Some Personal Characteristics
There is a note in 'Abdu'l-Baha's character that has not been emphasized,
and with which no idea of him is complete. The impressive dignity which
distinguishes his presence and bearing is occasionally lighted by a
delicate and tactful humour, which is as unaffected as it is infectious
On his last afternoon in London, a reporter called to ask him of his
future plans, finding him surrounded by a number of friends who had called
to bid him good-bye. When, in answer to this query, 'Abdu'l-Baha told in
perfect English of his intention to visit Paris and go from there to
Alexandria, the press representative evinced surprise at his faultless
pronunciation. Thereupon 'Abdu'l-Baha proceeded to march with a free
stride up and down the flower-scented drawing room, his Oriental garb
contrasting strangely with his modern surroundings; and, to the amusement
of the assembly, uttered a string of elaborate English words, laughingly
ending, Very difficult English words I speak! Then, a moment later, with
the swift transition of one who knows both how to be grave and gay, he
showed himself terribly in earnest.
He had left orders that none were to be turned away, but one who had twice
vainly sought his presence, and was, through some oversight, prevented
from seeing him, wrote a heartbreaking letter showing that he thought
himself rebuffed. It was translated by the Persian interpreter.
'Abdu'l-Baha at once put on his coat, and, turning towards the door, said,
with an expression of unspeakable sadness, A friend of mine has been
martyred, and I am very grieved. I go out alone. and he swept down the
steps. One could then see how well the title of Master became him.
Another phase of his character which none who saw him could ever forget
was his attitude towards children who were brought to him. Many of his
talks were given as he sat with his arm encircling one of them.
He invariably admonished the parents thus: Give this child a good
education; make every effort that it may have the best you can afford, so
that it may be enabled to enjoy the advantage of this glorious age. Do all
you can to encourage spirituality in them.
One who sought the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha realized the father-like
sympathy which is his. Speaking of his and others' love for 'Abdu'l-Baha
the reply was: I know that you love me, I can see that it is so. I will
pray for you that you may be firm and serve in the Cause, becoming a true
servant to Baha'u'llah. Though I go away I will always be present with you
all. These words were spoken with the greatest loving sympathy and
understanding of difficulties; during the moments of this little talk
'Abdu'l-Baha held and stroked the speaker's hands, and at the end took his
head and with a gentle touch drew it to him kissing the forehead of the
young man, who felt that he had found a father and a friend.
Next: The Farewell
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