JAC Online

In An Underground Den
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This is a selection from the unpublished manuscript,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

When I look at the gentle-faced veteran women of The Army, and think of the storm of persecution through which many of them have come, I wonder greatly at their placid demeanour.  It is hard for me to think of them as the heroines of the scenes and exploits which are far beyond the imagination of present-day Salvationists.

I have one such woman in my mind.  Frail now, bent a little, using a stick to support her wearying limbs, but a smile of the peace of God surrounded by a glorious wealth of snow-white hair.  Could anybody think of her as having suffered imprisonment for The Army, or of having been kicked and stoned through the street until she lay unconscious?  There she would sit, as if never a pain nor a frown had been her lot.

In her early experience she had been one of a number of Army girls working in what was then called, the ‘Cellar, gutter, and garret Brigade’, in the slums of London, where the cries of ‘Murder!’ were frequent additions to the multitudinous sounds of squalid ribaldry and vulgar dissipation.

Upon one occasion in the course of her door-to-door visitation she found herself in an underground den, left alone with a man of the ‘Bill Sykes’ type, the awful hideousness of whose face was in itself a grim tale.  He dragged her across the floor, and roughly shaking her, hoarsely declared that he ‘would do her in’ within three minutes. 

“See,” he hissed through his broken teeth, and pointing to a gloomy aperture in the floor.  “See!  I could throw your body down there, and nobody would ever find it again!”

“You could do it if – IF – God would let you,” she replied.  “BUT HE WILL NOT LET YOU!  Remember I am His child, and I am not afraid.”

Cowed by her calm courage, but breaking into foul  language, he said, “I’d do it – yes, I would – if your God would let me!  Here, clear out; it’s only Him that’s kept me from doing it!”








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