Away over on the east of
the island ran a range of beautiful
mountains. And between these mountains and the sea stretched a
low rice plain. Here lived many Pe-po-hoan,-- "Barbarians of the
plain." Mackay had never visited this place, for the Kap-tsu-lan
plain, as it was called, was very hard to reach on account of the
mountains; but this only made the dauntless missionary all the
more anxious to visit it.
So one day he suggested
to his students, as they studied in his
house on the bluff, that they make a journey to tell the people
of Kap-tsu-lan the story of Jesus. Of course, the young fellows
were delighted. To go off with Kai Bok-su was merely transferring
their school from his house to the big beautiful outdoors. For he
always taught them by the way, and besides they were all eager to
go with him and help spread the good news that had made such a
difference in their lives. So when Kai Bok-su piled his books
upon a shelf and said, "Let us go to Kaptsu-lan," the young
fellows ran and made their preparations joyfully. A Hoa was in
Tamsui at the time, and Mackay suggested that he come too, for a
trip without A Hoa was robbed of half its enjoyment.
Mackay had just recovered
from one of those violent attacks of
malaria from which he suffered so often now, and he was still
looking pale and weak. So Sun-a, a bright young student-lad, came
to the study door with the suggestion, "Let us take Lu-a for Kai
Bok-su to ride."
There was a laugh from
the other students and an indulgent smile
from Kai Bok-su himself. Lu-a was a small, rather stubborn-
looking donkey with meek eyes and a little rat tail. He was a
present to the missionary from the English commissioner of
customs at Tamsui, when that gentleman was leaving the island.
Donkeys were commonly used on the mainland of China, and though
an animal was scarcely ever ridden in Formosa, horses being
almost unknown, the commissioner did not see why his Canadian
friend, who was an introducer of so many new things, should not
introduce donkey-riding. So he sent him Lu-a as a farewell
present and leaving this token of his good-will departed for
Up to this time Lu-a had
served only as a pet and a joke among
the students, and high times they had with him in the grassy
field behind the missionary's house when lessons were over. In
great glee they brought him round to the door now, "all saddled
and bridled" and ready for the trip. The missionary mounted, and
Lu-a trotted meekly along the road that wound down the bluff
toward Kelung. The students followed in high spirits. The sight
of their teacher astride the donkey was such a novel one to them,
and Lu-a was such a joke at any time, that they were filled with
merriment. All went well until they left the road and turned into
a path that led across the buffalo common. At the end of it they
came to a ravine about fifteen feet deep. Over this stretched. a
plank bridge not more than three feet wide. Here Lu-a came to a
sudden stop. He had no mind to risk his small but precious body
on that shaky structure. His rider bade him "go on," but the
command only made Lu-a put back his ears, plant his fore feet
well forward and stand stock still. In fact he looked much more
settled and immovable than the bridge over which he was being
urged. The students gathered round him and petted and coaxed.
They called him "Good Lu-a" and "Honorable Lu-a" and every other
flattering title calculated to move his donkeyship, but Lu-a
flattened his ears back so he could not hear and would not move.
So Mackay dismounted and tried the plan of pulling him forward by
the bridle while some of the boys pushed him from behind. Lu-a
resented this treatment, especially that from the rear, and up
went his heels, scattering students in every direction; and to
discomfit the enemy in front he opened his mouth and gave forth
such loud resonant brays that the ravine fairly rang with his
A balking donkey is
rather amusing to boys of any country, but to
these Formosan lads who had had no experience with one the sound
of Lu-a's harsh voice and the sight of his flying heels brought
convulsions of merriment. "He's pounding rice! He's pounding
rice!" shouted the wag of the party, and his companions flung
themselves upon the grass and rolled about laughing themselves
With his followers
rendered helpless and his steed continuing
stubborn, Mackay saw the struggle was useless. He could not
compete alone with Lu-a's firmness, so he gave orders that the
obstinate little obstructer of their journey be trotted back to
"And to think that any
one of us might have carried the little
rascal over!" he cried as he watched the donkey meekly depart.
His students looked at the little beast with something like
respect. Lu-a had beaten the dauntless Kai Bok-su who had never
before been beaten by anything. He was indeed a marvelous donkey!
So the journey to the
Kap-tsu-lan plain was made on foot. It was
a very wearisome one and often dangerous. The mountain paths were
steep and difficult and the travelers knew that often the
head-hunters lurked near. But the way was wonderfully beautiful
nevertheless. Standing on a mountain height one morning and
looking away down over wooded hills and valleys and the lake-like
terraces of the rice-fields, Mackay repeated to his students a
line of the old hymn:
Every prospect pleases
and only man is vile.
Around them the stately
tree-fern lifted its lovely fronds and
the orchids dotted the green earth like a flock of gorgeous
butterflies just settled. Tropical birds of brilliant plumage
flashed among the trees. Beside them a great tree raised itself,
fairly covered. with morning-glories, and over at their right a
mountainside gleamed like snow in the sunlight, clothed from top
to bottom with white lilies.
But the way had its
dangers as well as its beauties. They were
passing the mouth of a ravine when they were stopped by yells and
screams of terror coming from farther up the mountainside. In a
few minutes a Chinaman darted out of the woods toward them. His
face was distorted with terror and he could scarcely get breath
to tell his horrible story. He and his four companions had been
chipping the camphor trees up in the woods; suddenly the armed
savages had leaped out upon them and he alone of the five had
At last they left the
dangerous mountain and came down into the
Kap-tsu-lan plain. On every side was rice-field after rice-field,
with the water pouring from one terrace to another. The plain was
low and damp and the paths and roads lay deep in mud. They had a
long toilsome walk between the rice fields until they came to the
first village of these barbarians of the plain. It was very much
like a Chinese village,--dirty, noisy, and swarming with
wild-looking children and wolfish dogs.
The visitors were
received with the utmost disdain. The Chinese
students were of course well known, for these aborigines had long
ago adopted their customs and language. But the Chinese visitors
were in company with the foreigners, and all foreigners were
outcaste in this eastern plain. The men shouted the familiar
"foreign devil" and walked contemptuously away. The dirty women
and children fled into their grass huts and set the dogs upon the
strangers. They tried by all sorts of kindnesses to gain a
hearing, but all to no effect. So they gave it up, and plodded
through the mud and water a mile farther on to the next village.
But village number two received them in exactly the same way.
Only rough words and the barks of cruel dogs met them. The next
village was no better, the fourth a little worse. And so on they
went up and down the Kap-tsu-lan plain, sleeping at night in some
poor empty hut or in the shadow of a rice strawstack, eating
their meals of cold rice and buffalo-meat by the wayside, and
being driven from village to village, and receiving never a word
And all through those
wearisome days the young men looked at
their leader in vain for any smallest sign of discouragement or
inclination to retreat. There was no slightest look of dismay on
the face of Kai Bok-su, for how was it possible for a man who did
not know when he was beaten to feel discouraged? So still
undaunted in the face of defeat, he led them here and there over
the plain, hoping that some one would surely relent and give them
One night, footsore and
worn out, they slept on the damp mud
floor of a miserable hut where the rain dripped in upon their
faces. In the morning prospects looked rather discouraging to the
younger members of the party. They were wet and cold and weary,
and there seemed no use in going again and again to a village
only to be turned away. But Kai Bok-su's mouth was as firm as
ever, and his dark eyes flashed resolutely, as once more he gave
the order to march. It was a lovely morning, the sun was rising
gloriously out of the sea and the heavy mists were melting from
above the little rice-fields. Here and there fairy lakes gleamed
out from the rosy haze that rolled back toward the mountains.
They walked along the shore in the pink dawn-light and marched up
toward a fishing village. They had visited it before and had been
driven away, but Kai Bok-su was determined to try again. They
were surprised as they came nearer to see three men come out to
meet them with a friendly expression on their faces.
The foremost was an old
man who had been nicknamed "Black-face,"
because of his dark skin. The second was a middle aged man, and
the third was a young fellow about the age of the students. They
saluted the travelers pleasantly, and the old man addressed the
"You have been going
through and through our plain and no one has
received you," he said politely. "Come to our village, and we
will now be ready to listen to you."
The door of Kap-tsu-lan
had opened at last! The missionary's eyes
gleamed with joy and gratitude as he accepted the invitation. The
delegation led the visitors straight to the house of the headman.
For the Pepo-hoan governed their communities in the Chinese style
and had a headman for each village. The missionary party sat down
in front of the hut on some large flat stones and talked over the
matter with the chief and other important men. And while they
talked "Black-face" slipped away. He returned in a few moments
with a breakfast of rice and fish for the visitors.
The result of the
conference was that the villagers decided to
give the barbarian a chance. All he wanted it seemed was to tell
of this new Jehovah-religion which he believed, and surely there
could be no great harm in listening to him talk.
In the evening the
headman with the help of some friends set to
work to construct a meeting-house. A tent was erected, made from
boat sails. Several flat stones laid at one end and a plank
placed upon them made a pulpit. And that was the first church on
the Kap-tsu-lan plain! There was a "church bell" too, to call the
people to worship. In the village were some huge marine shells
with the ends broken off. In the old days these were used by the
chiefs as trumpets by which they called their men together
whenever they were starting out on the war-path. But now the
trumpet-shell was used to call the people to follow the King.
Just at dark a man took one, and walking up and down the
straggling village street blew loudly-- the first "church bell"
in east Formosa.
The loud roar brought the
villagers flocking down to the
tent-church by the shore. For the most part they brought their
pews with them. They came hurrying out of their huts carrying
benches, and arranging them in rows they seated themselves to
Mackay and the students
sang and the people listened eagerly. The
Pe-po-hoan by nature were more musical than the Chinese, and the
singing delighted them. Then the missionary arose and addressed
them. He told clearly and simply why he had come and preached to
them of the true God. Afterward the congregation was allowed to
ask questions, and they learned much of this God and of his love
in his Son Jesus Christ.
The wonder of the great
news shone in the eyes upturned to the
preacher. In the gloom of the half-lighted tent their dark faces
took on a new expression of half-wondering hope. Could it be
possible that this was true? Their poor, benighted minds had
always been held in terror of their gods and of the evil spirits
that forever haunted their footsteps. Could it be possible that
God was a great Father who loved his children? They asked so many
eager questions, and the story of Jesus Christ had to be told
over and over so many times, that before this first church
service ended a gray gleam of dawn was spreading out over the
It was only the next day
that these newly awakened people decided
that they must have a church building. And they went to work to
get one in a way that might have shamed a congregation of people
in a Christian land. This new wonderful hope that had been raised
in their hearts by the knowledge that God loved them set them to
work with glad energy. Kai Bok-su and his men still preached and
prayed and sang and taught in the crazy old wind-flapped tent by
the seashore, and the people listened eagerly, and then, when
services were over, every one,--preacher, assistants, and
congregation,--set bravely to work to build a church. Brave they
certainly had to be, for at the very beginning they had to risk
their lives for their chapel. A party sailed down the coast and
entered savage territory for the poles to construct the building.
They were attacked and one or two were badly wounded, though they
managed to escape. But they were quite ready to go back and fight
again had it been necessary. Then they made the bricks for the
walls. Rice chaff mixed with clay were the materials, and the
Kap-tsu-lan plain had an abundance of both. The roof was made of
grass, the floor of hard dried earth, and a platform of the same
at one end served as a pulpit.
When the little chapel
was finished, every evening the big shell
rang out its summons through the village; and out from every
house came the people and swarmed into the chapel to hear Kai
Bok-su explain more of the wonders of God and his Son Jesus
Mackay's home during this
period was a musty little room in a
damp mud-walled hut; and here every day he received donations of
idols, ancestral tablets, and all sorts of things belonging to
idol-worship. He was requested to burn them, and often in the
mornings he dried his damp clothes and moldy boots at a fire made
from heathen idols.
For eight weeks the
missionary party remained in this place,
preaching, teaching, and working among the people. It was a
mystery to the students how their teacher found time for the
great amount of Bible study and prayer which he managed to get.
He surely worked as never man worked before. Late at night, long
after every one else was in bed, he would be bending over his
Bible, beside his peanut-oil lamp, and early in the morning
before the stars had disappeared he was up and at work again.
Four hours' sleep was all his restless, active mind could endure,
and with that he could. do work that would have killed any
One evening some new
faces looked up at him from his congregation
in the little brick church. When the last hymn was sung the
missionary stepped down from his pulpit and spoke to the
strangers. They explained that they were from the next village.
They had heard rumors of this new doctrine, and. had been sent to
find out more about it. They had been charmed with the singing,
for that evening over two hundred voices had joined in a ringing
praise to the new Jehovah-God. They wanted to hear more, they
said, and they wanted to know what it was all about. Would Kai
Bok-su and his students deign to visit their village too?
Would he? Why that was
just what he was longing to do. be had
been driven out of that village by dogs only a few weeks before,
but a little thing like that did not matter to a man like Mackay.
This village lay but a short distance away, being connected with
their own by a path winding here and there between the
rice-fields. Early the next evening Mackay formed a procession.
He placed himself at its head, with A Hoa at his side. The
students came next, and then the converts in a double row. And
thus they marched slowly along the pathway singing as they went.
It was a stirring sight. On either side the waving fields of
rice, behind them the gleam of the blue ocean, before them the
great towering mountains clothed in green. Above them shone the
clear dazzling sky of a tropical evening. And on wound the long
procession of Christians in a heathen land, and from them arose
the glorious words:
O thou, my soul, bless
God the Lord,
And all that in me is
Be stirred up his holy
To magnify and bless.
And the heathen in the
rice-fields stopped to gaze at the strange
sight, and the mountains gave back the echo of that Name which is
above every name.
And so, marching to their
song, the procession came to the
village. Everybody in the place had come out to meet them at the
first sound of the singing. And now they stood staring, the men
in a group by themselves, the women and children in the
background, the dogs snarling on the outskirts of the crowd.
The congregation was
there ready, and without waiting to find a
place of meeting, right out under the clear evening skies, the
young missionary told once more the great story of God and his
love as shown through Jesus Christ. The message took the village
by storm. It was like water to thirsty souls. The next day five
hundred of them brought their idols to the missionary to be
And now Mackay went up
and down the Kap-tsu-lan plain from
village to village as he had done before, but this time it was a
triumphal march. And everywhere he went throngs threw away their
idols and declared themselves followers of the true God.
He was overcome with joy.
It was so glorious he wished he could
stay there the rest of his life and lead these willing people to
a higher life. But Tamsui was waiting; Sin-tiam, Bang-kah,
Kelung, Go-ko-khi, they must all be visited; and finally he tore
himself away, leaving some of his students to care for these
people of Kap-tsu-lan.
But he came back many
times, until at last nineteen chapels
dotted the plain, and in them nineteen native preachers told the
story of Jesus and his love. Sometimes, in later years, when
Mackay was with them, tears would roll down the people's faces as
they recalled how badly they had used him on his first visit.
It was while on his third
visit here that he had a narrow escape
from the head-hunters. He was staying at a village called "South
Wind Harbor," which was near the border of savage territory.
Mackay often walked on the shore in the evening just before the
meeting, always with a book in his hand. One night he was
strolling along in deep meditation when he noticed some extremely
large turtle tracks in the sand. He followed them, for he liked
to watch the big clumsy creatures. These green turtles were from
four to five feet in length. They would come waddling up from the
sea, scratch a hole in the sand with their flippers, lay their
eggs, cover them carefully, and with head erect and neck
out-thrust waddle back. Mackay was intensely interested in all
the animal life of the island and made a study of it whenever he
had a chance. He knew the savages killed and ate these turtles,
but he supposed he was as yet too near the village to be molested
by them. So he followed the tracks and was nearing the edge of
the forest, when he heard a shout behind him. As he turned, one
of his village friends came running out of his hut waving to him
frantically to come back. Thinking some one must be ill, Mackay
hurried toward the man, to find that it was he himself who was in
danger. The man explained breathlessly that it was the habit of
the wily savages to make marks in the sand resembling turtle
tracks to lure people into the forest. If Kai Bok-su had entered
the woods, his head would certainly have been lost.
It was always hard to say
farewell to Kaptsu-lan, the people were
so warm-hearted, so kind, and so anxious for him to stay. One
morning just before leaving after his third visit, Mackay had an
experience that brought him the greatest joy.
He had stayed all night
at the little fishing village where the
first chapel had been built. As usual he was up with the dawn,
and after his breakfast of cold boiled rice and pork he walked
down to the shore for a farewell look at the village. As he
passed along the little crooked street he could see old women
sitting on the mud floors of their huts, by the open door,
weaving. They were all poor, wrinkled, toothless old folk with
faces seamed by years of hard heathen experience. But in their
eyes shone a new light, the reflection of the glory that they had
seen when the missionary showed them Jesus their Savior. And as
they threw their thread their quavering voices crooned the sweet
There is a happy land
Far, far away.
And their old weary faces
were lighted up with a hope and
happiness that had never been there in youth.
Kai Bok-su smiled as he
passed their doors and his eyes were
misty with tender tears.
Just before him, playing
on the sand with "jacks" or tops, just
as he had played not so very long ago away back in Canada, were
the village boys. And as they played they too were singing, their
little piping voices, sweet as birds, thrilling the morning air.
And the words they sang were:
Jesus loves me, this I
For the Bible tells me
They nodded and smiled to
Kai Bok-su as he passed. be went down
to the shore where the wide Pacific flung long rollers away up
the hard-packed sand. The fishermen were going out to sea in the
rosy morning light, and as they stood up in their fishing-smacks,
and swept their long oars through the surf, they kept time to the
motion with singing. And their strong, brave voices rang out
above the roar of the breakers:
I'm not ashamed to own my
Or to defend his cause.
And standing there on the
sunlit shore the young missionary
raised his face to the gleaming blue heavens with an emotion of
unutterable joy and thanksgiving. And in that moment he knew what
was that glory for which he had so vaguely longed in childish
years. It was the glory of work accomplished for his Master's
sake, and he was realizing it to the full.