|A Formosan Student's Funeral|
Letter of Miss Isabel Elliot from Maruyama, Taihoku, Formosa, February 27,1915.
Dear. Dr. Scott:
Hum-lam, a Hakka student in our Middle School in Tamsui, was brought in our hospital, some weeks ago. It was a very severe case of typhoid with complications. He managed to hold his own to the convalescent stage, but suddenly became very much worse, and in a few days was gone. He was 19 years of age, a bright boy, holding a responsible position in Japanese employ before entering the Middle school.
His parents were not Christian, and lived some distance from any church, but, boy-like, he was everywhere, and one day drifted to the Tiong-lek church, became a hearer, a believer, and at fifteen was baptized.
Still his parents and brothers remained deaf to the Gospel, though they did not oppose him, even allowing him to enter a Christian school. He was a quiet studious boy, popular with both teachers and students, and held the presidency of an organization the boys had among themselves.
The funeral service was held in the hospital chapel, and all the boys from both Middle School and Theological College were present. The pastor of the nearest city church conducted the service. Mr.Mackay in a few words outlined Hum-lam's school life and its influence, and Mr.MacLeod closed with prayer. The plain unpainted coffin stood in front of the hospital, and was open that the boys might see their comrade.
Chinese funeral customs are strange to our western eyes and ears, with their screeching string bands, bright colored banners and general display, and the shouts of the coffin bearers, coolies hired for the purpose, mingling with the wailing of the mourners, but at Hum-lam's funeral there was none of this. One student headed the procession; others, carrying tall black banners, showing texts in white characters, also one giving his name and age, followed quietly, then came the casket, borne by his own special friends, all Hakka students, then the main body of the students, and last the friends.
Arrived at the grave the boys themselves lowered the coffin, and helped to fill in the grave. Then we sang a hymn and had prayer. We have no special burying ground in Taihoku for Christians, so his grave is surrounded by heathen graves.
It must have been an object lesson to the heathen who were looking on, to see Hum-lam's body carried by his own chums, a task that is considered strictly a coolie's work even among Christians, but we were so glad the boys were willing to do it.