Rebellious Son : A Mother’s Love
Don’t mention it again, I tell you — never again. I am tired of all this talk about Christianity, and I’m not going to stand it any longer. You may do as you please, but I insist that you stop making life here at home so unpleasant for me.”
“But, Son, remember father. His dying request was for you. Just let me tell you of one thing he said about you in his last prayer. He called me to his bedside, and with choked voice —”
“Mother, you seem to think I don’t mean what I say, and so you will keep on. But I have made up my mind to end this whole business. I may as well tell you that one week from to-day I am going to sea. Now please let me live in peace the few days I am here with you, and I will be thankful.”
Undying Love of His Mother
Mrs. Wilson had been a wise, tactful mother. For fifteen long years, she had been alone in the world, battling with poverty, but always seeking faithfully to shield her child from the corrupting influence of the great city in which she had her home. By night and by day, Harold’s name had been upon her lips in prayer.
It was not true, however, that she had been given to much talk, as might be supposed from the son’s complaint. As a mother ought, she had wisely restrained, and had insisted that her decisions be respected. But her words had been few, especially during the later years, when Harold’s age demanded that he begin to fulfill the responsibilities of manhood, and to act more fully the independent part of life.
When his father died, Harold was a boy of eight years. From his birth, he had been dedicated to God. It was the supreme ambition of both father and mother that he should be trained for the work of the gospel, and devote his life to proclaiming the good news of Him who died to save from sin, and who would one day come again in glory to receive His people to Himself. Theirs was a “blessed hope,” and their child gave promise of reaching the end they sought. He was a beautiful boy, and early gave evidence of a love for the things of God.
Then a strange change came. The kind and careful husband and father was stricken down with a fatal illness. For many months he lay; and the means he had been studiously saving up for his boy’s education were taken for the payment of the ever and rapidly increasing bills. Finally all was gone. When at last the end came in sight, he called his wife and little one to his side, and together they prayed once more that God would remember the consecration they had made, and in His own good way and time bring little Harold to be a soul winner for Christ, as they had planned.
“Does God hear? Does
He answer?” These were the
questions that had been presenting themselves to Mrs. Wilson’s mind for more
than two years now; for, notwithstanding all her pleadings, all her tears, all
her struggles, the influence of worldly associations had gradually and surely
alienated her son from God, and more and more he had come to manifest a
positive dislike for all that pertained to God and His word of truth.
Criminal and a Renegade
At the time this story opens, Harold had become a drunkard, a gambler, a thief. He seemed the exact reproduction, in his characteristics, of a great-grandfather whose life had been made notorious by atheism, blasphemy, drunkenness, and murder, and who had ended his life on the gallows. As Mrs. Wilson thought upon this fact, — that in her son was being fulfilled the scripture, “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation,” — her heart almost broke within her, and she began to despair.
She had been led to speak to her son once more because of crime recently committed in the neighborhood of her home, suspicion resting on him. In her heart, she little doubted that he was involved, and the thought so cruelly hurt her that she could not remain silent. Hence she spoke.
But when she did so, there came the last crushing disappointment. She was told never again to mention the subject of a better life. In fact, she was to have slight opportunity, for Harold had declared his intention of going to sea, and only a few days intervened. Besides, he was going under a cloud, very probably to escape the clutches of the law.
“Oh, my boy, my boy! I have prayed and prayed that you might grow to be a noble, God-fearing man. I have asked God continually to take you for His service. I have done all I have known to do to keep you from the world. I have hoped and trusted that you would be kept. But to-day you are a criminal, a godless, wicked man. You hate religion. You turn from me as though I were one of your worst enemies. Oh, my Harold, my treasure, must I give you up?”
Thus spoke Mrs. Wilson to herself out of the agony of her heart after
her son had so ruthlessly denied her the privilege of again speaking to him of
the Christian hope.
A Mother’s Dream
And while his mother mourned and wept, Harold caroused. With an almost fiendish enthusiasm, he joined with his associates in riotous pleasure, and more than once his voice was heard in denunciation of his parents’ hopes. He drank and cursed, and even challenged the Almighty, if He existed, to come and strike him down if He dared. So far had he fallen!
Does God hear? Does God answer? Had a mother’s prayers been unheeded? Had all those years of toil and sacrifice and devotion and trust been in vain? — No, thank God, no.
not, thou mother heart,
It was a terribly dark hour to the dear mother; and worn out with the heavy burden, and not seeing as yet the welcome approach of a brighter day, she lay down and fell asleep.
It was the morning of eternity. The world was new. All marks of the curse were gone. Sin and all its consequences had been removed forever. She saw the Saviour. She saw the saints of all the ages, the innumerable multitudes with the palms and the harps. And ere she could have a moment of disappointment, there stood by her side her companion of early years. He looked into her face, radiant with life; and then, out of the fullness of his supreme joy, he said, “And here is Harold!”
“Yes, here I am, father,” came the musical answer of him who had been precious in their eyes; and then he stood before them — their son, made over into the image of the blessed Christ.
“Harold, O Harold! Bless God! My Father did hear and He did answer. Ah, I thought you would not come! And how did the Master find and redeem you?”
“Mother, do you remember the marked Bible you hid among my things the
day I left you and went to sea? The
message you wrote in the Book, and the message of the Book itself, broke my
hardened spirit, and I could not find rest until I laid my weary self at His
feet. He lifted me up, He taught me of the right way, He guided my
soul to this better land.”
Marks the Bible
How long she slept, Mrs. Wilson knew not; but when she awoke, it was long past midnight, and she heard Harold stumbling up to his room.
But why did his heavy, uncertain step this time fail to trouble her as it had before? Why could she resign herself to what seemed a veritable tragedy, which was wrecking her home?
She was not a believer in dreams. She did not regard the beautiful picture that had been projected upon the screen of her mind as being necessarily divine. There had come to her, however, in the experience, a suggestion of a new work of love. She had found also a new basis for hope, a new vision of possibilities; and with a mother’s loyal quickness, her plans were immediately formulated for putting the suggestion into practice.
What a blessed mission was that of the new day, when with her widow’s mite — the savings of many a long, weary day — she found her way to the heart of the city, and there invested that mite in a Bible for Harold! She bought the best that was possible, leaving nothing remaining for the coming “rainy day.” Was not her son’s life more precious to her than her own?
What a really wonderful Bible that was when Mrs. Wilson had completed in it her beautiful design! From Genesis to Revelation she marked, with great care, those passages which she believed would one day appeal to the heart of her boy. Just what texts and just what markings entered into the plan may not be told here; but suffice it to say that only a wise, loving, praying mother could ever have thought out and executed so splendid a soul-winning idea.
Without doing violence to the sacredness of a mother’s secret, it may be stated that two great principles were emphasized, — faith in Jesus as a complete Saviour, and obedience to all His commandments. Mrs. Wilson had learned that Jesus is the only Messiah of the Scriptures; that it was He who created the world; who spoke through prophets; who conversed with patriarchs; who gave the law on Sinai; who led Israel into the promised land; who walked and talked with Adam, with Enoch, with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses, with David. She understood that He was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” and that therefore before the time of Calvary as well as after, men were saved through Him. To her, the whole Bible was a Jesus-book, one story of the Friend of sinners.
When Harold should open the Book, she wanted him to find Christ everywhere throughout the story, to hear His voice, to know His love, and then to render Him service.
It was only natural, in view of this, that she made particularly prominent the claims of the Ten Commandments. If Christ had spoken them, and then had died that they might be written in man’s heart, were they not vital to salvation? Thus the twentieth chapter of Exodus was made as it were the pivot of her whole appeal to her son to yield to Jesus Christ.
Her own message, written on the flyleaf, and accidentally stained with a tear that fell as she wrote, was this:
“My Darling Boy:
“I love you. I shall always love you. But there is One who loves you infinitely more than I, and that One is Jesus. You do not love Him now; but I am praying that you may be brought to see how good He is, and be led to yield yourself to Him. This Book is from Him and from me. Please read it for His sake and for mine. Its promises are all sure; and as you take them into your heart, they will make you new and clean and strong and victorious. You will then be supremely happy; you will be a blessing to others; you will rejoice the heart of the Friend who died; and some day; not long hence, you will meet me where there will be no more parting.
The marked Bible waited in secret until almost the last moment before Harold’s leave-taking; and then, when he was absent on an errand, it was quickly tucked away out of sight in one corner of his box.
Mrs. Wilson had just completed her morning devotions, and was braced for the parting.
“Good-by my dearest,” she said; and putting her arms around Harold’s neck, she gave him a long farewell embrace. The tears wanted to come; but she had determined on another course, and a smile of peace wreathed her face instead.
She whispered into his ear a mother’s secret wish; but without response, he hurried away.
GODLY SEA CAPTAIN’S ANSWERED PRAYER
It was a bright May morning when the “Yokohama,” with Harold Wilson aboard as an ordinary deck hand, put out through the Golden Gate for Melbourne. It was a day of gloom to Harold. Notwithstanding the apparent bravado of his hardened life, down deep in his heart there was a something akin to boyhood tenderness, which he could not throw aside.
As the great vessel, responding to her mighty propeller, gained in momentum and was quickly finding her way out into the great Pacific, and the shores of the homeland began to fade from view, there came to Harold, for the first time in many years, a partial consciousness of the value of a mother. He could not explain why; but now that she was no longer within reach, no longer where he could realize her presence, she began to assume a different appearance to his mind’s eye. After all, she was beautiful; and could he have made the wake of the vessel a path for returning, he would gladly have jumped overboard and hastened home.
Of course, this feeling was only temporary; yet it showed that the time was not altogether past when a mother’s love appealed to this son’s affections. And it was this tender spot which a great Providence was to touch, and through which it would work to cause Harold Wilson to forsake his sins.
The tear that stole its way to the young man’s cheek was quickly
brushed away, and he resolutely strove to drown all thought of a mother’s
prayers and the purpose for which they were offered.
He said to himself, “Be game, old man, and don’t play the baby!”
And surely he seemed to succeed in his determination to forget.
Finds the Bible
The crew of the “Yokohama” was the usual motley group of different nationalities, nearly all of whom were abandoned to drink, profanity, and irreligion. Among them, Harold was a “hail fellow well met.”
“Hello! What’s this?” Harold was in search of a needed garment; and as he pulled it from his sailor’s chest, a package fell to the floor.
“I never saw this before,” he exclaimed, and hastily removed the wrapper.
“A Bible! A Bible! And did mother think me such an idiot that I would stand for such nonsense? But, say, it’s a dandy book. I wonder what it cost. My! but this is funny! Harold Wilson, a common drunk, and a thief besides, having a Bible at sea! I guess I’ll ask for the job of preaching to the boys.”
He opened the Book, “just to see how a Bible looks inside;” and there, in the familiar writing of his good mother, were the words, “My Darling Boy.” A lump came into his throat. For an instant, he was transported back to his childhood, and he saw himself in his innocence, enjoying the endearing words which for so long a time now he had professed to spurn. Again a tear, an unwelcome tear, made its way down his cheek. Instinctively he turned his face, lest the eye of some fellow sailor should discover his weakness.
But he could not resist the reading of the mother’s message on the flyleaf. Nor did he lay the Book down — rather, throw it down — until he had gleaned through its pages, and discovered the markings of his tender mother’s hand. Not only were passages marked, but in connection, written in the margin, were words of truth and admonition which only his mother could ever have penned.
“I don’t want this thing,” he cried out.
“Must I be haunted by this miserable stuff wherever I go?” and
throwing the Book into the box, he slammed down the cover, and “turned in”
for the night.
Fire At Sea
About a month had passed, and a hard month indeed it had been. The journey had been made through rough seas, and on more then one occasion there had been imminent danger of shipwreck and a grave in the deep. More than one man aboard had avowed that if he could once again reach land, he would lead a different life. (How often troubles lead men to think, at least, of better things!) And now a fire broke out in the hold.
The “Yokohama” had aboard a heavy consignment of kerosene oil, and a fire meant almost certain death to all on board. A strong force of fire fighters was therefore set to work in a frantic effort to smother the flames before they should reach the cargo of oil.
Captain Mann, in charge of the vessel, was a Christian, a person of few words, and a man whose personality commanded the respect and even the admiration of his men. He was courteous, brave, temperate, refined, a striking exception to the rank and file of the crew that manned the ship. For more than thirty years, he had been in command at sea; but this was his first experience with a burning vessel.
The cry of “Fire!” had called forth the strongest that was in him. Though his nature almost staggered at the peril of the situation, he calmly but quickly placed every man at his post; and every man fought with confidence because of a something that Captain Mann possessed in this period of danger. Harold Wilson in particular took note of the spirit of courage and confidence shown by him.
But suddenly the captain disappeared. And almost as suddenly, a new emergency compelled the first mate to call for his assistance. Harold Wilson was dispatched to find him.
Livid with fear, the young man hastened to the captain’s room. The door stood ajar. He was about to call out his message, when a voice from within checked him. What was it he heard? It was the voice of prayer!
To make certain, he pushed the door a bit farther open, and, lo, there was the captain on his knees, his Bible open before him, his face turned upward.
The throbbing of the engines and the general excitement aboard had
caused Harold’s coming to be unnoticed; and thus the captain continued his
prayer, while Harold seemed spellbound and unable to do aught but listen.
Mann’s Prayer Answered
The prayer touched a responsive chord. Why should it not? It was a prayer that the God of the Bible would fulfill His promise, and save the lives of the crew; and Harold Wilson was one whose life was in the balance. For the first time in his career, he was glad to see a praying man.
Captain Mann’s Bible refuge was Psalms 107:23-31. This assurance was his comfort now. Whether storm or fire, it mattered not; God would bring them “out of their distresses,” “unto their desired haven.” This was the promise which Harold Wilson heard Captain Mann plead.
But strange to say, Psalms 107:23-31 was one of the passages Mrs. Wilson had marked in the Bible given her son.
Was the captain’s prayer to be answered?
Harold had only a moment to wait, for Captain Mann was soon on his feet and hastening back to his perilous duty. Harold made known his message, and also rushed again to his post.
The fire had been gaining headway rapidly, despite the most heroic resistance. The vessel seemed doomed. In a few minutes, the vast cargo of oil must ignite, and then all would be over.
But now a great explosion took place. The closed hatches were almost blown from the deck. The crew were terror-stricken, not knowing but the oil was already in the grip of the fire.
What had happened? — Ah, one of those providential things which only the Christian can understand. A large steam pipe had burst, and was now pouring an immense volume of super-heated water and steam into the hold, and at the very point of greatest danger. An unseen hand had assumed control; and very soon the volumes of black smoke gave place to clouds of white steam, and the fighters knew that the salvation of the ship was assured.
So wonderful did it all seem, that the crew were not slow to express their astonishment and gratitude.
“Do yez belave, captain, that the Big Mon had somethin’ to do with it?” inquired a rough Irishman, Pat Moran by name.
Captain Mann had perhaps erred in his views regarding religious life, in that he held it unnecessary to talk to his men about Christianity, but rather allowed them to discover what they could about his ideas from what he actually lived before them.
But now he was drawn out to confess his faith.
“Men,” said he, “that steam pipe was broken by the hand of the Almighty. It did not merely ‘happen.’ There is a God who hears and answers prayer. He has promised to help men who go to sea, and to-day He has kept His word.”
Harold’s marked Bible, like an unwelcome spirit, seemed to haunt him as he listened.
“But say, captain, do yez railly belave what yer sayin’?” again spoke Pat.
“Ah, my boy, I have believed for many long years.”
“But where did yez get the idee? Where has the Big Mon told yez that He would take care of us poor lunatics?”
“Pat, I had a good mother, who taught me to pray to God up in heaven. She taught me, also, to read the Bible, the Book that God helped good men write. In that Book, He tells us that we all belong to Him, that we are to obey Him, and that He will take care of us. He says He will save men who are in trouble while traveling the seas. Did you never see a Bible, Pat?”
“Shure, an’ I niver did,” he exclaimed; “but, belave me, I would like to put the eye of me on such a wurruk.”
Mother’s Influence Follows Him
Again Harold Wilson was ill at ease. A good mother, a God, a Bible, an answered prayer, — all these thoughts were as goads, which hurt, and which hurt deeply. Had he not a good mother? Had she not taught him to believe in God and to pray? Had she not often appealed to him to read the Bible and to obey its precepts? — Yes, all this and much more.
Pat Moran, and others at this time off duty, accepted Captain Mann’s invitation to go to his room and look at the promise which that day had saved the lives of all on board. Harold went with them. The Bible lay open on the table near the door.
“There, men, is the Book my mother taught me to love,” said the captain; “and right there is the promise which put out the fire and save your lives and mine,” reading to them, as he spoke, the scripture which for a long time had been his refuge.
Harold looked into the captain’s face. What a good face! How clean looking, and how free from coarseness! Honesty, sincerity, nobility, were to be traced in every furrow. And this was a man of the Bible, a practical, helpful, whole-hearted sea captain.
There could be no doubt that here was a demonstration of the truth of Christianity, and it most powerfully appealed to all those hardened men who that evening stood in the captain’s room. It appealed to Harold. Would he yield?
A Storm of conflicting emotions raged in his breast. Alternately he inclined to good and to evil.
Quickly filling his mouth with a chew of plug tobacco, he hastened from the room to his own part of the vessel, and nervously throwing open his box, he snatched up the Bible given him by his mother, and tried to find the verses that the captain had just read. He finally found them.
In the margin, he read these words from his mother’s pen: “I shall ever pray that this promise may be your refuge at sea, to save you from storm or accident.”
He closed the Book, and angrily threw it down — angry to think that he had not succeeded in getting beyond the reach of his mother’s influence. The entire experience was as a nightmare.
But again he was impelled to seize the Book, and make note of this and that passage which he had once read, and which were now underscored for his benefit. The last that attracted his attention was Exodus 20:8-11; and here was written in the margin: “Honor all God’s commandments, and especially the fourth. It means the presence of God in your soul, a power to keep you upright.”
Now to Harold Wilson, his mother’s rest day had always been most detestable. He despised the thought of sacred time. He actually hated the restrictions it placed upon him.
No sooner, therefore did he see this text and its accompanying statement, than he felt within him all the old-time antagonism and bitterness; and giving way to all his pent-up wrath, he sprang to his feet with a curse on his lips, and taking the Bible to the open door, he impetuously threw it far out into the sea.
“There, that ends this whole cursed business,” he muttered; and then, imagining that he had performed a praiseworthy act, he sauntered out on deck.
NEWS FROM HOME — FIGHTING AGAINST GOD
“OH, mother, mother!” Harold Wilson stood in the post office at Honolulu, holding in his hand a letter sent by an old friend in California. It read as follows:
“We have been hoping for several weeks for your return home. We had heard indirectly that you were on the way home, and we were encouraged to believe you might come in time to be a support to your mother during her last illness.
“Several weeks ago she had a hard fall, superinducing pneumonia. She made a brave fight; but her anxiety over you, coupled with financial reverses, proved too much for her, and she passed away last Thursday.
“Her last request was that I should write to you, and urge you not to forget the gift she placed in your box the day you left home. You will know, of course, to what she referred. She did not tell me its nature, but she did say that it took all she had in the world to get it for you.
“By the way, my boy, since you left us, I have changed my whole course of life. No more drinking, gambling, or profanity for me. I am a Christian now and am enjoying life wonderfully.
“God bless you! Don’t be discouraged over your great loss. Live for Christ, and you will meet her again.
“I am sending this to Honolulu at a venture.
“Your one-time friend in booze, but now free,
Yes, Harold had been working his way homeward. For many years he had been absent, during which time he had seen much of the world, visiting Australia, China, South Africa, South America, and Europe.
He had continued his hard life of drink and profanity, but always planning to do better when he saw his mother again. He had thrown overboard his beautiful Bible, in order to silence the voice of the Reprover; but never once had he seen a day of peace. Somehow the heartless ingratitude of that moment when his anger caused him to destroy his mother’s gift, had become a nemesis, which seemed to trail his every step and to bring him only defeat and failure in all he undertook.
Honolulu was “almost home” to him, and his heart was already beginning to enjoy a foretaste of the blessed reunion with mother. Like the prodigal of the Scripture, he had formulated his confession; and he was confident that, restored to his mother, he should be able to “make good.”
One may easily understand, therefore, what were his feelings as the letter from home was placed in his hands — feelings of deep heart satisfaction.
But how cruel was the disappointment! The words, “She passed away last Thursday,” fell upon his soul as a bolt of lightning from out the blue. He was stunned. The letter fell from his grasp.
“Oh, mother, mother!” he cried, forgetting that all around
him were strangers, from whom he must hide his grief.
And then under his breath he said, “You wanted to help me, you could
have helped me; but now you’re gone, gone, g-o-n-e.”
Grief Drove Him Downward
He picked up the missive, and hurried into the street, and down to the launch that was to convey him to his vessel.
“Harold Wilson, what will you do now? Will you be a man, as you ought to be, or will you absolutely and perhaps forever throw yourself away?” Such were the questions that some good spirit whispered in his ear as he boarded the ship, which was to sail next day.
The answer was at once forthcoming; but, sad to say, it was an answer dictated by his lower nature.
As with many others, inability on Harold’s part to carry out his plan made him desperate and ofttimes apparently irresponsible. He had been acknowledging the existence of God, and he had planned that when with his mother he would lead a better life. But this thwarting of plans angered him, and he now determined to go deeper into wickedness than ever before.
“There is no God. If there is, He is only a brute, and I hate Him. He hates me, because He robs me off my mother at the very time I need her. Oh, I’ll show Him, if He lives, that Harold Wilson can outdo Him. If He won’t let me do right, why, I’ll do my best at doing wrong.”
And surely it seemed that from that day forward, he succeeded in
fitting his life to his resolution; for upon reaching San Francisco, he
abandoned himself to a coarse of riotous pleasure, licentiousness, and crime. His companions were of the baser elements of the city, versed
in the business of lawbreaking, even to the extent of staining their hands
with the blood of their fellow men.
Howard Huffman, the writer of the message sent to Honolulu, picked up the morning Chronicle. As he glanced over the headings, his eye was held by the following:
“Murder in the Mission District. Harold Wilson, a Sailor, Held as a Suspect. Police Sure They Have the Right Man, an Old Criminal.”
Mr. Huffman paled and dropped his paper. “An old criminal.” Yes, he knew it to be true; for in that robbery of many years before, he himself had been associated. And now Harold had returned to continue his course in crime. What should he do?
Fearing to breathe to his young wife the cause of his agitation, he hurriedly donned his coat and hat and left the house.
The Huffman home was now recognized as one of the happiest as well as one of the finest in the city of Oakland. Mr. Huffman was well known throughout the city as a man of sterling integrity and large business acumen, and prosperity had smiled upon him from the first day that he turned his feet to the way of Christianity. The past had been forgotten, but not until Mr. Huffman had made restitution, so far as he could, for everything he had ever taken from a fellow man. He had gone to the man whose home he and Harold Wilson had entered, and confessed his part, and paid back, with compound interest, the money he had taken.
Why, then, should he be anxious? — Ah, for Harold’s sake! He had trusted that God would help him to redeem his old pal in sin, and lead him to be a fellow worker in righteousness. But Harold had come, had fallen even lower; and perhaps the uncorrected and unforgiven past, now coming to light, would serve to defeat the purpose he had in mind.
Reaching San Francisco, Mr. Huffman hastened to the police station, and asked to interview the prisoner; and his name gave him easy access.
What a picture met his gaze as he looked upon his companion of former years! Brutality seemed stamped upon every feature. But the adage, “So long as there’s life, there’s hope,” buoyed him up; and with loving interest, he sought to have Harold understand that he still trusted him, and would stand by him in this hour of need.
Inquiry revealed the fact that Harold had not actually had a part in the murder, yet the circumstances were such as to cause the hand of the law to be laid heavily upon him. Howard Huffman now endeavored to lighten the penalty.
The story of the steps he took to secure his end need not be given. Suffice it to say here that Harold Wilson received freedom only on condition that he leave the country for five years, and with the admonition that when he should return, it must be with a recommendation of good behavior from his employers.
These conditions made him almost “a man without a country,” and they seemed hard indeed to meet; but through Howard Huffman’s encouragement, he determined to try.
He secured a position as common sailor on the “Tenyo Maru,” which
sailed from San Francisco to Yokohama one week later; but little did he
suspect that the captain of that vessel was his old friend, Captain Mann, of
the trip of many years before.
Harold left the Huffman home in Oakland for San Francisco, where his ship lay at the wharf, ready to leave on the morrow. As he passed into the waiting room at the Oakland mole, he observed a “Free Literature” distributor, in one receptacle of which was a Bible; and seeing it, he was struck with its likeness to the one his mother had given him.
Taking the Good Book from its place, he opened it, and, lo, found it to be marked! And it was not only marked, but marked much as the other had been marked!
Forgetting all else, — forgetting that he was waiting for the ferry boat, that he was a man banished because of crime, and that he was an almost helpless wreck of humanity, — he sank into a seat, and for a long hour he searched back and forth through that Bible. Yes, many of the same texts were marked; and opposite the message of Exodus 20:8-11 were these words written in the margin: “God’s blessing upon the Sabbath is His presence in the Sabbath. He who keeps Sabbath has God’s presence in the heart; and all who have His presence will delight to keep Sabbath. Isaiah 58:13.” How much this sounded like his mother! And there was Psalms 107:23-31 marked with red ink, the only text marked in red by his dear mother.
He was deeply stirred. A tear stole down his cheek. A vision of a new life floated before him. And in it all, his mother spoke again, and the Christ she loved made His appeal to a lost soul.
“This Bible! O mother, may I take it with me? How can I go without it? It was marked for me. Surely it must have been. Mother, did you mark this Bible too?” He spoke thus to himself aloud.
“Friend,” — a voice spoke from behind, — “take the Book. It was marked for you. Take it, and God bless you with a knowledge of its truth, and give you a Christian life.”
Startled and embarrassed, Harold turned himself, but only to be comforted. The kind face of a father and friend beamed upon him.
He quickly arose, and addressing the stranger, said: “Do you mean it, sir? May I have this Bible? But, sir, I have no money with which to pay for it.”
“That matters nothing, my friend. I represent a people who love God’s word, and who are seeking to carry its truth to the whole world. They will be happy to know that this Book is keeping company with one in need. But what did you mean by referring to another marked Bible? — Pardon my overhearing.”
He was in the company of a true friend; and with brokenness of heart, he told the whole sad story of his battle against his mother, the Bible, and God, and particularly how he had thrown into the sea the sacred gift of his mother’s sacrifice and love.
Only a brief interview was possible; but during the few minutes that the two men spent together, Harold Wilson caught a glimpse of the plan of salvation. He saw God’s law in its completeness. He saw sin as its transgression. He saw Christ as the One who redeems from the curse.
A word of prayer was offered for Harold by that friend and father — a prayer which he would never forget. Especially did he take to heart this sentence: “Give him rest, Lord, from all evil habits.” Of course, it seemed a strange idea, but only to be the longer remembered.
“On what vessel do you sail, young man?” asked the old gentleman as they were parting.
“The ‘Tenyo Maru,’ sir.”
“Ah, that is interesting! She sails to-morrow Some friends of mine have engaged passage on her, and you must be sure to meet them.”
With the treasured Bible in his grip, Harold was soon aboard the ferry. Great experiences were in store for him.