Chapter 5 - Soldiers Two
And now a new day dawned
for the only lonely young missionary. He
had not a convert but a helper and a delightful companion. His new
was of a bright, joyous nature, the sort that everybody loves.
Giam was his surname, but almost every one called him by his
given name, Hoa, and those who knew him best called him A Hoa.
Mackay used this more familiar boyish name, for Giam was the
younger by a few years.
To A Hoa his new friend was always Pastor
Mackay, or as the
Chinese put it, Mackay Pastor, Kai Bok-su was the real Chinese of
it, and Kai Bok-su soon became a name known all over the island
needed all his kind new friend's help in the first days
after his conversion. For family, relatives, and friends turned
upon him with the bitterest hatred for taking up the barbarian's
religion. So, driven from his friends, he came to live in the
little hut by the river with Mackay. While at home these two
read, sang, and studied together all the day long. It would have
been hard for an observer to guess who was teacher and who pupil.
For at one time A IIoa was receiving Bible instruction and the
next time Mackay was being drilled in the Chinese of the educated
classes. Each teacher was as eager to instruct as each pupil was
eager to learn.
Bible was, of course, the chief textbook, but they studied
other things, astronomy, geology, history, and similar subjects.
One day the Canadian took out a map of the world, and the Chinese
gazed with amazement at the sight of the many large countries
outside China. A Hoa had been private secretary to a mandarin,
and had traveled much in China, and once spent six months in
Peking. His idea had been that China was everything, that all
countries outside it were but insignificant barbarian places. His
geography lessons were like revelations.
His progress was simply astonishing, as was
also Mackay's. The
two seemed possessed with the spirit of hard work. But a
superstitious old man who lived near believed they were possessed
with a demon. He often listened to the two singing, drilling, and
repeating words as they marched up and down, either in the house
or in front of it, and he became alarmed. He was a kindly old
fellow, and, though a heathen, felt well disposed toward the
missionary and A Hoa. So one day, very much afraid, he slipped
over to the little house with two small cups of strong tea. He
came to the door and proffered them with a polite bow. He hoped
they might prove soothing to the disturbed nerves of the
patients, he said. He suggested, also, that a visit to the
nearest temple might help them.
The two affected ones received his advice
politely, but the humor
of it struck them both, and when their visitor was gone they
laughed so hard the tea nearly choked them.
The missionary was soon able to speak so
fluently that he
preached almost every day, either in the little house by the
river, or on the street in some open square. There were other
things he did, too. On every side he saw great suffering from
disease. The chief malady was the terrible malaria, and the
native doctors with their ridiculous remedies only made the poor
sufferers worse. Mackay had studied medicine for a short time
while in college, and now found his knowledge very useful. He
gave some simple remedies to several victims of malaria which
proved effective. The news of the cures spread far and wide. The
barbarian was kind, he had a good heart, the people declared.
Many more came to him for medicine, and day by day the circle of
his friends grew. And wherever he went, curing disease, teaching,
or preaching, A Hoa went with him, and shared with him the taunts
of their heathen enemies.
But the gospel was gradually making its way.
Not long after A
Hoa's conversion a second man confessed Christ. He had previously
disturbed the meetings by throwing stones into the doorway
whenever he passed. But his sister was cured of malaria by the
missionary's medicine, and soon both sister and mother became
Christians, and finally the stone-thrower himself. And so, gradually,
the lines of the enemy were falling back, and at every sign
of retreat the little army of two advanced. A little army? No!
For was there not the whole host of heaven moving with them? And
Mackay was learning that his boyish dreams of glory were truly
to be fulfilled. He had wanted always to be a soldier like his
grandfather, and fight a great Waterloo, and here he was right
in the midst of the battle with the victory and the glory sure.
The two missionaries often went on short
trips here and there
into the country around Tamsui, and Mackay determined that when
the intense summer heat had lessened they would make a long tour
to some of the large cities. The heat of August was almost
overpowering to the Canadian. Flies and mosquitoes and insect
pests of all kinds made his life miserable, too, and prevented
his studying as hard as he wished.
One oppressive day he and A Hoa returned
from a preaching tour in
the country to find their home in a state of siege. Right across
the threshold lay a monster serpent, eight feet in length. A Hoa
shouted a warning, and seized a long pole, and the two managed to
kill it. But their troubles were not yet over. The next morning,
Mackay stepped outside the door and sprang back just in time to
escape another, the mate of the one killed. This one was even
larger than the first, and was very fierce. But they finished it
with sticks and stones.
When September came the days grew clearer,
and the many pests of
summer were not so numerous. The mosquitoes and flies that had
been such torments disappeared, and there was some relief from
the damp oppressive heat. But he had only begun to enjoy the
refreshing breaths of cool air, and had remarked to A Hoa that
the days reminded him of Canadian summers, when the weather gave
him to understand that every Formosan season has its drawbacks.
September brought tropical storms and typhoons that were
terrible, and he saw from his little house on the hillside big
trees torn up by the root, buildings swept away like chaff, and
out in the harbor great ships lifted from their anchorage and
whirled away to destruction. And then he was sometimes thankful
that his little hut was built into the hillside, solid and
fierce storms cleared away the heavy dampness that had
made the heat of the summer so unbearable, and October and
November brought delightful days. The weather was still warm of
course, but the nights were cool and pleasant.
So early one October morning, Mackay and A
Hoa started off on a
tour to the cities.
"We shall go to Kelung first," said the
missionary. Kelung was a
seaport city on the northern coast, straight east across the
island from Tamsui. A coolie to carry food and clothing was
hired, and early in the morning, while the stars were still
shining, they passed through the sleeping town and out on the
little paths between the rice-fields. Though it was yet scarcely
daylight, the farmers were already in their fields. It was
harvest-time--the second harvest of the year --and the little
rice-fields were no longer like mirrors, but were filled with
high rustling grain ready for the sickle. The water had been
drained off and the reaper and thrasher were going through the
fields before dawn. There was no machinery like that used at
home. The reaper was a short sickle, the thrashing-machine a kind
of portable tub, and Mackay looked at them with some amusement,
and described to A Hoa how they took off the great wheat crops in
two were in high spirits, ready for any sort of adventure and
they met some. Toward evening they reached a place called
Sek-khau, and went to the little brick inn to get a
sleeping-place. The landlord came to the door and was about to
bid A Hoa enter, when the light fell upon Mackay's face. With a
shout, "Black-bearded barbarian!" he slammed the door in their
faces. They turned away, but already a crowd had begun to gather.
"The black-bearded barbarian is here! The foreign devil from
Tamsui has come!" was the cry. The mob followed the two down the
streets, shouting curses. Some one threw a broken piece of brick,
another a stone. Mackay turned and faced them, and for a few
moments they seemed cowed. But the crowd was increasing, and he
deemed it wise to move on. So the two marched out of the town
followed by stones and curses. And, as they went, Mackay reminded
A Hoa of what they had been reading the night before.
"Yes," said A Hoa brightly. "The Lord
was driven out of his own
town in Galilee."
and Paul--you remember how he was stoned. Our Master
counts us worthy to suffer for him." But where to go was the
question. Before they could decide, night came down upon them,
and it came in that sudden tropical way to which Mackay, all his
life accustomed to the long mellow twilights of his northern
home, could never grow accustomed. They each took a torch out of
the carrier's bag, lighted it, and marched bravely on. The path
led along the Kelung river, through tall grass. They were not
sure where it led to, but thought it wise to follow the river;
they would surely come to Kelung some time. Mackay was ahead, A
Hoa right at his heels, and behind them the basket bearer. At a
sudden turn in the path A Hoa gave a shout of warning, and the
next instant, a band of robbers leaped from the long reeds and
grass, and brandished their spears in the travelers' faces. The
torchlight shone on their fierce evil eyes and their long knives,
making a horrible picture. The young Canadian Scot did not flinch
for a second. He looked the wild leader straight in the face.
"We have no money, so you cannot rob us," he
said steadily, "and you must let us pass at once. I am a teacher and--"
"A TEACHER!" he was
interrupted by a dismayed exclamation from
several of the wild band. "A teacher!" As if with one accord they
turned and fled into the darkness. For even a highwayman in China
respects a man of learning. The travelers went on again, with
something of relief and something of the exultation that youth
feels in having faced danger. But a second trouble was upon them.
One of those terrible storms that still raged occasionally had
been brewing all evening, and now it opened its artillery. Great
howling gusts came down from the mountain, carrying sheets of
driving rain. Their torches went out like matches, and they were
left to stagger along in the black darkness. What were they to
do? They could not go back. They could not stay there. They
scarcely dared go on. For they did not know the way, and any
moment a fresh blast of wind or a misstep might hurl them into
the river. But they decided that they must go on, and on they
went, stumbling, slipping, sprawling, and falling outright. Now
there would be an exclamation from Mackay as he sank to the knees
in the mud of a rice-field, now a groan from A Hoa as he fell
over a boulder and bruised and scratched himself, and oftenest a
yell from the poor coolie, as he slipped, baskets and all, into
some rocky crevice, and was sure he was tumbling into the river;
but they staggered on, Mackay secure in his faith in God. His
Father knew and his Father would keep him safely. And behind him
came brave young A Hoa, buoyed up by his new growing faith, and
learning the lesson that sometimes the Captain asks his soldier
to march into hard encounters, but that the soldier must never
"everlasting arms" were around them, for by midnight they
reached Kelung. They were drenched, breathless, and worn out, and
they spent the night in a damp hovel, glad of any shelter from
the wind and rain.
But the next morning, young soldier A Hoa had a fiercer battle to
fight than any with robbers or storms. As soon as the city was
astir, Mackay and he went out to find a good place to preach.
They passed down the main thoroughfare, and everywhere they
attracted attention. Cries of "Ugly barbarian!" and oftenest
"Black-bearded barbarian" were heard on all sides. A Hoa was
known in Kelung and contempt and ridicule was heaped upon him by
his old college acquaintances. He was consorting with the
barbarian! He was a friend of this foreigner! They poured more
insults upon him than they did upon the barbarian himself. Some
took the stranger as a joke, and laughed and made funny remarks
upon his appearance. Here and there an old woman, peeping through
the doorway, would utter a loud cackling laugh, and pointing a
wizened finger at the missionary would cry: "Eh, eh, look at him!
Tee hee! He's got a wash basin on for a hat!" A Hoa was
distressed at these remarks, but Mackay was highly amused.
"We're drawing a crowd, anyway," he remarked
that's what we want"
Soon they came to an open square in front of
a heathen temple.
The building had several large stone steps leading up to the
door. Mackay mounted them and stood facing the buzzing crowd,
with A Hoa at his side. They started a hymn.
All people that on earth do dwell Sing to
the Lord with cheerful
square in front of them began to fill rapidly. The
people jostled each other in their endeavors to get a view of the
barbarian. Every one was curious, but every one was angry and
indignant, so sometimes the sound of the singing was lost in the
shouts of derision.
When the hymn was finished, Mackay had a
"They will surely listen to one of their own people," he said to
himself, and turned to A Hoa.
"Speak to them," he said. "Tell them about
the true God."
was a hard moment for the young convert. He had been a
Christian only a few months and had never yet spoken in public
for Christ. He looked desperately over the sea of mocking faces
beneath him. He opened his mouth, as though to speak, and
hesitated. Just then came a rough and bitter taunt from one of
his old companions. It was too much. A Hoa turned away and hung
missionary said nothing. But he did the very wisest
thing he could have done. He had some time before taught A Hoa a
grand old Scottish paraphrase, and they had often sung it
ashamed to own my Lord
Or to defend his cause,
Maintain the glory of his cross
And honor all his laws.
Mackay's voice, loud and clear, burst into
this fine old hymn. A
Hoa taised his head. He joined in the hymn and sang it to the
end. It put mettle into him. It was the battle-song that brought
back the young recruit's courage. Almost before the last note
sounded he began to speak. His voice rang out bold and unafraid
over the crowd of angry heathen.
"I am a Christian!" he said distinctly. "I
worship the true God.
I cannot worship idols," with a gesture toward the temple door,
"that rats can destroy. I am not afraid. I love Jesus. He is my
Savior and Friend."
No, A Hoa was not "ashamed" any more. His
testing time had come,
and he had not failed after all. And his brave, true words sent a
thrill of joy through the more seasoned soldier at his side.
That was not the only difficult situation he
met on that journey.
The two soldiers of the cross had many trials, but the thrill of
that victory before the Kelung temple never left them.
When they returned to Tamsui they held daily
services in their
house, and A Hoa often spoke to the people who gathered there.
One Sunday they noticed an old woman
present, who had come down
the river in a boat. Women as a rule did not come out to the
meetings, but this old lady continued to come every Sunday. She
showed great interest in the missionary's words, and, at the
close of one meeting, he spoke to her. She told him she was a
poor widow, that her name was Thah-so, and that she had come down
the river from Go-ko-khi to hear him preach. Then she added, "I
have passed through many trials in this world, and my idols never
gave me any comfort." Then her eyes shone, "But I like your
teaching very much," she went on. "I believe the God you tell
about will give me peace.. I will come again, and bring others."
Next Sunday she was there with several
other women. And after
that she came every Sunday, bringing more each time, until at
last a whole boat-load would come down to the service.
These people were so interested that they
asked the missionary if
he would not visit them. So one day he and A Hoa boarded one of
the queer-looking flat-bottomed river-boats and were pulled up
the rapids to Go ko-khi. Every village in Formosa had its
headman, who is virtually the ruler of the place. When the boat
landed, many of the villagers were at the shore to meet their
visitors and took them at once to their mayor's house, the best
building in the village. Tan Paugh, a fine, big, powerfully-built
man, received them cordially. He frankly declared that he was
tired and sick of idols and wanted to hear more of this new
religion. An empty granary was obtained for both church and home,
and the missionary and his assistant took up their quarters
there, and for several months they remained, preaching and
teaching the Bible either in Go-ho-khi, or in the lovely
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