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Amy Carmichael :: Nor Scrip—13. Weeding, and the Major's Cheque

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'God has so arranged the chronometry of our spirits that there shall be thousands of silent moments between the striking hours'; so said a thoughtful woman of that thoughtful generation that has lately passed. In looking over records of any period of time, one is apt to pass the silent minutes and tell of the striking hours. It must be so, perhaps, but for truth's sake let the minutes be remembered. Life is not always ringing its peal of bells.

There were, towards the close of 1912, and all through 1913, thousands of minutes that came to be lived through under the steady pressure of difficulties that seemed as if they would never yield. Mabel Wade, our one trained nurse, my most dear friend, was on furlough. (When news came of her expected return we were at the sea with the children, and the colours of the sea sang for joy with us that day.) It was the time of distress, and the up and down of hopes and fears about Ponnamal; and then a deadly fever broke out in a town three miles away and spread like wildfire, flickering across empty spaces as if it fed on air, and finally reaching us.

It was a burning fever, temperatures of 106° were common, and dozens of the children were down at once. By the end of 1914 we were clear and it died down, to revive again and perplex our plans for the children's education. Finally, it departed, and, much relieved, the school pulled itself together again and got to work.

But then came the War, and interruptions caused by the children being needed to help in various ways and save coolie, and one of these interruptions led to such a happy and good hour that it cannot be omitted in this book of finance.

Part of the land called Anathoth had been fenced off for crops; and rape seed, from which oil is expressed, was to be sown. But the field had first to be weeded. The children had been so often interrupted, and their lessons therefore were in such serious arrears, that we did not want to call them off again; but, as all the fields round about needed weeders, double pay was asked by coolies, and very little money was coming in at the time, so we had no coolies. Instead, the children were called.

They departed gaily, each blithe little maid in her oldest blue rags. (Blue in those days kept blue to the very raggiest rags.) They were delighted, of course, to help, delighted too, like children all over the world, with any kind of change, and they sang rollicky songs about being jolly little coolie girls who were going to do five times as much as any village coolie (a promise faithfully kept), and set off for the field.

But the sun was very hot, and bending over the furrows very tiring, and after the second day they were sorely tempted to slacken. There was a tamasha going on in the village too, they could hear alluring noises in the distance, and they badly wanted to stop. But if the field could not be weeded it could not be sown, and the season would be lost; so they went on bravely. On the morning of the third day, after seeing them start, and watching for a while the little blue groups dotted about on the terra-cotta coloured earth in the clear morning light (did it look as pretty and as lovable a picture to the angels as to us?), we went away alone and asked that something large, a kind token for good, might come soon for their encouragement.

It was then November 5. The many lovers of these children had not forgotten them, and all the little gifts that came week by week were more to us than could be told in terms of this earth's values. Each was a bright particular cheer. But with the exception of one gift for the wall, all had been small since August, when on the 18th we were carried over that month's needs by £95 14s. from those faithful nameless givers of years, the readers of The Christian.

In war-time mails were irregular. One dropped upon us that morning. It brought us ten shillings-and news of £50 on its way to us.

Straight back to the field I went rejoicing. A call brought the children skurrying to the shade of a cactus hedge, where I stood and read them the story of it.

A new friend under the name Tranquillitie, so suitable to the moment, had sent it. Her brother had given his life in the War; and this was his money. He loved children, and his sister thought he would like the children here to have a share in it.

Tamil is a language which lends itself to joy-words. There is a phrase which sets forth ear-joy, eye-joy, heart-joy. Nothing less was enough that day. Heartened and happy the children went back to their furrows.

After this we went home and sang a song of thanksgiving and praised the Lord in heaven: because it is good, because His mercy endureth for ever.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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