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CHAPTER II - Part 2

I have very little recollection of anything particular which happened during these first weeks in Meerut but my real experience started in Quetta.  My work in the Quetta Soldiers Home stands out in my mind as one of the most interesting phases of the work.  I like Quetta.  It stands about 5000 feet high and is very hot and dry in the summer and 45 degrees below zero in the winter.  Yet, in my day, even in the bitterest cold, we had to wear sun helmets.  I find that sun helmets are not worn so much these days and two of my daughters, who have been in India for years with their husbands, seldom wore them and laugh at my ideas.  But in my day they were de rigeur.

Quetta is the largest town in Baluchistan, and Baluchistan is a kind of buffer state between India and Afghanistan.  I spent nearly two years there, off and on, though I went down into India several times, crossing the Sind Desert five times.  There is very little vegetation in Baluchistan, except juniper trees, until the land is irrigated and then anything can grow.  The roses in Baluchistan are [73] something that I have seldom seen equalled anywhere and in my day they blazed in every garden.  In the spring the country is a riot of cosmos and then later come the sunflowers.  Thereby hangs a tale.  I was speaking to my Sunday Bible class in Quetta one afternoon and telling the soldiers how the human being naturally and normally turns towards God.  I used the sunflower as an illustration of this, pointing out that it was called sunflower because it followed the sun in the heavens.  The next morning a soldier came to the door of our sitting-room, with a very grave face, and asked if I would mind coming out into the garden for a minute.  I followed him and, without a word, he pointed to the sunflowers.  Every single one of them, hundreds of them, had their backs to the sun.

Quetta was the place where I first shouldered responsibility and was, more or less, on my own, though Miss Clara Shaw was with me.  The troops up in Quetta had taken possession of the Soldiers Home to such an extent that they got quite seriously out of hand.  The lady in charge, I fancy, got a little scared, though she probably was not as scared as I was.  A gang of soldiers were having a grand time night after night trying to break the place up.  About twenty of them would come down from barracks together.  They would go into the coffee-shop, order cocoa and fried eggs and then spend the rest of the evening shying jugs of cocoa and fried eggs at the walls.  The result can easily be imagined.  The mess was abominable and their attitude was worse.  So I was sent up to see what could be done.  I was simply terrified and did not know what to do.  I spent the first few evenings wandering in and out of the coffee-shop and reading-rooms, only to find that my presence made them worse.  Word had gone out that I was a hard-boiled young thing and that I was liable to report [74] them to the authorities.  They were, therefore, out to show me.

When I had at last discovered just who they were and who were the ring-leaders, I sent an orderly up to the barracks one morning to ask those of them who were not on duty to come down to the Soldiers Home at a certain hour.  For some reason, none of them was on duty and sheer curiosity brought them all out.  When they arrived, I loaded them into native carriages (gharris), put in all the makings for a picnic and drove to a place that in those days was called Woodcock Spinney.  It was a lovely, hot, clear day and the fact that the place was then infested with snakes (kraits, deadly and small) did not seem to bother us.  There we made tea and told silly stories; we asked riddles and never once did we talk religion and never once did I refer to their iniquities and then, as evening came on, we went home.  I had said not a word of censure, of criticism, of request or pleading.  They were certainly a bunch of mystified men.  All through the evening I said nothing and, still bewildered, they went back to barracks.  The next afternoon one of our coffee-shop managers sought me out and asked me if I would mind coming to the coffee-shop for a minute.  There I found all these men cleaning the walls and painting them, scrubbing the floors and making the place much nicer than it had ever been before.  The question in my mind is:  was I too terrified to bring the matter up or was I just clever?  The episode happened:  I did not intentionally plan it.

I learnt a great lesson at that time.  I proved to myself, with much surprise, that understanding and love will work with individuals when condemnation and accusations will fail.  I never had any more trouble with that gang.  One of them is still my friend although I have lost sight of all the rest during the forty years which have elapsed since then. [75] This man came to see me when I was in London in 1934 and we talked of those far away times.  He is doing well.  I made, however, a disturbing discovery.  These men had been won over to better things, not by my eloquent preaching or by any emphasis upon the theological precept that the blood of Jesus could save them, but simply by loving understanding.  I had not believed that that was possible.  I had yet to learn that love is the keynote of the Christ's teaching and that it is His love and life that saves and not any violent theological pronouncements over the fear of hell.

There are many little incidents connected with this time in India that I could relate but they are probably of more interest to me than anyone else.  I went from one Home to another, attending to the accounts, interviewing the managers, holding endless Gospel meetings, talking to the soldiers about their souls or their families, visiting in the military hospitals and dealing with the many problems which naturally arise when hundreds of men are stationed away from home and are faced with the problems of life in a hot climate and an alien civilisation.  I became very well known to many regiments.  I once totalled up the number of regiments I had worked with in Ireland and India and found I had worked with forty.  Many of them had their own name for me.  One famous cavalry regiment called me "Granny."  Another regiment of the guards, for some unknown reason, always addressed me as "China."  A well known infantry regiment always spoke of me or wrote of me as the B. O. L., which means the "Benevolent Old Lady."  The majority of the boys called me just "Mother," probably because I was so young.  My correspondence got very heavy and I came to know the mind of the soldier very well and never found them talking as portrayed by Rudyard Kipling.  In fact, the average Tommy Atkins resents his portrayal of them.

[76] I played thousands of games of checkers (draughts, as we call it in England) and became very good at the game, not because I play it scientifically, but because I had an uncanny way of guessing what my opponent was going to do.  The smell of cocoa and fried eggs was forever in my nostrils.  I used to "vamp," as it was called, the popular songs on the piano in the reading-room until I got sick to death of hearing the men roar out, "Just like the ivy, I will cling to you," etc., or, "All the little pansy faces looking up at me to smile," which were the popular songs of the day.  The men had their own versions of the words of them, however, which I tried my hardest not to hear so as not to have to interfere.  I played hymns on the harmonium for hours and these I could almost play by heart.  I had a very good mezzo soprano voice in those days with a wide range and exceedingly well trained.  I lost it in singing in smoke filled rooms.  I suppose I sold more packages of cigarettes than a tobacco store.  I had a grand time leading the hymns at every meeting.  Soldiers are flippant and it was not long before I learnt that when they shouted for the "chicken hymn" they meant, "Foul I to the fountain fly," etc., and that the hymn dealing with the "child she-bear" referred to the line, "Can a woman's tender care cease towards the child she bear."  We used Moody and Sankey's hymn book which, from its really lovely, lilting tunes, has its points but as literature and poetry it is just too awful.

I remember one night at Chakrata I had announced the hymn, "Shall we Gather at the River," which goes on to assure us that if we do we shall be happy forever.  I said in a loud, clear voice, "Now, men, whilst we sing this hymn we shall either sing it 'when we gather at the river we shall be happy foriver' or 'when we gather at the rever we shall be happy forever'."  I looked up and there at the back of the room was a General, his adjutant and his staff who had [77] come down to inspect the home and see what we were doing.  They discovered, with astonishment, a somewhat religiously flippant young woman in a white dress and blue sash who resembled no evangelist they had ever pictured.  I would like to say here that I have always met with endless kindness from the officers of the various regiments and I suppose that the moments in my life (now far behind) when I really was preposterously conceited were coming out of church, after church parade, and getting saluted by the officers and men.  The thrill I got is still with me.

My life was spent, during these formative years, almost entirely with men.  Often for weeks at a time I spoke to no woman except my co-worker and current chaperone.  I candidly admit to this day that I do not understand the feminine mind.  This, of course, is a generalisation and like all generalisations somewhat untrue.  I have women friends and am devoted to them but, as a general rule, I prefer the masculine mind.  A man will give you serious trouble occasionally; a woman will give you lots of silly little troubles all the time and I can't be bothered.  I suppose I am no feminist but I know that if women are real and intelligent they can get to the top of the tree.

My mornings would be given to Bible study for I was taking an average of fifteen meetings a week, to current correspondence, to conference with the managers, and to tearing my hair over the accounts, for I never had the slightest head for figures.  We were feeding five or six hundred men in each coffee-shop every evening and that meant much buying and selling.  My afternoons would be spent in a hospital, usually in the wards where there were no women nurses, because there the need was the greatest.  I would go from bungalow to bungalow of these big military hospitals with papers and pamphlets and books and, alas, loaded up with tracts.  I can only remember two of the [78] tracts today.  One was called, "Why the Bee Stung Mother" (and I never found out why) and the other was called, "Plain Talks to Plain People" and I always wondered why the good looking ones were exempt.

I got fairly well known in the hospitals and the chaplains of all denominations used to send for me constantly to sit with the boys when they were dying and, if I could do nothing to help, at least the dying man could hold my hand.  I learnt one important thing as I sat with these men and watched them pass over to the other side and it was this:  nature or God takes care of people at these times and they usually die quite unafraid and are often very glad to go.  Or else, they are in a coma and are physically conscious of nothing.  Only two of the men I was with when they were dying acted differently.  One, in Lucknow, died cursing God and his mother and railing against life, and the other was a horrible case of hydrophobia.  Death is not so awful when you are face to face with it.  It often seemed to me like a kind friend and I never had the slightest feeling that something real and vital was coming to an end.  I knew nothing of psychic research or the law of re-birth and yet, even in those orthodox days, I was sure it was a question of passing on to other work.  Subconsciously I really never did believe in hell, and a lot of the men orthodox from the Christian point of view, ought to have gone there.

I intend no dissertation on death, but I would like to give here a definition of death which has always seemed to me to be adequate.  Death is "a touch of the Soul which is too strong for the body"; it is a call from divinity that brooks no denial; it is the voice of the inner Spiritual Identity saying:  Return to your centre, or source, for awhile and reflect upon the experiences undergone and the lessons learnt until the time comes when you return to earth for another cycle of learning, of progress and of enrichment.

[79] Thus the rhythm and the interest of the work gripped me and I loved every minute of it in spite of the fact that my health was never good and I suffered from quite appalling migraine headaches.  These would lay me low for days at a time, but I would always stagger up and do what had to be done.  I was handling problems for which (as I have earlier said) I was quite unfitted and some of them were quite tragic.  I had so little real experience of life that when I made a decision I never was at all sure that it was the best or right one.  I was faced with issues that, looking back, I would hate to handle even today.  Once a murderer took refuge with me having just shot his pal, and I had to give him up to justice when the police came and asked me to bring him out.  Another time one of our managers absconded from one of the homes with all the funds and I spent the night chasing him down the railroad.  I would ask you to remember this wasn't done in my day and my conduct was really quite outrageous from the angle of Mrs. Grundy.

Once I was at Lucknow and woke up one morning with the strong impression that I must leave immediately for Meerut.  I had a first class free pass on the Great Indian Peninsula Railroad (G.I.P.) and could come and go as I liked all over northern India.  My fellow worker tried to persuade me not to go, but I felt I was needed.  When I arrived at Meerut, I found that one of the managers had had a sun-stroke, had hit his head on a beam and gone insane.  I found his young wife and child in a great state of mind.  Suicidal mania had developed and the doctor warned me that a homicidal tendency might result.  His young wife and I looked after him for ten days until I could arrange for his passage to Great Britain, where he ultimately recovered.

Another manager got depressed and kept threatening [80] to commit suicide.  I studied him for awhile and got fed up with his constant threat, so one day I fetched the carving-knife and begged him to leave off talking and do it.  When he saw the knife he got scared and I then presented him with a ticket to England.  These were some of the men who succumbed to the climate, to the loneliness and to the general discomfort of life in India in those days.  We knew little psychology at that time and not much was done to handle the men from the angle of their mental problems.  These are only some of the situations with which I was faced and with which I was quite unfitted to cope.  It was this constant stream of emergencies which finally broke me down.  Paralleling these events were many lovely times.  I was successful in holding the men in the Homes and keeping them out of bad districts.  I used to impute this to my deep spiritual power and my platform eloquence.  I have an idea now that it was because I was young and gay and had no competition.  There was no one else the men could talk to except the ladies in the Soldiers Homes.  I suppose I had a knack, too, of making the men feel that I liked them, which I did.

I returned to England three times during my life in India as the long sea voyage of three weeks each way was believed good for my health.  I am a first-class sailor and always feel quite at home on the sea.  Once I spent three weeks returning to Great Britain and whilst there spent one week in Ireland, one week in Scotland, one week in England and then took the boat back to India.  I have spent many days and months, all told, on the ocean.  I have lost count of how many times I have crossed the Atlantic.

All this time I was steadily and forcefully preaching the old-time religion.  I remained appallingly orthodox or—to use the more modern word—an unthinking Fundamentalist, for no Fundamentalist uses his mind.  I had many [81] arguments with liberal minded soldiers and officers but adhered with dogmatic firmness to the doctrinal presentation that no one could possibly be saved and go to Heaven unless he believed that Jesus died for his sins in order to placate any angry God, or unless he became converted, which meant that he confessed his sins and gave up everything that he liked to do.  He must no longer drink, play cards, swear, or go to the theatre and, of course he mustn't have anything to do with women.  If he would not so change his life inevitably he went to hell at death where he burned forever in the lake of fire and brimstone.  Little by little, however, doubts began creeping into my mind and three episodes in my life began to assume engrossing mental proportions.  Their implications nagged at me and were largely responsible for an eventual change in attitude toward God and the problem of eternal salvation.  Let me relate them and you will then see the sequence of my interior disturbance.

Years ago, when I was in my early 'teens, my aunt in Scotland had a cook called Jessie Duncan.  We were very great friends ever since I was a little girl, escaping into her kitchen for a piece of cake which I knew would be there.  During the day she was just the upper servant, standing when I went into the kitchen, never sitting in my presence, only speaking when spoken to and completely correct in all relations to me as to everyone else.  But in the evenings, after her day's work was done and I had gone to bed, she would come to my room and sit on the edge of my bed and we would talk and talk.  She was a very good Christian.  She loved me and watched me grow up with much interest.  She was my close friend and handled me roughly when she thought the occasion warranted it.  If she did not like the way I was behaving, she told me so.  If reports reached her in the kitchen about my naughty behavior in the front of the house, I heard about it from her.  If she was pleased [82] with my general conduct I also heard about it.  I do not think that many people in America realise or appreciate the type of friendship and relationship which can exist between the so-called upper classes and their old servants.  It is a state of real friendship and deep affection on both sides.

One evening Jessie came up to see me.  I had that afternoon spoken at a Gospel meeting in the little village hall and I thought I had acquitted myself exceedingly well.  I was frightfully pleased, with myself.  Jessie had been there with the rest of the servants and, as I discovered, had listened to me quite critically and with no resultant pleasure.  We were discussing the meeting when suddenly she leaned over and took me by the shoulders and shook me gently to emphasise what she had to say:  "Will you ever learn, Miss Alice, that there are twelve gates into the Holy City and everybody in the world will come in by one or other of them.  They will all meet in the market-place but not everybody is going in by your gate."  I could not imagine then what she meant and she was wise enough not to say any more.  I never forgot her words.  She had given me one of my first lessons in breadth of vision and in the immensity of God's love and God's preparation for His people.  She little knew at that time that her words would be handed down to thousands of people in my public lectures.

The next phase of the lesson was presented to me in India.  I had gone to Umballa to open the Soldiers Home there and had taken with me my old personal bearer, a native called Bugaloo.  I expect I have not spelt his name right, but it is of no moment.  I believe he really loved me.  He was an ancient gentleman with a long, white beard and he never let anyone do anything for me if he were anywhere around; looking after me with the most meticulous care, travelling everywhere with me, caring for my room and bringing me my breakfast every day.

[83] I was standing one day on the verandah of our quarters in Mumballa, looking out on the road in front of the compound and at the countless hordes and throngs of Indians—Hindus, Mohammedans, Pathans, Sikhs, Gurkas, Rajputs and the babus, sweepers, men, women and children who passed ceaselessly along the road.  They plodded silently—coming from somewhere, going somewhere, thinking of something, and their name is legion.  Suddenly old Bugaloo came up to me and put his hand on my arm (a thing no Indian servant ever does) and gave it a little shake to attract my attention.  Then he said in his curious English, "Missy Baba, listen.  Millions of people here.  Millions, all the time long before you English came.  Same God loves me as loves you."  I have since often wondered who he was and have asked myself whether my Master K. H. had used him to break the shell of formalism in me.  This old bearer looked and acted like a saint and probably was a disciple.  Again I was faced with the same problem with which Jessie Duncan had confronted me—the problem of the love of God.  What had God done about the millions of people down the ages, throughout the entire world, before Christ came?  Had they all died unsaved and gone to hell?  I knew the trite argument that Christ, during the three days whilst His body was in the tomb went and "preached to the spirits in prison," i.e. in hell, but that didn't seem fair.  Why give them only one small chance lasting three days, after thousands of years in hell, because they happened to live before Christ came?  You can see, therefore, how little by little these interior questions were thundering in my spiritual ears.

The next episode took place in Quetta.  I made up my mind that it was absolutely necessary both for my peace of mind and the good of the soldiers that I give a talk on hell.  In all my years as an evangelist I had never done so. [84] I had evaded the problem.  I had skirted the issue.  I had never come out with a definite statement that there was a hell and that I believed in it.  I was not at all sure about hell.  The only thing I was sure about was that I was saved and that I wouldn't be sent there.  Surely, if it existed, it should be talked about particularly since God used hell so much in which to deposit so many undesirable people.  So I decided to read up on hell and I made up my mind to find out more about it.  I studied the subject for a month and I particularly read the works of that disagreeable theologian, Jonathan Edwards.  Have you any idea how abominable some of his sermons are?  They are quite atrocious and show a sadistic nature.  In one place, for instance, he talks of the babies who die unbaptised and speaks of them as "little vipers," burning to a crisp in hell fire.  Now that really did seem unfair to me.  They had not asked to be born; they were not old enough to know anything about Jesus, why, therefore, should they be burned to a crisp for all eternity?  I saturated myself with the thought of hell and, glowing with information and forgetting that nobody had ever come back from hell to tell us whether it was true or not, I stood up that afternoon on the platform before five hundred men prepared to terrify them into the courts of heaven.

It was an immense room, with long French windows opening out into the rose garden and the roses at that time were in full bloom.  I spouted my piece; I declaimed vociferously; I talked and I emphasised the dire need of my audience.  I was carried away with my subject; I forgot my surroundings in the thought of hell.  Suddenly at the end of half an hour I discovered I had no audience.  One by one they had sneaked out of the French windows.  One by one they had listened until they could stand no more and they congregated among the roses to laugh at the poor [85] little fool.  I was left with a small handful of religiously minded soldiers (irreverently called "Bible thumpers" by their comrades).  They were members of the prayer-meeting group and silently, stolidly and politely waited for me to get through.  When it was all over and I had fumbled to a feeble finish, a sergeant came up to me with a pitying look in his eye and said, "Now, Miss, just so long as you speak the truth we will sit and listen to anything you have got to say, you know that, but the moment you start telling lies most of us will up and go.  And we did."  It was a drastic and violent lesson and one which at the time I did not understand.  I believed that the Bible taught the fact of hell and all my values were being shaken.  If teaching about hell was untrue, what else was false?

These three episodes threw my mind into the most violent questioning and helped eventually bring about a nervous breakdown.  Had I been wrong right along?  Were there a few things which I still had to learn?  Were there other points of view which might possibly be right?  I knew there were a lot of nice people who did not think as I did and hitherto I had only been sorry for them.  Was God just as I had pictured Him and, (awful thought) if God was as I had pictured Him and if I really understood God and what He wanted, could He be God at all—because (if I could understand Him) He must be as finite as I?  Was there a hell and if so, why on earth did God send anyone there if it was such an unpleasant place and He was a God of love?  I knew I couldn't do so.  I knew I would say to people:  "Well, if you cannot believe in Me that's too bad, for I'm really worth believing in, but I cannot and will not punish you just for that.  Perhaps you cannot help it, perhaps you have not heard of Me or perhaps you have heard wrong things about Me."  Why should I be kinder than God?  Did I know more about love than God did and if [86] I did know more about love how, then, could God be God, because I would be greater than He along some lines?  Did I know what I was doing?  How could I go on teaching?  And so on and so on.  A change in my point of view and attitude began to show itself.  A tiny fermentation had started which was basic in its results and agonising in its application.  I was thoroughly worried and began to sleep badly.  I could not think clearly and did not dare ask anyone about it.

In 1906 I began to break down physically.  The headaches to which I had always been subject increased and I was worn to a frazzle.  Three things were responsible for this break.  First, I was shouldering far too much responsibility for my years and, secondly, I was undergoing acute psychical disturbance.  When there were catastrophies and difficulties in connection with the work, I shouldered the blame in my own mind.  I had still to learn the lesson that the only true failure is being beaten and then being unable to keep on going on.  But what mattered to me the most was that it seemed that the inner fabric of my life was beginning to crumble.  I had staked my entire life on the words of St. Paul; "I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him until that day."  But I was not sure any more about there being a judgment day; I was not at all sure what it was that I had committed to Christ; I was questioning all the facts about which I had been persuaded.  The only fact which I have never questioned and of which I am eternally sure is the fact of Christ Himself.  I do know Whom I have believed.  That fact has stood the test and is no longer on the basis of belief but of knowledge.  Christ IS.  He stands—"the Master of all the Masters and the Teacher alike of angels and of men."

But beyond this one unalterable fact, the whole mental [87] fabric of my life and my attitude towards the trite theology of my co-workers was shaken to the very foundation.  It remained thus shaken until 1915.  Unfortunately for me and giving the third reason for my physical breakdown, I fell in love, for the first time, with a gentleman ranker (as they are called) a private in an Hussar regiment.  I had imagined myself in love many times.  I can well remember a major in a certain regiment (now a famous general) wanting to marry me.  That was a funny time.  I had developed measles while at a certain Indian station and had turned up among the out-patients in a native hospital run by English doctors.  Measles was diagnosed and they quarantined me in a cottage in the compound—with my bearer who slept at night across the door.  I could not have had a more impeccable chaperone.  Three doctors and this major spent the evening with me and I can see us now sitting around a table with an oil lamp, for it was winter time, and Dr. X with his feet on the mantelpiece reading the paper and the other doctor and major playing chess and me, in a very spotty condition, sewing diligently.  The major was eventually stolen from me by a little governess which was not flattering, and one of the doctors cherished a hopeless love for me for several years.  He even chased me home from India to Scotland to my horror and dismay and to the surprise of the family who could not make out why on earth he could be so devoted.  There had been other interested men but never once had I been intrigued until I met Walter Evans.

He was exceedingly good looking.  He had a brilliant mind and was highly educated and got soundly converted through my ministrations.  Had I not been doing the work which I was doing, there would have been no problem except the financial one, but the difficulty with which I was faced was that the ladies who were working in the Sandes Soldiers [88] Home were supposed to be of such aristocratic connections (and they really were) that the possibility or the probability of marriage between them and the soldiers was simply out of the question.  The well defined caste system in Great Britain aided this position.  They must not and they could not and usually they would not fall in love with a man in the ranks.  I was, therefore, faced not only with my own personal problem, for Walter Evans was not socially of the same standing as myself, but I was also letting down the work and making things almost impossibly difficult for my fellow workers.  I was utterly frantic.  I felt a traitor.  My heart was pulling me in one direction and my head was saying most emphatically "No" and I was so sick and ill I found it impossible to think clearly.

How I do detest having to talk about this period in my life and how I hate raking in the dust of the next few years.  I had been trained in a dignified reticence; my work in the Sandes Soldiers Homes had taught me not to talk about myself.  In any case, I do not like discussing myself, particularly such happenings as my life in relation to Walter Evans.  So much of my time during the past twenty years has been spent in listening to the confidences of worried and tried people.  I have sat amazed at the intimate details that they have brought to me, seemingly with much enjoyment.  I have never understood this relaxing of the rules of personal information—hence the difficulty I am encountering in writing this autobiography.

One hot night in Lucknow I could not sleep.  I walked up and down my room and felt entirely desolate.  I went out on to the broad verandah shrouded in flowering bougainvillaea but found nothing there but mosquitoes.  I returned to my room and stood by my dressing table for a minute.  Suddenly a broad shaft of brilliant light struck my room and the voice of the Master Who had come to me when I [89] was fifteen spoke to me.  I did not see Him this time but I stood in the middle of the room and listened to what He had to say.  He told me not to be unduly troubled; that I had been under observation and was doing what He wanted me to do.  He told me that things were planned and that the life work which He had earlier outlined to me would start, but in a way which I would not recognise.  He offered me no solution for any of my problems and He did not tell me what to do.  The Masters never do.  They never tell a disciple what to do or where to go, or how to handle a situation, in spite of all the bunk talked by nice, well meaning devotees.  The Master is a busy executive and His job is world direction.  He never runs around talking sweet platitudes to perfectly mediocre people whose influence is nil and whose power to serve is undeveloped.  I mention this because this is one of the things which need debunking and which has misled a lot of very good people.  We learn to be Masters by mastering our own problems, by putting right our own mistakes, by lifting some of humanity's burdens and by forgetting ourselves.  The Master did not comfort me that night, He offered me no compliments or nice platitudes.  He said, in effect, the work must go on.  Don't forget.  Be prepared to work.  Don't be deceived by circumstances.

To give him his due, Walter Evans behaved exceedingly well.  He appreciated the situation and did his best to keep himself in the background and make things as easy for me as he could.  When the hot weather came I went up to Ranikhet with Miss Schofield and there the whole matter between me and Walter Evans came to a show-down.  It had been a hard summer there.  We had opened the new Home and I had been far from well all the time.  Walter Evans had come up with his regiment and (as it was a cavalry regiment) he and some other of the men undertook [90] to teach me to ride better than I did.  Miss Schofield had seen what was happening.  She and I were very close to each other and I was fortunate to have her for a friend at that time.  She knew me well and trusted me completely.  One day towards the end of the season and when the monsoons were over she told me that the Home was going to be closed in a week's time and that she was leaving me alone there to close up and this in spite of the fact that she knew Walter Evans was in the place and that I would be quite alone in the house.  The day before I was to leave Ranikhet, I sent for Walter Evans and told him the whole thing was impossible, that I would never see him again and that it was good bye for once and all.  He accepted my decision and I returned to the plains.

Arrived there I collapsed completely.  I was worn out with over work, with constant migraine headaches of the worst kind and with the culminating matter of this love affair.  I had no ability to sit light in the saddle.  I never have had and this in spite of a very real sense of humor which has often saved my life.  I've always taken life and circumstance very hard, and have lived a very intense thought-life.  I have an idea that in a previous life I failed the Masters seriously.  I have no recollection of what it was I did, but I have always had a deep feeling that this life I must never fail Him and that I must make good.  How I failed in the past does not matter, but today I must not fail.

I've always been annoyed at the rubbish talked by people about "recovering their past incarnations."  I am a profound sceptic where this recovery is concerned.  I believe that the various books which have been published giving in detail the past lives of prominent occultists are evidences of a vivid imagination and that they are untrue and mislead the public.  I have been encouraged in this belief by the fact [91] that in my work dozens of Mary Magdalenes and Julius Caesars, and other important people, have confessed portentously to me who they were; yet in this life they are such very ordinary, uninteresting people.  These famous people seem to have deteriorated sadly since their last incarnations and it arouses a question as to evolution in my mind.  Also, I do not believe that, in the long cycle of the soul's experience, the soul either remembers or cares what form it occupied or what it did two thousand, eight thousand or one hundred years ago any more than my present personality has the faintest recollection or interest in what I did at 3:45 p.m. on the afternoon of Nov. 17th, 1903.  One single life is probably of no more importance to the soul than fifteen minutes in 1903 is of importance to me.  There surely are occasional lives that stand out in the recollection of the soul, just as there are days in one's present life that are unforgettable, but they are few and far between.

I know that I am today what many, many lives of experience and bitter lessons have made me.  I'm sure that the soul could—if it wanted to waste the time—recover its past incarnations, because the soul is omniscient; but of what use would it be?  It would be only another form of self-centredness.  It would also be a sorry story.  If I have any wisdom today and if any of us manage to avoid the grosser mistakes of life, it is because we learnt through the hardest kind of experience not to do these particular things.  Our past record—from our present spiritual standpoint—is probably completely disgraceful.  We've murdered in the past; we have stolen; we have defamed and been selfish; we have been corrupt in our dealings with other men; we have been lustful; we have deceived and been disloyal.  But we paid the price, for the great law which St. Paul states "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" does [92] work; it eternally works.  So today we do not do these things, because we did not like the price we paid—and pay we did.  I think it is about time that the silly idiots who spend so much time in an effort to recover their past incarnations wake up to the fact that if they once saw themselves as they truly were at that time they would forever keep silent. I do know that whoever I was and whatever I did in a previous life, I failed.  Details are immaterial but the fear of failure is deeply ingrained and inherent in my life.  Hence the pronounced inferiority complex from which I suffer, but which I try to hide for the sake of the work.

So with great determination and with a sense of inner heroism I pledged myself to a spinster's life and tried to go on with the work.

My good intentions, however, did not suffice to keep me going.  I was too ill.  Miss Schofield, therefore, decided to take me back to Ireland and see what Elise Sandes would suggest.  I was too sick to protest and had reached the point where I did not care whether I lived or died.  I had closed up the Soldiers' Home in Ranikhet and, as far as I knew, the accounts were in good order.  I had tried to take the usual Gospel meetings up to the end but I have an idea that I had lost my punch.  All I can remember was the tremendous kindness of a Colonel Leslie who superintended my transfer from Ramikhet down to the plains.  I had to go by carriage; I had to be carried on a man's back across a raging torrent; I had to be carried on a dandy for many miles and I had again to take another coach until I arrived where I could take the train to Delhi.  New Delhi was not then in existence.  He arranged it all—cushions, various comforts, food and everything I could possibly require.  My personal durzi or tailor determined to go with me, paying his own expenses to Bombay and [93] just because he cared about me.  He and my bearer looked after me and I have never forgotten their kindness and gentle help.

When I arrived at Delhi, the station master came and told me that a private coach had been sent up for me from Bombay by the General Manager.  How he knew I was ill, I do not know, but he was one of the five men I have already mentioned in connection with my first trip.  I have never thanked him, but I am very grateful.

I have no recollection of the journey from India to Ireland except for two things.  One was of our arrival in Bombay and going to the hotel.  I remember going up to my room and lying down on my bed, too tired to unpack or even to wash.  The next thing I recollect was waking up seventeen hours later to find Miss Schofield's face on one side of the bed and the doctor on the other.  I have done that sleeping act once or twice in my life when I have been too run down.  The second thing I remember was being taken on board the P. & O. boat where, to my horror and my shame, from sheer weakness and nervous exhaustion, I started crying.  I cried all the way from Bombay to Ireland.  I cried on the boat; I cried at meals; I cried on deck; I debarked at Marseilles with the tears dripping down my face.  I cried on the train to Paris.  I cried in the hotel there; I cried on the train to Calais and on the boat to England.  I cried ceaselessly and hopelessly and I could not stop however hard I tried.  I only remember laughing twice and then I really did laugh.  We got off at Avignon for a meal and went into the restaurant there.  A very nervous waiter came in.  He gave me one look and dropped three dozen plates one by one out of his hand—I honestly believe because I sat there weeping and weeping.  The other thing that made me laugh happened at a little wayside station in France where the train stopped for ten minutes. [94] A lady in our compartment got off the train to go to the ladies' room.  Trains were not as comfortable in those days as they are now and lacked all kinds of accommodation.  We dignified the ladies' room by the name W.C.  She came back to the train doubled up with laughter and said to me, when she could catch her breath, "My dear, as you know, I went to the Wesleyan Chapel.  It was not very clean and it was very ugly but, then, you always expect Wesleyan Chapels to be very ugly.  What upset me was the fact that that funny French porter stood impatiently outside the door to hand me the hymn sheets."  I stopped crying for a few minutes to laugh myself sick and then Miss Schofield thought I was having hysterics.

At last we got to Ireland and I was with my beloved Miss Sandes.  I can remember the relief I felt and the feeling that now all my troubles were over.  At least, she would understand the situation and appreciate what I had done.  To my complete astonishment, I discovered that all my gallant sacrifice was regarded by her as an absolutely unnecessary gesture.  She interpreted me, and perhaps rightly, as a bewildered infant taking refuge in dramatics.  She was, of course, deeply disappointed in me.  I had done the one thing which her girls never did.  She had banked on my help for years to come and had even taken steps to make me, young as I was, a trustee of her work.  She felt I could carry on because, as she told me, she liked my sense of humor, she recognised my basic integrity and what she called my "spiritual poise" and she knew I was essentially truthful.  In fact, she told me once, walking up a country lane in Ireland, that my truthfulness was very apt to get me into trouble and that I had better learn that it was not always necessary to state the truth boldly.  Silence could sometimes be helpful.

I had, therefore, from my point of view let the whole [95] work down, including Miss Sandes.  By now I had begun to stop crying and was contented to be with her.  I can see the sitting-room now in the boarding-house at the little seaside town near Dublin where she had met Theo Schofield and me.  She had heard Theo's story and Theo loved me.  She had heard my story—the story of a bewildered, martyred saint; at least that is how I then regarded myself.  She sent me to bed that night and told me that she would see me the next morning.  After breakfast she told me that she saw no real reason why, if I wanted to get married, I should not get married, provided the whole matter was handled with discretion.  The situation required what that ancient scripture of India, The Bhagavad Gita, calls "skill in action."  She loved me and petted me and told me not to worry.  I was too tired to care much in any case and certainly too tired to have any ideas as to skill in action.  I was aghast, and realised that my marvellous, heroic, spiritual sacrifice for the sake of the work was being regarded as quite unnecessary.  I felt let down.  I faced a major anti-climax.  I worked myself up during the day into a terrible state; I felt a fool or an idiot.  Then I left these two beloved, elderly ladies discussing me and my plans and went out into the cool night air to walk.  I was so fed up, so discouraged, so utterly sick at heart that the next thing I remember was being picked up by a policeman.  He set me on my feet and shook me (people always seemed to be shaking me) and looking at me with the deepest suspicion, he said, "Don't you go around fainting in places like this.  It is nine o'clock at night and it is lucky I saw you.  Now you go on home."  I crept back cold and soaked to the skin with the rain and spray from the sea which swept the pier where I had apparently been lying for quite a time.  I blubbered out my story to Elise and Theo and was then lovingly tucked into bed.  I think I gained a certain sense of proportion and also the [96] knowledge how tragic life happenings are to the young, and how over emphasis is a natural reaction of youth.

The next day I went to Edinburgh to my beloved aunt, Margaret Maxwell.  There my problems became more complicated, not only by her solicitude but by the arrival of a very charming and delightful man who had followed me all the way from India to ask me to marry him.  On top of that complication came another.  I got a letter the following morning from an army officer, telling me that he was in London and would I please consider marrying him at once.  So there I was, with a solicitous aunt, two extremely anxious co-workers and three men on my hands.  I could talk to my aunt about Walter Evans and this I did, frankly putting up the situation to her.  I did not dare mention the other two men because, with her conservative attitude she would have felt that there was something seriously wrong with me if I had encouraged all three men at once—which I had not.  To give me my due, I was never a flirt.

I had only one week in Edinburgh before leaving for London, owing to the fact that my return passage to Bombay had been booked before I ever left India.  My problem was:  to whom could I go for advice?  That I could answer easily.  I went around to the Deaconess' House in Edinburgh to see the head of the Church of Scotland deaconesses.  She was a sister of Sir William Maxwell of Cardoness Castle and sister-in-law of the aunt with whom I was stopping.  To me she was always "Aunt Alice" and I adored her for there was no narrowness or stupidity in her.  I can see her now—tall and straight in her brown deaconess' uniform, getting up to welcome me in her lovely sitting-room.  Her uniforms were made of heavily corded brown silk and she usually wore real lace collars and cuffs which I had made for her.  I was an exceedingly good lace maker.  I had learned to make Irish Carrickmacross needle-point lace [97] when quite a young girl and it was really beautiful.  For several years I had made her collars and cuffs in gratitude for the fact she had always understood me.  She had never married but she knew life and she loved people.  I told her the story of Walter Evans, about the Major in London and about the silly, wealthy idiot who had followed me home and was even then standing outside the house.  I can see her now going over to the window and peeking at him through the lace curtain and laughing.  We talked for two hours and she told me to leave the matter to her, that she would think over and pray over what I should do.  She told me she would do what she rightly could to straighten out my problem as I was too ill to have any judgment or common sense left.  I relaxed under her skilful handling and went back to my aunt feeling better.  In a few days' time I went down to London and took the boat again for India accompanied by Gertrude Davies-Colley who undertook to stay with me and take care of me as I was obviously too ill to be left alone.

So I went back to my job and did it, having no faintest idea how my life would work out; making up my mind to live one day at a time and not to look ahead into the future.  I had confidence in the Lord and in my friends and so I just waited.

In the meantime "Aunt Alice" got in touch with Walter Evans.  His time in the army was nearly up and he was booked to leave India.  She paid all his expenses to go to the United States and there to take a theological course and so become a clergyman of the Episcopal Church, the American equivalent of the Church of England.  This she did to give him a social standing which would make it easier for me eventually to marry him.  She did the whole thing in an absolutely open manner, keeping me informed of every step she took and letting Miss Sandes know also what she [98] was doing.  The whole matter, however, was kept exceedingly quiet as regards me and my work in the army and (when eventually I left India to be married) it was understood that I was returning to marry a clergyman.

I went back to Umballa and carried through the work there all through that winter and then in the summer I went up to Chakrata to run the Soldiers' Home there.  My health was steadily getting worse and the migraine headaches more frequent.  The work was very heavy and I remember with gratitude the goodness and the kindness of two men who did so much for me and I often wonder if I would be alive today had it not been for them.  One of them was Colonel Leslie, whose daughters were my friends and contemporaries.  I went much to his home and he looked after me in a very beautiful way.  The other was Colonel Swan who was a P.M.O. of the army in that district and to whom I went as a physician.  He did all that he could for me, sitting up sometimes for hours looking after me, but I got so ill that the two men eventually took matters into their own hands, and cabled to my people and Miss Sandes that they were sending me back to England on the next boat.

When I got back to London I went to see Sir Alfred Schofield, brother of Theo Schofield, and at that time one of the leading neurologists and physicians in London.  I put myself into his hands.  He was a brilliant man and really understood me.  I went to him terrified over my headaches.  I had an idea that I had a tumor on the brain, or was going insane or something equally silly and I was too physically ill to combat those phobias successfully.  After talking to me for a little while he got up from his desk and strolled over to the bookcase from which he took a large and ponderous tome.  Opening it he pointed to a certain paragraph and said, "Young lady, read those four or five lines and get [99] rid of your fears."  I read that migraine was never fatal; had no effect upon the mentality of the subject and the victims were usually people of good mental balance and brain power.  He was wise enough to read my unspoken fears and I mention this here for the benefit of other sufferers.  He then sent me to bed for six months and told me to sew all the time.  So I went up to Castramont to my Aunt Margaret, back to the old bedroom that I had occupied for so many years and proceeded to make my sister an outfit of underwear—ruffled petticoats all feather-stitched and hemstitched and lace edged; panties with ruffles (which we never mentioned those days) and corset-covers, never seen today and as obsolete as the Dodo.  One thing I will say for myself, I was a beautiful needlewoman.  Each day I got up and went for walks upon the moors and each week saw me getting slightly better.  Every few days brought me letters from Walter Evans from whom I had heard quite regularly ever since he had gone to America.