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So much of my labor was genuine benevolence, farther than this, I wished to learn all that were possible for me tu know of her people, her country and her home.
But this knowledge was not gained speedily-no, not until a close intimacy was established through the medium of our frequent and lonely drives in the country.
My uncle had taken Edgar away with him at one time upon a mission in which was hidden a wonderful secret ; the former came back with John, and some hours later, Edgar, driving the dearest, handsomest, plumpest pair of ponies my eyes ever saw. They were spotted bay and white, with a few patches of iron grey, and the carriage was small and low-a perfect little gem. This establishment was a gift for Haidee, and Edgar drove out with her every evening. I was duly informed that this was to be my privilege as soon as Haidee had outgrown her timidity, which, by the way, I began to feel required an unreasonable length of time to do.
Meantime, I was, then as now and ever, not idle. I was determined to fill the post assigned me, with honor, and to this end, I gained permission to drive daily, some one or more of papa's horses. But during the time of my probation, quite a warm attachment grew up between Edgar and Haidee, which gave me many a pang, least her love should be lost to me, but my uncle, who soon became aware of it, was, I thought, sincerely and profoundly pleased.
Haidee was four years younger than I. She was twelve, I sixteen, yet as her education advanced and she acquired a facility of conversation, one could see that her development was equal to mine. This was, I suppose, in a measure attributable to her tropical birth, including habit and association, being always with her elders, and clime, as well as transmitted organism.
But the country, family ties, habits and associations, to me, still remain an unexplored region. In our little drives, far away into the country, we talked at last of all these.
“Your people are very different from ours,” she said, one
day, to me. “You can trust them, confide in their faithfulness and honesty, and they believe and trust you entirely."
“We study their happiness, their respectability, and their permanent good. And this forms a stronger bond than that which implies force on one side and dependence on the other. Does it not, my cousin ?"
“It must. But I had thought that our people loved us, at least, as far as I had thought at all, but now I see it was the mere accident of being our people, and aside from the condition of servitude, they could bring us no essential good. They are, in a certain way, evidences of wealth ; but the peacocks spreading their gorgeous plumage in our gardens, the nightingales singing amid the luxuriant foliage of our trees, even the donkeys drawing our light carriages, are I sometimes think, as capable of moral and intellectual elevation as they. Dear Minnie, do you know, I think our people have no souls! They have cunning, have dissimulation, selfishness-our parrots and monkeys chattering about our verandahs have all these characteristics !”
“In some people, my dearest Haidee, it requires education to bring out evidences of soul! Could not your mamma have directed or superintended, or at least, have procured teachers for her people, and thus prove that they have souls, and by lifting them up out of their ignorance, remove the main obstacle to their elevation ?”
A sudden gloom overspread her pensive face, as she slowly made answer to my suggestion.
“Neither. This were impossible. Such an idea has never yet dawned in India. A lady of rank would contemn the idea or the proposal of having her people instructed, and no others would have the power. Besides, the priests, and the usages of the country forbid women to be educated.”
“How very shocking! Is it not most important that women should be taught well and thoroughly, since they have the first training of the children ?"
“I have learned that it is. And since I have gained a little light I can now see the darkness. In my country it was not believed, or it was not conceded, that women had souls."
“What profanity! what an awful accusation to bring against the Lord our Creator ! That He could be the Author of such a beautiful creation as woman, and leave her without a soul !”
“I feel that this is so, now that I have been taught what are the higher attributes of God. It is but recently that I have thought or felt upon this subject at all.”
“Well," I said, musing upon what had gone before, “ the first contribution I make to the missionary cause, will be to send these heathen, both priests and people, a few volumes of Ancient History, and have them learn how in the past ages, women were educated, were Doctors of Law and Divinity, Judges, Professors in Colleges, Artists, Sculptors, Sovereigns, ruling wisely, builders of cities, defenders of their people (and, I am very sorry to say, intriguers, politicians, and sometimes, like their brothers, bad and selfish), in fact, every position that has been filled by man has also been filled by woman. I do not mean to advance any particular set of ideas by this, I only mean to say, that our Creator has not endowed man alone with intellect.”
"I cannot tell if this be the true reason, but in our country it was said, that women were not taught, because they might make a bad use of their knowledge."
“A very sage conclusion, truly. I must suppose this idea originated with that class who style themselves cnlightened !
“ With me it was somewhat different, papa being a foreigner; he taught me a little, for he would never suffer me to be taught by a priest.”
“ Are you fond of study, my cousin ?”
“Not of the labor, or the confinement. It sometimes seems to me that Miss Browne has too great knowledge to teach one that has none. She takes upon trust that I know many things well, that I do not know at all. It is not with me as if I had always lived in England, or even here, and with you, dear, dearest Minnie.”
“ Well, Miss Georgina Browne shall not shame you because you are not learned, dearest pet-for I will teach you myself. And I will teach her something, too—and that is, that we Americans are not ignorant or unlearned ! I will shame her with her own ignorance and limited information, for, at this day, believing that we, free-born Americans, are savages and barbarians."
“Do, dearest Minnie. For I love my relatives, and I find them gentle and good.”
“ And you did not expect to find them so ?”
“ No. For Miss Browne was amazed when she found we were coming here. And now I hear much about spirit and soul, and I feel that somehow I have a soul growing within me, as I have seen in our humming-birds' nests, the shell break, and the bright, beautiful head glancing out. I think, too, my governess has some such thought, and she fears, perhaps, that my soul may stretch out its tiny wings, and flash out from beneath her hand.”
I laughed at this strange conceit, and then replied
“You have a soul, Haidee, and I doubt not it will some time flash out upon Miss Browne to her utter and very great amazement.”
“Oh, that is fine l” she said, clapping her hands. After a while I asked, “Would you prefer to live in India or here ?"
“There are many things to please me in that far-off country. The luxurious vegetation, the beautiful flowers, the richness of the fruits, the glory of its palms, lifting their heads up to the blue skies above, such as I may never hope to see in this land. But mamma is not there now. When I am wiser I think I shall entirely prefer to live here, or in England-papa wishes it, he would not returu—and I must have no thought or wish conflicting with his."
“You are a very dear little girl, Haidee. I wish you had left India sooner, and that your mamma had come with you."
“Papa most earnestly wished this to have been ; but the Rajah was not well pleased with the thought of his sister, who was my mamma, leaving the country. And while he still opposed it, mamma was taken ill ; and there people are not ill very long, for, before I had thought to feel alarmedone night, I had been long asleep in my room, nurse Bibea came to take me up--mamma was dying. She kissed me, and said I was to go with papa. I was greatly terrified. Nurse, and all our attendants, expressed a frantic grief. My uncle, the Rajah, and my aunt Yarricoe, made great lamentations, deep and loud, while poor papa held me in his arms, and soothed my fear and my sorrow. He told me I should find my mamma again, and that she would love me. Then I thought I should find her in England, so I was glad to go there. And, dear Minnie, this was only a child's thought of what has since been revealed to me. I feel that! I am nearer to mamma now, than at that time and therefor Dinah has told me, in her simple way, how to understand the many beautiful things papa tried to teach me.”
“Dinah has a wonderful knowledge of spiritual things ; of their harmonies with nature, and a child-like simplicity in her expressions. She is very good.”
“Now this is lovely to have your assurance, I have been 80 drawn to her. First, because she is like my people. When my eyes fell upon her and Phillis, I was thrown into a transport of delight, as a child when suddenly recovering, or finding a toy that had charmed his every sense, or catching one bright gleam of dearly loved and familiar things. My aunt Yarricoe is darker than Phillis, and not any handsomer, for Phillis is very handsome ; so was my mamma, though not fair, like aunt Frances.”
“Well I” I said, by way of leading her on to talk.
“I thought I used to love my cousins Jugurtha and Zinnga : I know I wept bitterly at parting from them. Jugurtha was brave and handsome; he was a splendid horseman, threw the lance and javelin with wonderful skill and power. But he often deceived me; he often frightened Zinnga and me, just in play, and laughed at our fears. I did not know