Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter VII.: UP AND DOING. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 7
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Chapter VII.: UP AND DOING. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 7 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 7.
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UP AND DOING.
Marana scarcely knew what to hope or fear when she had cast the first hasty glance round the hut in which she expected to find her husband. Rayo was not there, and she dreaded to inquire where he was; whether his ashes had been given to the winds, or whether some of these winds had brought him vigour to go abroad into the neighbouring wood. All the way as she came, sights and sounds of pleasure had been presented to her, and she had endeavoured to share the satisfaction of the priest and of her father at seeing the bustle of the country people in clearing their ground for the growth of the long-forbidden shrub; and the joyous parties returning from the thickets with the young plants which, when improved by cultivation, were to form the foundation of their wealth; and the dancing girls spreading the news through the land. She had striven to thank her saint with the due devotion when Father Anthony spread the blessing around him as he travelled; but the dread of what might be awaiting her at home had borne down her spirits. A circumstance which had occurred the day before had alarmed her grievously at the moment, and now explained only too clearly, she apprehended, the deserted state of the but. She had stolen out early to bathe, and when she came up out of the water, she found that a thievish bird was flying away with her necklace, the symbol of her married state. It was true that a shout from her father had caused the necklace to be dropped, and that it was at this moment safe; but was not the pang which shot through her yesterday prophetic of the worse pangs of today? Whether her father believed that his spells could bring back a departed spirit, he did not declare; but he now hastened to utter them on the threshold, while Marana flitted about the hut, taking up first the empty cocoa-nut from the floor, then the dry skin which was wont to hold oil. and then the mat on which it was impossible to tell by the mere examination whether any one had slept on the preceding night.
While she was sinking, at length, in utter inability to inquire further, the priest, who had walked a little way into the jungle on seeing that nothing was to be learned within doors, approached the entrance with a smile on his countenance, No one thought of waiting till the charm was ended. The three west forth; and, not far off, in an open space to which sunshine and air were admitted, appeared a group of people, whose voices sounded cheerily in the evening calm.
Mr. Carr was on horseback, with Alice before him, watching the proceedings of the others. Mr. Serle was digging a hole in the newly prepared soil, while Rayo stood by, holding the young cinnamon shrub which was about to be planted. Mrs. Serle was busy, at some distance, training the pepper-vine against the garden fence.
“Stop, stop!” cried the broken voice of the Charmer; “I have a vow, Rayo,—a vow! I have vowed to plant and bless the first cinnamon shrub in your garden.”
“And my blessing is yours, my son,” added Father Anthony.
“And mine has been given already,” observed the missionary, smiling.
“When was ever any property of your Honourable Company so hallowed?” Mrs. Serle inquired of Mr. Carr, with a smile, as she turned away to avoid seeing the meeting of Rayo and Marana.
“Property is sacred in the eye of God and man,” replied Mr. Cart, gravely.
“So it has been ever agreed between God and man,” said Mrs. Serle. “Therefore, whenever that which is called property is extensively desecrated, the inevitable conclusion is that it is not really property. The time will never come when this island will rise up against Rayo's cinnamon plantation, even if it should spread, by gradual and honourable increase, to the sea on one side, and to Candy on the other. As long as it prospers by means which interfere with no one's rights, Rayo's property will be sacred in the eyes of his country. But the whole island has long risen against your monopoly gardens. There have been not only curses breathed within its shade, and beyond its bounds, but pilfering, and burning, and studious waste.”
“I think it is a pity, papa,” said Alice, “that the Company did not get a Charmer to charm the great garden at the beginning, and a Catholic priest to give it a blessing, and then it would have been as safe as Rayo's is to be.”
“Nonsense, my dear,” was Mr. Carr's reply. He was full of trouble at the responsibility which would fall upon him if the opening of the cinnamon trade should prove a disaster.
“The same charm and blessing will not suit, I believe, Alice,” replied Mrs. Serle. “The charm is, in fact, against hopeless poverty and its attendant miseries,—a lot which the Honourable Company has never had to fear. The blessing is, in fact, on the exchange of fraud and hypocrisy—the vices which spring from oppression,—for honesty,—the virtue which grows up where labour is left free to find its recompense. The Honourable Company—”
“Has never found its recompense, in this instance, I am sure,” said Mr. Carr. “We are heartily tired of our bargain; and not all that we have obtained from Government, from time to time, to compensate for fluctuations, has prevented our losing very seriously from our cinnamon trade. We have been thoroughly disappointed in our markets, and cannot open any fresh ones. I hope now——”
“O, yes! You will do welt enough now, if you will manage your concerns as economically as private traders, and put yourselves on equal terms with the people of the country. There can be no lack of a market when it is once known that every one may sell and every one buy that which every body likes.”
“I believe so; and that there will henceforth be no such considerable fluctuations as there have been while there were fewer parties interested in checking and balancing each other. Still,—convinced as I am that we have done wisely in abolishing this monopoly,—I cannot but feel it to be a serious thing to witness so vigorous a preparation for supplying the new demand.”
“It is indeed a serious filing to see a new era established among a people to whom we stand in the relation of a secondary Providence. It is a serious thing to have the power of lifting up the impotent who have long lain hopeless at this beautiful gate of God's temple, and to see them instantly paying the homage of activity and joy. But this is surely not the moment to distrust the exercise of their new strength, and to fear its consequences.”
“Will poor Rayo ever be able to walk like other people, do you think, papa?” inquired Alice.
Mr. Carr had no hope of cure; but it was not an uncommon thing for the victims of this disease to live on for many years, without much pain, if well fed and taken care of. So great a change had already taken place ill Rayo since something had been given him to do and to hope for, that it seemed very probable that he might revive much further, and prune his own vines, and bark his own shrubs for many a season to come. He must be assisted to erect a cottage on the dry soil of his new garden, instead of remaining in the damp nook which had been the home of his poverty. He must be assisted to obtain wholesome food till the next cinnamon harvest, after which it might be hoped that he would be able first to supply his slmple wants, and then to afford to let them become more complex.
“He is gone to confession with the priest,” observed Mrs. Serle, as she watched the two proceeding towards the hut, while Marana's beads bung from her hand. “Henceforth, Mr. Carr, let Rayo's sins be his own: but I think the Honourable Company can hardly refuse to take his past offences on themselves, however long they have made him bear the penalty.”
“Certainly, if we strike out of the catalogue of crimes,” said Mr. Carr, “all that are originated by institutions, and by social customs, against which an individual can do no more than protest, but few will remain for which any Christian priest will dare to prescribe individual penance. If the heads of colonial governments at home were fully and perpetually aware of this, under what solemn emotions would they step into their office!”
Perhaps Father Anthony was such a Christian priest as Mr. Cart had just spoken of, for he returned from hearing Ravo's confession with a countenance full of mildness, and a voice full of pity. Marana no longer detected under her husband's submissive manner the workings of passion which had often terrified her; and, in addition to this. and to the decided improvement she witnessed in his health, she had the satisfaction of learning from her father that he had so far recovered his confidence in his own spells that he was sure the charmed shrub would prosper, and would avail better to make Amoottra keep her distance than any chank in the Indian seas.
The rest of the party were about to go in search of rice or other good food. They had been too much struck by their accidental meeting with Rayo in the wood,—too deeply touched by witnessing his feeble attempts to pluck up the cinnamon suckers,—to think of leaving him to his own resources in his present state of health. As they were quitting the enclosure, and looked back to see how the slanting sunbeams lit up the eyes of the care-worn family, the two priests of a religion of promise assured one another that the time was at hand when here every man should sit under his vine and his fig-tree, and none should make him afraid.