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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER TEN. THE IDOL WHICH SHED TEARS.

Old Daniel by Thomas Hodson

CHAPTER TEN. THE IDOL WHICH SHED TEARS.

When Daniel was about sixteen years of age, the cholera broke out for the first time in Goobbe. It prevailed for about eighteen months, and many persons died of it every day. The inhabitants of Singonahully, and of all the other villages round about, were in consequence very much afraid to enter the town. One day, during the prevalence of this disease, an ass belonging to Daniel's father was missing. It had strayed, and Daniel went from Singonahully towards Goobbe in search of it, but without any intention of entering the town. On his way he met a great crowd of people. There was in the crowd something different from anything of the kind he had ever seen. He noticed that many of the people had their bodies painted yellow, and there was to him something very strange in their appearance, dress, and conduct. As he was gazing at the people and walking slowly along, he stumbled, and fell over a dead body, probably a victim of the cholera. He was very much alarmed; and as he got up from the ground in agitation and terror, he saw his uncle coming towards him, who, thinking Daniel was going into the town of Goobbe, threatened to beat him, and said, in a very angry tone, |Why are you going to that cursed place?| To escape his uncle, Daniel run into the thickest part of the crowd, and he then determined to go along with them, and see what was to be done. As they proceeded slowly towards the large tank, (lake), he saw that a few men near the front were carrying an image of clay in the shape of a woman. She had been worshipped to avert cholera, and now the worshippers were taking the idol to throw it into the tank, as the last act of their devotional ceremony. Daniel was a close observer of all that was done, and he saw at one time, when those who carried the idol held it up higher than the heads of the people, tears run out of its eyes. Many persons in the crowd saw the tears, and they all fell prostrate before the image of clay, and cried aloud, |O mother, why are you shedding tears? Tell us what grieves you, and we will do whatever you require.| The priest, immediately pretending that the goddess had entered into him, commanded, as if the idol spake, that more sacrifices should be offered. On hearing this, all the people stood still. They did not go on towards the tank, but remained just where they were, until the animals could be brought for the chucklers to offer them in sacrifice. The chucklers are the lowest class of persons in India, and to Europeans it is unaccountable that, under any circumstances, they should be called upon to act as priests. But so it is, in some localities. They sacrifice to Mari, as the goddess who sends and takes away cholera and all epidemic diseases. There is good ground for the opinion that these outcasts are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the country, and that they have been subjected to degradation by a succession of conquerors. Their invaders found them with a creed, and certain customs to avert diseases, with which they have never interfered. Hence the present practice. After the Goobbe procession had waited a long time, fifteen buffaloes and a few sheep were brought and sacrificed near the idol. This having been done, the weeping goddess was satisfied, as shown by her shedding no more tears. The people took this as a very favourable indication that the cholera would cease from that moment. They proceeded to the tank, threw the idol into it, and returned to their homes rejoicing. Daniel, who had witnessed all these proceedings, had his curiosity excited, and thought there must be some deception in the matter of the idol shedding tears. And in this sceptical mood he went home to Singonahully perplexed, but resolving to get at the truth if possible. The idol had not been thrown into deep water, and he determined to rise early next morning, go to the tank, and examine the head and eyes of the idol. He did so, and the following is his own account: |Before daybreak I ran from my father's house to the place where I had seen the idol thrown into the water, and I found it, just as it had been left the previous evening. I saw many plantains, cocoa-nuts, and other things, which had been offered to the idol, scattered about on the ground. Such as were not spoiled, I collected in order to take them home with me. Having done this, I commenced my examination of the image. I broke its head, and the whole mystery was revealed at once. I found in the head an earthen vessel, round as a ball, with two small holes in it; these corresponded with the eyes of the image; and I perceived that when the vessel had a good quantity of water in it, if those who carried the image made it lean forward a little, a small quantity of water would ooze out of these holes, and trickle down the face of the image like tears. I rejoiced greatly that I had found out the trick by which the people had been deceived; and, chuckling, I took up the fruit which I had collected, and went back to Singonahully without anyone knowing what I had done. I was afraid to take my load of cocoa-nuts and plantains to my father's house, lest I should be questioned as to where I had been and what I had done; so I hid all my booty in a hollow banyan tree outside the village, and resorted to this store-house whenever I wanted a treat. However, when my young friends and others saw that every day I had an abundance of good things to eat, they were desirous of knowing where I got them. After a little delay, I told one of my young friends, not only where I obtained the fruit, but also an that I had done with the idol. He was terrified; and running into the village, he published the whole affair. The villagers were alarmed; they feared some dreadful result, and wondered at my wickedness. From Singonahully the news was soon carried to Goobbe, and I was summoned to appear before the chief magistrate of the town. He heard all that my accusers had to say, which I admitted to be true. He was very angry, and said to me, `On account of your wickedness, the cholera has not been removed yet, and as a punishment you must be imprisoned for a long time.' I was immediately sent to the jail; but after I had been confined there two or three days, I had an opportunity of speaking to the magistrate; and I then told him how the people had been deceived, and cheated out of their sheep and buffaloes, and how I had discovered the trick when I broke the head of the idol. He was evidently annoyed, either at the deception practised on the people or at the fact being discovered; and after a few minutes' hesitation, he released me from prison.|

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