IN this part of India, we are now in the midst of the rainy season. Before the welcome rains came, there were months of great heat such as is never felt in the land in which you live, and during all this time there was scarce a cloud to dim the sun's brightness. 

When at length the rain began to fall, there were many happy hearts, and, I trust, many thankful ones; for if the rains are withheld, famine comes with all its terrible evils.

During the hot season, everything is parched and dry, even the grass is brown and withered; but with the coming of the first showers, everything springs quickly into life and beauty. The earth is covered with a soft mantle of green, and the drooping leaves of the great trees are erect and shining. Flowers burst into bloom, and husbandmen are busy in the fields, preparing the ground and sowing the seed.

Many of the fields near our house are now covered with vines bearing a kind –of cucumber, smoother and more, tender, than the cucumbers of our country. These cucumbers are more than a foot long, and are much relished by the people, who eat them just as they are plucked from the vines. Every morning we see the busy owners of these fields gathering the fruit into baskets for the market. 

In every field we see at this time just what is mentioned in Scripture "a lodge in a garden of cucumbers." A few light poles are stuck into the ground and tied together with coarse twine or bark, and over the ridgepole mats made of grass are thrown and made fast to the poles. In such a lodge the owner of the field spends his time until the fruit has all been gathered. In each lodge, there is usually a rude bed, such as is in common use among the natives of the country; and besides a rope and a vessel, with which to draw water from the nearest well, a few cooking utensils, a large brass plate, from which to eat the food, when, prepared and a brass drinking-vessel, the lodge needs no other furniture; and, indeed, in the houses of the common people we find little more.

When the owner of the field, relieved by some member of his family, lies down to sleep, he rolls himself from head to foot in a blanket till he looks like a mummy. In the morning he shakes himself free from his covering, and his toilet is made.

Sometimes the wife comes to cook for her husband and sons, but frequently they prepare their own food. 

As these fields are, many of them, close to the roadside, passers-by frequently stop to purchase, and the monotony of the day's vigil is thus relieved.

In the fields on which the cucumbers are now growing, wheat and other grains will soon be sown. Winter in India is the season of fruit and flowers. The gardens produce vegetables, and in the fields rich stores of grain are ripening. Then in all the fields spring up lodges higher than those we now see, but built in the same manner. To the little perch under the roof of matting the watcher climbs by means of a rude ladder, and here the owner of the field, relieved by some member of his family or a trusted servant, spends his time, day and night, until the ripened grain is cut from the field by sickles. The lodge is then abandoned, but the task of guarding the precious substance is not over until oxen have trodden out the grain and it has all been removed from the field. While it still remains on the ground after threshing, the owner places his bed in the midst of his piles of grain, remaining at his post until the last measure has been conveyed to a place of safety.

As we have passed these fields after nightfall, we have seen the glow of the little fires by which food had been prepared, and around which the owners of the grain sat in groups chatting and smoking their hookahs.



SOME of the roads leading to the city are lined with mango trees. These trees are the property of the government; and each year, when the fruit is still green, the trees are sold to parties who agree to pay a certain amount when the ripened fruit has been sold. 

The fruit of the mango tree is prized not only by the natives of India, but by Europeans also, and therefore brings a good price in the market; so the persons purchasing the trees hope, from the sale of the fruit, to realize not only enough to pay the amount promised, but to secure a nice little sum for themselves.

Each year, from April until June or July, when the fruit ripens, under these trees by the roadside we see booths built, sometimes of branches of trees, and sometimes like the lodges now in the fields. Under many of the trees, as the branches are low and wide-spreading and the foliage heavy, there is only the bed on which the guardian of the tree sits by day, and on which he rests at night.

Sometimes under one of these great trees an entire family take up their abode while the fruit is ripening. The father, watches sharply the boys and birds, whose covetous eyes are upon the fruit which he hopes in due time to turn into silver. The mother prepares the food not a difficult matter, even though the mouths be many. A fire-place of mud is made, and a small pile of twigs, which the children help to gather, cooks the rice and the "dal;" the mother kneads with her hands thin cakes of bread, which are quickly baked on the coals; and the meal is ready to serve. Portions are poured into large brass plates. The father first comes, taking his seat on the ground and using only his fingers to convey the food to the mouth. 

When his hunger is satisfied, the other members of the family cluster eagerly around. In these frugal households there is no surplus, and the portion prepared is soon all disposed of. 

The mother then scours the vessels that have been used with a little water and the sand at her feet, after which she carefully stows them away, for a poor man's greatest wealth often consists of his few vessels of bright brass. This work done, the mother sits idly upon the ground with folded hands, plays with her children, or lazily turns her spinning-wheel. The children play under the trees, or stray away to visit children living under neighboring trees. In this idle way these poor people are quite content to spend their time.

The fruit so carefully guarded is sold as it ripens. Passing travelers make small purchases, giving with their pennies such items of news as they have picked up by the way.

Men come with empty baskets, which, after much bargaining, they carry away on their heads, filled with luscious fruit, which they sell from house to house, or carry immediately to the public market. Servants come to buy fresh fruits for the tables of their masters.

This is the reaping-time, and the owners of the trees find pleasant occupation in counting over their gains. 

It is a busy, patience-trying time, too or the crow which abounds in India and gains a livelihood chiefly by pilfering, which it pursues as a lawful calling seems as fond of the rich, golden fruit of the mango tree as man himself, and quite as determined to have its full share; so that through all the day, and even into the night, the shrill voices of the guardians of the richly laden trees are mingled with the shriller screams of the impudent crows. Frequently the birds become so bold that they pay little heed to the shrillest shouting; then smooth stones sent from a sling with great velocity and unerring aim are freely used.

Under a tree close by the roadside, for nearly two months, lived a man watching the fruit on the boughs above him. This man did not even own a bed, but when he slept, spread on the ground a mat or a strip of coarse cloth. His wife brought his food, and spent a part of each day under the tree, busy with her little spinning wheel.

An Oriental knows nothing of the value of time, and idly waits weeks, and even months, for the grain in the fields to mature, or the fruit on the trees to ripen, taking little more note of time than the birds singing in the branches above him. If a servant is sent on an errand, he will not mind waiting a whole day for an answer, provided there is a bazaar near at hand where he may purchase a few handfuls of grain to satisfy his hunger.

Through the grounds of a gentleman whose home is in a pretty village at the foot of a low range of mountains in India flows a stream, which during the rains is wide and full and swift, but whose bed during the hot season is often quite dry. One day, after a very heavy shower, the gentleman, walking through his grounds, found the stream full to its banks and the water tumbling and dashing over the rocks at a furious rate. By the side of the stream sat several boys. 

"What are you doing here?" asked the gentleman. "Waiting for the brook to run dry, so that we can pass over," answered one of the boys and sure enough, in a few hours the bed of the stream was again dry, and the boys passed over dry-shod.

It would be well if American hoys and girls would learn lessons of patience from the children of India, who from babyhood seem to understand that they must bear the trials of life bravely; but I should be sorry to have any boy or girl imitate the children or the grown people of India in their indifference to the value of time.

God gives us the precious years of life, and he expects us to improve them wisely, that we may be fitted to serve him acceptably, and be useful in the world in which he has placed us. 

Helen H. Holcomb.