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‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London

  • Author:
  • ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982 reprint
  • Pages:
  • 127
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Pages 85-87

At Byfleet.

ON the afternoon of September 9th, a number of working women of the Passmore Edwards’ Settlement, who were spending their holidays with Miss Schepel and Miss Buckton at Vanners, in Byfleet, a village some twenty miles out of London, had the great privilege of meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They wrote a short record of his sayings to keep for themselves. The following is an extract:—
We gathered round him in a circle, and he made us sit beside him in the window seat. One of the members, who was ill, had a specially beautiful greeting from him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began by saying, as he seated himself: “Are you happy?” and our faces must have shown him that we were. He then said: “I love you all, you are the children of the Kingdom, and you are accepted of God. Though you may be poor here, you are rich in the treasures of the Kingdom. I am the Servant of the poor. Remember how His Holiness Jesus said: ‘Blessed are the poor!’ If all the queens of the earth were gathered here, I could not be more glad!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá knew that we had a treasury box from which we try to help people less fortunate than ourselves. Presently he rose, and said: “You are dear to me. I want to do something for you! I cannot cook for you (he had previously seen us busy in the kitchen) but here 86 is something for your fund.” He went round the circle to each, with a beautiful smile, shaking hands with all, and giving the Bahá’í greeting: “Alláh’u’Abhá!”
Later on he walked in the village, and many poor children came to him, and mothers with sick babies and men out of work. He spoke to them all, through an interpreter. At tea-time other friends joined us. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá liked the cottage garden at Vanners, the little orchard and the roses. He said: “This is like a Persian garden. The air is very pure.”
On leaving for London he presented every one with a purple heartsease from the garden, and said again and again: “Good-bye” in English.
On the 28th September, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again visited Vanners, the little farm house on the old royal manor that dates back to the time of Edward II. He motored down from London and stayed over night, returning on the evening of the second day.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá was much struck during the drive by two detachments of Boy Scouts tramping the road. When told of the Scouts’ motto, “Be Prepared,” and that an act of kindness each day is one of their laws and that some of these boys had put out a fire and assisted at a recent railway accident, he said. “This makes me very happy.”
Arriving at Vanners, he found a large, strangely mixed crowd, assembled about the gate to welcome him, from the quite poor to the wealthy who had motored over from their country places. A great number followed him and as many 87 as could do so pressed into the garden and sat down around him. The silence was most impressive. The same attention and eagerness to hear was noticed among the people each time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared in the village.
After expressing his joy at being with them, he began to speak to the little group in answer to a question about the elaborate civilization of the West.