I asked him how he came to be there, and he told me the same old story that can be summed up in one word—drink! He came from up the State, at one time owned a farm outside of Oswego, and was living happily. He was a church member and bore a good name. “I used to take an odd drink, but always thought I could do without it,” said he. “Eighteen years ago I lost my wife and to drown my sorrow I got drunk. I had never been intoxicated before, and I kept at it for over three months, and when I began to come to myself, I was told that I had to get out of my home. I couldn’t understand it, but I was told I had sold my farm and everything I owned for a paltry $200 to a saloon-keeper, who I thought was my dearest friend!
“That happened eighteen years ago, and I’ve been pretty near all over the world since then, sometimes hungry, sometimes in pretty good shape, but I’ll never forget that saloon-keeper. I’ll see him again, and he will pay for what he did!”
I gave that man a ticket for lodging and a couple of meals. We talked about his early life, and I asked why he didn’t start out and be a Christian and not harbor a grudge; to let God punish that saloon-keeper. I told him I’d been through something like the same experience, a man whose word I trusted selling me some Harbor Chart stock and making me think he was doing me a good turn, and I lost several hundred dollars. That was in the years when I first started to be a Christian. I had the hardest time to forgive this man, but thank God I did!
I reasoned with that man day after day and saw that the light was breaking in his heart. Weeks went on, and he came to a point where he took Jesus as his guide and friend, and to-day he is a fine Christian gentleman. I have had him testifying in the church to the power of Christ to save a man. He tells me he has forgiven that saloon-man for Christ’s sake.
One afternoon about 5 o’clock I was sitting at my desk at the Mission Room when I noticed among the men who came there to read and rest and perhaps take a nap, a young man, a boy rather, clean and wearing good clothes. I looked at him a moment and thought, “He has got into the wrong place.” I spoke to him, as is my habit, and asked him what he was doing there. I brought him over and got him to sit down in that old chair where so many confessions are made to me and said kindly, “Well, what’s your story?” I thought of my own boy, and my heart went out to this young fellow.
He said, “You are Mr. Ranney. I’ve often heard about you, and I’m glad to see you now.” He told me how he had given up his job on Eighth Avenue around 125th Street the day before. He had had a “run in,” as he called it, at home, and had determined to get out. His mother had married a second time, and his stepfather and he could not agree on a single thing. He loved his mother, but could not stand the stepfather. He had drawn his pay at the jewelry store where he was working and had spent the night before at a hotel uptown, intending to look for a job the next day.