FIFTEEN YEARS WITH THE OUTCAST
MRS. FLORENCE (MOTHER) ROBERTS
[Illustration: 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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
I can not bear to witness any more. But I must. I must watch to the
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
"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.
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
On my way home Satan said to me, "Now you're in for it." Sure enough. I
comforted myself by audibly singing as I walked along, "Jesus Lover of
My Soul." Maybe you think I was frightened and miserable. Not so. I
could not have been happier; for the load was lifted, my conscience was
On the following Monday evening we expected one of the pastors, by
previous appointment, to preach in the mission. We waited. He never
came. I was sent for to come to his parsonage the following morning,
and there I learned this: "At a special ministerial meeting, which took
place on Monday morning, the Woodland pastors took action with regard
to the attitude assumed toward the churches by the woman, Mrs. Florence
Roberts, now in charge of the City Gospel Mission. A motion was made,
seconded, and unanimously adopted to boycott said mission and said
Was the mission thereafter a failure? No, praise the Lord! It
prospered, and it still prospers in the hands of the various workers
the Master sends from time to time. He kept me there three years, and
never did I lack for the things needful. In that time was I absent
twice for short periods, but the mission nightly continued its precious
office work under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
A BRIEF CALL TO SACRAMENTO—I ENTER THE SAN FRANCISCO FIELD.
Both those periods of absence were occasioned by the return of my son,
who now had made two trips to and from the Philippines. After the
second one he decided to return to Sacramento, if I would make a little
home for him. His stay was of but a few months' duration
notwithstanding our cozy, comfortable quarters, for the spirit of
roving still possessed him, and erelong he shipped as an employee on
one of the large passenger steamers bound for Australia. Then, at the
repeated requests of many, I returned to Woodland, from which place I
eventually accepted a call to the rescue work in San Francisco. There I
made my home with Sister Kauffman, whose name and calling has already
been briefly mentioned. For a long time we worked together for the
inmates of The Home of Peace, and each Sunday morning at 9:30 o'clock
I, with other Christians, could be found at the county jail, No. 3,
adjacent to the Ingleside district and about three and one-half miles
distant from the city center. Of this branch of the work we will speak
The duties and the expenses of the San Francisco home were great; for
there was always a large family, most of whom, on coming, were
destitute of decent apparel, and, with scarcely an exception, all
needed physical treatment, some permanently, so that we toiled
incessantly either in the sewing-room, the sick-room, or the nursery,
where were several dear little babies. Who does not love a baby? You
can not imagine how attached we were to them, soon forgetting their
unfortunate advent, and doing what we could to instruct and aid their
untutored young mothers. The feeding of the family was alone often a
problem (I mean as to the source), so that we had to be very much in
the spirit of prayer.
Sometimes our Father would see fit to test us to the limit, for
instance: Shortly after my coming, the one in charge of food supplies
said, "Sister Kauffman, we are out of everything. There is only enough
for today, and perhaps tomorrow morning's breakfast." The worker whose
business it was to visit The Mission merchants for any donations of
food, etc. came home late that afternoon with but meager results for
her day's hard labor. In the morning, following earnest prayer with the
family gathered around that poorly supplied breakfast table, Sister
Kauffman and I started out to plead for absolute necessities. All
without exception commended this laudable work for the wandering girls,
but oh! the excuses. To this day I am amazed at many of them. In one
office was a portly, good-natured-looking gentleman puffing away at an
expensive cigar. (Reader, there was a time in my life when I enjoyed
the fragrance of a good one, for my husband was a smoker.) He declared
that he could not afford to assist one cent's worth, that he was too
poor. I dared to inquire gently how many cigars he smoked daily and if
they were not at least twenty-five cents for two. "Worse than that," he
proudly replied; "twenty cents apiece. But I only smoke half a dozen a
day at the most. I'm not an inveterate smoker; besides, it's my only
bad habit." When I told him that the cost of one day's smoking would
feed all our hungry family with a substantial meal, he turned his back
and began to get busy at his desk, and thus we considered ourselves
dismissed. There was excuse after excuse, refusal after refusal,
principally on the plea of there being so many appeals for charity
equally worthy and only a limitless pocket-book being requisite to meet
the many demands.
Noon-time discovered us in front of the Call building, corner of
Market and Third Streets, both of us faint, weary, hungry, and slightly
discouraged, yet still hopeful. We stood on the street corner for a few
minutes holding each other's hands, and, unknown to the passers-by,
praying for strength of body and soul, imploring our heavenly Father to
renew our faith and courage. After resting a little while on one of the
stone seats near Lotta's Fountain, we once more began to toil up office
stairs or ride in elevators. At four o'clock we were near the city
front in the wholesale district. Still our faith was being tested, for
most of those from whom we had expected help had either gone for the
day or were absent from some other cause. At last I weakened.
"Sister Kauffman, I can stand this awful strain no longer," I said.
"Perhaps God has sent in food to the girls during our absence. Let us
try to get back home." We could not telephone. That would mean a
nickel, and we didn't have it. "Once more, dear, once more we'll try,"
replied courageous Sister Kauffman. So we ascended a long flight of
stairs, only to find the door fast locked. Bless her noble soul! she
was just as tired, weak, and hungry as I, but infinitely less selfish.
As we came out on the sidewalk, she suddenly remembered one who had
some time previously promised help whenever she happened in that
vicinity again. It was but half a block distant. Thither we dragged our
weary bodies. When we reached the top of that stairway, a gentleman was
just in the act of locking a door. His greeting was:
"Well, well, Sister Kauffman, how do you do, and how are all your
family? You're just in time. I was about to go home. Glad to make your
acquaintance, Sister Roberts. Ladies, come in a moment and rest after
your hard climb." He handed a piece of money (five dollars) to Sister
Kauffman, remarking as he did so that he had been saving it for her
Then something happened—something totally unlooked for by any of us
three. Sister Kauffman and I burst into tears and wept unrestrainedly
for several minutes, whilst the kind friend retired, I suppose, to a
remote corner of the large room. Presently, when we had become somewhat
calm, we told him what we had endured since early morning. It was not
at all strange (now was it?) that this good-hearted man, during our
short recital, resorted to frequent use of his handkerchief. But it was
now fast growing dark, and we had to hurry.
Many samples of canned goods were upon the shelves. (This was a
wholesale commission merchant's office.) He filled my net shopping-bag,
made up another package, then forth we went with smiling faces and
happy hearts. Presently he helped us on to our car, then left us. "Oh!
Sister Roberts dear, we'll have to break our five dollars to pay our
car fare," said Sister Kauffman. When the conductor came our way and
she inquired whether he had change for five, he answered, "Your fares
are paid." God bless that noble-hearted, thoughtful gentleman. I do not
remember his name, but I do hope he will read or hear of this. Whether
he does or not, the generous deed is, I feel sure, recorded to his
credit in heaven.
When we turned the corner of our street, some of the family,
disregarding the rules, rushed out to greet us and to help us in with
our load. Soon our five dollars was purchasing bread, potatoes, and
other things for an immediate meal, to which we all quickly sat down,
and, after reverently thanking our heavenly Father ate—shall I
Reader, do not imagine this as being a common every-day experience. By
no means, although we were ever subject to tests in one form or
another. This taught us to pray more, and not to labor quite so
hard—an excellent and profitable lesson; also, to pray God to reprove
those who, though well able to help, had refused. "For inasmuch as ye
did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." Matt.
I AM INTRODUCED TO THE DIVES OF BARBARY COAST
Sister Kauffman was well acquainted with the dives of Barbary Coast,
she having occasionally to seek some one inquired for, or perhaps a
lost member of the family returned to former haunts of sin. The next
time she had occasion to go, I requested that I might accompany her.
She very gladly consented.
At nine o'clock that night we were in a horrible neighborhood. I had a
tight grip on her arm, and no wonder, for we were now where every vice
and crime were common and reigned supreme.
Plainly do I still see the first place we entered. It was called "The
Klondyke." "Come, sister, don't be afraid: God is watching over us,"
whispered Sister Kauffman as she walked me through a screen door and
into that gaudy, low barroom, where were congregated a most deplorable
mixture of degraded men and youth in various stages of inebriety. The
place reeked with the vile odors of whiskey, beer, tobacco,
uncleanliness of body, etc., so that my stomach revolted, and I felt as
if I should be compelled to return to the fresh air; but Sister
Kauffman, who had obtained permission from the proprietor (tending
bar), took me through another doorway, which led into a dance-hall.
Positively I was as though rooted to the spot, and I said to myself,
"This is even worse than anything of which I read or hear." I do not
dare to describe the situation; for I know that young people are going
to read this book and I have not the least inclination to sully their
minds. Suffice it to say, I was looking upon a shameful scene of total
depravity participated in by both sexes, some of whom were little more
than in their teens.
An intoxicated girl sidled up to me. How sickening was that vile breath
in my face as she said. "Say, what yer got in that case?" It was my
auto-harp. "Sing something for her, Sister Roberts," said Sister
Kauffman, at the same time drawing the girl and me into a remote
corner. I sent up to the throne of grace a quick, silent petition, and
the answer immediately returned, for strength came. Taking my little
instrument in my arms. I commenced, with shaky voice, the song that you
will find between these pages entitled, "Her Voice." "Don't, oh! don't!
Oh! for God's sake don't!" sobbed and shrieked that poor wanderer as
she threw herself upon me and buried her head, with its tawdry covering
and matted mop of dirty hair, in my lap.
[Illustration: SHEET MUSIC
Words and Music by Mrs. Florence Roberts.
1. Hark! I hear the sweet-est music Float-ing
2. Once a-gain I hear sweet voi-ces I've not
3. Years have passed since they have left us, Still the
round me o'er and o'er, Such a min-gling of sweet
heard for man-y years, Join-ing in the heav'n-ly ten-der
mem-o-ry Of these sing-ing saint-ed
voi-ces, Sing-ing as in days of yore; And I
cho-rus; And my eyes are filled with tears, As I
loved ones Lin-gers round my heart to-day. Now I'm
feel such peace and glad-ness Steal-ing o'er me ten-der-ly,
hear my saint-ed moth-er, With the loved ones free from care,
wait-ing and I'm lis-t'ning For the one that I love best.
As I hear my moth-er sing-ing, "Je-sus
Sing a-gain as in my child-hood, Of no
Je-sus, bid-ding me to blend My voice in
loves me, e-ven me, loves me, e-ven me."
sor-row o-ver there; sor-row o-ver there,
sing-ing with the blest; sing-ing with the blest.
Refrain. 1st Verse.
"I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Je-sus loves e-ven me."
Refrain. 2d Verse.
"There'll be no more sor-row there, There'll be no more
sor-row there; In heav-en a-bove, where
all is love, There'll be no more sor-row there."
Refrain. 3d Verse.
"In the sweet bye and bye We shall
meet on that beau-ti-ful shore; In the sweet bye and
bye, We shall meet on that beau-ti-ful shore." ]
This drew the attention of the dancers, causing a temporary halt. One
of her companions tried to pacify her and to draw her away, but she
resisted and only clung the closer. I forgot the awful surroundings as
my heart went out in tenderest pity. Placing my hand on her shoulder, I
offered soothing words and inquired if I could help her, if I could
comfort her. Presently she said: "Lady, God must have sent you here
tonight. I'm sober now; I was drunk when you came in. I want to let you
know my mother is dead." How she sobbed! The dancing was resumed,
whilst the girl, somewhat recovered, continued her story. "She only
left me a year ago. She was a good Christian, my mother was; and just
before she died, she sent everybody out of the room so as to have a
talk with me. 'Hazel,' she said, 'You've given me a heap of trouble and
anxiety, but I forgive you, dear, I forgive you. Now kiss Mother, and
promise to be a better girl. I've been praying many a long day for you,
my child. I'm going to leave you. The doctor says I may not see
morning. Don't cry, dear. Don't cry.' …. And then she prayed aloud.
'O God! make my naughty girl a good girl. Save her soul, O God, and may
I some day meet her in heaven. Please, God. for the dear Savior's sake.
Amen.' … Just look how I've kept my word! What's your name, lady?"
"You may call me Mother Roberts, dear, and, furthermore, you may come
with me and that other lady over there, to our home if you wish."
Before we left that place, and between dances, a man sitting in drunken
stupor on a bench suddenly tilted back his hat, stared at me, and
accosted me thus:
"Howdy-do, Mother Roberts."
"My! who is this that recognizes me in such a den?" I questioned
myself. "Who are you, my man, and where have we met?" I inquired.
Imagine my chagrin at his replying:
"In the jail at Sacramento."
"How awful! What will these people think—that I am an ex-jail bird?"
Such were the thoughts that were running through my mind.
"Yep; you gave me a speel there, and I don't forget it. Say, kids, this
'ere woman's all right. I wish I'd a minded wot she said, 'n I wouldn't
be 'ere ter night."
Hearing these last words, Sister Kauffman, who had been busy dealing
with many souls all of this time, said:
"If you mean that, come with Mother Roberts and me down to the mission,
a block away. The dear young men workers there will be only too glad to
Then we immediately wended our way out. I with my precious autoharp
under one arm and the infinitely more precious human treasure's arm
tucked safely under my other. We soon reached the humble mission, left
the man in safe keeping, and took a homeward-bound car, retiring about
2 A.M., grateful and almost too happy to sleep.
Hazel stayed with us some time and then obtained a permanent situation
in a Christian family as their trusted domestic.
The ice, now broken, soon thawed, and night after night two or three of
us workers went to the slums, dance-halls, and dives, endeavoring to
rescue some mother's wandering boy or girl. Did we always succeed? By
no means. Often the small hours of the morning found us wending our way
homeward weary and disappointed, but never greatly discouraged. At the
least, we sowed the precious seed, claiming God's promise in Isa. 55:11
as we did so.
Many a time I have seen a girl quickly tuck away in the bosom of her
dress some little tract (we always were well supplied), perhaps bearing
these words. "Jesus the Savior loves you, and sent me to tell you so";
for not always, by any means, would the proprietors or proprietresses
permit us to converse with their victims. Sometimes we were so
fortunate as to procure a girl's lodging-house address; then we had the
gratification of calling there in the daytime and privately dealing
with her, always with more or less good results. On such visits I took
the autoharp; for singing is a great, indeed I may say, an invaluable
aid in this work.
On one occasion, when three of us were seeking the lost, making saloon
to saloon, dance-hall to dance-hall visits, we went into a place where
my attention was immediately drawn to a beautiful, modest-looking young
lady (about seventeen years old) standing alongside of a gorgeous bar
and trying to repel the advances of a pompous, sporty-looking
middle-aged man. The man behind the bar was frowning and saying to her,
"Here, none of those monkey-shines, miss. You tend to business. D'you
hear?" Sister Kauffman and the other worker had gone into the
dance-hall in the rear. Quickly stepping up to the girl, I inquired of
her what he meant, what so young and modest a girl was doing there, and
whether she did not desire to leave, and implored her to let me aid in
rescuing her from her wretched life. Quickly she told me that she was
motherless and also that she had been home from an Eastern school only
about twenty-four days. "My child, what has happened that you are
here?" I inquired, astonished beyond measure. Before she could reply
the big blonde man tending bar said:
[Illustration: THE DIVE KEEPER'S DAUGHTER]
"Here you" (addressing me), "make yourself scarce. You and your kind
are —— —— hoo-doos to our business"
"Please, please go," the girl pleaded.
Just at this juncture Sister Kauffman and her lady companion came
through the dance hall double doors. The latter held them wide open and
in her loud, penetrating voice slowly uttered these words:
"What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own
soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" …
"Come, Sister Roberts."
"Yes, in a minute," I replied as I motioned to them I would join them
"I will not leave," I said to the girl, "unless you give me some good
reason for not accompanying me, seeing you express a desire to be
"—— —— ——!" shouted the man, "if you don't clear right out, I'll
brain you" He held suspended in the air a full soda water bottle, one
of the heaviest.
The girl, pushing me away from her, said, "Go! go! He'll do it." And
then she whispered:
"He's my father."
I rushed out, excitedly informed my companions, and then quickly sought
a policeman, who, when I informed him, simply shrugged his shoulders
and remarked: "I can't interfere. The man has a license, his daughter
isn't of age, he's her legal guardian. Don't know what you can do about
it; you'll have to consult higher authority than me"—a course which we
proceeded to follow in the morning.
In the evening we visited that same place, accompanied by an officer in
private clothes. A large, showy woman and also a bar-tender stood
behind the bar. "Are you the party what was here last night trying to
make trouble?" she inquired. "Well, you're left. The bird has flown.
Ha! ha! I'm running this place now, and I don't need your help,
neither. Don't you come here while I'm in charge of it," etc.
Evidently, the policeman first accosted had given the alarm. I have
never heard what became of that poor girl and her wicked, unnatural
father. A tenderhearted woman in that awful neighborhood, one who had
tried to protect her, told me this:
The girl's mother died when she was a babe. The father (not then a
saloon man) sent her to New York to be raised by her aunt. When old
enough she was placed in school. The aunt died. She was removed to
another school, and there she remained until called for by her father,
who all these years had been her provider. He brought her to San
Francisco, where he now kept a dive and dance-hall. She being a rather
timid girl, it can be readily understood why she submitted to his
authority and tyranny.
My mind now reverts to two of the soldier boys, returned from the
Philippines and seated one night in one of those places where we were
permitted to work and also to sing. Toward the close of the song,
Can a boy forget his mother's prayer,
When he has wandered God knows where?
I discovered them with their arms about each other's shoulders and both
with the tears silently coursing down their cheeks. Setting my
instrument on one side and remembering my own dear son, the daily
object of my prayers, I essayed, in earnest, gentle tones, to admonish
them. Both acknowledged having been carefully reared by Christian
mothers, one of whom was dead. Had they been my own, I could not have
more earnestly pleaded with them. In consequence of my admonition they
soon took their departure, promising as they did so never again to
cross the threshold of any place where they would be ashamed to have
their mothers find them, and also to seek once more their neglected
Savior. Both were soon reclaimed; for I had the pleasure of meeting
them later in a house of worship on the Army's camp-grounds, at the
Christian parents, you that through death or other means have been
deprived of the companionship of your children, why not occasionally
join some of the rescue workers in their efforts to save somebody's
wandering boy or girl, instead of sitting in a rocking-chair, nursing
your sorrows? Speak the kindly, loving word of warning or advice;
encourage the wayward son or daughter to reform; and thus better your
condition as well as theirs. This will surely bring an indescribable
peace and satisfaction to the soul, assuage much grief, and help to
promote the Master's kingdom. He takes us at our word. We sing:
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord.
Over mountain, or plain, or sea,
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord,
I'll be what you want me to be.
Do we mean it?
Of all the pathetic stories from members of our family, I deem Mary's
far in excess of others though all, without exception, are woefully sad
One day a telephone call came to us from the city and county hospital,
situated in a suburb known as The Potrero, inquiring if we had room for
a delicate young mother with her three-weeks-old babe. They informed us
that her time as a patient had expired and, moreover, that they had
just been quarantined for smallpox, but that she had as yet suffered no
exposure. The workers were quickly consulted, also a few trusted
converted girls, and together we knelt in prayer and then consulted
God's Word. Praise his name! we opened it on the ninety-first Psalm.
What better assurance than in verses 10, 11, and 12?
Soon we were welcoming one of the most forlorn specimens of humanity
the home had ever received. Jack, the delicate-looking baby, had the
facial expression of a tiny old man, but oh! such beautiful eyes! We
realized that both would require very tender care for some time to
come. When Mary became able to work, she rendered valuable service, for
she liked to cook and was efficient and economical. Whilst she was thus
occupied, her babe was being well cared for in the nursery.
Several months passed by, during which every means was resorted to in
order to help Mary learn to seek and find her Savior, but all without
Little Jack, never very strong, was taken seriously ill and soon, from
the waist down, was paralyzed. Mary now relinquished all other duties
in order to nurse her sick treasure. We never witnessed greater love
and devotion. For ten days before he died, she did not leave his
bedside one moment longer than necessary, never changed her clothes,
excepting once, and never lay down to sleep. On more than one occasion
it became my privilege to share the night vigils, for which she was
sincerely grateful. How my heart yearned for this poor, hopeless
mother! How I longed to impart to her the secret of salvation and of
"Mary," I said, "if you would only try my Savior, dear, I assure you
that you would feel better, body and soul, I've never heard your
story; won't you tell it to me whilst we're watching beside Baby?"
"I've never felt as if I could before, but I will, Mother Roberts, I
"I lost my father and mother when I was quite small, and my
grandparents raised my little brother and me. I never remember when
they didn't have beer on the table for dinner and supper, and if
company came in, they always treated them. If I didn't feel quite well
or was tired, Grandmother would say, 'Have a drop of beer, Mary child,
it'll do you good and put new life into you.' It took some time to get
used to liking it. I didn't enjoy the bitter taste at first, but by and
by I loved it—yes, really loved it.
"I grew up, and, like many another girl, had my young friends come
calling. I liked Tom S—— best of all, and one day promised I'd marry
him if the old folks would agree. They were awfully pleased, and soon
let Tom and me go about alone everywhere. He was a baker, and a good
one. Earned fine wages, so that I was expecting to have a very
"I wish Grandmother or some one had talked plainly and honestly to me
about a few things, but they didn't; so what did I know when Tom told
me that in God's sight an engagement was as good as a marriage and that
we'd soon, for the sake of appearances, and to comply with the law, go
through that ceremony. My God! Why didn't some one warn me? Oh! Mother
Roberts, very few girls loved a man better than I loved Tom.
"By and by Grandmother says, 'What's become of Tom? I haven't seen him
lately. I didn't know he'd left his job.' So I told her his work was
slack and he'd gone away to hunt a place where he could get better pay.
You'll not be surprised to hear she soon grew suspicious, and one day I
was obliged to confess.
"Did I tell you Tom drank beer? Oh yes, and enjoyed it with me and them
many's the time.
"Was he a stranger to me and my folks when I first met him? Well, no,
not exactly, although I must confess I knew very little about him
before he was introduced by one of my girl friends at the baker's and
confectioner's ball. Oh but he was an elegant dancer! and that got me,
in the first place.
"My! but didn't Grandmother take on something awful! She ordered me out
of her sight up to my little bedroom till Grandfather should come home.
I sat there listening to her wailing and moaning and asking the dear
Mother of God what she had done that such a cruel, cruel misfortune
should have befallen her. Poor Granny! Mother Roberts, I was longing to
go down and comfort her, but I durs'n't. So all that I could do was to
walk the floor, or sit and cry. Sometimes I tried to tell my beads, but
I couldn't take any pleasure in them. They didn't comfort my poor,
sinful soul one bit. I wished I could die then and there, but what was
the use? I couldn't, though I thought fear would indeed kill me when I
heard Grandfather come in and knew Grandmother was telling him. I heard
him raving and cursing while she was begging him to keep quiet for fear
the neighbors would hear.
"Pretty soon he opened the door that led upstairs. 'Mary,' he shouted,
'you —- —— come down and be —— quick about it, I tell ye.' And
when I did, he said, 'I'll see whether we'll own any one what will
disgrace their poor, respectable, honest grandparents, what has
brought ye up in the way ye should go, in their old age! Out ye go,
and be —— quick about it.' I can see him now, and Grandmother, who
was sitting at the kitchen table, sobbing with her head buried in her
apron. I crawled on my hands and knees toward him; I begged him not to
turn me out; I clung to him so that he could hardly walk, while he, in
his rage, was backing along the hall out toward the front door, and
then he managed to open it, me still clinging to him, and threw me,
with a curse, out into the dark, cold, wet night.
"I lay there on the doorstep until I found I was getting a soaking, and
then I went to a neighbor about a block away, who always had been very
kind to me, and had a girl of her own a little younger than me. Did I
tell her? Of course I did; I had to. So she took pity on me and let me
sleep there that night on a shake-down in the parlor, although Mattie
(her daughter) had a large bed to herself, and I told her not to go to
so much trouble, that I could sleep with her as I'd done before, many's
the time. But she said girls would get to talking, and she didn't want
her innocent Mattie to know a girl could ever bring such disgrace on
honest, respectable parents. But she didn't know how Mattie and I used
to talk for hours after we'd get in bed at night, about our 'fellers'
and such like, but now, who was I that I should tell her mother this?
"In the morning after breakfast (she kept Mattie out of sight
somewhere) she took me into the parlor, shut the door, and said:
"'Mary child, I'm sorry for you, I am indeed, but I can't keep you
here. You know where the county hospital is, don't you? Well, you go
there, and they'll take you in. They'll take such cases as yours.
Here's a quarter to pay your car fare. You needn't let on you stopped
with me. You may be sure I won't, for I respect your Grandfather and
Grandmother highly. I don't want them to find out I know anything about
your trouble or that I took you in. Why, they'd never speak to me
again. There, there, don't cry. Good-by and good luck to you, Mary.'
"I got on a car and pretty soon was asking the gate-keeper of the city
and county hospital how I should apply to get in. 'Patient?' he asked.
'Yes, sir,' said I. So he directed me to the office. A lot of people
were there, waiting their turn. After a while a doctor interviewed me
in a little office. He asked me a good many questions. No, I didn't lie
to him, but I told him as little as I could. He said, 'We can't take
you in yet. Come on such a date,' and put my name on a book, then wrote
on a card something about admitting the bearer, Mary H——, maternity
ward, with his name and the day I was due there. I told him I'd no
place to go; he said I was able to work for a while. So I went out to
try and find some work. Before evening I got a job washing dishes and
preparing vegetables in a small restaurant, for the sake of my board
and bed, and I stayed there until it was time to go back to the
"I forgot all my troubles for a while when Jack came…. Mother
Roberts, how can I think God is good? He's going to take my baby from
me; he's going to let him die. I can't stand it. I'll kill myself—yes,
Two nights later little Jack still breathed, though scarcely
perceptibly, and again I shared poor Mary's vigil. About midnight I
asked if she felt able to finish her story. Presently she continued:
"When my little Jack was three weeks old, the nurse of our ward took
down the card from the head of my bed, and told me I could go now. I
was dismissed, and they wanted my corner for another patient.
"I stood outside the big gate that afternoon wondering where I could go
and holding my pretty little Jack against my breast. I'd a nice warm
shawl, so he was good and comfortable. A thought like this struck me.
'Grandfather is so fond of babies. I'll go there. Perhaps when he sees
the dear, innocent little baby, he'll forgive me and take me back.' It
seemed as though I would never reach their house [in the neighborhood
of Sixth and Clara Streets, reader], and I had to rest on some one's
doorsteps very often, I was that weak. It was pretty near dusk when I
knocked on the door, and the fog was coming in. Grandmother opened it.
She threw up her hands when she saw me; didn't ask me in, but hollered
for Grandfather to come, and come quick, which he did. Oh! Mother
Roberts, to my dying day I'll remember how he cursed me when he saw me
and my baby's darling face, and then he closed the door with an awful
bang. Well, I was dazed like for a little bit, then Baby cried. I sat
on somebody's doorstep and nursed him, then kept on walking and
resting; going, I hardly knew where.
"It must have been well after seven o'clock when I found myself on
Montgomery Avenue and not very far from North Beach. My! but I was
faint, although I'd had a good meal at the hospital at noon, but you
know a nursing mother needs plenty of nourishing food and often. I saw
a light in a little notion shop, and went in and asked the woman if she
could spare me a bite to eat. Bless her kind heart, she gave me a big
bowl full of bread and milk, and warmed some stew, and helped me make
Jack clean and comfortable, but she had no place for me to sleep, which
she told me sorrowfully. Her family was large, and she did not have a
bit of extra bedding, besides she was poor. I was feeling better now
and more cheerful. My! 'tis wonderful what a good meal can do for you
when you're hungry, isn't it? I thanked her kindly and told her I'd
soon find friends; then went out on the street and began to watch the
faces. At last I stepped up to an elderly laboring man, told him I had
lost my way, was broke, a stranger, and a widow, and asked him if he
could direct me to a respectable lodging-house, which he did (bless his
kind heart!) and paid the woman for a night's lodging, she asking no
questions; and soon I was in a clean little bed with my Jack. I don't
think my head had hardly touched the pillow when I was fast asleep, all
of my troubles forgotten.
"Morning came all too soon. And now what was I to do? I dressed, then
made baby as comfortable as I could under the circumstances, went down
the stairs, meeting no one as I passed out of the house into the
street. Pretty soon I'd made up my mind. I'd walk down to Meigg's wharf
(not far away) and with my darling would drop quietly off the end of it
into the bay; and I was soon looking into the nice quiet water, just
about to fall in when I heard a voice, for sure I did, Mother Roberts,
saying, 'Don't Mary.' Maybe you don't think I was scared as I looked
all around and could see no one nearer than a block and a half away,
and that was a man piling up some lumber on a wagon; besides, the voice
I heard was a woman's, not a man's. I began to back away from the
water, wondering if I'd heard an angel speak….
"Yes; I admit I am naturally superstitious, but don't you think in a
case like this, it's a good thing?"
"Yes; I do, Mary, but go on, dear, I'm anxious to hear what became of
"I went back to the woman who gave me my supper, and she gave me my
breakfast, then advised me to put my baby with the sisters of Mount St.
Joseph. But I never could do that, could you? I said good-by to my
kind friend and started out for where, I did not know. All of a sudden
I said to myself, 'I'll go back to the hospital and offer to scrub and
do chores; anything, so they'll take me and my baby in.' It took me
till nearly one o'clock to reach there. Every time I sat down to rest
and a policeman came along, I'd get up quickly and walk on, for fear he
might arrest me as a suspicious character.
"The man at the gate didn't want to let me in; said they had been
obliged to quarantine; but I rushed past him up to the office, threw
myself at a doctor's feet, and begged him for God's sake not to send me
away. He sent for the head nurse; they gave me my dinner, made Baby
nice and clean and comfortable, and pretty soon one of the nurses came
and told me they had found me and Baby a good home, and here I've been,
as you know, ever since. But oh! Mother Roberts, my little Jack is
going to die, he's going to die!…
"Four days since you opened your beautiful eyes and looked at Mother,
Precious. Four long, long days….
"Mother Roberts, I think I would believe and trust God if he would
only let my baby look at me once more before he goes. I really think I
"Kneel down with me, Mary, and we'll ask him," I said.
We clasped hands over the foot of that little bed, and if ever I
prayed, I prayed then that the merciful Father would, for the sake of
his Son our Savior, and for his own glory, open the eyes of the babe
once more before the angels took him home. The poor worn-out mother
sobbed herself to sleep, her head resting on little Jack's lifeless
feet. I watched, earnestly and intently watched, for my prayer to be
answered. Toward daylight I observed a slight movement of the little
head. "Wake up! wake up, Mary!" I cried, whilst I shook and continued
to shake her. The voice awoke many of the family, who quickly hastened
to the sick-room. Mary with bloodshot eyes gazed at the baby. Soon his
beautiful eyes opened wide, with a long, loving look at the faithful
mother, then closed; and now the angels had him forever in their
"O God, O God, you are good, you are good," sobbed poor Mary. "I'll
never, never doubt you any more." And she never did. From that day,
and, so far as I know, up to the present time, Mary has been one of our
Father's and Savior's loyal subjects.
As soon as able, she took a situation, so as to earn money to pay
Jack's funeral expenses and to purchase the lot where lie his earthly
remains. I was told that her mistress accepted the Savior because of
her faithful daily walk. Later, her brother, returned from the
Philippines, claimed and took her back there with him, where,
doubtless, she is seeking and finding jewels for the Master's crown.
"What became of the grandparents—the ones responsible before God for
her misfortunes?" During the first few weeks of Mary's stay under our
roof, Sister Kauffman and I called on them, hoping so to picture the
Savior's tender mercy and love as to be able to touch their hearts, to
discover to them their self-righteous condition, and to get them to
realize where the blame really lay. All our efforts were fruitless. The
earthquake and fire of San Francisco swept away all their property, and
in all probability they perished in the flames, for they were never
again heard of.
SERVICES IN COUNTY JAIL, BRANCH NO. 3.
Come with me this beautiful Sunday morning. Join with me and this
faithful band of young workers from various denominations, in the nine
o'clock services, and satisfy yourself as to the good they, by the
grace of God, are able to accomplish.
Good morning, gate-keeper. Have the rest of the band arrived yet?
Then we'll pass in.
We enter the beautifully laid-out grounds surrounding the women's
quarters. What lovely lawns! What a variety of fragrant flowers! But we
must hurry, for we can not afford to miss the services. We ascend the
long flight of steps and are now greeted by the superintendent and his
wife, the matron. Next we traverse a long, wide hallway. Turning to the
left, we mount a few steps, and then come up against a solid iron
double door. Through an aperture in one side of it we get a glimpse of
the throng within. The door is unlocked for our admission, and, passing
through, we find ourselves facing anywhere from forty to sixty girls
and women, for the most part neatly attired in dark blue-print gowns.
"What a heterogeneous gathering we are confronting! Some look so
refined; doubtless they are from the better walks of life. Why are they
For offenses of various kinds too numerous to mention. "That dignified,
white-haired woman, third row on our left?"
Ask me about her later on. I will tell you on our way home.
"That pretty fair-haired girl about sixteen?"
Vagrancy. Her sentence expires in two weeks. We're trying to persuade
her to come to our home, because her own is undesirable. Both of her
parents drink; her older sister has taken the downward course and
refuses all our overtures; and her two brothers are constantly in
drunken bouts and then imprisoned.
"That old, old woman; what of her?"
She's awaiting her trial for malpractice. She'll probably have to serve
time in San Quentin penitentiary. But I'll tell you more by and by.
Brother Edstrom of the Y. M. C. A. speaks—"Let us all heartily join
in singing, 'Pass me not, O gentle Savior,' Gospel Hymns No. 27." How
they sing! and what beautiful voices some of the prisoners have!
"Brother St. John, will you lead in prayer?"
[Illustration: SHEET MUSIC
Words and music by Mrs. FLORENCE ROBERTS
1. Oh, help me live near thee, my Savior, Oh, keep thou me
2. I love thee, my Fa—ther, and Sav—ior, For what thou hast
close by my side; I need thee, Lord, dai—ly and hour—ly,
done for me; Me, one of the great-est of sin-ners,
My Coun-sel-or and my Guide. I can—not have thee too
I mar—vel, such welcome from thee! Won-der—ful con-quest o'er
near me, Ei-ther by day or by night; For when thou art nigh
the Sa-tan's Al—lur—ing paths of sin; My Sav-ior, to thee the
tempt-er doth fly, Thou dost help me to put him to flight,
glo—ry all be, Now help me some lost ones to win.
Near—er, still near—er, Come to me o'er and o'er.
Near-er to thee, Sav-ior, I'd be, Now and for—ev—er—more]
Without exception all kneel as the consecrated young brother makes
fervent, passionate appeal to the throne of mercy and grace.
"Will one of our congregation now call for a song?"
"Very good, we will sing No. 18."
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.
You can't keep back the tears as you listen, and this is not to be
"Sister Burton, we will now listen to your reading of the fifty-fifth
chapter of Isaiah."
"Sister Roberts, I see you have your autoharp with you. Please favor us
with one of your God-sent songs."
"Nearer, Still Nearer."
The prisoners sing refrain twice over with me and then request a
repetition. It is inspiring to hear them, it surely is.
"We will now spend a few minutes in testimony. Who will be the first to
witness for Jesus this morning?"
Three or four are on their feet at once, some thanking God that, even
though they are behind prison bars, he has washed away their sins in
the precious blood of Jesus, and declaring their intention of leading
clean lives, lives that will honor the Lord; adding that they are
asking him to give them honest jobs in respectable quarters, so that
they need never again be obliged to return to their former environments
of vice and degradation. And so on, until time for testimony is up.
"How many desire an interest in our prayers, that you may lead lives
that will fit you for heaven instead of sending you down to an awful
hell? Please raise your hands. One, two, three, six, ten; nearly all
who have not testified. God bless you! Let us pray."
Brother Edstrom so earnestly petitions the loving Father for mercy and
pardon for these poor souls that some of them weep audibly. Again we
all join in singing; the benediction is pronounced; then those
conducting the meeting repair quickly to the men's quarters in an
adjacent but separate enclosure. There a similar service is held, after
which the majority hurry away to the various houses of worship for the
eleven o'clock services.
When not otherwise engaged, I find it pleasurable as well as profitable
to linger, but on this occasion I shall not remain. As we walk along, I
will keep my word concerning some of the inquired-about inmates.
The dignified, white-haired woman spends the greater part of her time
in that prison-house.
She is addicted to the morphine habit, and, in consequence, she resorts
to any means to procure the drug. It has made a petty thief of her,
thus causing her frequent arrest and incarceration for three or six
She was the wife of a prominent professional man, and, so far as this
world's goods are concerned, she enjoyed everything that a loving
husband was able to lavish on her. At the time of, and following, the
birth of her third child, the attending physician, in order to assuage
her excruciating pain, administered morphine. She continued to resort
to it, and soon she was its slave. Everything known to human skill
was done to cure her of the habit, but without much effect. She began
to inject the drug into her flesh with a hypodermic needle and also to
mix it with cocaine. Thus she soon became a mortification to her
husband, relatives, and friends, and erelong they felt that she had
forfeited all claims to their consideration. They forsook her,
absolutely refused to recognize her. In process of time the husband
procured a divorce and sole guardianship of the children.
Soon she disappeared from her home neighborhood and for the future was
lost sight of by all except police judges, and officers, prison
companions, and habitue of morphine dens. Every home missionary I know
of in San Francisco had made some attempt or sacrifice for the
redemption of this unfortunate woman, but apparently with little, if
any, effect. One day she told me that I was wasting my time, for she
loved her drug better than her God. I wondered if she really meant it.
You ask if this is an exceptional case? Not by any manner of means. I
am able to relate many others, all different in detail, but all alike
in the main, the family physician being primarily responsible.
My heart goes out tenderly for the younger inmates of the prison, most
of whom are there for a first offense, and who are now in great danger
of contracting bad habits, such as cigarette-smoking, from older
offenders. "What!" you exclaim, "do they permit women and girls to
smoke?" I'm sorry to tell you it is only too true. Furthermore, the
weed is procured from those in authority over them. And from that habit
and others acquired during incarceration, deeper demoralization
results, so that many come forth worse than they ever were before their
imprisonment. Nevertheless, realizing the limitless value of even one
soul, the home missionary keeps, ever keeps in view Gal. 6:9—"And let
us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we
With but very few exceptions the prisoners of both sexes admit that
liquor or drugs, or both have cursed their lives, made every type of
criminal out of them, forfeited them their liberty, some for life, aye,
even life itself. I have dealt with some of the ones condemned to die.
I learn this from their own lips.
When, oh! when will that awful octopus, that curse of the world be
destroyed? When, oh! when will our lawmakers and our officers eliminate
forever the accursed poisons that ruin men and women both physically
What chance do God's consecrated workers have, with this band of demons
confronting them on every hand, dragging souls down to hell every hour
of the day, yea, every minute?
'How long, O Lord, how long?' Psa. 94:3.
LUCY—A REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE.
Following the services one Sunday morning, several of the inmates
waited on me in a body. "Mother Roberts," the spokesman began, "there's
a dying girl in one of the cells in the smaller dormitory. She's
spitting blood something dreadful, and she's so bad. Bad and all as
some of us are, we're scared the way she goes on. Her language is just
awful! She never comes out to the services, yet she's been here for
months. Says she has no use for 'them hypocrites,' and 'don't want none
of 'em near her.' Says she'll curse 'em if they do come. Say, Mother
Roberts, couldn't you make some excuse to get into her cell? We haven't
the heart to see her deliberately go to hell."
For a few minutes silence reigned, whilst I thought and inwardly
prayed. Then I felt it to be of the Lord to carry out an impression to
walk quietly into her cell as though by mistake, trusting the Divine
Director for results….
Propped up in one corner of her bunk, wrapped in grey blankets,
reclined a hollow-eyed, ghastly-looking girl, gasping for breath. Some
blood was trickling from the corners of her mouth. She glared at me,
tried to speak, but failed. Quickly I took out my handkerchief, dipped
it into the granite ewer close by, and wiped her poor face and mouth;
then she whispered, "Again." Repeatedly this was done, the Spirit of
God all this time impressing me not to utter one word aloud, yet giving
me a wonderful, most blessed realization of his presence and power.
After I had made her as comfortable as surroundings would admit, she
presently slept. Then I quietly tip-toed out; exacted a promise from
her companions not to reveal my identity, which promise they faithfully
kept, though under difficulties; had a conference with Mrs. Kincaid,
the matron; then went away.
I returned the following morning and for four more consecutive days.
Still the dear Lord did not permit me to speak. On Friday afternoon as
I was about to leave her (by the way, she had observed almost stolid
silence so far), she called me to come back.
"What is it, dear?" I asked.
"Say, do you mind telling me who you are?"
"Why? Why do you wish to know?"
After a prolonged silence I once more was about to depart, but she
"I'll have to say it."
"Say what, Lucy?"
"Say this: you act like a Christian."
Oh! praise God, praise God! the ice was broken, and my pent-up soul gave
vent to a copious flow of refreshing tears, as I bowed in gratitude at
that prison bunk, beside that wandering sick girl, and poured out my heart
in earnest prayer for the dear Father to guide her into all truth, and to
make me ever-wise in my administrations to the needs of herself and
others. Then, kissing her on the brow, I left her.
[Illustration: SHEET MUSIC
WAS IT YOU?
Words and Music by Mrs. FLORENCE ROBERTS.
Some one spoke to me of Je—sus, Said he'd come to call on me,
Some one told me how he suf-fered, Said, "For you and me he died."
Some one gave the in—vi—ta—tion, And we bowed in humble prayer;
Lov—ing Sav-ior, how I thank thee Some one came to me that day-Oh,
I know that man-y oth—ers Would be glad if "some one" came.
Said no mat-ter how I'd fall—en, He from sin would set me free.
"Does, oh, does he love so dear—ly? Tell me more of him," I cried.
Soon I felt my sins for-giv—en; Thro' his grace I'll meet you there,
Some one rep-re-sent-ing Je—sus, And I turned thee not a—way.
Bring-ing lov—ing in—vi—ta—tion From their lives of sin and shame.
Some one told me how he loved me, And was knocking at my door;
Some one told me he is com-ing Soon to take his loved ones home,—
There in mansions bright with glo-ry. Oh,'tis won-der-ful to me
Bless, oh, bless that loving some one, Sent by Je-sus Christ our Lord;
In—to lives of peace and glo—ry, Thro' the blood of Christ the Lamb:
He had oft-en stood there plead-ing, Had been man-y times be-fore.
Told me he was there to par—don, If I now to him would come.
That the vil-est he is seek-ing From their sins to set them free!
Help me, now that I am blood-washed, Wit-ness to thy precious word.
Send me pray-ing, bless-ed Je—sus, With that song, "Just as I am."
Was it you? Was it you? Was it you?]
On the following Sunday I returned and found her eager to see me, also
much improved in health. After our greeting she told me that she had
been trying to discover who I was, but that no one would inform her.
"Ain't they the limit?" was her smiling expression.
"You'll tell me, won't you? Say, who was that singing out in the big
dormitory a while ago?"
"Every one was singing, Lucy."
"Oh, yes, I know, but I mean some one sometimes alone and playing
something that sounds like a guitar-mandolin like we have at home?"
"Would you care to hear her?"
"Sure I would. Please go ask her to come in." Soon I returned with my
precious little instrument.
"Is that it? Wouldn't she come?"
"Of course she would. Listen. Lucy."
* * * * *
Oh! those blessed tears she shed as she pillowed her head on my breast;
those blessed, blessed tears!
"Come tomorrow, please come."
"God willing, Lucy, yes."
"Why do you say, 'God willing'? Of course he'll be willing."
And I went forth, scarcely able to contain myself for very joy.
The next morning I returned and spent many hours with this precious,
very precious jewel. There was no longer any restraint. She listened
eagerly whilst I imparted choice portions of the Word. (Reader, the
utmost precaution had to be used, for she had not yet accepted her
Savior. Believe me, there is danger of excess in surfeiting with the
Bible. I lovingly admonish you to seek earnestly for divine wisdom with
regard to dealing with souls. My lessons on those lines have thus far
been dearly purchased; for I have ignorantly, zealously, made many
mistakes, thus for the time being, hindered, more than aided their
spiritual progress. To illustrate: A janitor's child has a toy broom.
Papa has just swept one part of the hall and is about to remove the
accumulated dust. "Papa, let me help you," and forthwith the child
sweeps a large portion of the dust over the already cleaned floor. Papa
sighs, sadly smiles, says nothing, but patiently proceeds to clean up
again. Reader, I'm sure you see the point.)
Not many days thereafter, when Lucy was again able to be up and
dressed, she asked me to pray for her, and before we rose from our
knees, she knew my Savior was hers. Even so, yet she still smoked
cigarettes. This grieved my soul, but I waited until of her own accord
she inquired whether I thought it a sin to smoke. She excused herself
on the plea that smoking quieted her nerves and also induced sleep. She
told me, however, that she was now trying to curtail, as she had
hitherto indulged in as many as twenty a day. I asked if she would wish
her dear Redeemer to see her rolling and smoking cigarettes, referred
her to Rev. 22:11, and soon, without further comment, took my
She was able to attend services the following Sunday. I still see her
eagerly absorbing everything said and sung. As soon as the meeting
closed, she took possession of me, marshaled me to her cell, kissed and
seated me, and then said:
"I want to tell you something so badly, I could hardly wait until the
others were through. Mother Roberts, after you left last Wednesday, I
got to thinking about my filthy habit, so I went on my knees, and did
what you told me; I prayed, if it wasn't right, for God to make me hate
it. My! but I was nervous an hour later, and had to have a smoke. I
woke up in the night wanting another, so rolled my cigarette and was
just in the act of lighting it when something seemed to say, 'Lucy, if
you'll let it alone you shall never need one again!' I put out the
match and lay down, but I couldn't sleep. I was that nervous; so I
reached over to the window ledge, picked up my cigarette, put it
between my lips once more and struck a light, when again I distinctly
got that impression. Oh! but I was tempted, so for fear I would weaken
I got out of bed, and with my bare feet crushed the dirty weed all to
smithereens. I slept soundly till morning, and woke up smelling the
odor of tobacco-smoke. Mother, I want to tell you the strange part of
it; the smell actually made me sick at my stomach. How do you account
for that? To be sure, I'm very nervous, but nothing on earth could
tempt me to smoke again."…
Dear Lucy grew in grace very rapidly. Erelong she confided who her
family were, also read me portions of their letters, and at her request
I wrote to her mother, who soon replied at length.
The time was approaching when my dear spiritual daughter would soon
have her freedom; but I learned that, for good and sufficient family
reasons, it would be impossible for her to return to them for some time
to come. The mother wrote, asking if it would be possible for me to
assume temporary guardianship.
Owing to impaired health, I was not at this time residing at the Home
of Peace, but instead was occupying quiet quarters in the cottage of a
sister missionary, who was absent much of the time and who, in return
for light services, gave me the use of a nice large room furnished for
light housekeeping. I asked and obtained her permission to have Lucy
share the room with me—this with the proviso that Lucy's identity be
closely guarded. Also, I obtained sanction from the judge (who, when
sentencing her, ordered her removed from San Francisco at the
expiration of her term) to keep her with me, but under close
Lucy joyfully placed herself in my keeping, without knowing what
disposition was to be made of her. Frequently she petitioned to be
lodged in my immediate neighborhood. In reply, I simply smiled. You can
not imagine how much I was enjoying my delightful secret nor with what
pleasure I prepared new clothing purchased with the money sent by her
own dear mother. Lucy and I were now counting the days, soon the hours.
My pretty room, with its folding-bed, organ, sideboard, decorations of
glass and chinaware, underwent, the day before her freedom, an extra
cleaning in preparation for my guest, and I arose at three o'clock the
following morning in order to add finishing touches and also to prepare
for an immediate meal on our return. At five o'clock I boarded a car,
which shortly before six landed me in front of the long driveway
leading to the prison grounds.
Lucy was ready even to her hat and gloves. She was regaled with such
remarks as, "Oh, but you're the lucky girl!" "Wish some one would take
a like interest in me," "Come back and see us once in a while," or,
"Won't you write me? It'll be such a comfort to hear from you, Lucy."
Next she received very kind, parental advice from the Captain and Mrs.
Kincaid. Then we went down the steps and terraced walks, the door in
the prison wall swung wide open, and once more Lucy was free.
But why does she stand stock still? Why inhale such long, deep breaths?
"Isn't it lovely, Mother Roberts, lovely, lovely!"
"The air is just as fresh in the garden we have just left, Lucy dear."
"No doubt, but this is freedom! Praise God, this is freedom! Good-by
[this to the guard on the lookout]. When I come again, it will be to
preach the gospel. God bless you. Good-by. Come, Mother, I'm ready."
I was loathe to check her enthusiasm on the way home, but had to do so,
in order not to attract the attention of the passengers. We reached our
street. I opened the door with my latch-key, led the way up-stairs,
entered my room, and bade her welcome in the name of the dear Lord. She
had prostrated herself at my feet, but I quickly raised her, and we
knelt in prayer and thanksgiving. It was worth all the gold in the
Klondyke to me to hear that girl's prayer. She couldn't eat, and I
didn't do much better. The rest of the day Lucy spent in writing a
long, long letter to her parents. If I remember right, she covered
thirty pages of ordinary letter paper.
"Where am I to sleep, Mother dear?" Lucy inquired. "With me, Lucy, here
in the folding-bed," I answered.
"Mother, do you mean it? Would you let me sleep with you?"
"Why not, dear? You're my honored guest. You're my spiritual daughter.
Jesus says, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of
these, ye have done it unto me.' Don't you understand, Lucy? In
entertaining you, I am entertaining Jesus."
"My! Mother, how you must love me! Oh but God will bless you for this!"
Sure-enough he has, over and over, countless times, aye, even up to the
present moment. We shall hear more of Lucy in the next chapter.
WE PLAN FOR A HOME FOR RELEASED PRISON GIRLS.
Hours had slipped away. We had both been silent, but I wondered whether
Lucy, like myself, was not sleeping, but simply resting quietly for
fear of disturbing me. One-thirty, then two o'clock. I whispered:
"Are you asleep, Lucy?"
"No, Mother dear," she answered; "I haven't slept a wink for thinking
of the goodness of God and wishing lots of other unfortunates had such
good luck as me tonight."
"I also, Lucy; furthermore, I'm pondering how to proceed to procure
them a home with nice large grounds in which they can work and take
pleasure, but I haven't any means. All I now own is my bicycle. I left
it for sale in Woodland. Perhaps God will soon find a purchaser; if so,
I will take it as a sign that he wants me to travel from place to place
in their behalf. Give me your hand, Lucy." She clasped mine under the
covers whilst I prayed in a low tone, "Father, art thou impressing us
to seek a home for the girls, a home removed from city temptations and
environments? If so, I pray thee, seal the impression with thy Word. In
Jesus' name I ask this"; and Lucy fervently echoed my Amen. Next I
lighted the lamp on the little stand by our bed side, on which lay a
writing tablet, a pencil, and my Bible. Reverently opening the latter,
we found ourselves looking down upon Genesis, twelfth chapter, first
and ninth verses. Thus did our Father seal the impression of the Holy
Spirit with his Word. "We will prepare for a long trip, Lucy," I said,
"and when we start we will journey toward the South."
Without further notification, I received by mail, within the following
fortnight, a cheque for twenty dollars (purchase price of wheel). This
amount procured us some necessaries, paid a few small bills and our
fares to Redwood City, leaving us with the sum total of sixty cents.
Before proceeding on this undertaking, we occupied every hour of the
day, with but few exceptions, in active preparation; our evenings and
Sundays we spent in church or prison, or among the outcasts. I am
indebted to Lucy for admission into many heretofore forbidden places,
where she would be invariably welcomed with such a greeting as this:
"Well, hello, Kid! glad to see you. When did you get out? How's all the
rest of them?"
"This is my dear Mother Roberts," she would say. "Please welcome her
for my sake. I want to tell you I'm not one of you any longer. I've
found my Savior. Don't I look different? Don't I look happy?"
"You bet yer life y' do, Kid. Say, we don't mind being preached to if
you'll do the preaching. Go on girlie, pitch in, we-uns would like to
hear from the likes of you, cause we know you," etc.
The precious girl! How she enthused all of us as she told the wonderful
story and implored them to seek the Savior! Always we finished with
prayer. Even bar-tenders, saloon-keepers, and women overseers over the
girls in the various dives were touched by Lucy's brief messages from
God. The time was all too short on these occasions. As we said our
final farewells (July 1, 1903), it was impossible to count the number
of those who said: "Y've done me good, Lucy, Y've done me good. Yes, I
mean to heed what y've said. I know it's right. Stick to it, girlie,
stick to it." And not a few said they had sold their last drink or had
drunk their last drop.
I wish you could appreciate how wonderful all this is to me now (Sept.
5, 1911) whilst recalling and writing it, here in my quiet, pretty room
in the Gospel Trumpet Company's home for their consecrated workers. It
seems as though but a few days, instead of years, have elapsed since
that marvelously profitable time.
In the interval between her coming to me and our departure we visited,
as frequently as possible, the prison, the place of her incarceration.
once taking a modest treat, purchased by a little of Lucy's
pocket-money. I can not describe the appreciation of each prisoner as
they received, at her hands, a small package of something toothsome
done up in a pretty paper napkin, with an appropriate text inscribed
thereon. This distribution was followed by a special meeting, for the
most part conducted by my dear Lucy.
After the tearful farewells had been said, we went into Captain and
Mrs. Kincaid's quarters, where the latter furnished us with the names
of some for whom she desired our special interest in the event of our
coming in touch with them. They were all ex-prisoners, some of whom we
will hereafter mention.
As though to give us a specially bright send-off, the sun arose in
glorious splendor on that second day of July. Following a very light
early breakfast, Lucy and I, accompanied to the depot by some Christian
friends, one of whom was the late Brother Mosby, soon boarded the train
at Twenty-fourth and Valencia Streets, and in a short time arrived at
"What are we going to do next?" inquired Lucy. "You don't know any one
here, do you, Mother?"
"No, dear. I'm going to ask the depot-agent if he can tell me who is
the most consecrated Christian in this town."
Imagine, if you can, his astonishment.
"Say that over again, madam," he said.
I repeated my inquiry, whilst he scratched his head and pondered over
this simple but no doubt perplexing question, and also glanced at us as
much as to say, "I wonder if you are altogether right in your minds?"
Leaving in his keeping our two telescope baskets, containing all our
earthly belongings, we soon reached the residence of the Congregational
minister, only to discover that he, with his family, had left that very
morning for his summer vacation. His neighbors directed us to the
Methodist minister, an old gentleman, who received us very cordially,
said many encouraging words on learning of the nature of our errand,
and wished us God's blessing as we took our departure to the next
place, at that moment unknown.
I now decided to make our errand known to the editors of the local
papers. We found two, in close proximity to each other. They received
us kindly, inspected the letters of endorsement with which I had
provided myself before leaving San Francisco, and took notes.
Noon-time found my faith not sufficient to invest our capital or even a
portion of it for the food we now so much needed. Moreover, it was
extremely warm, and we were clad in heavy garments, suitable to the
colder climate from which we had come. I made the same inquiry of the
editor of the Gazette as I had made of the depot-agent, and I shall
never forget the editor's surprised smile as he replied: "Really, Mrs.
Roberts, I'm the last one of whom to inquire, as I make no profession
whatsoever of religion. There is a lady living on the edge of town,
formerly of the Salvation Army; she might do."
It was a long walk, or rather seemed so. We soon discovered that this
lady was in no position to entertain us over night, and as it was long
past noon, she must have taken it for granted that we had dined. Before
leaving I requested a season of prayer. Her aged mother preceded her, I
followed, then Lucy, who drew tears from our eyes by her fervent
petition for guidance. After we had made our adieus and had walked a
few yards, the daughter called and ran after us, to inform us that she
had just thought of the landlady of the Tremont Hotel (Mrs. Ayers).
"Her dining-room is closed for the season. She is a very kind-hearted
woman. I have no doubt of her inviting you to remain under her roof
when she learns your errand," said this newly-found friend. I thanked
her most sincerely, and we proceeded once more to town.
I again called upon the Gazette editor, for I had it in mind to hold
a street-meeting that evening and make public announcement of our
errand. He promised the presence of himself and of others in the event
of my doing so.
"Mother dear," inquired poor, tired, hungry, over-heated Lucy, "I
wonder if God really wants us to hunt a home for the girls, after all?
I can't stand much more."
"Neither can I, dear child," I replied, "but we'll ask him. Give me
your hand." (We were walking toward the hotel.)
"Father," I prayed, "hast thou sent us on this errand? If so, please
seal it with money before the day ends. I ask in Jesus' name." And Lucy
May God forever bless dear Mrs. Ayers, who cordially welcomed us,
giving us one of her best rooms and expressing her regret for inability
to supply meals; God abundantly bless her and her dear ones.
We shut ourselves in, knelt together at the bedside, and wept—wept
tears of gratitude, hope, and joy. Still weeping, both of us, in broken
language, thanked the One who never makes any mistakes for guiding us
aright and raising up friends in our trying hour, and closed our
prayers by imploring his pardon for our having not better stood his
testings and by promising with his aid to be braver in the future.
I now invested a quarter to have our baggage immediately brought from
the depot, then refreshed ourselves, and soon I crossed the street,
returning presently with a nice fresh loaf of bread and a dime's worth
of bologna. On these and water, we humbly, gratefully dined. I have
partaken of many costly, delicious viands, but never in all my
experience have I enjoyed a meal as I did that simple one. Hallelujah!
The sun was gradually disappearing when Lucy and I crossed the street
and stood on the corner in front of Mr. Behren's bank. We had carried
one of the hotel chairs over with us, for I have never yet learned to
play on my autoharp while standing. I now sat at a convenient angle in
the street. Lucy composed one of my audience on the sidewalk. At first
I felt somewhat timid and very nervous, but not for long. While the
crowd was gathering, I sang the song,
I know my heavenly Father knows
The storms that would my way oppose
But he can drive the clouds away
And turn my darkness into day.
The people gathered so fast that before I had finished the second verse
I was well surrounded.
[Illustration: THE REDWOOD CITY STREET MEETING]
There was a fair sprinkling of women, also carriages. Before singing
another song, I took advantage of the situation to tell my audience why
I was in Redwood City and on that street corner. If God ever gave me
liberty of speech this was the occasion. After I had finished my
address, which was not very long, one of my audience, named Lewis as I
soon learned, stepped forward, took off his hat, and spoke as follows:
"Ladies and Gentlemen: I for one am convinced of this stranger's
earnestness and the needs of such a home as she desires to get. Let's
give her a collection. We're going to squander lots of Fourth of July
money day after tomorrow. Here's my quarter, whose next?"
The money kept dropping, dropping, dropping into that hat, nickels,
dimes, quarters until the sound made me nearly shout for joy. It was
all I could do to contain myself.
Then some one in a carriage sent a request for me to sing again. I
gladly responded, after which my audience bowed with uncovered heads
whilst I thanked the loving heavenly Father and pronounced the
benediction. Thus gloriously ended my first street meeting conducted
without other human aid.
We were the happy possessors of $13.20 toward the fund for the promised
home, and no mortals on earth retired that night more grateful and
happy than dear Lucy and her "Mother" Roberts. To God be all the glory
and praise forever.
SANTA CLARA EXPERIENCES. THE SAN JOSE HOME.
All the next day we remained in Redwood City in anticipation of
receiving mail, and our hopes were realized. There were letters of
cheer and encouragement from Mrs. Dorcas Spencer, State Secretary
W.C.T.U.; Mrs. Augusta C. Bainbridge, State Superintendent Purity
W.C.T.U.; Mrs. Elizabeth Kauffman, matron of the Home of Peace; the
chaplain of the Sailors' Home, in which place I had held frequent
meetings; Mr. and Mrs. George S. Montgomery; Judge George Cabaniss;
Captain and Mrs. Kincaid, the superintendent and matron of the county
jail, Branch No. 3, and other friends alike interested. Also, Lucy heard
from her people. It gives me pleasure to copy one of my letters:
622 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, Cal June 30, 1902.
My dear Sister:
How I do praise the Lord for laying that burden on you! I have prayed
for it so long. I knew he would lay it somewhere soon. The Woman's
Christian Temperance Union have a special department for jail work, and
some lovely Christian women in charge. The State, county and local
superintendents of jail, hospital, purity, mother's work, evangelistic
and other departments would be glad to help you. I am State
superintendent of purity. Let me know now I can help you…. If you
want the directory you can get it at headquarters, 132 McAllister
Street. You can show this letter to either of the ladies there, and
they will know I endorse you and your work….
Yours in love,
A. C. Bainbridge.
We decided to go to Santa Clara on the morrow. Accordingly, the next
day we were mingling with a great throng of merry-makers—with them,
but not of them.
Mr. Lewis' mother, with whom we had dined the previous evening, had
recommended a certain private boarding-house. Hither we repaired, and
were fortunate in finding a Christian hostess, who made us very
welcome. Lucy helped her, she having a great Fourth of July crowd for
meals, whilst I rested.
On the following day I went forth in quest of means to help swell the
fund started in Redwood City. I walked and talked all day; toward
evening I returned to our boarding-house with only a poor report. Lucy
greeted me cheerfully and said:
"I'm going to earn your board and mine, Mother dear. The landlady needs
help; so as long as we're here, it will not be necessary to touch the
fund. You needn't think you are to bear all the burden. No, indeed. I'm
going to do my part, too."
"God bless you, Lucy! I'm so thankful!" I replied. "How good the dear
Lord is and how wonderfully he provides!"
At the end of nearly a week of toil, I had apparently made little
impression. One night as I sat in our room, too tired to go to the
dining-room, Lucy came in, took off my shoes and stockings, cried over
the swollen, blistered condition of my feet, bathed them, made me
retire, and brought to the bedside a tempting meal.
The next day, after making a few calls and receiving some small sums by
way of encouragement, I felt impressed to return to our room and then
go to a handsome home directly across the street from the
boarding-house. Soon I was ringing the bell. A lady greeted me with a
lovely smile, bade me enter, and encouraged me in making known my
errand. Calling her husband, she asked me to repeat my story. When I
took my departure, after receiving overwhelming kindness and a cordial
invitation to return when convenient, I held in my hand my first gold
piece for the fund. The donors were Mr. and Mrs. Chas. E. Moore, who
have been my warm, interested, personal friends from that time to this.
They did all in their power to aid me, particularly through
introductions to people of means in their home town.
Soon I was led to make myself known to the pastors of the various
churches, one of whom agreed to give me an opportunity of addressing an
audience from his pulpit. His name was Thurston, and I shortly learned
that he was a nephew of the people with whom I had traveled in
gospel-wagon work. The following notice in the Santa Clara News of July
7, 1903, heralded the prospective meeting:
FOR A RESCUE HOME
Mrs. Florence Roberts, who is known in San Francisco as the Rescue
Missionary and Singing Evangelist, will address the public in the
Baptist church next Sunday on the subject of the establishment of a
non-sectarian home for women near San Francisco.
She comes highly endorsed by prominent citizens and Christian
societies. There are, she states, thirty-five thousand women on this
coast to be reached, and she is endeavoring to procure funds for a home
to which they can come for reformation. A free-will offering will be
taken at the conclusion of the address.
Prior to this meeting I learned of a little rescue home in San Jose,
the adjacent city, and one afternoon Lucy and I visited it. We went
without previous announcement, for I wanted to satisfy myself as to its
merits. It was a pretty old-fashioned cottage of about eight rooms,
located at 637 East St. John Street. There were but two girls—one a
mother, the other a prospective one—and, sad to relate, a most
inefficient matron. I quickly took in the situation, and, for the sake
of the inmates, privately decided to accept erelong her invitation to
sojourn temporarily under that roof.
After I had thoroughly canvassed Santa Clara, I, acting upon divine
directions, took Lucy and went to the San Jose rescue home.
Before long it became my sorrowful duty to report conditions as they
existed. The president of the board of managers, Rev. J. N. Crawford,
was absent on his summer vacation. Upon learning that the
vice-president, Mrs. Remington (now deceased), was sojourning in San
Francisco, I boarded the train and a few hours later was in earnest
discussion with Mrs. Remington and her friend, Miss Sisson. This
consultation terminated in their sincere plea for me to take upon
myself certain responsibilities, concerning which I promised to pray.
The result was that I felt led to go further south for a while, but not
before some better conditions existed for those two poor girls and
others who might follow.
CALLIE'S WONDERFUL STORY.
One day while I was visiting Mr. and Mrs. Helms, Sr., in Santa Clara,
good friends of the cause, the latter said:
"Sister Roberts, have you ever met Callie——?"
"No, Sister Helms," I answered, "but I have heard of her. She was
often, before my missionary work there, an inmate of the county jail,
Branch 3, and gave much trouble when a prisoner."
"I want to let you know she is wonderfully converted and one of our
most remarkable missionaries. Try and take time to call on her. She
works in the R—— boarding-house and will be glad to see you, for she
knows of you quite well. Ask her to tell you her story. You never heard
anything equal to it; furthermore, you never have, I doubt ever will,
meet any other like her. She is a living marvel of God's power to save
to the uttermost."
The following afternoon, leaving kind-hearted Lucy (without offense to
the matron of the home) to administer to the comforts of the inmates, I
went to the place designated. Soon there came into my presence a
smiling, healthy-looking woman about forty years of age, who told me
that she was the person for whom I had inquired. No sooner did I
mention my name than she threw her arms about me exclaiming, "God love
you, Mother Roberts! God love you! It's good for sore eyes to see
you"—and she rattled on. When I told her the nature of my errand, she
replied that she would come to the home that evening and would then
relate the story of her life and wonderful conversion. She was on hand
at the appointed time, and soon Lucy and I were listening to what I
will now relate.
"I first saw the light of day in the slums of St. Louis, Mo. I never
knew, nor did any one ever tell me, who my father and mother were. All
I know about those days and up to my fourteenth year is that one or
another of the women of that neighborhood fed, clothed, and sheltered
me. I had no schooling; didn't know how to read or write till a few
years ago. I never heard much besides bad language, seldom saw anything
but drinking, gambling, and so forth; never saw the inside of a church
and seldom saw the outside, 'cause I wasn't out of my own neighborhood
very much. It was too much like a fish being out of water. Never heard
the name of God or Jesus Christ except when they were taken in vain,
and never troubled my head to find out who was God or who was Jesus
"Before I was fifteen years old, I married a gambler. He was a
fine-looking fellow, considerably older than me, and sometimes had a
pile of money.
"Yes, he gave me what I asked for. Sometimes I spent quite a bit on
dress and treating my friends, 'cause there ain't a stingy bone in my
body. I've no use for stingy folk, have you?
"Tom wasn't a heavy drinker, but he used to 'hit the pipe.'"
"What is 'hit the pipe', Callie?" I inquired.
"Don't you know? Why, smoke opium. Also, he had the morphine habit, and
if anything, that's the worst one of the two, but, between you and me,
there's little or no choice. It wasn't long before I, too, commenced
taking morphine, and kept it up until two years ago. Look here!"
With that she stripped up the sleeves of her dress, and we were gazing
at arms which from the shoulder to wrist were one mass of tiny bluish
spots. I doubt if there was room to place a pin between them.
"Oh! Callie, what are they?"
"Shots—shots from the hypodermic needle that we used to inject the
"Hurt? No, not much; besides, we get to be such slaves to it that we'd
gladly hurt our bodies for the sake of it. It's the most demoralizing,
hard-to-break habit on earth. But glory to God! I'm saved and
sanctified now, and I'll tell you how it came about.
"I suppose I'd been serving my fifteenth sentence, to say the least, in
Branch No. 3, and they'd put me down in the dungeon, as usual, as they
most always had to do for the first few drays, 'cause I wanted the drug
so bad (they give you some there, but it never was enough) that I used
to disturb everybody, and besides, was very troublesome. I'll never
forget the day when I tried to knock my brains out on the dark cement
floor, but couldn't; so I cried, 'O God! if there is a God, and some of
these missionary folk that come here say there is a God, and a Christ
what can save, save me, save me, please save me! I don't want to go
to hell! I've had hell enough! I don't want to go to hell!'
* * * * *
"There was a little quiet-looking old lady visiting the jail that day,
and she asked Matron Kincaid if she couldn't go down and try to help
that poor afflicted soul in the dungeon, and Mrs. Kincaid gave
"Mother Roberts, her very presence was soothing, and pretty soon she
put her arm around me and prayed. Oh, how she prayed to her God and
Savior to come, and come quickly, to help and save me through and
through! By and by she told me of Jesus who died for sinners. I
couldn't bear to part with her, but I had to let her go soon, she
promising to come back again. I was still suffering, but after hearing
her, and her being so kind to dirty, loathsome me, I made up my mind
I'd try to 'grin and bear' the misery if it took my very life.
"Next time she came, I was out of the dungeon, up on the next floor in
my cell. Say, Mother Roberts, you wouldn't have known me if you had
seen me then and as I look now. I didn't weigh ninety pounds. Now I
weigh close onto one hundred and seventy. Praise the Lord!
"I was always a mass of filth and rags whenever the cops [police] would
run me in.
"What did they arrest me for? Why for stealing of course. We'll swipe
anything to supply ourselves and our chums with 'dope' [morphine,
cocaine, opium, etc.]. That last time I'd been sentenced for three
months. When my time was up, my missionary friend called for me, and we
came down on the train to San Jose. She hired a hack at the depot;
wasn't she considerate? God bless her!
"When we reached this home, the matron [Sister Griffith] met me at the
door, and, said she, 'Welcome, dear child, welcome in the name of the
Lord.' Then she put her arm around me, and led me into this very room
we are sitting in now. I fell in love with her right on the spot. She
had a lovely face and the beautifullest white hair I ever saw.
"I asked her to please let me go to bed, and would she gave me a room
where I couldn't escape; also to please take away all my clothes, all
but the bedding and a nightdress. I told her I'd come there to fight it
out, that I'd been in hell on earth for years, that for twenty-seven
years I'd been a 'dope' fiend, and that I wanted all of them who knew
how to pray to pray for me, 'cause I knew there was a Christ and a God,
but I hadn't found him yet. She did as I asked, and after a while tried
to get me to eat, but I couldn't. Did you know the 'dope' fiends lose
their appetites for everything but the drug? Yes, they do. I often
wondered what kept us alive. It surely wasn't the food we ate.
"My, what a struggle I had! what a fight for the next three weeks! for
I was determined from the time my sentence expired, never, if it killed
me, to touch the poison again, and I was bound to keep my word. God
alone knows what I suffered. One morning a little before daylight (I'd
heard the clock strike one, two, three, somewhere) all of a sudden the
room was lit up with a strange soft light, and somebody was whispering
(or it seemed like whispering), 'Daughter, be of good cheer. Thou art
healed.' Oh but I felt beautiful, beautiful! and soon slept the
sweetest. Not an ache or pain. Just like a new-born baby. When I woke
up I could tell the girls were at breakfast. I took my stick and
knocked on the floor. Pretty soon Sister Griffith came up, and I told
her. She cried with me for very joy, and knelt by my bedside to thank
God for answer to prayer, then went down to tell the family. Glory,
glory be to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! I was saved and I knew
it—saved through and through.
[Illustration: SCENE IN A MORPHINE DEN]
"From that on I gained rapidly, enjoyed my meals, and pretty soon was
able to go down-stairs. No fear any more. I've never wanted the drug
from that day to this, and I'm trying by the grace of God to help other
poor souls like afflicted. Say, Mother Roberts, when you go to San
Francisco again, will you let me go with you? I want to surprise the
folk at the jail and in the morphine dens; besides, I'll show you a
place you never have seen or heard tell of, where these poor souls
live—a place condemned by the authorities, but not torn down yet."
I told her that, God willing, I should be very glad to have her
accompany me. Then she took out of her pocket a letter, saying, as she
did so, "I wrote this to some one you know." (Here she described one of
the poor prisoners.) "You can take it up to your room and read it if
you like, and mail it for me tomorrow, please."
Soon we joined the rest of the family in their evening devotions, and
Callie went back to her place.
I read and reread that wonderful letter before retiring, and as soon as
convenient the next morning I telephoned to Callie to ask whether I
might copy it before mailing it. She gladly gave me permission, and now
I give you the letter almost word for word:
San Jose, Cal. Aug. 18, 1903.
No doubt you will be somewhat surprised to receive this from me, but it
is surprising—and wonderful the way God has of lifting us up out of
sin. Now what has been done for me will be done for you if you will
only let him have his way with you. Surely "the way of the transgressor
is hard," and the devil is a poor pay-master. I know you are so tired
of that life that you will be willing to say, "O Lord, anything but
this; 'better a dry crust of bread with quietness than a house full of
sacrifice, with strife.'" The truth is a bitter pill, and many have
choked to death on it, but while "the mourners go about the streets,"
the truth goes on just the same. Now my greatest sacrifice was — —.
With him the house was full of strife, for I had to produce for it all,
and no peace in the end; so to get away from the whole thing and keep
out of San Quentin [one of the State prisons] I had to not only die to
him, but myself. So now, glory to God! I am sanctified and my sins and
dead yesterdays are under the blood, and Just as the branch is to the
vine, I am joined to Christ and I know he is mine.
Nan, as I look back to Mrs. J——'s time [a former jail matron] and the
hell we had, trying to live through, and of poor Minnie B—— and
Minnie E——, who have gone out in the darkness—[Minnie B—— was
dead, Minnie E—— dying, when the trusty rushed into the room where
the matron, Mrs. J——, was engaged in a game of cards, and begged her
to come quickly, to which she replied, "Let her die; 'tis a pity a few
more of you don't go the same way" and then coolly continued the game
she was playing.] If we had continued along on that plane, such would
have been our fate also; but he, our Lord, is so patient and
long-suffering that the moment we are willing to give up and let him
have his way with us, then the work begins for our good. Now, Nan, I am
only too glad to be able to help you in any way I can.
I owe the H—— of T—— $10. I stole $40 for "dope" from them while in
the "hypo" state. I have now paid back $30, and when your time is up, I
will be able to pay your fare down here, and your board until you can
see and know for yourself what real liberty there is in Christ.
Everything did not go just as I liked at first; but, as you know, a
good thing is not easily gotten, and if you will only try half as hard
for liberty in Christ as you do for those you love, it will not be long
ere you are out and out for Christ, and your dead yesterdays will be as
though they never had been, and if you will let me be a mother to you,
I would divide my last drop of blood to save your soul.
O God! bless my erring sisters, "who love not wisely, but too well,
bearing their sorrows alone in silence with an anguish none can tell."
Now, dear, weigh this well, and "choose this day which you will
serve,'" God or mammon. T am not the only "hypo" fiend that the Lord
sees fit to take out of hell; so be of good cheer, for he has said, "I
will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
Start in with a fervent prayer, saying, "Create in me a clean heart, O
God, and renew a right spirit within me." Just as soon as you are
willing to take your Savior for your satisfying portion every door of
hope will be open to you with outstretched arms. My strength is in God
and I want you to feel some of it. I do not know the extent of it.
Poor M—! I feel sorry for her. Mrs. Roberts called on me. She is O K,
and her heart is in her work. Dear child of God, she is sowing seeds of
kindness all along her line. May God bless her! The little lady who is
with her [Lucy] speaks highly of you. Nan, and we all see the Lord in
you if you will only give up all to him. Tell Mrs. —— I still have
faith for her [the dignified-looking white-haired prisoner already
spoken of], for God is still looking around for the impossible things,
to move mountains. Love to K—, G—, Mrs. S—, Mollie R—, and all the
rest of the girls.
Now, Nan, we have seen the tough side of life together, so come on out
and up, and say, "With the help of God I will be a woman." That is not
your element by right, Nan, so the sooner you seek, the sooner you will
Now, good-by, and may God and his holy angels guide and protect you,
and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless until
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Give my love to all the girls. I pray for you all every day.
P.S.—To Mrs. Captain Kincaid. I know you will be happy to know I am
still true to God. It pays in the end for if we sow to the flesh, we
reap corruption, and if to the Spirit, everlasting life. I am a Bible
student, and as soon as the Lord can trust me with the seal of the Holy
Spirit, I am to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God
unto salvation Glory, glory, glory for liberty in him!…
I still have your present in mind. It is forthcoming in the near
The only alterations I made in this remarkable letter were in some real
mines, the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Otherwise it is
her language, word for word.
Oh! bless the dear Lord forever! What an example of
"Whilst the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return"!
Later we paid our proposed visit to San Francisco. Our experience on
that occasion will be found in the next chapter.
CALLIE AND I VISIT THE JAIL, MORPHINE DENS, AND THE MISSION—THE
Some time elapsed before we took that trip together. I have much to
relate regarding the occurrences during the interval, but first let me
write about our San Francisco trip.
Shortly before Christmas occasion required my presence in San
Francisco. I notified Gallic, and one morning bright and early we
reached that city. We immediately repaired to Branch No. 3.
(Before I give an account of our experiences, please allow me to relate
an incident that occurred on the train. In a seat almost parallel with
the one we occupied sat two women, one of whom was richly dressed. She
repeatedly looked my way. Her face seemed familiar. Presently I
ventured to accost her with that fact. She smilingly replied: "Of
course it is. I'm —— ——. You came to my house in Santa Cruz dressed
in a Salvation Army bonnet. If it hadn't have been for that, you would
never have got in. One of my girls left because of what you said and did
that day. I'll be glad to have you call. I always want to help save a girl
if I can. Perhaps you can persuade her sister." Hallelujah! "It came to
pass" less than a month later.)
The gate-keeper passed us into the grounds, and soon I was being warmly
greeted by Mrs. Kincaid. Presently I inquired if she recognized my
companion. She smilingly shook her head.
"You've met her many times, Mrs. Kincaid," I said.
She guessed any but the right person. Finally she said slowly:
"It might be Callie——; but she was nothing but a bag of bones; as
forlorn-looking a specimen of humanity as I ever looked upon, whereas
this woman is fine-looking, robust, and has a splendid expression.
Surely it can't be Callie!"
"But it is Callie. Look!" And Callie proved her identity by pulling up
her sleeve—convincing evidence beyond a doubt. Never did I see matron
more delighted. Presently, following some rapid questions and answers,
she said, "How would you like to surprise your former companions,
"Just what I was hoping for, Mrs. Kincaid," Callie answered.
"Very well; I'll have all of them called into the large dormitory. You
wait here a few minutes."
There was an enthusiastic welcome for me, but no one recognized my
companion—no, not one. She stood beside me, speechless and
trembling. Finally I said:
"Speak to them, dear."
"I can't," she whispered, and the tears were in her eyes.
"Girls, I've brought some one with me today whom you all know and know
well, but I see you do not recognize her." (A long silence.)
"Who is she?" some one asked. (Another long silence.)
"Show them who you are, Callie."
"Callie? Callie ——? Surely not, Mother Roberts. She was," etc., etc.
But she was showing them; choking down her sobs of joy, or rather,
trying to, as she rolled up her sleeves to convince them. Even so, they
found it very difficult to believe, very, very difficult.
I gladly retired to a remote part of the dormitory, a grateful observer
temporarily forgotten, whilst Callie was being questioned and
overhauled by about seventy delighted women and girls. They went into
raptures of joy, they shouted, they wept, they hugged and kissed her,
until she was obliged to say, "Sit down. I want to talk to you. Do,
Intense silence reigned whilst she related the wonderful story of her
conversion and sanctification. There was not a dry eye present. Then
she gave an invitation. Without one exception all responded and then
knelt. She prayed—oh! how she prayed! and some of the women wet the
boards with their tears whilst they, too, called upon Callie's Savior
for pardon and mercy. How I wish we might have stayed there the
remainder of the day! but we could not, for my time was limited.
Feelingly and reluctantly we said our "farewells," promising to come at
some future time if God so willed.
Before we left, they all lovingly inquired for Lucy, sending her many
kind messages of love and remembrance.
When we returned to Mrs. Kincaid's quarters, she inquired if I should
like to see a photo of Callie as she formerly looked?
"Indeed, I would," I replied.
Well, to this day I do not wonder at their failure to recognize her.
In that picture she looked like a dirty, emaciated, old vagabond.
This is the best I can do in the way of description, dear reader. I
wish I had a copy of her "Before and After" to put in this book. You
would be sure to say, "Mother Roberts did not exaggerate one iota." If
any of you know Mrs. Kincaid, go to her and ask her whether she won't
please show it to you….
We were soon on the street-car, and then downtown, where I quickly
transacted my business, after which I was once more at Callie's
I followed her to a place on the south of Market Street, to a building
which resembled a deserted, tumble-down stable or blacksmith's shop
plastered with old hand-bills and posters. There were some dirty old
window-frames in the second story, but I do not believe there was one
whole pane of glass left.
"This is the place, Mother Roberts," said Callie.
"Surely no human beings dwell in such a terrible place as this,
Callie," I replied.
"You come with me and see for yourself," she rejoined. "Don't you
remember what I told you? I said I would take you to a place you didn't
dream existed. This is the one."
Sure enough. And this was once her home! She opened a disreputable
door, and we climbed a dirty and fearfully rickety stairway; next we
groped our way along a dark passage. "Mind, there's a broken board!
Look out you don't break your ankle," said Callie. She spoke none too
soon. I narrowly escaped an accident. Now we turned a corner and got a
little better light, this disclosing another old partly-broken-down
stairway with nearly all the balustrade gone. Up these we climbed,
hugging, as we did so, the filthy wall, for safety. On reaching the top
she rapped gently an a cracked door, but received no answer. She rapped
louder. Still no answer. Presently some one called from somewhere
below. Then she rapped still louder. This time a man's voice inquired,
"Who's there?" There was the sound of shuffling footsteps, and then the
door opened, disclosing two women, one young, one old, and three men,
all young, but all old-looking, cadaverous, starved, ragged, filthy,
and indescribably loathsome. Furthermore, the odor issuing through that
open doorway was almost intolerable.
Callie knew all, with the exception of the young girl, and called each
by name; but, as usual, they did not recognize her, and, in the same
manner as heretofore described, had to be convinced, whilst she again
rehearsed her wonderful experience. Presently she said: "I'm going to
hunt up some of the others, and I'm going to ask this lady to sing for
you while I am gone. She's brought her autoharp with her."
[Illustration: SHEET MUSIC
THE SONGS MY MOTHER SANG.
Words and Music by Mrs. FLORENCE ROBERTS.
DUET Or SOLO.
1. One day I found a precious book
Containing many a gem
Of song my mother used to sing
It takes me back again
Across the vista of the years,
When, by her loving voice,
Melodious invitation came
To make the Lord my choice.
2. She sang about the previous blood
Christ shed on Calvary;
And how, to save our souls from hell,
He died in agony. "Come, sinners, to the gospel feast"
Methinks I hear her still
Singing, as silently she prayed
"Lord, break that stubborn will."
3. This blessed soldier of the cross
To her reward has gone;
But oh, the tender memories
She left in sacred song.
And, tho' I wandered far from God,
And wasted many years,
The songs my mother used to sing
Will oft-times bring the tears.]
Up to this time I had not uttered a word. The scene had practically
rendered me temporarily speechless; but now I took a few steps into the
room, whilst one of the men found an old soap box and turned it upside
down for me to sit on. At a glance I saw vermin crawling in the cracks
of the filthy floor. Oh! it was awful! Soon, however, I lost sight of
my loathsome surroundings, for in answer to silent prayer the dear Lord
was giving me a message in song. Never was there closer attention than
while they listened to the song which you will find between these pages,
entitled "The Songs My Mother Sang." Then I knelt and prayed, and prayed.
"On that dirty floor?" you ask. Yes, dear reader; I quite forgot the dirt
and the vermin. I only saw souls going to hell if they didn't get help
from God. (Afterwards I observed that neither vermin nor dirt clung to
When once more conscious of my surroundings, I discovered how dirty
their faces were, for now there were clean channels on many cheeks.
Their tears! One girl and two men agreed to forsake sin, and I was
happy in the thought of conveying her to San Jose on our return next
day, whilst Callie planned for the men. We did what we could for the
time being and then went out into the fresh air. I asked Callie how
many lived under that roof. To my amazement, she said, "All told, about
forty just at present."
Her next mission was to the various places from which she had pilfered,
and they were many. One was a harness-shop. She addressed the old man
"How d'you do, sir? Do you remember me?"
"No, mam, I don't. Who are you?"
"I'm a woman who once stole a dog collar from you while your back was
turned. I've come to pay for it. I'm converted now, but I used to be a
"You were? You don't look like it."
"No, because God, for Jesus Christ's sake, forgave all my sins, cured
me of all my bad habits, and has set me on the solid Rock, and I'm on
my road to heaven. When you knew me I was on my road to hell."
"But I never knew you."
"Yes, you did. I'm Callie ——."
"What! You don't say so! Well, well! wonders will never cease. It's
enough to make a man believe there is a personal God, I declare it is!"
Callie availed herself of this opportunity, and when we left there, the
harness-maker had promised to serve her wonderful Savior and he kept
Next we visited the rescue home, where we were received with open arms
by dear Sister Kauffman. After having a precious time with her family
and partaking of her hospitality, we went down-town again. There we
spent a glorious evening at a street-meeting. Callie testified.
Afterward we went to the Emmanuel Gospel Mission, where she gave a
message from that most precious parable, "The Prodigal Son." When the
invitation was given, the altar filled with seekers, most of whom went
from there with victory in their souls.
We were the guests of the mission superintendent and family over night.
Callie was my room-mate. Then it was that I saw what the hypodermic
needle had done for her. There was no place (save down her spine)
that was not marked, and no wonder, she had been a morphine slave for
twenty-seven years—its abject slave.
The next morning, as soon as we could politely leave our kind host and
family, we returned to that 'dope' den, Callie to prepare the two
young men, I to take charge of the girl, and all of us to return on an
early train to San Jose. Alas! my girl weakened, and nothing would
induce her to part with her drug; but the men went with Callie to an
adjacent barber-shop for baths, hair-cutting, and shaving. During these
operations Callie and I quickly went to the Salvation Army's secondhand
shop, where Callie procured the men complete outfits of respectable
clothing. What a transformation when we beheld them again! Then we took
them to breakfast; but they ate sparingly, and were not satisfied until
they had taken some of their favorite drug.
Two and a half hours later Callie and I were it home once more, and our
young men were in the safe keeping of two sanctified brothers. Although
these brethren were severely tried and tested time and again, they so
held on to God for these precious souls that they are now saved and
sanctified and on their road to heaven.
Gallic kept her situation for some time longer and then went forth to
preach the glorious gospel. The last time I heard of her, she was being
wonderfully blest in preaching in southern California. May God forever
guide this precious woman and keep her true until Jesus calls, "Well
done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy
STILL SOUTHWARD BOUND—SANTA CRUZ—LUCY RETURNS TO HER HOME.
The occurrences of the previous chapter took place several months after
the happenings now to be related.
The latter part of August found Lucy and me in Santa Cruz, one of
California's beautiful ocean resorts, where again we were fortunate in
securing lodging with a Christian landlady, Mrs. Hedgepeth, who took
pleasure in furnishing much information. She also introduced us to
several, who, later on, became warmly interested in the cause we
In the main, ours was now a house-to-house work. Lucy would take one
street, and I another, seeking for means to be applied to the home
fund. For days we met only at noon and eventide, weary in body, often
somewhat discouraged, but always with new and varied experiences. A few
of these we will relate.
One evening Lucy said: "Mother, I called at a lovely home today where
were a great variety of beautiful birds and strange little animals in
big cages in the yard. The gentleman who was feeding and caring for
them seemed pleased at my interest, leaned over the fence and conversed
with new about them, telling where he had discovered some, how costly
were others, what special care and food most of them required, and much
more; but oh! Mother dear, he had no use, no time for Jesus, or
anything relating to him. He turned away and left me when I tried to
tell him. Isn't he to be pitied? I had better success a few doors
higher up. The lady was very kind. She put her name down for one
dollar. I've collected $—— for the fund today," and she smiled with
joy as she handed me the money.
One reputed wealthy woman, after hearing my story, highly commended the
enterprise and said, "I would be glad to help you, but all I can spare
I contribute to the Salvation Army." I pleaded further, but in vain.
Later, and quite by accident, we learned that her contribution
consisted in occasionally purchasing a War Cry. What a sad, sad
accounting will have to be given by many on that day when the Judge of
all the earth shall sit upon his throne!
Several of the local pastors manifested most kindly consideration, some
gave lists of names of charitably disposed people, and a few invited me
to share their pulpits.
Never shall I forget the day when Lucy and I called at a handsome
residence on Washington Street. The door was opened by one of the most
spiritual-countenanced young ladies I have ever had the pleasure of
meeting, and from that day to this she has been one of my warmest, most
loyal friends—Sister B—— G——. More times than I can count I have
acted upon and profited by her wise and kindly advice, and never did
she fail me with sympathy and help in a trying hour. Her widowed mother
was the first large contributor to the fund. Only God knows my heart's
gratitude the day she handed me that cheque for one hundred dollars.
Through the daughter I learned who had spiritual charge of the jail
work, and soon, acting on her suggestions, made the acquaintance of
Mrs. Mason. She invited us to attend the following Sunday morning
services at 9:30 o'clock. In consequence of my responding, the next
chapter will relate the sad story which came to me from the lips of a
youth sentenced to Folsom penitentiary for ninety-nine years.
We soon located the neighborhood of the poor wandering girls, where
many gladly bade Lucy and me welcome. Also, we were informed that,
owing to circumstances at that time, the only religious people who
would be admitted to certain houses were Salvation Army lassies.
Learning our errand, one of these kindly disposed women of God
accompanied us, we wearing bonnets loaned for this occasion. The
landlady of one of these houses was the one we met on the train, when
Callie accompanied me to San Francisco on that important trip.
At this time a gospel-tent was pitched in the rear of the court-house
and city hall. Each night there congregated large numbers of people,
most of whom came from the humble walks of life. In that precious
little tabernacle many souls sought and found salvation. At this time
the services were conducted by Brother Williams and his wife, whilst I
served as organist, and also, occasionally, as the Lord would lead,
delivered His messages.
One night whilst a girl was at the altar pleading for pardon and mercy,
she was suddenly seized by a dark-haired, portly woman, dragged off of
her knees, and hurried away. This unusual procedure took us workers off
our guard and so startled us as temporarily to disable us from acting
as we otherwise would have acted. The woman ran down the aisle, firmly
gripping the speechless, frightened girl, declaring as she did so that
it was her daughter, that she would see to it that this would not
happen again; then both disappeared in the darkness. How subtle, how
powerful is the adversary of souls! Later we learned that that poor,
poor girl had just escaped from this madam (the pretended mother), who,
suspecting her victim's whereabouts, had stealthily followed. We worked
for her release, but in vain. The girl being of the age of consent, the
authorities could not act. Besides, she was now once more subservient
to the devil's hypnotic power and influence. All we could do was to
hope and pray that the tender Shepherd would, in his own wise way, set
her free from her wretched life and save her from the fate awaiting
When it became known that two newcomers, practical rescue workers, were
in town, we were soon overwhelmed with responsibilities too many to
shoulder. Moreover, the San Jose and San Francisco rescue homes,
hitherto but little heard of in Santa Cruz, began filling to
overflowing with wandering girls.
One day Lucy received a special letter, requesting her immediate
presence at home on account of the sudden illness of her mother. We
temporarily parted, I promising to join her (God willing) in October,
in order to spend my birthday with her and her dear ones. How much I
missed my ardent, loving companion I can not say; but as "the King's
business requireth haste" (1 Sam. 21:8), I stifled my feelings and
busied myself more, if possible, than heretofore in meeting
representative people, calling on unfortunates, and, as often as
permitted, visiting the prisoners.
In one of these I became so greatly interested that I am sure you also
will as you soon read his story.
Before I left Santa Cruz, the Lord had graciously raised up many
friends in that place. Time and again it has been my pleasure to return
there, always to be warmly welcomed in many homes, and especially
entertained by Sisters Green, Mary Perkins, Van Ness, and Brother
Westlake and wife. The latter were traveling in gospel-tent work when
first I met them. It was when making my home in Redding, where occurred
the rescue of little Rosa.
Whilst I recall these precious times, so many instances of special
seasons of prayer, special answers, personal kindnesses, and loving
considerations come before my vision that I more than ever desire to
bow humbly before the wonderful heavenly Father in thanksgiving and
praise for graciously permitting so many, many of his loved ones to
cheer, advise, and help me; also for enabling me to look past the
sinful exterior and to see, by faith, the priceless souls of humanity,
souls that are starving and perishing for lack of proper nurture.
And I am still praying for more strength, more grace, more wisdom, more
love, to aid me and his other chosen missionaries in the winning of
souls and the rescuing of the perishing, for I do not want to go into
his heavenly kingdom empty-handed. Do you?
In giving you Joe's story, I realize that I am taking considerable
liberty, having not asked his permission, but I am confident of his
willingness because of the lesson of warning to other boys—and they
are so many—whose early lives correspond to his. I am one of Joe's
interested friends. I have frequently visited him in the prison
adjacent to Folsom, near Sacramento, Cal., and have learned from Warden
Reilly that he is a model prisoner. I am hoping, and praying that, if
it be the will of God, he will soon be out on parole.
Whilst he was detained in the Santa Cruz jail awaiting a rehearing of
his case, it was frequently my privilege to visit that place through
the week and, with my little autoharp for accompaniment, to sing for
the prisoners. One afternoon, whilst I was sitting by the bars in front
of Joe's cell, and just following that blessed song, "Tell Mother I'll
Be There," he broke into agonizing sobs and tears, and for a long while
could not control himself as he lay prostrate face downward on the cold
stone floor. I waited and prayed, my very soul in agony for his, as I
began to appreciate and realize his awful situation. Stretching forth
my hands through those iron bars, I reverently placed them on his head,
and with all my heart implored our Lord for comfort, mercy, and pardon
for the soul of this stricken young man, who that morning had learned
that the sentence already pronounced at a former trial had been
confirmed and that it was immediately to go into effect. There was no
escaping his fate now.
I was permitted, by the kind-hearted sheriff, to spend hours with Joe
on that occasion. When his grief had somewhat spent itself, this is
what he said:
"O Mother Roberts, Mother Roberts! if I only could recall the past! If
I only could!
"I started in wrong from the time I can remember. Lots of naughty
little things I would do even when I was quite a small shaver. Some
things I did the folks would think smart and cute. They would laugh and
brag of me to the neighbors, right in my heating, too, and that's where
they made a mistake; for, young as I was, it only made me bolder, also
"Some of the youngsters in our neighborhood were awful. I do believe
they were born bad; anyhow, I knew they swore, and so did some of their
parents. They gave them many a cuffing, but they didn't care, only
swore worse than ever. My folks used to forbid me to go near them, and
when any of them came into our yard, used to say, You go right home; I
don't want you here. Joe can't play with you.' But Joe did, and that's
the reason Joe has to suffer now." …
[Illustration: "NINETY-NINE YEARS, MOTHER ROBERTS!" POOR JOE]
"Poor boy! don't tell it, if it distresses you so badly," I said; but
"The time came when I was old enough to go to school. These same kids
went to the same one I did, and do you think I could shake 'em? No,
mam; they stuck to me like leeches. They were now harder than ever to
get rid of. In fact, I couldn't, but managed never to let my folks see
me with them if I could help it, and they knew they dare not come near
our house. It didn't take me very long to learn to swear like them,
when in their company. I thought it sounded big and smart, although
deep down in my heart I knew it was wrong. One day one of them got hold
of a deck of soiled playing cards, and the oldest kid undertook to
teach the rest of us how to play casino. It didn't take long to learn.
I used to often get home late from school now, and when asked what kept
me, always told a lie. I hated to do that at first, but it soon got to
be easy. The folks so loved me, had such confidence in their 'smart
little Joe,' that they never suspected, because I learned my lessons
quickly; besides, always had a pretty good report from school.
"We used to play sometimes in a vacant lot. There was a saloon near by,
and sometimes the man would treat to soda-water, sometimes we paid for
it, and by the time I was thirteen I had learned to love beer and
whiskey, also to smoke cigarettes, which we would make from the tobacco
we kids stole from our fathers' and other people's pockets when their
backs were turned, though sometimes we'd buy it.
"It began to be hard work to get up in time for breakfast and school of
a morning, and I'll tell you why. When the folks thought, after I'd
said 'Good night' that I'd gone to bed, I'd lock my door, then pretty
soon, in my stocking feet, holding my shoes in my hand, I would drop
quietly out of my window into the garden, and as quick as I could, by
previous arrangement, would join the others in a game of cards for the
smokes or the drinks. Father more than once said, 'Joe, I've heard
you're keeping bad boys' company. I hope it isn't true. If I have your
word for it that it isn't, I'll believe you, because I've never yet
caught you in a lie.' I confess I used to feel awfully ashamed and
guilty as I'd say, 'Whoever told you that told you a lie. You know
where I am at nine o'clock, sir.' And he'd say, 'That's so, my boy.
They must have mistaken somebody else for you.' But I knew better.
"When I was about sixteen, I went to work driving a bakery wagon, so
that I didn't see quite so much of my former pals, but delivering bread
took me into places where no honest or moral man or boy ought to even
dare to set his foot, let alone one like me; so I fell still further.
"For all that, a pure, good girl fell in love with me, and I with her.
I hated to deceive her, but made up my mind that I would cut it all out
when we were married, if she'd promise to be my wife; and so we became
engaged. But—I didn't cut it out. More than once she said, 'O Joe,
you've been drinking! I smell it.' I'd laugh, and make some kind of an
excuse, and she'd forgive me every time. Say, Mother Roberts, I hated
myself from head to foot for lying as I did to that pure, sweet girl."
"Go on, Joe, I'm listening."
"One night I joined the boys in a game of cards in a saloon on Sequel
Avenue. It appears that Mr. L——, the proprietor, who, by the way, was
a veteran G. A. R. man, had received quite a sum of money that day—his
back pension. As God is my judge, I did not know this when I went in
there that evening. We had a round of drinks after the first game, and
after the second, another round; then I said 'Good night' and went
"Father and I slept in the same room, and I hadn't been in bed very
long when a knock came on our door.
"'Who's there?' asked father.
"'Me, Constable ——, where's Joe? I want him.'
"'Joe's out, Constable. What do you want him for?' asked father.
"'No, I'm not out, Father. Here I am,' I said, at the same time jumping
out of bed. 'What's up?'
"'Joe, my boy, I'm sorry for you, but you're my prisoner. Dress as
quick as you can and come with me. Mr. L—— was murdered tonight. He
isn't dead yet, but he's dying. You were in his saloon a while ago,
drinking and playing cards, and you are one of the three accused of the
crime of murdering him for the sake of robbing him.'
"The shock was so awful that I couldn't speak, and oh! poor old father!
He shook me, saying, 'Speak, Joe. Tell the constable it's not so.'
"Constable, my boy doesn't drink anything to speak of, and I don't
suppose he knows one card from another; do you, Joe?'
"Nobody answered this, and pretty soon we were in the presence of the
dying man. Oh! Mother Roberts, it was like a horrible nightmare. I was
dazed with the shock and the fright of it all. I could hardly get my
voice when some one asked me where I had spent the evening, and at what
time I had left that saloon. He must have been murdered right after I
left. They tried to rouse him to see if he'd recognize me. He claimed
to, but I'm sure he didn't; for he couldn't see and didn't know what he
was talking about."
"What of your two companions, Joe?" I asked.
"One of them was there, in charge of the sheriff; I don't know where
the other one was. From that night up to this we have been here in
prison, though we haven't met. He's in a cell on another floor. He's
sentenced to San Quentin for life.
"Father mortgaged our pretty home [he afterwards lost it, the mortgage
being foreclosed] and has done everything under the sun he knows of to
clear me, so have my lawyers; but they've failed! Mother Roberts,
they've failed! and I'm to be sent to the penitentiary for ninety-nine
years. Think of it, ninety-nine years! That means that unless the real
murderer turns up, some day I'll die and be buried in a dishonored
grave—and all through starting out wrong to begin with, then keeping
My heart felt torn all to pieces for this poor unfortunate lad. How I
should have liked to sit beside those bars all night in order to
comfort him! but as that could not be, I presently, after commending
him to an ever-merciful God and Savior, whom he could not, as yet,
accept or understand, took my departure, as sad and burdened a soul as
ever walked the earth. As the tears coursed down my cheeks, I resolved
to try to help him, and, moreover, by repeating his story, to warn
mothers and fathers to guard their little ones closely every hour of
their young lives. Also, I purposed not to spare myself in addressing
them, whether individually or en masse, but to confess my own
carelessness and shortsightedness, when, as a young mother, I was much
of the time heedless with regard to my little spoilt son, for whose
soul and body God was some day going to hold me responsible. Had it
not been for God's tender mercy and love in pardoning and directing my
future life, in answering my earnest prayers for his tender watch-care
over me and mine, who knows but that my only and well-beloved son might
have shared a similar fate? If he had, I alone would have been to
Many and many a time I have been used of God in trying to comfort
stricken mothers who were visiting their children now behind bars. "O
God!" they have cried, "what did I ever do that my child should get
into such trouble as this?" Poor mothers! You were guilty as was I, but
you haven't recognized that fact. Yes, you were; and now you begin to
realize it when well-nigh too late. But it isn't yet. Just kneel down
and throw yourself on the mercies of a merciful, loving God. Confess to
him. Plead with him to forgive you. Ask him to direct every hour, every
moment, of your future. Surrender your children to him; tell him you've
made a blunder of their lives as well as of your own; then wait on him.
Listen to what he says: "Come now, and let us reason together,…
Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though
they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and
obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and
rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord
hath spoken it." Isa. 1:18-20. "They that wait upon the Lord, shall
renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they
shall run and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." Isa.
40:31. I have proved, daily am proving, all this, to my constant peace
and satisfaction. So may you, dear reader, if you will. God bless you
[Illustration: VIEW OF YARD AND PRISONERS' QUARTERS, REPRESA, NEAR
Not long ago I visited Warden and Mrs. Reilly at Folsom and had a long
interview with Joe. He told me that his poor old father was dead and
that he was now alone in the world. I asked him if he wanted to apply
for parole. "No, Mother Roberts," he answered; "parole is for guilty
prisoners. I want a pardon." "But, Joe," I replied, "if you are
paroled, in two years afterward you can apply for and receive your
pardon." … I did not prevail, but I am hoping that before finishing
this book I shall receive good news concerning Joe. If so, I will
surely tell you.
I DEPART FOR PACIFIC GROVE—MEET LUCY AGAIN—HER BAPTISM.
Not very long after poor Joe was removed to Folsom, the call of God
took me to another beautiful ocean-resort—Pacific Grove. It was only a
short journey. There was no one to welcome me, for I was a stranger,
but in less than twenty-four hours one of the Lord's loved ones, a
widowed sister, Mrs. Hill, now departed to her eternal home, welcomed
me under her roof. On the following evening I was introduced to Miss
Fannie Rowe and her mother. The former lady, in gratitude to God for
wonderfully raising her up instantly from a state of helplessness and
affliction of many years' duration, had consecrated her all to him,
and, in addition to innumerable responses to calls for prayers and
financial aid, had opened and was supporting a mission in the Grove,
another in the adjacent town of Monterey, and one for the Indians,
situated at The Needles, Ariz. I gladly responded to her kind
invitation to address the patrons of Bethel mission one evening. She
gave liberally toward helping to procure the home for the wandering
Many were the private requests for personal work with those who were
too young and inexperienced to realize that their attitude and heedless
words and deeds were having a demoralizing tendency upon themselves,
their schoolmates, and others. This work, let me assure you, dear
reader, calls for special prayer for wisdom, diplomacy, and deep love.
Young people, especially girls at the difficult age (between thirteen
and eighteen), are very hard to persuade, if their earlier training has
not been as wise as it should have been. Therefore permit me to advise
much and earnest fellowship and prayer with the Father before making
any efforts of this nature with them. A false move too often creates
rebellion, frequently followed by disastrous results.
But to proceed. An invitation came from the chaplain of the Presidio of
Monterey to visit army quarters, situated between the two towns. There
I was taken through every department and afterwards invited to address
a large body of stalwart young soldiers. You may be sure that, as I did
so, my mother heart tenderly went forth to them, as I thought of my own
precious son, who was now on the high seas and whom I had the privilege
of seeing so seldom, and then only for short visits.
After luncheon with the chaplain and his wife we visited the hospital.
I was, as usual, accompanied by my autoharp, and so was able to give a
little cheer to the many lonely, suffering ones as well as to speak
briefly about the Great Physician and also pray for them. It was all
very sad, yet so precious. I would that I could, in the name of Jesus,
have temporarily mothered one and all of them. They appeared to be so
appreciative, and to be suffering as much from homesickness as from the
many other ailments.
Every church threw its doors open to me, the interest grew, God blest
my every step, and I (by faith) saw our hopes soon realized. About this
time a letter forwarded from Santa Cruz, postmarked San Jose, reached
me, telling of the return of the president and also the vice-president
of the board of rescue home managers, and urging my return for a
conference with them in regard to much renovation and also enlargement
of their borders, for the present home was now altogether inadequate to
Earnest prayer failed to bring me light on this matter. I could only
await God's time. Then came a loving letter from my dear Lucy, stating
that her mother had fully recovered and reminding me of my promise to
spend my birthday with her and her dear ones. There being no reason why
I should not accept, I bade farewell to many newly-found friends, and
in a few hours I was being warmly embraced, also overwhelmed with
kindness and gratitude, by my spiritual daughter and her refined,
Imagine, if you can, how I, for several days, fared. It was most
embarrassing, but very, very precious to my soul, especially so when
one day Lucy followed her Savior's example in baptism in the presence
of her family, her mother, and me. Placing her wet arms about my neck,
she rejoiced my heart by saying, "O Mother Roberts, I've just had a
wonderful vision of Jesus, and I want to say this to you: Much as I
love my mother and dear ones, I would rather continue with you in the
work if you'll take me; will you, dear?" "Will I? I should say I will,"
I answered, and gladly, humbly, thanked and praised God for the blessed
privilege. So not long afterwards we took our departure for Los
Angeles, our next field of labor, and, permit me to add, at this time a
difficult one. There was an agitation on foot for the closing of all
the questionable resorts, and this meant much strenuous, problematical
work on the part of the agitators. Amongst these I make mention of the,
late Rev. Sidney Kendall, a noted writer and rescue worker, a person
who proved to be one of our very valuable friends and advisers during
our sojourn in that great and beautiful city (Author of the "Soundings
of Hell," etc.)
Matters, through correspondence with the San Jose board, were now
assuming such shape that indications were that we should soon return to
that place. In the meanwhile we were much occupied, through the daytime
largely, in making personal visits to the poor outcasts, who were in
great stress of mind at this time. Consequently, many returned to their
parental homes, others were taken care of or furnished with situations,
but not nearly so many as we could have wished, and all for lack of
finances. Oh, how I have wished that those who pray God's will to be
done in their lives would only mean it and live up to their prayers,
professions, and privileges. What a rich harvest the Master, at the
final summing up, could then reap! but alas! not many live the prayer.
ANNA—WE LEAVE FOR SAN JOSE.
One evening, during the temporary absence of Lucy (on a few days' visit
with friends), Sister Taylor, matron of the Door of Hope, home for
girls, and I were invited by Brother Trotter of the Rescue Mission,
then situated on Main Street near St. Elmo Hotel, to take charge of the
meeting. When the invitation to seek the Savior was given, the altar
filled with many mothers' boys, both young and old, and in all sorts of
condition—semi-intoxicated, ragged, dirty, etc. (Reader, I have seen
this sight scores of times in similar places.)
Several workers joined us on the platform in aiding the seekers. As I
was kneeling with my autoharp lying across my lap and my eyes closed, I
inadvertently opened them. Out at the open door, about forty feet away,
stood a throng of observers, amongst them a girl. Never did I so long
to leave the platform, but I feared that an interruption might mean
disastrous results to both workers and seekers. Soon the meeting
gloriously closed, the doors were shut, and we were hurrying home. As I
walked up the street with Sister Taylor and presently stood waiting
with her for her approaching car, my lodging being in close proximity,
I told her of my seeing that girl by the door and of my longing to have
obeyed the impulse to go and speak to the stranger. Sister Taylor
comforted me with the assurance of God's never-failing response to the
prayer of faith for even the unknown, and urged me to pray for the
girl. I replied that it would have been infinitely more satisfactory to
have dealt with her face to face.
Suddenly some one gently touched me on the shoulder. Turning about, I
beheld a tall, pretty, but weary-looking young woman. It was the girl
whom I had noticed in that open doorway.
"May I speak to you a moment?" she asked.
"Yes, dear, gladly! I was wishing I might only meet you, for I saw you
looking into the mission just now. Come with me to my room," and I
placed my arm through hers.
"No, no!" she replied, "you wouldn't want my kind to visit you there."
"Indeed, I would, and do, dear child, so come along. Good night, Sister
Taylor. Remember us in your prayers." …
It was nearly two o'clock in the morning, and Anna had told me her
story—her sad, sad story. Girls, you ought to hear it; so presently
I'm going to relate it for your benefit, but first I want you to know
that before we left my room, she had surrendered her future to her
loving Savior. Before we were off of our knees, she, with the tears in
her eyes, suddenly exclaimed:
"Oh! I quite forgot, I quite forgot. Let's go quickly. Poor Flora, my
chum, is awful sick, and I came out to hunt her friend and take her
some medicine." We hurried away.
* * * * *
There lay a dark-haired girl moaning and gaping for breath. She managed
"Who's this, Anna? Who've you brought with you?"
Soon I was reassuring the poor sufferer, whilst endeavoring to make her
"Dear, have you a mother?" I inquired.
"Yes, only two blocks from here; but she doesn't know I'm anywhere near
her. She never comes near such a neighborhood as this. Don't tell her.
please don't. It would break her heart."
"Very well, my child; I won't."
But she hadn't told Anna not to tell; so I excused myself, called Anna
out of the room, and whispered:
"Get me a certain medicine; and if you know where her mother lives, go
there, gently break this news, and tell her that if she still loves her
child to come immediately with blankets, pillows, and a hack; to be
very, very gentle and quiet with her; to talk as little as possible.
And we will help to take her home; then she must send quickly for a
Before five o'clock poor, forgiven, suffering Flora was in bed in her
mother's home, where we shall leave her for the present, in order that
we may hear Anna's story.
She said: "I'm not seventeen years old till next month, and I'm
the oldest of five children—three girls and two boys. My father is a
mechanic, but sometimes he's out of work, and then didn't he used to
scold! Just as though we were to blame! Poor Mother! I've often pitied
her for marrying my father, who was naturally cross and ill-tempered
even when things didn't go wrong. Half the time mother daren't say her
soul was her own, and, besides, she was naturally one of those meek,
timid kind that would put up with anything for the sake of peace.
"Winter before last when he was out of a job for quite a while and
mother was having a hard time of it trying to keep us warm and fed, I
heard of a place in the next town, just a car-ride away, where I could
work for my board and get my fifty cents a day and car-fare if I wanted
to go home at night. It was to work in a nice, genteel restaurant; so I
coaxed mother to let me take it, which she did. I didn't ask father.
"No, he wasn't what you'd call a drinking man, though he liked a glass
of beer once in a while.
"I soon caught on now to do my work well; sometimes used to get tips,
but not often, 'cause I had the family and ladies' department to wait
on. There was one swell-looking lady used to eat there, and used to
come to my table whenever she could. We weren't allowed to chat with
the customers, though sometimes we did, if the boss wasn't looking. One
day she told me she was very much taken with me, asked if I had a
mother and father, and several other questions. So I told her just how
it was with us and how I happened to take a situation until father got
back to work. Then she asked where I lived. I told her, but that now I
was only going home once a week in the afternoon for a little while, it
being too dark and cold to get up so early to take my car, and that,
besides, I had to work late sometimes, so the boss gave me one dollar
and fifty cents extra a week to pay my room rent. She asked if I liked
"'Well, nothing extra. One can't expect much of a place for one dollar
and fifty cents a week, can they?'
"She said no, certainly not; but as she had taken a fancy to me, and
had a nice house with a nice little spare room in it, if I liked it
better than where I was stopping, she would rent it to me, and for me
to come and see it that afternoon; which I did. Of course I took it. It
was fine! Worth double. She said she did it to encourage me, and for me
not to say a word to any one about it, as it might make the other girls
jealous; besides, she didn't keep lady roomers. So I promised, and I
kept my word.
"Some way, I can't just tell how, I got acquainted with one of her
roomers. He soon began to say nice things and make love to me, and we
got so well acquainted that he'd leave his door open when I was off
duty of an afternoon and would call me in for a chat. But one day—oh!
I hate to tell it—he closed the door, and by and by who should walk in
on us but Madam herself. I was scared half to death, she raged so, said
I'd lose my job, threatened to tell my father, and ordered me to leave
her house. By and by she cooled down, and as I'd been crying till I was
a sight, said I needn't go back to the restaurant, she'd take care of
me, because, after all, she was sorry for me, and as things were so bad
for me at home, she'd see what she could do for another situation for
me, so for me to stay in and keep quiet.
"The next day she said she'd just fortunately received a letter from a
friend of hers in Council Bluffs, Iowa, who wanted a girl like me right
away. I wanted awful bad to go and say good-by to Mother and the
children, but I was too ashamed, so I did as she advised. I just wrote
a little note to tell them I had got a fine situation out of town, and
would soon send full particulars and my address; but I never did, no
not from that day to this. I couldn't. You know I couldn't, and you
"Yes, dear child, I know. You fell into the awful clutches of that
procuress and her accomplices. Poor, poor Anna! There are thousands of
cases similar to yours, my poor child. Of course you did not know. They
all say that. But go on with your story, Anna."
"I was awful homesick, Mother Roberts, and my conscience was hurting
me; my, how it was hurting! There was I decked out in gay cheap silks
and laces, drinking, and smoking cigarettes, and carrying on and doing
things to please people that I just hated; but I had to; there was no
getting out of it. All the time I was longing to go home or to send
money to my mother, though I didn't want to send any that came out of
that house. No, indeed. Besides, I had to give it nearly all to Madam.
One day I told her I was going back home and for her to give me my
money. She told me she didn't owe me any, that I owed her.
"'What for?' I asked.
"'For your clothes, jewelry, board, lodging, and the good will of my
house,' she said.
"'I thought you gave all that to me,' I said.
"Mother Roberts, you ought to have heard her laugh. It makes me shudder
when I think of it, it was so cruel and fiendish! Presently she added:
"'You can't leave till you've paid your debts. I'll have you arrested
if you do.'
"'How much do I owe you?' I asked.
"'Pretty near six hundred dollars,' she said.
"I nearly fainted with fright, but what was I to do? I was afraid to
die, or else I'd have ended it then and there….
"That night I told a friend of mine, a railroad employee, and he said
for me to keep a 'stiff upper lip,' and he'd get me out of there next
trip; so I kept my own counsel, and Madam concluded I'd decided to stay
where I was and make the best of it. She didn't know I was counting the
hours for three days, until my friend got back.
"When he came, he advised me to play drunk, and to go out with him to
dinner. He said I need never go back; he'd take me with him on his
train when it went out that night.
"'What about my debt?' I asked him.
"'Debt nothing!" he said. 'She can't have you arrested. She can't
collect one cent of a debt like that. Don't take any clothes, for
fear she'll suspect.'
"Pretty soon I staggered down the stairs, but I wasn't drunk; no,
"'Where are you going, Anna?' she inquired.
"'Out to dinner with ——. Any objection?' I asked.
"'No, only be in in time for business.'
"Oh, thank God! I never laid my eyes on her again, nor she on me from
that day to this. But I don't want you to get the idea that that escape
from her ended my troubles. By no manner of means. Listen!" And then
she told me of experiences too dreadful for publication—experiences in
Ogden and Salt Lake, Utah; Reno, Nevada. Now she was in Los
Angeles—farther away from mother and home than ever; as unhappy, as
homesick, as miserable a girl as ever trod the earth. When she happened
to be passing the mission door, some one was singing, "Just as I am
without one plea." After that door had closed for the night, she
followed Sister Taylor and me, trying to summon up courage enough to
approach me, fearing that if she did not I should soon get on a car and
her opportunity of ever meeting me would be lost.
At the time of our meeting, Anna was well-nigh homeless, friendless,
penniless, and, worst of all, Christless. In less than four hours,
praise God! she had her greatest needs supplied, and, best of all, she
had found her Savior.
In memory of this, one of the songs appearing in this book was
written—"The Value of a Song." It was a particular favorite with our
family in the rescue home, some girl often remarking, "Doesn't it just
seem to fit my case, Mother Roberts?" Then she would get me to relate
the story of Anna or of some other poor unfortunate. Alas! their name
THE VALUE OF A SONG.
Words and Music by Mrs. Florence Roberts
1. A poor girl was wand'ring alone on the street Of a great busy city,
thro' dust and thro' heat, With despair in her heart as she walked to
and fro, When she heard a sweet voice singing softly and low:
Just as I am, without one plea, But that they blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidd'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
2. As she noted the words of this beautiful song, Her thoughts wandered
back to the days that were gone; And in fancy she hears her dear mother
once more Sweetly singing the song she now hears thro' that door.
3. "O God, I have sinned, I will do so no more, If thou wilt forgive
and a sinner restore; For the sake of my Savior, for mercy I pray:
Lord, give me a home with some Christian to stay."
4. "Thou knowest my weakness, my sorrow, my sin, Now grant me, dear
Lord, a new life to begin." And soon came the answer to this earnest
prayer,—A pardon, a home, and motherly care.
NORTHWARD BOUND—THE OUTCOME.
More correspondence, also the return of Lucy, decided our length of
sojourn at Los Angeles. After prayerful consideration, we, with Anna,
soon took our departure for San Jose, where we were warmly welcomed by
a now former matron (Callie's dear Sister Griffith). At this time the
family consisted of fifteen girls and two workers. Imagine our crowded
The following day the entire board of managers convened, specially to
meet me. After prayer and the reading of Scripture, there was an
earnest discussion regarding the need of an evangelistic and field
worker. Because of my being constantly referred to as the person for
such office, I requested permission to retire for brief prayer, also to
give them more freedom.
Going to the matron's room, I bowed before the Lord, earnestly
petitioned to know the mind of his Spirit, and sought a test. The test
was this: If it was his will that I accept this office, the board
should, on my return for further conference, give satisfactory answers
to the following questions: "Are you willing to incorporate?" "Are you
willing to change the name of the home?" and "Are you willing to
purchase desirable property?"
When I was once more in their midst, the president, in the name of the
board, honored me with the above-mentioned call, stating in detail its
necessities. Responding with words of appreciation, I propounded the
three questions named.
Answer No. 1: "Yes, quite willing, but unable to do so, for lack of
funds. An empty treasury."
Answer No. 2: "Can you suggest a better name?"
"Yes, a God-given one," I answered. Then I stated the objection of many
who disliked being styled, "One of the Rescue Home girls." I suggested
"Beth-Adriel," meaning "House of the flock of God." All being delighted
with this name, it was adopted.
Answer No. 3: "Yes, if you will accept the office of field
In the name of the Lord I accepted; then agreed to pay for
incorporation (a matter that was immediately attended to) and to place
the remainder of the money in my possession, minus five dollars, into
the Beth-Adriel treasury. (This sum amounted to over three hundred
Before the board adjourned, Lucy, at my request, was appointed
assistant matron, and a most efficient one she proved, until illness
compelled her resignation several months later.
All the details of the preliminaries being duly attended to, I now
proceeded to fill official engagements, the first of which the
following press notice announced:
Mrs. Florence Roberts, a singing evangelise and noted speaker, will
sing and speak in the Presbyterian church of Los Gatos, Sunday evening.
Mrs. Roberts is the field secretary of the non-sectarian industrial
home for women in San Jose; the same is now being incorporated under
the name of Beth-Adriel.
The Lord graciously encouraged me with a large and deeply interested
congregation, who contributed liberally toward the fund. (This was in
November, 1903, four months from the time of my leaving San Francisco
for Redwood City with sixty cents in my purse. Traveling and other
expenses came out of the fund. Praise, oh! praise the blessed Redeemer
The following notice is copied from the San Jose Mercury, May 7,
LAND FOR BETH-ADRIEL HOME.
The California Non-sectarian Home for Women.
Three years ago last September a number of Christian men and women
established a home at 673 East St. John Street for unfortunate women
and girls. The work still continues at the same place. Last autumn it
was incorporated, but to adequately carry out the intentions of the
home, there has always been felt the need of a permanent building,
planned with reference to the work.
Through the generosity of parties interested, there is a little sum on
hand toward the purchase of land.
The board desires to secure a piece of land from two to five acres,
where the inmates of the home can raise chickens also cultivate
flowers, plants, etc., giving them a percentage on their efforts to
The opportunity is now given to some philanthropic party to either
donate or sell on easy terms land, as above described, on or near any
one of the car lines.
* * * * *
Immediately following our first Christmas in Beth-Adriel I was taken
suddenly and dangerously ill, so that my life was despaired of. Many
were the prayers for my restoration. How devoted were my dear young
friends, especially Lucy and Anna! Praise God! I was unable to resume
my duties until April, 1904. Then I responded to a call from Boulder
Creek, a lovely town in Santa Cruz mountains; next I went to
Watsonville and vicinity; and after that I returned home for a rest,
for I was not yet very strong. I arrived at home June first.
Being impressed that my next field of labor was to be in a city in the
extreme northern part of California, I, after a week of loving
intercourse with my precious girls, sailed for Eureka, Humboldt County,
arriving there on June 8, 1904. As usual, the local papers immediately
announced my coming, one saying, through the interviewing reporter,
that I had $1,200 toward purchasing property.
Two days later I was the guest of Rev. and Mrs. Franklin Baker, whose
home became my headquarters during my stay of over two months'
duration. I was now in an excellent field of labor amongst the fallen.
Moreover, I fulfilled pulpit engagements in practically every church
and organization in Humboldt County.
From noon until about 5 P.M. each day (with very few exceptions) I was
engaged in house-to-house work in the undesirable districts. After word
had been passed around that I was sincerely the friend of the fallen,
many a poor wandering girl listened with profound respect to God's
loving message in word and song. Even most of the landladies of these
houses of sin and shame invited me in, when convenient. Frequently have
I been humbly asked to join them at their repasts. Never did I refuse.
(Reader, our Savior ate with publicans and sinners; are we, professed
Christians, better than he? God forbid!) What golden opportunity to
converse whilst we ate! How the best, the very best, would then rise to
the surface! On one of these occasions B—— F——, soon to quit
forever this mode of living, said:
"Mother Roberts, I've a friend close by. She's taken to drinking
heavily lately; otherwise she's refined and accomplished. Can you spare
time to see her today?"
"Most assuredly, B——. Can you accompany me?"
She gladly, hurriedly changed her attire, and soon appeared, heavily
"Why are you veiled, B——?" I asked.
"I don't suppose you will want to be seen walking on the street with
me, Mother Roberts," she replied.
With my own hands I removed the veil whilst the tears of tender, humble
appreciation and love, gathered and flowed down her cheeks. We were
soon at J——'s place, where B—— knocked at a side door, because of
the noise of carousal in the front of the house. A beautiful but
greatly intoxicated young woman opened the door and began upbraiding
B—— for bringing me. But B—— marched right in, pulling me after
"We'll go into your bedroom if no one's there, J——," she said, and
forthwith proceeded to do so.
"B——, you shouldn't have done this. I'm drunk. I don't want a lady
like this one to see me in such a beastly state. You shouldn't have
done it, B——," said poor J——.
Such a noise of rowdyism was proceeding from the front room that
presently she said: "I'll stop that!" and to me, "Please excuse me a
There was a hush and then sounds of several footsteps. She threw her
door wide open, marched them all in, turned the key in the lock, and
put the key in her pocket. What did this mean? I soon found out.
"Talk to them, too. They all need it as much as I," she said.
They surely did. All told, there were nine, not including B—— and me.
Four were mere lads, who were so ashamed that they tried to hide their
features by pulling their hats as far over their faces as possible. I
sang a song; they called for another, and still another. During the
singing of the third one, J——, with her beautiful hair streaming
about her face and shoulders suddenly threw herself lengthwise on the
floor, crying out, and calling on God for mercy. Mary Magdalene,
prostrate at the Master's feet, was being reenacted once more. I
quickly knelt, put my arms around her, and prayed and prayed and
prayed. Before I finished, every boy and girl in that bedroom was
Some of them I again met, though never in such a place. As for J——,
she immediately disappeared, and I have never heard of her since. B——
went East and became a trained nurse, one who spiritually administers
to the patients in her charge.
THE SUICIDE OF L——. ITS AFTER-EFFECT.
After much effort and following repeated calls with "not at home"
responses, I at last was able to meet one Miss Blank. Seated in her
private reception room, I listened respectfully to her recital of
vindication because of her present position, and then told her the
nature of my errand.
The door was partially open. A beautiful, very beautiful blonde girl
attired in pale blue stepped partly in, saying as she did so, "May I
come in. Miss Blank?" "No, not just now," was the answer. "I'm engaged
for the next few minutes." At her request I sang.
I sang a song entitled "My Mother's Voice." I was sitting where I had a
view of a portion of the stairway, and, as I sang, I saw a little blue
slipper and part of a dress. That girl sat there listening.
I soon left. Before doing so I asked if I might call again, and
The following Sunday evening, after I had addressed a large audience in
the Presbyterian church and just as the meeting closed, two ladies
hastened forward and thus excitedly addressed the pastor (Reverend
S——) and me:
"Oh! we thought the meeting would never end. Do you know a girl shot
herself just now in Miss Blank's house? She may be living yet. Hurry!
You may be able to get there in time to save her soul before she dies."
I ran, without even my hat, the pastor quickly following. When we rang
the bell, Miss Blank came to the door and, throwing herself into my
"Oh! if I had only let her in! if I had only let her in! Mrs. Roberts,
it's the girl who asked to come in the other day when you were calling
"Is she living yet? Quick! let me see her. This is the Rev. Mr. S——
who accompanies me," I said.
"Too late! Mrs. Roberts, too late! She died in awful agony about twenty
minutes ago. Those two men in the hall whom you saw as you came in are
the coroner and the doctor. Oh! my God! my God! Pray, please pray for
her soul," wailed poor Miss Blank.
"Miss Blank, she's gone, never to return. We want to pray for your
precious soul," pleaded Brother S——.
"No, no, oh! no," wept Miss Blank, and nothing we could say or do would
induce her to kneel with us. She only clung the closer to me, and wept
and mourned piteously.
It was early morning before we left.
* * * * *
All that was mortal of beautiful unfortunate L—— had been removed to
the morgue, and, the name and address of her parents having been
discovered, the following telegram had been sent: "Daughter L—— died
suddenly. What disposition of remains?" As quickly as possible came
this reply: "Embalm. Leave for Eureka immediately."
On Monday afternoon I was once more with Miss Blank, now sufficiently
calmed to relate this:
"L—— was taken with a spell of despondency Saturday. [I was there
Friday afternoon.] It wasn't like her, for she usually was the life of
the house. She didn't get up all day Sunday. I went up after dinner to
try to jolly her up, and soon left her, as I thought, more cheerful.
Presently we all were startled by the firing of a pistol, followed by
some one screaming: 'Oh! my God, my God! what have I done? Help me,
please, for God's sake help me!' But she was soon past all earthly aid.
All of us were paralyzed with fear, as you may readily understand."
Then she wept, as few weep, whilst I also in tears sought to comfort
her and to point her to the merciful Savior, but she would have none of
him. All I could do was to wait patiently and pray.
I went to the undertaker's to view the remains. He and his wife
remarked that they had handled many a corpse, but none so beautiful as
this one. But I was grieving for the lost soul. Where, oh! where was it
now? Where, where were the others going?
The steamer arrived, and on it not alone the father but also the mother
of beautiful L——. No one had expected the mother. To me was assigned
the painful task of breaking the news to her. I believe I was the most
burdened woman on earth at that hour and time. Rev. S—— introduced me
to the stricken father in the hotel office, who presently took us up to
their room. To my dying day I shall see that scene. After the
introduction to the mother, the father and Brother S—— retired to
another room. I was standing there alone with the mother, who leaned
against the dressing-case, her hands behind her back, gripping the
woodwork. She was a magnificent, majestic-looking lady; the father also
was a tall fine-looking man. It was easy to discover whence the
daughter had inherited her beauty.
"Who are you?" she gasped.
"Tell me, did you know my darling girl?" she inquired.
"No, dear lady, not in life, although I had seen her," I replied.
"Where? where had you seen her?" she next interrogated.
"In the house where she boarded," I answered.
"Was her husband with her?" she inquired.
"No, not that I heard of," was my reply
Next came that dreadful, dreadful question. She shrieked it:
"Tell me, madam, was—it—all—right—with—my—baby—girl?"…
My tongue clove to the roof of my mouth. I tried to answer. Not one
word could I utter. The mother with the exclamation. "O my God!" went
down in a heap on the floor and I with her. For a long time the silence
remained unbroken. She was the first to speak:
"It is so kind of you to come; so kind to help me in my terrible
trouble. God will reward you. I never can. Now, dear, I must have
particulars, if its kills me. To help get them, I must tell you this:
My L—— was my youngest, my petted, spoilt, baby girl. Her every wish
was gratified from the time she drew her first breath. Nothing was too
good for her, and no expense spared. We sent her to Europe to complete
her education. Did you ever hear her sing?"…
Erelong this soul-stricken mother lay in her bed sleeping as only the
grief-exhausted can sleep; then I left for a much-needed rest. After a
few hours I returned. When I left her late that night, she had sent for
poor terrified Miss Blank.
When I came down-stairs the following morning, Mrs. Baker told me that
some one was anxious to talk with me over the telephone—some one who
would not give her name, only her number. Going to the telephone, I
soon recognized Miss Blank's voice.
"Good morning, Mrs. Roberts," she begin. "I've been very anxious to get
you, but would not have your rest disturbed, as I was sure you must be
worn out. I've been talking to L——'s poor mother all night long, and
she has agreed to a funeral service which we can attend. Neither she
nor her husband will be present; only our kind. We want to know if
you will conduct it for us."
"Where, Miss Blank?" I inquired.
"In the undertaker's chapel tomorrow afternoon at three o'clock. They
are going to take her remains back to her old home on Monday's steamer.
Do say you will, Mrs. Roberts, please."
I consented, provided I should be allowed to give a message to the
living. She gladly acquiesced.
With difficulty I made my way through the crowd that blocked the street
in front of the undertaker's the following afternoon. None were
admitted but L——'s associates. There she lay, apparently sleeping
sweetly, but this was only the beautiful, fast-decaying mortal form.
The remains were surrounded by fragrant tributes of exquisite floral
pieces, and girls dressed in black robes, heavily veiled, and weeping
bitterly. With great effort I at last spoke and sang. I do not remember
if I had a text; I do know that the message came to the living
straight from the throne of grace. Even until recently some one has
occasionally reminded me that she was present on that occasion and that
it brought about her reformation. The father and mother departed with
their precious burden the following morning. They came early on board,
in order to avoid curious eyes. I spent the time with the mother in
their stateroom until they sailed. When that casket was lowered into
the hold of the steamer, I so obstructed the doorway that she could not
look past me.
Before our final parting the poor mother gave a farewell message for
other mothers. It was this:
"Mrs. Roberts, I was too indulgent, too weak, with my little girl. All
she had to do was to tease until she got her own way even though I knew
it would prove to be detrimental to her good. If I resisted or advised
ever so little, she would overrule every time.
"When she returned from Europe, she sang in our church choir and proved
to be a great attraction. She and the tenor singer, —— ——, were
betrothed, and with our consent. He was a schoolmate of hers. For some
trifling offense on his part, she became angry and unfortunately showed
a relentless spirit; consequently, the breach widened.
"Poor darling! She was so impetuous, so impulsive. I have never quite
recovered from the shock I received when she suddenly announced her
marriage to an utter stranger—an educated young scoundrel, as we soon
learned to our sorrow. Papa and I decided to make the best of it now
the deed was done; so he took him into his employ in order that our
baby girl might be near us. He robbed us in less than six weeks of
several hundred dollars; then Papa told daughter that she was welcome
to her home as long as she lived, but that he must go; that she would
be compelled to choose. I know she did not want to; but, oh! she was so
proud, and she would not give in. She chose her husband, and that was
the last I saw of her until—Oh! I can not, can not bear it. Mrs.
Roberts! It is killing me!"
* * * * *
"Miss Blank knows him. She had more than once ordered him out of her
house for abusing L—— and living off her dreadful earnings…."
When the steamer was far away, almost out of sight, Brother S—— at
last turned to me and asked whether I had seen L——'s dairy, now in
her father's possession. "No," I replied; "I had no idea she had kept
one." Then, as we walked home, he repeated some recent entries in it. I
give them to you as best my memory serves me:
(Date) "Just as I feared: Bert has been grafting again and has lost his
(Date) "We're going to Spokane. My! but I'm homesick; I'd like to give
in, but I won't! I won't!…"
(Date) "Bert has secured a job at last. Better than nothing—clerking
in the soda fountain department of ——'s drug store. Hope he'll quit
(Date) "I've a good position now in —— ——'s cloak and suit house.
Afraid I can't keep it long, my health is so poor lately…."
(Date) "Bert and I had words tonight. He's quit. I suppose he had to."
(Date) "There's a very pleasant lady in the next bed to mine
[sanitarium]. I'm going back with her when she goes home, and until
Bert is on his feet again…."
(Date) "How much has happened since I last wrote in my diary! I've some
fine clothes and jewelry. Bert is sporting a suit of fine clothes and
diamond pin, but—I can't write any more."
(Date) "Miss Blank says Bert will have to keep away. I'm glad of it.
How I hate him!…"
(Much later) "A lady called yesterday. Wish I might have talked with
her. Sang about mother I wish, oh, how I wish—what nonsense I'm
(Next morning) "I'm so wretched, so very wretched…. Oh! mama, mama,
mama! If you could only read between the lines—"
And that was all. No name was signed. But—we can all of us read
between the lines, yes all of us.
GOOD NEWS FROM HOME—MISS LORAINE.
Letters from different members of Beth-Adriel board were now constantly
reaching me. They contained interesting accounts of the doings at home
and also much concerning various properties, none of which, from all
accounts, appealed to my fancy. Reader, I was hard to please. I wanted
something better than had as yet been described. Somehow I felt God had
it for us. Sure-enough, as I discovered on my return home in August.
A letter from the vice-president described a property of ten acres of
orchard and grounds, all under cultivation; a commodious dwelling,
partly furnished; outhouses, etc., situated just outside of the city
limits. It was not for sale; but as the owner, who resided on the
premises, was a Christian man, it was thought that he might, for such a
purpose, be induced to sell. It was deemed best, before approaching him
to await my return. You will be pleased to hear more concerning this
later. Just now I want to tell you about Miss Loraine.
There was one house in Eureka into which I had never been admitted. One
day whilst I was visiting another, the landlady asked:
"Have you ever called on Miss Loraine?"
"I have been there more than once," I answered, "but as yet I have been
unsuccessful in gaining admittance."
"Would you still go if you could? I can get you in. I am a personal
friend of hers," said Miss ——.
"Thank you, I shall be very glad to have you make the necessary
arrangements," I replied, upon which she went to her telephone, took
down the receiver, and held the following conversation:
"Hello! is that you, H——? Good morning…."
"Quite well, thank you. How are you?"… "I called you up to tell you
of a lady who is calling on me, and who would like very much to meet
you. We all call her 'Mother' Roberts."
* * * * *
"No, she isn't a crank."…
"Now, look here, H——, you'll have to see her. You ought to know
better than refuse me."
* * * * *
"Well, when will you be at home? At five o'clock? Wait a minute."
Putting her hand over the mouthpiece and turning to me, she asked:
"Can you call at five this evening?"
I could; so she made arrangements, hung up the receiver, and then wrote
a note of introduction, wording it thus:
This will introduce my friend, Mother Roberts. She is all O. K. Hoping
you will have a pleasant time together,
Yours as ever, —— ——
This I presented with my card at Miss Loraine's door at exactly five
o'clock. A Japanese page dressed in uniform ushered me into a
conventional but well-furnished reception-room. There sat a young woman
in a handsome silk negligee, who invited me to be seated, remarking
that Miss Loraine was out, but would soon return, and that she was to
entertain me in the interval. In a few minutes there came up the steps
and then entered the room three splendid-looking young women, richly
attired. The one in black silk, Miss Loraine, received me with all the
manners of a lady of birth and good breeding, and soon asked me if I
would come with her to her private quarters, so that we could converse
undisturbed. I followed her up-stairs into a Dresden-draped bedroom,
where ensued the following conversation:
"Mrs. Roberts, I feel I owe you an apology for not sooner receiving
you. To be candid with you, my door is closed to all who have not made
previous engagements; then, too, I shrink from the embarrassment of
meeting any ladies from the better walks of life," etc.
Whilst endeavoring to reassure her, I happened to look at a
silver-framed photograph of a handsome, white-haired old gentleman.
Quickly remarking this, she reverently handed it to me, saying:
"I notice you are attracted to this. Would you think there was anything
out of the common in any of these features?"
Upon my replying in the negative, she added:
"This is the photograph of my dearly loved father. He is stone blind."
I expressed my astonishment, for there was no indication in the
After a pause she said, "Mrs. Roberts, will you please do me a favor?"
"If it lies in my power," I replied.
"It does," was her rejoinder. "Will you honor me by dining with me this
evening, half an hour hence?"
For one second I hesitated, but on interpreting her expression I
instantly replied, "With pleasure," for like a flash came a mental
vision of the King of kings dining with Simon the leper (Mark 11:3-9).
Then she absented herself for a few minutes, doubtless to make
"I feel disposed, if you care to listen." she said on her return, "to
give you a synopsis of my life."
I assured her of a great desire to hear it and, if possible, to prove
more than simply a hearer. Briefly, it was this:
She was an only child of rich parents. She was reared in a luxurious
home, where card-playing, theater-going, dancing, and all other high
society amusements were continually indulged in. When she was entering
her teens and most needed a mother's care, her mother died, and her
father placed her in a fashionable boarding-school. She remained there
until she was seventeen, when he sent her, under the chaperonage of
friends, on a trip to Europe.
Whilst she was in Rome, she received from her father a cable message
reading, "Come home on next steamer." Upon arriving in New York, she
soon learned from her father's lips of his total failure in business
(he was a stock broker) and also of the fast approaching
affliction—blindness. Property of every description was swept away.
She soon secured a position as nursery governess, but erelong she
realized that she was unqualified, never having been coached for any
but high social life.
The gentleman (?) whom she had expected to marry some day proved untrue
as soon as her riches fled.
Just at a time when her employer had gently informed her of her
inability to fill her position of governess satisfactorily and of her
(the employer's) intention of dismissing her, the tempter, in the form
of an unprincipled but well-to-do man about to make a trip to the
Pacific Coast, crossed her path and ensnared her. Under promise of
marriage, she agreed to go with him. After telling her now blind
father, who was being provided for out of her earnings, that she had
secured a position for better pay, but that it would take her away from
New York for a time, she bade him a tearful farewell.
Before long the rich reprobate deserted her, but he was merciful enough
not to leave her penniless. With a considerable sum at her disposal,
and for advisers one or two whose morals were at a low ebb, she came
North and furnished the house in which I was now sitting.
She was in constant correspondence with her father, who supposed that
she was married and that the fifty dollars or more (never less) which
he monthly received came from his wealthy son-in-law. And now hear her
"Mrs. Roberts, I believe you will give me an honest answer to my
earnest question. Would it be possible for me to secure any honorable
position whereby I might continue to send my dear father fifty dollars
a month, as well as live respectably myself?"
Reader, what answer would you, had you been in my place, have made? I
was in an awkward position—in the presence of one who had never
attended any but a fashionable church and hence—who knew little or
nothing of God and his Son, one who had never been taught anything
which in the event of accidents or business failures would prove
practical. She was indeed and in truth to be pitied. My reply was a
"Could you not have kept a respectable lodging-house, my dear Miss
"Perhaps, had I been advised by the right kind of people, but I met the
wrong ones," she replied. "As long as my dear father lives," she added,
"I must send him this sum for rent and ordinary comforts. The moment
word reaches me of his demise, I will forever cease living such a life.
I will quietly disappear to some remote corner of the globe."
Then she showed me a letter just received, one beginning, "My dear Son
and Daughter." How my heart ached as I silently prayed to know what to
"What about the inmates of your house. Miss Loraine? How do you procure
"Pardon me, but I can not explain that. I will say, though, each of
them has a sad story. They are, as you will presently infer from what
you see, refined, more or less talented girls; but they will soon drift
downward. The life is too rapid, and nature will not long stand the
strain and abuse. I never interfere if a girl shows an inclination to
quit; on the contrary, I gladly help her."
Here a gong sounded, announcing dinner. She preceded me to the
dining-room. When we entered, I saw five handsome young women, whose
ages varied (I should judge) from eighteen to twenty-six. They were all
attired in quiet dress, surely in honor of the occasion, which courtesy
I greatly appreciated. Permission being granted, I invoked a blessing.
The meal was served in courses, and we were waited upon by the Japanese
page. I ate very sparingly, in fact, made only a pretence of eating,
for God's message lay so heavily on my heart that I had to deliver it.
They listened with rapt attention, and all but one shed tears. How
stolid she appeared to be! yet she was possibly the one many months
later most impressed. I met her again. She was home then in her
father's house once more, but was not yet a Christian.
As for Miss Loraine, I never saw her again, but about a year later I
learned that her father had died and that she had taken her departure
for parts unknown. I can only pray and trust that she will, if living,
turn to the ever-merciful Savior.
LUCY'S LETTER—THE SCHOOL TEACHER.
On July 29, I received several letters, one of which is well worth
Beth-Adriel, San Jose, July 27, 1904.
Mrs. Florence Roberts, Dear Mother:
I wrote you a letter several days ago, but have had no answer to it as
yet, but thought I would write again, as it seems so long since I saw
or heard from you.
I wrote and told you all about my trip to San Francisco, and what a
good time I had [on that occasion she visited the jail where she was
once a prisoner and where she was converted on or about Feb. 14, 1903],
but I presume you have been very busy, or you would have answered.
Well, I can praise God for some wonderful victories, and I do praise
him every day. Just last night I was talking to our matron [Mother
Weatherwax] and saying how perfectly wonderful his strength was; for it
is his strength, and not mine, that has kept me up and is still
keeping—me up from day to day.
The home is full now…. We have one case of clear-cut answer to
prayer, where it just took real faith to hold on. But isn't it just
like our dear, good heavenly Father to do and answer just the
impossible. It was a case of abduction and attempted seduction of a
lovely Christian girl, the daughter of a Free Methodist minister, into
a terrible house of ill-fame, one of those notorious road-houses, and
it was such a filthy, vile place, that the chief of police [Carroll]
would not let Mother W—— and another lady go with the officers and
the lady's husband after the girl. Thank God, He gave us the law on our
side, and we have the girl here safe and well and doing fine; and I can
say the same for all of the rest of us girls.
The girl referred to had come from her Eastern home to southern
California for her health. As her means were limited, she sought
employment, and one day answered an attractive advertisement for a
housekeeper for an invalid lady. A favorable reply, urging her to come
at once, quickly came, stating that in the event of her paying her fare
it would be refunded on her arrival, also that she would be met at the
San Jose depot by a lady wearing a bunch of red roses on her left
When she arrived, she was welcomed and taken in a hack to the awful
place of which Lucy wrote. She managed to write a note with a match
stem, wrapped the paper round a small piece of rock which she found in
the room where she was imprisoned, and prayerfully threw them through
the grating: toward a man who was watering his horses at the trough and
who evidently knew the nature of this notorious resort. Praise God, the
stone did not miss its mark. The man was wise enough to notify the
authorities, and that place was compelled to go out of business in
I have not been able to go to church for three weeks now, but God is
here at home with me, and I am learning more of him every day. My verse
for today was Ezek. 34:12, and I think it is so beautiful, especially
about the dark and cloudy days.
We went to Alum Rock [a beautiful resort adjacent to San Jose] three
weeks ago Thursday, and I got so badly poisoned [poison-oak] that there
was not an inch of my body that was not covered and my eyes were
swollen shut for two days. I was sick in bed with it all day the Fourth
and here alone; but not alone, for if ever I had a happy day, it was
that. Lots of times I feel discouraged to think I can not remember the
Scriptures that I read, but it was just marvelous the way they would
roll over my mind on those two or three days that I could not see even
to read. I believe God just wanted me to see when my eyes, hands,
tongue and feet were quiet how active my mind was.
My head and throat are still very bad, and I go to the doctor about
three times a week, but still have those terrible ulcers gathering and
breaking in my head. I am so thin that I can not wear the black dress
you made me at all. Mother W—— says she is afraid something will give
way in my head one of these days. She wants me to go home for a rest,
but if I did, then Mama [her own mother] wouldn't come here for a rest,
and I want her to have a rest, and then, too, I would have to ask them
to send me money to go home on. [Lucy's services were gratuitous.]
Just the other day I was reading how much Delia did for the Lord in her
short Christian life [Before conversion known as the "Blue Bird" of
Mulberry Bend of New York], and it has made me feel bad; for here I
have been saved over a year, and what have I done? It is said that she
had over six hundred souls in three months, and I can not claim one
that I know of. I know that I have tried to be what God would have me
be, if ever a girl did try. [Indeed, indeed you have, dear child, and
God smiles on you for it.]
There is one thing sure. I have prayed a great deal for you lately for
ever since two weeks ago Tuesday night, which was our prayer-meeting
night of course, I had a real hard fight with Satan, and he had tried
to get the better of my better self, and Miss Sisson came and told of
your being at a house to see the landlady and then of your going back
in a few days to preach the funeral services over the dead body of one
of the girls [suicide]. Oh, how it helped me to see what I had been
spared from and how much I had to praise God for! and it also showed me
how many prayers you needed to help you in your work, and so I have
held you up more than ever before His throne, and maybe if I can not
reap myself, I can pray for those that are in the field.
God has been so good that all through my sickness I have missed but two
days' work, that is, there were but two days that I was not able to get
the meals (all of them). It is perfectly wonderful, the strength,
willingness, and determination He will give us if we but want it.
Sometimes lately when my head has been so bad, I have thought, what if
I should be taken now. It would be grand to go home; but I have talked
with Mother W—— so much lately, and I do not feel I could go till I
have done something for Him who did so much for me. Pray for me,
Mother, that I may get better and do something. I want to go and tell
Mattie [a former companion in sin] and the girls, that what God has
done for me he will do for them.
I'll tell you what Doctor A—— says is the matter with me. She
examined me, tested my blood, and said it was not in the system from
disease of myself, but that sometime, when my throat was sore, I
inhaled the germs from some sick person, that the throat was just in
the condition for them to germinate, and now my throat and ear are
eaten out terribly. [Cigarette-smoking the probable cause ] She hasn't
said she couldn't cure me, but that it will take a year's solid and
continuous treatment, without any neglectfulness whatsoever.
Oh! isn't it true that if we sow to the flesh, we must reap corruption.
I know that I did, and am willing to suffer the pain and endure if I
can only tell others—yes—warn them. But I know that I can not do it
away from here until I can do it better here, so I want more courage to
do it better here.
Mania doesn't know much about my throat, only what Mother W—— wrote
her that tune.
Oh! this is an awfully long letter, so I must close it. I am nervous
and can't write well.
Pray for us, as we pray for you. Everybody sends you their love, and
God bless you.
Your daughter in faith, Lucy ——.
How I loved to receive her appreciative, newsy letters! but oh, how
they saddened me as I more than ever realized the truth of that
statement that "whatsoever we sow, that shall we also reap," Gal. 6:7.
But one more incident and story before we leave Eureka.
One day, on one of my house-to-house visits, and following considerable
disappointment, for so few were at home, or else the inmates did not
want to receive me, I at last received a response from a frail-looking
woman of about twenty-four years of age, who said, "I should very much
like to have a heart-to-heart talk with you, but this is no place for
it. Can you come to my private room in the —— —— lodging-house. Go
to room No. —, first floor at 1:30 tomorrow, where we can converse
At the appointed time I was kindly received, and soon I was listening
to her troubles; but before rehearsing them she called my attention to
a framed diploma on her wall, a teacher's certificate.
"Have you taught school?" I inquired.
She simply answered, "Yes."
"Are you not taking great chances by having that where strangers can
see it?" I asked.
"No," she replied; "I do my own work, and have a patent lock, so that
none but my husband and me have access to this room."
I was still more at sea. Over the head of her bed hung a picture which
I never shall forget. Let me endeavor to describe it:
The beautiful nude form of a young woman lay on a couch. Horror was
depicted upon her countenance, and she was frantically but vainly
struggling to free herself from the great boa-constrictor which had
coiled his ugly thick body about her. Standing beside her and looking
on with a dreadful expression of devilish satisfaction was a
representation of Satan, whilst coming in at the open door reeled a
young man in a woeful state of intoxication.
The old, old dreadful story! When, oh! when will they ever profit by
this only too true picture, being really enacted every day, every hour,
by some mother's wandering girl?
Would that I might be able to tell you that this ex-school-teacher
yielded to our Lord and Savior, but alas! that boa-constrictor had too
firm a grip on her. Listen to her story:
"Less than four years ago, I was a happy young woman, living with my
parents in the South, in a modest but very happy home, and surrounded
by loving friends.
"My downfall dates from a picnic. I was exceedingly fond of dancing,
with no ill effect from indulging in what hitherto I had regarded as a
most innocent pastime, but that day I was introduced to one who
peculiarly affected me. Why, I used to laugh to scorn, and express
contempt for, any one who could be so very weak as to succumb to evil
influences through the dance, never dreaming that my day of doom would
"How I loved him! and how I hugged my secret! At least, so I thought;
but he read me, read me like a book. He was a traveling man, and showed
me many excellent letters. I told my parents, who felt interested, and
the next thing I was enjoying his company in our home, where he made
himself very agreeable to the old people. Soon I was attending several
social functions, some at his invitation, particularly where there was
dancing, for I loved to feel his arms about me, his breath on my cheek.
"A day came when, for love of him, I bartered my soul. The remorse
which soon followed was so deep that I took what little money I had,
stole away from home, and my relatives haven't seen or heard from me
since, although I hear of them through a trusted friend, who has
promised not to further bruise the old folks' hearts by letting them
know of my downfall or whereabouts. I'm dead to them forever; dead to
* * * * *
"I was the supposed wife of my first love for over a year. How I begged
him to marry me! but he only laughed and asked if I wanted to have him
arrested for bigamy. Then he left me.
"My baby was born dead. Thank God for that! and now as soon as able, I
must move on.
"Some of these girls on the downward path are so kind-hearted, Mrs.
"Yes, Saidie, I know it well," I said. "I've been their friend for
several years, and I know many of them and their good traits and deeds;
but pardon me for interrupting." "I drifted from place to place," she
continued; "now I'm here—here facing an awful future. No God, no home,
sick in body and soul, not fit to live and certainly not fit to die."
"How happened it that you met the man you called your husband, Saidie?"
"Just as nine-tenths of them do," she replied. "We take up with some
one who is seemingly kind. It's an awful mistake. They profit at our
expense every day. They take our earnings of sin, and are often brutal
besides," she sobbed.
"But does not the vagrancy law protect you?" I asked.
"No; not so long as they can prove they are working," she answered. "He
is a bar-tender."
"Saidie, I want you to leave this life," I pleaded. Come with me, dear.
I will treat you as though you were in deed and in truth my own
"Listen, I will even go further; you shall travel with me. I need an
amanuensis and secretary. I am overworked, dear. Say you will, and I
will make all the necessary arrangements."
How I begged her to consent! I wanted to take her then and there, but,
unfortunately, no one I knew would harbor, even temporarily, such a
girl, until I was ready to leave—not one. I could linger no longer
that day, excepting for short earnest prayer, in which she took no
part. We agreed to meet the following day at noon in a certain
restaurant, where we could enjoy privacy. She kept the appointment, but
something—I could only conjecture—something had cooled her ardor. I
apparently made very little headway with the Master's message. She was
silent, obdurate, and she soon left. The next day I followed her up,
only to learn from the scrub-woman that Saidie was intoxicated. Again I
called; for I was to take the next steamer, and felt I must make one
more effort in her behalf. I was told that she had received bad news,
that she was drinking deeper than ever to drown her misery, and that it
would be worse than useless to see her. After returning to San Jose, I
wrote a renewal of my offer, but received no reply. In all probability
poor Saidie, another victim of the dance, now lies in one of the
SAN QUENTIN—WE SECURE A LOVELY PROPERTY.
On or about August 18, 1904, I was in San Francisco. Thence I went to
San Quentin, State's prison, where I was graciously given an
opportunity of addressing over one thousand prisoners and also of
having many individual heart-to-heart talks, the latter a favor which
has been granted me for many years. At this time there was no admission
into the women's quarters; under the new and present administration I
have been allowed this valuable privilege. To see the faces light up
and to hear the hearty expressions from warden, officers, and prisoners
was always well worth a special trip at any time; consequently, I
looked forward with pleasure, though sad at heart, to visiting our
penitentiaries whenever opportunity afforded. Sometimes my efforts
seemed barren of results, but only in eternity may we learn of the good
accomplished through faithful seed-sowing.
On this particular occasion I had requested of Captain Ellis (captain
of the guard) an interview with a young girl, sentenced for two years
(I think) for robbery. Before leaving me, she told me of an old woman,
a life prisoner, who had not seen the outside of the women's quarters
in over twenty years, and asked me if I would not please give her the
next call. Captain Ellis having consented, I was soon shaking hands
with a very neat, white-haired life prisoner. In a few moments she
asked me if I would have any objection to her gazing out of the window
at the beautiful bay and scenery, it having been so very many years
since she had enjoyed that pleasure.
You can never know the impression made on me by this humble request; my
only regret may be readily surmised. How I do praise God that he put it
into the heart and mind of the present matron, Mrs. Genevieve
Gardner-Smith, to appeal to kind-hearted Warden Hoyle and the board of
prison directors for a special concession in behalf of all the
well-behaved women prisoners. She asked for a monthly holiday, to
consist of a two-and-a-half hours' walk within the grounds on God's
beautiful green hills, so that these poor women might briefly feast to
their heart's content on the lovely landscape and view of San
Francisco's unsurpassable bay. A motion being made and passed, one of
the many new and excellent concessions is this one of a Sunday walk on
the hills once a month in charge of the matron, after the male
prisoners are locked in for the day. The first time this occurred, some
of these poor women knelt on mother earth and bathed it with their
tears. Ah! reader, are you not, with me, daily demonstrating the fact,
that only godly wisdom, coupled with love, can win?
[Illustration: BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF SAN QUENTIN]
My visit was all too short. I had to hasten to San Jose, where the
board of Beth-Adriel managers were awaiting my arrival to inspect some
properties. Please, if you can, imagine the welcome home from my dear
Lucy, Anna, and the rest of the family. A warm attachment soon
developed between the new matron, Mother Weatherwax, and me. She held
the matronal office until health no longer permitted. (Our readers will
probably have observed the tendency toward illness on the part of the
workers. In this branch of home missionary work there is a great need
of strong physique and nerves; otherwise there will be frequent
prostration from the constant strain on the system.)
The first joyous greetings over, next in order was inspection of
property. After many trips for this purpose I at last saw a place which
delighted my heart; but—would the owner part with it? It was the one
spoken of previously—the one consisting of ten acres, a commodious
house, etc. Some of the members of the board knew the owner, Mr. R. D.
Norton. We were all in the spirit of prayer whilst they laid the matter
before him. He asked for time to consider, the ultimate result of which
was his decision to sell it for such a purpose. Oh, how we thanked and
praised our kind heavenly Father! The purchase price was
$10,000—$2,000 to be paid by October 9, the remainder on time at six
per cent interest. Above all expenses, there was now in our treasury
$1,300. We gladly agreed to accept the proposed terms and to wait on
the Lord for enough means to make up the deficit.
On October 8 while I, with the other members of the board, was in Judge
Rhode's court negotiating for the mortgage, word was sent over the
telephone that Mrs. Mary Hayes-Chynoweth, now deceased, would like to
have me come to her residence, Edenvale, a most beautiful spot adjacent
to San Jose. There was barely time to make the train, but the Lord was
on my side. It being a few minutes late, I caught it, and was shortly
in earnest conversation with this charitably disposed elderly lady. She
asked me many questions and introduced me to her daughters-in-law, Mrs.
J. O. and Mrs. E. A. Hayes, who listened with marked attention to my
recitals. Presently Mrs. Chynoweth said, "Mrs. Roberts, I am going to
request you to excuse me briefly. I wish to pray with regard to this
matter; my daughters will be pleased to entertain you during my
In about a half hour she called both of them for private conference,
leaving me with some of the grandchildren. Soon I was invited into the
next room. With a smile, this dear lady said, "I feel that God wishes
me to give you $500." Before I had a chance to speak, the Mmes. Hayes
said, "We will add $100 apiece." Reader, I was too happy to reply
immediately; and when I did, I could but poorly express my gratitude,
first to God, then to them.
In answer to prayer we had our $2,000—first payment—according to
agreement. Hallelujah! A $10,000 home for my dear prison friends, in
one year, three months, and six days from the day Lucy and I arrived in
Redwood City, strangers, with two telescope baskets containing all our
earthly possessions, sixty cents, and a little God-given faith.
Hallelujah! Did I regret the past toil, privations, and
disappointments? Never, never; but soon went on my way rejoicing, to
secure future support and payments.
During my absence of little less than one month (for I was to return
for the dedicatory exercises of the new Beth-Adriel, to take place
Tuesday, November 22, 1904) sad news reached me. My poor Lucy was taken
so alarmingly ill as to necessitate her immediate removal to her own
home. Although I have often heard from her, I have never since had the
privilege of meeting her face to face. Her fond dreams of seeing the
beautiful new home she had so greatly aided in procuring, were never,
so far as I know, realized. If she is still living, I hope she may have
the pleasure and satisfaction of reading this book and of knowing how
dearly I loved her and how much I appreciated her every effort. This I
know, that she sufficiently recovered to resume work for the Master;
but on account of the removal of her people, I temporarily lost track
of this trophy for the Master's crown. God forever bless her wherever
The night previous to our removal from the little old home on St. John
Street, I was lying on my couch in the parlor, sleepless for very joy,
and reading God's blessed Word. I happened to look up. On the wall hung
a motto bearing these words:
God has his best for those
Who dare to stand his tests;
His second choice for those
Who will not have his best.
"Lord!" I said, "I want your best."
"My child," came my soul-answer, "It is for you; but there are hard
roads still to travel, hard battles to fight and win, privations,
disappointments, losses, much more. 'Can thine heart endure, or can
thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee?' Ezek.
"Lord, thou knowest," I answered.
Then came a desire to write. I took up tablet and pencil, always ready
to my hand on the little stand by my couch, and spent the rest of the
night writing the verses that you will find in our next chapter.
_Child, did I hear you say you want my best?
With nothing less—will you be satisfied?
You add you'll follow where I choose to lead,
Though all forsake, e'en to be crucified.
You ask you know not what … Well, let it be
As you desire … And now, a little test:
Your social standing I shall first require;
A humble place must bring to you—my best.
It hurts? … Of course it hurts—the snubs, the slights,
From those whose favor you delighted in,
When they were told you'd found "The Priceless Pearl"
And willingly renounced this world for Him.
The step you've taken, they pronounce insane!
Wilt go a little further on this road?…
Your reputation. How you shrink! Too much to pay?
Child, I do only take you, at your word._
_Beloved one, still more I now desire;
Your worldly comforts — e'en your home which you enjoy.
Can't part with them? Step out, my child, and try;
I promise you I'll substitute — my joy.
You do not understand? But soon you shall:
I'm going to trust you in a hard, hard place;
Therefore destruction of your idols I must make,
To help you run —and win- this glorious race.
Come! take your place within these rescue homes,
Where I have brought some priceless gems of earth,
To cleanse, to cut, then polish for my crown:
Your services I need to enhance their worth.
The world has long rejected them with scorn,
These human gems from out the mire and dust;
A lapidary I would make of you,
Whilst I some precious gems with you entrust.
Your patience and forbearance will be taxed
Beyond endurance! And you've none, you say.
Then I must teach these lessons to you, child;
You promised to go with me all the way._
The trials are too great! Nay, say not so.
Privations too! and disappointments sore!
And just as the gem begins to scintillate,
My search-light doth disclose some dreadful flaw.
And you must start anew the task again….
Cheer up, dear child. I never will forsake.
Come, dry those tears and rest a while with me.
I soon will rectify your very sad mistake.
Think not you are the only one who fails,
For all have failed. Not all have tried again;
Thus have they missed my best, for which they prayed.
Courage. Be brave. The attempt was not in vain.
Now then, that gem with such a dreadful flaw,
Bring it to me…. Ah yes! I now will prove
Too soon the surface you did undertake
To polish—e'er the ugly flaw's removed.
Plunge it anew into the precious blood of Jesus,
Thus anew—the work's begun….
You're wining? My beloved, obedient child,
Not many live the prayer, "Thy will be done."
I'm going to prove this precious gem by fire;
'Tis next in order. This, to consume the dross.
It's size will be reduced. Nay, do not fear;
Perfect and flawless gems must suffer loss.
For further process, see these varied wheels
For grinding, till the blemished spot we reach.
Not too much haste! Be careful. Watch and pray;
Soon then you'll learn each lesson as I teach.
You wish to know the names of all these wheels?
These two are Joy and Peace, and this, Long-suffering.
This one is Gentleness, then Goodness next.
Now to the front the wheel of Faith I bring.
And are these all? Not quite. The Meekness wheel
So gently polishes. Then Temperance comes in
To aid in handling gems with special care:
Thus give the final touch of polishing.
(The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. Gal. 5:22-26.)
You ask what motive power propels these wheels.
Dear child, your teacher is the God above.
He tells you. Surely you have learned his name;
His motive power is Love, and only Love,
Press on, press on. The secret now you know;
The willing, the obedient stand the test.
Supported by my love, your eye on me,
Surely I have—for you—my very best.
DEDICATION OF BETH-ADRIEL.
We now busied ourselves putting our new home in order. It was a
blessed, blessed day, that day on which the dedicatory exercises took
place (Nov. 22, 1904). They were participated in by an immense
gathering of representative men and women, and account of which you
may, if you so desire, read in the San Jose and San Francisco dailies
of that evening and succeeding morning. Amongst others who delivered
addresses was my now personal friend, Mrs. Mary Hayes-Chynoweth, the
report of whose speech it gives me pleasure to quote:
She expressed her thankfulness at being present and seeing so many
interested in a line in which she had been working over fifty years.
She emphasized the necessity of having the spiritual life of God in the
heart to live a Christ-like life. She spoke trenchantly of the need of
purity, not only on the part of young girls, but young men and old men,
too. She bespoke the help of all for those engaged in this work.
Young men need much attention, too. If they had more, there would be
less need to work for women. If the heart is pure, no temptation
outside can have the power to overcome. If every man were in that
condition, there would be no temptation for girls. Let all work
together, men and women, nor one think or claim to be better than the
The pastors of all the denominations were present, some making brief
addresses, and a most excellent program was enjoyed by all.
For some time my work, with the exception of taking an occasional trip
after some dear child, lay in the immediate suburban towns, or in San
Jose proper, so that I was able to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and
New-Year with our now large family. In February, 1905, I again started
out on a protracted trip, through central California, making brief
stops to address audiences in Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Mateo, and,
before going further, Redwood City. There was no trouble now to obtain
a church in the latter town in which to plead the cause so dear to my
heart. The only trouble was that the building could not admit the
overflow of people. Thence I went to San Francisco. There I was warmly
received by dear Sister Kauffman, whose hospitality I accepted whilst I
was filling church engagements and visiting once more the county jail
No. 3. Numberless were the questions propounded by the inmates. Many
had gone, but alas! many more had filled their places. The work
promised to be endless.
It was early in May when I returned to San Jose. No sooner had I
arrived than the chief of police telephoned me to come to his office at
my earliest convenience. This was by no means uncommon. Frequently
Chief Carroll had some one whom he preferred should have the benefits
of Beth-Adriel rather than be sentenced to a term in jail.
I hurried to town and was soon in conference with him concerning a
young woman that had arrived in San Jose that morning with a youth, who
was caught in the act of trying to secure lodging for her in a
disreputable house. Evidently it was her first incarceration behind
iron bars. When we approached her cell, we could hear her screaming and
crying with both fear and distress. Upon seeing me, she ceased
temporarily. I put my arm about her in tender pity and tried to say
words of comfort. The Chief had informed me that she had applied to the
health officer for medicine as soon as placed in a cell, her physical
condition being by no means good, in consequence of the sinful life she
had been living. I prevailed upon him to have her committed to
Beth-Adriel, where she was taken late that afternoon.
At the time we had a new matron, of whom I had heard through
correspondence with the board, but had only just met. My impression of
her was by no means satisfactory, nor was I wrong in my estimate, for
she telephoned to my lodgings to say that, on account of this poor
girl's physical condition, I should have to remove her immediately.
On receiving this word, I made application and obtained a pass from one
of the supervisors for her admission into the county hospital, and then
went to Beth-Adriel to convey her thither. Poor, poor child! That
matron had barely allowed her to sleep under the roof, and at daylight
had ordered her out on to the back porch and there had given her her
breakfast in discarded dishes. In fact, the matron treated her as
though she had leprosy or smallpox. By the grace of God I kept silence,
but resolved what should be done when the board convened the following
I left Martie at the hospital, only to receive word before the day was
over that I had made another mistake, that they did not take cases like
hers. "What is a county hospital for?" I inquired of the one who was
talking to me over the telephone. Answer: "Mrs. Roberts, were we to
take in those kind of cases [venereal] there wouldn't be a building in
California large enough to receive them. We're sorry, but she must be
removed from here." However, as it was late, they isolated her for me
until the morning. In the meanwhile I again conferred with the chief of
police, and also I received a severe reproof from the supervisor for
not informing him of the nature of poor Martie's complaint.
Upon our discovering that she came from Oakland, Alameda County, I was
requested to remove her early the following morning to that place. Poor
wronged child! She was perfectly pliant in my hands. I felt as though I
could not be tender enough. On the train she told me her story.
Her father and another man were hung by a vigilance committee in
northern California for highway robbery and murder. The shock and
horror of this cost her mother her life. Martie was an orphan as soon
as she came into the world. Her grandmother cared for her two years,
and then she died. On her death the baby was placed in the Salvation
Army home for homeless children at Beulah. At the age-limit (fourteen)
she was hired out as domestic for a lady about to become a mother, who,
as soon as able again to resume her household duties, discharged the
girl. Then Martie began to drift. No one really cared for the poor
wronged child. For about a year she procured one temporary situation
after another in inferior places, visited cheap vaudeville shows and
dances, and made the acquaintance of undesirable people, amongst whom
was the young man now awaiting trial for vagrancy in San Jose.
Upon reaching Oakland, I at once repaired with my charge to the office
of the chief of police. He referred me to the mayor, who, in turn,
referred me to the supervisors. Not knowing any of the latter, I threw
myself on the kind mercies of the chief, who, after much difficulty,
succeeded in locating one; and late in the afternoon I procured a pass
for Martie into a certain ward of the county infirmary of Alameda
Rest assured I did my utmost in the short while at my command to convey
the Master's message of love and pardon for her and "whosoever will";
promised to write, also soon to visit her; and then, my heart heavily
weighted, bade the poor, wronged girl farewell. It was indeed and in
truth farewell. I never again laid eyes on her, for she disappeared
within two days, and not until I read two years ago of her death by
carbolic acid, did I learn the ultimate fate of this another victim of
pre- and post-natal conditions.
In consequence of this and other similar cases that were being refused
the home, I realized that we must have a sanitarium on our grounds as
soon as the bulk of the debt had been wiped out.
On returning, I had a heated discussion with our board, only succeeding
in gaining the reputation of being rather ill-tempered and hard to
please. But oh! dear reader, I was not. I was only zealous, so zealous
for the cause. God knows. Nevertheless, I refused to work until they
promised to be on the lookout for a more efficient matron;
consequently, the next time I met with them, an elderly couple, husband
and wife, were in charge. I perceived, however, that the work was
drifting from its original purposes and fast becoming that for which it
was not incorporated—a maternity home. This tendency was hardly
perceptible at first, but ere-long I discovered to my keen sorrow that
apparently much of my labor had been in vain. What to do or what course
to take I did not know. I prayed earnestly and continued to work,
though with less fervor than at the first. How could I? During my
absence such new rules and regulations were being adopted as made it no
easy matter for any needy girl to become an inmate of Beth-Adriel.
Feeling, after constant prayer, that my loving Lord would have me
exercise patience and forbearance until the annual board meeting in
January (it was now November). I refrained from further interference or
discussion, and again put a distance between them and me, though I kept
in constant communication with several of the family.
THE JUVENILE COURT COMMISSION—HENRY.
Whilst I was in one of the Coast towns, the mail one day brought me the
following notification, which, rest assured, was at the time as the
"balm of Gilead," leading me to believe that God, who never makes any
mistakes, was going to take me into more definite work for the
Office of County Clerk, Santa Clara County, California. San Jose, Dec.
Mrs. Florence Roberts, San Jose, Cal.
Dear Madam: You will please take notice that pursuant to an order made
this 13th day of December, 1905, by the Honorable M. H. Hyland, Judge
of the Superior Court, in and for the county of Santa Clara, State of
California, in Dep't 2 thereof and duly entered into the minutes of
said Court, that you have been appointed a member of the Probation
Committee of the Juvenile Court, and you are hereby directed to appear
in said Court on Monday, December 18, at 10 o'clock, A M. Very
respectfully, Henry A. Pfister, Clerk. By J. C. Kennedy, Deputy.
This changed the nature of my plans, though at first not interfering to
any great extent with the work already in hand.
As never before I began to get insight concerning the disadvantages
under which many a wronged child was, and is laboring, and oh! how I
thank and bless God that there is now protection and help for many
through the officers and the instrumentality of the Juvenile Courts.
This subject, however, will furnish material for another book;
therefore it will be but lightly touched upon at this time, for I want
to have you again visit with me San Quentin and on this occasion become
acquainted with Henry. I first heard of him through Captain Randolph,
captain of the yard, and next through Captain Sullivan; then I obtained
permission from Captain Ellis to interview this young man.
He was sentenced from ——- County to serve twenty-five years for
homicide. Over seven years had now expired, and seven, I assure you,
seems like twenty-seven, even more, to every one of these poor
prisoners. He was a very bright young man, aged about twenty-five
years, and he had the record of never having yet lost a single credit
since his incarceration. I listened with intense interest whilst he
told me this:
"I don't suppose I differed much from other boys in my school days, was
just as full of fun and mischief as any of them, but there was no real
harm in me that I knew of. My father is a miner, a prospector, always
on the lookout for, and locating, claims. Mother was always a
hardworking little woman, and raised a large family. We had a neighbor
who didn't like us, neither did he like my dog, which, just as any dog
will, intruded on his premises once too often; so he shot and killed
him, remarking with an oath as he did so, that there'd be more than one
dead dog if we didn't make ourselves scarce—anyhow, words to that
effect. The killing of my pet made me very mad. I am, unfortunately,
very quick tempered, though I soon cooled down. I felt as thought I
could have killed him then and there for his dirty meanness, but pretty
soon father and mother succeeded in quieting me.
"We had no more trouble or communication with these neighbors for some
time; then one day, when I was playing ball with some of the neighbor
boys with some potatoes, he happened to pass and one of the potatoes
struck him. It didn't hurt him a bit, but he ripped out an awful oath
at me, and called me and my mother by a name that no man with a spark
of spunk in him would stand for a minute. He threatened me at the same
time. I hurried home, changed my clothes, and told my father I was
going over to the county seat (near by) to have him bound over to keep
the peace, as I was afraid he would carry out his threat. Before I left
the house I took down father's gun. 'Henry, what are you doing? You put
that gun right back where you got it,' he said. 'I'll not do it,' I
replied. 'He's threatened to kill me. I'll need it for protection,' and
on I walked, too quickly for him to overtake me.
"As I was passing ——'s warehouse on the county road, this neighbor
walked into it out of his yard, and just as I came opposite the door he
stuck his head out and put his hand into his hip pocket. Before he got
a chance to shoot, I had shot him through the fleshy part of his right
hip. He lived several days. I feel sure he needn't have died, if given
"I laid a long time in jail before the trial. My people were too poor
to get me all the defense I needed. Unfortunately, my lawyer, though a
brilliant man, was a drunkard. Father impoverished the whole family to
raise money to clear me, all to no effect. I am here for twenty-five
years, when I ought to be out trying to help make them comfortable in
their old age. I hear they are very, very poor. Oh, how I wish I could
He told me where they lived, and I resolved, God willing, to take a
trip, in the interests of Beth-Adriel, in that direction, and told him
I would try to see them, though making no promises toward aiding him in
gaining his freedom, for as yet I had only his word as to the truth of
It was a whole day's journey, and, being very tired on reaching my
destination, I did not look them up until morning. I can yet see that
very clean, poverty-stricken room. I sat on the only chair it
contained, the little mother sat on the bed, the father on an old
trunk. The father hadn't "struck it rich" yet. Prospectors are always
hopeful, sometimes realizing their hopes, but not often. The mother,
whenever able, worked in the fruit. In some way they managed to eke out
a bare but honest living. They could not have been much poorer.
We discussed Henry's case pro and con. Evidently he had not overdrawn
the truth. Before the day was over we were in consultation with a
friendly disposed attorney, who drew up petition papers. Before these
were out of the printer's hands, I had held conferences with several
people and clergymen, and had also made engagements in the interest of
Beth-Adriel. The Lord was touching hearts and money was being added to
its treasury. Soon I was doing double duty, aided by Henry's father. He
went on his bicycle from place to place in the county where this
homicide had been committed, whilst I took the stage or the train as
the case might require, speaking in his behalf as well as securing
funds for the home. Finally we reached the county seat. There I learned
from many—even officials—that Henry's sentence was unjust; but,
owing to their political positions, I could obtain very few of their
signatures. The judge who had sentenced Henry told me that he could not
sign, he being then the attorney for the widow of the dead man.
A very severe cold, threatening me with pneumonia caused me to leave
hurriedly for home, where for several days I was well-nigh prostrate.
There were many earnest prayers for my speedy recovery. These the dear
Lord heard and answered, so that before long the work so suddenly laid
down was, through his loving kindness and grace, resumed.
Henry's father sent by express the package of signatures he had
procured, and I felt the witness of the Spirit that we now had
sufficient. The next move, as I thought, was to present them at
Sacramento to the Governor. He received me most kindly, talked at
length on rescue work, Henry's case and other cases, etc., but informed
me that he would have no jurisdiction to act until the matter had been
duly presented after receiving the written approval of the board of
prison directors. At their next monthly meeting I was present; but,
owing to stress of other matters, Henry's case could not at this time
command their attention, nor for three successive meetings. Then
occurred an adjournment until July. Henry wrote that he could not
conscientiously ask me to come again, but the still, small voice bade
me try once more. Oh, praise the dear Lord for answering many prayers
in his behalf! Henry was granted his parole. The news was telephoned to
me early in the morning. I hurried down to Captain Ellis' office to
offer Henry my congratulations, but, above all, to direct his mind
toward the Author of his freedom. What a blessed opportunity to honor
the Master! and he promised to try to serve him thereafter.
Then he whispered something to the Captain, who replied, "Certainly,
you have my permission." Excusing himself, he hurried into the inner
yard. Presently he returned with an oblong box. Handing it to me, he
said: "Mother Roberts, I have long observed that your little autoharp
was wearing out. This one, my companion in my lonely hours, must now
take its place. I know the use you will make of it. I wish, how I wish,
you might be able to appreciate with what pleasure I make this slight
token of my eternal gratitude!"
I had not dreamed of my prayer for a new instrument being answered in
this manner, I having never learned that Henry was musical or possessed
any such thing. It was a much finer one than mine. Had I been presented
with a gold mine, I could not have felt better pleased. From that day
to this autoharp, No. 2, and I have been inseparable.
But I must proceed. Before taking up other matters, I will add this:
Henry made good for two years, received pardon from Governor Gillett,
married his faithful little sweetheart, and named his first little
daughter after me. A few days ago I received a letter telling of the
birth of another little daughter. He took up a claim, and he is now
farming his own homestead.
Many were, and no doubt still are, his trials and temptations. Not
always was there victory, but I am sure as he reads this that the tears
will come. He will probably retire to some quiet spot, fall on his
knees in gratitude to God, who pardons our sins even though they be
"red like crimson," and then ask him to guide him in the way he should
go and to help him to bring up his dear little family in the fear and
admonition of the Lord. May God forever bless Henry, his faithful
companion, and his dear children, is my earnest prayer.
THE ANNUAL BOARD MEETING—DOLLIE'S STORY.
I believe the spirit of prayer rested mightily on every one of us
present at that very important business meeting, yet I doubt if any
member realized its vital importance more than I myself. Like David of
old, I inquired of the Lord as to whether to continue with them or
start anew? The token asked was a unanimous reelection to the office he
had called me to fill. It was by ballot, and was unanimous. I was
satisfied, and for another year cheerfully continued to fill the office
of field secretary and evangelist.
I now visited Sonoma, Mendocino, and other counties in that locality. A
kindly reception awaited me everywhere, and no wonder—I petitioned the
Lord to go before me. He answers such a petition out of Isa. 45:2: "I
will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break
in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron."
One day whilst I was making calls amongst the unfortunate, I was met at
a certain door by a neat, intelligent-looking young woman, attired as
though for a journey. A glance through the open doorway revealed the
presence of three others; they, however, were in house dress peculiar
to their mode of existence. One of these spoke, "O Dollie, invite the
lady in. It's going to be lonesome without you." She, none too
graciously, extended the invitation. If I had any pride left, I stifled
it for the sake of these poor lost souls, sitting around in their
tawdry finery, smoking cigarettes. My heart went out in tender pity for
them as I attempted to introduce our loving Savior.
"Hold on," said Dollie, at the same time looking at a beautiful gold
watch on her breast, "I think I will have time before the train comes
[the depot was but a block away] to tell you my story….
"When I was fourteen years old, I had the misfortune to lose my dear
mother, who died in childbirth. Father was a very hard-working man, a
mechanic. He broke up housekeeping for two reasons: First, because
mother had been very indulgent, so that I didn't know the first thing
about domestic duties, so wouldn't have been able to even get him a
decent breakfast. Next, because everything spoke to him of mother, whom
he fairly idolized. I used to see him evenings when he came home from
work to the place where we boarded. Seldom in the mornings. Guess I was
too lazy to get up in time for anything but a hasty breakfast, then
hurry off to school.
[Illustration: "EVERYBODY HELPED GREASE THE HILL I WAS SLIDING DOWN. I
SOON REACHED THE BOTTOM"]
"We used to have Friday evening dances in our neighborhood, which I
attended with my classmates. My but I loved to dance! It got so that
Friday evening wasn't enough, so many a time found me with some of them
at a hall down-town enjoying the public dance. The school-dance was
always private. It didn't take long for some one to turn my silly head
and make me believe he was dead in love with me. What did a little
fifteen-year-old fool like me know, with no mother to teach her, and no
woman to take a real interest? That wretch could fill me with, and make
me believe, the biggest lies you ever imagined, and I drank it all in
as though it were gospel truth. To this day I sometimes wonder if all
men are liars.
"I'm not going to mince matters. I fell; and pretty soon everybody was
helping to grease the hill I was sliding down. In consequence, I soon
reached the bottom."
"Some one told father; but I denied everything, yet I was so afraid he
would make the statements be proven, that in my fright I ran away, and
I have never seen him since. He's dead now. Poor father! I expert that,
with his other sorrows, this trouble finished him.
"Two years later found me in just such a place as you have discovered
me today. One afternoon, a sweet-faced Salvation Army lassie called.
She talked as only you people can talk. I was but seventeen, still
tender-hearted (wish I was yet); so it was not difficult to yield to
her earnest persuasions to kneel beside her while she prayed. There was
another girl in the room at the time, but she had a caller, so got up
and went out. I learnt my first prayer from that Salvation Army girl.
It was 'Our Father.' I used to see it framed on a wall in a house where
my mother visited, but never did I understand it till that day. Then
she asked me to talk to God in my own way. I felt sorry for what I'd
done, and the life I was leading, and said so; so when she explained
how God would forgive me, I believed her and told her I'd quit if she'd
take me away, and she did. I left with her about dusk. She took me to
her lodgings and for several days I shared her bed and board, until she
got me a situation to do light housework at fifteen dollars a month.
Light indeed! It was the heaviest, washing included; but I did as she
suggested—prayed to God to help me as I worked, and he did. They were
Jewish people and so did their own cooking; otherwise I couldn't have
kept my job.
"Never shall I forget the joy of receiving my first month's wages. As I
looked at that little sum in my calloused hand, I said, 'Dollie, it's
the first honest money you ever earned; doesn't it make you feel good?'
"Before long my Salvation Army friend was called away to another field
of labor. I promised to write to her, and to this day I am sorry that
through my own carelessness I lost track of her. But I always did hate
to write letters, so it's all my own fault.
"A girl told me of a nice place out near Golden Gate Park; only two in
family, and twenty-five dollars a month. I called on the lady and she
hired me. My but she had a dainty flat! One peculiarity I couldn't help
noticing. She was always afraid some one was deceiving or going to
deceive her, and would often make the remark, 'No one ever gets the
second chance with me, no indeed.' And I used to say to myself, 'I
wonder what she would do if she found out who Dollie was?' She was a
Christian. No, I'll take that back. She called herself one, and was the
secretary of the ladies' aid of her church. Sometimes we had teas for
them, and then she would take them all over the house and brag on my
work and me. I knew how to cook pretty well by this time. She taught
me. There was nothing I did not do to try and please her.
"One day I heard the hall door bang. Some one was coming up-stairs in a
great hurry. Next she threw open the kitchen door, and I shall never
forget the ugly face of her as she said, while I ran in my bedroom with
fright and shut the door, 'Dollie! I want you to pack right up and
leave this house, you —— ——! How dare you impose yourself on me?'
Oh! I ran and groveled at her feet; I begged; I cried; I besought her
not to turn me away. I told her that I had repented and that God had
forgiven my sins and that if she was a Christian she'd help me. That
only seemed to make her madder than ever. 'Pack up your things and get
out. Here's your money. I won't put up with deceit from any one.'
"I went into my room, and in my rage and despair tore my clothes off
the hooks, emptied the bureau drawers, jammed everything any which way
into my trunk, and in my anger went out, called the nearest express
man, ordered my baggage to my old address, where the Salvation Army
lassie first found me, told all the girls down the row what the
Christians were like, and then plunged deeper than ever into a life of
sin. My heart, once so tender, is hardened forever. Save your tears
for some one who is worthy. You can never touch me. I wish to God you
could. I must go; but you're welcome to remain and talk to the others,
if you think it will do any good. Good-by, lady. Good-by, girls. I'll
be back in less than a week"—and she was gone; but oh! could I, could
these girls, ever get over this recital and its impression.
As soon as I could find my voice, I begged, implored them, not to let
that story further influence them on the downward course. I pictured
the judgment-day with that woman who turned Dollie away being
interrogated by the King of kings, and the terrible doom awaiting all
who did not repent and forsake sin; but, apparently making no
impression, I soon left, unable to proceed further with the work that
day because of the great burden with which this poor girl's story had
I lay on my bed shortly afterwards, meditating upon the probable
results had this mistress been loyal to her Lord, whom she professed to
love and follow. I tried to picture her as saying:
"Dollie, a distressing story has reached me. It concerns your former
life, but I know you must have repented, or you would not be doing
hard, honest work for your living. Surely there are many you know and
would like to help lead better lives. It is in my heart to assist them,
Dollie. Let us together look some of them up. I realize that few,
comparatively speaking, attempt this line of work. They think it is too
humiliating, degrading, demoralizing, but it is what our Savior did
whilst on earth, and I have vowed to follow him."
What think you, dear reader, would have been the outcome? How many
trophies for the Savior's crown would have been hers? How many outcasts
would have been turned from the error of their ways, and, having found
their Redeemer, would have instructed their former companions in sin?
It may never be revealed how many souls were lost through this
professed Christian's shameful unfaithfulness.
Christ, when teaching occasion to avoid offense, uttered these words:
"It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him through
whom they come. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged
about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend
one of these little ones." Luke 17:1, 2
Have you, my reader, helped "grease the hill" that "one of these little
ones" was sliding down, so that she soon reached the bottom? or are you
helping and cheering them on the upward way until they reach the goal?
May God help and bless.
LOST SHEEP—THE EX-PRISONER'S HOME—HOSPITAL SCENES.
Who does not love that beautiful, most pathetic song entitled "The
Ninety and Nine"? but how many have literally helped to emulate the
Great Shepherd's example? Methinks I hear now, as I often have heard,
great throngs singing:
It may not be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle front,
My Lord will have need of me,
But if by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know.
I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine,
"I'll go where you want me to go"
Our Lord takes every one of us at our word, whether we are singing it,
praying it, or testifying to it. He does, indeed. He takes us at our
word. How many of us make excuses? Because of this, how many souls are
going to be lost? Oh! the pity of it, the everlasting pity of it!…
In my possession are several photos. Most of them have been handed to
me by the weeping mothers of lost, stray lambs; some have come through
the mail; all contain the one cry: "Dear Mother Roberts, … Won't you
please try to find my poor little girl? She may be in prison, or in the
slums, or perhaps sick and dying in some hospital." And then follows a
minute description of every feature, height, weight, peculiarities of
character, etc. Many times the parents admit their own weak traits and
failures. Poor, poor mothers! poor fathers! Not very often do we find
them for you, sometimes where we would rather not; but you said that,
no matter what their condition, I should tell them that you still loved
them and that you would gladly welcome them home. We've found them
sometimes when too far gone ever to come back to their earthly home,
and but just barely in time to be rescued from eternal ruin.
Not always is the wanderer a girl, either. Sometimes a broken-hearted
parent is looking for a lost boy, and solicits our help. I've met a few
of them in the penitentiary, who have all but sworn me to secrecy.
"I'll be out soon," they've said. "No need to grieve the old folks at
home by letting them know I've been in trouble."
"But, my boy," I've replied, "how are you going to account for your
long absence and explain where you have been?"
"I'll fix it some way. Say I've been traveling or off in the mines.
Anyhow, I'll fix it so they shan't find out."
"But don't you know, dear boy, you are going to live in constant dread
if you do that? The Bible says, 'Be sure your sins will find you out,'
and also that 'nothing that maketh a lie shall enter the kingdom of
heaven,' I can not write a lie to your parents, and they've written to
me, asking me to try to find you. Besides, you'll need money to take
you home. It is not so easy as you think to step out of here and obtain
immediate employment. Even if you do, some one will be constantly
crossing your path and demanding you to pay him 'hush money' to keep
his mouth shut."
Then I have recommended them to the care of Mr. Charles Montgomery,
president of the board of prison commissioners, who, through great
self-denial, toil, and energy, succeeded in establishing, little more
than two years ago, a beautiful home and mission for discharged
prisoners. It is located in San Francisco. To it they may go and be
well provided for until employment is procured for them. Truly this is
a most blessed work for the Master. This home is the outcome of a plan
long cherished by Brother Montgomery, who for nearly fifty years has
labored for the reformation and welfare of convicts and ex-convicts. It
is now situated at 110 Silver Street, near Third Street, and is well
worth a visit from those who have the interest of these men at heart.
It was opened June 9, 1909, and it has been doing an immense amount of
good, helping many a discharged prisoner to be once more a desirable
citizen and a man of honor. I would also add that it is a work of
* * * * *
Will you come with me to one of our county hospitals this afternoon?
Soon we are kindly greeted by the matron, and almost the next words she
utters after welcoming us are: "I'm especially glad to see you today,
Mother Roberts, because in Ward X a girl who is dying has been asking
if I knew where you were. You're none too soon. She can't last much
longer, poor thing!" and she leads us to the bedside of the dying girl.
I recognize her as Ruby ——, with whom I have more than once earnestly
pleaded to forsake the wretched life she was living, warning her of the
ultimate results of such a course. How changed she is as she lies there
scarcely breathing! She opens her dying eyes at the sound of our
footsteps. "Ruby dear, do you know me?" A barely perceptible nod. "I'm
so glad Jesus sent us to you today, dear child. Won't you take him for
your Savior right now?" In as few words as possible she is told of the
dying thief on the cross. As she can not speak, we ask her to pray with
her mind, whilst we kneel with her hand in ours, calling on Jesus for
mercy, for pardon in this the "eleventh hour." The tears which she is
too weak to wipe away are wetting her pillow, but we observe a look of
peace stealing over her countenance. Soon we leave, believing that some
day we shall meet her among that great throng of the blood-washed.
Following a mothers' meeting one day in a Northern town a
care-worn-looking woman invited me home with her. Here she related
another heartrending story of a lost girl, an only child, for whom she
had toiled day and night at the wash-tub, so as to send her to school
dressed as finely as the other girls. "I have had to work very hard as
long as I can remember," the poor mother said, "and when I married, I
made up my mind that if I ever had a daughter I would not teach her
domestic duties, for fear she also would have to be a drudge all of her
life." So she raised a lady (?). The girl grew to be very independent
and disrespectful to her breadwinner, her mother, who was a deserted
wife. At the age of sixteen Elsie, without even a note of farewell,
left her comfortable little home and heart-broken mother, never to
return. She had intimated her going, but the mother had attached no
importance to these remarks, but she recalled them after her daughter's
departure. Furthermore, Elsie carried away nearly every dollar of her
mother's meager, hard-earned savings.
After a long look at a photograph I perceived that, because of a
peculiar mark on the cheek, not removed by the retoucher, perhaps
overlooked, I could readily recognize Elsie. Therefore, when visiting
the slums, jails, and hospitals I kept a lookout for her as well as for
others, and also notified some coworkers.
One day whilst visiting the old city and county hospital (where Mary's
baby was born), I passed a cot where lay an apparently old woman; she
looked to be fifty and appeared to be in the last stages of some
dreadful form of tuberculosis. That identical mark was on her cheek,
but surely this could not be twenty-three-year-old Elsie. Surely not.
So I passed on to the next cot. The impression to return to the former
one was so strong that it was acted upon. Stepping over to her, I
softly said, "Don't be frightened, dear, but is your name Elsie?" The
next moment I was quickly calling the nurse, for I feared the shock had
killed the woman. The nurse came and administered some restorative and
then advised me not to excite the patient further, for she was dying;
but the girl had sufficiently recovered to be able to ask questions.
"Who told you?" she whispered.
[Illustration: POOR ELSIE]
"It won't hurt you if I tell you?" I asked.
"Elsie, it was your dear mother, who has never ceased to love you and
to look for you all these years, and has kept the home so pretty and
comfortable, waiting for you to come back."
"Where is mother? Don't, oh! don't tell me she is here."
"No, dear, she is at home. It is nearly a year since she asked me to
try to find you."
"Elsie do you love Jesus?" I continued. "Have you asked him to forgive
"It's too late, I've been too bad."
"We have all sinned, Elsie. 'All have come short of the glory of God.'
May I pray for you?"
"Yes, if you think he'll hear."
After my prayer she offered one—so short but oh! so contrite, so very,
I called again the next day. She could barely speak even in a whisper,
but she managed to let me know that she had had a beautiful dream and
that after her death I was to write her mother that Elsie's last words
to me were, "Tell mother I'll meet her in heaven," but not to let her
know when and where her daughter died. She passed away that night. The
letter to the mother was very brief, and no address given, so that
there was no opportunity of subsequent correspondence. Three months
later news came to me that the poor, loving, well-meaning, though
mistaken mother had gone to join her dearly loved, lost and found Elsie
in that "land that is fairer than day."
A WONDERFUL LEADING—HOW GIRLS ARE LURED TO THE DANCE-HALLS.
Early in March, 1906, I returned to a board meeting at Beth-Adriel,
following which I began speculating as to my next move, for as yet I
had no direct leadings. Before retiring I prayed earnestly to know the
mind of the Spirit. It was in the neighborhood of 2 A.M. when I
awakened with the impression to "Go to B—-." As I knew it would be an
expensive trip, I decided to ask the ticket-agent whether he would
grant a stop-over privilege on my half-rate ticket. Learning that he
would, I decided to take every advantage of this and eventually, say
within six weeks, to reach B—-. That afternoon, whilst on the train, I
suddenly remembered that I had ordered my trunk checked to B—-, and
again I felt that strong impression to go right through. So when the
conductor called for tickets, I forfeited all stop-over privileges.
I arrived there about 2 A.M., and at once went to the leading hotel.
About ten o'clock the following morning I was asking the gentlemanly
clerk a question similar to the one I had asked the Redwood City
depot-agent. It quite disconcerted him for a moment; but, upon learning
my object, he referred me to a Salvation Army woman, whom I immediately
looked up and fortunately found at home. She was pleased to receive one
on such an errand, and agreed to accompany me to the dance-hall and
slum district that night.
My next errand was room-hunting. Very seldom do I remain more than one
night in a hotel in a strange town, for almost invariably many doors
are soon opened to the non-salaried workers in the Master's vineyard.
Then the next thing is to walk around in order to get my bearings and
familiarize myself with the town, the churches, the press, the pastors,
etc As soon as possible I call upon the pastors and make engagements to
fill pulpits. This privilege, however, is granted only after the
ministers have, to their satisfaction, examined my credentials and
At seven o'clock that evening I was again with Mrs. Wilson, now attired
in her regulation uniform, and at half-past eight we stood in one of
the popular dance-halls. Here dancing, drinking, smoking, and gambling
were being indulged in by black, white, tan, and mulatto of both sexes.
Barring a few exceptions, I have never seen such an array of the
inferior type of nationalities. The place was crowded; for this was
Saturday night and also St. Patrick's Day.
[Illustration: SCENE IN A DANCE HALL]
While Mrs. Wilson was at the bar asking if I might sing and speak, a
slender, fair-haired girl suddenly seized my left hand and quickly
whispered: "Lady, we are trapped. Quick! your number. Where do you
live? Act as though you weren't speaking to me. The proprietor may be
watching. I'll be there at ten in the morning." I immediately gave my
street and number, and she skipped away, just as Mrs. Wilson returned
to tell me that she had not succeeded. This refusal was only what we
had expected. After distributing a few tracts we were requested to
desist; so we concluded to go elsewhere. That sight was sickening.
And that refined-looking girl—who was she? What did she mean? We shall
Other places which we visited that night were equally as bad, in fact,
indescribably so, and they were numerous. However, we did what we
could; but only once could I make use of the autoharp, and then only to
sing to the poor souls coming out of the first dance-hall, for we held
a brief street-meeting. I observed that not one girl or woman put her
head out of the door; afterwards I learned that a fine of $2.50 was
imposed for every offense of this nature between the hours of 7:30 P.
M. and 3:30 A.M.
Upon returning from my breakfast the following morning, I was informed
by my landlady that two young women were awaiting my return. After the
greeting both commenced to talk so excitedly that I requested one to be
the spokesman for the other. They appeared to be nearly of an age,
about sixteen and seventeen, and were sisters. As nearly as I can
remember, this was their story:
"We were attending high school several miles from our home. When we
returned home at the time of the spring term, we learned that father's
crops had failed and that mother was almost disabled from rheumatism.
What little reserve fund they had was almost used up for medicines and
necessities; so after a discussion of the matter they agreed to let us
go to the city (San Francisco) to work, provided we should promise not
to separate. This would leave our fourteen-year-old sister to help
mother, and the two boys to assist father.
"A few days later we, alter kneeling in prayer with our mother, started
on our journey. In a few hours we were asking the matron at the Oakland
ferry-depot for a respectable lodging-house. She directed us, and from
there we obtained situations as waitresses in a first-class private
hotel on Bush Street, where we remained and gave satisfaction for some
time; but one afternoon we were foolish enough to yield to the
persuasions of some of our girl companions to take a car ride to the
Park and Cliff House. I suppose we were enjoying ourselves so much that
we did not realize how quickly the time was slipping away until some
one remarked, "O girls, look at the clock!" It was within fifteen
minutes of the hour when dinner must be served. We all ran for our car.
When we arrived at the hotel, the landlady had put a new crew in our
places. She would listen to no excuses, but told all four of us to go
to the office for what wages were due us. Ours wasn't much, for we had
been sending most of it home right along; so we were soon reduced to
our last dollar.
"One of the girls who had worked with us told us to go to a certain
employment agency (situated then on Ellis Street). The man behind the
counter seemed to have lots of situations, but only one where we could
work together, and as neither one of us knew how to cook, we couldn't
take it. It was for cook and second girl in a private family. 'Hold
on,' he said, as we were about to leave and try some other agency;
'would you be willing to leave town? If so, I have a nice place for two
waitresses in a resort patronized by none but the best people of the
neighborhood.' We told him we couldn't afford to take it unless some
one would advance our office fees and our fares. 'I'll see to that,' he
replied. 'Can you be ready to leave right away?' There was nothing to
prevent, as our trunks were packed with the expectation of obtaining
immediate employment; so all we had to do was to go quickly to our room
with an expressman, then take a car to the depot, where the agent would
meet us, check our trunks, put us aboard our train, and leave us, with
our tickets, bound for B——.
"My! how we did hurry through! The girls who roomed with us had gone
out; so as our weekly rent was paid in advance, we didn't see even the
landlady when we left our lodgings. We reached the Oakland Mole, took
our train, and after a long day's journey arrived at our destination in
the early morning hours. We were met by some woman, who brought us in a
hack to the place where my sister spoke to you last night—only she did
not take us into the dance-hall, but somewhere up-stairs, into a
comfortable bedroom. In a few minutes she came with a nice meal on a
tray, told us to eat, to put the tray outside the door after we had
finished eating, and then to go to bed and sleep as long as we wanted
to, as she knew we were tired; then she left us.
"It seemed to be pretty noisy in the neighborhood, but we were too
weary to care, so were soon asleep. When we went to leave that room in
the morning, we found we were locked in. Sister hammered on the door,
and soon the woman came. She told us she had done it to keep the other
lodgers from disturbing us; but before evening we knew that something
was wrong, for she never lost sight of us for a moment. Then she told
us there was going to be a dance that night, and asked us to look our
"About half-past seven we went with her downstairs and then along a
passage-way into that hall where you found us last night. Sister and I
looked around for a minute, and then both of us said to the woman,
'What kind of a place is this?' There was a long bar, and two or three
young men were cleaning glasses and wiping bottles, and there were lots
of girls in fancy dresses standing around, chatting and some smoking
cigarettes, also a few men, young and old. We were [reader, I will give
you their exact expression] scared stiff. The woman, after introducing
us to a fine-looking young man, said to him, 'These are the young girls
sent by ——, the Ellis Street employment agent.' Then she took us into
the dance-hall a few feet away. She told us that the young man was the
proprietor of the place and that he would be a good friend, as would
she, if we wouldn't 'do any kicking.' About 8:30 the crowd began to
come in earnest, and by 9:30, and from that on, men and girls drank,
danced, and cut up until closing-time.
"Mother Roberts, I can only liken our first night in that awful saloon
and dance-hall to a bad nightmare.
"The woman didn't require us to dance unless we wanted to, until the
second night; then she said that we must, or else we would be fined,
and that as we already owed our fares, also other debts for incidental
expenses, the sooner we made the best of the situation the better it
would be for us. She called some girls to come and tell us how much
they enjoyed the life they were now leading, and how much money they
were making in percentage on the drinks that were sold across the bar
to the men and them. They said we needn't drink whiskey if we didn't
want to, as we would need to keep our heads if we were going to make
all we could out of the men in getting them drunk."
"Why didn't you appeal to the authorities, girls?" I inquired.
"Mother Roberts, they only laughed at us. We tried. It was no use.
They seemingly stood in with the proprietor. Millie went to the
post-office, accompanied by one of the girls, an old hand, the second
day after we arrived, to see if any mail had been forwarded, and on the
way back stepped into the —— Hotel to inquire if they had any
vacancies for two waitresses? The clerk asked, 'What address?' She was
too ashamed to tell him where we really were; so told him to drop a
card into the post-office general delivery as soon as he had situations
for two. About three days afterward she got a post-card saying there
was one vacancy; but we couldn't take it, as we were more determined
than ever not to separate."
When I told them how it happened that I came, those two poor girls
cried with joy and thankfulness. And now to act quickly. We all knelt
in prayer. They agreed to stay in my room whilst I went out to notify
Mrs. Wilson and the pastors. Never in all my life did I work faster,
and in an hour I had these sisters safely housed with Mrs. W—, as she
would not be suspected of secreting them. At two o'clock the pastors
met me in one of the church studies. They decided to call immediately
for a mass meeting of women on the following afternoon, to be addressed
by me. Notices to this effect were gladly inserted by editors of the
daily papers. The whole community was astir.
In the meanwhile the dive-proprietors were searching for the girls. No
one suspected Mrs. Wilson or me. In fact, those dive-keepers had not
regarded me as any more than an ordinary visitor that night of my
introduction to their dance-halls, and had not noticed the girl
speaking to me.
Before they left B——, the following article came out as an editorial
in one of the leading daily papers. It appeared on the morning of March
HOW GIRLS ARE LURED TO DANCE-HALLS.
The general interest in the efforts to better the conditions of the
fallen women, make timely a rough outline of the methods by which girls
are lured into the haunts of vice, and kept there until they have lost
all power or desire to escape and win their way back to decency and
respectability. It is not pretended that this line is accurate, or that
it fits any particular case, but the information on which it is based
is gained from what are believed to be reliable sources, and it is not
likely to be misleading: if applied in a general way.
HOW GIRLS ARE LURED.
In the first place, of course, no girl that has not made some misstep
or committed some indiscretion, could be enticed to a dance-hall or
kept there for a moment if it were possible to get her inside its
doors. But in every city or village in the country there are persons in
the guise of men [yes, and women also] who are actively interested in
helping girls to make the first misstep. These scouts and envoys of
infamy are at the public dances; they waylay waitresses and working
girls who are struggling to keep themselves on wages that are
insufficient for their actual needs of food and clothing.
They get into the confidence of these girls, and sometimes when they
are "down on their luck" or when they have committed some act that
makes them ashamed to look their family or their employers in the face,
these men come in the name of friendship and promise to find the
overworked and underpaid girl, or the indiscreet girl, a place where
she can earn money fast and earn it easily.
* * * * *
THE DANCE-HALL LIFE.
As a usual thing the girls are taken to some place in another town
where they are not acquainted. This suits the girl, because she does
not want to meet her acquaintances, and it suits the man, because it
gives him greater security in his evil transaction. The girl is nearly
always penniless at this stage, and the man advances the money for the
railroad ticket and the necessary food. The first act that lures the
girl to the dance-hall is disguised as an act of friendship, and the
first bond that is placed on her to keep her there is the bond of
gratitude and obligation. In addition to that, where would she go if
she did not like her first glimpse of the dance-hall, an ignorant,
friendless girl in a strange town?
* * * * *
THE "RULES" OF THE HOUSE.
One of the first things in which the recruit to the dance-hall is
instructed is the rules of the house. She must be on the floor, ready
to dance at seven o'clock, and they must remain on duty until 3 A.M.,
or so long as the patrons of the house continue to come and buy drinks.
Between these hours they have thirty minutes for supper. If they are a
minute late or stay a minute over the time allowed for supper, if they
step out on the sidewalk during their hours of duty, if they get drunk,
or if they commit other stated offenses, they are subject to a fine by
the manager of the house, and the fines range from two dollars and a
In the beginning of her career the new recruit usually gets fines
charged against her faster than her credits mount up on the manager's
book. But there are other rules, one of the chief of which is to make
the men who come into the dance-hall buy as many drinks as possible,
and if a man comes in who has money, to see that he spends it all
before he departs. The girl is coached in the art of getting the money
from the men, and in some of the worst dives they are told that if they
get hold of a man who has money, and who does not seem inclined to give
it all up, to give the bar-tender a wink when the refractory customer
calls for his drinks, and the bar-tender will "slip him something" that
will make him more amenable.
* * * * *
THE PERCENTAGE SYSTEM.
The way girls make money for themselves is through percentages on the
liquor which the men they dance with buy. After every dance the dancers
line up at the bar and drink. The drinks for a man and his partner are
twenty-five cents, and the girl's percentage is ten cents. If a man is
liberal and will buy wine at one dollar a bottle the girl's percentage
is forty cents. If he is still more liberal and will buy wine at five
dollars per bottle, the girl gets two dollars and a half. The
percentages are punched on a little card which the girl carries, and
they are added up in the morning.
The money which the percentages represent, however, is not all paid
over to the girl in the morning. She is given what cash the manager
thinks is necessary to keep her through the day, and the remaining is
credited against the railroad fare that has been advanced, and against
the fines that may have accumulated. If a girl does not like the place
and wants to leave, she is shown her account and informed that there is
a balance due the house, and that it will be necessary to hold her
clothes and other effects.
* * * * *
BECOMES SCHOOLED IN VICE.
In the meantime the girl is being schooled in vice and crime. She
learns that it is more expeditious sometimes to take a man's money out
of his pockets than to wait for him to spend it twenty-five cents at a
time, buying drinks. No matter whether the house profits by these
thefts or not, they form another bond to tie the girl to a life of
shame; for some one must always know of them, and if the girl is
untractable she is threatened with criminal prosecution. If she commits
no crime, she can still be charged with vagrancy, and it too often
happens that police officers, knowingly or unknowingly, are made the
instruments of persecution and the means for whipping these unfortunate
women into submission to any wrong.
Dancing all night every night, drinking after every dance, living in
the fumes of liquor and tobacco, and in constant jangle of profanity
and obscenity, how long is required to snuff out every spark of
womanliness that a girl may bring with her to such a haunt?
DOG-LIKE DEVOTION TO MALE ASSOCIATES.
And yet there is one trait of her sex that is not snuffed out. It is
the distinguishing trait of womankind and one of the finest traits that
the human race can boast of—the trait of constancy and devotion.
The lower the fallen woman sinks, the more wrongs and iniquities that
are placed upon her, the stronger it sometimes seems this devotion and
constancy becomes. Nine-tenths of all the women of the tenderloin, it
is stated, have some man, or some animal called a man, about whom this
affection, this dog-like devotion centers. No matter how much he may
abuse her, no matter if he takes every cent of the earnings of her
misery and shame, no matter if he beats and kicks her because she can
not give him more, the girl in nearly every case, is faithful to "the
kid" and the worst fate than can befall her is that "the kid" should
"throw her down." [In other words, forsake her.]
And "the kid" always throws her down some time; for "the kid" is not
encumbered with any such inconvenient traits as constancy and devotion.
Then there is carbolic acid, or a long debauch, and a sinking down of
the system, and the horrible disease against which even the county
hospitals, which are open to the criminals and outcasts of society, who
never did a stroke of useful work in all their lives, close their
doors. And then there is the dishonored grave, over which the friends
and the relatives, maybe, are ashamed to weep.
In the enlightened communities, where there is a healthy public
sentiment, dance-halls are no longer tolerated. Their day is over in
California, and in only a few places are they permitted to exist. In
the places where they do exist the communities are still hanging on the
ragged edge of frontier life, where there is little regard for the
common decencies of life. Sacramento recently made a clean-up of its
dives, and disreputable dance-halls were closed up.
It is recognized by those who are observant, that dance-halls are more
degrading than any other form of dissipation. They are public
institutions with their doors open to all who enter, and those with
money to spend are made welcome. When the money is gone, their welcome
is worn out, and if the person is saturated with liquor, he is kicked
out ignominiously, only to return when he has more money to spend.
THE RECRUITING STATIONS.
In the large cities agents ply their trade of securing recruits for the
dives in the interior. Girls on whose cheeks the blush of innocence
still remains, are employed for various respectable positions, and sent
to the interior. They are escorted to the trains, and even in some
instances the proprietors of the dives see that they are on their way
safely to their dens of infamy. A telegram is forwarded informing the
resident manager, that more material for the dive is en route. The
local manager meets the girls at the train with a hack and when they
arrive at the place, almost invariably at night, they find their trunks
have preceded them. They learn little of their surroundings in the late
hours of the night, and when they do realize their positions, they feel
altogether lost, without money or friends.
RECENT CASES SUBMITTED.
The foregoing is not always the case. Some know the place of their
destination, but some of them do not. Not long ago a Los Angeles girl
answered an advertisement for work and was told a respectable position
awaited her in R——. Just as she prepared to board the train for the
mining town, she was taken in custody. On investigation it was learned
that she was destined for a notorious dance-hall in R——, that even
the respectable people of the town had not been able to close up.
About two weeks ago a woman was arrested in R—— and is awaiting trial
in the United States court in Los Angeles for using the mails for
immoral purposes. It is alleged that she was an agent for a dance-hall
in R—— and had sought to obtain recruits for the dive.
Those in a position to know, state that the dance-halls are far more
infamous than the real palaces of degradation. They are the
stepping-stones to the other places, and lead on to destruction,
preceded by misery and shame….
THE WOMEN OF B——- UP IN ARMS—THE SISTERS TAKEN HOME—MORE ABOUT
MRS. FLORENCE ROBERTS STIRS HER AUDIENCE.
Addressed Church Full of Women—Her Pathetic Stories listened to
Attentively—Much Interest Manifested in the Cause—Raised Nearly Fifty
Dollars to Take Two Girls Rescued from Dance-hall to Their Homes.
The above was the heading of an article which appeared in the local
papers on the morning following the largest gathering of women ever
congregated at one time in one of B——-s largest churches.
The morning before, escorted by the chief of police and two officers in
plain clothes, I went to that dance-hall to demand the trunks of the
sisters. The persons in charge claimed that they did not know where the
girls' baggage was; that the proprietor was away; that they could not
give the trunks up without his authority; and, furthermore, that there
were debts of $22.50 booked against one sister and $21 against the
other. Acting under legal advice, I gave them two hours, no more, to
produce those trunks and their contents, also two itemized bills. I
returned at the close of that time and found the keepers ready to
accept the fares advanced (no bills produced) and to have the trunks
immediately removed. When the sisters received their baggage, they
declared that both locks had been broken and that each trunk had been
robbed of many things; but the girls were so frightened and so anxious
to get home, that they willingly stood the loss rather than be delayed
through the arrest and the prosecution of the proprietors.
That night the two sisters and I went to the depot under an armed
escort and started for their home, a day and a half's journey distant.
I paid the porter to be on the lookout for any suspicious-acting
travelers in our coach. Engagements for the following Sunday
necessitated my immediate return to B——. On our arrival at their
railroad destination I had barely time to catch my next train;
therefore I had to leave explanation of the situation to the sisters,
now with an aunt, the parents being on their ranch in the mountains,
forty miles distant and accessible only by wagon. They bade me a most
touching farewell, promising not to fail to correspond.
Truly, all through these strenuous experiences I was daily, hourly
demonstrating to my soul's satisfaction God's wonderful leading, his
strength, his wisdom, his great, great care, for no evil befell me,
neither did any plague come nigh my dwelling (Psa. 91:10-12).
On my return to B—- on Saturday sufficient engagements to keep me in
that vicinity at least three weeks and over were immediately made.
After filling these I hoped, God willing, to take a rest in the
beautiful homes of some of my Santa Cruz friends. There was an immense
audience in the First Methodist church on Sunday evening, April 8, and
a large collection was taken for the Beth-Adriel fund….
Before I left B—-, God gave a most blessed realization of his
wonderful watch-care over those who are earnestly trying to serve him.
On Monday, April 9, word reached me that I should be on my guard. The
proprietor of the —— dance-hall had declared vengeance. I had
accepted an invitation to dine with the chief of police and family that
evening, but on account of this word of warning I deemed it wise to
telephone to the sheriff's office and ask protection. An enemy must
have received the message and responded. When I came out of the house
to keep my dinner engagement, I had walked but a few yards when I
received a sudden impression to look behind me. On a fenceless lawn,
not three feet away, stood —- —- with his hand in his right hip
pocket. Quick as a flash I pointed the forefinger of my right hand in
his face, saying, "You dare not shoot." "Only your sex protects you,
you —- ——- ——," he sneered. Never mind the vocabulary of awful
adjectives and names he hurled at me, dear reader. I've never heard
their equal before or since. There was no one in sight until his sister
presently crossed the road. But God was protecting me, and I knew it.
Then the man sneered about my calling up the sheriff's office for
protection. I now knew he had a coworker there.
When at last there was a chance for me to speak, I quietly told him
that he was soon going to an awful hell unless he quickly amended his
ways, and that God was going to hold him and his kind everlastingly
responsible for the ruination of many, many souls, and implored him to
turn to this outraged God and plead for mercy and pardon before it was
eternally too late. As they turned to recross the street, I added, "God
wants to bless you." With an oath he hurled back at me,"—— —— ——
——! I don't want God to bless me." Then I heard a fiendish laugh from
behind a hedge; somebody clapped their hands in great glee, and a
woman's voice shouted, "Good for you ——! Give it to her, the ——
—— —— —— ——! Why didn't you finish her while you were about
The chief of police and his wife saw to it that I was protected the
rest of my brief sojourn, but no one can ever know how much nearer that
experience drew me to my loving Lord. More than one woman told me the
next day that they were watching that encounter through their lace
curtains, and that if he had laid even a finger on me they would have
thrown up the windows and screamed for help, even have attempted
personal aid. But there was no need of that; for hath our heavenly
Father not said in Isa. 51:17, "No weapon that is formed against thee
shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in
judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of
the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord"? And in
Psa. 34:7 is this blessed assurance: "The angel of the Lord encampeth
round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." Hallelujah! "In
thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion."
Before I left B——-, that town had a well-organized law and order
league. The members chose me as their first honorary member. I doubt
whether any of God's stewards had more friends and more enemies at that
one time, in that one locality than did the writer of this. But I loved
all and prayed God to bless their precious souls for Jesus' sake.
As usual, I was not leaving unaccompanied, so that instead of passing
through San Jose, as I had expected, I chaperoned a young girl to the
home, remaining there over night and reaching Santa Cruz the next
SANTA CRUZ—REBA'S LETTER—THE EARTHQUAKE.
"The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory:
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." Psa. 84:
11. I was now enjoying a few days' sweet rest and fellowship in the
home of my sanctified friends, Sister Bessie Green and her mother. Oh,
how I enjoyed every moment! What a wonderful exchange of experiences
and demonstrations of God's mighty love, power, and wisdom was ours!
and what good times we had going about amongst certain ones in whom she
was interested, visiting the mission, enjoying the lovely ocean-breeze,
etc.! On Sunday, April 16, we went with a large band of consecrated
young people to assist in a meeting of song and gospel cheer for the
inmates of the almshouse and county hospital.
My visit was destined to be of short duration, for the next day there
came among forwarded mail a letter reading somewhat as follows:
Dear Mother Roberts:
I am just as blue if not bluer than the paper I am writing on, and I'll
tell you why, for you know all the circumstances of our recent trouble
When girls through no real fault of their own get into such an awful
scrape as Millie and I were so unfortunate as to get into, but thank
God, were rescued from, … what kind of Christians can they, must they
be, who will do their utmost to help still further crush us by talking
all over the town about what happened, and everybody putting their own
construction on what they hear, then giving us the cold shoulder.
Millie is at home. She's sick from the awful effects of it yet, and I'm
trying to earn an honest living, but it's no use. My so-called friends
won't give me a chance. I've about made up my mind I might as well have
the game as the name, so by the time you receive this, I shall probably
be with Miss—— at her house in C——, for I'm sure she will be kinder
than the folks here. I don't suppose they've meant to harm us, but just
because they love to talk they've settled it for us forever. I forgive
them, but it's no use to try to be good any longer.
Don't think I forget you or your kindness, and I will always love you
no matter what becomes of me. Gratefully yours,
"Bessie! Bessie! what shall I do? what must I do?" I cried, wringing my
hands and handing her the letter to read. Hurriedly reading it, she
quickly said, "Let us pray." Immediately suiting the action to the
word, she as briefly as possible asked the Lord for speedy help. It
came—an instantaneous impression to telephone to the hotel at S——
where Reba had been employed. "Keep on, Bessie, keep on praying," I
requested as I arose from my knees and hastened into the next room,
took down the receiver, called for the long-distance operator, asked
for my party, and emphatically declared it to be a matter of life and
death requiring immediate service. Shortly I was talking to the
landlady of the N——- J——- Hotel, who told me that Reba was still
under her roof, but was expecting to leave for San Francisco on the
"Please call her to the 'phone," I said, and very soon I heard Reba's
"Hello; who wants me?" she said.
"Mother Roberts, Reba dear," I replied. "Stay where you are. I am
coming on the next train"
"But I'm going on the next one to San Francisco I can't; my trunk is at
"Reba, you must wait till I come, dear. I've some good news for you."
"Very well; I'll wait. Fortunately, I haven't bought my ticket yet."
"Good-by," I gladly said. "Meet me."
There was barely time to make the next train; but, as usual, the Lord
(bless his dear name forever!) favored me. I reached S——- at 7:30
P.M. On our way to the Hotel Reba whispered, "Mother Roberts, will you
occupy my room with me tonight? I want to have a long, long talk and
it's the quietest part of the house, up on the third floor."
After supper we repaired to her neat little room, and following prayer,
soon retired, but not to sleep. Dear Reba, with many tears,
particularized the trying situation, as she lay with my arms about her.
Shortly after midnight she sweetly slept. Not so with me. I heard every
hour and half-hour strike, up to half-past four, on some clock near by.
It seemed very close and warm, attributable, so I thought, to the
smallness of this inside room.
I must have just fallen asleep when suddenly I was awakened by a
terrible, terrible sensation, accompanied by fearful screams and
crashing of glass and furniture. Reba was thrown out of bed, then back
again, where I locked her fast in my arms, gasping the words, "God
cares! God cares, Reba! 'We shall see him face to face and tell the
story saved by grace,'" for at first I could only believe that the end
of the world had come. This dreadful noise was followed by an awful
stillness in our immediate vicinity, though we could hear, apparently
from outdoors, mingled cries, screams, and groans of fright, distress,
Reba leaped out of bed, instantly grasped her clothing and mine, and
was rushing from the room when I called out: "Come back! Come back and
dress. We've had an earthquake and an awful one, but somehow I feel the
worst of it is over." Never did we more quickly get into our clothing
and step outside. The hallway and rooms were piled with debris.
Plaster, laths, broken pictures, and furniture lay in shapeless
confusion on every hand. We came to the staircase. Part was gone; every
step was likewise covered with the ruins of broken ceiling and wall.
Devastation was everywhere, everywhere. Trusting the Lord, I landed
safely on that tottering staircase, Reba quickly following; and soon we
were with the frightened population out on the streets, gazing,
well-nigh speechless, at the awful ruins which lay on every side. Every
one was wondering, with aching, troubled hearts, concerning their
absent loved ones. How was it faring with them? How far had this
earthquake extended? Could it possibly have been any worse in other
places than in this one? Soon we discovered, as we hurried to the
telegraph and telephone offices, that all communication with the
outside world was absolutely cut off. All sorts of dreadful rumors were
afloat; later many were verified; whilst some proved to have been more
or less exaggerated.
In the afternoon word reached us that San Francisco was burning. My
dear son, now in the employ of the Gorham Rubber Company was living
there. I wondered if it had reached Haight Street: all I could do was
to pray and wait, wait and pray. Many, I suppose, gave hunger no
thought that day, for anxiety was well-nigh consuming us. The depot was
crowded with people anxious to get aboard the first train that might
arrive, but there was no promise or prospect of one that day. Reba and
I put in our time between the telegraph-office and the depot; so did
hundreds of others.
That night we had a shake-down at the home of her aunt, whose house had
not been very badly damaged. I had so satisfactory a talk with her that
Reba agreed to remain with her until she could get back to her mountain
Early the next morning I was again at the depot. About nine o'clock the
agent privately notified me of the prospect of a train from the south
in perhaps an hour, at the same time advising me to "hang around." I
made a quick trip to where Reba was staying, bade her farewell, managed
to purchase a few soda crackers and a piece of cheese (the stores which
had not suffered severely were speedily cleaned out of all provisions),
and returned to the depot to watch and wait.
At last! at last! praise God, at last! a train, a crowded train
arrived. In a very few minutes, standing room was at a premium. After a
long wait we began to move slowly, but we stopped after going a very
few miles, for the road was practically being rebuilt. This was our
experience the livelong day. In some places we sat by the roadside for
hours, or watched the men rebuilding the track. When we came to one
high trestle, only a few were permitted to cross at a time, it being
not only severed from the main land at either end, but also very shaky.
Here we parted from train No. 1.
At the other end of this trestle, we waited hours for the coming of a
train from the direction of San Jose. This delay seemed interminable,
for all of us were now out of provisions and in an intense state of
suppressed anxiety and excitement. But finally a train slowly moved
into view, and we all lustily cheered, once, twice, thrice, and again,
as we gladly boarded it. Then we learned somewhat concerning the
terrible destruction in other places all along the line, and also of
the fearful holocaust in San Francisco.
What, oh! what was the fate of our dear ones there? Ah! dear reader,
people who had never given much thought to God and their Savior were
now imploring mercy and pardon, and making, oh! such promises of future
loyalty and service, if he would but spare their loved ones. Alas! but
few of these promises were kept. These people soon drifted back into
the world and the former error of their ways.
RELIEF DUTY—SAN FRANCISCO—MISS B___.
As this is not a history of the awful calamities of that trying time,
they will be but lightly touched upon. Suffice it to say that when late
that night our train slowly crept along the streets of San Jose and
finally reached the station, the people thronged the streets. They
heartily cheered and welcomed us. Upon learning that an "inquiry
bureau" had been established right there, we soon packed it almost to
suffocation, and oh! bless the Lord! I was one of the few to receive
news. I got three unstamped, torn-out-of-note-book letters from my dear
son, stating that the fire had not reached beyond Van Ness Avenue. He
lived a little beyond. He was anxious for my safety. I at once sent
similar short messages of assurance to the "inquiry bureau" of his
residence district. Then I was passed through the line and taken to
Beth-Adriel (martial law was in force), there to discover all of the
family lodging under the beautiful walnut-trees. The house had suffered
considerable damage, but, praise God! the inmates had escaped personal
Relief duty at the depot was my next call. For two days and nights a
large delegation of us remained on perpetual watch; for the refugee
trains, crowded with sick, hungry, homeless, or penniless men, women,
and children, were now arriving, at intervals of from fifteen to thirty
minutes. Statistics show that San Jose, the first large city southwest
of San Francisco, fed, clothed, and sheltered, temporarily, some
permanently, in the neighborhood of thirty-seven thousand refugees.
Moreover, its probation committee of the juvenile court handled the
cases of over fifteen hundred destitute children. Busy times! I should
say so! Only the wonderful power of God sustained us, for it was
break-down work. At the close of the second day I was compelled to
rest. After a good night's sleep I procured a furlough of forty-eight
hours; for two more notes from San Francisco had reached me, and they
described the great suffering, especially because of long waiting
(sometimes all night) in the bread line.
San Jose generously supplied me with an immense telescope basket filled
to its utmost capacity with canned goods, cooked meats, etc., so that
it required the assistance of two to put it on the train, it was so
heavy. On reaching the outskirts of San Francisco, I was informed that
I could be taken no further than Twenty-fourth and Valencia Streets.
There people seized every available rig, even to garbage wagons, paying
exorbitant prices for conveyance to their points of destination. What
was I now going to do? The eight hundredth block on Haight Street
seemed miles away (I think it was about three and a half), and I had
nobody to help me. Everybody was strictly for self. Bless God! he had
not forsaken me, as I soon found out, when he gave me the strength to
shoulder that stupendous burden. Oh, bless God! Every few steps I
rested. I would rest and pray, go a little farther, and then rest and
pray again. I kept this up until completely exhausted; then I sat on a
broken-down step, minus the house, imploring the kind heavenly Father
to send me help. Did ever he fail his own in the hour of need? Never,
Coming over the hill several blocks distant, carefully guiding his
horse through the debris, was a man in a wagon or buggy. Like a
drowning person grasping at a straw, I frantically called and waved my
hands. It took me some time to attract attention, but finally he turned
in my direction. Hallelujah! As he neared me, I noticed the words,
"Spring Valley Water Works," on the sideboard of his wagon. "Madam, can
I assist you?" he inquired. Most certainly he could. And I humbly,
tearfully, and wearily described the situation. To lift that heavy
basket into the vehicle required our united effort. Never did I more
appreciate help. The sun was at its zenith when I started; it was now
setting. God bless that dear young man, whose name I have forgotten! I
hope that he is living and that this book may fall into his hands, so
that he may better than ever realize that our blessed Lord never
forsakes those who truly love and trust him.
Reader, I leave you to imagine the joyous reunion of mother and son.
Perfect peace and good will was then temporarily reigning in that
stricken city. Would to God it had continued! but alas! it was but for
a few days. Once more the adversary of the souls of men reigns in its
midst; the liquor devil reigns supreme; whilst the few faithful ones
are still daily crying to the throne of grace, "How long, O Lord, how
Before all this occurred and whilst I was in San Francisco one day
seeking aid for Beth-Adriel, I called at the house of a Christian
friend of mine. Presently, in the course of conversation, she informed
me that her niece, who was an employee in one of the large department
stores of San Francisco was at home sick with severe headache, and
asked if I would care to see her. I gladly acquiesced. Then my friend
took me into the next room, where lay the young lady with her head
swathed in a wet towel and evidently suffering keenly. I expressed
sympathy and at once offered to pray for her, to which she replied:
"I'll be so glad, though I fear I haven't much faith in its efficacy.
Yes, pray for me, for I must get down to the store to report for duty
at one o'clock. I must. Sick or not sick, I must."
After prayer I inquired, "Laura, dear, why must you be compelled to be
on duty? Under existing circumstances they will surely make every
Instead of making immediate answer, she asked for her business dress
and presently drew from its pocket a latch-key.
"Do you see this?" she inquired.
"Yes," I replied.
"Yes, but you do not know what it means. Let me tell you. This key is
to be used to unlock the door of the down-town private apartments of
one of our floor-walkers. I've had my place only a few weeks. Auntie is
having a struggle to keep her lodging-house filled so as to meet her
payments on the furniture, rent, etc. I am only getting small wages,
not sufficient to support me, as yet; but if I can manage to qualify in
a large reputable store like —- —-, I shall have no trouble in
commanding a better salary before long—having become so well
acquainted with my position as to then be a necessity."
"But what has all that to do with your possession of this key?" I
"Wait, I am coming to that," she replied "About a week ago he (the
floor-walker) said, among other things: 'I observe that you are quite
ambitious. I intend, if you will allow me, to still further your
interests. In order that I may do this, I must have your promise to
respect the confidence I am about to repose in you.' Innocently I
promised. 'First of all,' he went on to say, 'you have doubtless heard
I am a married man and a father.' I had. He has a very delicate wife
and two dear little girls. He then produced the key, stating why he
wanted my friendship."
"Why did you not immediately expose him to the firm?" I indignantly
"Mrs. Roberts," said Laura, "you don't know what you are talking about.
My word would not be taken against his. I do not yet know what door
this key unlocks. I am not to know until I consent to use it whenever
he may request a private interview. Every chance he gets, he wants to
know when I mean to yield. I am, for the sake of business experience,
resorting to all sorts of strategy; then, when I qualify, I can afford
to snap my fingers in the face of this profligate. You've no idea how
much the honor of business young ladies is menaced, Mrs. Roberts. I'm
not by any means the only one. The trouble is, very few have the
backbone to resist these propositions, which invariably come in one
form or another to the working girls attractive of face or form, or of
both. They are, with scarcely an exception, poor; from infancy they
have been well dressed, too well in fact; very few are qualified in
domestic art, and those who are would almost rather do anything than be
subjected to such humiliations as some people in social standing
inflict upon their maids—maids who ofttimes both by birth and breeding
are their equals if not superiors.
"I want to help Auntie. She is so good to me in giving me a home. If I
can only keep up, I shall soon be able to repay her."
"I'm glad to tell you my head is much better, so that I shall be able
to report for duty. I'll be all right so long as I trust in God and
have people like you and Auntie pray for me."
I wanted to report this case to the proprietors of that store; but
Laura was so distressed for fear of notoriety, ultimate results, also
the deprivation of a living for that libertine's delicate wife and
children, that I reluctantly desisted. This I know: In answer to many
prayers, both her friends' and her own, she won out; but she never gave
up that key, and to this day she does not know what door it unlocked or
whether some other poor, silly girl received and made use of its
In visiting among the outcasts, I have learned from the lips of many
that the primary cause of their downfall was the inadequacy of their
wages as saleswomen, stenographers, etc., for their direct necessities;
temptations became too great; the ultimate results were, alas!
THE HOME REPAIRED—MRS. S—-'S EXPERIENCE.
Thinking to appeal for the required means to repair our home, I, after
prayerful consideration, journeyed to Portland, Oregon, for our State
was now taxed to its utmost for finances. My sojourn was brief; for,
besides being seized with sudden illness, I learned that a large sum of
money (thirty-five thousand dollars, I think) intended for the erection
of a Florence Crittenton home in their midst had now been generously
donated and sent to the general fund in San Francisco, to be applied to
just such charitable needs as I represented. In consequence, I decided
that, as soon as I was able to travel, I should go back to San
Francisco. Through the interposition of the Y.W.C.A., I was furnished
with free transportation. Upon my return I learned that all available
funds for that purpose had already been bespoken; but God, ever mindful
of his own, had laid it upon the hearts of some people of means, in the
interior, to pay all expenses for repairs, so that before many months
Beth-Adriel was once more in good order. In its interest, many, many
miles were traveled and thousands of people addressed, personally, also
Rarely did any service close but that one person or more had an unusual
case of some unfortunate one, demanding immediate and special interest;
for instance: Mrs. B——-, who personally knew me, approached me one
day in a greatly agitated state of mind and confidentially imparted
some dreadful knowledge concerning her son, aged fourteen, and a girl
schoolmate of his, but a few months younger. Producing some notes, she
permitted their perusal. They were from the girl to the boy, and were
couched in the most licentious, unguarded language imaginable. I was
unutterably shocked. "Mother Roberts," said Mrs. B——-, "I will deal
with my son, but what about the girl who has written these and, as you
read, has met H——- clandestinely? I can not go to her; will you?" The
girl's mother was a lady of means and fashion, a member of one of the
exclusive card-clubs of that town, and an inveterate player. Pearl was
an only child. I admit I felt timid about approaching the mother,
but—It had to be done and done quickly.
In glancing over the local paper, I had observed that her progressive
whist-club was to be entertained at Mrs. ——-'s lovely residence that
afternoon. It was now 11 A.M. I must telephone, for I knew that I
should not be received except by previous appointment. Soon I heard her
"What is it, please; what do you wish?"
"A private interview immediately, of the utmost importance."
"Impossible. Every moment is engaged until I go out this afternoon."
"Can not help it. You must grant it. It concerns a member of your
immediate family. It is of vital import."
"Very well; you may come right away, but be brief. I will grant you
only a few minutes."
"Thank you," and both receivers were hung up.
In response to my ring the maid ushered me into a lovely
reception-room, where Mrs. S——- soon appeared in a high state of
"You have greatly upset me, Mrs. Roberts," she said. "Kindly be brief.
To your point at once. I have much to do, also must dress before
luncheon, for our card-party at Mrs. ——-'s this afternoon."
"Mrs. S——-, you no doubt will be able to identify Pearl's
handwriting." I replied.
"Most assuredly," she rejoined. "What of it?"
"Simply this: In my possession are three notes. They were written by
your daughter to a boy companion in school. The boy's mother lent them
to me. It is my painful duty to show them to you. First of all, permit
me to assure you that this matter is perfectly safe with me," I said.
"Come into the next room where we can be undisturbed and unobserved,"
she requested. Then she rang the bell and said to the maid:
"I shall not be at home to any one who either 'phones or calls."
(Here let me say that having once been associated with Mrs. S——
socially, I was not a stranger.)
"Mrs. S——, doesn't Pearl sometimes ask permission to go home with a
favorite girl companion, also at times remain with her over night, or
else she with your daughter?" I asked after we had retired to the other
"Certainly," she answered, "and I may add, I am quite satisfied to have
her do so, for they can both be implicitly trusted."
"Mrs. S——, please read these letters. I beg of you, prepare yourself
for an awful shock…."
Presently the great beads of perspiration broke out on her forehead and
dripped unheeded into her lap. After reading those notes she made
mincemeat of them, and then lay back in her chair white and speechless.
The silence was painful beyond description. Finally I broke the silence
"Mrs. S——, permit me to assist you to your room, then 'phone Mrs.
—— of your sudden illness, and also send for your daughter to come
She gladly acquiesced. Before my departure she faintly acknowledged her
realization of neglect of duty and confidence toward the precious soul
entrusted to her keeping, and promised to deal gently with the erring
child. Furthermore, she said that she had played her last game of
Pearl and her mother became inseparable companions. To this day the
daughter has no idea who informed on her, but this occurrence taught a
never-to-be-forgotten lesson to more than one I hope and pray that the
mothers who read this may profit by the story.
One with whom I am well acquainted has an only son. She also was a
great lover of cards. When the boy was quite small, this mother in
order to prevent his disturbing her and her friends in their social
game, provided him with a tiny deck of cards. She often smiled approval
at his and his little companion's attempts to imitate their elders.
Time went on. He grew to manhood. Many an anxious evening she now spent
alone; for seldom did he spend one with her, and he always had a
plausible excuse in the morning.
He was employed by one of the leading firms of the city and stood an
excellent chance of future promotion. One day, however, he came home,
informed her of his discharge, refused to give the reason, but begged
her to go to his employers and plead for his reinstatement. The
grief-stricken mother was soon ushered into the manager's private
office and there very kindly treated; but her pleadings were all in
vain. Her son, she learned, had been discharged for card-playing and
frequenting the pool room. He had been warned twice, but he had failed
to take heed. The firm would make no exceptions.
On her return he eagerly interrogated her as to the results of the
"When?" she asked, "when did you ever learn to play cards and pool?"
"Why, Mother, don't you remember?" he answered. "You taught me
yourself when I was a little shaver."
"No, dear, not a real game," she sobbed.
"No matter if you didn't," he rejoined. "It didn't take me long to
become fascinated and learn how from older boys and girls. Then, when
it comes to playing, I hate to remind you, Mother, but I can not
remember the time when you didn't play. I've seen you, time and again,
work harder to earn a dinky vase or prize than at anything else under
the sun. You can buy them anywhere for fifty cents or thereabouts, and
without such hard work as I've seen you put in for a whole evening.
You can blame yourself, and you ought to, more than you blame me."
Then he flung himself out of the room and went up-stairs to bed.
The next evening he returned from an unsuccessful day's tramp. His
chances for further employment in that city were anything but
encouraging. That evening as they sat by the fireside, Will's mother
"I've been thinking very, very seriously during your absence today, my
dear. I've made a resolution, but with this proviso: if I never touch
another card, will you promise me never to play again?"
"Mother, I should like to, but I'm afraid to make such a promise," he
replied. "You don't know what a hold it has on me. But I will try, I
Will's mother worked hard to substitute other pastimes and to make his
home life as interesting as she knew how. She gathered musical friends
about her, encouraged him to cultivate his voice, and worked herself
almost to a shadow in order to wean him from the hurtful habit for
which she knew she was directly responsible. She succeeded, bless God!
she succeeded. Later he married a very sweet young lady, and God
blessed their union with three children. It is safe to say that,
because of his experience, card-playing will never be tolerated in that
happy little family, and my earnest prayer as I relate this is that my
reader, if a card-player, may consider this: "If meat [card-playing]
make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh [no more play cards]
while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." I Cor.
THE ANNUAL BOARD MEETING-RESULTS.
I have mentioned the fact that the nature of the work of Beth-Adriel
had so changed that many applicants were, for certain reasons, debarred
from the home. One day whilst I was calling upon one of the board
members my soul was greatly grieved; for a girl who came and appealed
for admission was refused—kindly but firmly refused, on the grounds
that her physical condition would be detrimental to the welfare of the
many mothers and babes with whom Beth-Adriel was now well filled; and
yet it had never been incorporated for a maternity home.
What was I to do? God knew how hard I had Worked. The property was now
more than half paid for. What was I to do?
As the holidays, which always caused a temporary cessation in
fund-raising, were approaching, I busied myself in making little gifts
for each member of the family. Whilst so doing I prayed unceasingly to
know the mind of God's Spirit and to be definitely led of him.
Can I ever forget that first prayer-meeting of the new year, 1907? It
being a wet night, there was nobody present besides the members of the
family, the matron, and her husband, except Brother Norton, his son,
and I. We had had the usual songs, prayers, and Scripture-reading, and
we were now testifying. I had testified, as also had most of the
family, when one of the young mothers suddenly said:
"Mrs. Roberts, I've something to ask you. When you persuaded me to come
to this place, didn't you tell me I need give only my first name?"
"I did, Amelia," I answered.
"Didn't you say that no questions that might embarrass me would be
"I certainly did."
"Didn't you say no girl had to sign any papers here, and that if she
had no money, the home was free to her?"
Reader, that poor girl dealt me a blow that I can not say I have yet
fully recovered from. Then I knew that modern Tobiah and Sanballat and
Geshem (Neh. 2:9) had interfered and intercepted the building of God's
work. I felt brokenhearted and could not be comforted. That night I
spent in tears, nor could I pray as I desired to pray. The next evening
as I was kneeling by my bedside, worn out with sorrow, I chanced to
look up, and I found my gaze riveted on a little wall-motto containing
these precious words: "Rest in the Lord."
(It hangs here on my wall as I now write. It is a priceless
possession.) Instantly I said, "I thank thee, O my Lord, I thank thee,
for reassurance." Somewhat comforted, I then wrote the following
I was kneeling in prayer by my bedside,
Beseeching a comforting word,
When I opened my eyes on this motto,
Simply telling me, "Rest in the Lord."
It hangs where I ofttimes can see it,
This message direct from our God.
As I ponder, my load seems to lighten,
I'm resolving to rest in my Lord.
For, oh! I was troubled and weary,
And dark seemed the road that I trod;
Of this I was telling my Savior,
When he showed me, "Rest thou in the Lord"
I wonder why I should forget this
And weight myself down with a load;
Why don't I depend more on Jesus,
Who loves me, and rest in my Lord?
I'm persuaded this message from heaven,
Direct from his throne, will afford
Perfect peace under trying conditions
To all who will "rest in the Lord."
For, oh! if his yoke is upon us,
Our strength is renewed and restored;
And the burdens, so heavy, are lightened
If we only will "rest in the Lord."
I thank thee, dear heavenly Father,
When I prayed for thy comforting word,
For directing my eyes to that motto
'Tis enough. I will rest in my Lord
Beth-Adriel cottage, 9:30 P.M., January 4, 1907.
It was enough. I was comforted, and I was determined, like Paul of old,
that 'none of these things should move me.'
The annual meeting of the board for the election of officers for the
ensuing year was about to take place. Before the board convened, I
asked God for a test, promising him to abide by it even though he
required me to give up this hard-earned home if necessary; then I
quietly "rested in my Lord."
The day arrived. The rain poured in torrents all morning. I besought
the Lord for a clear afternoon and also for the presence of every
member. He answered my prayer. When it came to the reelection of
officers, my election was not unanimous. As the test I had besought
was that if the Master intended I should continue with them, he should
cause my reelection to be unanimous, I read my resignation. Thus ended
the annual board meeting of 1907. (My resignation was never legally
With scarcely an exception, "they all forsook me and fled" (Mark
14:50). I walked out of Beth-Adriel unattended—one of the loneliest
beings on earth, yet in the "secret of His presence." This created
considerable newspaper notoriety; but though my resignation had cost me
all, my conscience was "void of offense toward God" (Acts 24:16).
Soon I busied myself looking for other quarters. Even they were
providential; for a friend met me in the post-office and proffered me
her beautiful studio, then in disuse, for a merely nominal rent. There
I rested and wrote for three months, intending that the proceeds of the
book entitled "The Autobiography of an Autoharp" should start another
home. But God willed otherwise, as you will presently learn.
Was the rescue work that I so dearly loved, at a standstill? Oh, no
indeed. Not for one day was I idle; neither was Beth-Adriel. The name
"Beth-Adriel" was soon dropped, and the place became one of the chain
of Florence Crittenton homes. I have often sent there poor unfortunates
that needed a refuge of that nature.
It was marvelous, the strength and the courage that the blessed Lord
gave me during those trying days, even to the turning of my other cheek
Soon I received unanimous reendorsement and much encouragement from the
pastors' union and other sources; but I was advised to try for a
training-school and home for orphans at the limit age (fourteen) and
also for juvenile court dependents and delinquents. As is my custom, I
inquired of the Lord. I received so strong an impression regarding "an
ounce of prevention," etc, that I said, "Yea, Lord, it is worth one
hundred thousand pounds of cure." In a short time beautiful and
practical plans were drawn up and presented to me by one of San Jose's
best architects, Wesley W. Hastings. Before this took place, however,
several very striking incidents occurred, in a few of which, I feel
sure, you will be interested. One was a case of casting bread upon the
waters and finding of it after many days (Eccl. 11:1).
Since my coming to San Jose it had been my habit to attend frequently
the mission then situated on Fountain Alley. One night a poor, forlorn
drunken man came to the altar and "got salvation." After rising from
his knees, he said, "Lady, will you trust me with a quarter? I want to
get a bath and bed and breakfast with it."
"You can not get all three for a quarter," I replied.
"Oh yes, I can," he said. "Down at the Salvation Army lodging-house for
One of the workers whispered, "Don't do it He'll only spend it for
He evidently surmised what the worker told me, for he quickly said:
"Don't be afraid to trust me. I promise you you shall never regret it."
I gave him what he had requested, and, in consequence, received rebukes
from several of the other workers.
The next night he came in looking fairly neat, but surely clean. At the
close of the meeting he returned the money, remarking that he had
earned fifty cents that day mowing lawns and chopping wood. He
continued to frequent the mission, a changed man. After moving to the
studio I lost sight of him almost entirely, but often wondered what had
become of him.
There came a time toward the close of my sojourn in San Jose when I was
financially down to bedrock. Money and provisions were all gone. My
rent, to be sure, was paid up to the first of the month (three weeks
hence), but my cupboard was bare. A friend partook with me of my last
meal. Little did she realize it, or she would never have stayed at my
invitation. I told only my heavenly Father. After supper I went home
with her, about three blocks distant. It was a beautiful moonlight
night, and as I came up the garden walk on my return, I noticed a
good-sized box resting on my steps, but simply thought the children
must have been playing there and had failed to take it away after they
had finished. I attempted to thrust it to one side, but discovered that
it was too heavy. Looking more closely, I could read my name on a card.
With considerable effort I lifted it into the room, pried off a portion
of the cover, and was soon reading a note which said:
Please accept a slight token of appreciation from one who is
Your true friend.
From whom did this come? The crude handwriting was not at all familiar.
I wondered, but in vain. Then I lifted up the paper cover. The box was
filled with groceries. Not even butter and bread had been forgotten;
also there were some fruit and vegetables. I fell on my knees, the
tears falling fast as I humbly thanked God and prayed him to bless the
donor. I had told no one. Who could have sent it? Inquiry the next day
of several groceries failed to throw any light on the matter. I had to
give it up, but oh, how I appreciated and enjoyed the contents of that
box, which lasted me until my time at the studio expired.
I stored my few effects with a friendly furniture man. Whilst walking
down Santa Clara Street near Market, I came face to face with Brother
Louis, the converted drunkard. He certainly was looking his best. As he
greeted me, he said:
"Mother Roberts, I was on my way to call on you."
"I've moved this very day, Brother," I replied, "but I'm so glad I met
you. Where have you been?"
He had been working out of town. To honor God and also to help
strengthen his faith, I related His care for me through all the trying
times. I spoke about my being out of provisions and then finding them
on my doorsteps, adding:
"To this day I haven't found out who sent them."
The expression that came over his countenance instantly betrayed him.
"Brother Louis," I said, "you sent that box."
"No, Mother Roberts, I didn't," he replied; "I brought it, and I'll
tell you why. I read in the paper that when you quit Beth-Adriel you
only had sixty dollars of your own. I calculated that couldn't last
very long. I knew you wouldn't take money, and I wanted to express my
gratitude in some way; so I decided groceries would not come amiss to
one who was doing light housekeeping. I didn't knock on your door,
because I thought you were in and what a surprise it would be when you
opened it in the morning. I hope you aren't offended at what I did"
"Brother Louis, don't you realize that God used you to answer my
prayer?" I rejoined. "He knew my needs, and laid it on your heart to
I do not know where he now is, but I earnestly pray that God may bless
and prosper this kind-hearted man and finally receive him into glory.
Still farther down the street, near Second, I suddenly thought I heard
some one calling my name. Again it was called, and I turned to find a
Mr. Parkhurst, an old gentleman, endeavoring to overtake me. He wished
to let me know that his wife, one of my valued friends, was very ill,
and to inquire if I knew of any one who could come to their home and
care for her a few days, at least until she was somewhat recovered.
Instantly I felt that God was providing a temporary shelter for me;
therefore I unhesitatingly replied:
"I myself will go, Mr. Parkhurst."
"What you! But are you not too busy?" he asked.
"Not just at present," I answered. "Besides, I gave up my studio this
very day and therefore am quite free to go."
Their appreciation was such that a few days later I was invited to make
this lovely home mine, or at least headquarters, which very kind offer
was, in the name of our wonderful Provider, gratefully accepted.
A TRIP EAST—I ESCAPE FROM A CONFIDENCE WOMAN.
After I had enjoyed the freedom of the Parkhurst home for a few months
I learned through friends that a young lady whom I had befriended at
the time of the earthquake and who had become temporarily deranged was
about to be sent to the East. The supervisors inquired whether it would
suit my convenience to take the trip, and said if so they would defray
expenses from and to California in order to have her safely chaperoned.
I gladly consented; for, praise God! this would give me opportunity to
pay a brief visit to my son and his bride, now making their home in
Following her safe arrival, I was on the way to Cincinnati in less than
twenty-four hours. Thence I was to take train early the next morning.
Having several hours to dispose of after securing a room in a hotel
close to the station, I decided to see as many points of interest as
possible in this fine city. Accordingly I was thus delightfully
occupied until about four o'clock, when I heard some one speak of the
Zoo. Upon inquiry I learned of the wonderful gardens so called. Soon,
following directions, I boarded a car at Fountain Square, which
conveyed me up a very steep incline. Returning in the neighborhood of
six o'clock, I followed the example of several persons, who on the
incline stepped out of the car on to the platform in order to enjoy the
A white-haired, elderly lady who had sat opposite to me on the return
trip, now pleasantly remarked:
"Cincinnati is well worth a visit, is it not?"
Upon my replying in the affirmative, she rejoined:
"Doubtless you are a stranger. May I inquire from whence you come?"
"From California," I answered.
She clasped her hands together and exclaimed ecstatically:
"Dear, dear California! How happy I am to meet some one from there!
Some of my most delightful, very happiest days were spent there."
We were now once more in the car and at the foot of the incline.
Presently she continued, "Are you going to remain for some time here?
If so, I shall be delighted to contribute to your pleasure."
I then informed her of my prospective visit to my son and his wife.
Her next question was, "Pardon me, but have you any dinner engagement?
If not, dine with me at ——'s restaurant, unless you have choice in
the matter, in which case I gladly defer in your favor."
She had handed me her card, and of course common courtesy required that
At the table I quietly (though not by request) returned thanks, and
then followed this up with the message that the Master had, in answer
to silent prayer, laid on my heart.
Her patronizing smile was rather disconcerting as she responded:
'My dear, I am much older and have had much more real experience than
you. I've come in touch with every phase of humanity, and have at last
reached the place where I have decided to get all I can out of
life—all the fun, all the pleasure possible. I once thought and felt
as you do. You'll get over it when you have had a few hard knocks to
contend with. Take my advice. Enjoy yourself every day and hour, and as
much as you can."
"I do," was my reply. "I would not exchange the experience of the past
decade for all the former years of worldly dissipation and pleasure put
together. They have all been unsatisfactory. This is quite the
opposite, and, better still, it is the enjoyment of indescribable peace
and delight. You are not going to be much longer in this world. Mrs.
R——, I beg of you to seek the Lord whilst he may still be found. It
is not too late, but soon, yes, very soon it may be. Then where will
you spend eternity?"
Her lips curled with a sinister, contemptuous sneer. Nevertheless she
managed to smile as she resorted to repartee.
"You must come with me this evening," she said. "I intend to take
possession of you for an hour or two, and give you a good time."
"You will please excuse me from anything of the kind," was my quick
reply. "I have long ceased to enjoy worldly amusements."
Just then the waitress came with the cheque.
"One or two?" she inquired.
"Two," promptly replied Mrs. R——
I politely wished her good evening as we stood at the desk, and was
quickly walking away when she called after me.
"Wait a minute," she said, and took a firm hold of my arm and sleeve,
so that it was impossible to free myself without attracting attention.
We were now on the street. As she walked beside me, she said:
"You may not think so, but I intend to do you a favor. People in your
line of work are never blest with overmuch of this world's goods,
especially money. I'm going to take you with me across the bridge [into
Kentucky] to the house of one of my friends and win a stake for you.
You needn't touch a card unless you want to. Now don't be afraid to
trust me, because——"
Before she had hardly finished speaking, I suddenly tore away from her
grasp, ran down the block to the corner, and boarded a passing car, not
caring where it took me, so anxious was I to get away from this female
gambler, this confidence woman.
Why did I not have her arrested? First, because I had already purchased
my ticket for my journey to Pittsburg, and secondly, because her
private conversation with me would not have warranted me in so doing.
Moreover, I knew that the all-seeing eye of God was taking cognizance
of her actions as well as of mine. He protected me, and you may rest
assured that she and her kind will not go unpunished.
Why have I told you this? In order to show that it is not only the
young girls and youth who are in danger, but also the more mature, even
the rescue missionary. It therefore behooves us to be constantly in an
attitude of watchfulness and prayer, for Satan goes about in all manner
of garbs seeking whom he may devour. Nothing could better please him
than to overpower or side-track one of the children of God, more
particularly a missionary.
I took a long round-trip ride on that car, my heart overflowing with
gratitude to the heavenly Father for having made the way of escape (1
Cor. 10:13). It was after nine o'clock before I reached my hotel. I
wondered, as I retired, who would be the next to be victimized by that
runner for a private gambling-house. I fell asleep with earnest prayer
for the deliverance of whosoever it might chance to be, and for God to
deal speedily with all such agents of the evil one.
MY HOMEWARD JOURNEY—LAND FOR THE TRAINING SCHOOL AND HOME.
After a delightful five days' visit with my son and his bride I was
soon back in California, both ready and eager to transact business for
the Master's kingdom.
Anybody who has traveled on a tourist car can readily understand that,
even though one may not be prying or curious, one is apt to learn more
or less of its other occupants, particularly those in the adjoining
sections; and be the porter ever so watchful, he can not cope with
every suspicious situation.
Being a rescue missionary, I particularly yet secretly kept a watchful
eye over a girl just graduated with honors from a school in the old
country and now about to join some relatives at a point near San
Francisco; for she was fast succumbing to the influence of a woman with
whom some of the opposite sex seemed very familiar, considering the
fact that the latter was as much a stranger to them (when first we
started out) as she was to me. Besides, the pretty young graduate
evidently was a very guileless, convent-raised girl. Matters assumed
such a condition at the close of the third day of our journey that I
felt it incumbent upon me to invite the latter into my section for the
sake of some friendly advice. She appeared to take it all in good part
and promised to act upon it. Had she done so, I should not now be
relating that before the end of the next twenty-four hours I was
subjected to most unkind, uncalled-for criticism from nearly all the
occupants of that car, mostly young people. The schoolgirl was foolish
enough to betray every word of our conversation to the older woman,
whose actions that same night were such that the porter had to
interfere. Notwithstanding the unkind treatment accorded me, I still
continued privately to chaperon the girl until she reached her
destination where she was, thank God, welcomed at the depot by her
That porter told me that he had constantly to be on the lookout for
questionable characters of both sexes, who made it their business to
travel back and forth continuously in search of victims to rob or aid
them in plying their nefarious trades, but that some acted so
sanctimoniously, as in this case, that they were rather hard to detect.
I have no doubt that this adventuress obtained the young girl's
address, so that the acquaintance could, a little later on, be renewed
in order that some of this woman's accomplices, if not herself, could
secure this another victim for the white slave traffic.
Moral: Parents and guardians, secure reliable chaperons for your young
people to travel with, or else keep them at home pending such times as
they can be accompanied by you or trusted friends.
A letter from a wealthy pioneer with whom I had had several interviews
respecting land for a training school and home now sent me word that he
had decided to donate six acres for that purpose, provided I should
secure pledges to the amount of thirty thousand dollars for building
purposes. The undertaking looked stupendous; nevertheless, what was to
hinder if this were the plan of God?
At his invitation, I shortly went to inspect the land, then in grain.
The tract was hardly as much as was requisite for horticultural
purposes and a large home, but the situation was charming; so, without
consulting any one as to the nature of the soil, I promised to do my
utmost to earn a quit title to the land. I worked indefatigably for
several months before being able to secure a promissory deed, but
finally, after much effort and persuasion, I succeeded in obtaining the
latter. Then I worked harder than ever. Two years were spent in this
wise. Everything pointed to ultimate success. A board of representative
business men was secured in order to meet legal requirements. By faith
I now saw the beautiful, practical home for delinquent and dependent
children looming up in the very near future.
One day whilst on my way southward I was telling an acquaintance of my
hopes and also showing her the plans. Presently a gentleman sitting
immediately back of us thus addressed me:
"Pardon me, madam, but I can not refrain from hearing part of your
conversation, also seeing your plans." (With that he handed me his
card.) "For over twenty-two years I was a resident of the place where
you propose to build that home," he continued, "and I know every foot
of its soil. Would it be asking too much of you to inquire just where
those six acres are located?"
Upon his receiving the desired information, he said:
"I am very sorry to hear it. I regret to have to inform you that it is
absolutely useless for horticultural purposes. It is worked out, having
been in grain for at least forty years; besides, it is gravelly soil
with clay bottom. I do not ask you to take my word for this. Inquire of
—— ——- or any of the reputable business men. It is too bad that you
should have had so much work for nothing."
Reader, endeavor if you can, to put yourself in my place at this
moment. Through undescribable toil I had procured nearly ten thousand
dollars in pledges, though, thank God, I had collected no money. So
this distressing information almost stunned me. Thanking the gentleman,
I promised, at his earnest solicitation, to satisfy myself beyond a
What he said was all too true. For a few days the effects of the
confirmation of this stranger's statements almost prostrated me. I
humbly thank God, however, that this experience was the means of His
getting me into a place where He could have a chance to talk to me. He
told me that zeal for His house had well-nigh eaten me up and that what
was lacking was a need of more watchfulness and prayer on my part.
Also, he assured me that notwithstanding another crushing
disappointment, the home would be built, but not in the manner
anticipated; that the silver and gold, "the cattle on a thousand
hills," everything, everywhere was His. The wound eventually began to
During this trying time, whilst I was one day conferring with
Lieutenant-Governor Porter, a lady came into his office, to whom he
immediately introduced me. Acknowledging the introduction with a very
warm handshake and a sweet smile, Mrs. Tallman Chittenden, of
Chittenden, Santa Cruz County, said: "Mrs. Roberts, for a long time I
have heard or read of you. I so much desire to know you. Can you not
return to my home with me today? My husband will be as pleased as I to
have you for our guest." (They owned one of the most beautiful,
picturesque estates in Santa Cruz County. The Southern Pacific passes
through their magnificently cultivated grounds) Expressing my regrets,
owing to having an urgent call from the probation officer of the
juvenile court of Santa Cruz City, I promised to visit them on the
return trip—a promise that I carried out on the following evening.
Soon I was made to realize that God was adding two more to the list of
true and tried friends; for after learning the nature of my recent
disappointment and that I did not now have any settled abiding-place,
Mr. and Mrs. Parkhurst having removed to Washington, they cordially
invited me to consider their lovely home mine also indefinitely.
This kindness overwhelmed me with gratitude. Rest at last, real rest
for the body as well as for the soul; but it was not for long. The
calls accumulated thick and fast, and again I had to be up and doing.
But even to this day (unless the place, which is for sale, has passed
into other hands) I am at liberty any hour of the day or night to avail
myself of the freedom and the home comforts of lovely Chittenden, where
a most cordial greeting has ever been mine from the generous hostess
and her friendly husband. Thus God is ever providing his chosen ones
with what he has promised; for has not he said in Psa. 84:11, "The Lord
is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing
will be withhold from them that walk uprightly"? He always knows best.
He never closes one door but that he opens a better one. It pays to
stand still, to be true to him.
[Illustration: THE CHUTIMIN HOTEL.]
CALL ON THE GOVERNOR AND THEN GO SOUTH.
Acting upon the suggestion of several sympathetic, interested friends,
who realized, with me, the great necessity for "the ounce of prevention
home and school" for many of the rising generation, I took a special
trip to Sacramento in order to submit specifications and plans to
Governor Gillett, then in office.
This was not our first meeting; therefore I was by no means a stranger
to the Governor, who very kindly and cordially received me. Almost his
first words were, "Time being at a premium with me, tell me what I can
do for you." In as few words as possible the story of effort and
apparent though not total failure was being poured into his attentive
ears. Presently, to my great joy, he replied:
"Mrs. Roberts, this has been a pet project of mine for many, many
years. All I have lacked was the time, means, and assistants to carry
it into execution. Let me tell you something for your encouragement:
right now I am considering certain offers of land for just such a
purpose. No paltry six acres for it either, but three hundred or more.
I hope soon to see this vitally important and absolutely necessary plan
receive the approbation of our next legislative session, and an
appropriation made for the purchase of a large tract of land, together
with necessary and suitable buildings. I know you have been working
very hard. Do not nurse disappointment any longer; instead join me
feeling assured of the future welfare and maintenance of the delinquent
and dependent children of our State."
Much more did he encourage me, but the above was the sum and substance.
Lighter hearted than I had felt for many days, I now took more interest
than ever in the rescue work. In response to a call I hurried to
southern California, where, with others, I engaged in the Master's
service in seeking and warning the lost, working from San Diego on up
Perhaps it would be advisable at this time to quote from the report
made in the San Diego Sun of July 14, 1908.
LOW DANCE-HALLS, CURSE OF THE CITY.
Mrs. Florence Roberts, known throughout the State as "Mother Roberts,"
who has been in this city for two weeks in the interests of fallen
humanity has visited the red light district of this city. One
conclusion that she draws is this: "The dance-hall is an abomination
that must go. It is more degrading than any other form of dissipation.
The future of the State is being ruined. The young—men are being
degraded past redemption; the young women, especially working girls,
are in danger."
[Illustration: HYMN "SOME MOTHER'S WANDERING GIRL"]
Discussing her observations with a "Sun" reporter, Mrs. Roberts said:
"I visited at least a dozen of the saloon dance-halls. The private
houses would not admit me, not knowing who I was; but the saloons are
of course public.
"As far as I can see, the traffic is not organized as it is in most
places. Each saloon seems an individual institution.
"We went into place after place, dirty and squalid, most of them, and
all very unattractive. The 'glittering place of vice' was not to be
found; merely the girls, the low dance-music, and the catering to every
"Many of the men were young. Almost all were well dressed and
respectable looking, and, thank God, many of them were ashamed when we
came in, and pulled their hats down over their eyes. We saw, not only
the common sailors, but the officers, the men who command the great
ships, who plan and direct the battles of the world, parading their
gold braid in these dens of vice, in the company of the lowest.
"The indecent postures, the short-skirted, low-necked dresses, the
sensual dancing, and the frequent trips to the places behind the
saloons, were nauseating and repulsive. But the heart-sorrow, the
sometimes unconscious longing for something higher and better, showing
through the paint and powder, the hard, sinister lines, the brazen,
defiant eyes, touched my heart with the awful sorrow of it all, and I
would give all I possess to be able to touch them and to help them.
"I said to one poor girl, 'Do you enjoy this life?'
"'Not on your life, lady,' she replied. 'We drift into it, and we can't
see the way out.'
"Many are totally resigned to the life. One girl said to me
indifferently, 'I don't expect ever to live any other life. I'm used to
it, and it's good enough now.'
FORCED TO LEAVE.
"In one place the barkeeper allowed me to sing to the girls, but just
in the middle of my song, the proprietor came in and said something in
a gruff voice to the barkeeper. The latter came over to me and
apologetically said, 'Say, lady, the boss is giving me h—— for
allowing this. I guess you'll have to quit.'
"Two of the girls were deeply touched by what I said to them. I spoke
of the wrong influence of some kind of home life.
"'You're right, lady. That's so. It was that way with me. I was started
wrong, and everybody helped to grease the hill I was sliding down, and
I soon reached the bottom.'
"The girls are decoyed by some man friend, who has so compromised the
girl that she feels she is being shunned, to the house of a 'kind woman
who will protect her.' She is ruined. She begins smoking and drinking
and soon unless she takes great care of herself, she is sent from a
first-class house to a second class, then a third class, then lower and
lower, until she ends in some vile dance-hall, compared to which the
orthodox hell is a paradise. Five years altogether Is the average life
in this business.
"One thing I found here that I have found nowhere else, and that is the
rigid enforcement of the no-screen law. Everything was open. I shall
speak of it in other places. And then the law forbidding the sale of
spirituous liquors means so much to the girls, the poor, poor girls,
who are so bitter against the whole world, and who are suspicious of
"A barkeeper asked me, lady, what are you doing in a place like this?'
"'I am here to do some good if I can. I am a mother.'
"'Well,' he replied, 'this is no place for decent people.'
"Just then a rough-looking customer spoke up, 'Don't you leave because
he wants you to. Do all the good you can'
"I am afraid some of the girls thought I was there out of mere vulgar
curiosity. No, indeed. I have seen the worst places in the State, I have
visited the girls, talked with them, eaten with them, and praise God,
have helped some of them to do better."
Mrs. Roberts has no use for so-called Christianity that forgets the
virtue named charity. She tells a story of a young girl who was won
from the tenderloin by a Salvation Army lassie…. [Here follows the
story of Dollie, found between these pages.]
"As I said before," continued Mrs. Roberts, "we visited all the houses,
but were not admitted to all. They are very superstitious, and to admit
visitors on Monday would 'hoodoo' the business for the rest of the
week. None of the houses were attractive. We learned the name of only
one, which, the girls tell me, is the worst in the whole district.
"There is one place, though, that I must mention. It is most attractive
with lights, mirrors, and music. But I assure you it is the first step
of its kind downward. [A first-class saloon.]
"This place has a most appropriate electric sign, a winding, twisting
snake. 'There is one thing more I must tell you,' I said to a young,
attractive-looking boy, 'What attracts you here?'
"'For the life of me I can't tell you, except that there's no other
place where we fellows can enjoy ourselves.'
"What an opportunity for an immense, well-equipped reading-room, where
the boys can have games, books, and all sorts of harmless amusements."
Mrs. Roberts will be here for some little time, and she expects to
speak several times before she leaves. She spoke at the Central
Christian church yesterday to a large audience.
Among other things at this meeting I mentioned this incident:
In one of the Northern towns, the chief of police, knowing I was in the
town, sent for me to confer with him on a case of "strictest privacy."
Wondering what was the matter, I hastened, and soon was hearing this:
"In one of the houses on —— Street, I have just learned from one of
my men, who was told by a near-by saloon-keeper, of a young girl inmate
who has been constantly in tears for the past two weeks, a new-comer
aged about sixteen. I want some one to get her away from there. My
political situation is such at the present time that it will never do
for me to figure in this matter; at the same time I am aware if you are
conspicuous in it, those doors will be closed upon you, and that will
be unwise, seeing these landladies are more or less kindly disposed
"I understand this girl is from San Francisco, where she has a mother,
who ought to be notified and the daughter at once sent home to her; but
I'm in a quandary how to proceed so as not to incur ill-feeling with
the politicians of that neighborhood. [He was a candidate for
reelection.] What would you suggest?"
Quickly I replied: "If that landlady does not know your voice, 'phone,
asking if she has any new girls at present? Then ask her to send the
new one to the 'phone. If she does so, have a talk with the girl of a
nature calculated to lead the landlady to infer you are friendly, and
as soon as it is safe to do so, tell her, the new girl, that she is to
come out presently as though to go to a restaurant for breakfast, that
friends are going to rescue her from her awful predicament, but that
she must be very cautious for fear of creating suspicion. Tell her to
look on the corner of Fourth and L—— Streets for a lady wearing a
small black bonnet trimmed with white and to follow her into the
building where she sees her disappear. Tell her to act as though she
were making arrangements for an evening engagement."
In less than half an hour that poor child was closeted with the chief
and me in his private office. Soon, after reassuring her, he left us
alone in order that I could freely interrogate, and this, after many
tears, was the sum and substance of what she told:
"I've a very comfortable home, a dear mama and two little brothers.
Perhaps I have a stepfather now, for mama was intending to marry again.
He's a chef in —— Hotel."
"Is your papa long dead, dear?" I inquired.
"Papa isn't dead. Mama got a divorce from him a little while ago. He
wouldn't support us —— and ——."
"Has your mama known this chef very long?" I asked.
"Oh, yes, quite a while. I never saw much of him though, 'cause Mama
would rather I wasn't around when he called; so she often used to let
me go to the nickelodeon or the dance with some of the girls I know,
when she expected him to spend the evening."
"How did it happen you came here, my child?" was the next question.
"It was this way. I got acquainted with a fine-looking young lady, a
swell dresser, too, at ——Hall. We took a 'shine' to each other on
sight, and I asked her to call on me, 'cause I wanted Mama to meet her.
Mama liked her, too. She told us she lived with her aunt, Miss Clark,
on Post Street, who was quite nicely fixed. Said she must take me to
see her soon.
"Well, we met often after that, and Mama was pleased because I now had
a companion old enough to take good care of me. One day when I went
home with Tessie, to take tea, her aunt said to her, 'I've just
received a letter from Louise, and she wants to know when you are
coming to make her a visit.' Tessie said, 'Oh, I'd like to go next
week. Mamie, I wonder if you couldn't come, too? Louise is my cousin;
she's well off, and will give us a good time. You ask your mama and
I'll write Louise.' Mama was willing. Tessie's aunt soon got another
letter saying Cousin Louise would be pleased to have me come, so we
made arrangements. I was to meet Tessie at the boat Monday morning at
ten o'clock. Mama wasn't very well, so I went down alone on the car
with my suitcase. We'd bought our tickets Saturday, and for fear of
accidents Tessie gave me mine for safekeeping.
[Illustration: SOME MOTHER'S WANDERING GIRL.]
"I went on board the boat and waited and waited, but up to the last
minute Tessie didn't come, but a messenger boy did—with a note saying
her aunt was sick, but for me to go and she'd come on the next boat.
Louise would be dressed—and described how I would know her, for she
was to meet us. Tessie never came, neither did her cousin. This woman
I'm with is named Louise, but she says she doesn't know Tessie. I don't
know what to make of it, do you?"
Then she told me exactly what kind of life she had been forced to lead
for over two weeks, and that when she first came the landlady dictated
a letter which she (Mamie) wrote to her mother.
"As big a lie as ever was told," said Mamie; "but I had to do as Miss
Louise said, and she mailed it. I haven't written Mama since, 'cause I
didn't want to spoil her pleasure. Guess she's safely married now,
'cause she expected to be."
"My dear child," I said, "will you give me your San Francisco address,
your mother's name and initials? You are going home on the next
steamer. I am going to have her meet you at the wharf. I know the
stewardess, who is a good woman. She will not let you out of her sight
until she hands you over to your mother."
Poor, frail, pretty, little, sixteen-year-old Mamie wept with joy. The
next morning, long before it was time to sail, she was safely hidden
away on board the steamer. The mother, in response to the telegram, was
on hand when the ship reached the San Francisco wharf, and unless she
is different from other women of that caliber, she can not, I think,
ever forget that registered letter, in which some good wholesome advice
was given and such motherhood as she represented was so scathingly
denounced as to upset her honeymoon. Furthermore, I did not hesitate to
inform her that her little daughter was both physically and morally
ruined and that God would hold her (the mother) and her alone
responsible. Was that all? No. The right persons were put on the track
of Tessie and her aunt. Unfortunately, however, they were never, on
account of some technicality, made to suffer, aside from having to take
their immediate departure. However, the just God is taking cognizance
of all these things. Nothing escapes him. "Vengeance is mine; I will
repay, saith the Lord."
Dear reader, I generally leave my audience with a heavy load on my
heart. Why? Because, as other public workers and speakers, I find few,
very few, comparatively speaking, who heed the warnings which
observation and practical experience have prompted me to give out. Once
as I was walking out of a church, two ladies directly behind me were
conversing on the address just finished. One said to the other,
"Weren't you immensely interested in those dreadful word-pictures from
real life?" "Yes," replied the other, "but that work is very unpopular,
and requires peculiarly adapted people, entirely different from you and
me." I silently thanked God for so richly endowing a few of us with
sufficiently peculiar qualities to seek for wonderful, priceless jewels
among the fallen who, through lack of proper home training and
companionship, have taken the downward course. Many of these outcasts,
if sought and cared for, will some day occupy an exalted place in the
LOS ANGELES DANCE-HALLS AND OTHER PLACES.
Well, you may call them first-class if you like; I call them
first-class stepping-stones to an everlasting hell. Furthermore, I will
prove my statement.
On July 24 of that year (1908) I was again in Los Angeles. As usual, I
was interviewed, this time by a Times editor. Among other things I
made mention of the fact that many mothers did not know what their
children were doing after school-hours, and stated that such women had
better play less whist and give their children more attention. And oh!
the terrifying iniquities of society. Do you know, the worst enemy a
girl who has fallen into error has is her own sex. Women simply will
not have anything to do with her, and that is what keeps the world
back. The cause? Selfishness, of course.
"Yes, I believe there are too many marriages of convenience. And oh!
the dreadful race suicide that I know is going on around me on every
hand. It sounds the doom of the American race. We are indeed on the
"Why do not our mothers bring up their girls in a full knowledge of
this world and its snares for young and faltering feet, instead of
letting them run the streets and meet unknown men?"
"It is because the mothers themselves are too often unfit for the
divine duties of motherhood. They are lacking in a knowledge of what
makes for the best life. I have seen so much of it that I am going to
try to arouse the mothers of Los Angeles at a special meeting."
The different dailies kept tab of "Mother Roberts" for some time. To be
a target, a cynosure, is an indescribable cross to the Christian; but
some one must be willing, else how is the world to comprehend the
Among other things said in the mothers' meeting were these:
"Too many mothers will not, because of their false modesty, give proper
instruction to their children. Yes, parents fearfully misrepresent
conditions to their boys and girls, even resorting to absolute
falsehood. Of course the children soon learn the facts, and instead of
the parents and children making confidants of each other, both practise
deception. When girls find out these things, they often slip away to
"When I was sixteen years of age, I saw in a paper an advertisement
stating that an elderly lady wanted a young lady as companion and
amanuensis. The advertisement read very smoothly and I answered it. The
woman, who was seemingly a prepossessing, lonely old woman, inspected
my recommendations and at once engaged me on trial. I shortly returned
to her, taking with me some of my choicest worldly possessions; but
before I had been with her twenty-four hours, some of her strange
actions so alarmed me that on the following morning I made the excuse
at the breakfast table of wanting to go to my boarding-place for
expected mail, promising to return within half an hour. After I had
told the family of my experiences and suspicions, the mother would not
allow me to return even for my effects, which I have not seen from that
day to this. It turned out that I was only one of about forty girls
who had been engaged by that diabolical woman to fill 'positions as
companions.' I am very thankful that 'the way of escape' had been made
for me, and though feeling badly about losing my belongings, I agreed
with my friends that it were better to avoid notoriety than to create a
"At the time of this occurrence (it was in San Francisco) I had but
recently arrived from England, the land of my birth and breeding, under
the protection of elderly people, who consigned me to the care of
relatives in California. As with thousands of other girls, my education
on certain lines had been badly neglected. I was, alas! too
"In after-years, when I became a Christian in spirit as well as in
name, I thanked God for this early experience, which has enabled me to
sympathize with those who, much of the time, are more sinned against
than guilty of sinning, and who so often are enticed away by the
various methods devised by unprincipled beings called men and women.
SATAN LURKS IN THE WALTZ.
"Yes; I have watched them dance in many places, even in Los Angeles. Is
it degrading, demoralizing? You know as well as I that there is nothing
uplifting, nothing of a good moral tendency, about the dance,
especially the waltz; and I saw nothing else offered than the waltz, or
round dances closely resembling it, in either of the places I attended
"My heart sorely ached as I observed mothers with their little girls,
five to twelve years old, allowing, aye, even encouraging them to get
up and waltz on the same floor with questionable characters. Evidently
there is little or no need of introductions. Both sexes anxiously
observe who are the best dancers, and soon these, though perhaps total
strangers, are spinning, sliding, or gliding about together, in many
instances in a close embrace, breast to breast, and cheek to cheek. But
they 'must dance.' they 'love it so.' And the music! The most sensual,
the most alluring, as subtle as a wily serpent, and just as harmful.
"There were church-members there; mothers chaperoning their young
daughters; mothers who profess to be following in the footsteps of the
Redeemer; mothers who have promised to bring up their little ones in
the way Jesus would have them.
"In a few instances I even saw fathers waltzing with their own little
girls on the great crowded dance-hall floor as late as nearly midnight.
'What!' you say, 'surely no father would think of such a thing.'
Perhaps not; perhaps I am presuming. Perhaps it was the mother's escort
to the ball in each instance. I don't know. This I do know: Those
little children last night were eager, hungry, craving, tireless
dancers. O merciful God! The pity of it, the pity of it!
"I observed some of the young men. The contour of some of their heads
peculiarly interested me. To be sure, you could not tell what the
girls' heads were like because of so many etceteras bulging out all
over; but as I looked at many of the young men's heads, I was not long
in deciding that those who danced the most gracefully evidently had
the bulk of their brains in their heels.
"At the first place I visited, one young fellow walked up to a pretty
pompadoured, short-skirted miss who stood close to me and who had
waltzed with several strangers, and asked her to dance. She refused
him. Why? He smelt too strong of whiskey and was unsteady in his gait,
but she did not give him that as her reason, and because of his
persistence she soon said to her companions (some other young girls),
'Come on, let's go down to——; there isn't enough fun here.' It was no
sooner said than done. I also left for this other place, where I found
hundreds of couples dancing, and many refined, pretty-looking young
girls sitting or standing around, waiting for any strange young man to
invite them on to the floor and hug them (oh yes, better call things by
their proper names)—hug them to alluring waltz-time.
EVEN ON THE LORD'S DAY.
"There is hour after hour of this, day after day, night after night;
yes, even on the one day set apart for the worship of our Redeemer and
Creator, and this in the so-called respectable dance-hall. At the
entrance is a prominent sign—'Dancing every night including Sunday.'
'No bowery dancing allowed.' Tell me why that sign if the dance is
"A young gentleman made this comment to me: 'You won't find one girl in
a hundred today, who is not fond of the dance.'
"'Why?' I inquired.
"'Considering their training, it isn't to be wondered at,' he
"'What training?' I questioned.
"'Because their mothers loved it before them, and the girls do not
hesitate to say so.'
"Another young man said: 'I can take advantage of the situation, if so
inclined, every time. Invariably any girl who dances will drink, and
any one that drinks will go still farther.'
"One girl said: 'It isn't what occurs at the actual dance, but any girl
that dances often has to fight for her virtue, almost her life, after
the dance—on her way home. Often her escort takes her only part of
the way. Yet, "like moths that court the candle," even though we know
that death and ruin are in the wake, still we will dance.'
"Whoever heard of any man worth the having, seeking for a wife and the
future mother of his children in a ballroom?
WARNING TO GIRLS.
"Let me quote another young man: 'If the pure-minded girls with whom we
sometimes are dancing knew our thoughts, they would never put a foot on
the ballroom floor again, as they value their lives; but lots of young
girls don't know this, and their mothers who sometimes chaperon them,
don't suspect us. I consider the dance-hall even worse than the saloon.
I'm a dancer myself, but I won't pay serious address to any girl who
"Have matters assumed such shape that we can not furnish the majority
of the present generation, pleasures so pure, refining, and alluring
that the dance and other vices may not be relegated to oblivion? This
question should stir the innermost recesses of the souls of all who are
interested in the welfare of the young people of today, be they young
or old, rich or poor. The next generation is cursed already,
frightfully cursed, unless unusual sacrifice will now be made. There is
no time to lose, especially on the part of those who love the title,
'Soldier of the Cross.'
"'Put on the whole armor of God.' Go where he wants you to go. Do what
he wants you to do. Be what he wants you to be, in thought, in word, in
deed, even though it may mean to part with your very life. God is
yearning for a few more Calebs and Joshuas and Daniels. What use to
pray 'Thy Kingdom Come,' if you patronize or countenance places where,
under no consideration, could you invite the One you profess to love
WOMAN EMPLOYED AT DANCE-HALL TELLS OF MANY PITFALLS.
Whilst contending against the dance-hall evil, I received a note asking
for an immediate interview. The writer, who signed her own name, stated
that she had been an employee in ——'s Dance-hall (rated as one of the
exclusive and first-class places) and that she believed that, under the
existing circumstances, my granting her an audience, would still
further aid the cause, as she could throw much light on the subject.
Soon she was at my rooms, also a reporter, and the following is, in
part, what she had to say:
"I am utterly disgusted with dance-halls, and am determined to do all I
can against them. Mr. C—— [her husband] and I came here from New York
in reduced financial circumstances, and I applied for and obtained a
position at ——'s Dance-hall.
"For reasons best known to ourselves, we posed as brother and sister,
pretending my husband was in the East. I worked there only fourteen
days, or until my husband secured a permanent position, but I left the
place with a complete knowledge of the disreputable work done there
under the guise of a respectable dance-hall. I do not wish to be mean
in my assertions, but the facts will bear me up in what I actually saw
and heard during the two weeks I was engaged at ——'s Dance-hall.
"I was on the reception committee to introduce the lonesome boys to the
charming girls for the dances. It would take me two hours to state the
disgusting features I saw there.
"The manager at one time asked me to drink whiskey with him. I told him
that I was not in the habit of indulging and that if I should get drunk
he would have to take care of me, to which he said, 'I can do that all
"One night a young man became dead drunk in the dance-hall, in full
view of the dancers, making a disgusting show of himself, all of which
apparently passed unnoticed by the manager. The friends of the young
man took him out of the hall.
"One time I saw a young girl dancing with a young man who was trying to
hide a whiskey bottle, with which she and her partner appeared to be
mixed. All this was supposed to be in plain sight of the manager.
"A young girl on duty selling tickets asked me to bring her an empty
glass from the soda fountain. A young man took it and filled it nearly
full with brandy and passed it to the girl. She slyly wrapped her
handkerchief around it to hide the brandy, and drank it as if drinking
a glass of water. This was seen by several by-standers.
"It makes me shudder to think of what I saw and heard in that hall. One
young girl unused to the ways of the world was taken out of the hall in
a ruined condition, and after an unlawful surgical operation had been
performed, she was sent to a well-known hospital. She was the victim of
a prominent lawyer of Los Angeles.
"One night last week the manager spoke through a megaphone, during the
intermission of the dance, asking everybody to sign a petition he had
prepared stating that the place was properly run, and to sign it in
order that he could continue the dance-hall business. I know of one
man who signed a fictitious name to the petition, with the remark that
others were doing the same," etc.
She told much more, some of which was not fit to print, but surely that
is sufficient from her.
I was able one night to show a reporter that no erroneous statements
had been made. On the contrary, he was shocked as he noted the wily
depravity. His attention was attracted to a good-looking young man who
had slipped one of the reception committee young women a piece of
money. Together we watched the outcome. She made for a pretty, graceful
young girl just leaving the dance-ring and whispered audibly, "There's
a swell young fellow wants to have the honor of dancing with you."
Before the girl had time to think or answer, he was right on hand,
saying, "May I have the pleasure of the next waltz? My name is Jones."
Then the introducer manufactured a name for the pretty young girl, the
music started up, and the next moment she was gliding over the perfect
dancing-floor in the embrace of this strange fellow. Is that all? Not
by any means. He invited her to an innocent dish of ice-cream. (If a
girl does not accept such an invitation, but she usually does, the
would-be seducer knows she is a gold mine if he can ever secure her,
and he works to that end.) She accepted. We watched our opportunity,
and, between dances, when no one was taking notice, we whispered the
word of warning. For a moment she looked alarmed, but did she heed?
Evidently not. Possibly she resented the well-meant advice, and, in
consequence, soon paid the fearful price for so doing.
Upon getting out once more into the fresh air, we could not fail to
observe the many automobiles in waiting. Wherefore? Listen! Shortly
before this visit when I was accompanied by the Times reporter, I was
a temporary guest in one of Los Angeles' representative families, the
mother of whom was one of my tried and true friends. She had two noble,
handsome sons. One of them came home one day in a high state of
indignation. After he had related to his mother an incident that had
just occurred, she besought him to repeat it for my benefit.
While he was resting in the park bounded by Fifth, Sixth, Olive, and
Hill Streets, a middle-aged man of good dress and appearance seated
himself on the same bench and, disregarding conventionalities, began to
make himself agreeable, first commenting on the weather and then
gradually leading up to the subject in which he was most interested.
Presently he inquired if my young friend was occupied in business, and
received the reply, "No; not at present, but I am on the lookout for
something that will be worth while." As one word always leads to
another, the stranger soon inquired if the young man could dance.
Receiving an affirmative answer, he remarked:
"Good! I notice you are a swell dresser also, and a pleasant
conversationalist; in fact, have all the requirements if I'm not
"What requirements?" asked my young friend.
"Say, young man," the stranger answered, "I can put you wise to
something that will bring you the quickest returns for the least labor
you ever struck, but 'mums the word.'"
"Fire ahead," replied my young friend; "'mums the word.'"
"First, I note that you are agreeable, educated, well dressed, and a
dancer, all of which takes with the majority of girls, at least the
girls we have to reach. Next, I need you in the ballrooms. Perhaps you
may occasionally require an automobile. To be sure, that is expensive,
"What is he driving at?" silently wondered my young friend. "Guess I
will hear him through. Here's something out of the ordinary."
"Girls will be girls," the man continued. "It's dead easy to win some,
harder with others; but there's big money in it for each new supply you
"Furnish for what?" inquired my young friend.
"The necessary evil, my boy, the necessary evil, of course," was the
Trembling with indignation, my young friend quickly arose and
The procurer disappeared so suddenly that no one of the small crowd
which quickly gathered knew what was the matter until too late to
arrest the scoundrel.
Is that stranger the only procurer? Common sense answers, "No!" My
reader, there are thousands. Therefore if nothing else, no other reason
—and they are many—should cause young ladies to refrain from a
practise which means compromise or ruin, often eternal damnation,
surely this illustration should be sufficient.
Permit me to mention another reason, one I am also able to verify, for
it came from one shipwrecked at the age of twenty-two, and now passed
into eternity, but then lying in one of the wards of the county
hospital. To be brief, he was a dancer. Honor, however, forbade his
making any improper advances to his girl partners, but the effects of
their close proximity were fatal. All the evil of his nature was
stirred, and it would not be suppressed. He yielded; visited places
whose thresholds he would never otherwise have crossed; then followed
depravity, disease, and an untimely death. Who was responsible for
this? The unharmed girls with whom he danced. Surely a word to the
wise is sufficient. If dancing causes my brother to err, I will dance
Whilst doing a house-to-house work in one of our large coast towns,
also filling various pulpits whenever opportunity permitted, I was on
one occasion cordially invited to enter the lodging of a girl, who,
when I was seated, quickly turned the key in the lock, remarking as she
did so: "You're just the kind of a person I have been hoping this long
time to meet. Excuse me for locking you in, but I don't want to be
disturbed while you are here, where I'm truly ashamed to have you find
me. I want to tell you my situation and see if you can not immediately
get me out of this awful predicament."
Calling attention to the fact that there was no odor of liquor, no
signs of cigarettes about, and stating that in consequence she was
unpopular with the habitues of the other lodgings in the immediate
vicinity, she inquired:
"Do I look like a hardened sinner?"
"You certainly do not," was my reply.
"Oh! I'm so relieved," she rejoined, "so relieved to hear you say so,
because I want to get away from this life, and I am sure you can help
"All that is in my power, dear girl," I assured her. "Now tell me your
"I've a little brother and sister," she began. "My father, when I was
seventeen years of age, ran off with another woman and deserted poor
Mother, who took it so hard that she lived only two years. This left me
to provide for the children. I had to get some help from the county for
the funeral expenses, and it wasn't easy to make a good appearance and
provide properly for the little ones on what I was earning."
"What were you doing for a living, dear?" I asked.
"I was working in a laundry, from early morning till, many times, late
at night. I got a dollar a day and for over-time was paid extra." (If I
remember correctly, she said ten cents an hour.)
"Was that sufficient to provide food, clothing, and shelter for all
three of you?" I inquired.
"No, mam, though I managed somehow. I boarded them with an old friend
of mother's, who was very kind, and I felt she was never paid enough
for her trouble, so you may be sure I was constantly on the lookout for
a better-paying job. At last I thought I had struck one, but for a
while it would take me away from them, for it was away off in Nevada.
"I answered an ad in the morning paper for a situation in a hotel. The
man and woman wanted me right away, as they were leaving on the evening
train, and would take me with them, also two others. So I quickly made
all my arrangements. Two days later we were there, and it took me no
time to see that our principal work would be to wait on tables in the
saloon and gambling-hall. I had no money, and was in debt. What could
I do but make the best of it? and it is surprising how soon one can."
"Yes, my child. I've frequently heard others make the same sad
remark—but proceed with your story."
"I was making quite a bit, besides sending money home to keep the
children, when something happened which made me so despondent [she did
not say what it was] that one day I quit my job, and one of the girls
said, 'Go down to ——, Sarah. You'll be able to get plenty of honest
work there, at good wages.' So I left; and, believe me, I hadn't struck
—— before some one on the train recognized me as one of the girls who
had worked in the —— Hotel. It was all up with me now. In my despair
I took this den, for which I pay one dollar and fifty cents a day. I
loathe, I hate the business. I am ready and willing to go into
anybody's kitchen and work, and work hard and well, for I know how. Do
you think you could get any one to hire me?"
As she had been brought up by a God-fearing mother, we knelt together
in that vile den, where we both prayed. With the tears streaming down
her cheeks, she prayed her mother's God and her God to forgive her for
having been so weak as to yield to the devil, all because she wanted
more money so as to be able to provide better for the little brother
and sister, and implored Him to give her employment where she could
have them near her until they were old enough to do for themselves.
Now listen to how God answered that prayer. On the next evening
(Sunday), whilst I was addressing a large audience in the
Congregational church, I related this girl's experience and then
requested honest work for her, emphasizing thus: "She claims to be
capable; she looks it; therefore she can earn good wages. Whoever is in
need of such a girl, please privately inform me at the close of this
service." In less than an hour, that girl could have had her choice of
five situations in responsible families. I chose one for her, and for
aught I know to the contrary, she may be there still. (Reader, it is
impossible to keep track of different ones, there are so many.) She
gave such excellent satisfaction that erelong her little brother and
sister were provided a good home in her immediate neighborhood, and
scarcely any one is the wiser for her unfortunate error.
Thus the rescue worker occasionally sees happy results of the travail
of soul for the lost ones; but would to God there were many more
Christian employers like the one Sarah found, who treat her so kindly,
as well as give her what she is capable of earning, that she makes
extra effort to prove her appreciation and gratitude. "But," you say,
"there are not many like Sarah." True; also there are not many
Christians like Sarah's employers. In fact, they are very, very rare.
Many a time have I wearied myself in vain in an endeavor to procure
honest employment for some young girl who has been convicted and
imprisoned a short time for her first offense and who has told me of
her capabilities and begged me to procure employment pending her
release, so that she would not have to return to her undesirable home
and surroundings, with their accompanying temptations.
"We dare say she means well enough now, but we could not think of
hiring her until some one has first tested and proved her trustworthy.
Besides, there are other members of our family; they must be taken into
consideration," is the frequent excuse. Thus the responsibility is
shifted, and, sick and sad at heart, we go away to inform the poor girl
who wants honest work that our efforts have proved futile. We then
implore her to make her home in one of the refuges until she can once
more become established, only to hear her say: "That would hoodoo me
for sure. You know as well as I do that scarcely any wages are offered
to a girl who is hired out of a rescue home, even if she is quite
capable." Reader, it is shamefully true. Oh! why will professed
Christians take so mean an advantage of the situation and expect girls
who have made some mistake, but have the courage to live it down, to
go to work at menial employment for little or nothing? Under such
circumstances, what inducement have they who, if encouraged, would do
May the dear Lord as never before give us an introspective vision of
ourselves as he sees us. This will surely clothe us with the mantle of
Christ-like charity, in the event of our determination to live up to
our profession and numberless privileges.
[Illustration: SAN QUENTIN, PRISON YARD.]
THE WOMEN PRISONERS OF SAN QUENTIN.
The present kind wardens (Hoyle and Reilly) of the two penitentiaries
of California have granted me many more opportunities to enjoy
heart-to-heart talks with the prisoners than I am able to relate. In
but one of these places (San Quentin) are the women incarcerated. In
this department let me endeavor to awaken your interest.
It is situated in a remote corner, inside the prison walls, and is
accessible only through the passage-way underneath the central building
seen in the illustration on next page. It is built two stories high
around a hollow cemented square, with windows looking into the same. It
affords no view, excepting barely the tops of the hills, the sky, and
the matron's house. Truly these poor women are shut in. Not so with the
men, as will be seen in the same picture. It shows a portion of the
beautiful garden into which many a cell door opens. One corner of these
quarters may be seen on the right, the women's being inside of the
building near the tree on the left. Frequently have I, attended by the
matron, Mrs. G. G. Smith, a very warm friend of mine, come through that
iron gateway in the wall, always to be greeted with smiles and warm
words, of welcome by my less fortunate sisters. These meetings were,
without doubt, profitable to all concerned. I enjoyed their orchestra
(some are very musical), and they enjoyed the songs to my autoharp
As I have previously mentioned, the present matron, after much
intercession and with the warden's aid, succeeded, a few months
following her accession to the matronal office, in prevailing upon the
board of prison directors to grant the women prisoners a monthly walk
on God's beautiful green hills. In order to prove their appreciation of
her kindness, the women banded together to give her an entertainment on
the first anniversary of her matronship. To this day they believe the
affair to have been a complete surprise, though she was aware of their
preparations from the beginning.
The day broke warm and beautiful. Immediately after dinner Matron Smith
was escorted to a seat of honor in the yard and the program was opened
by an excellent address of welcome (of which I have an exact copy) by
E——, whose offense was—well, we won't say what nor how long her
term of imprisonment. She is a bright young woman, as the following
well-worded and touching speech amply verifies:
Trusting in your graciousness, and with your approval, we, the inmates
of the female department of this institution, have taken the liberty of
arranging a program for an entertainment to be given in the honor of,
and to celebrate this, your official natal day.
Just a year ago today you came to us. To you it means just the passing
of time in a sphere of action hitherto unknown to you; but to us a year
filled with memories of all things good—easier times, warmer clothing,
and privileges until then unknown.
We have enjoyed, through your kind intercession, and the courtesy of
our noble Warden, the delight of walking forth into the outer world,
even if only for a short time; of seeing once more green fields and
hills clothed in nature's gown of green and flowers; of viewing the
waters of the bay and inhaling the salt sea air; and of being
entertained in your own sweet way, in your own sweet home. At last, but
not least, to have the intense satisfaction of gazing at the outside of
our prison wall, anticipating the time when we will always be outside
of that old wall. And in our daily life together, you, in the discharge
of your duties, have been a kind and gentle matron, listening always
with patience to our tales of woe. And through all the past year you
have been to us our guide, friend, and comrade. We one and all pray
that life will give you health, happiness, and prosperity, and all of
heaven's good gifts.
Then followed an enjoyable program.
Who could not be touched by such tender sentiment from those whom the
world at large regard as well-nigh, if not quite, hopeless cases.
Because of this and also because of the receipt of a recent letter
(Sept. 14, 1911), I humbly and heartily thank God that I am able to
prove that kindness, coupled with good judgment, is very effectual.
Enclosed in this lengthy, newsy letter from the matron are some
excellent up-to-date photos of the San Quentin prison, two of which you
will find between these covers, and also a clipping from one of San
Francisco's daily papers, as follows:
2,000 LEAVE PRISON WALLS.
WARDEN HOYLE GIVES SAN QUENTIN CHARGES AN UNUSUAL PRIVILEGE.
Nearly two thousand convicts at San Quentin prison walked outside the
walls on Admission Day and spent more than three hours in God's
out-of-doors, while they rooted for rival hall teams playing on a
diamond beneath the blue Marin County skies.
No extra guards or precautions marked the first time in the history of
a California State prison that convicts have been permitted to leave
JOKE AND LAUGH.
In orderly procession the men filed out from the prison yard between
the great stone gate-posts, laughing and joking like schoolboys in
their joy at seeing once more an unobstructed sweep of smiling, open
From three o'clock until six fifteen every man in the institution
except the sick and incorrigibles, stood or sat on the ground or
perched on adjoining sheds while the "Whites" and "Blacks" played ball
that would do credit to a fast bush league.
Over at one side sat a row of condemned prisoners, watching their last
ball game and forgetting for a few blessed moments that the shadow of
the scaffold hung over them.
WOMAN FANS, TOO.
From other seats, the women prisoners saw the game.
For four innings neither side scored. Then the "Blacks" pitcher lost
his control, and the two thousand frenzied rooters cheered as man after
man slid home. The score at the close stood 7 to 2 in favor of the
"It's only part of the new policy of trusting the prisoners and
treating them like human beings," said Warden Hoyle today. Hoyle is the
man who is responsible for the innovation. "We have no fear for a break
for liberty, and the men showed that they appreciate decent treatment.
I can't say that we will take the men outside every holiday, but the
experiment was a success and will be tried again."
What the glimpse of a world outside the prison walls meant for the
prisoners can be appreciated by readers of "The Bulletin" who have read
Donald Lowrie's narrative of life within the prison walls.
The Admission Day game marked a new epoch in the history of California
What an innovation compared with former policies! Surely practical
demonstration of these experiments in other parts of the country will
have a tendency to reduce criminality. If not, pray tell me what will?
Time and again have I heard prisoners and others comment upon the
impractical Christianity portrayed, with seldom any exception. They
weary of being only preached to. The actions of such men as Warden
Hoyle and of such women as Matron Smith will probably have more to do
with helping these convicted ones to lead upright lives in the future
than will all the preaching of celebrated divines from now to doomsday,
and I, a Christian, do not hesitate for one moment to say so frankly.
In the name of the dear Lord, let us endeavor to practise what we
preach, and thus win numberless blessings from the throne of grace for
ourselves and others.
VALLEJO, MARE ISLAND, AND ALCATRAZ.
"I am sure you will enjoy a trip with me to Vallejo and Uncle Sam's
great navy yard, adjacent to it. It is only about an hour's ride from
San Francisco and is accessible both by train and boat," I said to my
friend, Mrs. Walter C. Show, of Santa Barbara, whose guest I then was,
in her lovely villa in that beautiful city by the sea. She had been
giving me most interesting accounts of her entertainment of the marines
and the cadets at the time when the fleet lay at anchor in the bay. As
I was soon due in San Francisco, she accompanied me. Before starting we
notified friends; consequently, warm welcome and royal entertainment
was ours from the time of arrival.
As this was by no means my first visit, I prepared her for the shock of
seeing many, many saloons and other disreputable places for the purpose
of robbing hundreds, nay, thousands of boys, far from home and mother,
of their hard and scanty earnings. Nevertheless, there is an excellent
Marine Y.M.C.A. in Vallejo, with a large membership; but they are in
the minority. We saw scores pouring out of the saloons or hanging
around their immediate vicinity; scores more that evening coming in or
going out of the dance-halls and dens of iniquity and vice. Many were
in dreadful stages of intoxication. Alas! the pity, the great pity of
it, that Uncle Sam does not wake up to protect those ready to lay down
their lives for home and country, not to speak of the hundreds of
thousands, nay, millions of our floating population. Where will it all
eventually end? where, oh! where?
I contend that the civic clubs of any community hold the key to the
situation. If they would strive for the prevention of crime rather than
for the reformation of the criminal, the resultant good would soon be
tenfold that of the present regime.
The day following our arrival we were taken to inspect Mare Island. As
heretofore, the prison-ship was filled with young men serving short
terms or awaiting trial for some serious offense. In almost every
instance liquor was responsible for their being in trouble. It was
heartrending. We realized that, aside from speaking a kind word or
giving some motherly advice, we could do little if anything. We were
inadequate to cope with the situation. We could pray with them, poor
lads; we could sympathize with them; but we were practically powerless
in that or in any community that tolerates, licenses, and votes for the
means of the downfall of men, women, and children. All we can do is
pray and wait, wait and pray. God speed the day when the enemy of souls
shall no longer reign over them and laugh at their calamity. God speed
I again made it my business to visit many lost girls in that city,
earnestly pleading with them to quit the downward path and stop
dragging other souls down to hell along with their own. Most of them
appeared to be gospel hardened. One girl, however, seriously impressed
me. She was one of the few who would listen.
"I'll tell you how I'm situated," she said, "and then if you don't
think I am to be pitied more than blamed, you're different from what I
think you are. I've the dearest mother on earth. She lies, a hopeless
cripple, in a little cottage in West Oakland. I also have a little
brother not old enough to go to school yet. I hire a woman who has
known us for many years to take care of them. She is elderly, and, for
the sake of a good home, works for small wages. She knows how I live,
but would rather die than betray me. Mother thinks I am working in a
hotel where I get plenty of 'tips' besides my wages. I go home every
Monday to see her. Mother Roberts, I would give the world if I could
be able to have my pure mother kiss lips that were clean instead of
stained and stained with sin.
"I won't send her to the hospital. I love her better than my life.
She'd die there, for the need of nice little things they never provide,
and other necessaries. My little brother would have to be reared in
some charity institution. I couldn't stand it. I'm the most unhappy
girl on earth because of the situation, and don't you forget it; but I
can't, I can't earn sufficient honest money to support them and myself
Later, the mother died, and the poor daughter, who had ruined her life
to support her, went insane and then took her life.
Some of the girls told me that one man owned nearly all the dance-halls
there as well as the girls, and that very few of them had any liberty
or money. They were living in hope, but alas! many were dying in
despair. Apparently little if any impression could be made on those we
did have a chance to talk with. We could only sow the seed and trust
our merciful God for results.
All the pastors invited us into the pulpits, where we endeavored
faithfully to give such messages as God saw fit to lay on our hearts.
The next day we left for a visit to Alcatraz Island, the isolated
military prison situated midway between San Francisco and Sausalito.
Oh, what a gloomy, desolate place! Notwithstanding its beautiful
situation, excellent discipline, etc., its atmosphere is most
depressing. Even before one lands one feels weighted down, despondent
for its prisoners, many of whom sit or stand with hats drawn low over
their faces, breaking, ever breaking stones by the roadside. Nearly all
are being punished for desertion. The sympathetic visitor longs to
address them, but is not permitted to do so. He is allowed only a brief
visit with whomsoever he has, after much trouble, received a permit for
an interview, and then always in the presence and within hearing of the
officer in charge. Surely the way of the transgressor is hard, and
especially so with the violator of Uncle Sam's rigid army and navy
rules and regulations. For this reason Uncle Sam ought to remove the
stumbling-blocks that he countenances and legalizes and that cause so
many of his otherwise obedient servants to fall into disrepute and, in
numerous cases, into untimely graves.
The young man whom we had come to visit, though a refined, intelligent
soldier, was a deserter. He had the usual sad story to relate—wine,
women, then desertion. There was so little, with the exception of
Christian sympathy, with which we could encourage him. The future
looked gloomy. I made an effort, through one of my friends in Congress,
to obtain this young man's parole, but as this was his second offense,
the attempt was futile. It is hard, very hard on the missionary to have
to be the bearer of discouraging, often heart-breaking, news; but as
this is part of our office, we bear the cross as we alone can, always
pointing the disappointed and heavy-hearted to the Savior, the
Burden-bearer; sometimes, but not always, leaving them with the load
From this sad place we, with heavy hearts, proceeded to San Quentin.
After spending two hours (for our time was limited) we then departed
for San Francisco, where we visited various points of interest to the
consecrated ones. Then, after an absence of ten days, we returned to
beautiful Santa Barbara, where church and other engagements were
Thence I traveled up the Coast, ever with the one object in view—"the
Master's service." I visited jails and the avenues that lead to that
place, and held many meetings, always being well received by pastors of
various denominations, civic societies, etc. In the name of the Lord,
yet with the spirit of love, I endeavored to place the blame for the
downfall of the masses where it belonged and belongs—at the door of
the licensed saloon.
When I reached San Luis Obispo, I learned, to my great joy, that the
Columbia Park Band Boys of San Francisco, forty of whom were on a
walking tour from that city to Los Angeles, were due the following day.
At Chittenden (my home), just before I left, my friends had
delightfully entertained them with a picnic on their beautiful grounds.
There we learned what an effectual (prevention) work was being carried
on for the reputable lads of the public schools of San Francisco under
the leadership of the Piexotto brothers, who arrange for
entertainments, outings, and treats throughout the year, thus appealing
to all the better instincts and qualities of many of the rising
generation. It is truly a most practical, worthy enterprise, one which
should be adopted in all large cities for the encouragement and the
promotion of better citizenship.
A sad case was awaiting trial in this city—a fifteen-year-old girl
prisoner accused of the murder of her babe. I visited her frequently.
She was finally sent to Whittier Reform School. Much comment on this is
out of the question; suffice it to say, the girl, because of her pre
and post-natal environments, was far more to be pitied than blamed.
I was next due at Santa Maria. During my brief sojourn there I was the
guest of the president of the Women's Improvement Club, who, with many
others, was making a strenuous effort to abolish the saloon from their
midst. I there became acquainted with a very enthusiastic, fearless
child of God, a converted Jew, whose name I can not recall at the time
of this writing, but whose help I greatly appreciated. He was leaving
no stone unturned for the elimination of the local liquor traffic.
Returning to San Luis Obispo for a brief stay, I was much gratified in
renewing the acquaintance of Dr. Bulgin, a successful evangelist, with
whom, in various places, I have had the pleasure of being more or less
associated in the work.
S——, the city where I was on the morning of the earthquake, was once
more, for a short time, my stopping-place. As something that had just
occurred, so dreadful yet so interesting, occupied all my time and
attention during my stay there, and as it furnishes ample material for
another story, I will relate it in the following chapter.
IRENE'S AWFUL FATE—"THE WAGES OF SIN."
After very warmly greeting me, the landlady of the hotel in which I was
staying at the time of the earthquake introduced me to several, with
the remark, "This is the lady of whom I was speaking a while ago—the
one who occupied the room in my house in which the plaster was not even
broken on that morning of the earthquake. I've always claimed God had a
hand in that, for every other room and everything else here was
practically destroyed, as many can testify." This being corroborated by
a number sitting or standing around, she next said:
"Did you come to investigate last night's murder?"
"What murder?" I inquired. "I have not as yet heard of it."
"The awful, cold-blooded murder of a young woman they call Irene, down
on —— Street, by a drunken lad twenty years of age. It's the worst
ever!" she exclaimed.
"Do you know the parties, either of them?" I asked.
"Not the girl, only by sight. She was about twenty, and as pretty as a
picture. She and her sister were leading awful lives. One lies
murdered, and, now that you are here, I guess it won't be hard to
induce the other to quit. They have been well reared, in as nice a
family as you could wish to know. It's too bad, too bad!" mourned my
"What about the lad who has committed this awful deed? Do you know
him?" I inquired.
"Yes, almost ever since he was born. He is an only child. His mother is
a widow, and one of the nicest women you ever met. But he always was
bad, even when a small boy. Let me tell you what he once started to do.
He took a kitten and was in the very act of skinning it alive, just as
you would a rabbit, when he was caught, and the poor little animal
quickly put out of its misery. He seemed to delight in being cruel to
anything that came his way. He'd take a fly and pick a wing or a leg
off at a time, and then turn it loose to enjoy watching it trying to
move about. When he got older, his mother couldn't make him go to
school much, although she did everything to coax or bribe him. He got
beyond her control, and would leave home for days and weeks at a time,
then suddenly put in his appearance and demand money from her, which
she always gave him; otherwise she would have no peace. Then off he'd
go again, to turn up again just as he did yesterday morning, when he
came in on the train and began to make his brags that he meant to paint
the town red before he left it, and he certainly has—with human
[Illustration: VIEW OF WARDEN'S HOUSE, ETC., REPRESA]
"Is not his home here?" I inquired.
"Not now. It used to be, but they moved away to —— —— some time
ago, all owing to his bad actions," she replied, and then added. "My
but I'm awful sorry for his poor mother! One of the nicest Christian
women you ever met, Mother Roberts. I can't understand how God could
punish her with such a child. I can't, indeed!"
Inquiring my way, I soon found myself at the jail, where this
twenty-year-old murderer was being held. The sheriff was very kind; but
he considerately informed me that the lad was in such a shocking state
of inebriety as to be loathsome even to them, and also that they
preferred to let his mother, who had not yet arrived, have the first
Thence I wended my way to the district in which this awful crime, at
nearly midnight the previous night, had been perpetrated. I first
called at a respectable house in the immediate neighborhood, in order
to get my bearings and necessary preliminary information; then soon I
rang the bell of the door where the poor murdered girl had been
lodging, but received no response. Some one next door, however, heard
and answered, then invited me in.
Five girls, all huddled together, their faces still blanched with
horror, confronted me when I entered that room. Never was a missionary
more warmly welcomed. Never was a better opportunity to comfort and
warn, then point to the "Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the
world." Never were more humble prayers or promises of reformation.
Every one of them had homes to go to, and every one promised to go as
soon as the funeral was over. Then I inquired where I could find the
sister of the murdered girl. They told me. They also gave me
particulars concerning the murder.
The lad, it appeared, loitered around that neighborhood before dark,
apparently semi-intoxicated, and then went into one of the houses,
where he still more freely indulged. Upon leaving, he pointed his
pistol and carelessly fired, "just for fun," into a window up-stairs.
The bullet missed a girl's head, singeing her pompadour. Returning at
dark, he renewed his wild revelries. About midnight, because his victim
would not continue to drink with him, he shot her without one word of
warning. Screaming at the top of her voice, she ran through every room
of the house, he after her, still shooting. He emptied every barrel of
his weapon into her poor sinful body. Every girl and youth under that
roof fled at the first shot. The murderer, after doing his worst,
coolly walked out, went up-town, and entered a saloon. There, as he
called for a drink, he laid his weapon on the bar, bragging as he did
so of his terrible deed. He was immediately arrested.
When the officers arrived at the scene of the crime, they found the
bloody trace of the victim in every room, and when they finally
discovered her, she was quite dead. She was kneeling by her bedside,
her head buried in the clothes, her hands tightly clasped as though she
had been trying to pray as her poor soul passed out into eternity.
I found her sister and had a heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul talk with
her—one that I shall never forget. She was so silent, so
uncommunicative, yet I talked on until I felt the Spirit say, "Enough."
I have seen her since. She was still leading the kind of life which had
been instrumental in sending her sister's soul and others' souls by the
thousands to eternal perdition. She received me kindly, but she would
not heed, notwithstanding she admitted that she was haunted the
livelong time. She would give no reason for continuing on the road to
"Who were these sisters?" you ask. Daughters of parents who were in
comfortable circumstances and stood well in their community. I was
told that both girls were inveterate novel-readers, patrons of every
show that came to town, good dancers and dressers, and—reader, it is
the same old sad, sad story. They confided in any one rather than their
parents; and hence were easily persuaded to take the first step
And what about that boy, whose mother wept and mourned and questioned
why this awful trouble should have been put upon her, she who had
never wronged anybody in all her lifetime.
Listen! poor afflicted mother. You have forgotten that when you were
young and newly married you did not want to be burdened with motherhood
for a long time to come. You wanted to continue to enjoy social
functions in the very pretty dresses your fond parents had provided
toward your wedding trousseau; you had no intention for many a long day
to settle down to the usual routine incident to motherhood; in fact,
you purposed to have a good time for the next two or three years,
before your pretty clothes went out of fashion; besides, you did not
particularly take to children anyhow, and if you had had your own way,
you would never have had any. You said it, and you know it, that a
woman is so tied down who has babies to take care of.
The time came when the greatest boon conferred on woman was to be
conferred on you. What did you do? How angry you were as you, for
months nursed your grievance, because God was going to have his way in
spite of all opposition. One day the little babe was laid in your arms.
As he was a goodly child to look upon, you were resigned; but, oh!
poor, poor, untutored mother! you had unawares robbed your darling of
his birthright, and, furthermore, you had brought into the world a
being with murderous tendencies. Yes, you were converted at that
revival meeting, and knew that all your past sins were blotted out by
the efficacy of the precious blood of Jesus. Yes, we know you are
living a Christian life so far as you know how, but "your sins have
been visited upon" your poor child. The germ was in his being, and now
he must pay the penalty for your crime of a little over twenty years
ago. For crime it was, and you can not call it by any other name.
"Others have been alike guilty," you say. Alas, yes! by the thousands;
but that never for a moment excuses you.
You didn't know? No; not altogether, for you were not taking a look, a
long look into the future. You had no instruction from your own fond,
indulgent, falsely modest mother regarding these God-given functions,
capable of producing a soul, a wonderful soul; and so you ignorantly,
Never was mortal sorrier for another than I am for you. Never was
mortal more anxious to help bear another's burden than I am to help
bear yours; but it is well-nigh impossible for me to do so. Only Jesus
can ease your broken heart. Only Jesus can comfort you. Only Jesus can
heal your terrible, terrible wound, poor, weeping, afflicted mother.
All I am able to do is to sympathize with and pray for you.
After this heart-rending experience I was glad to rest a few days at
Chittenden and enjoy the fellowship of its cherished owners. Ah! how
kind, how very, very kind they were! but the mail was constantly
bringing calls that were more or less, urgent; sometimes to quickly
locate a wandering girl; sometimes to come to a juvenile court session,
or perhaps to a hospital or jail; and one was to assist in the work at
Portland, Ore. Whilst considering the latter call and praying for
leadings, I took time to hold some meetings in an interior town.
Following a mothers' meeting there a young lady urged me to visit her
and have a confidential talk with her upon a matter which was of vital
importance. I did so, and this is what she said:
"What I am about to betray would lose me my situation if it were known;
therefore I shall rely on you to respect strictly the confidence I am
about to place in you, as to the source from whence you received it. I
have a position in the telephone-office, consequently, I hear many
conversations, some of which are utterly demoralising.
"There is a certain woman in this city whose business it is, at least
so I judge, to corrupt, morally and physically, young school and
messenger boys, as you will surmise by a conversation which took place
this very morning, and it is not her first offense. She called for her
party, and as I could not get them at once, I asked for her number, so
as to be able to call her as soon as I could. Presently I succeeded,
and soon she was asking:
"'Is this Harry?'
"Some one at the other end of the line replied:
"'Yes. Is that you, Cora?'
"'Of course, you little dunce. When are you coming down again? Didn't
"'Dandy. But say, Cora, it's awful risky. I'm not fourteen yet. What if
I should get nabbed?'
"'No, you won't if you'll mind me. Now listen. Come in at the lower
side entrance. I'll give a tip to the bar-tender. If the coast is
clear, you can come up the back stairs; if not, he'll hide you until I
"'Tomorrow after you're out. You know. After three. So long.'"
The case was sickening, revolting; but it demanded immediate action.
After prayerfully meditating for a few minutes, I called up the chief
of police, asked for audience without delay, and soon thereafter was in
his private office. After listening attentively to my recital, he at
first thought to wait until the morrow and then arrest all parties
concerned; but upon reflection he decided that that course would never
do, as the boy's parents were of high social standing. The arrest would
ruin them. Moreover, it would never do to wait until the morrow. One of
his private detectives was immediately deputized to call on Miss Cora
and give her twelve hours to leave town, bag and baggage. He was to
tell her the real reason and to inform her that if she refused to go
she would be arrested and severely punished for enticing and harboring
minors. Short as the time was, she managed to dispose of her things.
Her house was permanently closed, and the saloon soon afterward.
As to the boy, I waylaid him on his way home from school and told him
what I had found out, so that he was perfectly willing to go with me to
the chief of police, who, I am satisfied, gave him much fatherly advice
as well as a thorough scare, calculated to last as long as he lived and
also to aid him in warning his schoolmates and friends having similar
But I must return to Chittenden. Several letters from Oregon had been
forwarded. I felt that I must answer this call, God willing. I decided
to help there, at least temporarily. Accordingly, one morning, bright
and early, I started.
As I boarded the train, Mr. and Mrs. Chittenden handed me a letter, the
reading of which brought tears of love and appreciation. Here it is,
word for word:
Chittenden, Cal., Nov. 15, 1909. Dear Mrs. Roberts:
We do not wish you to cross the State line into Oregon without carrying
a few words from home with you—that is our excuse for the writing of
You have been one of us at Chittenden since you were invited to make
our home yours last spring. Our wish was, and is, that Chittenden
should be your home in all that the name implies—a place to which you
could always turn for rest and recuperation from your unselfish labors;
and from which you could go forth again to your chosen task to battle
against evil, cheered by kind words, and knowing that warm hearts and a
warm welcome were waiting for you when you again needed rest.
You have been with us now for over half a year, and your presence here
has been most agreeable to us. Our respect for you has ripened into
regard, and our regard into affection, and now that you are leaving us,
we realize how much the home spirit has worked to bind us all together,
and we know that we shall miss you and shall often wish to have you
with us again.
Well, Oregon can not claim you all the time. Some time you will feel
weary and overworked—some time you will need rest—and when you do,
just remember that there is a little green and flowery spot along the
railway down in California—a place where the door stands always open,
and where sincere friends are always waiting to welcome you—and—come
Sincerely your friends.
Ida H. Chittenden.
I stopped off at several places: at San Jose and San Francisco, to
visit the rescue homes and dear friends, particularly dear Sister
Kauffman, whose house had been dynamited and destroyed at the time of
the fire following the earthquake, but who still sheltered many a girl
in temporary cottages on the land where the home had once stood; next
Berkeley, where lives my hospitable friend, Mrs. J. T. Anderson, whose
beautiful home I enjoy the freedom of whenever in her neighborhood;
then Sacramento, to spend one night with dear Mrs. Trefren, already
referred to as one of my warmest friends; then Redding, my old home,
where I rescued little Rosa, and which was the scene of many battles
and victories in the name of the Lord. At this latter place there
awaited me a royal reception from my many former friends and
associates. It had been more than a decade since I had held up on the
rear platform of the train that Bible with its blessed parting message
from Gal. 6:9. All through the interval the Master had graciously
permitted me to sow and to reap. Though there had been much more sowing
than reaping, yet there had not been a great deal of fainting, for the
grace of God had been all sufficient. Hallelujah!
Before I had been many days in Portland, I received a telegram telling
of the death of Mr. Roberts. (Reader, I have refrained from stating in
this book under what circumstances and at what time Mr. Roberts came
back into my life, simply because that matter has no direct reference
to the title of the book and also because it recalls too much pain and
distress of a private nature. This I will say: With the other duties an
added heavy cross was mine, owing to his mental and physical
condition—a cross which, I regret to say, I did not always bear as
patiently or as cheerfully as I might have borne it. It lasted from
February, 1905, to November, 1009.) A caved-in tunnel near the State
line prohibited my return, but Pastor Harper, of San Jose, and other
kind friends relieved me of all final responsibilities regarding my
Until my return to California three months later, in the direct
interests of the prison commission work, I worked even more laboriously
than ever before. As ever, the Lord raised up many friends for me in
Portland and vicinity; yet, at the same time, I was bitterly opposed
and well-nigh overwhelmed by the enemy, who resorted to all sorts of
means and devices to crush both soul and body. Did he succeed? No,
indeed; for God was "my refuge and strength, a very present help in
trouble." His not the Lord promised that "when the enemy shall come in
like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against
him" (Isa. 59:19)? What blessed assurance for those who truly love and
try to serve him! Hallelujah!
My last meeting before leaving Oregon was under the auspices of the
Woman's Christian Temperance Union in a suburb called St. John's. An
account of the service was made in the local paper, The Review, Feb. 4,
1910, as follows:
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of St Johns planned a treat for
the women of this place which proved a grand success. Mrs. Florence
Roberts, better known as "Mother Roberts," spoke for an hour to over
one hundred and fifty women in Bickner's Hall Tuesday afternoon. The
most strict attention as paid, for it was a most solemn message she
gave to us. After the meeting refreshments were served, and the ladies
lingered a while to get acquainted. Five new members were added to the
I left there that same night for California, and the next meeting that
I shall mention was that held the following Sunday evening in the fine
hall of the ex-prisoners' home, 110 Silver Street, San Francisco. On
this occasion I had the prayers of many former prisoners that God would
bless me as I went forth to interest the people in their behalf and to
open hearts and purses to aid in lifting the mortgage on this
home—"Golden Rule Hall." In this interest I remained in San Francisco
for some time, being occupied exclusively in interviewing responsible
business people and portraying the need of their cooperation,
financially and otherwise. During this time I was the guest of Brother
Charles Montgomery, president of the board of prison commissioners, at
his hotel—The Brooklyn. Afterward I visited San Mateo and Burlingame,
with the same object in view. At the former place the young pastor of
the Methodist Episcopal church, Rev. C. B. Sylvester, was just
commencing a series of revival meetings. Upon learning my errand to San
Mateo, he and his wife urged my cooperation in the evening services,
and to this end invited me to remain under their roof. As I acceded to
their wishes, double duty for the kingdom now confronted me, but the
realization that our Lord never imposed too heavy a burden was now
demonstrated. Those precious meetings closed in two weeks, with most
blessed results. This records my first active, actual revival work.
To the glory of God, let me make mention that hundreds of dollars was
the result of the daytime labor for the payment of the ex-prisoners'
During July and August, 1910, I was in an interior town and was
laboring under an indescribable burden for certain souls. I believe I
know what untold soul-agony is. Whilst almost sinking beneath my load,
I received a letter from one whom, with his bride, I had been brought
into Christian fellowship with in the early days of rescue experience.
The missive had followed me from one place to another until only the
last address could be plainly deciphered, owing to numerous erasures.
Other letters had often miscarried and failed to reach me. This one
was, by the hand of God, safely guided through. The father, with four
little helpless children on his hands, wrote of the mental derangement
of their mother, of his inability to find help, and of his pleading to
God to send some one consecrated enough to assist them in their time of
trouble. He was a poor man, but had a home and was working
industriously at his trade to support his little flock, the youngest of
whom was not four years old, the eldest ten.
Positively I knew of no one to go to the rescue. Whilst I was praying
earnestly for the Lord to find some good woman to mother those little
ones pending their mother's recovering, I received the impression, "Go
yourself." Surely there is work everywhere—just as much in that
distant town as where I was. I admit I shrank from so trying an ordeal,
but, do my best, I could not silence the impression, "Go yourself." I
prayed that if no other door opened within the next three days, God
would let me regard this as a sign that his voice was bidding me take
up this cross. Such was his will. I wrote, saying, "Expect me [date] on
evening train." For nine weeks my immediate duty was with those little
ones. Still further to try me, there was added to my domestic labors,
measles. No sooner had one child recovered than the next was taken with
them, until all had been similarly afflicted.
Some of the neighbors, having learned that "Mother Roberts" was quietly
sojourning at this brother's house, called; and soon I was assisted
with very necessary sewing, etc. After the three oldest children were
once more able to go to school. I received a unanimous invitation to
hold revival meetings in that town. About this time God sent the
brother a splendid housekeeper, an elderly Christian woman, who
relieved me of domestic duties, so that I was able to accept the call
On February 1 of this year (1911) I received from Wheeling, W. Va., a
telegram which filled me with indescribable joy, for it informed me of
the birth of a little grandson. (My first grandchild and little
namesake I have never seen. God took her when she was nine months old.)
I longed to hold this dear little one in my arms and prayed God to
grant my heart's desire, if according to his will. And he did. Bless
his holy name! Following the revival services already mentioned, came a
call from another town not far distant. At the close of this meeting a
free-will offering enabled me to take the desired trip. On March 7,
1911, in company with a lady who was going within a short distance of
my destination, I boarded the train and before long was with my
precious little family. My cup of happiness was now filled to the brim,
my heart overflowing with gratitude to God, as I embraced my dear ones
and their precious little son.
MY RETURN TO THE MISSIONARY FIELD.
In a few weeks a longing to return to missionary work was again taking
possession of me. In vain I sought for the undenominational rescue hall
usually to be found in large cities. Apparently Wheeling had nothing of
this kind, though surely very much needed. Moreover, the requisite
encouragement for the starting of one was not forthcoming.
Sundays would find me with my treasured auto-harp in the jail, work
house, or infirmary at the afternoon services, which for years have
been conducted by consecrated Christians, longing as much, nay, even
perhaps more than I, for the necessary places of refuge for discharged
prisoners and others. God speed the day when these needed institutions
shall be amply supplied.
A lengthy conversation with one of the local judges, who is specially
interested in juvenile offenders, elicited the fact of there being no
place of detention for erring children except with the professed or
habitual criminals. Comment upon this is superfluous; it is sufficient
to say that in nine cases out of ten disastrous results are
inevitable. Owing to a lack of interest, of means, or of cooperation,
perhaps of sufficient good citizenship, maybe of all four, the judge
and his coworkers seem to be unable at present to cope with or improve
the situation. In a few years hence, this and other cities similarly
situated will be facing a problem well-nigh impossible to solve, unless
unusual efforts are made to provide for detention homes and schools for
the delinquent children, now so numerous everywhere, excepting in towns
and States where the awful liquor octopus, so largely responsible for
crime and criminal tendencies, is absolutely abolished. Let us not for
a moment forget that these youthful offenders are, in the main, the
offspring of lovers of drink and its accessories. Thus the sins of the
parents are visited upon the children, and upon the children's
children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate God;
but he says that he will show mercy unto thousands of them that love
him and keep his commandments (Deut. 5:9, 10).
A pastor, describing the situation, informed me with the tears in his
eyes that, notwithstanding all the efforts put forth for children's
spiritual instruction, the results were very meager, owing to the
indifference of parents—fathers and mothers who send their little ones
to Sunday-school in the morning and then undo all the good in the
afternoon by supplying them with nickels and sending them unchaperoned
to the moving-picture shows, in order that they (the parents) may be
free to indulge in worldly pleasures and amusements. Fortunately, a
Sunday-closing movement in this direction has recently been crowned
Some time in April as I was taking a streetcar ride between Wheeling,
W. Va., and an adjacent town just across the river in the State of
Ohio, my soul was uplifted when my eyes alighted upon this sign: "City
Gospel Mission." Upon getting off the car at the next corner, I soon
learned from the one who was superintending this work of the need of
more consecrated assistants. I therefore at once volunteered my
services. God saw fit to keep me in this field for three months, or
until the time came for him to trust me still further along in his
glorious light and liberty, thus giving me greater realization than
ever before of what "the steps to His throne" mean literally as well as
spiritually. To explain: My attention was attracted to a little band of
workers quietly, unostentatiously living remarkable lives of humility
faith, and prayer, depending absolutely upon our heavenly Father for
all necessities, health of body as well as of soul, and, in fact,
literally following God's Word, in spirit and in truth. Investigation
convinced me beyond a doubt that my Lord had very much more of his
riches for my enjoyment here on earth than of what I had already
partaken, if I would be willing still further to humble myself.
For days the adversary contended with my soul. Everything calculated to
discourage me was brought to bear, but praise God forever for victory!
On the day it was gained, I informed my loved ones that I was soon to
leave them in order to answer the call of God in an entirely new field
of labor, where opportunity would shortly be granted me to give the
world the benefit of a few of the numerous experiences of the past
fifteen years. Through the consecrated humble little band already
referred to, I learned of the Gospel Trumpet Home and Publishing
Company, situated at Anderson, Indiana. I wrote to them, and shortly
afterwards received a cordial invitation to visit them for an
indefinite period. About the middle of August I was lovingly greeted by
a family of about two hundred and fifty children of God, mostly young
people of both sexes, all consecrated faith workers; all cheerfully and
gladly giving the Lord their time and talents in this beautiful spot
and being abundantly provided for materially as well as spiritually.
Here, whilst writing these experiences, I am enjoying blessed rest of
both soul and body, such as I had never dreamed of; for, like many,
many others, I had no idea of there being such a foretaste of heaven
oil earth as this which is being daily and hourly demonstrated by the
many members of the church of God (Col. 1:18) sojourning under this
roof of prevailing prayer and practical faith. Best of all, every one
is given cordial invitation to investigate personally; to satisfy
himself beyond a doubt that the God who so wonderfully fed the
Israelites in the wilderness in Moses' time, and that the Christ who
multiplied the loaves and fishes, who went about healing all manner of
divers diseases as well as speaking the word of life to the sin-sick
soul, is positively, absolutely, "just the same today." These people,
so I learn, are to be found scattered broadcast. Look them up. They are
known as the church of God. They are those who have come out from
confusion and sectarianism into the only church God will ever
recognize—the body of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. I praise
him with all my soul that through his wondrous grace I am now in this
glorious light and liberty.
SOME PRECIOUS LETTERS FROM PRECIOUS CHILDREN.
Many poets have likened life to a dream. Reader, doubtless you are
aware, as I am, that life is but too realistic for the masses, the
great masses of suffering, sorrow-stricken humanity, with so few,
comparatively speaking, so few to uplift, comfort, cheer, and sustain;
so few to speak the blessed words of a bright hereafter. Especially is
this so with regard to those of the underworld. We find but few of the
home missionaries undertaking this line of work; still fewer who have
the God-given grace and courage, coupled with soul-love, to go to the
fallen sister and help her out of sin; very few who do not shrink from
putting a foot across the threshold of a jail or prison; but many, very
many quite willing to fill the easy places; quite ready to perform
tasks, provided these will not cost much inconvenience, comfort,
personal pride, sacrifice, or money. But some (are you among them?)
were delegated to go out into the highways and hedges, the streets, and
the lanes, and compel (by the power of divine love) those found there,
to come to the King's banquet, in order that his supper might be
furnished with guests. Most plainly does our Master emphasize the fact
that the publicans and the outcasts will largely be represented on that
great day, that day which will positively come, and which in these
perilous times is seemingly right at our very thresholds.
I shall never forget going into the San Jose jail on one occasion and
trying to impress a girl who, as she lay on her cot, seemed utterly
indifferent to all advances; even turning her face to the wall and
stopping her ears with her fingers. Imagine my great surprise months
afterwards on receiving the following letter from her:
San Francisco, Cal.,
March 16, 1906.
My dear Mrs. Roberts:
I am feeling so lonesome and blue here tonight all alone in my room….
Somehow my thoughts turned to you, and I could not keep the tears from
my eyes as I realized that I had one friend, because you were, oh! so
kind to me during my imprisonment in San Jose.
Dear Mrs. Roberts, can you bring before your mind's eye this picture?
Picture, if you can, the desolate darkness of the night extending on
and on. For months not a ray of light, not one kind word, not one
friendly face, until at last, when almost in despair, a gleam of
sunshine shot across your pathway, a kind, loving voice said. "I will
be your friend; I will help you." Such was my condition, and you, Mrs.
Roberts, was that gleam of sunshine. Your voice was the one that
cheered me until I took fresh courage. Mrs. Roberts, God has taken me
back…. May God bless you in your work…. I wish I could see you and
talk with you. You are indeed my spiritual mother. I hope you will
allow me to call you so. I wanted to tell you how much you had helped
me. I know you are very busy, but if you have time, please drop me one
line. I am so hungry for a message from you to cheer me up. May God
bless you and yours.
San Francisco, Cal.,
March 20, 1900.
Dear Mrs. Roberts—My Spiritual Mother:
I cried from pure joy when I received your letter and photo. Yes, God
is most wonderfully showing me his way, and at last my spirit is
broken, and I am content to obey the voice of my Savior.
Praise God for his wonderful salvation that saves and keeps one
enjoying his great blessings! Praise his name! I have nothing now to
fear. Mrs. Roberts, I am glad I did that time in jail, because it
taught me the lesson of patience and submission, and now it is much
easier for me to live a Christian life. I now have a better experience
than I could have had otherwise. Pray for me, Mother Roberts, and I
will pray for you. May God give you success in your work.
May God bless you and yours is the prayer of your spiritual child,
FROM A PRISON BOY.
San Quentin, Cal.,
Sept. 13, ——.
My dear Friend Mother Roberts:
I received your letter of the 4th inst. and was very glad to get it,
and will try and drop you a line in answer now, although there is not
much in the way of news. I am much better now and am working outside
around the warden's house, where I can get plenty of fresh air; so I
think the time will pass much more pleasanter than if I was on the
inside of the prison walls. I had quite a siege of sickness
(pleuro-pneumonia the doctor pronounced it), but I am getting better
all the time and think soon to be entirely strong again.
I think often of the kindness you showed me while I was in —— [a
county jail], and I will never forget it or the advice you gave me. You
started me on the right path to heaven, and I do pray to God that he
will lead the rest of the way so that when I stand before him on the
judgment-day he will claim me as one of his own children. There is one
thing that worries me: my mother is quite sick, and writes me that she
does not expect to live to see me set at liberty, but I pray to God to
spare her until I am free and able to prove to her and every one else
that I am a true child of God and worthy to take my place amongst
honest Christian men. Don't think I can ever forget you, and my
thoughts are with you when my words are not.
I will close now, hoping that God will take care of you, which is the
prayer of your friend,
FROM A RECLAIMED WIFE.
San Francisco, Cal.,
Dear Mother Roberts:
You don't know how glad I was to receive your kind and loving letter.
Yes, I can praise God this very day for his loving-kindness and tender
mercy. Yesterday I gave a testimony to some poor souls at San Quentin,
and you don't know how much good it did them. Three gave their hearts
to God. All that I am praying for now is that Jesus may make me a
shining light for souls that know him not. There was one prisoner that
knew me in my life of sin, and he told the others that I looked ten
Oh, may God forbid that it may ever be so again; for when I think how
he has snatched me out from the pit of hell, oh, how I love my Jesus
more and more, dear Mama Roberts!…
What God has done for me, surely he can do for others. I only wish I
could turn this wicked world upside down and make it new again. In one
of the Psalms I read, "My soul hath kept thy testimonies, and I love
them exceedingly." May it always be so.
Mama Roberts, I will soon get a letter from Lucy. You don't know how I
love to get her letters. I assure you that when I get blue I take and
read one or two lines that her gentle hand has written, and it does me
Now, tomorrow night, you know, is prayer-meeting night, and I know you
won't forget me. Pray that I may, by the grace of God, do some poor
soul good by telling them of the life that I led for twenty and one
years [drink, etc.]…
I will close with love from one that dearly loves you and who will
always pray for you. I remain as ever,
Yours in Christ, E—— K——.
P.S. My husband wishes to be remembered to you. I hope that you will
come to see me soon. Write soon.
FROM A THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD SINNED-AGAINST CHILD.
Dear Mama Roberts:
I am learning about Jesus day by day. I hope you are well and strong.
The Lord will help you….
My little chick is growing, and its mother is showing her little chick
Pray for me. I am praying for you, too.
From your dear, F—— E——.
FROM ONE IN A HOUSE OF SIN.
Mrs. Florence Roberts:
Your very kind letter received yesterday and am glad that your meeting
at the church was successful. I also hope ere this that you have
arrived safely in —— and that your trip was pleasant.
Mrs. Roberts, briefly concerning myself; words can not express my
appreciation of the interest you are taking in me, and I hope I may be
spared to prove to you that your efforts have not been in vain. I hope
the day may not be far distant when I may make myself worthy of your
friendship and interest—and hoping that you may think of whatever
goodness I may possess, and not of what my life has been, I beg to
The foregoing letter was written in a beautiful hand.
FROM A VERY YOUNG MOTHER.
My dear Mama Roberts:
I will now sit down to answer your most dear and welcome letter of so
long ago, which has not been answered; but do not think I have
forgotten you. You have been so kind and good to me that I will ever
love you and not forget you…. The baby was pretty sick before the 4th
of July, but he is well and fat now. I feed him on Mellin's food…. My
stepfather says that the day I speak to the baby's father I will lose
the home I have. He (the baby's father) does not give me five cents.
All that the baby has I work good and hard to get. What he and I need,
I earn honestly. I work whenever I have the opportunity, as my
stepfather is the only one we can depend upon [she was only sixteen
years old], and we are four boys and three girls, grandma, mama, the
baby, and himself; so it is hard for him, and I haven't the heart to
ask them for anything, no matter how bad I need it. I take in washing
from the boarders at the two hotels, also sewing and ironing, or go out
to do housework whenever I can.
I must close, as I must help mama to get the supper. With love and
regards to Mama Roberts from all…. I don't forget my Bible and verse.
FROM A GRATEFUL MOTHER.
S——, July 28.
Mrs. Florence Roberts.
My dear Madam:
My darling daughter E—— has been home for a short time and has told
me the kind interest you have taken in her welfare.
I wish to say for your pleasure (and certainly mine) that E—— is very
much in earnest over your advice. I sincerely believe it will take only
a little more persuasion on your part to fully convince her to give up
her worldly ways and do as you wish her. Oh, how happy I shall be! My
heart is breaking for my dear, sweet girl. She is bright and
accomplished. She could help you so much in your noble work, which we
both know would greatly help her. God is surely working in her heart.
She says, "Mama, I can't get Mrs. Roberts out of my mind. All the time
I was away [This girl used to leave home on periodical carousals], I
could but think of her, and if it hadn't been Mrs. R—— talked so good
to me, I would have had a big old time." Now, my dear friend, do you
not think that encouraging? I shall pray every moment for your success.
God surely will help us to save my darling child.
My dear Mrs. Roberts, please call and see me when you return to S——.
So much I would like to say.
With my earnest prayer for your success, I am yours most sincerely,
FROM A GRATEFUL FATHER.
Mrs. Florence Roberts:
May God forever bless you and reward you, dear madam, for being good to
my poor boy. The board of prison directors have granted his parole, and
if he behaves himself for two years, then he can apply to the governor
for his pardon. I hope it will soon come my way to show you how much I
appreciate how hard you worked to get his parole. God knows I do….
Please forgive my poor effort to thank you. I can find no words, but
God forever bless you, and I'm sure he will.
Yours most gratefully, G—— F——.
The following is a reply to an anonymous letter introducing one who was
undergoing a laborious effort to make good. I hope that this may teach
its own lesson to all who would push the struggling ones still further
To —— ——. Dear Sir:
Kindly permit me space to answer an anonymous letter which came to me
last Sunday concerning a young man in whom I am deeply interested,
having been instrumental in procuring his parole recently, and who is
in every way traduced to me by the writer, who styles himself or
herself a Christian and signs the letter, "A friend to all."
Knowing this young man as I do, through officials, the sheriff of the
county, and others in a position to make truthful statements concerning
him; knowing of the terrible struggle he is enduring to live down an
act of the past for which he was more to be pitied than blamed; knowing
from the lips of those with whom he spent his youthful days that prior
to his incarceration in San Quentin he had a character unsullied, I
ask, How can any one claiming to be a Christian, thus hinder the cause
of Christ by making unsubstantiated charges? 'Woe to you who offend one
of these little, ones!' saith our Lord, who came, not to save the
righteous, but to call sinners to repentance.
My varied experience proves that many are hindered from coming into the
fold by just such reflections on the Master, as indicated in this
Now I am perfectly willing to meet the writer of the aforesaid letter
in the presence of two or more witnesses, in order that he (or she) may
be given a chance to substantiate his statements; and until this is
done, I shall continue to consider said letter the work of a coward
instead of a "friend to all."
Most respectfully yours,
(Mrs.) Florence Roberts. From Warden W. H. Reilly,
State Prison at Folsom, Cal.,
Sept. 18, 1911.
Mrs. Florence Roberts, Gospel Trumpet Publishing Co.,
Anderson, Indiana. Dear Madam:
Upon my return from a little needed rest. I found your letter of the
7th inst., which surely afforded me pleasure.
We are very glad indeed that you are so pleasantly circumstanced, and
wish you sincerely all manner of success in your good work.
Joe —- is here yet, and he was much pleased when I handed him your
card. There are many fine points about the boy, and he surely
appreciates your kindness.
Mrs. Reilly and the children are well and join me in kind remembrance.
W. H. Reilly.
Joe is the young man who was sentenced for ninety-nine years on
circumstantial evidence, and whose story is in this book.
One morning a little lad was observed by his mother to be making great
efforts to stretch his chubby limbs to such an extent as to place his
feet in every one of his father's tracks.
"What are you trying to do, Sonny? Come into the house quick, or you'll
catch cold," called the anxious mother.
"No, no, Mama; I don't want to; I want to follow papa. I'm trying to
walk in his footsteps," replied the innocent child.
Does this cause the smoking, drinking, swearing, card-playing, Godless
parents to halt and reflect? God knows; we hope so. Does this fill the
mother of cherished, idolized little ones with remorse of conscience?
Does it occasion her to take a retrospective view of the time when,
during courtship days, she was warned and advised of the indiscreet
marriage she was about to make, because of her sweetheart's well-known
dissolute propensities? Yet all those warnings and pleadings were in
The little innocent ones are trying to walk in their parents'
footsteps. Myriads of mothers are weeping and wishing they had been
firmer; that they had not so readily yielded to the ardent persuasions
to marry, but had waited until such times as true reformation,
repentance, and turning to the God they were then serving had taken
place in their sweethearts' lives.
Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these—It might have been.
Poor, poor remorseful, unhappy wife and mother, my heart aches for you
as you realize the sowing and weep over the prospective reaping. Long
since you have grown cold in your Christian experience. You realize it
today as never before. You wonder what you are going to do about it?
The older children have outgrown your jurisdiction. Mary is running
with company you do not approve of, to balls, theaters, and other
demoralizing places; wanting finery you are not able to afford,
although you do your best. You can't get any help from her; for, when
not otherwise engaged, she is absorbed in novel-reading. It does no
good to complain to her father; in fact, that seems only to make a bad
matter worse. You haven't an atom of her confidence. When she was
younger, you never really encouraged her to give it, and now, though
but fifteen, she laughs at you because she thinks that she knows so
much and that you know so little. All her confidence is given to those
you do not approve of, and you are dreading the outcome, the
Then there's thirteen-year-old Tom. While you sat up mending his torn
coat the other night after he had gone to bed, you found some tobacco
and cigarette paper in his pocket. When you quietly asked him next
morning what it meant, he only laughed and replied, "That's nothing.
All us kids smoke nowadays. It won't hurt us any more than it will
father. He smokes." You are wondering how you can find out whether he
has contracted any more of his father's bad habits, and while searching
his room, you come across a dirty pack of playing-cards hidden in the
back part of one of the bureau drawers.
Awful vision of the future of these two older children is yours as you
ponder what you can do to subvert the growing evil in your home. You
indulge much in vain regrets—vain, indeed, so far as you are
concerned. But listen, mother—you who would lay down your life to
spare Mary from disgrace and eventually an ignominious death; you who
love Tom so dearly you would give all the world were it yours to make
him understand that the habits he is contracting lead only to impaired
health and disgrace, ofttimes to imprisonment, sometimes to the
scaffold. It is not too late yet, distressed mother, particularly with
the two younger children, who are just beginning to ask leading
questions. These you must, you must answer, so that your little son
and daughter will find no need of inquiring of other children
concerning the beautiful plan of life, which should never be imparted
to them by any other than you yourself. "What must I do? What can I
do?" you ask. Listen. I'm going to tell you.
Lose no time. Do as I did. Go to God, in your secret closet. Lay all
your troubles and problems at his feet. Throw yourself on his loving
mercy. Confess your backsliding, your sins, your errors, your
weaknesses, everything—everything that is causing you, your husband,
and your children to be held by the enemy of souls, and that will soon
bring more misery into your life and their lives, unless God undertakes
for you and them. Then, cost what it will, take the humble place before
God and them. Tell them of your love for them; of the mistakes you have
made, through false modesty, in not gaining their companionship, their
confidence. Ask them to help you in the future by trusting you more
than they do any other friend or acquaintance. Tell them how much you
once loved God, and that now, after wandering far away, you have
returned to him. Go with them to Sunday-school and to other religious
services; set up, even in the face of all opposition, the family altar;
ask a blessing at table; have an open Bible always.
The outcome. Probably at first, and maybe for some time to come,
rebellion, even desertion, even more sin to battle with; more
heartaches, more tears, more struggles than ever heretofore. But "be
thou faithful." Thy loyalty, thine efforts, shall be rewarded. Watch,
wait, pray always.
There is only one reason to be given why the children go
wrong—Godless homes. "Train up a child in the way he should go; and
when he is old, he will not depart from it." Prov. 22:6.
One day a clergyman handed me two very startling verses, the characters
of which were all too true. I remarked that some day, God willing, I
would add to the verses and set them to music. I have done so, and in
His name, I herewith give them, under the awful title:
WANTED, RECRUITS FOR HELL.
Johnson the drunkard is dying today,
With traces of sin on his face;
He will be missed at the bar, at the play.
Wanted, a boy for his place.
Ruby, poor Ruby is passing away,
A victim of vice and disgrace.
Wanted, recruits for the houses of shame,
Some mother's girl for her place.
Simons, a gambler, was killed in a fight;
He died without pardon or grace.
Wanted, to train for his burden and blight,
Somebody's boy for his place.
Wanted for dance-halls, for brothels, for bars,
Girls attractive of form and of face,
Girls to decoy and boys to destroy;
Have you a child for the place?
"Wanted," pleads Satan, "for service of mine,
Some one to live without grace,
Some one to die without pardon divine;
Please train me your child for the place."
That eminent writer, Mrs. Ella Wheeler Wilcox, says:
"Every person on earth is making some sort of a cell in his or her
brain every waking moment of the day or night.
"Thoughts are things. Thought is energy. Thought is a creative power.
That is why it is so important to direct the minds of human beings to
good, kind, helpful thoughts. [Let me add, to direct them, from the
very commencement, to the great, loving God and his Son, our Savior.]
"Parentage is the oldest profession of men and women in the world, but
there are the smallest number of prize-winners in that profession of
any in the world. [Why? because of a neglected, insulted God.]
"Real, good motherhood must include the universal motherhood. It must
make a woman love her child so unselfishly that she is willing it
should suffer while learning its lessons of kindness, thoughtfulness,
and protection, rather than to enjoy itself while taking away the joys,
the privileges, or the rights of other creatures, human or animal."
The warden of a certain State prison, who is a student of human nature,
said to some visitors one day, "If a child is properly educated to the
age of ten, no matter what its inheritance, it never becomes a
criminal." His sentence includes all the needed preventatives of crime.
Oliver Wendell Holmes when asked, "When should a child's education
begin?" promptly replied, "Two hundred years before it is born."
There would be little or no need of the rescue missionaries had parents
and guardians but heeded these words in Deut. 6:5-7: "Hear, O Israel:
The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these
words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: and thou
shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them
when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and
when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them
for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between
thine eyes, and thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine houses,
and on thy gates." "O that there were such an heart in them, that they
would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be
well with them, and with their children forever!" Deut. 5:29.
It is very, very blessed to undertake the part of a good Samaritan. It
is far more blessed so to know and serve the Lord, that our present and
future progeny, instead of sharing a destiny similar to many of these
depicted between these pages, may, under any and all circumstances,
enjoy the everlasting smile of His countenance, that peace and joy in
their souls which this world can never give, neither take away.
Lord, we pray thee, "so teach us to number our days, that we may apply
our hearts unto wisdom." Psa. 90:12.