FIFTEEN YEARS WITH THE OUTCAST
MRS. FLORENCE (MOTHER) ROBERTS
A missionary, upon returning from his field of labor in India, was making an effort to stir up the sympathies of the people in behalf of the heathen. By telling his countrymen of the influence of the gospel upon the Indians and of the hundreds, even thousands, of them who had become Christians, he succeeded in creating an interest among many of his friends. He told many stirring experiences of the difficulties encountered in the missionary work, and gave affecting accounts of the persecution of the native Christians because of their turning from their idolatry and former beliefs.
A noted English hunter had just returned from a hunting tour in Bengal. These two men were invited to speak at a certain assembly. The large audience listened attentively to thrilling experiences of the hunter as he related the hairbreadth escapes in the jungles and told of the many Bengal tigers seen and killed. After he had finished his account of his hunting tour, he was asked to give a report of the missionary work as he had found it in India. He stated that in all his travels in Bengal he had not seen a native Christian and, further, that he did not believe there were any, but that there were plenty of tigers. He said that he had not seen a missionary on the field and that the missionaries were deceiving the people by their reports.
The missionary was stung to the heart. He knew that the people were almost ready to cast him down in derision because of the powerful influence this noted hunter had exerted over the audience. When he arose, trusting the Lord for wisdom that he might be able to convince his hearers of the real situation of missionary work in India, he kindly referred to the statements of the eminent hunter and said: "He has related his exciting experiences in tiger-hunting and has told you that tigers abound in that country. Why should I believe his word? Though I spent several years in Bengal, yet I never saw a tiger outside of a cage nor any one hunting tigers. He says he did not see a native Christian or a missionary on the field. I have seen hundreds of them, have lived among them, have taught them, and I am able to verify my statements. Shall I discredit the statements of the hunter because I saw no tigers? I was not looking for tigers; therefore I did not go to the jungles to find them. He was not looking for Christians and missionaries, and for that reason he did not go to the plains where they were to be found." The words of the missionary had the desired effect, and the cause that he represented was sustained.
It has often been said that the world is growing better and that the places of vice are few; but if the veil is drawn aside only enough to give a glimpse of the pitfalls of darkness and sin, one is made to stand aghast and lift the hands in horror. How little is known of the next-door neighbor! In our cities many people do not even know the names or the occupations of those living in the next room or in some other apartment of the same house. Oft-times dens of vice are almost at our door, and we know nothing of their existence until we are awakened by some sad occurrence that might have been avoided "had we known."
Many parents fear to inform their children of the evils of the world and of the dives and pitfalls of vice. This false modesty, or failure to impart knowledge, places children face to face with danger without their suspecting any harm.
There are gambling-dens, houses of ill-fame, and various other places of vice, where young and old are led astray. The "white slave traders"—those who decoy and sell girls and young women for such places—are ever on the alert.
The author of this book has spent years in trying to rescue girls from such a life, and "Fifteen Years with the Outcast" will undoubtedly do much to counteract the influence of these places of vice and infamy.
Fathers and mothers should place this volume in the hands of their children and should encourage them to become sufficiently informed concerning such things not only to protect themselves but also to warn others.
With a desire that the influence of this book may reach the highest anticipations of the author I am
Yours in Him,
E. E. Byrum.
Little Rosa—A Warning to Mothers and Guardians
A Visit to Sacramento—The Outcome
My First Autoharp—I Forsake All to Follow Jesus
I am Introduced to the Rescue Home Family—A Glorious Test
A Crushing Situation—Wonderful Vision—Story of Rita
My First Call to the Prison Work
I Bid Farewell to the Sacramento Home
Woodland (Continued)—A Boycott
A Brief Call to Sacramento—I Enter the San Francisco Field
I am Introduced to the Dives of Barbary Coast
Services in County Jail, Branch No 3
Lucy—A Remarkable Experience
We Plan for a Home for Released Prison Girls
Santa Clara Experiences
Callie's Wonderful Story
Callie and I Visit the Jail, the Morphine Den, and the Mission
Still Southward Bound—Santa Cruz—Lucy Returns to Her Home
I Depart for Pacific Grove—Meet Lucy Again—Her Baptism
Anna—We Leave for San Jose
Northward Bound—The Outcome
The Suicide of L——.—Its After-effect
Good News from Home—Miss Loraine
Lucy's Letter—The School Teacher
San Quentin—We Secure a Lovely Property
Dedication of Beth-Adriel
The Juvenile Court Commission—Henry
The Annual Board Meeting—Dollie's Story
Lost Sheep—The Ex-prisoners' Home—Hospital Scenes
A Wonderful Leading—How Girls Are Lured to the Dance-halls
The Women of B—- up in Arms—The Sisters Taken Home
Santa Cruz—Beba's Letter—The Earthquake
Relief Duty—San Francisco—Miss B——
The Home Repaired—Mrs. S——'s Experience
The Annual Board Meeting—Results
A Trip East—I Escape from a Confidence Woman
My Homeward Journey—Land for the Training School and Home
I Call on the Governor and Then Go South
Los Angeles Dance-halls and Other Places
Woman Employed at Dance-hall Tells of Many Pitfalls
The Women Prisoners of San Quentin
Vallejo, Mare Island, and Alcatraz
Irene's Awful Fate—The Wages of Sin
My Return to the Missionary Field
Some Precious Letters from Precious Children
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Florence (Mother) Roberts
The Dive-keeper's Daughter
The Redwood City Street Meeting
Scene in a Morphine Den
"99 years, Mother Roberts!" Poor Joe!
View of Yard and Prisoners' Quarters, Represa, near Folsom
Bird's Eye View of San Quentin
"Everybody helped grease the hill I was sliding down. I soon reached the bottom"
Scene in a Dive Dance-hall
The Chittenden Home
Some Mother's Wandering Girl
San Quentin. Prison Yard
View of Warden's House, etc., Represa
LIST OF SONGS.
Words and Music by Mother Roberts.
The Messengers (the Doves)
Was It You?
The Songs My Mother Sang
The Value of a Song
Some Mother's Wandering Girl
REPLYING TO YOUR QUESTION.
"How did it happen that you became so deeply interested in rescue work, Mrs. Roberts?"
Hundreds of times has this question been asked of me in various parts of this State (California). In order, whenever time and place permitted, to answer intelligently, I have replied by relating the story of my conversion, through a vision, which occurred on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 13, 1896.
For some time prior to this, with my husband, J. H. Roberts, a mining man, also my son, an only child of fourteen, I had been living about two and one-half miles from Angels, Calaveras County, California.
For lack of means to carry on the development work of the mine which Mr. Roberts was at this time superintending, it closed. In order to increase finances in our hour of need, I gave piano lessons. My health, never in those days very robust, soon succumbed to the severe nervous strain to which it was now continually subjected.
On the never-to-be-forgotten date of my spiritual birth, whilst I was enjoying a much-needed rest and reading a novel, everything in the room seemed suddenly to be obliterated from my view; I became oblivious of my surroundings and was apparently floating in an endless vista of soft, beautiful, restful light.
I was quite conscious of rising to a sitting position, pressing my left elbow into the pillow, and with the right hand rubbing both eyes in an endeavor to see once more my natural surroundings. But no! Instead, suspended in this endless light, appeared a wonderful colossal cross of indescribable splendor. This wonderful cross can be likened only to a gigantic opal. Its rays of light seemed to penetrate me through and through as over my mind flashed the thought, "I must have died, and this is my soul!"
For one brief moment I closed my eyes, then opened them, and now, in addition to the vision of the cross, came an added one of such a glorious Being that words are utterly inadequate to describe him. No writer, be he ever so skilful, could give a satisfactory word-picture, and no artist, be he ever so spiritual, could possibly depict the wonderful majesty of our glorious, loving, royal Redeemer.
His left arm slowly raised. Presently his hand rested on the right arm of the cross. Then the wonderful eyes looked into mine. That one compelling look drew me—forever—to him. But that was not all. With the right hand he beckoned, reaching downward toward me, and I saw the sweet smiling lips move. Though no sound emanated from them, yet I knew they framed the one word "Come!" whilst the hand slowly, gracefully moved, pointing upward toward the cross. A ray of light revealed a healed wound extending the entire length of the palm. Soon this invitation was repeated, and so great became my desire to hide (because of my unworthiness) beneath the cross that I must at this time have slipped off the bed, for when once more conscious of my natural surroundings I discovered myself kneeling on the floor.
Then for the first time in my life I saw myself as I believe God sees. What a revelation of selfishness and carnality! What a realization of utter unworthiness! My righteousness was indeed and in truth no better than "filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6).
Could God, would God, forgive?
Mentally I decided that, had I been in his place, lavishing and bestowing innumerable and untold blessings day after day upon one so careless, so heedless of his wonderful love, I should find it very, very difficult, nay, impossible.
Oh, how I now longed, now yearned, to be different, as I caught the reflection of carnal nature in the spiritual looking-glass! With all my soul I implored mercy and pardon.
Suddenly thick darkness, indescribably thick, seemed to submerge me. I felt as though I were smothering. I tried to find my voice. Presently consciousness returned, and the room appeared as natural as ever. I was crying aloud, "Save me!" At the same time it seemed that something weighty was rolling up like a scroll off either side of me. I felt free, light as air, and from that moment began to experience the New Life, the True Life. Oh, I was happy! So happy!
One, only one, desire now had possession—that I might forever remain under this benign influence. Did ever the birds chirp so sweetly! Was ever parched nature or dried-up grass more beautiful! Oh, why did I have to come back to this world! But how selfish! Now came the longing to share my joy with others; I was eager to do so. Would my husband's visitor never go? Finally I heard him making his adieus. Bathing my face and smoothing my hair, I went forth to impart the glorious news to Mr. Roberts.
Well, he listened attentively, as with soul filled and thrilled with divine love, I endeavored to describe my wonderful vision.
"What do you think of it, dear?" I asked.
"I think you were dreaming," he replied.
"Oh, but not so! I heard you talking to Mr. Rouse from the time he came, though I was paying no attention to your conversation. How could I?" I inquired.
"Nevertheless, my dear, it was only a dream," he insisted.
Something (an inner voice hitherto unrecognized) suggested that I ask what he thought of it, even though it might be but a dream. He admitted that it was wonderful and beautiful. (Afterwards he told me that he would not have paid so much attention to my recital had it not been for the unusual light on my countenance. "You can't think how you looked," he said. "Your face shone like satin!")
Immediately following this God-given experience came the desire to "search the Scriptures" (John 5:39). I regret having to tell you that my Bible lay very near the bottom of a trunk and that the blessed volume had not been opened for a shamefully long time.
It took me, in my spare time, something like three months to read the book carefully from cover to cover. Not one word escaped me. I found it to be so interesting—at first as a matter of history—that I began it all over again. Thus it has been ever since; for to the Spirit-born child nothing will, nothing can, take the place of the Bible. It is always new, always refreshing. It is the voice of the tenderest, most loving of parents, ever ready to answer our questions, comforting when sorrowful, healing when sick, warning when in danger, ever directing, admonishing, and encouraging under any and all circumstances. "Oh!" but you say, "the chastening! You forget that." No, dear one, I do not. All wise parents chasten their offspring. Would to God they would lovingly, wisely administer more corrections than they do. The outcome, I verily believe, would be a wonderful foretaste of heaven on earth. But I find I am digressing.
Immediately following my conversion came the desire to impart the knowledge received, to my friends and neighbors. The result was that a report somewhat like the following was soon circulated: "Poor Mrs. Roberts! Have you heard the news? Her husband's financial losses have affected her mind; she is going crazy. Thinks she had a vision!" etc. Then I began to realize what it means literally to "forsake all to follow Christ." Heavier troubles followed, but they did not affect me as heretofore. I had had the vision, and it had come to stay.
Illness presently brought me to the very threshold of eternity. With animation temporarily suspended, but my soul and brain never more keenly alive, I mentally implored the dear Lord to spare me for a little while, because I did not now want to come to him empty-handed. Oh! the longing to win souls, as I lay there helpless yet realizing what it might mean to be forever debarred from the things which God had prepared from the foundation of the world "for him that waiteth for Him" (Isa. 64:4). How eager I was to tell the news to any one, no matter to what depths he or she might have fallen! It was the immortal soul that I was now anxious to reach. Lying there, I made an absolute consecration, promising my heavenly Father that if he would restore me to health and strength, I would go to whatever place he thought fit to send me, and never hesitate to stoop to the lowliest for his sake and theirs.
God takes us at our word. I wonder how many of us realize this?
Returning health and strength found me located with my family in Redding, Shasta County. Here my husband and I, in the spring of 1897, followed our Lord's example in baptism.
In Redding came many delightful opportunities to engage in church and personal work for the Master. While I was visiting in Sacramento in the fill of 1897 and attending revival meetings conducted in the First Baptist church, came my first real knowledge of the unfortunate of my sex.
Previous to this revival the Rev. Mr. Banks, now deceased, anxious for these special services to be well attended, asked for volunteers from his flock to distribute in every house in their immediate neighborhoods a printed invitation. Whoever undertook this work was to pledge themselves not to pass one house nor miss any opportunity for personal work. Not two blocks from the place where I was rooming was a district that I hitherto had never explored—in fact, had purposely avoided. God now gave me strength to take up this cross, for which may I be forever humbly grateful. But I shrank at first; for, unable to persuade any of my acquaintances to accompany me, I had to traverse this neighborhood alone. Did I say alone? Never did I experience a greater sense of guardianship, of protection, of being in the best of company, though these guardians and companions were visible only to the eye of faith (Psa. 91:10-12).
That day I saw tears fall, and heard experiences of which I had hitherto had scarcely any conception.
Touched by a loving hand, wakened by kindness, Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
Soon after this the first little rescue home for girls in Sacramento was started by some consecrated young people. It was located on Second Street near O. I did not have the pleasure of attending the opening of this "shelter," because of a direct call to service about this time with some traveling evangelists. I assisted them by giving out the "good news" in song.
While I was traveling northward with these evangelists, there came into my possession, in answer to prayer, my treasured, God-given little autoharp, No. 1. My second was at one time the property of a now pardoned State prisoner—his companion in his lonely hours when locked in his cell.
"Where were your husband and your son all this time?" you inquire. The former was away prospecting—his favorite occupation. The latter, because of his love for the water and his desire to see other countries, was an employee on an ocean-steamer.
MY SPIRITUAL MOTHER.
On Sept. 1, 1902, there passed into eternal rest one of the oldest members of the First Methodist Episcopal church of San Francisco, Mrs. Salemma Williams.
For more than twenty years this dear sainted friend, though I knew it not, daily prayed and believed for my conversion. Five years before she was made aware of the fact, her prayer had been answered. Her joy, when one day I called upon her to impart the welcome news, knew no bounds, and until she passed away we spent many happy days in each other's company. A few hours before she went home, she gave her children and me her parting blessings. The precious prayer of this dying saint as she held her aged hands on my head comforts, sustains, and encourages me now, even as it did then, and I believe that it ever will.
"Lord, I thank thee for answered prayer. Make this, thy child, wonderful for thee, Lord, wonderful for thee! for Jesus' sake. Amen." Though she spoke with great difficulty, yet every word was distinctly audible. About two hours later she sang (with me) the following lines as she passed into eternal rest:
Oh! if there's only one song—I can sing When in his beauty I see the great King, This shall my song in eternity be: Oh, what a wonder that Jesus loves me! I am so glad that Jesus loves me! Jesus loves even me.
Would that it were in my power to relate better, in "Fifteen Years with the Outcast," the few incidents of the many which have come under my personal observation. The real names of the principals of the stories are withheld, but not so the names of personal friends.
Dear readers, I am well aware that this book, judged from a literary point of view, would be regarded as a failure; but I make no pretensions as a writer, nor do I entertain any aspirations for literary fame. My sole object in endeavoring to present faithfully a few experiences of my brief years of service for the Master is to warn many who are in danger.
Interspersed between these covers are a few songs, the words of which, with scarcely an exception, were written in the night, and, for the most part, were culled from incidents of personal observation and experience. Much valuable assistance has been rendered by a dear friend in the transcribing and arranging of the music.
For those of my readers who do not yet know the dear Lord as their personal Savior and Redeemer, my sincere prayer is, May they while perusing these pages catch a glimpse of Him. May they, by faith, "wash and be made clean," determining, God helping, to shun forever all evil and evil companions. The sinful life never pays.
In order to make this book suitable for young people to read, much concerning rescue work has been withheld. Parents will readily understand why and will appreciate the omission. Doubtless they will have little if any trouble in reading between the lines. God grant them love and wisdom to interpret to their questioning boys and girls, and may countless blessings from the Shepherd of our souls attend all into whose hands this book may chance to come.
Yours, in precious service for Him,
(Mrs.) Florence Roberts.
P. S. Since the above was written, I had the occasion to visit one of our California State prisons (San Quentin). I went at the urgent request of a young man whom the officials recommended for parole. I had a portion of the manuscript of this book with me, which the captain of the guard, at my request, kindly allowed the young man and his cell-mates to read. In consequence, we are indebted to one of these dear boys (God bless him!) for some of the illustrations appearing in this book. Others have been contributed by a young brother and sister who are devoting their lives to God's service at the Gospel Trumpet office.
This book was originally prepared for the press under the title, "The Autobiography of an Auto-harp." It was then written in verse and liberally interspersed with foot-notes. Upon more mature consideration and also upon the advice of one of much experience as a writer, I have rewritten the work and given it the title, "Fifteen Years with the Outcast."
Although the change necessitates a continuous repetition of the personal pronoun "I," a word whose avoidance was the primary object in writing under the original title, yet the new form is, I believe, much more interesting. Furthermore, time and experience have occasioned many needful additions.
For fifteen years "I have fought a good fight," though not so good as I would have desired, and although I am in the evening of life, I realize that I have not yet "finished my course." There is still much more for me to do in this sorrowful, sin-cursed world. God has, among other blessings, given me a strong physique. By his unmerited power I am keeping the faith, growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My greatest longing and ambition is some day to see Him whom my soul loveth, "face to face," especially to have the joy of bringing some priceless trophies to lay at His blessed feet.
Most sincerely yours,
Florence (Mother) Roberts. Gospel Trumpet Company, Anderson, Indiana. September 27, 1911.
FIFTEEN YEARS WITH THE OUTCAST
LITTLE ROSA—A WARNING TO MOTHERS AND GUARDIANS.
What I am about to relate is my first experience in rescuing a girl and occurred not long after my conversion.
At this time my husband, my son, and I were living in Redding, Shasta Co., Cal. In the house that we were occupying lived another family also, the little four-year-old daughter of which was an especial pet of mine. While she was acting naughtily one day, thus hindering her mother with the household duties, I bribed her to be good, by promising to go down-town for some particularly nice candy made by a man who sold it every day at a certain street corner, displaying it on a tray suspended from his neck and always handling it with the whitest of cotton gloves. When I reached the place, he had not yet arrived. Desirous of not disappointing my little friend and having learned where the man lived—in a tent on a lot near by—I immediately repaired to the place designated. There I found a disreputable-looking middle-aged woman and a forlorn little girl about twelve years old. The girl was in tears.
Upon my inquiring what was the matter, the woman immediately berated the child in my presence. Turning to me, she said that this girl was one on whom they recently had taken pity, and had hired to do chores.
As there was but one tent, I questioned also as to sleeping accommodations. It contained a full-sized bed and one narrow cot, between which was suspended a thin calico curtain. The cooking, eating, etc., were done out of doors.
The poor little one continued to cry bitterly. With aching heart I laid my hand on her bowed head and bade her to be a good girl and try her best to please and obey her employers, then inquired of her whether she had ever attended Sunday-school or knew anything about Jesus. She did not reply. This caused the woman to accuse her of sulkiness, at which the girl looked up with swollen eyes, full of tears. Oh that look! It astonished and puzzled me at the time. Hatred? Yes, and despair, and misery, and yearning. There was a volume in that look, which I could not then interpret. Beyond words, it troubled me.
Silently praying, I went on my way. I had walked only a few yards toward home, when I heard the quick patter of bare feet behind me, and some one calling, "Lady! Lady!" Turning, I saw the little girl breathlessly trying to overtake me. Quickly she poured into my ears a horrible story of wrong, of indescribable wickedness perpetrated on her for the vile gratification of that man—so celebrated as a candy maker.
Soon I was in the presence of Judge Sweeney (now superintendent of the United States mint in San Francisco) relating the awful story of little Rosa. Immediately after my rehearsal the man and woman were arrested.
Previous to going to live with these people Rosa had made her home with a young married sister. The sister had a family of little children and was poor: so when an opportunity presented itself for an apparently good home for Rosa in exchange for light services, she quickly, gladly availed herself of it, without making the very necessary inquiry as to who this man and woman (strangers in Redding) were or whence they had come. Thus thoughtlessly did she relieve herself of a solemn responsibility, the dying request of their mother, who had passed away when Rosa was much younger.
A physical examination proved, beyond a doubt, the unfortunate child's condition, and the law proceeded to take its course. The sister was (temporarily) made responsible as Rosa's legal guardian. Here I quote from "The Morning Searchlight" the article headed:
A SENSATIONAL CASE.
A little Girl Held Captive by G—— E——.
A petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed in the Superior Court Saturday by Mrs. M—— S——. This is the process by which she hopes to obtain possession and care of her sister, Rosa L——. The girl is but twelve years of age, her mother is dead, and she has been deserted by her father.
Somehow, she has become acquainted with G—— E——, the street candy-vender, and has, of late, been living in his tent in the southeastern part of the city.
The petition further states: "That as your petitioner is informed and believes, and therefore alleges the fact to be, that said restraint of said minor by said E—— is for immoral purposes"
The hearing of the petition will take place before Judge Sweeney Monday morning. If the points alleged in the petition are true, E—— should be dealt with severely.
The trial was held behind closed doors. Poor little Rosa was too nervous and frightened to give her testimony with sufficient intelligence so that the law could deal with the couple as they deserved. Through some technicality they escaped legal punishment, and hurriedly stole out of Redding for parts unknown, fearing the vengeance of an insulted, righteously indignant community.
The child was soon under the kindly care of a consecrated Christian couple, and the last time we saw her she wore a smiling and happier countenance. This dreadful experience, however, permanently wrecked her health, so that she could be of but slight service to her new guardians; but they, through wise and loving treatment, through portrayal of Jesus in word as well as in deed, were doing all they could do for this little shorn lamb, doing their best to aid in helping to eliminate her awful past—a task by no means easy. Poor unfortunate, sinned-against little Rosa! Her life forever blighted through the shifting and shirking of responsibility on the part of the older sister, who had promised the dying mother to carefully guard and guide the little helpless girl. Poor ruined child! Shunned, whispered about and pointed at by her schoolmates, she, sensitive girl that she was, suffered so intensely from such treatment that it was deemed advisable to have her study, as best she could, at home. There she need not be subjected to the thoughtless torture of children, who, as children will, had undoubtedly listened to, and learned from, the conversations carelessly carried on in their presence by parents and other older people, this unfortunate little girl's cruel, heart-rending fate.
Did this experience affect my future career? It certainly did. Let me tell you. I firmly resolved, God helping, to live closer to the Master; to aid in rescuing the outcast at any cost; to see and love their souls, forgetting the sinning exterior; to help win them to Christ, then encourage and further their advancement; constantly to sit so low at the Savior's feet as to be ever able to discern and obey his still, small voice; to be sufficiently strong in body, soul, and spirit, as gladly to respond to his call at any and all times, whether that call should be in the highways or hedges, streets or lanes, among rich or poor, the prison boys or the outcast girls.
Earnestly I prayed, still I pray, for courage to address and warn parents and guardians of the pitfalls concerning which I have, in answer to prayer, increased knowledge, having been granted much practical experience, sharing many a sorrow with others, mingling my tears and sighs with many a parent, many a wanderer, and many an outcast, who have poured their troubles into my listening ears.
The one cry, ever and always, from both parent and child, has been, "If I had only known, I should have been less heedless, but now it's too late, too late! O God! forgive me for Christ's sake." Does the bird with the broken pinion ever soar as high again? Only through Christ, the precious Redeemer of souls, the Great Physician.
Are we to take warning from the fate of little Rosa—we to whom our heavenly Father has entrusted the care and keeping of his priceless jewels until he comes to claim his own? May the Lord help us to learn and love our lessons; to learn and love them well.
A VISIT TO SACRAMENTO—THE OUTCOME.
At the time of the preceding experience I was the organist of Redding's Baptist church and also superintendent of its Sunday-school. Aside from this, there were my household duties—duties never to be neglected, as some erroneously think, because of drinking in the deep things of God. Also, there were now many outside calls to rescue or to warn poor, foolish boys and girls. The heart-aches now commenced in real earnest; for too many refused to heed, and in many cases the home environments were of such a nature as to prohibit even an ordinary moral tone, the unfortunate offspring being the victims of both pre-natal and post-natal conditions.
Business now demanded my husband's absence from home for some time. Taking advantage of the opportunity thus afforded, I, with my son, a youth aged fifteen, made a necessary visit to Sacramento. Here, in the First Baptist church, I taught a class of young men in their teens. Soon after my coming, a revival in the First M. E. church, which I constantly attended, brought me great blessing from the Lord. This revival was followed by a similar one at the First Baptist church.
In order to insure the success of the latter meeting Rev. A. B. Banks, the pastor, now deceased, a most eloquent and lovable man, whom we delighted in calling "Father" Banks, announced the necessity of distributing handbills and asked for volunteers to place one in every home in the districts in which they lived, and also, wherever possible, to give a verbal invitation. It so happened that the district in which my son and I lodged contained the resorts of the wandering girls. Some of these places were less than two blocks away.
NO ONE VOLUNTEERED FOR THIS LOCALITY.
There was a prolonged pause, a painful pause. I felt as though every eye were upon me, and I experienced a sharp struggle; but hallelujah! the next moment the Lord had the victory—and my hand went up. Father Banks fervently said, "God bless you for this, my little sister! and he will."
You may be sure I did not want to go alone. I invited several to keep me company; I prayed the greater part of that Sunday night; I visited several Christians on Monday morning, stating to them that I had never been in such a quarter, and was timid. "They all with one accord began to make excuse." Luke 14:18.
Oh, how I prayed for grace and strength! As I traversed that district, believe me, I felt almost the visible presence of angels, and was soon giving God's message of tender love to inmate after inmate of those awful dens.
How did they accept, you ask? Many with tears coursing down their cheeks. Very few but manifested some feeling. Scarcely any, however, promised to come out to the revival services. Nearly all declared that they did not believe they would receive kind treatment if they did come, and none of them wanted to be looked upon or treated as an outcast. One girl allowed me to come in and pray for her. Later on she was most wonderfully saved and sanctified in the rescue home of which I shall now speak.
Yes, a rescue home for girls was about to be opened and established in answer to the prayers of many, especially some of the dear Christian workers of the "Peniel" Mission situated on K. near Fourth Street. Some of these I had become acquainted with since the revival meetings commenced. I learned that Mrs. Glide, a consecrated lady of much means, had guaranteed the payment of a year's rent on a ten-roomed cottage on Second and O. Streets.
Desirous of seeing this home for myself and of assisting, if requisite, I soon wended my way to the locality named.
The building was old and rather dilapidated, and as yet it contained but one piece of furniture, a cheap washstand bureau. Some of the young men were putting new panes of glass into the windows, others were papering the walls with odds and ends, which had been donated. Sister Jennie Cloninger was busy scraping an old bathtub with a piece of glass, preparatory to painting it, and Sister Eva Shearer had her dress tucked up whilst mopping one of the floors. Every one was busy and happy in the Lord's service.
"Sister Shearer dear, what can I do to help this blessed work?" I inquired.
"Sister Roberts, that washstand is all the furniture we have. Please go in the name of Jesus and ask for donations," she replied.
Prayerfully I started on my errand, and soon had many promises from hotel proprietors and others.
Shortly after this my son, having an ambition to see more of the world, grew restless. All effort on my part failed to keep him near me. I simply commended him to the One who has promised that if we are faithful "our righteousness shall be for our children," and comforted myself with this promise as I sorrowfully bade him farewell and returned to my lonely lodgings. Did I say lonely? I made a mistake. To be sure, I greatly missed my boy, but he was in our Father's keeping, and I was dwelling in "the secret of his presence" who doeth all things well.
Soon afterward I returned to my home in Redding, taking the journey as a singing evangelist with Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Thurston, an elderly couple then in undenominational gospel-wagon work. It was on this trip that, in answer to repeated prayer, I acquired my first autoharp, which I shall frequently mention in connection with my work. "How did I come by it?" I will tell you in the next chapter.
MY FIRST AUTOHARP—I FORSAKE ALL TO FOLLOW JESUS.
There it lay, all covered with dust, in that auctioneer's window in Chico. We had just arrived from Sheridan, Sutter County, where we had conducted a successful series of meetings.
In the latter place we had been able to borrow a small organ, and I had a splendid choir of little children, who crowded our commodious wagon an hour each evening before service, that time being devoted to serenading the neighborhood with gospel song. There I saw the drunkard and the saloon-keeper yield to the blessed influence of the singing by these sweet, innocent little children of songs such as "Wash me in the blood of the Lamb, and I shall be whiter than snow." But the time soon came when we must part with the little organ as well as with the dear children.
How I longed and prayed for an autoharp! At this time my pocket-book was well-nigh empty, my husband having met with total loss in mining enterprises. I possessed exactly $2.50 on the day when we reached Chico.
As I looked in that auctioneer's window, somehow I felt that that humble, little three-barred autoharp was to be mine. I stepped in, priced it, and presently told the proprietor what use was to be made of it. He had at the first asked $5.00; now he offered it, for such a cause, at half price. Hallelujah! How gladly I parted with my last cent and joyfully walked out with my precious little musical instrument, destined to go with me on my visits to comfort and help save the lost. I will tell you of my present one later on.
Leaving Chico that afternoon, we camped in the evening under some beautiful live-oak trees, beside a clear, running creek. This was in Tehama, Tehama County. There, before retiring, and following our family devotions, I dedicated my little instrument to the Lord's work, praying as I did so that he would use it absolutely, together with me and my voice, in helping to win precious souls for his kingdom.
Soon afterwards I was once more in my Redding home and resuming my former avocations in the church and Sunday-school. But what had come over me? what had wrought such a change? For, strange to say, I was no longer satisfied with simply the church work. I spent evening after evening and all spare time in the humble little mission down-town or amongst the outcasts, though never neglecting my home.
My husband, always a reserved, proud man, one day gave me an unexpected shock. Without forewarning he quietly, coldly informed me that I must decide between the rescue work and him.
"Do you mean it?" I inquired.
"I certainly do," was his reply.
Oh, how I agonized with my Lord in prayer as soon as I could have the privilege! Then I opened his Word for comfort, and my answer was, "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." 1 Cor. 7:23. What did this mean? I was too young a child of the King to comprehend, and therefore could only wait and pray. So troubled at heart was I at my husband's pride and growing coldness that I at last visited the pastor of the church where my name was enrolled. He tried to persuade me to refrain from any but church work, and also did his utmost to effect a reconciliation between my husband and me, but all to no effect. Mr. Roberts refused to listen, and the breach widened. I seldom crossed my threshold those days, yet yearned to be out in God's field. Circumstances, which it is neither pleasant nor profitable to relate here, soon necessitated the breaking up of my home. I was looking to God for guidance. I did not have to wait long, for a door was soon opened. A letter from Sister Belle Trefren, of Sacramento, with whom I had much correspondence, especially relative to the rescue home already referred to, now for several months occupied, informed me of the severe illness of its matron.
"Is it not strange," she wrote, "that in all this great city none come to her aid excepting for a few hours at a time? If help does not arrive soon, I fear she will die. Why could not you spend a while with her, and thus relieve her of this very heavy burden until she is sufficiently recovered to take her accustomed place again? Besides, dear Sister Roberts, I have long felt that the Lord wants you to cut loose from the shore-lines and 'launch out into the deep,' where are to be found the biggest, best fish. Pray over this, as I am now doing, and the light will surely come to you."
I prayed, and the light came quickly. I wrote Sister Trefren that I might soon be looked for in Sacramento, and that I was simply waiting on the Lord.
I soon resigned my church office, and early one bright, beautiful morning I bade farewell to Redding. Just before the train drew out of the depot, I opened my Bible. My eyes were focused on these words (many friends had gathered to bid me Godspeed): "And let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Gal. 6:9. I stood on the rear platform of the train, holding up the open Bible, and soon Redding and friends disappeared from my vision. I was indeed and in truth now alone with my Lord and on the road to the little rescue home in Sacramento, with my precious autoharp lying by my side.
In the afternoon, as time seemingly dragged and many passengers showed signs of weariness, I picked up the little instrument. Soon from one end to the other of the car different ones sang with me familiar song after song of Zion. The journey ended joyously, some being strengthened in their faith on that trip, and more than one acquaintance being made which later ripened into warm Christian friendship. Praise the Lord!
I AM INTRODUCED TO THE RESCUE HOME FAMILY—A GLORIOUS TEST.
My cherished friend, Sister Trefren was at the depot to greet me, and I spent that first night under her roof. Early in the morning came a message from the home, requesting that, if I felt sufficiently rested, to come to them as speedily as possible.
She was a beautiful girl—I mean the one who responded to my ringing of the door-bell. Oh, how she surveyed me (though not rudely) from head to foot! We shall hear Leila's story in another chapter. Soon I was at the bedside of the sick matron, who, though hardly able to speak, greeted me lovingly and tearfully. In a few minutes a trusted girl was given some directions, and then I was invited into the sitting-room. There were assembled all the inmates of the home, and I was soon warmly greeting, first collectively and later individually.
"My, what an opportunity to study character!" I said to myself as I observed the twenty-four faces into which I had a bare glimpse. I presently asked them if they would please kneel and pray with me and for me, and soon I found myself, for the first time, listening to the humble, earnest petitions of these precious jewels in the rough.
Brokenly and tearfully, they thanked God for rescuing them from lives of sin, shame, and despair; for providing so good a home, food, and shelter (it was all very modest and humble). Some praised Him for sanctification as well as salvation. (Perhaps my reader does not know the interpretation of that word, "sanctification." Briefly, it refers to a second blessing, following justification, or the forgiveness of sins; a second work of grace, whereby the nature becomes purified and kept free from sin by the operation and power of God's Holy Spirit—now the indwelling presence.) Then how fervent were the prayers for the healing of the sick matron! and now, "O God, please bless Mrs. Roberts for coming to her aid and ours," ending by thanking him for answering their earnest appeal for help in their time of great need.
I forgot all my own heartaches as I drank in and indorsed every word, and then, with all my being, offered the closing prayer. Soon the trials and testings commenced in real earnest.
In such a place it does not require many days, nay, many hours, to discover the subtlety of the enemy of souls. For some time my nerves, never too strong, were so wrought upon that I was under a constant strain, and more than once, fearing a breakdown, felt that I should be compelled to relinquish my arduous duties.
In answer to prayer, our Father, ever mindful of his own, strengthened me and bestowed the necessary knowledge and wisdom, so that I was soon able to cope with the situation, which was this: None of these precious ones had long been established; some were not yet saved. Cravings, in one form or another, for the old life, perhaps a thirst for liquor, would at times secretly take possession of one or another, and frequently some saved girl would come to me, saying, "Sister Roberts, Mamie [or some other] has gone out without permission." Then I would quickly telephone to police headquarters to be on the lookout for her and to have her privately detained until some one from the home could come. Often we were compelled to tell the erring one that the law would have to take its course if she rebelled or refused. Sometimes such a one would almost hate us because she did not comprehend how much we had the interest of both body and soul at heart.
Ah! reader, do you realize what it means to "stand still" in the trying hours? to watch our Father's Spirit working in the lives and natures of the outcast? Truly it is marvelous, marvelous! Soon I will relate the story of one of our family, but before I do so, permit me to give you my first Sunday's experience. I think it will be interesting.
I arrived at the home on Tuesday. On Friday morning, Sister B——, the sick matron, said as I stood by her bedside: "Sister Roberts, all our family of girls whose health will permit are in the habit of attending Sunday morning worship in one of the churches; in the afternoon, those who wish, attend the mission; and in the evening we have prayer-service at home. I shall not, as you know, be able to go with them for some time to come. That duty devolves upon you, dear, for the present." Imagine, if you can, my feelings. "Sister, I fail to see that the Lord requires any such sacrifice on my part," I impulsively replied. "I think it sufficient to work with and for them here in the home. What would my former society friends say or think should any chance to meet me with them?" And the tears of (righteous?) indignation filled my eyes. "My dear," she gently replied, "take a little time in your room alone with God. He will make it clear, what he would have you to do."
Soon I was locked in, where I sat for a few moments on the side of my little bed, as rebellious and indignant as ever I was in all my life.
When I grew somewhat calmer, I fell upon my knees and sobbed out my troubles at the foot of the cross. Painfully, I at last submitted, provided it was the will of God; and in my prayer I requested "Should such be thy will, please see that none of my friends of social standing chance to cross my pathway on this occasion." Then I arose from my knees.
Sunday morning found thirteen girls neatly clad and all impatiently waiting for my appearance. Never in all my lifetime did I start on a trip more fearfully or timidly. We had not traveled half a block when, on turning a corner, I saw a family whom my family and I held in high estimation. We both received a never-to-be-forgotten shock. I was greeted with a surprised bow of interrogation from the wife, whilst the husband very slightly raised his hat. My girls behaved beautifully, little dreaming the state of my feelings.
Old Adam dies very hard sometimes, doesn't he? I soon met others and still others. Never did I so long for even a knot-hole into which to crawl, but no such place presented itself. Precious Lord, thou knewest what was for my best interest when thou didst in thine infinite love and wisdom thus answer such a selfish prayer.
The next chapter will introduce you to the naughtiest girl in the home.
A CRUSHING SITUATION—WONDERFUL VISION—THE STORY OF RITA.
We had not been very long in the second-from-the-front pew of the First Baptist church, when Rita, who, at the private suggestion of the matron, I had placed next to me, began to embarrass and disconcert me by her actions, causing the rest of the girls to titter (sometimes audibly) and thus to attract the congregation, also the pastor, so that finally an usher had occasion to whisper to me, admonishing me to retire with her, to which she replied, "I ain't agoing out."
Mortified beyond measure, I let my head sink forward on the back of the pew in front of me. I soon became oblivious of my surroundings, for I was being blest with a wonderful vision.
I saw the Garden of Gethsemane. It was night, and sleeping souls lay all around. One there was who was not sleeping. He was prostrate in agony of prayer. As he wrung his hands, the blood started through his pores, and dripped down upon the ground. Then a light shone around him, a glorious light. Presently he arose, and the place filled suddenly with soldiers who led him away, shouting in triumph as they did so. Quickly the scene changed. Christ was now before the high priests. Again the scene changed. He was passing by a man who was strenuously, indignantly denying that he knew or had had anything to do with the man under arrest. Oh! would that words of mine could picture the suffering, sorrowful countenance, as Jesus gave poor Peter that parting, yearning look. Pilate's hall was soon in sight, and the men in charge of Jesus were mocking and smiting him. It was cold, and scarcely dawn of day. What a throng, as they crowded into the presence of Pilate.
Again the scene changes. The Christ is being mockingly arrayed in a once gorgeous, now old, shabby robe. Soon he is wearily pulled and pushed back to Pilate's hall, where they strip the Son of God in the presence of that howling mob, and beat him, until the blood streams down his poor, lacerated back. Surely that is sufficient; but no! they spit in his face. They press a cruel crown hard down upon his brow. Now Pilate has washed his hands, and the Savior of the world is led away. The soldiers are compelling him to bear some heavy wooden beams in the form of a cross. Oh! can't they see that he is too weak, suffering too much, to be able to carry such a weight? They do not care; but look! he has fainted! Some one is helping him now. God forever bless him! 'Tis Simon the Cyrenean who enjoys that precious privilege. Simon, the cross-bearer.
I can not bear to witness any more. But I must. I must watch to the end.
Oh! the awful thud, thud, THUD, as they hammer the spikes, the cruel spikes into his hands and feet, and he never once cringes. How can he be so courageous?
I am looking up at him now, and he is looking down with such an uninterpretable look on me, and I hear him faintly say: "For you."
"Yes, Lord, I know."
"And now won't you try to love my poor shorn little lambs? 'Tis for them also."
"Yes, dear Lord, I am trying to."
"Would you be willing to lay down your life for little Rita, for the sake of her soul?"
"Blessed Savior, surely that will not be required, but fill me full of love, a great love for her soul and other souls. I promise that with thy help I will do my best, for oh, how I love thee now! how I love thee! and I will do anything thou dost require to prove my love."
Some one is pulling my sleeve. I turn my head to find Rita leaning against me and quietly whispering, "Mother, don't cry; I'll be good. Don't cry."
From that time on the change in Rita was unmistakable, and although she had many hard battles to fight, to lose, and to win, she came out gloriously victorious.
"Who was Rita?" I'll tell you.
Rita was a roguish, fun-loving, childish little woman, twenty-one years old, who neither acted nor looked her age. Her mother had been a waitress in one of the dives of a locality called "The Barbary Coast," San Francisco, where are many low, vile haunts of vice. Her father, she never knew. She was very dark, apparently part Spanish, quite attractive, and rather pretty.
Some time prior to my advent she was brought to the home in a semi-intoxicated condition by one of the Lord's consecrated missionaries. Full of mischief and depravity, she was, from the first, a trouble-maker. From her earliest recollection, her companions had all been of the type with whom her mother associated; therefore it would take time, great and loving patience, and a constant waiting on the Master for her to harmonize perfectly with new environments.
This poor girl had seen no other life, up to within a few weeks of my meeting her, than a life replete with vice from one day's ending to another. Much of the time she had participated. But be it recorded to the credit of her mother that, to the extent of her knowledge, she had guarded her girl from criminal assault as long as she was able to control her, and that, when told of Rita's being in the rescue home, she seemed greatly pleased that at last her daughter had found friends who would do their utmost to help her lead a better life.
Rita had an uncontrollable temper, in consequence of which the entire household was sometimes made to suffer keenly; but she would eventually yield to earnest persuasion, then kneel down and ask forgiveness of God and the family. She was very ambitious to learn to read, being entirely devoid of education. Different members would take it in turn to teach her, and it was a proud day when she could decipher a few words in her Bible. I never shall forget the evening of her first realization of the price Jesus had paid for her. It dawned upon her soul so suddenly, so beautifully, following a mid-week prayer-meeting, in which some of the Christians interested in this work often participated, that a great shout of joy went up, and when we retired that night, some of us were too grateful and too excited to sleep. Oh, how the adversary attacked and tried over and over again to get her back to his territory! He once so well succeeded that we finally deemed it necessary to exchange her into another home. I was the one deputized to take her there, and very soon was introducing myself to Mrs. Elizabeth Kauffman, whose noble work for the erring, in San Francisco and other places, is known to the thousands. After placing Rita under her kind care in the rescue home, then situated on Capp Street near Twenty-first Street, in San Francisco, I returned to my post of duty in Sacramento, little dreaming at that time what an important place I was destined, in the future, to occupy with Sister Kauffman.
Erelong I learned, through correspondence, that my little Rita (who, by the way, was the first one outside of my own family to give me the endearing title of "Mother," which title has clung to me ever since) had found a warm friend in a deaconess whose name I have forgotten, but who took a loving interest in her and greatly aided her, especially from the spiritual point of view.
Rita, with the approval of her guardians, married a Christian young man. Together they are bringing up their little ones to know and love the Savior so precious to them; and, through the daughter's example the mother, so long a wanderer in paths of degradation, was, I have understood, finding purity and peace for her soul. At the time of the earthquake and great fire in San Francisco, Rita and her loved ones, I am told, escaped without so much as the loss of a dish. This remarkable fact proves that God is ever mindful of those who put their entire trust in him and who live as does this precious jewel and her family, on the promises of the ninety first Psalm.
MY FIRST CALL TO THE PRISON WORK.
After I had been in the Sacramento home about a month, the matron became sufficiently recovered to go into the country in order to recuperate. In the meanwhile the dear Lord had laid it upon the hearts of two consecrated workers to assist me, so that I was now occasionally free for some outside work. Taking advantage of this, a lady who had been a constant attendant at the jail services for many years, urged me to come on the following Sunday afternoon with my little autoharp. This, by the way, was an every-day friend in our family, for most of our girls could sing, and we were soon learning many beautiful hymns, with either my modest instrument or the parlor organ for an accompaniment. When something would go wrong, the matter would be laid before the Lord in prayer, and singing was the next thing in order. How you would have appreciated and enjoyed hearing our family joining in with all their hearts—
I must tell Jesus all of my trials, I can not bear these burdens alone; In my distress he kindly will help me, He ever loves and cares for his own.
They would repeat it over and over until sweet peace filled their souls once more.
But to return to the invitation to the county jail. I begged to be excused on the ground of sensitiveness. I felt that I could not bear to look upon any more distress than I was a daily witness to outside of prison walls. To see human beings caged up like so many wild animals I thought would be more than I could bear; therefore I unhesitatingly said so. She continued her pleadings, adding, "O Sister Roberts, you will never know how much good you could accomplish or how much precious seed might be sown if you would only come with that little autoharp of yours." But I was unyielding. She left me with sorrow on her countenance.
This refusal was followed by deep condemnation—condemnation which lasted a whole week. When, at last, I promised the Lord I would take up this cross and go if once more invited, the burden lifted.
About two o'clock the next Sunday afternoon I found myself, with a band of about twenty workers, behind iron bars, looking into the faces of nearly two hundred men and boys and a few women. Oh! but the tears flowed from my eyes, especially for the boys, many of whom were so young, as I wondered what would be the outcome of their present association and environment. It seemed awful! awful! I sang song after song; then I was invited to speak. My heart was too full for many words, but when the invitation was given to seek our Savior, many hands went up for special prayer. The meeting soon closed. Then as those terrible but necessary iron doors again unlocked and the prisoners filed past us one by one to their lonely, cheerless quarters, I made up my mind to come whenever I could, and, whenever permitted, to do and say what I could to help he "whosoever wills," also to use my influence in certain quarters for the betterment of the children prisoners, not one of whom but doubtless had been cheated out of his birthright by untutored, ofttimes wilfully ignorant parents or guardians.
Let me call your attention to one of the women prisoners, whose peculiarly repulsive countenance was so remarkable that when we came away from the jail I interrogated one of the workers concerning her. To my amazement, I was informed that the woman (Nell) was regarded as a hopeless case, and also that she had enjoyed musical educational advantages, her people having sent her to Paris to complete certain accomplishments. There, in that wicked capital, she became very gay, soon acquired the absinth habit, and rapidly descended in the social scale, and now she was scarcely ever out of prison. It was very difficult to realize that this poor soul, who now was never known to use any but vile language and oaths, was once a beautiful young woman, a linguist, pianist, singer, also otherwise accomplished person. Though all efforts (there had been many) in her behalf had proved futile, I determined to make an attempt to save her. Accordingly I paid a special visit to the women's quarters. So far as she was concerned, it was all to no purpose; but oh! praise the dear Lord! I found others who would heed, and I had a blessed time of Bible reading, song, and prayer with them.
One of these was a young girl, Anita, who had been arrested at the request of her mother—yes, her own mother. "Why, what kind of unnatural mother could she have been?" you ask. Not different from many others with whom I have been brought in contact. The daughter implored me to call on her mother and beg her not to consent to her being sent to the reform school, the girl solemnly promising good behavior in the future. How she clung to me as I tried to picture the merciful, loving Savior. We knelt in prayer in her lonely, dismal cell, where she followed me in a petition for God to save her soul and show her the way. Anita appeared to be about seventeen years old; but her mother with whom a few hours later I had an interview, and a most distressing one, I assure you, told me that the girl was but fourteen, that she had been so petted and spoilt from her babyhood up (parents and others, please take note of this) as to be absolutely unmanageable, that she was out at all hours of the night, in all sorts of places, with all sorts of company.
The mother appeared to regard herself as a very much wronged, greatly abused parent, and when I gently but firmly endeavored to place the blame where it belonged, she all but ordered me out of her house. Her conduct led me to the conclusion that her daughter would be better off in the place to which she was about to be sent than under the jurisdiction of such a parent.
Sad at heart, I returned to poor expectant Anita, remaining some time to comfort her as best I knew how and promising to write to her and, God willing, to visit her in her new home. The first promise was soon fulfilled, and about one year later I had the pleasure of personally hearing her expressions of gratitude. The discipline had been most beneficial, and, besides, she was learning to be a good cook and housekeeper—something that could never have happened in her mother's home. A few years later, while I was holding a meeting in one of the local churches, many came forward at the close to greet me. Among them was a fine-looking young woman with a pretty baby in her arms. "Don't you remember me, Mother Roberts?" she said. "I'm Anita." Soon she was telling me of her marriage to a young farmer about eighteen months previously. The next morning she came in her buggy to take me to enjoy a few hours in her cozy home.
Leila was that beautiful girl, the first to welcome me as I crossed the threshold of the home. She was a rather reserved, high-strung, aristocratic-looking girl, who did not always take kindly to requests made with regard to little household duties required from each member of the family, health permitting, of course.
One day shortly after my advent in the home I had occasion to reprimand her. She turned on me with such language and so evil, so distressing an expression as to shock and grieve me terribly. Presently the dear Lord gained a glorious victory. I hunted her up; for, in her anger, she had gone into hiding, and, putting my arms about her, lovingly implored her to forgive, as I had not intended to offend or in any way remind her of her dreadful past. From that time on we were great friends. Before long she confided to me her troubles, past and present.
Her people were poor and proud, and she did not take kindly to her environments either at home or at school, and did not go quite through the grammar grades. Her mother, from whom she inherited her temper, frequently quarreled with her and also disparaged her. At the age of fifteen, partly because of her restlessness and partly because of her desire to earn money, for she would no longer go to school, she, being quite a tall, well-developed girl, procured a situation as waitress in a wealthy family near her home in the city of San Francisco. She was a Catholic. Because of her duties, she attended early mass. One Sunday morning, whilst she was returning from church, her prayer-book accidentally slipped out of her hand. Upon stooping to pick it up, she discovered that she was forestalled by a well-dressed gentleman (?), who handed it to her with an admiring look and most respectful bow. Raising his hat, he politely passed on.
As Leila never expected to see him again, imagine her astonishment at meeting him the following Sunday, when again, with a glance of recognition, which flattered this poor victim, he most respectfully raised his hat. The third Sunday the same thing occurred again, but now instead of passing by, he politely accosted her with words to this effect: "Good morning, young lady. I trust you will please pardon the great liberty I am taking. I never more earnestly wished to know of some one to introduce me, but because I do not, will you not kindly take the will for the deed, waive all formality, and permit me the honor of walking at least a portion of your way with you? I am a gentleman with whom you need not for a moment hesitate to be seen; and now, may I have the pleasure of learning your name? Mine is Claude Forrester."
Poor innocent, ignorant, flattered Leila began blushingly to confide to this villain her true name, her occupation, and much concerning her home life. As they neared her employer's residence, they parted, she promising to meet him for a walk one evening during the week. Her heart fluttered with joy, her silly head was completely turned at having captured so fine an admirer, and she could hardly wait for the time to come when she was to enjoy that promenade.
You may be sure he was on hand at the designated corner. Leila, in order to keep the appointment, resorted to falsehood. She asked permission of her mistress to be allowed to go home for some trivial article, promising to return by a given time. She kept her word as to the time, but the leaven of the adversary was rapidly working. He led her to believe that he was the son of a wealthy widow who expected him to make "a good match," but that he was in the habit of gaining his point with this indulgent parent whenever he so desired. He intended, he said, to confess to his mother that he had fallen in love with the most beautiful, innocent, and virtuous girl in all the wide world, and to tell her that he should never be happy again unless she would see Leila and eventually consent to her becoming his dear little wife. He told the confiding girl that he intended to lavish on her all his wealth. He pictured the beautiful garments that she was to wear, the jewels, the carriage, the home. He promised also to give her private lessons in order to fit her for her position as his wife. Poor, poor little girl! Who does not pity this worse than motherless child?
How distasteful her position now appeared, and how she longed for Sunday morning when she again would see her grand, wealthy sweetheart! When they met, he informed her that his mother would like to meet her, requested her to look her prettiest on the following Tuesday evening, and to be at the appointed street corner, and said that he would take her to his home and introduce her to the one now so desirous of making the acquaintance of the girl with whom he had fallen so desperately in love.
Alas, poor Leila! By another falsehood she procured permission to go out. She was ushered into a fine-looking room in a house on Mason Street, and soon a grandly dressed lady, young looking to be this villain's mother, greeted her very cordially, asked many questions, and then rang for refreshments, which a Chinaman servant soon carried in on a tray—and when Leila next awoke it was broad daylight. What was she doing in this strange room?
It wasn't long before she succumbed to all the vices and evil influences governing the life she was now destined and even resigned to lead.
About a year later, when she was no longer of value to her betrayers, when she was an outcast whom no one wanted—no one but her Savior and some of the consecrated children of God—at this time she was sitting on a table in a "Ladies' entrance" department of a saloon. There one of God's rescue missionaries so lovingly approached her that Leila, longing to get away from San Francisco for fear of being recognized by her mother and friends, was easily induced to come to the home, where she had lived for several months when I first met her.
The time came when she gave her heart to her Savior and then followed his example in baptism. It was one of the sweetest experiences of my Christian life to help prepare her and some others that evening for this beautiful, sacred ceremony. What a happy, happy family returned to our home and retired to our rest an hour later!
But alas! some acquaintance discovered Leila's whereabouts and conveyed the information to her mother. One day, on coming home from some errand of mercy, I was informed by the matron, now sufficiently recovered to be with us once more, that she had a surprise for me, and she asked me to guess. My first guess was, "My darling boy has come back to me."
"No; guess again."
"Then it must be my husband."
"No; I am going to tell you. Listen! Do you hear that loud weeping in the parlor?"
"It's Leila's mother. She is in a fearful state because her daughter is an inmate of a rescue home. Come in and help me to try to pacify her."
It was a difficult task, but on our promising to bring her daughter in if she would be calm, an effort on her part soon proved successful. Soon mother and daughter were alone. In about fifteen minutes Leila called us, and in our presence the mother promised that, if we would only let her dear child return with her to her own home, under no circumstances would she ever remind her of the past and also would make her life pleasanter for her in the future. It was impossible to refuse. Leila, with tears and prayers, soon bade farewell to us all.
I would that I might record that in the future it was well with her and her soul, but alas! I can not. One day her mother, because of some trivial offense, forgot her solemn promise. Poor Leila flew into a rage and, without even waiting for her hat, rushed out of the house never to return, and once more the enemy had her back in his territory. Long but vainly did we search for her until she was so far gone that she coldly refused all God's and our overtures of mercy, and no language of mine could describe her awful physical condition. She was only nineteen, but an utter wreck, morally as well as otherwise. Her own mother would not now have been able to recognize her.
We find no occasion to moralize in closing this story. We know that your tears will fall and that your heart will ache, but oh! be warned, and warn others. Full well do we who are rescue workers know there are thousands of cases today parallel with this one.
I BID FAREWELL TO THE SACRAMENTO HOME.
God's "still, small voice" bidding me to prepare for other fields of labor came very definitely soon after his Spirit gave me the song entitled "The Messengers," a song which has proven of great value, especially in the prison work. I informed the matron, who insisted upon it that I was mistaken and deliberately laying down my cross, but I knew better; for God's Word makes no mistakes, and the Spirit always agrees with that Word, which now told me what I must soon prepare for, saying, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in hither the poor and the maim, the halt and the blind." Luke 14:21. It was most difficult to cut loose from these dear ones, but "to obey is better than sacrifice." 1 Sam. 15:22.
Requiring a rest, I took lodging in my former quarters, where, on first coming to Sacramento, my son and I resided, and there quietly waited on the Lord; for my having received no monetary compensation whatsoever from any one placed me in a most blessed position of faith and trust, which our Father did not long permit to go unrewarded. I told nobody of my needs, but simply asked God for the things needful, which he sent through his children. Soon I was supplied with remunerative work sufficient for my immediate requirements, and, as did Paul of old, I "labored with mine own hands because I would not be chargeable unto the brethren."
During those few days I was a regular attendant each evening at the Peniel Mission, already mentioned, and there once more met Brother and Sister Thurston, who, as you will recall, were using a gospel-wagon. They were now about to respond to a call from Woodland, Yolo County, to open a mission. Again I was invited to join them. Feeling led of the Lord, I accepted, and soon we were in our new field of labor.
[Illustration: SHEET MUSIC
Words and Music by Mrs. FLORENCE ROBERTS.
The messengers tap on the windows. The windows of the soul. They carry this news from our Savior, "I died that ye might be made whole." "I died that ye might be made whole, I died that ye might be made whole."
The messengers tap on the windows. And beat their wings on the bars; They carry the news to the sinner, "You can become bright as the stars." "You can become bright as the stars. You can become bright as the stars."
The messengers tap on the windows. Three times they come and they go; Jesus saith, "Tho' your sins be as scarlet. Trust me. I will make them like snow." "Trust me. I will make them like snow. Trust me, I will make them like snow."
The messengers tap on the windows; Behold, I freely forgive Whoso-ever will come, let him do so, Partake of salvation and live. "Partake of salvation and live. Partake of salvation and live."
The messengers tap on the windows; Sweet peace from our Savior they bring; Sweet peace which is past understanding,— The windows now open. Come in. The windows now open. Come in. The windows now open. Come in.]
It was very precious, very blessed. Erelong, however, my companions in the work received a call to other places, whilst I received a definite call to remain. That first evening alone on the rostrum—shall I ever forget it? All day I had been praying (not always on my knees) for a text for my first public message or sermon, but not one could I settle on. Whilst the audience was gathering, we sang many hymns. This was followed by a few voluntary prayers; then came the embarrassing moment. I was compelled to inform the congregation—and it was a large one—of my predicament, and besought them to kneel again with me in brief supplication for a text. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!" my Bible fell open, my eyes riveted on these words: "And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him because he gave not God the glory, and he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost." Acts 12:23.
Positively the message came from the Lord. As I spoke I was as though in a trance. The altar filled with seekers, and souls stepped into that precious fountain still open in the house of David. How happy I was! To God be all the credit, all the glory.
Amongst the seekers was one who presently told me that for forty-one years he had been a drunkard. He certainly looked as if he had—poor, bloated, filthy, loathsome, ill-smelling creature. I can not find adjectives enough to describe him. Everybody avoided him. It surely was a testing time for me. Also, I had trying experiences thereafter with this particular soul; for, though he certainly found salvation, he was such a weakling that he was ever leaning upon the arm of flesh; in consequence of which I endured much persecution. He haunted me much of the time, morning, noon, and night, so that I was subjected to unkind remarks and ridicule; but, remembering the words of our Master in Matt. 5:11, 12 and Paul's in Phil. 2:7, I endeavored to bear this for the sake of his soul. Much later, when I was in the work in San Francisco, he took up his abode there, and shortly afterward the blessed Lord saw fit to provide him with an earthly companion (he was a widower), a most worthy Christian woman, who tenderly ministered to his needs until Father called him home, little more than a year following the earthquake and fire of that great city. Concerning that catastrophe he wrote me as follows:
San Francisco, Potrero Camp, Opp. S.P.R.R. Depot, Third and Townsend Streets, April 29, 1906.
My dear Sister Roberts:
We are alive and well. Praise the Lord. On the morning of the eighteenth we were roughly thrown from our bed by earthquake, and our house broken all to pieces, and it was afire before we were rescued.
Two men (God bless them!) took my dear wife and me with ropes, and by the time we were in the street the house was burning furiously. Two poor women on the lower floor were burned to death. We lost all we had except the clothes we had on and our Bibles. These we had been reading the night before and had left at our bedside. As we went out, we each took a Bible. I had a very fine collection of religious books, some very valuable, but all went in smoke; but, thank God! he saved our lives. I assure you we have thanked him in prayer many times since we escaped.
We got over on the Potrero and we had to sit in the hot sun all day the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth, and in the cold night wind, and we had nothing to lie down on nor to cover us to keep the cold out. My wife asked a woman to loan her a blanket to throw around me. She would not do it, yet she had enough extra ones for a dozen people. Finally near morning of the second night a lieutenant from the Presidio (regular army) came along and saw us sitting in the cold, and asked if we were so bad off as that. I told him yes. He said he would see about that. He went and took a heavy pair of blankets from that woman and brought them to us. We wrapped ourselves up in them and sat down again. After that we got along comfortably until morning, but the woman took the blankets away as soon as morning came.
Then we got into a Santa Fe car, which kept us out of the wind, but we had no bedding. After two days we all had to get out of the cars, as the company had to send them to Los Angeles to load them with sugar. Then we were out of doors again; but, praise the Lord! Mr. John A. Hedges, a showman, gave us a comfortable house, and he says we can have it as long as we stay. His dear wife gives us hot coffee and food every day, and good coffee and food, too.
They have two fine boys, sixteen and eighteen years of age. The boys have found jobs to work to help their father and mother. There are hundreds of able-bodied men around the camp, but they will not work. They can get from $2.00 to $2.50 a day, but they would rather live off the liberality of others. But when the soldiers find them they are forced to work, and they get no pay, only something to eat....
I am alone in our little house today. My dear one is out visiting some friends. She will soon be with me. Sister, she is a dear one to me. God bless her!
Mr. A. D. Porter, a banker of Woodland [now deceased], came down to hunt me up, and had a hard time to find us; but day before yesterday while looking around and asking for us he met Mr. Hedges, and he brought him to us. He told us to come to Woodland, and we could have rooms without cost. He is going to fit up rooms with kitchen and cooking utensils, etc., so we can live comfortably and without charge.
We will go on Tuesday or Wednesday, first or second of May. He also pays our car fare. We are thankful to him for his kindness. So you can write to us in Woodland.
You have no idea how often my wife and I have said we wished we could see our dear Sister Roberts. We can not begin to say all we want to in a letter. There is so much to talk about at this time. My wife got out in her night clothes. She did not have a chance to get her hat to cover her head. Some of the people are very kind to us.
My wife has got back to camp and is sitting by me while I write. I will not try to say more at this time. Good-by. I hope you had no trouble at Beth Adriel [the San Jose rescue home to be referred to hereafter]. God bless you and your work. With love from
Brother and Sister Mosby.
God wonderfully strengthened me and aided me to be faithful to this aged brother's soul, who through that awful demon, liquor, for years had been well-nigh an imbecile when first we met; and I expect one of the first ones to welcome me when I reach the glory-land will be my old friend, Brother Mosby.
WOODLAND (Continued)—A BOYCOTT.
One of the greatest and most agonizing trials of faith and trust occurred shortly after my being placed in charge of the Woodland undenominational gospel mission. The test well-nigh prostrated me. A letter from my son, then in San Francisco, abruptly broke the following news:
By the time you receive this I shall be on my way to Manilla. It will be a good opportunity for experience, and to see the world. I go as an employee on board the "Logan."...
Hoping to see you again in about three months, I remain. Your loving son,
To leave me, with only this for a farewell! "O God!" I cried, "I am indeed bereft of all my earthly treasures." No word from my husband had reached me for many months, although occasionally I had, through interested friends, been able to locate him. He never, from the time of my leaving home, contributed one cent toward my support. So I was given, as but few are given, a glorious opportunity to trust daily, hourly, and prove our dear heavenly Father—and he never has, nor ever will be, delinquent, unless I fail in my love and duty.
No collections were taken in the mission. Freewill offerings supported this work, which system gave occasion for some blessed testings; for sometimes rent-day would find us with an empty treasury, together with God's warning not to appeal to any but him. My cupboard was empty at times. I prayed, and he bountifully replenished it.
The first Christmas season in Woodland was a notable one. We were to give a dinner to the converts. Many were the gifts of edibles. Christmas eve found Sister Simpson and me very busy preparing and cooking, aided by two prospective guests. While I was thus engaged, a message arrived requesting me to go quickly to a certain street and cabin, where a girl lay dying. Carrying my Bible and little autoharp, my constant companions, I soon arrived at the place designated.
Poor Nell! How grateful I am that God ever permitted me to meet you, for now—not until now have you felt your great need. We spent a very precious, profitable time in that mean, forlorn abode. Soon Nell gladly yielded to Jesus; then whilst I was softly singing, "Jesus knows all about our struggles," she went to sleep. Commending her for all time and eternity to His loving keeping, I stole softly out.
Early on Christmas morning word arrived that Nell had never awakened, but had passed quietly away, shortly after midnight. Hers was the first funeral service at which I officiated. It was well attended. Instead of eulogizing the dead, as is common on such occasions, I delivered, for the blessed Master, a precious fruit-bearing message to the living. Hallelujah!
The passing of Nell did not prevent our having a happy Christmas. All my guests, save two sisters, who were gospel workers, were wonderfully redeemed, blood-washed men and boys. After all of us had enjoyed to our hearts' content the good things to eat, we lingered round the table relating one experience after the other. Some of the boys had been in prison time and again, and they rehearsed some of their escapades whilst serving the devil. All agreed that the primary cause of their downfall was disobedience to parents or guardians when very young, a continuation of this in youth, then the tobacco and liquor habits in connection with disobedience. Then, nothing but sorrow; now, nothing but peace and joy if they would only remain true to our wonderful Redeemer. Doubtless most of my readers have never attended such a dinner party. Let me tell you something. We had for our guest—the King. To be sure, we did not see him with these fleshly eyes, but the spiritual vision wonderfully revealed his presence, beyond a doubt, to each of us. It was a "feasting with my Lord."
In the days gone by, before becoming acquainted with my Savior, I had both entertained and been entertained sumptuously; but never, never had I so enjoyed a banquet, never had I been more happy than with these guests.
In the summer-time of that year following these occurrences we were boycotted. Strange and various worldly procedures for the raising of money in the different churches were causing much comment. The matter reached my ears, and, like Jeremiah and some of the other prophets of old, I proceeded to tell Father what a stumbling-block this was to both sinner and saint and how it grieved my soul, and besought him to warn them.
He gave me answer from Isaiah, sixth chapter. (Please read it.) He spoke to my soul in the night, saying, "Thus saith the Lord, Say unto these people, Thou shalt read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest, Ezekiel, third and fourth chapters, also Matthew, sixth chapter, twenty-fourth verse." He brought Isa. 6:6-8 so before my mental vision that I lay on my bed trembling from head to foot.
A union prayer service, the last of the season, was to take place in one of the churches on the following Wednesday evening. I was impressed on Tuesday to announce to the mission audience that we should on that occasion attend this union service. I made no mention to them of the message the Lord was trusting me to give, nor did I know how he would have it delivered. My soul was heavily burdened, and a great fear took possession of me, as I entered the basement of that church, which was soon filled with members and pastors representing the various denominations, also many of the mission attendants. The subject I well remember—"The Forgiving Spirit." It was beautifully discussed and handled, causing me to think that under these circumstances the Lord would possibly excuse me. In order to find out, I reverently opened my Bible. My eyes fell on one word in big capitals—"JONAH." Oh! I must obey; but how? I waited and watched. Soon came a call for voluntary prayer, and I received my cue when Brother Smith of the Seventh-day Adventists prayed. Testimony was next in order. Following one or two brief testimonies, I mechanically arose, and gave out the message just as it had come to me from the Lord, and then sat down—a great burden now off my soul. Painful silence followed, but finally a brother (Sunday-school teacher) arose. "Let us see what this means," he said. "I will read Ezekiel 3"; and he proceeded to read. Then a brother on the opposite side spoke—"I will read Ezekiel 4." Pastor M—- next said, "And I will read Matt. 6:21, after which we will proceed with our testimonies." But they did not. They could not. After a long silence only one arose. She gave an honest answer, promising God never so to offend him in the future.