Gowramma was a charming, talented daughter, the only child of an Indian prince who was forced to cede his land to the British, for which he was compensated with a royal annuity. He showered his daughter with affection and love. He would have done anything for her well-being.
In 1850, the prince made a trip to England for personal matters. Gowramma was allowed to accompany her father. In London, both father and daughter associated with the highest ranking people in the country, including the royal court. Queen Victoria grew to love the Indian princess. This encouraged her father to ask the queen before he headed home whether he could place Gowramma in her care. This would allow her to stay in England for several years, be introduced to English customs and receive the best European education.
This was a great sacrifice for the prince. But he wanted the best for his daughter. He was never to see his child again on earth. He died shortly after his return home. His entire fortune including all his jewels and treasures was left to his daughter living in England.
Gowramma soon discovered the advantages of Christianity over her own Muslim religion. It was not the beauty and glory of the Gospel which she discovered, but more the desire to be accepted as an equal member in the society surrounding her. According to her wishes, she received Christian instruction and was soon after baptized. Queen Victoria, whose name Gowramma adopted, became her godmother.
From this point on, she lived in the world where she soon attracted the attention of all through her natural beauty and above all, her great wealth. She was wooed by an English officer and soon became his wife.
Her earthly happiness however did not last long. The climate of this country in the north was too harsh for this child of the east and her fragile health suffered greatly in the damp cold air of the London fog. Alarming signs of a deep-rooted disease soon became apparent. She suffered more and more and soon had to give up participating in any public engagements. Her strength decreased rapidly.
She now sat in her princely home, similar to a palace in the most wealthy quarter of the cosmopolitan city. Her sickroom itself was equipped with every convenience and luxury. In a soft recliner, supported by silk pillows, she sat in the midst of all splendor and glory and was deeply unhappy, for her heart clung to the things she would soon leave behind.
Her greatest pleasure was in the childlike occupation with her jewels and other treasures. To fill the rest of the time, she read novels. But God had plans of peace for her.
Among the servants was a young woman, simple and modest, who demonstrated love in her service and care. It was Hannah, the loving nurse, who her mistress treated more as a friend than as a servant.
There was a quiet glow on her face, some of the great joy distinct to the true Christian. Hannah loved the Lord and sought to show that she followed Him in her service. She also prayed, often while sitting near the sick princess and caring for her. It was her daily prayer that God would give her the opportunity and the wisdom to shine a beam of divine joy and peace into the dark soul of her mistress. Her beloved Bible was always at hand, so that from time to time she could drink from this living well whose water alone stills the thirst of the soul. How much rather would she have placed the precious Bible into the hands of her patient instead of the foolish and soul-corrupting novels she read to fill the long dreary hours. However, Hannah knew that God alone could waken the desire for this soul food and that she needed to patiently wait for God’s time.
“Hannah,” the sick woman said one day, “it must be very boring for you to be shut in with me in this sickroom all day where you have no interaction with anyone else.”
“Not at all, madam,” she replied. “I know nothing of boredom. I am always happy and have not had an instant of regret for living here in this quiet.”
The princess found this remarkable. “Go,” she said, “and get my jewel box. It is such a dismal day. We can amuse ourselves by looking at all the jewelry.”
Hannah did as she was told. The sick woman unlocked the box and with visible pleasure spread out one precious piece after the other on the table.
“Now Hannah,” she asked, “wouldn’t you also like to own such treasures?” – “Oh no,” answered the girl, “I have never longed for them, for I have much more beautiful jewels than these.”
“Where do you have them?” The lady was shocked and surprised. “I have never seen them with you.”
Hannah took her Bible, lifted it up and said, “Madam, my jewels are in this book!”
The lady thought Hannah had hidden two or three gemstones in the book and said, “Take them out and show them to me!”
“Sure, but my jewels are so precious that I can only show one at a time.” She then opened the Bible and read the verse, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11). Hannah added that while she was poor and owned no earthly treasures, she did not desire any riches, for God knew best what was good and beneficial for her. Nevertheless, deep down she was rich because she had an eternal treasure in heaven and an indescribable joy that made her calm and content. Hannah spoke in childlike innocence and the Lord opened the heart of the sick woman just like Lydia.
“Hannah, I have never heard anything like this. I would like to see another one of your jewels. The one you showed me was so beautiful,” said the lady. The wise attendant however saw that her mistress was tired and promised to show her another one of her jewels in the morning.
Already early in the morning, the princess said, “Let me see another one of your jewels!” This time Hannah read 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
The Holy Spirit had begun to work in the heart of the woman. She saw herself as a sinner and prayed for mercy and longed for peace with God. She no longer had an appetite for her previous light reading. She read in the Bible of her beloved Hannah and diligently sought the way of life. She no longer even cared about her precious jewelry. All she had to do now was find that one precious pearl. She soon found peace in the blood of Jesus.
While her inner person grew and strengthened day by day, her physical strength was visibly decreasing. However, she was glad she would soon see her Savior. She passed into eternity with the name of Jesus on her lips and awoke in His arms. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).