In The Heart of
Edward H. Joy
This is a selection from the unpublished manuscript,
'Our Fathers Have Told Us',
some early-day stories from The
In the course of an association which lasted many years I
gathered more than one old-time Army story from a certain
comrade, now in the Glory-Land, who from the first day of his
Officership until the day of his death retained a high
enthusiasm for the things of God, and never went back on his
dedication to the purposes of The Army.
The following is a story with which he regaled a
company of us at a lunch-table half-hour in his officer.
I will try to set it down pretty much as he then told
He had not long been in India, whither he went in the earlier
days of our work there, before he had acquired such a
knowledge of the local language as to be known far and wide as
the ‘White Tamil’.
He had been sent by his leaders to reconnoiter one of
the largest cities of the South-West of India and to report on
possibilities for Army work there.
This city is famous for its ancient Rock Temple, a
place of heathen worship hidden in the recesses of the rocky
hill on the confines of the town.
A place regarded as one of the most sacred shrines of
the country, and therefore severely forbidden to any of a
He was accompanied by a native Army comrade, and the two had
spent their time selling ‘War Crys’ and speaking to the people
in the bazaar, and so attracting great crowds, who listened
eagerly and responsively to their preaching.
My friend’s knowledge of the language and customs and
religions of India (of which he had made a thoughtful study)
greatly impressed his audiences, - that an Englishman should
be so obviously educated in them.
Towards mid-day, however, being tired with their exertions,
and anxious to escape from the throng, and find a place where
could take their simple meal away from the gaze of the
populace, they found themselves, quite without intention, at
the outskirts of the city and at the foot of an inviting
Never knowing that it led to the forbidden sacred spot, and
that it was only trodden by devout followers of the Hindu
religion, they began the climb.
Those who saw them evidently did not recognize as the
preachers who had been in the city; neither was there much to
distinguish them from the ordinary worships in the temple
above. They were
wearing the usual Indian Salvation Army uniform, turban,
dhoti, and sandals.
The colour of their faces did not call for remark, for
among the darker coloured Indians of the South a man of a
fairer countenance is often taken for a visitor from the
North, - and y friend was of a decidedly dark complexion.
So he and his native colleague continued in their
peaceful way up the Temple slope, and found a place for their
This finished they essayed a further climb, and eventually
arrived at a turn in the road where saw a white-bearded
invited them to continue their walk beyond the barrier of
which he was the obvious guardian.
Thinking no wrong they went on, finding that for
several yards the road was hewn out of the solid rock, and
then that it led into a series of galleries, which, finally,
brought them to the inner Holy of Holies of this famous
The two young fellows continued their way, past the
dancing-girls in their horrible quarters, the idol-makers at
their tasks – making relics for the pilgrims, and the numerous
attendants engaged in their various temple duties.
With others they went forward, not knowing now what
else to do, but gravely aware of their danger, and presently
found themselves face to face with the immense images of the
great god Deva and his equally famous spouse, Devee.
The priest in charge himself came forward to give them
They were aware they were in a place where they were never
expected, and in a position of the gravest danger.
Their aimless wandering up the hill side path had
brought them hither, but how to return they knew not.
It was not long before they became aware that, in some
way or other, they had become the objects of suspicion.
My friend saw he had been recognized as a white man,
and hateful and excited glances began to meet them at every
turn. A false
move on their part might let forth an avalanche of fury.
It came when they refused to make the expected offering
of all pilgrims to the shrine.
There was a loud shout of ‘Christians!
Yells, shrieks, shouts, curses rose on the air, and the
rushing of attendants and worshippers and the excited commands
of the priests made them feel that the hour of death was
They were in the dark recesses of the inner temple, and not a
friend at hand.
If they disappeared they would never be traced.
Conscious, however, that they were unwilling
trespassers they could do nothing else than commit themselves
to God’s gracious care.
The rioting continued, indeed, it increased, and they were as
two hunted animals.
Fortunately, however, the Englishman kept his presence
of mind, and remembered some of his bearings.
He saw one of the attendants rushing across the floor,
and heard him calling, “Shut the gates!
Shut the gates!”
Realising this was a plan to shut off their way of escape, he
clutched at his comrade, just managed to elude the attendant
and pass the gates before they clanged together.
But there remained the intricacies of the passages to be
Trusting to God to lead them aright they raced on, with the
yelling crowd at their heels, who had only been restrained for
a few moments by the temporary shutting of the gates.
The whole temple was now alive to the desecration of
Quick as was the mob, our comrades were quicker, and the
Captain’s knowledge of Tamil stood him in good stead, for the
keepers of each gate instantly swung open all barriers at his
imperiously worded command.
Eventually, they emerged into the open, and, with not too much
show of a hurry because of ascending pilgrims, they descended
the path and came to the town.
But soon the city was in an uproar, the streets were
crowded with a searching mob.
Unobtrusively the Salvationists made their way to their
lodgings, and by God’s mercy were received by their host, who,
being a Mohammedan, had no sympathy with the people who temple
had been invaded.
Indeed, he was inclined to treat the whole affair as a huge
Not so later on, when the Chief of the Police took the matter
in hand, and in order to pacify the excited populace arrived
at the hostel and demanded our two friends be handed over to
him. Here, too,
good fortune was on their side, for the magistrate before whom
they were brought was also a Mohammedan, and inclined to give
full regard to the Salvationists’ plea that they were not
guilty of a deliberate offence, and that His Worship dare not
in that circumstance detain or sentence one of Her Majesty’s
In giving evidence the priest of the temple, a very high
dignitary, expressed his horror of the Christians’ presence in
the Holy Place.
“Why,” he said, “the Prince of Wales himself offered me a
great sum to be allowed to enter, but I refused him.
Yet these men have both seen it and defiled it!”
The magistrate’s refusal to convict our friends did not do
much to allay the excitement, and it was only by strategy the
police managed to smuggle them out of the city, taking them by
a back way to the railway station and seeing them off on the
Grateful for his escape, and conscious that it was in answer
to his fervent prayers, the Captain gave himself to the cause
of the Indian people with an abandon which characterized all
his service, and should be counted among those who laid the
foundations of The Army in that land.
I remember, however, that his humour added the final
touch to this exciting story: “I never prayed more movingly
than I did when I was racing along those temple passages with
the yelling crowd at my heels!”