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The Sidewalks of New York
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This is a selection from the unpublished manuscript,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

Am I succeeding in passing on to my younger readers some of the thrill of the earlier years of The Army, when from nearly every country where we were at work, there came word that their soil was being enriched by the blood of Salvationist martyrs, the see of The Army today?  Scarcely a city, and villages innumerable, but had its own tale of sickness and loneliness patiently borne, and where men and women were laying down their lives to maintain our standards.  Ours is, indeed, a glorious heritage!

In the days of my boyhood I was thrilled by the stories of happenings in the cities and towns of the United States.  Week by week, as I read the American 'War Cry', a bond of Salvation kinship was being created, as I compared the happenings over the sea with those we were enduring in my own land, and I must confess, there was a feeling of relief in my heart that my lot was cast in pleasanter circumstances.

I read of an Army girl in Minnesota - than an unknown country to me - who was brought to death by inches from the kicks of the ruffians in the town where she was stationed; another was an Officer fired upon by an angry mob and severely wounded in the streets of Baltimore. 

Those 'War Crys' from afar told the story of an Army Soldier of New Orleans, who, going one day on a simple errand for himself, was met by a gang of hoodlums and so severely kicked and wounded, that, within a week, we was carried to his grave accompanied by his mourning, yet rejoicing, comrades.

I read, too, of another Soldier, this time in a California town, who, selling 'War Crys' in a saloon, was invited by some of the customers to share their drinks.  One his refusing and proceeding to deal with them on the error of their ways, two of them demanded he should desist, drawing their guns to back up their demand.  He continued his entreaties, however, thereupon both men fired upon him, severely wounding him in the thigh and the stomach.  In such ways did our American comrades share in the worldwide wave of persecution surging around us.

Here is a story worthy of being included in any tales of the 'stirring deed of old', even though it be but one among others similar in incident and tragic ending in more than one land of our occupation.  

The girl of whom I am going to tell was born in a wealthy and luxurious home, of which she was the petted only daughter.  Her father idolized her, and she lived in the highest degree of comfort until reverses overtook her father, and he lost all his property and his life through shock.  On the day of her father's death, her mother sank into hopeless invalidism which lasted for two years, and during that time Mary Mason was a sick nurse and a household drudge.  Life, indeed, went hard with her.

But no so hard as it might have been, for just then she entered into the knowledge of Christ as a personal Saviour.  This had come to her in a Salvation Army meeting.  She became a sincere Salvationist and rejoiced in all that it meant.  Then, also, she had promised to marry a man whom she loved with all her heart.  Her wedding day was fixed, but her lover died on the day before that fixed for the happily expected marriage.

In ordinary circumstances she might have gone for comfort in her sorrow to the people of The Army, bust just then we were torn apart by the defection of our leader, our ranks scattered by dissensions - no need to dwell on the details, save to say that one sorrowing soul was denied a friendship she craved, and stung to the quick by what she regarded as being out of all keeping with what she had expected, she abandoned her newly-found experience, and flung off all profession of religion.

But God called her; louder than the voices of insincerity was the wooing voice of the gentle Shepherd, and, by and by, she went to The Army again, and renewed her vows and pledged herself to a fuller service for God.  The intervening years had been filled up in a loving toil for her brother, whom her mother had left to her care.

"Look after him always, Mary," she had said, and faithfully Mary had laboured to fulfil that dying request.  She worked in homes, drudging as a servant, so that she might find the necessary funds to put the lad through a medical college.  On the day he attained his diploma she drew a long breath - she was free now to serve God in The Army, and to fill in some of the spaces which the years and her getting away from God had created.

She entered the old Training Home in New York, and full of ardour, - the free, dauntless ardour of fifty years ago.  She had all the sings of a long, useful life - plump, rosy-cheeked, and a sunny disposition, for she was happier now than she had been for years.  The sorrows and disappointments of the past were lost in the flood of present usefulness; she was happy beyond expression. 

But those were the days when the Salvationists were hated and misunderstood people in old New York; when saloon-keepers incited the mobs against us; when no filthy story was too obscene to be levelled against us; when no newspaper told any good about us.  No public conveyance could be entered without a stream of abuse being poured upon any Salvationist passenger.  No Army pedestrian could safely walk abroad. 

One day, perhaps it was foolish of then to do so, Mary and the loved 'Mother' of the little Training Home went out for a short walk together.  "Come out for a breath of fresh air," invited the Staff-Captain, "it will do both of us good."

So they went out together.  They were unwise, you might say, to dare to tread the sidewalks of New York in broad daylight; there were foolish to expect that the police would afford them any protection.  For a few moments they walked unmolested, and then a rough, hulking fellow show could have lifted Cadet Mary with one hand, struck her a blow with all his force between her shoulders.  The blow knocked her down, and she was suffering terribly when the Staff-Captain lifted her and brought her back to the Training Home. 

"Bruised lung," said the doctor, laconically and unfeelingly.  "She was weak there before, ought never to have joined your Army - can't last long!"

The fellow who had done the mischief sauntered on his way, proudly, very likely, that he has asserted the right of New Yorker city to protest against the 'Blood and Fire' invasion; so called gentlemen had smiled at the prostrate girl; none had come forward to help her and her comrade.  It may seem difficult for American Salvationists of today, so honoured and beloved, to believe that such things are less than fifty years old.

Mary lay down on her narrow Training Home bed to die, nursed, though she was, with every possible loving care.  She suffered much, but her grief was that she would never be able, after all, to do anything for her Master; never be able to fill up those lost years.  "It's all right, I know," she whispered in long, gasping breaths, "but it seems hard I'll never be able to do anything for Him.  Dear Lord, lay not this sin to his charge!"  Did that hulking hoodlum ever feel the force of her prayers?

One more blow she was to receive a're her trials were at an end - this time on her bruised heart.  The Army people had written to her brother, the one for whom she had toiled for so many years - to say that she was dying.  But he never answered.  Those were the days when to join The Salvation Army meant social ostracism, and the complete severance of family ties.  The newly-fledged physician would have no dealings with his sister who had made herself a drudge for him.

She died in the arms of her Training Home 'Mother'; died with a smile on her face, and a 'Father, forgive them!' on her lips.

She was buried on a wet, chilly day, and nobody, possibly, remembers much about it these fifty years after, except one man, if he yet be living, who knelt at the Penitent Form at her Memorial Service.  The account of her passing did not take up much more than a column of the 'Cry'.  Since then I have searched old files of American 'War Cry' but could find nothing more about Mary Mason, only in other ways have I filled in the details of her story. 

Let us lay a wreath on her grace - where is it? - and let it be inscribed: "Killed for daring to wear on the streets of New York a garb which showed she belonged to Jesus Christ!," and having done that let us take up the fight once more under the Flag which flies all the higher because of those who have laid down their lives for it.

 

  

 

 

   

 

 

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