JAC Online

Weapons of Defence
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This is a selection from the unpublished manuscript,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

This is another story for which I am indebted to my American veteran friend; again I set it down in much the same words as it first came to me.

“I know,” she said, “there are some folks who are always saying they wish they could have the good old days back again, but, on enquiry, I find they know very little about the things we had to endure in the early days of The Army.  We were quite young then, and I am afraid that some of our antics were very strange to good thinking people who had never been used to a noisy religion.  It is a small wonder that the rough element treated us badly, for we were straight-out in our expressions about sin and bad habits.  But, talking about the ‘good old days’, I, for one, am not anxious to go through again what I had to endure fifty years ago.

“For instance, I do not want to have repeated the experience of a certain evening when I was coming home from the meeting with my husband; not walking slowly, because we didn’t dare to dawdle along the streets in those days, but getting along as fast as we could for fear we should suffer some interruption.

“Suddenly, around the corner, came a crowd of toughs, and without the slightest warning, the leader of them rushed up to my husband, and deliberately kicked him under the chin.  A policeman was in sight and saw what was done, and arrested the man, but the judge, who had a prejudice against us, and did not scruple to let it be known, dismissed the case!

“The night following, as soon as we opened the Hall for the meeting, this same man, with about fifty others, rushed into the room, declaring they had come for their revenge, - and they had it.  Not a breakable piece of furniture was left whole!

“I was at the back of the Hall contending with some others who were determined to push in, and my husband was up at the front defending the property there, - a helpless task.  At length some frightened citizens went for the police; four of them appeared and told us they would escort us home.

“However, in spite of them, the young man who had been acquitted that morning, hid in a door-way, and, as we passed, rushed out and jumped on my husband, felling him to the ground, while another man took a deliberate running kick at his head, leaving him unconscious.  As he lay there senseless the police stood over him with drawn truncheons, and of course the cowardly attackers made their escape.

“But some time after we had our reward, for in one of our meetings in another town, a young Captain stood up to tell us he was present on the occasion of that riot, and that our Christian-like behaviour had been the means of bringing him to Christ.  I have since heard of another who was present and gave his heart to God, and has since won hundreds of souls for Christ’s Kingdom.  So our fight was worthwhile. 

“Of course, to every rough time there is an amusing side if one can only find it, and those we often suffered very much, there were occasions when we had a good laugh out of our trials.   

“We had been told that we need not be surprised if any night the mob raided our house and dragged us from our beds.  We would not have been surprised if they had attempted it, for there seemed to be no limit to their fury, especially when they had been primed by drink and incited to further evil actions by the saloon-keepers.

“One night we had retired to rest.  We had had a tough fight and were dreadfully tired, and I was just dozing, when I heard a strange noise.  I saw up and listened and heard the voices of several men who seemed to be surrounding the house.  Their language was vile in the extreme.  I wakened my husband, and told him I was sure the mob had come at last, and that we had better get up and prepare to defend ourselves.  Poor man, he was only half awake, but he got up and went to the door of the room where our two men lieutenants were sleeping, and told them they had better dress and be ready for the worst.

“They were ready on the instant, and on the stairs we held a consultation, stealthily arranging our scheme of defence.  We decided it would not be wise to show a light, as the enemy might fire on us through the window.  We looked around for some weapons with which we could repel the enemy.  Dear me!  What could we do?

“After a few moments, four brave warriors, including myself, were standing behind the front door, armed to the teeth.  I was brandishing the housebroom, while the rest were wielding weapons equally dangerous – the fire-shovel, the poker, the stove-raker, etc.  There we stood, determined to sell our lives as dearly as possible.

“Soon I was shivering with cold, for I was but half-clad, and the broom was proving a heavy, awkward weapon, and I was beginning to wonder when the foe would make a charge.  We thought all manner of things, and whispered to each other that they were setting light to the house, and that we should all be cremated – and then I heard a woman’s voice.

“We listened earnestly, and soon found out the cause of all the disturbance.  It was an old drunken woman who had stumbled over our steps on her way home, and refused to budge, in spite of the earnest entreaties of her friends.  A crowd of young fellows had gathered to watch their efforts, and hence the noise, which my exalted imagination had construed into a ‘tar and feather’ party.  Oh the relief!

“Our weapons were soon put back where we had found them, and we had a good laugh over our valiant conduct and half-dressed appearance.  I am afraid I was rather wicked, but I could not help remarking that it was the first time I was glad to know an old woman was drunk.

“However, in spite of our struggles, we had our joys, as well as amusement.  When we were leaving that particular town, one of our foremost persecutors came to see us away, and told us how sincerely he repented his conduct, and was determined to lead a better life.  We afterwards heard that he was saved and a good Soldier.

“We now have the gladness after all these years of knowing that in the city of our struggles the Flag of The Army is waving high, and our people held in the highest respect.  But, as for those who want ‘the good old days back again’, well, let them want; for my part I had enough of them while they were on.








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