With this dollar he returned to New York, got his tinker’s budget, and went back to his missionary field. If people did not want their souls cured he knew they must have lots of tinware that needed mending; so he combined the work of curing souls with the mending of umbrellas and kitchen utensils, and his period of starvation was past. His business was to preach the new vision and tinker for a living as he went along.
“September 12,” reads the diary, “I found myself by the brook which runs east of the mountain. I had a loaf of bread and some cheese, and with a tin cup I helped myself to the water of the brook. The fragments that remained I put in a bundle and tied to the branch of a tree by the roadside. On the wrapper I pencilled these words: ’Friend—if you come across this food and you need it, do not hesitate to eat it; but if you don’t need it, leave it for I will return at the close of the day. God bless you.’”
At eventime he returned and was surprised at the altered shape of the bundle. He found that two beef sandwiches and two big apples had been added, with this note: “Friend: accept these by way of variety. Peace to thee!” This gives occasion for another address of prayer and gratitude to God for His bountiful care. By the brookside he took supper, and then began the ascent of the hill. After a few hours fruitless search for the road, he “got stuck,” in the words of the diary. Finding himself in a helpless predicament, he gathered grass and dry leaves around him and prepared himself for the night.
“Psalms IV. 8 came to my mind,” he said, “and I took great comfort in the words—’I said, I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou, Lord, makest me dwell in safety!’”
He woke next morning and found the earth covered with hoar frost, which suggested to him: “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
One of my duties while engaged as a missionary on the Bowery was to render reports of the work done for the missionary society. The society had a monthly magazine and it was through that medium that they got the greater part of their support.
In one of my reports I told the story of a London waif. The story made such an impression upon the superintendent that he thought I was romancing, and said so. My best answer to that was to produce the boy, and I produced him. The boy told his own story. Then it was published in a magazine and produced a strong impression. I think an extra edition had to be printed to supply the demand.
THE WAIF’S STORY
“I know nothing about my father,” said the boy to me. “My mother worked in the brick-yard not far from our cottage, where we lived together. I went to school for two years and learned to read and write, a little.
“Every evening I used to go to the bend in the road and meet my mother as she came home. She was always very tired—so tired! She carried clay on her head all day and it was heavy. I used to make the fire and boil the supper and run all the errands to the grocery.