“Two days after that I thought the ship was going to the bottom of the sea, and I didn’t care very much, for I had been vomiting, and it seemed as if my heart was breaking, and I was sick—so sick that I didn’t care whether I was dead or alive. One of the sailors heard me groaning and pulled me out by the leg. Then he looked at me and swore; caught me by the neck and dragged me before the captain. I was so sick I could not stand; but the captain was not angry. He was very funny, for he laughed very loudly, and said:
“’Put the kid to work, and if he doesn’t do it, put a ten-inch hose on him!’
“Four of us altogether had stowed away on that ship. The other boys laughed a good deal at me because I got the easiest job of them all. When I was able to stand on my feet, they made me clean a little brass cannon. I could clean it sitting down, and I liked the job when I was not sick. Every one was good to me, and I had a happy time the last few days of the voyage. Then I came to New York and met you.”
This, in briefest outline, is the story of Johnnie Walker. I met him at a mission on the edge of the North River, and was as touched by his story as others had been before me. So I took him to my home, introduced him to the bathroom and to a new suit of clothes, and Johnnie entered upon the happiest days of his life. After a few weeks I handed him over to the Children’s Aid Society, and they sent him out West. He has always called me “father.”
One evening I asked him what he knew about Jesus and he replied, “Ain’t ‘ee th’ bloke as they swears about?”
His ideas of prayer were also dim, but he made an attempt. He wrote a letter to God and read it on his knees before going to bed.
He is now a prosperous farmer in the far West, living on a quarter section of land given to him by the Government, and on which he has made good his claim to American citizenship.
I MEET SOME OUTCASTS
A sharp contrast to this waif of the street is the case of a statesman under a cloud. I was sitting on a bench near the bunk-house one day at twilight, when I noticed a profile silhouetted against the window. I had seen only one profile like that in my life, and that was when I was a boy. I moved closer. The man sat like a statue. His face was very pale and he was gazing vacantly at the walls in the rear of the building. Finally, I went over and sat down beside him.
“Good evening,” he said quietly, in answer to my salutation. I looked into his face—a face I knew when a boy, a face familiar to the law-makers of Victoria for a quarter of a century. I called him by name. At the sound of his own name, his paleness turned to an ashy yellow.
“In Heaven’s name,” I said, “what are you doing here?” He looked at me with an expression of excruciating pain on his face, and said: