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A Schoolboy's Christmas Eve.
The clock in the big hall below was striking twelve, when Hugh started up from an uneasy slumber with a confused notion that something had taken place. His brain seemed full of flying visions, from which at first he could not free his thoughts. He had dreamed that someone had knocked at the bedroom door, and called him by name.
"Who's there?" he called out, instinctively. But there was no reply; not a sound was to be heard except his companion's heavy breathing in the bed close to his.
What could it have been? A nightmare, of course! But no; Hugh felt sure it was no mental phantasm that had disturbed him. He had a vague idea that there was something wrong downstairs.
Getting out of bed, he groped his way quietly to the door, and there listened. Nothing strange was to be heard only the regular tick of the big clock, and the wind blowing in dying gusts about the curtained window. He was just turning away when a new sound caught his ear. He listened intently. There it was again-somebody striking a lucifer match. Whoever could it be? Old Barnabas slept over the coach-loft at the other end of the house; it could not be he. Suddenly Hugh caught the sound of two voices in whispered consultation, and his heart beat violently as he stood there shivering in his night-dress with his fingers on the handle of the door.
Noiselessly he stepped across to the bed where Harry Ernshaw lay in heavy slumber. Taking him by the shoulder, he gently shook him, at the same time laying his hand on the sleeper's mouth to stifle any noise he might make.
"Quick! wake up, old fellow!" he said, in a whisper; "there are burglars in the house!"
Harry started up.
"Get up and we'll see." Hugh crept towards the door again and listened.
Scrape, scrape, scrape, snap, scrape, scrape! Whatever were they doing?
"The Doctor's room!" he suddenly ejaculated; "they're trying the fastenings."
"What's to be done? If we tried to interfere we should only get knocked on the head for our pains." "And yet, if we stop here, they'll get the money and decamp before morning."
"Yes, that they will; and everybody will call us cowards for letting them get away."
"Well," said Hugh, "the worst of it is they probably know that there is no one to fear. Old Barnabas sleeps like a dormouse, and the maids would not dare to leave their room."
"No, that's just it. Oh, I wish Mr. Jellaby was here!" He was the fifth form master, and much respected by the boys as a prodigy of strength and courage.
Hugh did not reply, but, going to his bedside, he quietly slipped into his clothes, bidding his companion do the same.
This done, he went to the cupboard and groped about for a few minutes.
"It's very dreadful!" moaned the other. "What are we to do ?"
Hugh paused for a moment and thought in silence. "Look here," he whispered at last; "we're only catching colds and killing ourselves by fright up here; let us go down and have a tussle with them. We've got weapons and they've nothing but keys and tools. Now screw up your courage and come along; for goodness' sake let's be plucky for once!"
Hugh grasped his weapon-a heavy cricket-batand prepared to descend.
The men were still at their work, and the scrape, scrape went on ceaselessly.
Hugh's bare foot was on the third stair; in another moment he would have turned the corner of the winding staircase and rushed down. The next step he took cautiously. What a creak the boards gave! they fairly groaned. But what was that new sound that greeted their listening ears? It was a third voice calling out, apparently from the schoolroom-"Oh, you rascal!-What are you doing there ?" It was poor Poll, who had been awakened by the heavy-footed intruders, and was showing her resentment at the disturbance by a few of the many phrases she had at her command. Hugh recognised her voice in an instant. Not so the two men. There was a scuffle in the hall, a noise of falling tools, and a rush of feet towards the back door. All the alarm-bells in the house seemed set ringing, and a broken pane of glass fell with a crash on to the doorstep outside.
"Quick!" cried Hugh, who, having all his wits. about him, took in the situation at once. "Come along; they're making off!"
All fear and hesitation vanished, and shouting at the top of their voices, the two lads rushed downstairs and along the hall.
Two dark figures were at the back entrance dragging at the bolts (they had evidently forced an entrance at some other point of the building).
"Stand aside !" cried Hugh to Harry Ernshaw,
who was slightly ahead of him, and the next moment the brand-new cricket-ball whizzed through the air and caught one of the men full on the calf of the leg. The fellow dropped with a howl, and lay groaning on the door-mat, while his more fortunate companion, who had just wrenched away the last fastening, flung open the door, and dashed out across the lawn. Rushing blindly along down the winding gravel walk, he came full tilt against the gardener's wheelbarrow, fell right over it, and, regaining his feet, hurried off, limping and muttering, till he reached the garden wall, which he succeeded in scaling, and so made off. The two boys having seen the last of him, turned to the other man, who still lay on his face, uttering alternate moanings and maledictions, but evidently quite disabled by the pain. Hugh bent over him, cricket-bat in hand, and laid a hand on his shoulder. The fellow looked up with a scowl and struck fiercely at the lad. Hugh quietly stepped aside, and, darting round, secured the arms of his prisoner, and so held him fast.
The next moment there were footsteps on the staircase, and presently old Barnabas came shuffling along, candle in hand, inquiring with great trepidation the meaning of "all that noise." One glance showed him the present state of affairs, and a few words from Hugh sufficed to explain the cause.
longed for morning. The very clock seemed to tick more lazily, and the hours of striking seemed monstrously far between. Two, three, four, five! Would the morning never come? Six, seven! Gradually a faint grey beam struggled through the closed shutters, and every object in the old hall became visible.
Wearied with the long vigil, the eyes and ears of all three were growing dull and sleepy, when rat-tattat came a knock at the front door. What a thrill of relief shot through their bodies as they sprang up to answer it!
By the aid of the new comer, the burglar's arms were securely pinioned; and, having shut and barred the door, the attacking party sat down and kept watch" and ward, with sleepless eyes, over their prostrate captive.
Oh, that night! how interminable it seemed! Never in his whole life had Hugh Culross so ardently
BIBLE missionary in Spain has to encounter dangers and face perils of no common type. The outlaws, robbers and cut-throats of the country lie in wait to entrap and murder any belated traveller; while the animosity of the priests to the Bible is such that no man's life is safe who ventures to espouse Bible-work among the lonely fastnesses and mountain districts of the land.
It was the Doctor, who had taken it into his head to return by the early morning train, and had thus arrived several hours before the specified time.
It took somewhat over three-quarters of an hour for old Barnabas to relate to the Doctor his version of the incident, after which, Hugh told his narrative in rather less than eighty seconds, and then went upstairs to pack his box ready to start for home.
It is needless to say that as soon as assistance could be procured, the ball-disabled housebreaker was transferred to one of Her Majesty's prisons, and passed the rest of that day and many others in the quiet seclusion of four stone walls.
ISSIONARY ADVENTURES, PERILS, AND ESCAPES;
BY DESERTS, SAVAGES, AND SEAS.
The redoubtable parrot who had contributed so largely to the discomfiture of the two thieves naturally became more of a favourite than ever, and was looked upon as a bird-hero, who certainly had not shown the white feather" in the hour of danger. Hugh Culross and Harry Ernshaw went home by the ten o'clock train that same morning, and found their holidays none the less enjoyable because of that memorable Christmas Eve at Pengarvan School.
BY MRS. E. R. PITMAN,
Author of "Mission Life in Greece and Palestine," "Heroines of the Mission Field," "Vestina's Martyrdom," &c.
Some have sealed their labours with their lives; others have been spared to accomplish much good work in the midst of hair-breadth escapes and
AMONG SPANISH BRIGANDS AND BANDITTI., countless dangers. Of these workers not one has ever told a more romantic tale than Mr. George Borrow. His books teem with adventures, attacks, and imprisonments, until one wonders whether he did not bear a charmed life. His Spanish servants would say, when they had escaped any imminent danger, that their death "was not so written;" he himself would say, My trust was in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
The Carlist War was raging during much of the time that Mr. Borrow was in Spain, and this circumstance intensified his danger. Soldiers and peasantry, nobles and Carlists, were arrayed against one another, while all were suspicious of Englishmen, and eager to kill them as spies. On one occasion he had to travel through a district so over-run with Carlists that the lives of passengers were not deemed safe for an hour. He says, 66 Had the Carlists succeeded in apprehending me, I should instantly have been shot, and my body cast on the rocks to feed vultures and wolves." But he escaped without even the challenge of a Carlist sentry.
Missionary Adventures, Perils, and Escapes.
The following night, and while still in the district in which war was raging, he had to journey through a mountain defile, known as the "Black Pass," on account of the frightful dangers which attended travelling through there. Just as he and his servant were about to enter it, a man with his face covered with blood, rushed out of the Pass, crying, "Turn back, sir, in the name of God! There are murderers in that Pass! They have just robbed me of my mule and all I possess, and I have hardly escaped with life from their hands!" But Mr. Borrow was so tired out and depressed that he scarcely felt capable of understanding or avoiding the risk. Ill-health and weariness of soul added to his carelessness of consequences; and, scarcely knowing what he did, he urged his horse on, although it was some fifteen or twenty minutes after sunset, and darkness was approaching.
The Pass, indeed, deserved its terrible name; the rocks were perpendicular, right and left, so that darkness like that of "the valley of the shadow of death" surrounded them; and, instead of guiding the horses, Mr. Borrow and his servant trusted to the instinct of the animals. In addition to the dangers of this Pass, there existed caverns, in which cut-throats lay in wait, ready to murder any passenger, and hurl his body down into the torrent which rolled along, splashing and dashing, some hundreds of feet below the narrow bridge of planks, along which the travellers had to pass. But no finger was laid upon the brave Bible-agent. Through perils, seen and unseen, he and his servant were borne by the sagacious horses, and landed safely on the other side.
At one point in his travels he passed the ruins of Vendas Velhas, a former noted haunt of the celebrated robber Sabocha and his forty confederates. This wretched man was accustomed to offer unsuspecting travellers shelter for the night in his inn, which stood by the side of a lonely wood, and then to murder and to rob them in the dead of the night. One of this gang was particularly renowned for the manner in which he would transfix a victim, with his long glittering knife. The Government ultimately routed out this murderers' nest, and executed all of the band whom they could catch. But at the very time that Mr. Borrow heard this tale, the ruins were infested by numerous banditti, who were a terror to travellers. On passing it, Mr. Borrow determined to sow some of the seed of Eternal Truth, leaving the results to God. He dismounted and went up to the ruins to examine them, but saw no human being, only the ashes of a fire and an empty bottle bore testimony to the presence of the robbers within a few hours preceding. After looking around, he put a New Testament in Spanish, and some tracts among the ruins, and hastened on his journey.
Upon several subsequent occasions, when meeting with banditti, he offered them tracts and Testaments. In most cases they were received with politeness.
Circumstances arose which made it necessary, at one part of Mr. Borrow's journey, for him to part with his trusty servant, Antonio. A journey lay before him of about a hundred miles, through "the most savage and ill-noted district in the whole kingdom." A lad of nineteen or twenty, who was hideously ugly and a perfect idiot, was now engaged to serve as guide, but so ignorant and senseless was this youth,
that he was really competent for nothing, except to show the missionary the way. If a question or an observation were addressed to him, he would burst into an uncouth laugh. A feeling of excessive loneliness came over the missionary, and he remembered then very keenly that he could place trust in none but God.
The next day they passed a party of Portuguese soldiers, whose villainy nearly put an end at once to his life and labours. He says: "Six or seven of these soldiers marched a considerable way in front. They were villainous-looking ruffians, upon whose livid and ghastly countenances were written murder and all the other crimes which the Decalogue forbids. As I passed by, one of them, with a harsh, croaking, voice, commenced cursing all foreigners. "There," said he, "is this foreigner riding on horseback, with a man to take care of him (referring to the idiot), and all because he is rich; whilst I, who am a poor soldier, am compelled to tramp it on foot. I could find it in my heart to shoot him dead, for in what respect is he better than I?" He continued shouting these remarks, until I got about forty yards in advance, when bang came two bullets, whizzing past my ears. A small river lay just before me. I spurred my animal through it, closely followed by my terrified guide, and commenced galloping across a sandy plain on the other side, and so escaped for my life.'
After this he engaged a gipsy as a guide, and, in his company, passed through many strange experiences. After travelling together for some days, however, his guide discovered that the remaining members of his party had been arrested and executed as robbers, and made himself scarce, for fear of a similar fate. This circumstance caused Mr. Borrow to be somewhat chary of engaging gipsy guides.
Arrived at Madrid, after many mishaps, Mr. Borrow sought out the Spanish Prime Minister, in order to obtain permission to circulate the Bible in Spain. By dint of patience and perseverance, he succeeded in getting an audience, but, after an hour's interview, gained little by his application. The Prime Minister was a bitter enemy of the Bible, and hated all Evangelical Christians, but eventually listened to the missionary's plea more kindly, saying, "Yours is not the first application I have had. Ever since I have held the reins of government I have been pestered in this matter by English, calling themselves Evangelical Christians, who have of late come flocking over into Spain. Only last week a hunchbacked fellow found me out, and told me that Christ was coming; and now you come, and almost persuade me to embroil myself with the priests. What strange infatuation is this which drives you over lands and seas with Bibles in your hands?" He, however, promised that in a few months, should the country become more tranquil, Mr. Borrow should have permission to print the Scriptures. With this, he was obliged to depart content.
One evening, as Mr. Borrow was seated in a coffeehouse sipping a cup of coffee, he heard a clamour outside, and found that the noise proceeded from a party of soldiers returning from a military expedition, in which they had come off victorious. Calling for a huge bowl of coffee, they produced a bleeding hand, cut from some enemy, and stirred up
the coffee with it; after which each one drank of the beverage (!). Mr. Borrow was invited to partake of it, but, as we may imagine, he very politely declined, and soon after quitted the coffee-house.
After a hurried journey home to England, to consult with the friends of Bible circulation, Mr. Borrow returned to Madrid, determined to venture upon printing the New Testament there. The British Ambassador spared no kindness or effort to circulate copies of the Scriptures, but this did not prevent those dangers to which the missionary had been subject, while on his journeys from place to place. He, however, engaged guides of different capacities, and travelled on, holding little cottage meetings, where practicable, in different villages. His practice was, after reading a few chapters of the Bible, to give a little explanation and exhortation suitable to the class of hearers. These services were valued highly by many of the peasants.
In one of these villages, however, he was roughly shaken out of his slumbers one morning, and arrested on suspicion of being no other than the veritable Don Carlos himself, the pretender to the throne of Spain; while his hunchbacked guide was arrested as being Don Sebastian, the nephew of Carlos, who also happened to be a hunchback. They were both taken immediately before the alcade-or mayor-of Finnisterre, and roughly examined by him; while no word which Mr. Borrow could say in self defence was listened to for one moment. The mayor was for immediate execution. It will be well to have these men shot instantly," said he. "If they are not the two pretenders, they are certainly two of the factious party." This recommendation would have at once been carried out, but that a sailor, who had sailed in English ships, ventured to hint that the gentleman prisoner was certainly more like an Englishman than Don Carlos.
After some bandying of arguments between the alcade and the sailor, and more protestations on the part of Mr. Borrow, the latter was spared, and permitted to remain under arrest for further magisterial examination; but the guide was condemned to be shot, and a party of carbineers was told off to lead the poor fellow forth and shoot him, in front of the house. The missionary now interfered again, though at the risk of his own life, and told them that if they shot the guide they must shoot him also; further pointing out to the alcade the barbarity of killing a poor, half-witted fellow who merely carried out his master's orders. This reasoning succeeded in procuring the guide's release from death, and within an hour the two prisoners were despatched to Corcuvion, in charge of the sailor who had spoken on behalf of the Englishman, and who professed to "love the English."
This sailor had been engaged for nine months in the English navy, and had been on board the Victory at the battle of Trafalgar, when Nelson was killed. As the party tramped along the sands to Corcuvion he beguiled the time by detailing bits of his experience of that engagement. It seemed that he now fulfilled the position of policeman-general to the village, on the strength of his reputation as the Valiente" of Finnisterre, which title he had won on account of having killed three Frenchmen during a battle with the French army under Napoleon.
On arriving at Corcuvion, the two prisoners were speedily taken before the alcade, who was a welleducated man, and after a little conversation with the missionary, in which he expressed his admiration of Jeremy Bentham and other English authors, whose books occupied honourable positions in his library, laughed to scorn the idea of Mr. Borrow being Don Carlos. He then offered to make reparation for the unjust arrest, and entered into further conversation about the Bible and missions to Spain. Mr. Borrow told him that his sole intention in visiting Finnisterre was to "carry the Book to that wild place." He then presented a copy to the Alcade as well as to the Valiente, and received the thanks of both. The alcade, however, added: "Yes, 1 remember! I have heard that the English highly prize this eccentric book. How very singular that a countryman of the grand Bentham should set any value on that old monkish book!"
Our hero next visited Toledo, and circulated some Bibles and New Testaments, to the annoyance of the priests and the wonder of the population. He then returned to Madrid and opened a Bible depôt, as well as put in circulation three thousand flaming placards, painted on blue, crimson, and yellow paper, giving a brief account of the depôt and its wares. He also prepared for the press the Gospel of Luke in the Spanish Gipsy, and Euscarra languages. In the midst of this work he met with many threats and difficulties. One of the cut-throats of Madrid came up to Mr. Borrow on a dark night, in the street, and told him very coolly that unless he discontinued selling Jewish books he should have a knife mailed in his heart.
Then, the Government prohibited all further sale of the book, but the adventurous agent was not to be thus frightened. In spite of being charged with witchcraft and sorcery, he continued on his way, and presented the Spanish Prime Minister with a copy of the Gipsy Gospel. The British Ambassador continued Mr. Borrow's firm friend, so that, in spite of machinations and plots, threats and persecution, the Papists were unable to effect his expulsion from Spain. But they could annoy him in other ways. Various traps were laid for him, and all copies exposed for sale by him at the depôt were forthwith confiscated. Following this, a warrant was issued for his prompt arrest. This, however, did not dismay our missionary, who had passed through too many adventures to be easily daunted. He was imprisoned, though most unjustly, being a British subject, and guilty of no offence. In this prison he was ushered into a furnitureless room, but was permitted to send for some, or he would have shivered all night, with neither bed nor chair. The British Ambassador, who had already stood Mr. Borrow's good friend, demanded his release; and, so conscious were the Spanish authorities of the mistake they had committed, that they absolutely implored "Don Jorge," as they called the missionary, to leave the prison. After about three weeks spent in the prison, amongst robbers and murderers of the worst dye, he was liberated with a written apology from the Government, with an offer to make good any losses which he had suffered through his incarceration. In this way he regained his liberty.
Missionary Adventures, Perils, and Escapes.
After leaving prison he took a journey into the country to sell copies of the New Testament, and to itinerate among the villages. The news of the books spread like wildfire, and the people would follow the agent from place to place, holding the money in their hands and begging for copies. Many peasants who had no money would bring rabbits, fruit, and grain in exchange, and so obtain Testaments. In this way a large number of books were disposed of before the emissaries of the Government had time to interfere. His departure was hastened by a singular warning given by an utter stranger, to the effect that evil was being premeditated by secret enemies of Bible circulation. Mr. Borrow and his servant packed up their books and fled; but when some distance on their journey were menaced by three robbers, who lay in wait to shoot them. Halting, the missionary cried out, "Who goes there?"
"What is that to you?" they replied. "Pass on." The missionary, seeing that their evident intention was to fire at him from behind as he passed by, refused to do so, and called out, "If you do not instantly pass to the right side of the road we will tread you down beneath the horses' hoofs."
The robbers were arrant cowards, and obeyed, although with a great deal of swearing. But they were too cowed to attempt murder at that time.
Mr. Borrow next passed over into Andalusia, determined to sell as many Bibles and Testaments among the rural population as possible. But here he was travelling in a district infested with robbers and murderers. Very rarely a mail passed but it was attacked, the escort murdered, and passengers carried off to the mountains, where they were detained in bondage until an enormous ransom was obtained. The mail which preceded Mr. Borrow's departure for the district, was attacked at the mountain defile of La Rumblar, by six mounted robbers. The mail was guarded by six soldiers, but being surprised unawares, they were almost immediately in the power of the robbers. Two of the soldiers escaped to the mountains, but the remaining four were bound to trees, tortured most cruelly, and then shot. The courier was stripped and beaten, and was still wandering among the relics of blood when Mr. Borrow and his party arrived.
At this scene of massacre and cruelty, a friar, who accompanied the missionary, became so faint, that he had to be laid down among the grass. He told Mr. Borrow, on coming to himself, that if the robbers caught him, they would first make him say mass, and then blow him up with gunpowder. They, however, passed through this terrific defile without molestation, and arrived at Seville in due course, where they found a large demand for Testaments.
On one journey they encountered a companion who had been attacked by banditti some five years previously, but after a prolonged struggle, had succeeded in tying two of the robbers' hands behind their backs, and delivering them up to justice. The encounter had, however, so shaken the nerves of the Spaniard, that upon the approach of night, he shook like an aspen leaf, confessing that he could not bear the unknown terrors of the darkness. Mr. Borrow rode in front, to reassure him, but the horse and rider seemed to be seized with a panic, so that they shook in every limb.
The Englishman advised the trembling Spaniard to call upon the Lord Jesus for preservation; but the latter discharged his gun into the air, and shouted wildly. His horse then sprang forward at full speed, and Mr. Borrow's followed, leaving the servant and the guide behind. On-on-the animals raced amid the darkness, through unknown and unseen dangers, with no light save the sparks of fire struck from the flints, by the hoofs of the horses as they fled along. Restraint was impossible, but God's mercy preserved them, and very soon they arrived at Vendas Novas, whither the guides soon came up. Some terrible tales were told by the peasantry of the doings of robbers in the pass through which they had so madly galloped; that no accident had happened to the Bible missionary, seemed to them simply marvellous.
Yet, in spite of all these obstacles, Mr. Borrow succeeded in scattering the good seed of the Scriptures up and down Spain, in lonely hamlets, and village schools, among city crowds, and superstitious priests. Only "the day will declare" the wonderful good accomplished by this brave man,-brave, even to daring, in the cause of righteousness.
In many places the seed sown sprang up, and bore immediate fruit; in others, the word lay buried long, only to be revealed in Eternity. Still, Spain is not Christianised. Superstition, Popish darkness, murder, faction, and robbery are still rife in that land, and Bible-workers who have trod in Mr. Borrow's footsteps have experienced cruel persecution. Only recently, a story of such persecution has reached these shores.
Two Spanish Christians who had found Christ through reading their Bibles, determined to travel in the district of Pampelona, and distribute the Gospels, as well as to hold cottage meetings, wherever practicable, for the expounding of the Word.
They had not been long at work, however, before the animosity of the people was aroused against the truth, and the house in which they were lodging was attacked with stones, guns, and other weapons. The bullets whizzed past the two workers, but did not touch them, for God mercifully delivered them out of the hands of their enemies. And seeing their bravery, the people of the house said, "Surely this must be the true religion. Would people dare to brave such imminent danger if it were not so ?"
The woman of the house obtained a Bible, and, under the teaching of the missionaries, learned about Christ, until she, too, became a Christian. Then the ill-will of the mob was turned upon her and her family. Her house was wrecked, her aged parents and young children turned into the street, and herself obliged to flee for life. Being a widow, she seemed to have no one to protect her from the fury of the mob; but God raised up friends unexpectedly, so that she and her family were enabled to leave the neighbourhood, although pursued by bullets, even to the railway-station. The missionaries continued faithful to their post, and were once and again rescued from death by marvellous interpositions of Providence.
Some of the Bibles and Testaments scattered over Portugual and Spain by Mr. Borrow, bore abundant fruit. Although hidden in bye-places and in secret corners of the Peninsula, many souls were made