Rosalind Goforth, As Silver is Refined, Part 1

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embellishment

AS SILVER IS REFINED

Part I. THE BIRTH OF A SOUL

One sultry afternoon in June, 19—, an elderly woman. seated in the shade of her front gateway, the coolest spot she could find, was fanning vigorously in vain attempt to keep cool, discontented mutterings keeping time to her fan. It was time the long summer siesta ended and for folks to get to work, so thought Mrs. Dwan, but “folks” evidently thought otherwise, for the whole village seemed as still and lifeless as a graveyard.

Just as the woman was about to rouse the sleeping household her attention was attracted to a man wheeling a barrow on which lay a sick child. Putting his barrow down opposite the Dwan’s gateway the man wiped his steaming brows as he stepped forward saying, “Honorable Lady, my child is very thirsty, we have come a long way, will you give us water?”

“Gladly,” said the woman, hastening into the inner court as fast as her excessive avoirdupois would permit. In a moment or two she reappeared, not with ice cold water as in our country, but with a kettle of boiling water and two bowls.

“Wheel the child into the shade and rest yourself,” said the woman as she filled the bowls; then setting one down beside the sick child, she motioned to the man to take a seat on the stone steps. “Where are you going,” she asked by way of opening the conversation.

“I’m taking my child to the foreign doctor at W——.”
“What!” she exclaimed, with a look of horror, “you are surely never going to venture inside that place! We have heard some terrible things about those people.”

“Well,” replied the man, “all I can say is this, a neighbor woman of ours went to that hospital perfectly blind and came back seeing almost as well as you or I. A man in my village had a terrible leg, he would certainly have died, but he went there too and came back healed. He told us the doctor treated him as well as the patients who could pay, though they knew he was too poor to pay.”

“But, why then do people talk so?” persisted Mrs. Dwan.

“You know the proverb,” replied the man, with rather a contemptuous shrug, “You can bridle a horse or a mule, but who can bridle a woman’s tongue.”

With this parting thrust and a polite bow, the man caught up his barrow and hurried on.

Mrs. Dwan’s husband was what is known in China as the “leading man” of his region. He was a landowner of considerable means, and was widely known and sought after as a doctor though he had no knowledge whatever of Western methods of treating diseases, nor of surgery, but was an expert in the art of “needle pricking,” a common Chinese treatment not infrequently used with fatal results.

As the man with the barrow disappeared in the distance, Dr. Dwan appeared at his dispensary gateway, across the street from where his wife was sitting. Calling him to her she related what had just passed. The Doctor listened, but said nothing; paying no attention to the fierce denunciation of the missionaries with which she ended; her husband had learnt through many years of bitter experience with her to say little but act.

When the following morning the Doctor announced his intention of taking the younger son to the foreign Doctor to have a growth on his foot removed, of course, Mrs. Dwan began to storm and rage but to no purpose, except to give matter of interest to her neighbors, trouble to her household, and sickness to herself. Her fits of temper were so violent and sustained that it is little wonder Nature usually had her way by a general collapse, when the naturally strong woman would lie for days as helpless as a child.

As Dr. Dwan started off for the Mission Hospital, it would be too much to imagine that his mind was quite free from fear or doubt, but his intense curiosity to see the foreign Doctor about whom he had heard such conflicting reports, and a desire, if possible, to see something of his methods of treatment, overcame every other thought.

A walk of some twelve English miles brought them to the city of W——. On reaching the Mission Hospital they found themselves in the midst of a crowd of sick and suffering ones. Procuring their tickets of admission they joined themselves to the queue moving towards the Dispensary door. The moment Dr. Dwan found himself and his child, with a dozen or more others, ushered into the Doctor’s presence, all fears vanished,—who, indeed, could not trust those keen, quiet, kind eyes?

Stepping aside purposely so that the others might be treated first and thus give him his chance to watch the foreigner, Dr. Dwan made the most of his opportunity. At last the assistant called him forward to take his name. The moment he had given it, Dr. Blank, the missionary, looked up quickly and said, “Why, are you Dr. Dwan of C——?”

“That is my unworthy name,” replied the other. Immediately Dr. Blank left the patient he was treating, and came forward with such a friendly smile the Chinese doctor was completely taken by surprise.

“I’m very pleased indeed to meet you,” the missionary said heartily, and in a few moments had the other quite at his ease. From their first meeting these two men drew naturally together. The missionary doctor recognized in Dr. Dwan the true instincts of a physician and generously remembered that this man’s ignorance and inefficiency as a doctor was not due to lack of natural ability but from the lack of advantages such as he himself had enjoyed.

The removal of the growth on the boy’s foot was a simple operation, but it required the administration of chloroform. When this was about to be given the father showed decided nervousness, but a few quiet firm words from Dr. Blank allayed his fears. He stood aside and watched with intense wonder and admiration every detail of the operation.

Dr. Blank saw the man’s keen interest in everything connected with the Hospital, and arranged for the care of his boy so that the father could be with him in the operating room, the afternoon clinic, and ward visitation. When the work of the day was over the missionary sometimes invited Dr. Dwan to his study in his house at the rear of the compound. It was at such times the missionary doctor opened to his less favored brother the way of Salvation.

It was not till the close of his stay that Dr. Dwan seemed to really understand. The two men were talking in the study when Dr. Dwan spoke out suddenly as if to get something off his mind:

“Dr. Blank, I have a request I find hard to make.”

Dr. Blank’s face fell as visions of many past requests came before him, but he said merely: “What can I do for you?”

“The fact is,” continued the other, “people say you have strange things in your home. Would you allow me to see the place?”

The missionary jumped to his feet with a relieved smile saying, “Why, come along now. I’ll show you everything.”

Through the house they went; each room seemed more wonderful to Dr. Dwan than the last, everything was a wonder, but what especially aroused his admiration and astonishment was the school-room where the missionaries’ children—girls as well as boys—were at their lessons. All he saw made a deeper impression on his mind than the missionary or even he himself at the time realized.

Some days later when in conversation with one of the missionaries something like the following took place:

Dr. Dwan, looking intently at the missionary, suddenly said with deep feeling, “Do you know what people are saying about you all?”

“Yes, I think we do,” returned the other, with a little laugh. “At least we know quite enough.”

“Then I cannot understand how you can stay and do what you are doing with my people.”

“My friend,” replied the missionary, drawing his chair nearer to the other and speaking from the depths of a full heart,

“It is like this, Jesus Christ left His home in heaven to suffer and die for us—for me. The love that made Him do that He has given to me and those with me. It is this LOVE that makes us do all this for your people.”

“You mean then that you are just following in Jesus Christ’s steps—just doing as He did?”

“Yes,” came the answer quietly, “just that. Will you follow Him too?”

There was a firm and set purpose in Dr. Dwan’s face as, after a moment’s pause, he said gravely:

“Yes, I will, I will follow the Lord Jesus.”

This man counted not the cost; he simply saw the Gleam and faced for it.

Little did he dream how short and stormy the path would be that led from the Gleam to the Glory beyond.

Go to Part Two – As Silver is Refined

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