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Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]The Golden Pot That Had Manna[/b]

THE nearest asylum was five hundred miles away.
It might as well have been five thousand. Before
a patient can be admitted there, various pre-
liminaries naturally are required. Of these
Mimosa knew nothing, nor did she probably
know there was such a place as an asylum in the
world. She lived through those months with her
sari in her hand, to use her own idiom, which
was her simple way of telling of prayer without
ceasing in mute appeal and faith that help was
on its way; not trying to pierce the thick mystery
that has baffled mankind since the beginning,
but accepting it, unintelligible as it was, as
“well.” Only she did most earnestly beseech
that her husband’s reason might return; for with-
out the control of reason a blind man can be
very terrible.

And gradually it returned, and his eyes became
less darkened. “We had no help, no medicine
did I know of, nor had I money to buy it. It was
only our God’s healing.” And she sent a thank-
offering to the Christian church which knew
nothing of her.

Nor did we in Dohnavur know anything of her.
Through all these years Star and Mimosa had
been kept apart. Never once had Mimosa been
allowed to accompany the other sisters who some-
times came to see us; nor had Star been allowed
to hear anything of her. Now, at last, she heard
of her distress, and longed to get in touch with
her. But how ? Mimosa could not read. It was
not likely that verbal messages would be given.
After some pondering. Star decided to write.
” O my living Lord, incline the heart of someone
to read it to her,” she prayed as she wrote, and
believed it would be so.

And so it was. The letter safely reached
Mimosa’s house, and a kindly cousin read it to

Trembling with joy, she listened. For Star
had been constrained to write to her as to a fellow-
believer, fellow-lover. Almost wondering at her-
self, for she could not understand why she was
so directed. Star had opened the twenty-seventh
psalm to this, as she thought, Hindu sister, copy-
ing in full the verse which in Tamil reads:

” Though my father and my mother may forsake
me, the Lord will draw me close to Himself.”

Strange that what is life of life to one is mere
dust of words to another. The cousin read in-
differently in the sing-song drone of India; as
coined gold Mimosa received the words, loving
them, desiring to linger over them. But coined
gold is a poor simile, and, though little enough
of it had come her way, Mimosa would have
heaped it in handfuls on the floor for just those
words that she heard now.

Then, the reading over, she took this, her very
first letter, in her hands, and, touching her eyes
with it in the pretty, reverent way of the East,
she carefully folded it and put it in the box where
she kept her one possession of value, the title-
deeds of her little house. If she had heard of
the golden pot that had manna, that was kept in
the ark of the Covenant overlaid with gold, she
would have thought thus of her precious letter.
And thereafter when overwhelmed by troubles
and sorely in need of sustenance, she would go
to that box and take out her letter, and, smooth-
ing its pages with tender fingers, try to recall the
words written upon them. Or if the friendly
cousin could be found, she would get him to read
it to her again, till, fed by that hidden manna, she
was strong to continue. But it never occurred to
the cousin to write and tell us about her, nor did
it enter her mind that such a thing could be done.
So we went on knowing nothing.

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/3 4:29Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]The Stab Of A Knife[/b]

SLOWLY, very slowly, the months crawled past.
Mimosa had to go to work, or the food would
have failed. So she combed her hair with her
fingers (for after the birth of one’s first child it is
not allowed to dress one’s hair before going out,
or to wear the dear little frivolous bell bangles on
arms and ankles), and she went to the fields and
worked. Her husband lay like a log on his mat,
and was one more to feed. Kinglet could be
trusted to attend to his needs, and when she
could not take them with her he would watch over
Mayil and Music.

One day her brothers came to see their elder
sister, a widow who lived near, and they took
little Mayil to spend the day with them.

In the evening when Mimosa returned from the
fields, and was going as usual to prepare the
evening meal, deep in her heart, “just here”-
and she showed where the words cut-” pricking,
pricking like the prick of the point of a knife,”
was this : ” Go first and see to Mayil! Go first
and see to Mayil!” And she obeyed. Flying
across to the other house and breaking in upon
the company gathered there, she found them play-
ing cards. In a flash, as she shows it, one sees
the very gesture of the card-players, the half-
closed eyes, the swaying forms, hears the peculiar
little sounds of the game, as she saw and as she
heard them in that one unforgettable moment.

” Oh, you to play while my little peacock lies
dying!” She flung her indignation at them and
fled with her child stiff in convulsions in her arms.

What had happened she never heard. If it
was known, no one told. For a fortnight Mayil
lay at death’s door, then slowly turned and came
back to her.

But he lay in mortal weakness, and the neigh-
bours, moved by sight of her anxiety, urged her
to offer a chicken and a few cocoanuts. ” So little,
does she grudge so little ?” They told her what
would happen if she did not do it. Her child
would die. They watched her then, as she knelt
before her God, the God invisible, who was, she
said, the only true God. But it must have been
that He did not hear, or, hearing, did not care,
for He did not come to her relief. He abode
still in the same place where He was, that far,
far place to which, as all who came assured her,
prayers, without gifts to further them, could never
find the way.

There was no doctor, of course; there is no
mission hospital in this whole reach of country,
no place of any kind where a little child would
be sure of skilled care, no way of help that was
not far beyond her means to secure. So the little
Mayil lay with his two fingers tucked into his
mouth in his old baby way, thinking to comfort
himself so; and his mother, with her very heart
breaking for love of him, saw him slowly growing

It was very hard for Mimosa to be without
going to work. Several times during this illness
she had had to leave him to get money to buy
food. He had fretted sorely. If only he might
quickly recover she would be able to take him
with her. It was too dreadful to leave him and
know he would pine for her all day.

And now comes what to some of us seems the
most poignant page of this story. Mayil was re-
covering when a wise woman told his mother
that, if only she gave him two duck’s eggs
chopped fine in water, he would immediately be

So, impressed by the wise woman’s confident
assurance, she bought two duck’s eggs, boiled
them hard, chopped them fine, mixed them with
water, and fed Mayil, almost expecting to see the
little thin limbs fatten visibly, so sure was the
wise woman.

But at once he became very ill. Dysentery
set in. Daily, hourly he grew worse.

Just then, while her husband still lay prostrate
and her precious little son was so ill, the rain
came on; the roof, unrepaired, leaked; and the
mud walls fell in on the floor, all but on top of

How her husband was got out Mimosa does
not remember. In the pouring rain she searched
for shelter and found an empty house, but the
rent asked was too high. Near by was her
widowed sister. That sister did not love her, her
ways were not hers. But, fearing the talk of the
neighbours who would feel it too barbarous to
refuse shelter under such circumstances, she
opened her house to the family; and to her other
labours Mimosa added the gradual repair of her
home. Somehow she got a few palm leaves for
the roof, bit by bit she gathered up the fallen
mud, built it into place; but, before she had
finished it, the shock of the disturbance and the
chill had so acted on her little Mayil that even
her eyes, that refused to see, saw at last that he
must go.

She took him in her arms. We who know her
can see her as she did it. Never were tenderer
mother-eyes, gentler, braver hands.

“My little one,” she said, “listen. I have
taught you to pray. Shall I pray now that you
may be taken out of this pain? Let us pray to
the Lord “-and she used the word her father
had used in his dying hour, the Lord the
Supreme. Then she prayed, and she said : ” It
is well, O Lord, whatever You do. It is well.”

And Mayil said nothing, but lay with his two
little fingers in his mouth. ” These “-and she
held up and touched her own as if they had been
Mayil’s-”it was the way he lay when he was a
baby wanting me. And while he was sucking
his fingers for comfort, the Lord took him.”

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/7 20:57Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]Take care of my bird[/b]

CROWDS came, according to custom; few sym-
pathized. Who could justly sympathize with a
mother who had refused to save her child? The
kindly women would abstain from reproach; but
all were not kind, and the feeling of the place
was against her. Had she not burned the tulasi ?
Had she not refused, even to bring sure health
to the child, all magic, even the mildest, all efforts
to appease the angry gods ? She would not break
a mere halfpenny cocoanut in the devil’s honour.
What wonder gods and demons were ranged
against her now?

It is hard enough to bear grief when tenderness
is all about one. What must it be to bear it when
these pricking briars abound?

On the day he died the women, emboldened by
the silence of her grief, said cruelly and openly
to her that she, and she alone, was responsible;
and they laughed at her vain prayers. ” Was it
that your God did not hear you? Or is it that
you do not know how to pray?” And they
pointed to the little dead child. ” There lies your
God’s reply to you.”

Then Mimosa broke her silence. ” My child
God gave : my child God has taken. It is well.”

But she was weak and weary after the vain
nursing, and she was ill with grieving; and when
she was alone, and had not her God’s good name
to defend, the question would return, Why was
not her little peacock left to her ? Till at last it
came to her that perhaps He knew she, his poor
mother, could not have taken proper care of so
beautiful a child, ” and so He took him to Him-
self that He might take better care of him.” And
she looked up with the old word: ” I am not
offended with You.”

But before this last comfort came, with the
terrible hurry of the tropics, he had been snatched
away from her. Sometimes-in cholera times, for
example, when panic forbids the usual ceremonies
-a man will pass from vigorous health through
seizure, illness, death, and burial, or cremation,
within four hours. A child, with hardly a
minute’s pause for farewell, is wrapped in a little
old cloth and carried out and burned.

” But my little one shall not be burned as a
Hindu, as a child of the living God shall he be
buried,” had been her decision, and nothing
would move her from it. She had no perfect
sureness about him, for she did not feel that she
could claim room for him in the Place of Release,
the Christian’s Heaven, because he was not a
Christian child, and yet she could not bear to
seem to consign him to the uncertainty of his
father’s creed. “For myself I did not go to the
church, so I was nothing, and had no right to
ask for anything for him, and yet my heart in-
sisted: ‘He shall have Christian burial.’” So
not a conch shell was blown for him, there was
no wailing; and the little body was sown as a seed
on the open plain, to wait the Resurrection of
which his mother then knew nothing. And the
people said: ” She is mad. Who heeds what a
mad woman does?” But Mimosa said: “My
bird has flown.” And she held up her hands
with a gesture of committal. ” Take care of my

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/8 21:33Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]Hair Cutting[/b]

BACK to her now recovering husband went
Mimosa and continued her faithful nursing. His
hair had not been cut for a year, or dressed in
any way, or once combed; for he would have felt
a drop of oil or the touch of a comb as dangerous
as water, which, as all know, is deadly in any
kind of illness. Mats of it lay about him in
tangled heaps. But at last he was willing to have
it cut.

But who would cut it? The barber was called
and was afraid. It is unlucky to cut such hair.
Mimosa took the scissors. “I will cut it. Let
the ill-luck be on me!” Her fingers were
blistered before she had finished, but at last all
was cut and carefully deposited on the dust-heap.
To burn it would have been too dangerous; the
neighbours would have interfered. As it was,
they were shocked. “What a wife!” they said,
and turned up the palms of their hands at her.

But the barber did not mind, for he did not
lose his fee; Mimosa gave it to him just as if he
had done his work, a whole precious rupee. Are
there any givers so generous as the very poor ?

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/9 23:12Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]The Magic Medicine[/b]

FOR they were very poor now, and when the
husband had recovered sufficiently to be able to
do light work, Mimosa, who was by this time
quite worn out and unable for the fields, urged
him to accept it. He could see a little, and the
work did not ask much of him; it was only to be
travelling-companion to a relative who was going
to one of the holy places of the South.

It was beautiful there. The fresh wind blew
through a gap in the hills; many pilgrims daily
bathed under a great waterfall, believing that so
they washed away their sins. Day by day heart-
moving little scenes were staged under overhang-
ing rocks and deep in the woods, by the waters’
edge, and sometimes under the spray of the falls.
Perhaps there is nothing in all the world of wor-
ship more heart-moving in its pathos than just
this bathing of the body for the expiation of the
sins of the soul.

Mimosa’s husband bathed with the others; but
he never thought of his real sins; they did not
come within farthest reach of his consciousness.
To him, as to all these bathers, sin was a word
denoting ceremonial defilement, the touching of
an outcast even in compassion and mercy, the
involuntary contaminations of outward life-
these, not what we mean by sin, still less his slack-
ness and general selfish laziness, were what chiefly
concerned him. Here and there may have been
one with a more enlightened sense, “one in a
thousand, perhaps,” said a pilgrim who sought
far and at last found forgiveness and cleansing
and peace.

There was a wizard worshipping at the water-
fall that year, and he gave Mimosa’s husband a
magic medicine. It was a black, inky, sticky
substance wrapped in a leaf. Said the wizard :
“Take a third portion of this medicine once a
day for three successive days with a small part
of the leaf. For forty days thereafter take only
food cooked in a new earthen vessel and served
from the pot with a newly made wooden ladle.
On the fortieth day thy sight will be restored.”
And it was so. Mimosa’s husband returned quite
well. India is the home of suggestion and of

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/10 21:44Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]The Talisman[/b]

AND when he returned he had much to say of
the magical properties of that medicine. And
Mimosa’s neighbours had much to say to her.

“Poor foolish woman, have we not told thee
that all thy troubles would pass if only thou wert
wise as thy husband? Look at him restored to
health. And by whom? And by what? And
thy little peacock, where is he ? If only thou wert
more wise, and hadst used good sense and fol-
lowed our counsel, would he not be in thine.
arms now ? 0 empty arms! 0 most foolish

” Who but a hard-hearted woman would refuse
a charm to save her dying child? Did we not
tell her, did we not say again and again : `Follow
the customs of thy country?’ ” And so it went
on till Mimosa was weary of it.

For, far wiser than she, men wiser than her
husband, even wonderful, learned men who wrote
many English letters after their names, believed
in charms and amulets and all such occult ways
of securing good fortune.

It was true, and it is true. As this tale goes to
press there has come by post a witness thereto in
the shape of a green-covered ten-page magazine.
It is called The World-renowned Talisman.
There is a picture of the inventor and proprietor’s
imposing residence with a temple alongside, as if
in attendance on the house; and then comes a
picture of believers coming for the talisman, and
the pages are crammed with letters, not anony-
mous testimonials in the shamefaced manner of
the West, but outspoken, explicit, and very inter-
esting letters, signed, and with the writers’
addresses in full.

Here you see B.A.s, judges and magistrates,
lawyers and station-masters, Government officials
and doctors, and clergymen, and all manner of
private people, anxious students, or chiefly
students relieved, for with the charm the stiffest
examination becomes easy. All stand forward
and with frank voices tell their happy stories. A
surgeon “cannot find words imaginable to extol
the inevitable effects of the charm. It is sooth-
ing balm to the afflicted minds of mankind who
uses it.” ” My long-cherished desire of serving
the Hon’ble the Maharajah Bahadur has been
fulfilled. I am happy under His Highness’ good
esteem.” This is from a High Court barrister-
at-law with a tail ten letters long after his name.
The charm did it. A police officer receives
honours from Government, a student passes
” under great difficulties” his law examinations,
so does another his Cambridge Local-he stands
first in his province-and an exultant B.A. writes
of his thankfulness. But scores more attest its
virtues in much the same language. ” I proclaim
[them] by beat of the drum,” remarks one, for
all are grateful, and have no false shame what-
ever. After all, why should they have any?
What are examinations but trap-doors through
which you crawl if you have luck, and in which
you stick if you have not?

“I bought it for the purpose of passing the
Matriculation examination. No doubt through
the wonderful efficacy I have gained a very
brilliant result in it.” “I passed my Inter-
mediate, which was hopeless to get through. I
find no words to express the efficacy of your re-
nowned charm.”

Business men rise rapidly and get large in-
crease of pay. Unfortunates involved in litigation
win their cases. (What if both sides wore it?)
The charm wins in a huge lottery; twenty
thousand rupees fall into the lap of its wearer,
whose life it also “saves from drowning by its
divine power. Even my friend who gave me the
talisman passed the Cambridge Senior Local with
four distinctions and first-class honours.” As for
the mysterious influences of the stars, they slink
away before it. ” I suffered on account of bad
effect of my stars, I have been subjected to the
evil effects of planets,” but the charm has ended
that. It has been ” working like galvanic battery.
Its effect in guarding the evil influence of planets
is really wonderful. It bestowed on me good
health and happiness. It has increased the
beauty and charmingness of my body.” And the
physician of two well-known maharajahs (great
kings) tells how the charm acts like a spell. A
tiny child just the age of Mimosa’s little peacock
was saved from death through its means. And
another says simply: ” I was unwell, and it did
cure me. I do believe there is something in it
which prevents evil from doing mischief.” And
so it goes on.

With this all round her, and nothing whatever
that did not breathe the same spirit, Mimosa
pondered long. How piercing a thorn in the
heart ” if only ” may be ! If only I had done this
or that. Who does not know the pricking of that
thorn? Could it be that she was wrong? Had
she indeed slain, by her refusal to look this way
at all, her precious little peacock? But she
turned from the perplexity; there were many
things that she could not understand. But one
thing she knew: If her God were the true God,
then He was over all. God was the true God,
therefore He was over all. Therefore charms
were under Him. And what need to go to the
thing that is undermost, when you may go direct
to Him that is higher than all?

” Nay, shall I be as one who goes to the servant
when he might go to the Master of the house-
hold?” Thus did she answer herself. “And
about these matters, my Father, I do not know
anything. But I think it must be enough to leave
them with You, my Father.” And she went on
in peace.

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/12 20:16Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]In The House Of Her Friends[/b]

AND at last with fresh courage Mimosa gained
strength and set to work to retrieve her poor little
fortune. In India, when one is sick, one’s rela-
tives come in clusters, stay a day or two, and
depart, to return perhaps again if the sickness be
prolonged. They come to inquire, as the saying
is, to lament, and to advise. Not to do so would
show lack of family affection and all proper

A death draws even larger clusters, the most
distant relatives flock around then. And, as
children always come with their parents and all
must be fed, it may be imagined that illness and
death are expensive luxuries and empty the family
purse, unless it be a very full one, nearly as
thoroughly as a wedding does. But no Indian
householder would dream of omitting to provide
food for all who come. At any cost it must be

The cost to Mimosa had been the sale of every-
thing that could be sold, all went to feed her
guests. She often went hungry herself. It was
a lean time.

As soon as possible she got to work in the
fields of the kind Boaz, but she looked, as she
was, poor. No gold ornaments were in her ears,
no necklet round her neck. The poorest in India,
if of any respectable family, clings to this visible
bank-deposit. To be in debt is nothing, you
may be richly jewelled and yet be in debt. No
one thinks anything of that, not even the creditor.
You may even beg with jewels in your ears.
The stoniest heart would not blame you or refuse
you alms for any such trifling cause. But to be
unjewelled is disgrace, humiliation, intolerable.

But Mimosa, as we know, had the most curious
thoughts about such things, no one understood
her. She was a law to herself. So she sold her
few jewels kept back from the sale of her dowry,
and fed the flocks of kind inquirers, and did not
go into debt. It was when she had none to wear
that her brother’s child died.

” Do not go to inquire,” said her husband, for
neither that brother nor his wife had come to in-
quire when her little peacock flew away, and for
the moment she was sorely tempted to retaliate as
her husband urged. But she put the thought
aside as unkind, and she and her little sons went.

The feast was spread; to each guest a large
fresh leaf was given of young green plantain,
like fine satin in texture, most beautiful of plates.
On it was heaped rice with the various curries.
The leaf once used is thrown on the ash heap,
never used again.

When the one who was serving came to the
unjewelled Mimosa and her two little sons, she
laid before her an old leaf used by another guest,
and on it was the rice and curry left over from
that other meal.

Mimosa could hardly believe she saw rightly.
No such indignity had she ever before seen, heard
of, or imagined. To touch the leaf of another
is to become ceremonially unclean, to touch the
food left over an unthinkable defilement. No
child would offer such an insult to its fellow. To
offer it to a guest-Mimosa was stunned, and sat
silent. Similar leaves were put before her little
boys. They understood the offence and burst
into angry tears.

Then their mother knew what she must do.
“Do not cry, my little ones,” she whispered, and
gently touched the indignant children, who would
have risen and left the house. ” See, we must be
patient, we must be quiet. Say nothing to dis-
turb the feast but take the food.” And in a lower
whisper she added: “Let us accept even this.
Without the allowing of our God it could not
have been done.”

But it cut deep. As soon as possible without
causing scandal she left the house; and, not trust-
ing herself to accept food from friends on the
way lest her still hot wrath should boil over and
she should say words better left unspoken, she
and her boys walked the fifteen miles home; and,
after bathing comprehensively as if to wash off
the very remembrance, they all had a meal
together blessed by love and good manners; and
the boys still seething with wounded pride were

But her husband could not refrain from a ” Did
I not say to thee, ‘Better not go’?” and her
heart echoed him feelingly. How much better
not to have gone!

That night she fought out her battle alone.
Well she understood the meaning of this rude-.
ness of all rudenesses. It was a public affront,
unforgivable from an Indian point of view, un-
forgettable. It has no English parallel. To set
before a guest at a public banquet an unwashed
knife and fork and a plate with remains upon it
would be discourteous enough. But this was
more. The religious element poisoned it. Cere-
monial uncleanness is abhorrent here. Over our
poor Mimosa swept great waves of longing for
her little Mayil, the child they had not cared
about enough to come to see her as he lay dying.
And she had gone to them in their sorrow, mean-
ing her very action to say: “I forgive you; let
us be friends.” They knew her going meant
that, and this was their reply.

She thought of the two rupees they had refused
to lend. That too she had forgiven. What was
the use of forgiving? Stung through her very
soul, she burned with shame as she lived through
the day in the darkness of the night. Had they
done it because she was known to be not as others
were, but one who loved the Christians’ God?
But they were Christians. Why, then, this cruel
affront ?

Was it because she was unjewelled? She had
not hired jewels to put in her ears (this would
have been thought polite, but to her had not
seemed honest).

Christians! Why were they so different from
their God? Within five miles of her where she
lay and wept was a true Christian man, pastor of
the church, good to all and tender-hearted as his
Master. And within that distance there were at
least two or three Christian women who would
have shown the Lord’s love to her, if only she
could have known them. But they were of
another caste and had no access to hers, unless
invited. And she knew nothing of them, nor
they of her; for an unknown world may be in
the house of our next neighbour, five miles may
contain an infinite distance. But Mimosa re-
membered the old woman who had been sent to
her in her need. She at least had been as a very
angel of God to her. Yes, but was this the
guidance she had promised? “In every least
thing He will wonderfully guide you.” Had she
been guided to that heartless house with its hate-
ful outrage? And as she saw it and felt it again,
hot shame scorched her. She had been flouted
in her brother’s house.

Why, oh why were hearts allowed to be so
unkind ? Nothing that had ever happened to her
hurt like this, and, the barriers of her self-control,
so painfully maintained through the morning and
all through the day, once broken down, she was
left to the mercy of heavy, sweeping waves of
grief. ” The waters compassed me about, the
weeds were wrapped about my head.” If she
had known the words they would have sounded
through her then, in her longing for her child,
her hurt at this rebuff, her loneliness of spirit
among those who could not understand. And
now to add to her distress she was conscious of
the working of a new passion within. What of
this flaming anger? Was anger right? Should
she not forgive ? But how could she forgive ?

At last, and suddenly, she remembered her

“Remembering Thee, I straight forgot
What otherwhile had troubled me;
It was as if it all were not,
I only was aware of Thee.
Of Thee, of Thee alone aware,
I rested me, I held me still,
The blessed thought of Thee, most Fair,
Banished the brooding sense of ill.
And quietness around me fell–”

Oh, it is true, it is true. Whoso hath known
that comforting can bear witness it is true. He
who knew what it was to be wounded in the
house of His friends, He who turned not His
face from a shame which shames our hottest,
reddest shame, making it feel cool and pale, He,
though of all this she did not know, was with
her then. The thought of Him brought Him,
just a thought and He was there, softening the
sharp edges of the pain, soothing, tending, cool-
ing, comforting, till her soul was hushed within
her; she took heart to forgive; and she slept.

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/14 18:13Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]The Fortunate Fourth[/b]

MIMOSA’S boys are full of character and very
lovable. The eldest is a thoughtful, upright
little lad, the boy who followed Mayil is a child
of delicate spirit. Then comes the treasured
Fourth, whom, from the first minute we saw him,
we called Mischief.

The fourth child, if a son, is supposed to bring
good fortune to a family. The fifth, if a daughter,
and the fourth, if a son, are the children of good
luck. Woe betide a family in which the fourth
child is a girl, or the fifth a boy. Children of ill
omen, cursed by the gods from their birth, they
bring misfortune upon all who belong to them.
Mimosa hardly let her Fortunate Fourth out of
her sight, and in fact never parted from him for
a day. He was the very light of her eyes.

The night before his birth she had been in sore
trouble. Her husband had fever in a distant
town, and she could not possibly go to him. In
vain she had tried to think of ways of helping
him. There was nothing she could do, and her
heart failed her. It was one of her darkest hours,
she could not see a light anywhere at all. She
tried to pray, but no words came. She could
only look up in the dark and say: ” O Lord, O

Then she fell asleep, and she dreamed that she
saw her babe, a boy, child of good fortune. He
was lying beside her on her mat, well, whole, and
good to look upon. And as she looked and loved
him, she saw a snake coil round him and then
glide under the door of the room and out of the
house into the street. And when she told her
dream, all united in assuring her that it was most
propitious. The snake was Saturn, god of ill-
luck. He had haunted her for many years, wit-
ness her tribulations, poverty, illness, the death
of her little peacock; but now all would change.
Had not Saturn departed?

And in the unaccountable way things happen
here, immediately after the boy’s birth her hus-
band, for the first time in his unfortunate life,
found a gold jewel lying on the open road and
brought it straight to her. They waited a while
and inquired for the owner; but she (it was a
woman’s jewel) could not be found. Then, feel-
ing it was clearly theirs, they had it made into a
necklet, a little bank, not very safe according to
our ways of thinking, but always at hand, within
sight, something visibly between oneself and
nothing. Given in such a way, it was doubly
valuable, and the husband was encouraged, and
the salt bazaar prospered, and Mimosa, who had
taken the gift from the God of gods and wore it
gratefully, was happy too. Verily he was stronger
than Saturn. If, indeed, the snake were that
malevolent influence, was it not He who had
caused it to depart?

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/15 23:02Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]Mylo, The Bull That Went To Heaven[/b]

“AND soon after that the bull went to heaven.”

She was telling me the story of the years in a
gentle reminiscent way, and suddenly, with
almost startling emphasis, fell this sentence-
” The bull that went to heaven.” For she knew
something of that pleasant place; she had heard
of the lovely open gates and the walls whose
foundations were jewels and the bright streets
and the river and the trees. It is this picture of
glory and beauty that first holds the imagination
of the child and the childlike. Later conceptions
can wait. Did she see the golden pavement of
those wide streets trodden, as the streets of all
towns and villages are here, by leisurely saunter-
ing bulls, glorified probably to suit the place, but
still the bulls she knew? And if there were a
river and trees, there must be open country near,
many spreading miles of it. Why, then, not

“Yes,” she continued dreamily, as if living
through that evening when her bull went to
heaven. ” Long, long ago, on a day of sorrow,
I had gone to a field of my mother. In hunger of
heart I went and in thirst, and the field was
called the Land of Precious Water. For near by
there was water where the workers could go to
drink, and always the cotton grew well there.

” In that field, in my thirst, I drank of precious
water; not the water of earth, for there indeed
my true God spoke to me. The cotton was
young then; it was the month after the sowing
and the plants were a span high. I hung my
baby’s hammock to the branch of an acacia. It
was covered with yellow flowers, such as always
come, balls of sweet-smelling yellow. I see it all

” Now to me came that field for a year’s use,
and the salt bazaar prospered. We bought a pair
of ploughing bulls, and one of them was grey
and the other was brown. It was Mylo, the grey
one, that God took to Himself.

” But first great had been our gain. These my
hands weeded the field and tilled it; no idle
coolies did I call; with my own hands I tended
the plants and gathered the cotton and carded it.
So all the gains were ours. And they were far
larger than they had ever been before, so all the
people wondered. And my husband said : ‘The
first spending must be for thy ear jewels.’ So
they were bought.

” Then one evening at dusk, for no reason that
we knew, Mylo, the grey bull, turned from his
food, and he lay down, and God took him.

“We grieved. So much had we meant to do.
jt was not a little loss to us. But what would
you ? He was gone.

“Then like a light upon me fell a thought.
Must not all that the good God does be good for
the child that is His? Is any ill suffered to
approach? Then is not this good? What if
Mylo the bull had lived, should we not, perhaps,
have gone on desiring and, adding field to field,
become entangled in the love of earthly things?

” Then remembered I my husband’s elder
brother, the subtle one; gain to us could not be
without ravenous thoughts awakening in him.
Family feuds would have arisen. We should
have become enmeshed in new varieties of dis-
tresses. This foreseeing, had not my God, as a
Father going in the way before His children,
cleared a path for our feet, lest they should here-
after be caught in the net?

” Thus Mylo, the bull that went to heaven, was
to us a bull of blessing, not to be mourned over,
but accepted with tranquillity. And, wondering
at the wise ways of my God, I remembered the
saying of the old grandmother: ‘You will be
wonderfully led. In every least thing you will
be wonderfully led’”

It was not so difficult for her husband. He
took it as his fate, and Fate had never been very
kind to him. And this talk of his wife, though
curious, was comfortable to his ear; for, after all
eventually fields meant exertion, and exertion
was undesirable. Now they could be quiet. But
for the wife, with her sense of capacity and keen
adventurous spirit, it was a real trial at first, and
this thought was, as she said, like a light. She
knew nothing then of that particular provision of
grace that can enable us so to pass through things
temporal, that we finally lose not the things
eternal. So the thought came with a new com-
posing force, and ever after she looked back
lovingly on Mylo, the little grey bull that went to
heaven, marking a track for them all, as it were
with his four little hoofs.

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/17 0:05Profile

Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167


[b]Siva’s Sign[/b]

BUT would they follow it? Kinglet, her first-
born son, had rubbed Siva’s ashes on his fore-

Some distance from Mimosa’s village is a cele-
brated town which is a very fort of Hinduism.
Its temple dominates it from centre to rim; things
are done within its walls which could never be
written in a book. “Sodom? This is Sodom,”
said one who knew. In this town Mimosa’s
husband was now living with his disreputable
brother, and he took his eldest boy to live with
him there. Nothing Mimosa could do could
prevent it. The man was stubborn now with the
set will of the weak.

Among his friends was a rich merchant who
wanted a little boy to train as helper in the
bazaar. Kinglet was to be that little boy. But
first he must behave as a proper Hindu should.
He must rub Siva’s sign on his forehead. So his
father took him to the temple.

The temple in that town is a gigantic place.
Great pillared corridors, with sculptured columns
and carved stone roofs, and awful chambers with
doors that look as if all the powers that ever were
could not move them on their hinges. In the
glare of daylight it is overwhelming enough; at
night it is stupendous. It was night when the
father took his son, led him in through the
mighty doors past which only certain castes may
go, on to the far end of the darkness, where a
hundred lights twinkled round the inmost shrine.

And there he told the boy to rub on Siva’s
ashes, the Vibuthi that his dying grandfather had
refused. To do so would mark him a worshipper
of Siva.

Kinglet thought of his mother and shook his
head and tried to push away the ashes. But
what could a boy do against those tremendous
influences? His father “smote him with his
words.” The glimmering darkness did the rest.
He yielded, and the ashes were rubbed on for
the first time, and thereafter daily. Siva had

And Mimosa heard of it. She went alone to
her little room of refuge. ” 0 my Father, can I
bear it? Will all end wrongly? It seems so,
my Father. I cannot understand it. I prayed
for something quite different. Will not my
prayer be answered?” And her tears fell as they
had never fallen even when Mayil was taken; for
this was a piteous thing and bitterer than death.
It was torture. Even now, long afterwards, when
her boy’s brow is washed clear, she can hardly
speak of it. Her very soul quivers at the memory
of it.

And then-and she does not know how to tell
of its coming; she only knows it came-peace
once more filled her heart. “I will not trouble
You with more askings,” she said aloud. (All
her communings with her Father were aloud,
except when sorrow or gladness passed beyond
the reach of words.) ” I will leave all I have
asked with You. Is it not Your concern ? Have
You not heretofore most wonderfully led me ? In
every least thing have You not led me ? Was not
that word that was spoken to me true? Then
why do I grieve like this now? I and mine, my
husband and my children, I think, Father, are
Your care. Is it not so? Then I need not be
afraid.” Perhaps the triumph of faith is too full-
toned a word for such an experience. But did
it not come near it?

And after that she rejoiced in any good thing
she heard about her little son; for example, that
he was the one boy the merchant had found who
was perfectly honest in word and deed. ” I had
said to my Father, ‘Let that be so; let there be
given to my children a perfect truthfulness.’ This
virtue He had given to Kinglet. The merchant
sold many things-cocoanuts and oils of all kinds,
and spices and fruits; but he could leave the
bazaar to my boy and knew all would be right
when he returned. The money taken he could
trust with him. When Kinglet left him he wept -
yea, wept-for he said : `Not another such shall
I ever find.’”

It was a sweet cupful of joy; but the one drop
of poison in the cup was the sight of the ashes on
her boy’s forehead when he came back, as he did
twice a year for five days, to see her. She would
rub the ashes off-she could do that-but she
could not keep them from being rubbed on again,
and all that was connoted by that one single sign
was grief and abhorrence to her. And she had
kept him pure from taint of idolatry from his
babyhood. And he was her first-born son

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/5/17 20:39Profile

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