We got to talking, and he asked me where I was living. I smiled at the idea of my living! I wasn’t even existing! I told him I lived any place where I hung up my hat: that I didn’t put up at the Astor House very often; sometimes at the Delevan, or the Windsor, or in fact, any of the hotels on the Bowery were good enough for me—that is, if I had the price, fifteen cents. You can get a bed in a lodging-house for ten cents, or if you have only seven cents you can get a “flop.” You can sit in some joint all night if you have a nickel, but if you haven’t you can do the next best thing in line, and that is “carry the banner.” Think of walking the streets all night and being obliged to keep moving!
The man took a fifty-cent piece out of his pocket, held it in his hand, and asked me if I would meet him at the Broome Street Tabernacle the next morning at ten-thirty. Now I wanted that half-dollar, I wanted it badly! It meant ten drinks to me at five per. I would have promised to meet the Devil in hell for drink, and fearing the young man might put the money in his pocket again, I said I’d be there. He gave me the half-dollar, we shook hands, and I never expected to see that man again.
I didn’t go back to ——’s, but to —— Bowery—another place that has put more men on the down-grade than any place I know. It’s out of business now, and as I pass there every day I pray that all the saloons may go. I drank the half-dollar up in quick time, for with the Bowery element it’s divy even with drinks.
Morning came, and I wondered what I should do for the day. How I loved to stand and smell the liquor, even when not drinking! But now I hate it! Oh, what a change when Christ comes into a man’s heart! I had stood there all night in that saloon and didn’t feel a bit tired. I went out to “do” some one else, when I thought of the fellow of last night. I thought I had sized him up and that he was easy, so I started for the meeting-place, the Tabernacle. I went there to see if I could work him for a dollar, or perhaps two.
I got to the church and looked for a side door and found a bell which I rang. I did not have to wait long before the young fellow himself opened the door. Out went his hand, and he gave me such a shake that one would have thought he had known me all my life. There’s a lot in a handshake! “I’m glad to see you!” he said. “I knew you would keep your promise. I knew you would come.”