One day Dowling was walking along the Bowery when a hand was laid roughly on his shoulder and a voice said:
“Ain’t you Dowling?”
“What did you do with the loot?”
In the Sepoy Rebellion in India, he had looted the palace of a Rajah with two other soldiers. The most valuable items of the booty were several bamboo canes stuffed with diamonds, rubies and sapphires. In the act of burying them for protection and hiding, one of the soldiers was shot dead; the other two escaped and separated, and all these years each of them had lived in the suspicion that the other had gone back for the loot, and they both discovered on the Bowery that neither of them had and that this valuable stuff was buried in far-off India. Dowling wrote to the Governor-General and told of his part in the affair and volunteered to come out and locate it. But by this time his body was wasted, his steps were tottering and his head bent. Five-hundred dollars were appropriated by the Indian Government to take him out; but Dowling was destined for another journey; and, in the old tower that he loved so well and where he was beloved by every one who knew him, he lay down and died. They buried him in Plainfield, N.J., and his friends put over him a stone bearing these words that were so characteristic of his life:
“HE WENT ABOUT DOING GOOD”
My next service was in a city of a second class beyond the Mississippi River. I had been invited as a pulpit supply in one of its largest churches, but when I arrived I found them in a wrangle over the pastor who had just left and by whose recommendation I was to fill the pulpit. I arrived in the city on a Sunday morning and went from my hotel to the church prepared to preach. I stood for a few minutes in the vestibule, and what I heard led me to go straight out again, never to return.
My first impression of the city was that it contained more vital democracy than any city I had ever been in. It takes an Old World proletarian a long time to outgrow a sense of subserviency. As a missionary and almoner of the rich in New York, this sense was very strong in me. In the West I felt this vital democracy so keenly and saw the vision of political independence so clearly, that my very blood seemed to change. Politically, I was born again.
LIFE AND DOUBT ON THE BOTTOMS
While studying the social conditions of this city, I took a residence on the banks of the river among the squatters. There were about fifteen hundred people living in shacks on this “no man’s land.” My residence was a shack for which I paid three dollars a month. It was at the bottom of a big clay bank, and not far from where the city dumped its garbage. There was neither church nor chapel in this neglected district, and the people were mostly foreigners; but the children all spoke English.