“I can see that,” J.W. said, thinking of Abraham. “But education is not a missionary monopoly, is it? If these children were educated by Hindus, would not the resulting rise in their condition come just the same?”
“It would, perhaps,” the missionary answered, “but your ‘if’ is too big. For the low caste and the out-caste people there is no education unless it is Christian education. We have a monopoly, though not of our choosing. The educated Hindu will not do this work under any circumstances. It has been tried, with all the prestige of the government, which is no small matter in India, and nothing comes of it. Not long ago the government proposed a wonderful scheme for the education of the ‘depressed classes.’ The money was provided, and the equipment as well. There were plenty of Hindus, that is, non-Christians, who were indebted to the government for their education. They were invited to take positions in the new schools. But no; not for any money or any other inducement would these teachers go near. And there you are. I know of no way out for the great masses of India except as the gospel opens the door.”
“Is there no attempt of any sort on the part of Indians who are not Christians? Surely, some of them are enlightened enough to see the need, and to rise above caste.” J.W. suspected he was asking a question which had but one answer.
“Yes, there is such an effort occasionally,” the superintendent admitted. “The Arya Samaj movement makes an attempt once in a while, but it always fails. If a few are bold enough to disregard caste, they are never enough to do anything that counts. The effort is scarcely more than a gesture, and even so it would not have been made but for the activities of the missionaries.”
* * * * *
And so ended J.W.’s Indian studies. Before many days he was retracing his way—Calcutta, Singapore, Hongkong, Shanghai, Yokohama. And then on a day he found himself aboard a liner whose prow turned eastward from Japan’s great port, and his heart was flying a homeward-bound pennant the like of which never trailed from any masthead.
For the first day or so out from Japan J.W. behaved himself as does any ordinary American in similar case; all the sensations of the journey were swallowed up in the depths of his longings to be home. The voyage so slow; the Pacific so wide!
But shortly he resigned himself to the pervading restfulness of shipboard, and began to make acquaintances. Of them all one only has any interest for us—Miss Helen Morel, late of Manila. Her place was next to his at the table. Like J.W., she was traveling alone, and before they had been on board twenty-four hours they had discovered that both were Methodists; he, from Delafield in the Middle West, she from Pennsylvania. J.W. found, altogether to his surprise, that she listened with flattering attention while he talked. For J.W. is no braggart, nor is he overmuch given to self-admiration; we know him better than that. But it was pleasant, none the less, on good days to walk up and down the long decks, and on other days to sit in comfortable deck chairs, with nothing to do but talk.