Many years ago a huge panorama of a vast extent of country was exhibited in London. Of what country it was memory retains no clear impression; but I recollect a remark made by the exhibiting artist. Referring to the tints of some hills pictured in the panorama, he observed, “They ought to be natural, for I took my materials from the hills themselves.”
The artist’s remark had slight weight, for the fact that he had used pigments taken from the actual soil was no warrant for the accuracy of his delineation; but I am reminded of that remark by the circumstances under which the following tale has been written. It was not penned in some study in London, nor in some rural home in an English county; the authoress was living, as it were, surrounded by the materials needed for her picture. The old missionary came in heated and tired from the daily round in zenanas to dip her pen and write of a zenana. The materials for her touches of natural history lay, as it were, at her elbow. She might feelingly picture little inconveniences which she herself had experienced.
Such of A. L. O. E.’s readers as are already, from former volumes, acquainted with the Hartley brothers, may perhaps like to hear how they fared when they had crossed the ocean, and had entered on the mission life which they had contemplated from boyhood. It may be that the tale will be thought suitable for reading aloud at working parties in aid of missions, and that it may help to give a more vivid idea of life in some of the more isolated stations in India. But not mere amusement is in view. A. L. O. E. would fain hope that some enthusiasts, who would undertake the work of carrying the gospel to the heathen more in a spirit of romance than that of earnest self-consecration, may be led by her book to reflect on what a solemn thing it is to be “allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel” (1 Thess. ii. 4). Some maiden, ere linking her lot to that of a missionary, may be induced to consider the responsibility attending the position of an evangelist’s wife. Something far more onerous is before her than the pleasant duty of making a cheerful home for a good man; she must share the burden, she must aid in the labour, or she is likely to prove a hindrance instead of a helpmeet. By some women, even amiable ones, this responsibility is almost ignored; but by being ignored it is not avoided.