JAC Online

The Midnight Plot
by Colonel Edward H. Joy

This is a selection from the unpublished manuscript,
'Our Fathers Have Told Us',
some early-day stories from The Salvation Army

In the days of my boyhood one of the great occasions during the stay of an Officer was the night when ‘My Life Story’ was to be delivered by the Captain.  Some of the, of course, were prowsy in the extreme, expecting us to be interested in details of the village from which they came, and some of them, I now suspect, laid on the colours a wee bit thickly, being grafted with vivid imaginations.

There was one Captain, much beloved in spite of his asthmatical voice and his idea that he could play a cornet – he has long since been put down as ‘promoted to Glory’ – or should it be ‘put up’?  He told us an exciting tale.

One night he was called out of bed to find a rough fierce-looking man standing in the street insisting that he should accompany him to a certain district of the town which the Officer knew to be of a very disreputable character.  He was assured that the man was dying and had sent for him to pray with him.

Through the silent streets they took their way, nobody seeing them pass and the Captain trying to make conversation, efforts which were discouraged by his companion, until they reached a house where they climbed up stairs to the top-most floor, and the guide ushered the Officer into a room in which, on a bed in the far corner, was lying a man.

“That’s him wot sent fer yer!” said the rough, fierce-looking man.

The Salvationist made his way across the room with the intention of speaking to the occupant of the bed, when, suddenly, the man jumped up, threw aside his clothes, and exclaimed, “Righto, Bill, we’ll settle him!”

Question and answer gave a clue to the situation.  It appeared that that same evening, while speaking in the Market Place, the Captain had so accurately described the state of an unsaved man – incidentally, drawing from his own experiences – as to fit into the circumstances of these men, and to make their consciences convict them of being the very men the speaker was describing.  If their deeds were known to him, they thought, then it was vital to their safety that he should be quietened. 

It was not easy for our man to convince them otherwise, and long was the wordy argument, and tense was the situation.  (how we hugged ourselves, as youngsters, in the excitement of the story, for the picture of our little Captain in the grasp of two hulking roughs was a thriller indeed!)  But wisdom on the part of the Salvationist, as he fell to his knees and prayed for the Salvation of his captors – never mentioning his own needs – and, at length, it dawned on his captors that they had made a huge mistake, and without much more ado apologies were forthcoming, and the two men offered to show him the way home.

This was not the end of the story, for the Captain, being that sort of a forgiving man, struck up a chumship with them which eventually led to their conversion; it was they, themselves, who first told the story of the ‘midnight plot’.  Both lived for many years in the enjoyment of an ardent Salvationism.

The thought, however, of that supposed sick man jumping off the bed and laying hold of the unsuspecting Captain, sent me to my bed with vivid dreams ahead of me, and a wonder as to what might happen to me if I ever became an Officer.








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