Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/34

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

come, trusting, as he himself expressed it, to the British sense of justice and fair-play. He was soon recognised, however, set upon, and half-killed, when the wife of the superintendent of police, who recognised him, ran to his rescue, and, raising her umbrella over him, defied the crowd and accompanied him to the store of an Indian friend, Mr. Gandhi was, however, in order to save his friend’s property, obliged to escape disguised as a police constable.

The affair was at an end, popular passions calmed down, and the newspapers apologised to him, though the incident demonstrated the temper of the mob towards the resident Indian community. Years afterwards, meeting Mr. Gandhi one day, Mr. Escombe expressed profound regret at his connection with this unsavoury business, declaring that, at the time, he was unacquainted with Mr. Gandhi’s personal merits and those of the community to which he belonged. Half-an-hour later he was found dead in the streets, stricken down by eart-disease.


In 1899, at the outbreak af the Anglo-Boer War, Mr. Gandhi, after considerable opposition, induced the Government to accept the offer of an Indian Ambulance Corps. The Corps was one thousand strong and saw active service, being on one occasion, at least, under heavy tire, and on another, removing the dead body of Lord Robert’s only son from the field. The Corps was favourably reported on, and Mr, Gandhi was mentioned in despatches and afterwards awarded the war medal. His object in offering the services of a body of Indian to do ever. the most menial work was to show that the Indian community desired to take their full share of public responsibilities, and that just as they knew how to demand rights, so they also knew to assume obligations. And that has been the keynote of Mr. Gandhi’s public work from the beginning.

Writing in the Illustrated Star of Johannesburg in July 1911, a European, who had taken part in that campaign, says:—

My first meeting with Mr. M. K. Gandhi was under strange circumstances. It was on the road from Spion Kop, after the