[Illustration: Mr. Ranney and one of his “Boys.” Dave Ranney, Alias Danny Reilly.]
I had never lost sight of my friend Irvine. We used to see each other often and have a good chat about things in general. He said he was going to take charge of the Sea and Land Church and wanted me to come and be the sexton. It would give me $30.00 per month, rooms, coal and gas. He thought it would be a good thing for me to become reunited to my wife Mary, and I thought so too, but she had to give her consent. We had been separated for a number of years, and though I had been calling on her for over a year she never took any stock in my conversion. Here I was fifteen months a redeemed man, trying to get my wife to live with me again. I prayed often, but I never thought she would consent.
CHURCH OF SEA AND LAND
I was married young, and she was only a girl, and though she loved me she could not forget the misery and hardships she went through. I never hit her in my life, but I wouldn’t support her: I’d rather support the rumseller and his family, all for that cursed drink. And I didn’t blame her for being afraid to chance it again. “A burnt child dreads the fire.” I had made her life very hard, and she was afraid. She was glad to know that I had given up drink, but doubted my remaining sober. Finally she agreed to live with me again if I remained sober for three years. I was put on probation—the Methodist way. Now I had been on the level for fifteen months, and I had twenty-one months more to go. She was strong-minded and would stick to her word, so I did not see how I could take the job as sexton.
I told Mr. Irvine that was the way things stood and for him to get some one else. He said, “Pretty slim chances, but we will pray about it.” He and I went up to Sixty-seventh Street, where Mrs. Ranney was working as laundress, and after a little talk we came to the point. I was a go-ahead man, and tried every way to get her to promise to come down, but she wouldn’t say yes. I’ll never forget that night in the laundry if I live a hundred years; she took no stock in me at all. I was giving it up as a bad job; she wouldn’t come, and that settled it. We got up to go when Mr. Irvine asked if she would object to a word of prayer. She said, “No,” and we had a little prayer-meeting right there. We bade Mrs. Ranney good-night and left.
The next night she came down and we showed her all over the church. The sexton who had been living there hadn’t kept the living apartments clean, and she did not like them very much, but when she went away she said, “If I only could be sure you would keep sober I would go with you, but I can’t depend on you. Fifteen months isn’t long enough; you will have to go three years. I don’t think I’ll come.” I said, “That settles it! But listen: whether you come or not, I am not going back to the old life.” The next day I received a telegram from Mary saying,