Some of Mackay's happiest
days were spent with his students. He
was such a wonder of a man for work himself that he inspired
every one else to do his best, so the young men made rapid
strides with their lessons. No matter how busy he was, and he was
surely one of the busiest men that ever lived, he somehow found
time for them.
Sometimes in his house,
sometimes on the road, by the seashore,
under a banyan tree, here and there and everywhere, the
missionary and his pupils held their classes. If he went on a
journey, they accompanied him and studied by the way. And it was
a familiar sight on north Formosan roads or field paths to see
Mackay, always with his book in one hand and his big ebony stick
under his arm, walking along surrounded by a group of young men.
Sometimes there were as
many as twenty in the student-band, but
somewhere in the country a new church would open, and the
brightest of the class would be called away to be its minister.
But just as often a young Christian would come to the missionary
and ask if he too might not be trained to preach the gospel of
Whether at home or
abroad, pupils and teacher had to resort to
all sorts of means to get away for an uninterrupted hour
together. For Kai Bok-su was always in demand to visit the sick
or sad or troubled.
There was a little
kitchen separate from the house on the bluff,
and over this Mackay with his students built a second story. And
here they would often slip away for a little quiet time together.
One night, about eleven o'clock, Mackay was here alone poring
over his books. The young men had gone home to bed except two or
three who were in the kitchen below. Some papers had been dropped
over a pipe-hole in the floor of the room where Mackay was
studying, and for some time he had been disturbed by a rustling
among them. At last without looking up, he called to his boys
below: "I think there are rats up here among my papers!"
Koa Kau, one of the
younger of the students, ran lightly up the
stairs to give battle to the intruders. What was his horror when
he saw fully three feet of a monster serpent sticking up through
the pipe-hole and waving its horrible head in the air just a
little distance from Kai Bok-su's chair.
The boy gave a shout,
darted down the stair, and with a sharp
stick, pinned the body of the snake to the wall below. The
creature became terribly violent, but Koa Kau held on valiantly
and Mackay seized an old Chinese spear that happened to be in the
room above and pierced the serpent through the head. They pulled
its dead body down into the kitchen below and spread it out. It
measured nine feet. The students would not rest until it was
buried, and the remembrance of the horrible creature's visit for
some time spoiled the charm of the little upper room.
The rocks at Kelung
harbor were another favorite spot for this
little traveling university to hold its classes. Sometimes they
would take their dinner and row out in a little sampan to the
rocks outside the harbor and there, undisturbed, they would study
the whole day long.
They always began the
day's work with a prayer and a hymn of
praise, and no matter what subjects they might study, most of the
time was spent on the greatest of books. After a hard morning's
work each one would gather sticks, make a fire, and they would
have their dinner of vegetables, rice, and pork or buffalo-meat.
Then there were oysters, taken fresh off the rocks, to add to
their bill of fare.
At five in the afternoon,
when the strain of study was beginning
to tell, they would vary the program. One or two of the boys
would take a plunge into the sea and bring up a subject for
study,--a shell, some living coral, sea-weed, sea-urchins, or
some such treasure. They would examine it, and Kai Bok-su, always
delighted when on a scientific subject, would give them a lesson
in natural history. And he saw with joy how the wonders of the
sea and land opened these young men's minds to understand what a
great and wonderful God was theirs, who had made "the heaven and
the earth and the sea, and all that in them is."
When they visited a
chapel in the country, they had a daily
program which they tried hard to follow. They studied until four
o'clock every afternoon and all were trained in speaking and
preaching. After four they made visits together to Christians or
heathen, speaking always a word for their Master. Every evening a
public service was held at which Mackay preached. These sermons
were an important part of the young men's training, for he always
treated the gospel in a new way. A Hoa, who was Mackay's
companion for the greater part of sixteen years, stated that he
had never heard Kai Bok-su preach the same sermon twice.
On the whole the students
liked their college best when it was
moving. For on the road, while their principal gave much time to
the Bible and how to present the gospel, he would enliven their
walks by conversing about everything by the way and making it
full of interest. The structure of a wayside flower, the
geological formation of an overhanging rock, the composition of
the soil of the tea plantations, the stars that shone in the sky
when night came down upon them;--all these made the traveling
college a delight.
Although his days were
crammed with work, Mackay found time to
make friends among the European population of the island. They
all liked and admired him, and many of them tried to help the man
who was giving his life and strength so completely to others.
They were familiar with his quick, alert figure passing through
the streets of Tamsui, with his inevitable book and his big ebony
cane. And they would. smile and say, "There goes Mackay; he's the
busiest man in China."
The British consul in the
old Dutch fort and the English
commissioner of customs proved true and loyal friends. The
representatives of foreign business firms, too, were always ready
to lend him a helping hand where possible. His most useful
friends were the foreign medical men. They helped him very much.
They not only did all they could for his own recovery when
malaria attacked him, but they helped also to cure his patients.
Traveling scientists always gave him a visit to get his help and
advice. He had friends that were ship captains, officers,
engineers, merchants, and British consuls. Everybody knew the
wonderful Kai Bok-su. "Whirlwind Mackay," some of them called
him, and they knew and admired him with the true admiration that
only a brave man can inspire.
The friends to whom he
turned for help of the best kind were the
English Presbyterians in south Formosa. They, more than any
others, knew his trials and difficulties. They alone could enter
with true sympathy into all his triumphs. At one time Dr.
Campbell, one of the south Formosan missionaries, paid him a
visit. He proved a delightful companion, and together the two
made a tour of the mission stations. Dr. Campbell preached
wherever they went and was a great inspiration to the people, as
well as to the students and to the missionary himself.
One evening, when they
were in Kelung, Mackay, with his
insatiable desire to use every moment, suggested that they spend
ten days without speaking English, so that they might improve
their Chinese. Dr. Campbell agreed, and they started their
"Chinese only." Next morning from the first early call of "Liong
tsong khi lai," "All, all, up come," not one word of their native
tongue did they speak. They had a long tramp that morning and
there was much to talk about and the conversation was all in
Chinese, according to the bargain. Dr. Campbell was ahead, and
after an hour's talk he suddenly turned upon his companion:
"Mackay!" he exclaimed, "this jabbering in Chinese is ridiculous,
and two Scotchmen should have more sense; let us return to our
mother tongue." Which advice Mackay gladly followed.
His next visitor was the
Rev. Mr. Ritchie from south Formosa, one
of the friends who had first introduced him to his work. Every
day of his visit was a joy. With nine of Mackay's students, the
two missionaries set out on a trip through the north Formosa
mission that lasted many weeks.
But the more pleasant and
helpful such companionship was the more
alone Mackay felt when it was over. His task was becoming too
much for one man. He was wanted on the northern coast, at the
southern boundary of his mission field, and away on the
Kap-tsu-lan plain all at once. He was crowded day and night with
work. What with preaching, dentistry, attending the sick,
training his students, and encouraging the new churches, he had
enough on his hands for a dozen missionaries.
But now at last the
Church at home, in far-away Canada, bestirred
herself to help him. They had been hearing something of the
wonderful mission in Formosa, but they had heard only hints of
it, for Mackay would not confess how he was toiling day and night
and how the work had grown until he was not able to overtake it
alone. But the Church understood something of his need, and they
now sent him the best present they could possibly give,--an
assistant. Just three years after Mackay had landed in Formosa,
the Rev. J. B. Fraser, M. D., and his wife and little ones
arrived. He was a young man, too, vigorous and ready for work.
Besides being an ordained minister, he was a physician as well,
just exactly what the north Formosan mission needed.
Along with the
missionary, the Church had sent funds for a house
for him and also one for Mackay. So the poor old Chinese house on
the bluff was replaced by a modern, comfortable dwelling, and by
its side another was built for the new missionary and his family.
One room of Mackay's house was used as a study for his students.
After the houses were
built and the new doctor was able to use
the language, he began to fill a long-felt want. Mackay had
always done a little medical work, and the foreign doctor of
Tamsui had been most kind in giving his aid, but a doctor of his
own, a missionary doctor, was exactly what Kai Bok-su wanted.
Soon the sick began to hear of the wonders the missionary doctor
could perform, and they flocked to him to be cured.
It must not be supposed
that there were not already doctors in
north Formosa. There were many in Tamsui alone, and very
indignant they were at this new barbarian's success. But the
native doctors were about the worst trouble that the people had
to bear. Their medical knowledge, like their religion, was a
mixture of ignorance and superstition, and some of their
practises would have been inexcusable except for the fact that
they themselves knew no better. There were two classes of medical
men; those who treated internal diseases and those who professed
to cure external maladies. It was hard to judge which class did
the more mischief, but perhaps the "inside doctors" killed more
of their patients. Dog's flesh was prescribed as a cure for
dyspepsia, a chip taken from a coffin and boiled and the water
drunk was a remedy for catarrh, and an apology made to the moon
was a specific for wind-roughened skin. For the dreaded malaria,
the scourge of Formosa, the young Canadian doctor found many and
amazing remedies prescribed, some worse than the disease itself.
The native doctors believed malaria to be caused by two devils in
a patient, one causing the chills, the other the fever. One of
the commonest remedies, and one that was quite as sensible as any
of the rest, was to tie seven hairs plucked from a black dog
around the sick one's wrist.
But when the barbarian
doctor opened his dispensary in Tamsui, a
new era dawned for the poor sick folk of north Formosa. The work
went on wonderfully well and Mackay found so much more time to
travel in the country that the gospel spread rapidly.
But just when prospects
were looking so fair and every one was
happy and hopeful, a sad event darkened the bright outlook of the
two missionaries. The young doctor had cured scores of cases, and
had brought health and happiness to many homes, but he was
powerless to keep death from his own door.
And one day, a sad day
for the mission of north Formosa, the
mother was called from husband and little ones to her home and
her reward in heaven.
So the home on the bluff,
the beautiful Christian home, which was
a pattern for all the Chinese, was broken up. The young doctor
was compelled to leave his patients, and taking his motherless
children he returned with them to Canada.
The church at home sent
out another helper. The Rev. Kenneth
Junor arrived one year later, and once more the work received a
fresh impetus. And then, just about two years after Mr. Junor's
arrival, Kai Bok-su found an assistant of his own right in
Formosa, and one who was destined to become a wonderful help to
him. And so one bright day, there was a wedding in the chapel of
the old Dutch fort, where the British consul married George
Leslie Mackay to a Formosan lady. Tui Chhang Mai, her name had
been. She was of a beautiful Christian character and for a long
time she had been a great help in the church. But as Mrs. Mackay
she proved a marvelous assistance to her husband.
It had long been a great
grief to the missionary that, while the
men would come in crowds to his meetings, the poor women had to
be left at home. Sometimes in a congregation of two hundred there
would be only two or three women. Chinese custom made it
impossible for a man missionary to preach to the women. Only a
few of the older ones came out. So the mothers of the little
children did not hear about Jesus and so could not teach their
little ones about him.
But now everything was
changed for them. They had a
lady-missionary, and one of their own people too. The Mackays
went on a wedding-trip through the country. Kai Bok-su walked, as
usual, and his wife rode in a sedan-chair. The wedding-trip was
really a missionary tour; for they visited all the chapels, and
the women came to the meetings in crowds, because they wanted to
hear and see the lady who had married Kai Bok-su. Often, after
the regular meetings when the men had gone away, the women would
crowd in and gather round Mrs. Mackay and she would tell them the
story of Jesus and his love.
It was a wonderful
wedding-journey and. it brought a double
blessing wherever the two went. Their experiences were not all
pleasant. One day they traveled over a sand plain so hot that
Mackay's feet were blistered. Another time they were drenched
with rain. One afternoon there came up a terrific wind storm. It
blew Mrs. Mackay's sedan-chair over and sent her and the carriers
flying into the mud by the roadside. At another place they all
barely escaped drowning when crossing a stream. But the brave
young pair went through it all dauntlessly. The wife had caught
something of her husband's great spirit of sacrifice, and. he was
always the man on fire, utterly forgetful of self.
For two years they worked
happily together and at last a great
day came to KaiBok-su. He had been nearly eight years in Formosa.
It was time he came home, the Church in Canada said, for a little
rest and to tell the people at home something of his great work.
And so he and his
Formosan wife said good-by, amid tears and
regrets on all sides, and leaving Mr. Junor in charge with A Hoa
to help, they set sail for Canada. It was just a little over
seven years since he had settled in that little hut by the river,
despised and hated by every one about him; and now he left behind
him twenty chapels, each with a native preacher over it, and
hundreds of warm friends scattered over all north Formosa.
He was not quite the same
Mackay who had stood on the deck of the
America seven years before. His eyes were as bright and daring as
ever and his alert figure as full of energy, but his face showed
that his life had been a hard one. And no wonder, for he had
endured every kind of hardship and privation in those seven
years. He had been mobbed times without number. He had faced
death often, and day and night since his first year on the island
his footsteps had been dogged by the torturing malaria.
But he was still the
great, brave Mackay and his home-coming was
like the return of a hero from battle. He went through Canada
preaching in the churches, and his words were like a call to
arms. He swept over the country like one of his own Formosan
winds, carrying all before him. Wherever he preached hearts were
touched by his thrilling tales, and purses opened to help in his
work. Queen's University made him a Doctor of Divinity; Mrs.
Mackay, a lady of Detroit, gave him money enough to build a
hospital; and his home county, Oxford, presented him with $6,215
with which to build a college.
He visited his old home
and had many long talks of his childhood
days with his loved ones. And he was reminded of the big stone in
the pasture-field which he was so determined to break. And he
thanked his heavenly Father for allowing him to break the great
rock of heathenism in north Formosa.
He returned to his
mission work more on fire than ever. If he had
been received with acclaim in his native land, his Formosan
friends' welcome was not less warm. Crowds of converts, all his
students who were not too far inland, and among them, Mr. Junor,
his face all smiles, were thronging the dock, many of them
weeping for joy. It was as if a long-absent father had come back
to his children.
The work went forward now
by leaps and bounds. Mackay's first
thought, after a hurried visit to the chapels and their
congregations, was to see that the hospital and college were
All day long the sound of
the builders could be heard up on the
bluff near the missionaries' houses, and in a wonderfully short
time there arose two beautiful, stately buildings. Mackay
hospital they called one, not for Kai Bok-su--he did not like
things named for him--but in memory of the husband of the kind
lady who had furnished the money for it. The school for training
young men in the ministry was called Oxford College, in honor of
the county whose people had made it possible.
Oxford College stood just
overlooking the Tamsui river, two
hundred feet above its waters. The building was 116 feet long and
67 feet wide, and was built of small red bricks brought from
across the Formosa Channel. A wide, airy hall ran down the middle
of the building, and was used as a lecture-room. On either side
were rooms capable of accommodating fifty students and apartments
for two teachers and their families. There were, besides, two
smaller lecture-rooms, a museum filled with treasures collected
from all over Formosa by Dr. Mackay and his students, a library,
a bathroom, and a kitchen.
The grounds about the
college and hospital were very beautiful.
Nature had given one of the finest situations to be found about
Tamsui, and Kai Bok-su did the rest. The climate helped him, for
it was no great task to have a luxurious garden in north Formosa.
So, in a few years there were magnificent trees and hedges, and
always glorious flower beds abloom all the time around the
But all this was not
accomplished without great toil, and Kai
Bok-su appeared never to rest in those building days. It seemed
impossible that one man should work so hard, he was in Tamsui
superintending the hospital building to-day, and away off miles
in the country preaching to-morrow. He never seemed to get time
to eat, and he certainly slept less than his allotted four hours.
A great disappointment
was pending, however, and one he saw
coming nearer every day. The trying Formosan climate was proving
too much for his young assistant, and one sad day he stood on the
dock and saw Mr. Junor, pale and weak and broken in health, sail
away back to Canada.
But there was always a
brave soldier waiting to step into the
breach, and the next year Kai Bok-su had the joy of welcoming two
new helpers, when the Rev. Mr. Jamieson and his wife came out
from Canada and settled in the empty house on the bluff. Yes, and
in time there came to his own house other helpers--very little
and helpless at first they were--but they soon made the house
ring with happy noise and filled the hearts of their parents with
There were two ladies now
to lead in the work for girls and
women. Their sisters in Canada came to their help too. The young
men had a school in Formosa, and why should there not be a school
for women and girls? they asked. And so the Women's Foreign
Missionary Society of Canada sent to Dr. Mackay money to build
one. It took only two months to erect it. It stood just a few
rods from Oxford College, and was a fine, airy building. Here a
native preacher and his wife took up their abode and with the
help of Mrs. Mackay and two other native Christian women they
strove to teach the girls of north Formosa how to make beautiful
And now to the two
missionaries every prospect seemed bright. The
college, the girls' school, the hospital, were all in splendid
working order. Mr. and Mrs. Jamieson were giving their best
assistance. A Hoa and the other native pastors were working
faithfully. God's blessing seemed to be showering down upon the
work and on every side were signs of growth. And then, right from
this shining sky, there fell a storm of such fierceness that it
threatened to wipe out completely the whole north Formosan