Experiences among Indians -- Picnic in the Bush -- Distribution of Testaments -- |Till He come| -- |A Home and a hearty Welcome.|
Once more in Canada, Miss Macpherson records experience of an unusual kind: --
|In one of the large villages we visited, an all-day prayer-meeting was held from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M., which proved a season of rich blessing. We found openings for mission work all around, farmers and their families willing to gather and sit any length of time with Bible and hymn-book in hand. We feel an open door is made for us here by the entrance of these little children, who have, proved excellent pioneer evangelists.
|After this interesting tour, I was about to return to the Galt Home, when a messenger arrived with a pressing invitation to visit the Indians on the Chippawa Reserve, and tell them the story of our children. This come through their pastor, the Rev. Mr. Jacques, and although weary in body, a lady friend and I resolved to go forward to Port Elgin, situated on Lake Huron, whence a dear Canadian sister drove us along the ten miles of wild and poorly cultivated country leading to the Indian reserve. Fire had in past years ravaged the district for miles, leaving thousands of charred trunks of high trees. We enjoyed the scenery of the beautiful Sangeen, with its grand old forests in their finest clothing, and at times we caught sight of Lake Huron, lying calm as a mirror, with the last rays of the setting sun reflected upon its bosom.
|On arriving at the little manse on Chippawa Hill we were serenaded by the Indians, who had already gathered by hundreds from far and near. We made a hasty repast, and felt grateful for the opportunity afforded us so unexpectedly of speaking to them: Our service was opened by singing in Indian a well-known hymn of praise. Then one of the evangelists spoke upon a portion of Scripture for twenty minutes, after the other had prayed, when an interpreter took half-an-hour to translate it into their own language, after which my companion sang |The Ninety and Nine,| and I spoke. The interpreter repeated the story, and though our audience scarcely ever moved, the pastor's wife said they were feeling deeply.|
|Many a dear squaw and I clasped hands that night, and we gazed into each other's eyes, knowing full well, although unexpressed, that we were one in the same deep love for the weak and helpless.|
|While the choir sang another hymn, under the direction of the pastor's daughter, who is also the daily teacher of the young, we showed some of our photographs, and never were more grateful for that art. My lady friend sang another solo, and then began an indescribable scene. Chief John was first introduced to us, as we stood on a raised platform with a rail in front. The dear old man seemed much moved, and burst into an oration full of gratitude for our coming to visit his people. We acknowledged this, when the whole congregation of three to four hundred, young and old, passed and shook hands with us. Every now and then we were presented with gifts, made by the hands of the giver. Chief Henry's wife gave a beautiful bark basket ornamented with porcupine's quills. Then another head man gave us a bag made of beaten bark, saying this was made before they knew the white man. We thought that now all was over, but no. All were again seated, quietly and in order, the grace of ease and perfect harmony pervading the whole scene. The Indians had a wish to do us honour, and to show their love in their own way, we were each to receive from them an Indian name. We found this new name had required thought, and when saying 'Buzhu?' or 'How do you do?' they after this called us by the name they had given.
|The pastor, (Mr. Jacques), and his wife and family, were truly parental in their actions, and are beloved by these simple-hearted Indians. It was a touching scene! There are ninety in Christian fellowship, and among them some old veterans of ninety years, with scarcely a grey hair, and more sprightly than the young men in their tribes to-day. As regularly as the sun rises, they are at the church door, though they live five miles off, through swamp and wood.
|One thing charmed me, -- the firm law made for them in connection with drink. Would that England would treat our white drunkards in the same way! A man, when found the worse for liquor, is fined from fifty to two hundred dollars, or put in prison for one month; also the man who sells it to him. Two more weeks are added if he will not tell who supplied him with the drink.
|On leaving the next morning, I was addressed by my new name, 'Ke-zha-wah-de-ze-qua' (Benevolence); my friend also was greeted as 'Wah sage zhe go-qua' (Shining-sky lady).|
The following account of a picnic in the Canadian Bush, at which an Indian chief was present, will not be out of place here: --
|A picnic is a much more frequent entertainment in this country than in England, for the lovely bright days of a Canadian summer are so much more suitable than our damp and variable weather. Miss Macpherson was anxious to meet as many as possible of the kind friends in and around the Children's Home at Galt, who are interested in the Lord's work among the little ones. A picnic was suggested as most pleasant, and the Bush as more spacious than our cottage-rooms. So a general invitation was given through the ministers and the local papers.
|Last Thursday was all that could be desired. Cool breezes tempered the hot sunbeams, and a brilliant blue sky was reflected in the still, flowing river. Such a lovely spot, too, is the 'Home' Bush! A partially cleared space near the river was chosen for the tables and seats; nearby a log-fire was kindled, on which huge kettles of water were boiled. One thing only marred our hopes for the day. Miss Macpherson herself was almost prostrate through a sharp attack of rheumatism, and oar hearts sank as we feared she would be unable to be among us. However, in the 'prayer of faith' we laid her deep need before the Lord, and He graciously gave her the faith to trust Him, and the courage to attempt, even in great pain, to rise from bed, and walk down to the Bush. The needed strength was marvellously given, and she was able to remain with us until sunset. Truly the Lord doeth wondrous things!
|At four o'clock our guests began to arrive. One visitor was the centre of attraction -- a chief of the Six Nation Indians, from the reserve near Brantford, who arrived earlier in the day with Mr. B. Needham, the missionary. Chief Jonathan, now a Christian, was dressed in the native costume, now worn only on high days and holidays. Most picturesque it was to see him seated on the green slope near the river, leaning against a tall maple tree. His coat and trousers of yellow buckskin were fringed at the edges. An embroidered scarlet sash was loosely tied around his waist. Then his head-gear was most striking. Long thin black hair hung over his shoulders, -- not his own, but from the scalp of some poor Indian slain in warfare! This was surmounted by a turban cap of scarlet, and white beads, a row of feathers all round it, and in front three or four very long bright feathers standing erect. He was able to talk with us in English, and told us how his grandfathers owned all the land along the 'Grand River.' It is very pitiful to think how the poor Indians have been pushed further and further into little corners of their once proud territory, to make way for the white man, who, alas! brought to them the terrible 'fire-water' which has gone so far to prove their ruin and increase their desolation. Thank God that now they have earnest men of God, whom His own love and zeal for souls has so filled as to enable them to give up all for His glory, and go and live among these dark, despised ones, and take to them the glad tidings of a free salvation.
|During our tea-hour great interest was taken by all our friends in the group of little ones enjoying their cake and tea, and Miss Macpherson told how good the Lord had been to the mission, in opening up homes for nearly all the sixty rescued children we brought out three weeks ago. After tea, our forty younger ones seated themselves in a ring upon the green grass, under the shade of the maple and hickory trees. They sang sweet hymns of Jesus, and repeated many precious texts for Mr. Needham to take as their messages of love to the Indian children in his Sunday-school. Little Bobbie gave as his text, 'God requireth that which is past.' Joey then stood up and repeated, 'Suffer little children to come unto Me.' Johnnie and Georgie gave, 'The eyes of the Lord are in every place,' and 'When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.'
|A few questions followed from Miss Macpherson, -- 'How can any one get into heaven?' 'They must love God,' was the first answer. 'They must have their hearts changed,' said another. Then Bobbie's clear voice was heard, again, 'By being washed in the blood of Jesus!' Beautiful answer! wondrous truth!
|The Indian chief stood gazing in calm wonder at this circle of happy English children. Presently Mr. Needham rose and said: 'The Chief tells me he is very anxious to say a few words to the |Queen| (i.e., Miss Macpherson), to the friends, and to the children. He understands English, but his thoughts flow more freely in his native tongue, and he has asked me to be his interpreter. He says that many years ago his fathers kindled the fire and smoked 'the pipe of peace' at such a gathering, and he thanks God for such a sight as this. He has never been so touched as this afternoon by the children's texts and answers. One hymn especially has struck him --
'There's a home for little children,
Above the bright, blue sky.'
'His fathers looked for the home of the spirits, but knew nothing of the Christian's heaven. There are still, in his nation, 700 pagans who sacrifice the white dog to the spirits, and are ever travelling towards the land of the setting sun. He hopes the pagan children will be taught about Jesus. He is so touched by the care taken of these little ones and by the work of the Christian lady who saves them. The Chief says he is very thankful I brought him here to-day. The circle on the grass reminds him of how the Indian children sit to sacrifice the white dog. He is going back to tell the children of his people all these blessed things.'
|During Mr. Needham's interpretation the Chief stood by him, his usually impassive face quite lit up with animated interest. After a while he played to us on his cornet, his favourite tune being 'God save the Queen.' Mr. Needham told us a few deeply interesting details of his work among the Indians, and how the Lord is giving His blessing in conversions, and also in the temperance work just begun among them. He told us of an Indian mother who would walk eight miles to hear the Gospel, with one baby slung over her back, in its curious mummy-like cradle, and another slung on her arm! The poor Indians are beginning really to value the care and labour bestowed on them by the missionary whom God has so evidently prepared for and led into this work. And surely such a mission as this has a deep and solemn claim on the help and sympathy of those who have now possession of the land of the Red Indian, and enjoy the blessings he has lost. Let the white man, who brought him the 'fire-water,' -- dire instrument of death! -- seek now, though, alas! so late, to carry to him with all speed the blessed 'water of life,' that he may drink and live for ever.
|As the shadows on the grass grew longer, and the west began to glow with the sunset crimson, the little ones, tired yet happy, were taken home to bed, and our kind friends bade as all farewell. When we look back on our happy picnic in the Bush, and raise our earnest prayers for the dear children God has rescued and shall yet rescue, let us not forget to plead for the mission to the Six Nation Indians, and to ask that the light of the glorious Gospel may speedily bring hope and gladness to many a poor dark heart.|
Miss Macpherson's next letter tells of many varied interests: --
|DEAR FELLOW-WORKERS, -- Our proposed three days of Christian fellowship and conference at the Galt Home are now over. Numbers were not large, the accommodation here being limited, bat several ministers, evangelists, and devoted brothers and sisters, who have true sympathy in the Master's work for the deaf children, waited on the Lord with us, and it has proved a time of great spiritual blessing, preparing us to go forth in the days that remain, strong to labour for our blessed Lord, just to do His will.
|Leaving matters at Galt going on in their even way, only varied by the occasional return of children, who, from temper, ill-health, or some other cause, have not been able to remain in the situations first found for them, (which shows the value of our Homes on this side the Atlantic), we are again on the wing.
|The Sunday after the conference was spent at Sheffield, a village containing a thousand inhabitants. On arriving we found the sheds around the church full of conveyances, betokening a good congregation. The people, looking bright in their white summer costumes, joined with wonderful heartiness in singing, 'All hail the power of Jesus' name.' Mr. Merry gave a powerful address on Ezek. xxxvii.1-10. During the afternoon we learned that a time of revival had sprung from a few godly women meeting at each other's houses to pray for a blessing on the village. They felt the need of a definite object for their prayers, and selected a young man who was a great drunkard, and the disturber of every meeting. Soon they were rejoiced to learn that he was truly converted to the Lord without any human agency. Now his face is the brightest of the congregation, and none is more active to win souls than he. On leaving Sheffield we were grateful to know we had secured many hearts to pray for us and our little ones.
|We took a large case of Testaments to the next place we visited; and an evangelist who had been labouring for some weeks there, sold for us; on Henry Moorhouse's plan, in the market-place, 600 Testaments, and gave away 7200 Gospel leaflets.
|Since then we have stayed with the friends at St. Catharine's, exchanging words of cheer with Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist, and other brethren. Now we are staying with members of the Society of Friends at Fonthill. How sweet is this fellowship of saints, 'endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!' Here we learn with joy how our brother-in-law was used to the conversion of many in the villages around during the past winter. We have been comparing notes with four of the dear sisters here, contrasting our work at Ratcliff Highway, with its three mission-houses, our elder girls, widows, and lodging-houses, with theirs among navvies on Welland Canal, drunkards, and farmers and their wives living away in solitary nooks. The work is one presenting a full, free, and present salvation by a once crucified and now risen Lord.
|The dear wife of the Lord's honoured servant, Jonathan Grubb, is giving great joy and help to the busy workers on this hill-top, by sending large parcels of tracts purchased from the various societies in England, assorted into packets during her winter hours. From the friends here they go to many a lone corner of the great continent. The postal charges are so small, that surely many a sister might share with us in sending a fresh packet now and again to those who have little reading of any kind; also the many gifts from the Tract Society have been most valuable in these country places.
|Our children settled in the neighbourhood of Font-hill are growing up into manhood, some of them becoming earnest Christians.
|Our stay is necessarily brief; distances are great, and strength small; but we ever realise, 'He leadeth us.'
|Dear fellow-workers, let us watch and pray, and labour on, 'till He come.'|
|Till He come!|. It is sweet with these words to close this imperfect record of the labours of the Lord's beloved handmaid; especially when we look back to the time twenty years' before, when the |blessed hope| was first made the source of new strength and power to her soul. May not the words of the letter quoted above be adopted with little alteration by every Christian labourer? Our stay can be but brief, -- perhaps not one working hour is yet left to us, and how emphatically do the words now come to us, |Redeeming the time because the days are evil;| so evil, that were it not for the sure word of prophecy, we should lie down in despair. If we looked to present agency to change the scenes of sin and sorrow around us, all hope would vanish. But we have |a hope that maketh not ashamed,| and |that blessed hope| is an |anchor of the soul| |The work is great,| great it has always been, but how much greater now that doors hitherto closed are open in every part of the world; from every country the cry is, |Come over and help us.| Many a solitary pioneer has fallen, oh! that others might come forth to fill up the ranks. |Strength is small;| |Without me ye can do nothing;| |Is there not an appointed warfare (margin) to man upon earth?| He, who has appointed the warfare will not send any at their own charges. The |blessed hope| strengthens the weak hands and confirms the feeble knees. He will give the grace, the wisdom, the strength, all that is needed, day by day. |Till He come.| Three little words -- no more -- but who can tell the comfort, the strength, the sweetness this hope brings to those who are watching for the coming of their King?
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The following deeply affecting lines are from the same pen as those before quoted. Miss Geldard, the gifted writer, was for a time a much valued fellow-labourer both in England and Canada: --
A HOME AND A HEARTY WELCOME.
All day has the air been busy,
As the daylight hours went by,
With the laugh of the children's gladness,
Or their pitiful, hopeless cry.
But now all is hushed in silence,
They are lying in slumber deep:
While I ask, in this solemn midnight,
Where do the children sleep?
We know there are children sleeping
In many a happy home,
Where sickness rarely enters,
Where want may never come.
Their hands in prayer were folded
Ere they laid them down to rest,
And on rosy lip and soft white brow
Were a mother's kisses pressed.
They sleep and dream of angels;
Ah! well may their dreams be fair! --
Their home is now so like a heaven,
They seem already there.
But where are the children sleeping
In these wretched streets around,
Where sin, and want, and sorrow
Their choicest haunt have found?
Will you climb this broken staircase,
And glance through this shattered door;
Oh, can there be children sleeping
On that filthy and crowded floor?
Yes! old and young together,
A restless, moaning heap;
O God! while they thus are sleeping,
How dare Thy children sleep?
Does the night air make you shiver,
As the stream sweeps coldly by?
(Cold as the hearts of the heedless),
Here, too, do the children lie.
An archway their only shelter;
The pavement their nightly bed;
Thou, too, when on earth, dear Saviour,
Hadst nowhere to lay Thy head.
So we know Thou art here, dear Master,
Thy form we can almost see;
Do we tear Thy sad voice saying,
|Ye did it not to Me?|
Yes, chill is the wind-swept archway,
The pavement is cold and hard
Better the workhouse coffin,
Softer the graveyard sward.
Thank God! yet we say it weeping,
Thank God for many a grave!
There sleep the little children
Whom Christians would not save!
Yet smiles through our tears are dawning
When we think of the hope that lies
In our children's Land of Promise,
'Neath the clear Canadian skies.
Though the frost he thick on the windows,
Though the roof with snow is white,
We know our Canadian children
Are safe and warm to-night.
There thick are the homespun blankets,
And the buffalo robes are warm;
Then why should these children shiver
Out here in the winter storm?
Why wait till the prison claims them?
Why wait till of hope bereft
For that fair young girl the river
Be the only refuge left?
Come! help us, answer the message
Now pealing across the seas --
|A home and a hearty welcome
For hundreds such as these!|
It comes from broad Ontario,
And from Nova Scotia's shore;
They have loved and sheltered our gathered waifs,
They have room for thousands more.
S. R. GELDARD.