He weakened. He knew his record was bad and he did not want to go up to 300 Mulberry Street (Police Headquarters), so he said, “All right, Danny, take her, but you are doing me dirty.”
We got down to the ferry all right, and the lady and I went to Philadelphia and placed Annie in her aunt’s house and bid her good-by.
Frequently I get a letter from Cincinnati from Annie. She is home with her mother, and a team of oxen couldn’t pull her away from home again. She writes, “God bless and keep you, Dan! I thank God for the night you found me on the Bowery!”
“Tell her the latch-string is out”
I was in a Baptist church one Sunday night speaking before a large audience and had in the course of my talk told the above story. The meeting had been a grand one. I felt that God had been with us all the way through. I noticed one man in particular in the audience while I was telling this story. Tears were running down his cheeks and he was greatly agitated. I was shaking hands all around after the meeting was over when this man came and said, “Mr. Ranney, can I have a little talk with you?” I said, “Yes.” “Wait till I get the pastor,” he said, and in a few minutes the minister joined us in the vestry. The man could not speak. I saw there was something on his heart and mind, and wondered what it could be. I’ve had lots of men come and tell me all about themselves, how they were going to give up stealing, drinking, and all other sins, but here was something different, so I waited. He tried to speak, but could only sob. Finally he cried out with a choking sob, “Sister!” The minister’s hand went out to his shoulder, mine also, and we tried to comfort him; I never saw a man in such agony. After a little he told this story:
“Mr. Ranney, I am sure God sent you here to-night. I had a lovely sister; she may be living yet; I don’t know. Seventeen years ago she went out to take a music lesson, and we have never laid eyes on her since, and have never had the first line from her. Oh, if I only knew where she is! She was one of the sweetest girls you ever saw, just like the girl you spoke about to-night. She was enticed away from home by a man old enough to be her father, who left his own family to starve. I’ve hunted for them all over. I’ve never passed a poor girl on the street without giving a helping hand, always thinking of my own sweet sister, who might perhaps be in worse circumstances. Mr. Ranney, will you promise me whenever you tell that story—which I hope will be very often—just to mention that girl who left a New Jersey town some years ago? Say that mother is waiting for her daughter with arms open. Say the latch-string is out and there’s a welcome. Perhaps—who can tell?—you may be the means of sending that daughter back to home and mother!”
He gave me his name and address, the girl’s name also, and I promised what he wanted. Would to God this book might be the means of uniting these separated ones and sending the gray-haired mother home to heaven rejoicing! Oh, how many a mother’s girl is in bondage to-night for the want of a helping hand and some kind friend to give advice!