Obrazy na stronie

water to Greenwich. One has to live particular sect, as because the Baptist in Thames Street, perhaps, to know chapel is very handy, the minister affa. what a temptation such an expedition ble, and the footstools large, fat, comrepresents. The land surveyor's wife fortable ones of a showy red baize. sends Martha a cheap petticoat for a “But it'd be sooperstition to let Christmas present. It is beautifully them 'assicks stand in the way of my striped in many colors, and Martha niece,” Martha says thoughtfully to says, “ It's too good for my likes," and herself. The 'assicks do not stand in puts it tenderly away in a drawer for Tilly's way. In a clay or two Martha, Tilly. For Tilly's sake she denies her- with an optimistic smile on her wrinself sugar in her tea. For Tilly's sake kled old face, may be seen providing she creeps about the old house in boots Ritualistic books of devotion to devout so aged that the tea merchant is cou- young gentlemen who have come to strained to speak to her severely on her church to attend Prime. disreputable appearance. For Tilly's Then Tilly comes. Martha has sake she goes to bed early to save can-house-cleaned her room for Tilly's redles, and lies awake hour after hour ception. She has not, indeed, housewith her old tlioughts to keep her com- cleaned it very thoroughly, partly pauy. For Tilly's sake she daily makes, because she has not had time and is in fact, the thousand little sacrifices of seventy years old and a little feeble, which only a great love is capable. and partly because Martha has never

The tea merchant, exasperated be-cleaned anything thoroughly, including yond bearing at last at her incompe- herself. But she has blown the dust teuce, tells her her services will be no off most things, and put up a piece of longer required. On consideration, new window curtain. She has bought perhaps, of her having inquired ten- a shilling looking-glass for Tilly's benderly after his relations every morning efit, Martha never seeing her own kind, for an indefinite nuniber of years, he tender, wrinkled, grubby old counteconsents to her still occupying the attic nance from year's end to year's end. on the payment of a modest rent. She has provided quite a sumptuous

Then Martha seeks some new em-tea — with sugar. She has made the ployment. Her old heart sinks when a bed almost neatly. She has, in fact, week has passed and she has failed to done everything that love can suggest find it. For herself she can live on to her. almost nothing But Tilly is seven-| Before she goes out in the frowsy teen now, and is coming up to London bonnet and ancient shawl to meet Tilly next year. Martha would rather starve at the station she takes a last look, than take a penny from her money-box. through eyes proudly and tenderly dim, She has called it Tilly's money so long at Tilly's picture. The day has come that she really believes now to spend it for which she has been working for would be robbing Tilly of her own. years, for which she has denied herself She is reduced to selling 'Enery — with gladly, for which she has yearned and tears. He fetches a very, very small prayed. She can feel her heart beatsum, and Martha has loved him as if ing quicker under the threadbare shawl, he were a human creature. The the- and her hands tremble a little. ological work presented by the Bible She is much too early for the train, Christian minister goes also, and Mar- and has to wait so long in the waitingtha, who has never read it, cannot see room where she has arranged to meet the vacant place on the table because Tilly that she falls into a doze. A of the mist in her old eyes.

robust female with a developed figure, At last she is engaged by the parish a tight waist, and a flowery hat, nudges clergyman to clean the church. Up to her at last impatiently with a tin hatthis period Martha has been a Baptist box. - not so much because she has a lean- " Lor, aunt !” says Tilly, “what ing towards that particular sect, or any with you so shabby, and snoring so un

genteel in a public place, I ’ardly liked she can see distinctly the poor little to own yer."

improvements she made for Tilly's. “My dear ! ” cries Martha in a trem- coming. She turns the cheap lookingbling voice. "My dear! My dear!” glass with its face to the wall. It was and she puts her withered old arms meant to reproduce Tilly, buxom and round the girl's neck, and kisses her twenty, and not Martha, poor, old, and cries over her for happiness. ugly, and disappointed. She catches

“What a take on to be sure !” says sight of Tilly's picture at four years old Tilly, who is perfectly practical. “Let's - Tilly, stolid enough indeed, but go 'ome."

little, loving, and good. And Martha And they go home and begin life cries, and buries her head in her arms; together.

and the tears mark grimy courses down For a month Martha is happy. She her furrowed cheeks. . is happy at least so far that she can “If you could 'a trusted me, Tilly," watch the accomplished Tilda reading she says. “If you would but 'a trusted a novelette, and profoundly admire so me.” much education. She puts her ridicu! Until this bitter hour she has not lous old head on one side, to look known how Tilly has filled her life. proudly and fondly at the stylish black How she has lived only for Tilly, and curls shading Tilly's rubicund counte- thought and hoped only for her. And nance. She ventures to kiss Tilly's Tilly has gone away, and Martha's. cheek very gently when that young house is left unto her desolate. lady is snoring profoundly after a day's A footstep outside startles her. For pleasure, for Tilly has not yet started one wild, foolish moment she thinks “the dressmaking." And the pre- that Tilly has come back — that she mium is still wrapped up safely in has but dreamt a bad dream and is dingy newspaper in the money-box. awake again. And she recognizes the

Martha is creeping up one night voluble tones of the mamma of the weary, but optimistic, after a hard educated infant, and dries her tears, day's cleaning at the church, when a not from pride — Martha has so little slipshod infant from next door thrusts - but from loyalty to Tilda. a note into her hand. The slipslod! Mrs. Jones always have said that infant, who has received an education, Tilda was a bad lot. “A impudent, reads it to Martha at Martha's desire. brazen-faced thing," says Mrs. Jones, It contains only a few lines.

warming to the description. Tilly has gone away. Tilly has And Martha, with a little color comeloped with a costermonger. Married ing into her poor white cheeks, knows respectable at a registry, she phrases as Tilly meant no harm. And marit. “That's all,” says the infant of riages are made in 'eaven. education.

She may have to acknowledge Tilda That is all. But that is why Martha erring to her own heart, but how can falls back with her face drawn and she give her up to the-merciless judge ashen, and her lips trembling. That is ment of a merciless world ? all. It is the end of those years of “You're a poor sperited one, that work and denial and hoping. Yet you are,” says Mrs. Jones, “and as what is more natural than that Tilly I likely as not you've never looked to should desire matrimony, and try her see if she ’ave made off with the preblandishments upon a costermonger mium." who plied his trade most conveniently Martha has not looked. Is startled beneath Martha's window? What is into confessing it. She has not thought more natural in this cruel world than of the premium so hardly earned. She love repaid by ingratitude, and trustful- has only thought that she has loved ness by deceit ?

| Tilda, and Tilda has not loved her. Martha gropes her way blindly to the And a swift burning color comes into attic. It is not yet so dark there but Martha's cheeks, and some sudden, see."

deadly premonition creeps to her heart times. Long before the last of these and closes coldly upon it. And she an- eras, which we may call the Arab swers steadily, “ My Tilda's as honestirruption, Zoroaster had arisen to supas you are."

plement the early Persian code of mo"Don't you be so sure," says Mrs. rality. The exact date at which he Jones vindictively. “You look and flourished is hard to fix – writers vary

from 2200 B.C. to 1300 B.C. — but all Perhaps Martha takes some sort of that is necessary for our purpose is to resolution as she goes heavily to the note that by the time the Arabs overdrawer where the money-box is kept. ran Persia there had long been estabOr perhaps no resolution is necessary, lished a faithful and devoted body of because her ignorant, loving old soul is Zoroastrians, ready to renounce all for of its nature infinitely faithful. Her the religion of their prophet. Zorohands and lips are quite steady now, aster had taught them that it was not and she is not afraid of Mrs. Jones's enough “ to ride, and draw the bow, “sperited ” gaze. The money-box is and speak the truth," they must dequite light, and the money collected fend the revelation with which he had was chiefly in pence and halfpence. It entrusted them. And so it came to is also unlocked. And Martha turns pass that in the seventh century a little with her back to the drawer and faces band of exiles from Pars (in Persia) Tilda's enemies.

carried their principles and their sacred “ You can tell all as asks,” she says, fire remote from Mahommedan persein an old voice that is very clear and cutors and the homes of their ancesfirm, “as my Tilda is quite straight and tors, first to Khorassan and then to the honest. And them as says she isn't - Indian province of Guzerat. At this lies."

latter place they established themselves, “I'll believe as you speak true," after negotiations with the Hindu monsays Mrs. Jones. “If you don't, well, arch, and one is glad to feel that, the Lord forgive you."

notwithstanding the diluted form of And who shall say that he will not? Zoroastrianism with which they pre

sented that potentate, they have preserved almost intact that for which

they left home and happiness in the From The Nineteenth century. reign of the unfortunate Yazdezard. THE PARSEES.

| To follow their fortunes from this The history of the modern Parsees point is to narrate an almost uninters is in effect the history of Zoroastri- rupted history of peace and prosperity. anism since the seventh century ; but Once only have they taken arms, and they have an ancient history as well, that was in the battle of Sanjan, 1305 partly legendary, partly authentic, A.D., when they helped the Hindus stretching back to many thousand years against the Mahonimedans. before Christ, when in that vast em- In Akbar's reign they became com. pire known to chroniclers early Persian mercial, and began the trade with Gaiomards fought demons and giants, China which has largely made of them or, in later years, conquered territory the luxurious nation they now repreand cultivated the arts of peace. sent; but their rise in India is almost

Herodotus says that effeminate climes simultaneous with the British acquisiproduce effeminate inhabitants, and tion of Bombay. The Indian Parsees that the same soil cannot produce ex-number now in all ninety thousand -cellent fruits and men valiant in war. people. They are and alwars have Perhaps to some such reason may be been devoted subjects of her Majesty, ascribed the fact that Persia could not and we may attribute this as much to a keep what it had conquered, but it did certain sympathy with Western methat any rate outrage historical tradition ods of thought over Eastern as to the .by rising and falling three successive fact that they would rather be ruled by entire foreigners than by those whom | round with blessings ; while, in the they might themselves have conquered Fire Temple close by, another white, had fortune favored them. . . robed intercessor stands before the sa

The Parsee, in the business of life cred fire, watching the incense of a and in public connections, is enterpris- nation's prayer ascend to the God of ing, eminently successful, earnest, and light and heat. Nor is their connecdiligent. He does most things with tion with the Deity purely vicarious ; ease, is blessed with intelligence, has religion enters into the life of a Zorotact and adaptability ; so that his rela- astrian in more ways than one. When tions with all the differing races around old enough to learn anything, all Parsec him are easy and happy. No caste boys and girls are instructed in the distinctions have made for him his pro- religion of their race. At seven years fession, as with the Hindus. Parsees of age the boy is invested with the saas such are all equally well born and cred garments, the sudrat and kusti. equally favored of the Deity. The The conception is, unlike the Judaic, lieaven-born Brahmin has not his par- that he is born good, and that no evil allel aniong them. Zoroaster came to touches him till his seventh year. The priest and layman alike. Any census ceremony during the investiture is elabwill give the range of their avocations. orate, but noticeable points are the When not medical, legal, or educa-I prayer of repentance and the declarational, they are commercial. Agricul- tion of faith. The sudra is a finely ture they seem to have forsaken with woven garment - "the garment of the Persian pastures, although there is good and beneficial way," as its name now some prospect of a return to early denotes - Spotlessly white, to suggest habits in this respect. '

purity, while each seam is invested In domestic relations the Parsee with symbolism, exhorting to virtue. shows favorably. He is gentle and The kusti is a fine cord of seventy-two courteous, while, as is the case with all threads, representing the seventy-two children of the Sun, his affections are chapters of the Yazashne. This is strong. His treatment of his women- knotted round the waist of the child by kind is not Oriental ; no petty jealousy the officiating dastur, who chants mean. consumes him lest they should be as time a monotheistic creed, declaratory powerful as himself if allowed similar of the faith left to Parsees by Zoroaster advantages. He is, perhaps, unneces- and of that prophet's divine commissarily luxurious in his style of living, sion. At the last knot the priest says, and this reacts on his character, mak- “ Perform good actions, and abstain ing him averse to any exertion which from evil ones,” and henceforward the would involve personal discomfort. young Zoroastrian is responsible for Doubtless it is not his fault; he has bimself. The knots in the kusti reprebeen too much the centre of his fam- sent to bim vows of truth and charity ily's affections to be anything but self- with such other virtues as he may from regarding by education.

time to time desire, and he says his With a Parsee the day begins as with prayers upon this sacred cord many many other people, except that his times a day. It will thus be seen that, matutinal devotions are said for him though devoid of that asceticism which and his family by a white-robed priest, characterizes Brahminism, Zoroastrianwho, seated on a high stool and with ism is a beautiful ministry to truth and his face to the sun, chants prayers in goodness, and nothing is too small to beautiful language from a Zend liturgy. take part in this service. Life is repreEach family has its priest, who faith- sented as a contest with the powers of fully performs his duty by each mem- darkness, and man is encouraged to ber of the household. There must range himself on the side of light. be something rather helpful in the To turn now to things educational, thought that while they go about their The Parsees have always happily been daily tasks some one is hedging them blessed with intelligence. In the days

when their language was Persian, and must hold to the old ways, and who their location the land of their origin, can say but that this very conservatism they had a literature worth possessing is not the ballast of India, acting as a Sir John Malcolm tells how the men wholesome restraint to rashness and repairing his tents at Ispahau sang keeping us from outstripping ourmystical odes of Hafiz. Poetic sensi- selves ? bility is independent of rank or educa- ! As to women and girls, it is customtion with them, as with most Orientals. ary for people outside India to mass But Persian poetry has long ago been together the peoples who in habit it, expounded to the uninitiated, and we and to talk of “the poor, downtrodden know now that the warm tropical glow, women of India,” and much sympathy the rich imagery, the soft accents which is spent, and some imagination, on the delight the ear, only veil the deepest troubles which are supposed to assail and most mystical of philosophical long- them. With the Parsees, we start with ings.

a difference, however, for they do not The language of the Parsees in India shut up their women behind the puris Guzerathi, varied slightly from the dah, nor does their early history warlanguage of that province; the build- rant any such custom. The Avesta ing up of a Persian literature is thus, has a delightful sketch of Iranian alas ! more or less forsaken. The women – how they wove, and spun, Translation Committee does some good and read, and rode, and drew the bow, work in Guzerathi, and Zoroastrian re- and ruled their households. They comsearch has of late years been solidly bined all the eleinents necessary for a aided by many Parsee scholars. woman's education; they were com

The education of a Parsee compasses panionable to their husbands and yet the ordinary stages. He begins, per- domestic ; and so great was their spirhaps, at a Guzerathi school, or with itual importance in the Iranian family tutors at home. High schools and col- that they were allowed to partake in leges or a university course in England the sacred rites, and their names were next await him; but many Parsees invoked together with those of mascugive their children an entirely English line saints and deities. This will be education. They do not, like the Hin- refreshing to such as are accustomed to dus. lose caste by crossing the waters. hear Manu declare that he wlio does Is to statutes and such like, the uni- not pay his debts will be born again as versity and her Majesty's inspectors a slave, a servant, a quadruped, or a make excellent provision. Schools, woman" - significant category ! both primary and high, are under goy- The Parsees of to-day may be said to ernment supervision, and though much have retained most of these good tradiremains to be rectified in the manner tions; their womenkind are treated of imparting instruction, any visitor to with respect and deference, and if we India would, I doubt not, marvel that fail to be as great a power as the Iraeducation should have made such rapid nian lady, it is doubtless because we strides in comparatively so short a time. do not better use the aids which fall to India walks with large steps in this as us. Like the early Iranian, the Parsee in other things, and anomalies crowd child takes the sacred vows at about upon us; a university open in all its seven years of age ; she goes to school branches to women, and the strict pur- or has her governesses. Too often (in dal system ; the highest philosophical orthodox families her parents stop her enlightenment, and the superstitions of education at fifteen or sixteen ; she a temple to Kali. But then, like the comes out; she travels with her par. vegetable life around us in India, we ents to the different hill-stations, in are not all winter or all summer at the pursuit of the season ; she is marriagesame time ; we are not all young to-able. The dastur of the family puts gether in mental any more than in her down in his list of marriageable physical development - the orthodox girls, together with a description of her

« PoprzedniaDalej »