have all the answers.  I find myself left with few if any doctrines and dogmas.  I am sure of the existence of Christ and of the Masters who are His disciples.  I am sure that there is a plan which They are attempting to work out on earth and I believe that They, in Themselves, are the answer and the guarantee of man's ultimate achievement and that as They are, so shall we all be some day.  I can no longer say with assurance and aplomb what people ought to do.  I seldom, therefore, give advice.  I certainly do not pretend to interpret God's mind and to say what God wants as do the theologians of the world.

In the course of my life I suppose literally thousands of people have come to me for interpretation, for advice and suggestion as to what they should do.  There was one period when my secretary was making appointments for me every twenty minutes.  I expect one reason why I had so many appointments was that I never charged for them and people do love something for nothing.  Sometimes I [50] could help if the person was open minded and willing to listen but most people just want to talk and lay the ground so that their own preconceived ideas are justified; they know beforehand what you should tell them.  My technique has usually been to let people talk themselves out and by the time they had finished they frequently had themselves found the answer and solved their own problems, which is always so much sounder and leads to effective action.  If, however, they are only wanting to hear their own voices and know everything, then I am helpless and often afraid.

I do not care if people agree or disagree with my particular brand of knowledge or formulation of truth (for we all must have that for ourselves) but they are impossible to help if completely satisfied with their own.  To me, the ultimate hell (if there is a hell, which I very much doubt) would be a state of complete satisfaction with one's own viewpoint and therefore such a static condition that all evolution in thought and all progress would be permanently arrested.  Fortunately, I know that evolution is long and steadily proceeding; history and civilisation prove it.  I know, too, that behind all intelligent processes stands a great Intelligence and that a static condition is impossible.

But in those days of which I write, I was a dyed-in-the-wool Fundamentalist.  I started off my career completely convinced that certain fundamental, theological doctrines, as expressed by leading churchmen, were summations of divine truth.  I knew exactly what God wanted and (because of my complete ignorance) I was ready to discuss every conceivable subject, knowing that my point of view would be right.  Today, I often feel that there is just a chance that I am wrong in my diagnosis and prescription.  I have also a staunch belief in the fact of the human soul and of the ability of that soul to lead a man "out of darkness into light and from the unreal to the Real"—to quote the oldest [51] prayer in the world.  I had, in those days, to learn that "the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind and the Heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind."  But—it was not a really kind God that I proclaimed.  God was kind to me because He had opened my eyes and the eyes of those who thought as I did, but He was quite ready to send the rest of the unregenerate world to hell.  The Bible said so and the Bible was always right.  It could not possibly be wrong.  I agreed at that time with the pronouncement of a famous Bible Institute in the United States that "they took their stand upon the original, autographed manuscripts of the Bible."  How I would today like to ask them where these autographed manuscripts are to be found.  I believed in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures and knew nothing of the vicissitudes and the heart searching pains to which all honest translators of books are subjected and of how they are only able to approximate the meaning of the original text.  Only during the past years when my own books have been in process of translation into various languages have I been aroused to the complete impossibility of verbal inspiration.  If God had spoken in English, if Christ had preached His sermons in English then perhaps we might be more secure as to accuracy of the presentation.  But such is not the case.

I remember once when eight or nine people (all of different nationalities) and my husband and I sat around a table on the shores of Lake Maggiore in Italy and tried to find the German equivalent for the Anglo-Saxon word "mind" or "the mind."  One of my books was being translated into German and the question had arisen.  They gave it up in despair for there is no true equivalent for what we mean when we speak about "the mind."  The word "intellect" is not the same.  They declared that the German word "geist" did not meet the need and though we searched [52] everywhere for some word expressing the same idea, it eluded us.  And there were German professors trying to find the word along with us.  Perhaps some of the trouble with Germany lies right there.  It dawned on me then how intensely difficult a thing it is to translate correctly.

One of the words constantly occurring in occult books is the word "Path," meaning the Way back to our Source, to God, and to the spiritual centre of all life.  When translating it into French, what word shall we use?  Le chemin?  La rue?  Le sentier?  or what?  When, therefore, you endeavour to translate a book as ancient as The New Testament into English, how can there be such a thing as verbal inspiration?  All that you probably have is an old translation from the Aramaic or Hebrew into ancient Greek, and from the Greek into Latin, and from the Latin into Old English and thence, at a much later date, into the standard St. James Version.  The same is true of biblical translations into all the many languages.  I have been told that when The New Testament was being translated into French, some decades ago, they came to the words of Christ where He says, "I am the water of life."  Joyously they translated it as "eau de vie" and proceeded to publish.  Then they realised that those three words are the French name for "brandy," and had to reprint, making Christ say, "I am living water"—"eau vivante," which somehow is not exactly the same thing.  Translations of the Bible have passed through many hands; they are the result of the theological thinking of many monks and translators.  Hence the endless disputes by theologians over significances and meanings.  Hence, also, the probably incorrect translation of very ancient terms and hence, also, the well meant but crude interpolations of the early Christian monks who tried to render into their mother tongue these ancient writings.  I realise all this now but in those days the English Bible was infallibly [53] correct and I knew nothing about translation difficulties.  This was my state of mind when a great change took place in my life.

My sister announced her intention to go to Edinburgh University and work for her medical degree and I was immediately faced with the problem as to what I was going to do.  I did not want to live alone, or to spend any time travelling about and amusing myself.  I did not, surprisingly, want to be a missionary.  I was dedicated to good works, but what particular good works?  I owe much to a clergyman at that time who knew me well and who suggested to me that I take up the life of an evangelist.  I was not greatly intrigued.  The evangelists I had met (and they were many) had not impressed me much.  They seemed a badly educated bunch of people; they wore cheap and badly cut clothes and their hair seemed to need brushing; they were too good to be well-groomed.  I could not picture myself yelling and ranting on platforms as they seemed to do and as the circumstances of arousing people seemed to require.  I hesitated and wondered and talked it over with my aunt, and she also hesitated and wondered.  Girls of my class, also, did not do that kind of thing.  The clothes, diction, hair style and jewelry would not appeal to the kind of people who haunted revival meetings, seeking salvation.  It was not proper.  But I prayed and waited and believed that some day I would get "a call" and would know what I should do.

To fill in the interim I amused myself by falling in love (so I thought) with a clergyman by the name of Roberts.  He was deadly dull and frightfully shy and years older than I and I got nowhere with him so I grinned and withdrew—literally, so you can see how deep my feeling went.

Then it was unexpectedly suggested to me that I should go and visit the Sandes Soldiers Homes in Ireland and, after settling my sister in her rooms in Edinburgh, I went [54] over to Ireland to investigate.  I found that these Soldiers Homes were quite unique and that Miss Elise Sandes herself was a very exquisite, charming and cultured woman.  Her workers were all girls and women of the same social set as myself.  Miss Sandes had given up her entire life in an attempt to ameliorate the lot of "Tommy Atkins" and ran her homes along very different lines to those usually found in army camps and very different to the usual Gospel work to be found in our cities.  She had many homes in Ireland and several in India.  Among those working in the homes were several who became my friends and who helped me a lot to adjust myself to the changed environment—Edith Arbuthnot-Holmes, Eva Maguire, John Kinahan, Catherine Rowan-Hamilton and others.

My first experience was working in the Home in Belfast.  All these homes were equipped with large coffee shops in which hundreds of men were fed nightly, paying for the food at cost.  There were rooms where they could write letters, play games, sit around the fire and read the current papers, play chess and checkers and be talked to by us if they were feeling lonely, fed-up and homesick.  There were usually two ladies in each home and we had our own quarters there.  There was frequently a large dormitory where soldiers and sailors could stop for the night if out on pass, and also a Gospel-meeting room, equipped with a harmonium, hymnbooks, Bibles and chairs and someone who could expound the Scriptures and plead with the men for their souls' salvation.  I had to learn all aspects of the work and hard work it was, though I found I loved every bit of it.  The first months were the hardest.  It is no easy thing for a shy girl (and I was abnormally shy) to walk into a room with perhaps three hundred men in it and, probably, not another woman present and make friends with them; go up and sit down beside them and play checkers; be nice to them, remain [55] impersonal and, at the same time, give the feeling that you cared about them and wanted to help.

I shall never forget the first Gospel meeting I took.  I had been accustomed to a small Bible class of my own and to expressing myself at prayer meeting and I had no qualms at all.  I was sure I could do it.  It was much easier than introducing myself to some soldier, finding out his name, sitting down to play games with him, asking him about his home and gradually leading up to the serious matter of his soul.  I, therefore, was quite ready to take the meeting.

I found myself one Sunday afternoon on a platform in a large room, facing a couple of hundred soldiers and some members of the Royal Irish Constabulary.  I started off fluently, slowed down, got stage fright, gave those men one look, burst into tears and bolted off the platform.  I swore that wild horses could not take me back but in due time and in answer to my perennial question, "What would Jesus have me do?" I crawled back.  But the ridiculous thing was that, having come to that decisive conclusion, the next night I went to the meeting room to get ready and proceeded to light the gas.  I nearly blew myself across the room and singed my hair and could not take the meeting that night.  The explosion was like a full stop.

Several weeks later I returned.  This time I had memorised my talk and my effort worked well until half way through there came a point where I had determined to quote some poetry, to give lightness and variety to my theme.  I had rehearsed that poetry with telling effect before my mirror.  The first two lines went well and then I stuck; I could not remember what came next.  I had to come to a dead stop, red to the roots of my hair and feeling shaky.  Then a voice came from the back of the room:  "Cheer up, Miss.  I'll finish it for you and that will give you time to think what you want to say next."  But I had already vanished [56] off the platform and was dissolved in tears in my room.  I had failed, both Jesus and myself, and I had better give it all up.  I lay awake weeping all that night, refusing to open the door to one of my fellow workers who wanted to come in and comfort me.  But I stuck it out; my pride would not permit me to refuse to speak on the platform and gradually I became accustomed to expounding the Bible to a crowd of men.

The process was painful, however.  I would lie awake: all the night preceding the talk, wondering what on earth to say and then I would lie awake all the night afterwards, in horror at the terrible way in which I had said it.  This ridiculous rhythm went on until one night I faced up to myself and stuck at it until I found out what was wrong with me.  I decided that I was suffering from pure selfishness and self-centredness; I was caring too much what people thought of me.  My early training was receiving its first hard blow.  I came to the conclusion that if I was truly interested in my topic, if I really loved my audience and not Alice La Trobe-Bateman and if I could reach the point where I did not care a d—- (I did not use that word then) I might get away with it and be really useful.

Curiously enough I have never had any trouble from that night on.  I got accustomed to going into a packed room in India, with perhaps four or five hundred soldiers in it, and climbing on a table, get their attention and, what is more, hold it.  I became a good speaker and learnt to like speaking, so that now I am really happier on a platform than anywhere else.  Belfast saw me break free in that connection.

I remember once being sincerely flattered over the tremendous success of my Sunday night Bible class held at Lucknow, India, several years later.  A whole crowd of army schoolmasters got into the habit of coming every Sunday to listen to me (always with several hundred other [57] men) and I began to get a touch of swelled head.  I decided that I must be really good if intelligent men like that came Sunday after Sunday to hear me.  I really let myself go.  At the close of the series they made me a presentation.  The senior man came forward at the end of my peroration and handed me a parchment scroll nearly a yard in length, tied with broad blue ribbon, and made me a pretty speech.  I was too shy even then to unroll the scroll right there in front of them but when I got back to my quarters that night I untied the ribbon and there—in wonderful script—was every single grammatical error and every mixed metaphor I had perpetrated during the entire series.  I considered myself cured and released permanently when I discovered that the effect upon me was to make me laugh till tears ran down my face.

Like many good speakers who use only brief notes and who speak largely extemporaneously and as their audience draws out of them the needed thoughts, I do not take down well stenographically.  I look at the reports and say:  "Could I have said it like this?"  I am sure that the secret of good speaking, provided you have a flair for words, is to like your audience, and then to put them at their ease by being just human.  I have never attempted to lecture.  I just talk to an audience as I would to one human being.  I take them into my confidence.  I never pose as a know-it-all.  I say: "This is how I see it now; when I see it differently I'll tell you."  I never present truth (as I see it) in such a way that it is dogmatic.  I often tell people:  "Five thousand years hence this so-called advanced teaching will appear to be the a.b.c. for little children, which shows how infantile we are now."  At question time at the close of a lecture—a time I always enjoy—I don't mind admitting I don't know when I don't and that is quite often.  These lecturers who think it lowers their prestige to admit lack of knowledge and [58] hence are evasive or pompous have much to learn.  An audience loves a lecturer who can look at them and say:  "Goodness, I haven't the least idea."

To return to Belfast.  It was discovered by my superiors that I had quite a flair for saving souls and I made such a good record that Miss Sandes sent for me to join her at the Artillery Practice Camp in central Ireland and there get some real training.  It was lovely green country and I shall never forget the day I arrived there.  In spite, however, of the beauty, my major impression was eggs.  Nothing but eggs everywhere.  There were eggs in the bath tub; there were eggs in every pan; there were eggs in the drawers of my dressing table; there were eggs in boxes under my bed.  If I remember rightly, there were one hundred thousand eggs in the house and they had to be in some kind of container.  I discovered that we used seventy-two dozen eggs in the coffee shop of the Soldiers Home every night and as there were three homes in that district serviced by us, we used innumerable eggs.  Therefore, eggs had precedence over everything—except the Gospel.

My first job each morning, after a quiet hour under a tree in the fields with my Bible, was to bake buns—hundreds of buns—often later in the day to load them into a pony cart (only the pony was a donkey) and take them over to the huts where were gathered the men at night.  One day that donkey greatly humiliated me.  I was proceeding gaily along a country lane, loaded up with buns, when I heard a battery of artillery galloping down the road towards me.  Hurriedly I tried to move to the side of the road but that darned donkey simply planked his four feet firmly on the ground and refused to budge.  Coaxing and whipping were useless.  The battery halted a few feet away.  The officers yelled at me to move.  I could not.  So finally a detail of men advanced and picked up me, the cart and the donkey and [59] dumped us in the ditch and then the battery proceeded on its way.  I never heard the end of that episode from the artillery men.  They spread the report that my buns were so heavy the poor donkey could not move and they would come limping into the hut and tell me that a crumb of one of my buns had dropped on a foot.  I grew accustomed to the noise of the great guns and to the fact that the men were deaf the evenings that their batteries had been firing.  I grew accustomed to drunkenness and learnt not to mind a drunken man and I learnt, also, how to handle him, but I never got accustomed to fried eggs, particularly when accompanied by cocoa.  I suppose I have sold more cocoa, eggs and cigarettes than most people.

Those were happy, busy days.  I adored Miss Sandes, as who did not?  I loved her for her beauty, for her mental strength, for her knowledge of the Bible, for her understanding of humanity and also for her rippling sense of humour.  I loved her most, I believe, because I discovered that she really loved me.  I shared her bedroom in the funny little house in which we lived, and I can this minute see her lying asleep in the early morning light with a black stocking tied over her eyes to keep the light out.  She was so much bigger and broader in her views than were her workers.  I can remember her twinkling at them and saying nothing.  We all worked so hard to save souls and she looked on and wished us success and often said the word that was needed; but I do know that often she looked on with the greatest amusement as we struggled and strove.

Once she gave me a real shock and started, I really believe, the cycle of interior questioning which later led me out of my theological morass.  For three weeks I had been wrestling to save the soul of a perfectly wretched, dirty little soldier.  He was what in England is called "a nasty piece of work"—a bad soldier and a bad man.  I played [60] checkers with him night after night (which he liked) and I coaxed him into the Gospel meetings—which he tolerated.  I begged him to be saved which had no effect.  Elise Sandes looked on with amusement until apparently she decided it had gone on long enough.  So one night she called me over to where she was standing by the piano in a hut packed with men, and the following conversation took place:

"Alice, you see that man over there?" pointing out my problem to me.

"Yes," I said, "you mean the man I have been playing checkers with?"

"Well, my dear, would you mind looking at his forehead?"  I looked and remarked that it seemed very low.  She nodded assent.

"Now look at his eyes.  What is wrong with them?"

"They seem rather too close together," I replied.

"Exactly.  And what about his chin and the shape of his head?"

"But he hasn't any chin and his head is very small and perfectly round," I said, completely puzzled.

"Well, then, Alice dear, why not leave him to God?"  With that she walked off.  I have left many people to God since then.

Now right here let me go on record and say that I believed in conversion at that time and I believe in conversion today.  I believed in the power of Christ to save then and I believe in it a thousandfold more today.  I know that people can turn from the error of their ways and I have seen them again and again find that reality in themselves which St. Paul calls "Christ in you, the hope of glory."  Upon that knowledge I stake my eternal salvation and the salvation of all mankind.  I know that Christ lives and that we live in Him and I know that God is our Father and that, under God's great Plan, all souls eventually find their way back to [61] Him.  I know that the Christ life in the human heart can lead all men from death to immortality.  I know that because Christ lives we shall live also and that we are saved by His life.  But I question our human techniques very often and I believe that God's way is often the best and that He often leaves us to find our own way home, knowing that in all of us there is something of Himself which is divine, which never dies, and which comes to knowledge.  I know that nothing in Heaven or hell can come between the love of God and His children.  I know that He stays on guard watching "until the last weary pilgrim has found his way home."  I know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and this means that we do not love some far off, abstract Deity but that we love our fellowmen.  Loving our fellowmen is evidence—undefined, maybe, but just as sure—that we love God.  Elise Sandes taught me that by her life and her love, her wit and her understanding.

My time in Ireland did not last very long but it was a delightful time.  I had never been in Ireland before and a good deal of my time was spent in Dublin and at the Currach Camp, not far from Kildare.  It was whilst at Currach that I did a most peculiar piece of work and one that would have left my family aghast had they known of it.  I do not know that I would have blamed them.  Remember that girls did not have the freedom that they now have and, after all, I was only twenty-two.

One of the batteries of the Royal Horse Artillery was at that time stationed at Newbridge Barracks, and the men of the battery (whom I had met up at the practice camp during the summer) asked me to go down there every evening to their Army Temperance Room.  It meant getting there at 6 p.m. and returning very late at night, because they had permission for me to hold a Gospel meeting in their A. T. A. room after the canteen closed.  After due [62] discussion, it was decided that I might accept and every evening I bicycled down after that abominable British meal, called "high tea."  I returned every evening between 11 p.m. and midnight, escorted by two soldiers, the men in the battery arranging each evening who should bring me back and getting the necessary permits.  I never knew whether my escort would be a nice, reliable Christian soldier or a blackguard.  I believe that they cast lots as to who should take me home and if the lot fell on a drinking man, he was carefully prevented from visiting the canteen that day by his solicitous comrades.  Anyway, picture to yourself a young girl with my appallingly protected, Victorian background, bicycling back every night with two Tommies of whom she knew nothing.  Yet never once was a word spoken that could have outraged the most puritanical spinster, and how I loved it!

The canteen lot used to come to the room every evening to see me.  I made no attempt to get them to attend the meeting but we got along well.  It was there that I learnt to discriminate between the different types of drunks.  There is, of course, the quarrelsome drunk and many is the drunken fight into which I have thrust myself—never getting hurt but proving a pest, I am sure.  This type never bothered me and I never suffered from my intervention.  The M.P.s used to welcome my help to get the men quieted down.  I became quite an expert.  Then there is the affectionate drunk and of him I was frankly terrified.  I never knew what he would do or say but learnt always to keep a chair or table between myself and him.  Lion tamers have found a strong chair very useful between themselves and a cross lion, and I can recommend it with full confidence in the case of an affectionate drunk.  The morose drinker is far more difficult but not so common.  One learns, too, to distinguish between those men whose drinking affects their legs and those whose heads [63] get affected and the technique employed for each is different.  Many is the time when working among soldiers, I have been asked by the M.P.s to help them get a drunken soldier quietly home.  They would keep out of sight but close at hand and the spectacle would then be seen of me and the drunken man, making W's along the road.  You can, perhaps, picture the horror of my aunt if she had ever seen this erratic progress, but I did it all "for Jesus' sake" and never once did a man attempt to be rude.  However, I would surely have hated to see one of my own girls in a similar position and would have felt that what was good for the goose was not always good for the gosling.

My work was varied:  keeping accounts, doing the flowers in the reading rooms, writing letters for soldiers, taking endless Gospel meetings, presiding at daily prayer meetings, studying my Bible assiduously and being very, very good.  I bought every kind of book which might help me to preach better, such as Pegs for Preachers, Talks for Teachers, Discourses for Disciples, Outlines for Workers (I possessed books with these four titles myself) and others with equally tempting alliterative titles.  I was often tempted myself to publish one entitled, Ideas for Idiots and even made a beginning but it never materialised.  As far as I can tell, I got on well with my co-workers.  My strong inferiority complex led me always to admire them and this effectively cut out all jealousy.

One morning Elise Sandes got a letter which I could see greatly disturbed her.  The head of the work in India, Theodora Schofield, was not well and it seemed advisable for her to return home for a rest.  But it seemed that there was no one who could be spared to go out in her place.  She herself was getting old and Eva Maguire could not be spared.  Miss Sandes with her usual directness said that she would send me, if she had the money because "even if you aren't [64] much good, you would probably be better than no one at all."  Travel to India was expensive in those days and Miss Sandes had to pay for Theo's return.  With my usual smug, religious reaction, I said, "If God means me to go He will send the money."  She looked at me but made no comment.  Two or three days later when we were having breakfast I heard her exclaim, on opening a letter.  Then she handed the envelope to me.  There was no letter in it and no indication of the sender.  Inside, however, was a bank draft for five hundred pounds, with the words, "For the work in India" written across it.  We neither of us knew where the money had come from but accepted it as direct from God Himself.  The problem of transportation was therefore solved and again she asked me if I would go to India for her at once, emphasising that I was not, of course, much good but that she had no one else at that moment to send.  I wonder sometimes whether my Master sent the money.  It was essential that I go to India to learn certain lessons and to set the stage for the work which He had told me years before that I could do for Him.  I do not know and I have never even asked Him, because it is not one of the things which matter.

I wrote to my people asking if I might go—meaning to go anyway, but wanting to do things correctly and at least be polite.  My aunt, Mrs. Clare Parsons, wrote that she approved if I had a return ticket—so I got a return ticket.  Then I went up to London to buy an outfit for India and having at that time no real monetary restrictions, I bought everything I wanted and had a grand time. I certainly "blew" myself.  Incidentally, when the trunks containing all my new things arrived in Quetta, Baluchistan, I found that the entire contents had been stolen and filthy, dirty rags substituted in their place.  Fortunately, I had taken plenty of things with me but it was my first important lesson in [65] learning that things are ephemeral.  All the same, liking clothes, and I still do, I sent for another outfit.

My sister and aunt saw me off at Tilbury Docks and I must admit that I never enjoyed anything so much as that long three weeks voyage to Bombay.  I have always loved travelling (as do all Gemini people) and being also at that time a horrid little snob, I revelled in the consciousness that my deck chair (which had been loaned me by an uncle) had a title on it.  Little things please little minds and my mind was very little at that time—practically dormant.

I remember that first trip so well.  There were two women besides myself at the table in the dining room and five apparently wealthy and most sophisticated men.  They evidently liked us three women but I was appallingly shocked at them.  They talked about gambling and racing; they drank a lot of liquor; they played cards and—worse than all—they never said grace at meals.  The first meal left me stunned.  After lunch I went to my cabin and prayed hard for strength to do the right thing.  At dinner time my courage failed me and I had to do some more praying.  But the result was that at breakfast the next morning I made a speech, taking care to be in the dining room before the other two girls arrived but all the five men were present.  I was utterly terrified and thoroughly ashamed but I did what I thought Jesus would do.  I looked at the men and said, nervously and rapidly:  "I don't drink and I don't dance; I don't play cards and I don't go to the theatre, and I know you will hate me and I think I had better go and find another table."  A dead silence descended upon us.  Then one of the men (with a very well known name, so I won't mention it) got up and leaned across the table, held out his hand and said, "Shake.  If you will stick to us, we will stick to you and we will try hard to be good."  I had the most delightful voyage.  Those men were unbelievably [66] good to me and I remember them with affection and gratitude.  It was the nicest voyage I made and I made the trip between London and Bombay six times in five years, so I had some experience.  Whether these men had a good time is another matter, but they were unfailingly nice to me.  One of them later sent me a lot of religious books for one of the Soldiers Homes.  Another sent a nice, fat cheque and still another, a prominent railroad man, sent me a free pass on the Great Indian Peninsula Railroad which I used all the time I was in India.

When we got to Bombay I had expected to trans-ship there and take the British India boat to Karachi and so on to Quetta, Baluchistan.  But it was not to be at that time, though I did do that trip later.  I found a wire awaiting me, telling me to get off at Bombay and take the express to Meerut, which is in central India.  I was appalled.  I had never in my life travelled alone before.  I was arriving in a continent where I did not know one single human being and I had to change not only my steamship ticket to Karachi, but get train tickets on the G. I. P. to Meerut.  Like a homing pigeon, I fled to the Y. W. C. A. where they were very good to me and attended to all the business details.  Remember, again, that I was young, pretty, and that girls did not do what I was doing.

At the Bombay railroad station I had a very human and educational experience.  This experience goes to show how wonderful human beings are, which, if you will note, is one thing I can and do prove in this book.  I was, as you may have gathered, a consummate prig, even if well-intentioned.  I was almost too good to live and certainly holy enough to be hated.  I had taken no part in the current life of the ship, but had strutted about the deck with my large Bible under my arm.  There was one man on the ship who was my pet abhorrence and had been ever since I left [67] London.  He was the life of the ship; he handled the daily sweepstakes; he got up the dances and arranged the theatricals; he played cards and I knew that he drank an inordinate amount of whiskies and sodas.  The voyage took three weeks in those days and I watched him with disdain all the time.  From my point of view, he was the devil.  He had spoken to me once or twice, but I had made it very clear that I wanted nothing to do with him.  Waiting for the train that day in the big Bombay railroad station, scared stiff and wishing I had never come, this man came up to me and said, "Young lady, you don't like me and have made that very clear, but I have a daughter about your age and I am damned if I would like to have her travelling alone in India.  Whether you like it or not, you are going to show me which is your compartment.  I want to look over your travelling companion and you can make the best of my decision.  I am also coming to fetch you for meals at the stations where we have to get off to eat."  What came over me I do not know but I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I am frightened.  Please look after me."  This he most adequately did and the last sight I ever had of him was standing in his pyjamas and dressing-gown in the middle of the night at a railroad junction, tipping the guard to look after me as he could go no further on my way.

Three years later I had gone to Rhanikhet in the Himalayas to open up a new Soldiers Home there.  A runner came in from an outlying district, bringing a note from a friend of this man, begging me to go to him as he had only a short time to live and needed some spiritual help.  He had asked for me.  My fellow-worker refused to let me go; she was chaperoning me and was utterly shocked.  I did not go and he died alone.  I have never forgiven myself—but what could I do?  Tradition, custom and the woman responsible for me worked against me, but I felt miserable and [68] helpless.  On the way to Meerut from Bombay he had told me bluntly, one night at dinner, that I was not a bit as smug and holy as I looked and that he had an idea that I would some day discover that I was a human being.  He was at that time in deep waters and in trouble and wouldn't I try to help him?  He was returning from England where he had had to put his wife in a lunatic asylum; his only son had just been killed and his only daughter had run away with a married man.  He had no one left.  He wanted nothing from me but a kind word.  That I gave him, for I grew to like him.  When he came to die he sent for me.  I did not go and I am sorry.

From this time on my life became very hectic.  I was (in the absence of Miss Schofield) supposed to be responsible for quite a number of Soldiers Homes—Quetta—Meerut—Lucknow—Chakrata, and two Homes which I helped open—Umballa and Rhanikhet—in the Himalayas, no great distance from Almora.  Chakrata and Rhanikhet were in the foothills, about five or six thousand feet up and were, of course, summer stations.  From May till September we became "hill parrots."  There was another home in Rawal Pindi, but I had nothing to do with that, except that I went there for a month once to release Miss Ashe, who was in charge.  In each of these homes there were two ladies and two managers, who were responsible for the running of the coffee shop and the general maintenance of the place.  They were usually ex-soldiers and I have the happiest remembrance of their kindness and helpfulness.

I was so young and inexperienced; I knew not a single person in the whole continent of Asia; I needed more protection than I realised at the time; I was prone to do the stupidest things, simply because I knew no real evil and had not the faintest idea what kind of things could happen to girls.  Once, for instance, I was suffering from excruciating [69] toothache and it reached the point where I could endure it no longer.  There was no regular dentist then in the cantonment where I was working but occasionally an itinerant dentist (usually an American) would come through, set up shop in the "dak" bungalow (or rest house) and do what work had to be done.  I heard one was then in town, so down I went, all alone, without any word to my fellow-worker.  I found a young American and his assistant, another man.  The tooth was in a bad way and had to come out so I begged him to give me gas and pull it out.  He looked at me in rather a peculiar manner but proceeded to do as I asked.  When I came out of the gas and was feeling myself again, he read me the riot act, telling me that I had no means of knowing that he was a decent man, that whilst under gas I was completely in his power and that it was his experience that stray men, wandering around India, were no better than they should be.  Before going he extracted a promise from me to be more careful in the future.  I have been—as a general rule—but I remember him with gratitude, even though I have forgotten his name.  In those days I was utterly fearless; I did not know what it was to be afraid.  Part of this was a natural thoughtlessness, part of it ignorance, and part of it a surety that God would take care of me.  Apparently He did, on the principle, I suppose, that drunken men, infants and fools are not responsible, and must be guarded.

The first place, therefore, to which I went was Meerut, where I made the acquaintance of Miss Schofield and was taught some of the things I would have to know in temporarily taking over from her.  My major trouble really was that I was too young for the responsibility.  Things that happened took too much out of me.  I had no experience and, therefore, no sense of relative values.  Things that did not matter much seemed to be quite appalling, and really [70] serious things did not strike me that way.  Looking back over the years and taking it by and large, I do not think I really did so badly.

I was at first almost stunned by the wonder of the Orient.  It was all so new, so strange, so utterly different to anything I had imagined.  Colour, beautiful buildings, dirt and degradation, palm trees and bamboos, lovely little children and women (in those days) carrying water-pots on their heads; water buffaloes and queer carriages, such as gharries and ekkas (I wonder if they have them now) crowded bazaars and streets of native shops, silverware and beautiful carpets, silent-footed natives, Moslems, Hindus, Sikhs, Rajputs, Gurkhas, native soldiers and policemen, an occasional elephant with his mahout, strange smells, unfamiliar language, and always the sun, except during the monsoon—always and ever the heat.  Such are some of the memories I have of that time.  I loved India.  I have always hoped to go back but fear I shall not manage it this life.  I have many friends in India, and among Indians who live in other countries.  I know something of the problem of India, of its longing for independence, of its internal strife and conflicts, of its multiple languages and races, its teeming population and its many creeds.  I do not know it intimately for I was only there a few years, but I loved the people.

People here in the United States know nothing of the problem and that is why they can advise Great Britain on what should be done.  The rabid speeches of fiery Hindus over here loom larger than the calm assurances of the British Raj that as soon as Hindus and Moslems resolve their differences, India can have dominion status or complete independence.  Time and again, the attempt has been made to arrive at a constitution in which the Moslem (the powerful, rich and warlike minority—a minority of seventy [71] millions) and the Hindus can live together; a constitution which will satisfy both groups, as well as the Indian principalities and the millions of people who do not recognise or respond to the Indian Congress Party.

I asked a prominent Hindu a few years ago what he thought would happen if the British withdrew all their troops and their interest out of India.  I asked for a truthful answer and not just propaganda.  He hesitated and said:  "Riot, civil war, murder, pillage and the slaughtering of thousands of peace-loving Hindus by the Moslem."  I suggested that the slower method of education might, therefore, be wiser.  He shrugged his shoulders and then turned on me and said:  "What are you doing, Alice Bailey, in a British body?  You are a reincarnated Hindu and have had a Hindu body for many lives."  "I expect I have," I replied, and then we discussed the undeniable fact that India and Great Britain are closely related and have much karma to work out together and will have to work it out sometime, and the karma is not all British.

It is an interesting fact that during the past war the system of drafting men was never applied to India but several millions voluntarily enlisted, whilst only a very few collaborated with the Japs, out of a population in India and Burma of over 550 millions.  India will and must be free, but it must come about in the right way.  The real problem is not between the British and the population of India but between the Moslems, who conquered India, and the Indians.  When that internal problem is solved, India will be free.

Some day we shall all be free.  Racial hatred will die out; citizenship will be important but humanity as a whole much more so.  Boundaries and territories will assume their rightful place in man's thinking, but goodwill and international understanding will matter more.  Religious differences [72] and sectarian dislikes must eventually vanish and we shall eventually recognise "one God and Father of all, Who is above all and through all and in us all."  These are no idle and visionary dreams.  They are slowly emerging facts.  They will emerge more rapidly when the right educational processes condition the coming generations; when the churches awaken to the fact of Christ—not to the fact of theological interpretations—and when money and the products of the earth are regarded as goods to be shared.  Then these critical international problems will assume their rightful place and the world of men will move forward in peace and security towards the new culture and the future civilisation.  Maybe my prophesies don't interest you.  But these matters interest me and all people who love their fellowmen.