Page:Mahatma Gandhi, his life, writings and speeches.djvu/49

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In the year 1904 a virulent attack of plague broke out among the Indian Community in Johannesburg. The Municipal authorities were either ignorant or apathetic. Mr. Gandhi, however, was at once on the scene and sent word to the authorities that if immediate action were not taken an epidemic was in prospect. But no answer came. One day the plague carried off as many as twenty-one victims. Mr. Gandhi with three or four noble comrades at once broke open one of the Indian stores which was empty, and had the patients carried there and did what he could in the matter. The next morning the Municipal authorities bestirred themselves and took the necessary action. The plague lasted a month counting more than a hundred victims. We in India may shudder to think to what an appalling magnitude the outbreak may have grown but for the heroic endeavours of the subject of this sketch, and his devoted comrades. In such ways, indeed, had Mr. Gandhi's influence begun to bear fruit.

It was about this time also that Mr. Gandhi founded the famous "Phoenix Settlement." He had been reading Ruskin's Unto this Last and its influence sank deep into his mind.