Stories Worth Re-Reading

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42. The Little Protector' // ' 43. Moffat and Africaner''

He was such a little fellow, but he was desperately in earnest when he marched into the store that snowy morning. Straight up to the first clerk he went. "I want to see the 'prietor," he said.''

The clerk wanted to smile, but the little face before her was so grave that she answered solemnly, "He is sitting at his desk."''

The little fellow walked up to the man at the desk. Mr. Martin, the proprietor, turned around. "Good morning, little man. Did you want to see me?" he asked.''

"Yes, sir. I want a wrap for my mama. I can make fires and pay for it."''

"What is your name, my boy?"''

"Paul May."''

"Is your father living?"''

"No, sir; he died when we lived in Louisville."''

"How long have you lived here?"''

"We haven't been here long. Mama was sick in Louisville, and the doctor told her to go away, and she would get well."''

"Is she better?"''

"Yes, sir. Last Sunday she wanted to go to church, but she didn't have any wrap, and she cried. She didn't think I saw her, but I did. She says I'm her little p'tector since papa died. I can make fires and pay for a wrap."''

"But, little man, the store is steam-heated. I wonder if you could clean the snow off the walk."''

"Yes, sir," Paul answered, quickly.''

"Very well. I'll write your mama a note and explain our bargain."''

When the note was written, Mr. Martin arose.''

"Come, Paul, I will get the wrap," he said. At the counter he paused. "How large is your mother Paul?" he asked.''

Paul glanced about him. "'Bout as large as her." he said, pointing toward a lady clerk.''

"Miss Smith, please see if this fits you," requested Mr. Martin. Paul's eyes were shining.''

Miss Smith put on the wrap and turned about for Paul to see it. "Do you like it?" she asked him.''

"Yes, I do," he answered very emphatically.''

The wrap was marked twelve dollars, but kind-hearted Mr. Martin said: "You may have it for five dollars, Paul. Take it to Pauline and have her take the price tag off," he added to Miss Smith. When she brought the bundle back to him, he put it in Paul's arms. "Take it to your mama, Paul. When the snow stops falling, come and sweep off the walk. I will pay you a dollar each time you clean it. We shall soon have enough to pay for the wrap."''

"Yes, sir," answered Paul, gravely. He took the bundle and trudged out into the snow.''

When he reached home, his mother looked in surprise at his bundle. "Where have you been, dear?"''

"I went to town, mama," Paul answered. He put the note into her hand. She opened it and read:—''

"MRS. MAY: This little man has bought a wrap for you. He says he is your protector. For his sake keep the wrap and let him work to pay for it. It will be a great pleasure to him. He has the making of a fine man in him. WILLIAM MARTIN."''

Paul was astonished to see tears in his mother’s eyes; he had thought she would be so happy, and she was crying. She put her arm about him and kissed him. Then she put on the wrap and told how pretty she thought it.''

When the snow stopped falling, Paul went down to the store and cleaned the snow from the front walk. He did not know that Mr. Martin's hired man swept it again, for the little arms were not strong enough to sweep it quite clean.''

The days passed, and one morning Paul had a very sore throat.''

"You mustn't get up today, dear," his mother said. When she brought his breakfast, she found him crying. "What is making you cry? Is your throat hurting much?"''

"No, mama. Don't you see it is snowing, and I can't go and clean the walk?" cried Paul.''

"Shall I write a note to Mr. Martin and explain why you are not there?"''

"Yes, please, mama. Who will take it?"''

"I'll ask Bennie to leave it as he goes to school."''

The note was written, and Bennie, a neighbor boy, promised to deliver it.''

While Paul was eating his dinner, there was a knock at the door. Mrs. May answered it, and ushered in Mr. Martin.''

"How is the sick boy?" he asked. He crossed the room and sat by Paul. He patted the boy's cheek, and then turned to the mother. "Mrs. May," he said, "my wife's mother is very old, but will not give up her home and live with us. She says she wants a home for her children to visit. She has recently lost a good housekeeper, and needs another. Since I met Paul the other day, I have been wondering if you would take the housekeeper's place. Mother would be glad to have you and Paul with her, and would make things easy for you, and pay you liberally."''

"I shall be very glad to accept your offer, Mr. Martin. I am sorely in need of work. I taught in the public school in Louisville until my health failed. Since then I have had a hard struggle to get along," answered Mrs. May.''

"I will give you mother's address. You can go out and arrange matters. Make haste and get well little protector," said Mr. Martin, as he rose to go.''

When he had gone, the mother put her arms about her boy. "You are my protector," she said. "You brought me a wrap, and now you have helped me to get work to do."—Mrs. P. Binford, in the Visitor.''

If I Ought To:''

  There's a voice that's ever sounding.
  With an echo oft rebounding,
  In my heart a word propounding,
    Loudly speaking, never still;
  Till at last, my duty viewing,
  Heart replies to charge renewing,
  Let my willing change to doing,—
    If I ought to, then I will.
Max Hill''

43. Moffat and Africaner''

Robert Moffat, the poor Scotch lad, who, by living on beggar's fare, managed to get an education in theology and medicine, must evermore stand as one of the great pioneers of Central African exploration. When on the last day of October, 1816, that memorable year in missions, he set sail for the Cape of Good Hope, he was only twenty years of age. But in all the qualities that assure both maturity and heroism, he was a full-grown man.''

As not infrequently occurs, his greatest obstacles were found, not in the hopeless paganism of the degraded tribes of the Dark Continent, but in the apathy, if not antipathy, of the representatives of Christian governments. The British governor would have penned him up within the bounds of Cape Colony, lest he should complicate the relations of the settlers with the tribes of the interior. While fighting out this battle, he studied Dutch with a pious Hollander, that he might preach to the Boers and their servants.''

Afterward, when permission was obtained, while traveling to the country of the Bechuanas, at the close of his first day's journey he stopped at a farmhouse and offered to preach to the people that evening. In the large kitchen, where the service was to be held, stood a long table, at the head of which sat the Boer, with his wife and six grown children. A large Bible lay on the table, and underneath the table half a dozen dogs. The Boer pointed to the Bible as the signal for Mr. Moffat to begin. But, after vainly waiting for others to come in, he asked how soon the working people were to be called.''

"Working people?" impatiently cried the farmer.''

"You don't mean the Hottentots,—the blacks! You are not waiting for them surely, or expecting to preach to them? You might as well preach to those dogs under that table!" A second time, and more angrily he spoke, repeating the offensive comparison.''

Young as Mr. Moffat was, he was disconcerted only for a moment. Lifting his heart to God for guidance, the thought came into his mind to take a text suggested by the rude remarks of the Boer. So he opened the Bible to the fifteenth chapter of Matthew and read the twenty-seventh verse: "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Pausing a moment, he slowly repeated these words, with his eyes steadily fixed on the face of the Boer. Again pausing, a third time he quoted these appropriate words. Angrily the Boer cried out, "Well, well, bring them in." A crowd of blacks then thronged the kitchen, and Moffat preached to them all.''

Ten years passed, and the missionary was passing that way again. Those work-people, who held him in the most grateful remembrance, seeing him, ran after him to thank him for telling them the way to Christ in that sermon.''

His whole life in Africa was a witness to miracles of transformation. He had no scorn nor contempt for the sable sons of Africa. He found the most degraded of them open to the impressions of the gospel, and even the worst and unimpressionable among them were compelled to confess the power of that gospel to renew. One savage, cruel chief, who hated the missionaries, had a dog that chewed and swallowed a copy of the book of Psalms for the sake of the soft sheepskin in which it was bound. The enraged chief declared his dog to be henceforth worthless: "He would no more bite or tear, now that he had swallowed a Christian book."''

This godly, devoted missionary preached and taught the warlike Bechuanas till they put away their clubs and knives, and farming utensils took the place of bows and arrows and spears. This strange change in African savages came to be talked over among the people. It was so wonderful that the other tribes could account for it only as an instance of supernatural magic. There was nothing they knew of that would lead men like the Bechuanas to bring war to an end, and no longer rob and kill.''

Mr. Moffat was especially warned against the notorious Africaner, a chief whose name was the terror of the whole country. Some prophesied that he would be eaten by this monster; others were sure that he would be killed, and his skull turned into a drinking-cup, and his skin into the head of a drum. Nevertheless, the heroic young missionary went straight for the kraal of the cruel marauder and murderer. He was accompanied by Ebner, the missionary, who was not in favor in Africaner's court, and who soon had to flee, leaving Mr. Moffat alone with a bloodthirsty monarch and a people as treacherous as their chief.''

But God had armed his servant with the spirit, not of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. He was a man of singular grace and tact. He quietly but firmly planted his foot in Africaner's realms, and began his work. He opened a school, began stated services of worship, and went about among the people, living simply, self-denyingly, and prayerfully.''

Africaner himself was his first convert. The wild Namoqua warrior was turned into a gentle child. The change in this chief was a moral miracle. Wolfish rapacity, leonine ferocity, leopardish treachery, gave way before the meekness and mildness of the calf or kid. His sole aim and ambition had been to rob and to slay, to lead his people on expeditions for plunder and violence, but he now seemed absorbed by one passion, zeal for God and his missionary. He set his subjects to building a house for Mr. Moffat, made him a present of cows, became a regular and devout worshiper, mourned heartily over his past life, and habitually studied the Word of God. He could not do enough for the man who had led him to Jesus.''

When the missionary's life hung in the balance with African fever, he nursed him through the crisis of delirium. When he had to visit Cape Town, Africaner went with him, knowing that a price had been set for years upon his own head as an outlaw and a public enemy. No marvel that when he made his appearance in Cape Colony, the people were astonished at the transformation! It was even more wonderful than when Saul, the arch-persecutor, was suddenly transformed into Paul, the apostle.''

Mr. Moffat once said that during his entire residence among this people, he remembered no occasion on which he had been grieved with Africaner or found reason for complaint; and even his very faults leaned to the side of virtue. On his way to Cape Town with Mr. Moffat, a distance of six hundred miles, the whole road lay through a country which had been laid waste by this robber and his retainers. The Dutch farmers could not believe that this converted man was actually Africaner; and one of them, when he saw him, lifted his hands and exclaimed: "This is the eighth wonder of the world! Great God, what a miracle of thy power and grace!"''

He who had long shed blood without cause would now with as little hesitation shed his own for Christ's sake. When he found his own death approaching, he gathered his people around him, and charged them, as Moses and Joshua did Israel: "We are not now what we once were, savages, but men professing to be taught according to the gospel. Let us, then, do accordingly." Then, with unspeakable tenderness and gentleness, he counseled them to live peaceably with all men, to engage in no undertaking without the advice of Christian guides, to remain together as one people, and to receive and welcome all missionaries as sent from God. Then he gave them his parting blessing.''

His dying confession would have graced the lips of the apostle of the Gentiles: "I feel that I love God, and that he has done much for me, of which I am totally unworthy. My former life is stained with blood: but Jesus Christ has bought my pardon, and I shall live with him through an eternity. Beware of falling back into the same evils into which I have so often led you, but seek God, and he will be found of you, and direct you."''

Having said this, Africaner fell asleep, himself having furnished one of the most unanswerable proofs that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.—Arthur T. Pierson, in "The Miracles of Missions," second series, copyright by Funk and Wagnalls Company, New York.''

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