He had crossed over the little piece of stone flagging that measured the width of the alley, and now he stood in front of the saloon, looking at the sign, and staring into the window at the pile of whiskey and beer bottles arranged in a great pyramid inside. He moistened his lips with his tongue and took a step forward, looking around him stealthily. The door suddenly opened again and someone came out. Again the hot, penetrating smell of liquor swept out into the cold air, and he took another step towards the saloon door which had shut behind the customer. As he laid his fingers on the door handle, a tall figure came around the corner. It was the Bishop.
He seized Burns by the arm and dragged him back upon the sidewalk. The frenzied man, now mad for a drink, shrieked out a curse and struck at his friend savagely. It is doubtful if he really knew at first who was snatching him away from his ruin. The blow fell upon the Bishop’s face and cut a gash in his cheek. He never uttered a word. But over his face a look of majestic sorrow swept. He picked Burns up as if he had been a child and actually carried him up the steps and into the house. He put him down in the hall and then shut the door and put his back against it.
Burns fell on his knees sobbing and praying. The Bishop stood there panting with his exertion, although Burns was a slightly-built man and had not been a great weight for a man of his strength to carry. He was moved with unspeakable pity.
“Pray, Burns—pray as you never prayed before! Nothing else will save you!”
“O God! Pray with me. Save me! Oh, save me from my hell!” cried Burns. And, the Bishop knelt by him in the hall and prayed as only he could pray.
After that they rose and Burns went to his room. He came out of it that evening like a humble child. And the Bishop went his way older from that experience, bearing on his body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Truly he was learning something of what it means to walk in His steps.
But the saloon! It stood there, and all the others lined the street like so many traps set for Burns. How long would the man be able to resist the smell of the damnable stuff? The Bishop went out on the porch. The air of the whole city seemed to be impregnated with the odor of beer. “How long, O Lord, how long?” he prayed. Dr. Bruce came out, and the two friends talked about Burns and his temptation.
“Did you ever make any inquiries about the ownership of this property adjoining us?” the Bishop asked.
“No, I haven’t taken time for it. I will now if you think it would be worth while. But what can we do, Edward, against the saloon in this great city? It is as firmly established as the churches or politics. What power can ever remove it?”
“God will do it in time, as He has removed slavery,” was the grave reply. “Meanwhile I think we have a right to know who controls this saloon so near the Settlement.”