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´╗┐Title: Irish Ned - The Winnipeg Newsy
Author: Fea, Samuel, 1872-1943
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Irish Ned - The Winnipeg Newsy" ***

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[Illustration: IRISH NED]




Rector of St. Peter's, Winnipeg


Copyright, Canada, 1910, by SAMUEL FEA.


   My Mother





"Free Press! T'bune! Telegram! Papers, sir? Three for a nickel! Press,
T'bune and Telegr-r-r-ra-m-m-m-m!"

It was a hot afternoon in August, at the corner of Portage Avenue and
Main Street, the busiest thoroughfare in the busy city of Winnipeg, now
at its busiest and noisiest; but above the noise and din of traffic
rose shrill and clear the persistent cry of "Press, T'bune and

The speaker, or rather the shrieker, was a boy not more than nine years
old, and was at the first glance just an ordinary boy, except that he
was small for his apparent age. His clothes were patched in places, and
his boots were worn considerably, and the uppers were just beginning to
gape at the crack across the top; but the clothes were neat and clean,
and his boots were brushed. His hair was of the straw-coloured variety,
with a tendency to red, but it was not tousled or unkempt, but neatly
combed; while his little cap was not on straight but pushed back
carelessly, just showing a pair of clear but dark-blue Irish eyes and a
broad, low forehead.

His neatness compelled a second glance, and the second look at him
proved interesting. The boy's face was bright, cheerful and attractive,
for with all the innocence written upon it there was also the knowledge
of good and evil, together with the shrewdness born of an early
experience. But this shrewdness showed that his innocence was his
choice of the good and rejection of the evil, and not merely because he
had been kept from contact with the evil. This was Irish Ned, the
Winnipeg newsy.

The prince of newsboys was little Irish Ned, small in body, but great
in mind, the acknowledged leader of the select circle in which he
moved; always bright, winning, punctual and strictly businesslike, he
was admired by all who knew and watched on the street for his little
dimpled smile. Of course it must be admitted that at times there did
come, now and then, a bit of a scrimmage, but Ned was "quite fit" for
his size and weight any day; and after all, "sure it was only a bit of
fun," as he was known to say, "an' a body must have a bit of a fight
sometimes." Besides, being an Irish boy, he dearly loved a "shindy,"
and Winnipeg's wide streets provided ample room in which to dodge a too
powerful enemy. But for all his teasing the big boys never bullied Ned,
for all of them loved his bright, intelligent face and manly ways.

In the evening, after his papers were sold, Ned used to wend his way to
the schoolroom of the church which was known to him and his chums as
"Peter's Church." There he spent many a happy hour with the Gymnasium
Club, tumbling on the bars, swinging the clubs, performing feats
wonderful in the eyes of the "greenies," and successfully wrestling
with boys twice his size. Many a prize did he carry off, and many a
"newsy" envied him the night he won the gold button for being, as he
styled it, "the best kid in the whole bunch." As a Boy Scout, he would
sit for hours and listen to the wonderful stories related by the
Scoutmaster, or play the grand game of Kim, or join an expedition of
endurance or skill or discovery, on which the painstaking Scoutmaster
used to take and train his boys. A proud boy indeed was Ned when with
his troop he marched with the Veterans and Military to St. John's on
"Decoration Day" to place a wreath on the graves of the Canadian heroes
who gave their lives for Queen and Country in the Rebellion of '85. His
chest would expand, his head would be lifted high, and his step assume
a manly stride, as the band of "The L.B.D.'s," in which one of his
chums was playing, would strike up "The Maple Leaf Forever," or "Pork,
Beans and Hard-tack, Hard-tack, Tra-la-la-la!"

But the greatest day of all the year to Ned was the Sixth of July. That
was the day, the glorious day, of St. Peter's Picnic to Winnipeg Beach.
That was the day when Ned was in his glory, and bubbled over with
excitement. Helping to carry the big banner, or dodging here and there
through the long procession of children and teachers as it wound its
way along Selkirk and Main to the C.P.R. station, his shrill voice
leading every now and then in the great yell, "Ice-cream, soda-water,
ginger-ale and pop! St. Peters, St. Peters, they're always on the top."
Ah! what a glorious time it was! And then the big train and the long
ride, and the Beach, with its sand and the boating and the swimming;
the sports in the afternoon, from which Ned managed to carry off his
share of the prizes; to say nothing of the sumptuous dinner and supper
for which the teachers had worked and planned for many moons. Ah, it
was grand! And then to reach home again in the gathering twilight, to
scream once more the dear old yell, "Always on the top!" to fall asleep
with the refrain, "Ice-cream, soda-water," ringing in his ears, and
wishing each day were picnic-day--ah, those were the happy, happy spots
in the life of little Irish Ned, the Winnipeg Newsy.


Little Irish Ned was scarcely three months old when his mother died.
His grandmother reared him, and a hard fight she had to do it. All went
well for a time after his mother's death, but when Ned was about five
years old he lost the love and guidance of his father, and his
grandmother was deprived of her only support. Ned's father was employed
as a motorman by the Winnipeg Street Railway Company. He was steady and
prosperous; when suddenly a "strike" was called, and then there were
riotous times in Winnipeg's streets. Matters went from bad to worse,
until at last the Mayor called out the soldiers, and they came with all
the pride and pomp of war and with a great Gatling gun to overawe the
rioters. A hot time was in process on Main Street, three cars had been
smashed to atoms, the police with drawn batons had charged the crowd,
when Ned's father, who had entered a car to get his overcoat, left
there the night before the strike, was arrested as he was leaving the
car. No explanation was asked or taken. A "striking motorman," he was
caught in the act; and accordingly he was sentenced to a long term of
imprisonment in Stony Mountain Penitentiary. Then began the hard
struggle against poverty and disease, the hard struggle in which
thousands have already been worsted, the battle against fearful odds
which so many are now fighting. With no one to support her and little
Ned the old woman was forced to go out and scrub offices and to do a
day's work wherever it could be got, in order, as she said, "to get a
bit an' a sup an' a few rags to keep the boy in dacency."

Selkirk Avenue was not then the congested district that it is to-day.
Then happy homes, not many on the street, but each with a nice large
plot of ground and its own garden shaded with maple trees, covered the
district where now stores and offices and tenement blocks are trying to
shut out the sunshine. Never did a braver, more generous,
kinder-hearted people dwell together than those of North Winnipeg in
the good old days when each was known to all and all to each. The
hungry and the destitute never pleaded then in vain. Like the Green
Isle from which they sprung, "their doors opened wide to the poor and
the stranger"; like the land of their adoption, Canada, the broad and
free, their hands and purses were ever open to the call of charity.
Among them these two friendless ones found friends indeed. They lived
in a little home just east of where the Exhibition Buildings now stand.
A cleaner and neater one, though poorly furnished, could not be found
in all the city. On the walls were a few pictures, and the one Ned
loved best was that of Archbishop Machray, the great prelate who had
done so much for Western Canada in general and Winnipeg in particular.
Often he would sit for hours to hear Granny tell of the deeds of the
early pioneers in this great "Lone Land," and especially, so far as she
knew, those of the great Saint whom Ned was proud to claim as his hero.

Often on a summer's evening, when the darkness was beginning to fall,
and Granny had rested a little after her day's work, she and the child
would walk down towards the church. Not a handsome edifice, merely a
frame shell on a stone foundation. Not old and fragrant with ancient
memories, like the churches of the "Dear Isle" so far away, where tired
and weary workers, after long and dreary toil, in the evenings would
step in and reverently kneeling would lose sight of the world and its
weariness, in prayer and communion with God--a custom of the people
which gave them the strength and fortitude to bear a burden unknown to
the boys and girls of this Canada of ours. No, not grand and old and
magnificent, but still to these two sacred and hallowed because it was
God's House and theirs. They knelt on the chancel step--the old woman
and the little boy. There they knelt and prayed--ay, prayed for the
mother and the daughter now dead and gone; "for all who are any way
afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate"; and for one so dear
to them suffering, after the example of his Saviour, punishment for a
crime he did not commit.

Ah, would to God we had more like these; would to God the evenings were
hallowed with more such visits to our city churches; would to God that
more hungry hearts were eager for such quiet communion with their
Heavenly Father in His own House! What a beautiful picture it made: The
setting sun shining through the western window falling on the gray hair
and wrinkled, upturned face of the old woman, and on the sweet young
head and innocent countenance of the little child so close to her side.
Ah, often has the Rector, standing in the shadow, gazed with love and
gratitude on this scene--a scene of heaven upon the earth, a picture
artists love to paint, a sermon without words, an evening incense, the
strong, prevailing prayer of Youth and Age.


Seven bright summers have passed away since little Irish Ned first saw
the light of day. In his own estimation he is now quite a man. Granny
must put him in long pants, and then he will trot out to earn a living
for himself. Down to the newspaper office he goes with a friend who
tells his story. The "Circulation Manager" is very sympathetic, and Ned
gets his first bundle of papers. Oh, how proud he was. Not a prouder
boy or man in all Winnipeg. At six o'clock in the morning his little
feet would carry him across the overhead bridge to Portage Avenue, and
soon his voice would be heard crying "Free Press! Morning Free Press!"
along Portage Avenue, up Main Street and down Selkirk to his home. In
the afternoon the same shrill call would be heard heralding the evening
papers, "Press, 'Bune and Telegram." Of them all he preferred the Free
Press, but necessity knows no law, and it was, as he said, "to make his
pile and get rich quick," that he sold the "'Bune and Tely."

On Sunday he was always at morning service, sitting in the South
Transept near the Font. He loved the Sunday School, and right joyously
rang his sweet, childish treble in the chants and hymns; but when it
came to the hymn, "Just as I am, I come," then his whole soul seemed
afire, and the thrilling, rapturous music gushed from his little throat
and ascended Heavenwards--as the angels' songs must ascend to the
summit of God's Throne.

    "In the glad morning of my day,
    My life to give, my vows to pay,
    With no reserve and no delay,
      With all my heart I come.

    "Just as I am, young, strong and free,
    To be the best that I can be,
    For truth and righteousness and Thee,
      Lord of my life, I come.

    "And for Thy sake to win renown,
    And then to take the victor's crown,
    And at Thy feet to cast it down,
      O Master, Lord, I come."

It was the sweet, enchanting strain of a pure and innocent soul
registering its determination to be worthy of the God from Whom it

Day followed day, and week in week out, in sunshine and in rain, Ned
sold his papers and won his way. All came to know and admire and love
little Irish Ned. His honest, bright, little face and winsome, dimpled
smile won him hosts of friends; but he never forgot the dearest friend
of all, his good old Granny. And still as long as evening twilight
lingered, the setting sun, peeping through the western window in the
green frame church, found the two kneeling on the chancel step offering
up the prayer of Faith and Love.


The summer days were ended. The bright fall days were come. All nature
had donned her many coloured garments made beautiful by the frost
before she laid them away for the winter rest. The world was beautiful,
but darkness and dismay reigned in the newspaper offices, for Irish Ned
was missing. "No one to take his papers?" "Where is he?" "At home,
sick." "What?" "Typhoid fever." Yes; the curse of Winnipeg in its
earlier days, the dread disease responsible for so much poverty and
suffering, had Ned in its grip, and held him fast. He lay on his bed
very, very ill, and his grandmother tried to comfort and soothe and
bring him back to health--her darling, her loved one, her only one--but
all in vain. His course was run, his hour had come, his brief day of
trial was over. "Oh, sir," he said to the Rector, "I know _you'll_ tell
me the truth. The doctor won't tell me, and Granny tries to, but she
can't, you know, sir; but you will, I know: Am I going to die, sir?"
The good man asked, "How do you feel about it yourself, Ned, my son?"
And the lad bravely answered, "I think I am, sir." Then the Rector
said, "Ned, my own brave boy, you will see Jesus before we do; are you
afraid to go to Him?" And the sick boy answered, "No, sir; not now,
sir." Quietly and calmly he lay and listened as the Rector told over
and over again "the old, old story of Jesus and His love"; and after a
simple childlike prayer, in which the minister committed the boy to
"God's gracious mercy and protection," the little chap asked them to
sing his favourite hymn. With breaking hearts and voices full of
emotion they sang the wished-for hymn, the dying boy joining in at the

    "In the glad morning of my day,
    My life to give, my vows to pay,
    With no reserve and no delay,
      With all my heart I come."

Along Selkirk Avenue, through North Winnipeg to St. John's, down Main
to Portage and Broadway, across the river to Fort Rouge and Norwood
flew the news that Irish Ned was dying. Many an eye was filled with
tears, many a breast heaved a throbbing sigh, many a heart had an
aching load: Irish Ned was dying. Round at the Church and in Sunday
School on that clouded Sunday morning they missed the bright, winsome
face and dimpled smile, and many a prayer was sent on the wings of
faith to the Throne of Grace for the little boy and his lonely friend.
Yes, the Angel of Death was waiting to take "home" little Irish Ned.
Some of his chums went to see him on Sunday night and sang at his
request, "Tell me the old, old Story." Afterwards the Rector went and
stayed till the end. A great calm settled down upon the boy. He lay so
quietly all night, while his grandmother clasped one hand in hers and
with her other gently brushed back the fair hair from his brow. At
last, after a long silence, he said, "Say 'Just as I am' for me." Again
they said it. Then the Rector read the Prayers for the Dying. As the
dawn was breaking, the sun gilding spires and housetops, and the
sparrows twittering their morning hymn of praise on the eaves, with the
words, "Lord of my life, I come," upon his lips, little Irish Ned gave
a gentle sigh, and yielded up his spirit to the God who gave it.

He was dead. The world without was bathed in sunshine, but all was dark
to her he loved, now left alone. His little bird was singing merrily in
its cage, "but the strong heart of its child master was mute and
motionless forever." For the last time earth had felt the springing
tread, and listened to the merry whistle of little Irish Ned.

They buried him in the cemetery at Brookside, far removed from the
city's noise in which he so loved to mingle, far from the haunts and
the turmoils and the troubles of men. As the Rector with choking voice
uttered the words, "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," many
a heart heaved with sorrow, many an eye filled with tears, many a
breast throbbed with sobbing; but as he went on to proclaim in
triumphant tones, "In sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to
Eternal Life through our Lord Jesus Christ," an awed silence fell upon
that sorrow-stricken assembly and a new hope was begotten in their

    "Father, in Thy gracious keeping
    Leave we now Thy servant sleeping."


"_Is it well with the child? It is well._"

    "Safely, safely gathered in,
    No more sorrow, no more sin,
    No more childish griefs or fears,
    No more sadness, no more tears;
    For the life so young and fair
    Now hath passed from earthly care;
    God Himself the soul will keep,
    Giving His beloved sleep.

    "Safely, safely gathered in,
    Free from sorrow, free from sin,
    Passed beyond all grief and pain,
    Death, for thee, is truest gain;
    For our loss we must not weep,
    Nor our loved one long to keep
    From the house of rest and peace
    Where all sin and sorrow cease.

    "Safely, safely gathered in,
    No more sorrow, no more sin.
    God has saved from weary strife,
    In its dawn, this fresh young life,
    Which awaits us now above,
    Resting in the Saviour's love;
    Jesu, grant that we may meet
    There adoring at Thy feet."

                --_Henrietta O. Dobree._

(Hymn 284, Book of Common Praise.)


Men come and go. Nations rise and wane. Suns rise and set. The seasons
roll around. The days and weeks and months succeed each other in rapid
succession, and Time, the great Physician, heals our wounds. Once again
'tis Christmas Eve, and in a certain city church the Rector lingers for
a while to see that all is in readiness for the festal morning. Loving
hands have decorated the neat little church. Beautiful it looks, with
its evergreen holly and ivy, and red berries, and white sparkling frost
crystals, and pure white carnations on the altar. All is ready for
to-morrow's services, and with thankful heart the Rector kneels on the
chancel step to thank God for His best gift to the world--The Babe of
Bethlehem--and to beseech that His people may appreciate that Gift and
come in large numbers to the Holy Table. As he is about to leave the
church an old woman comes tottering up the aisle bearing in one hand a
silver "challenge" cup, and in the other a bunch of white flowers. With
trembling voice she beseeches the minister to take and place them upon
the altar. "The cup was Ned's, sir," she said, "he won it for shootin'
at the Boys' Brigade. I bought the flowers myself, your riverence, for
I know he would love it to be filled with flowers on the altar
to-morrow; and I want it placed there as his gift to God this blessed
Christmas Day."

Her request was granted. Ned's gift was "placed there" and all who
heard the story were reminded of the saying, "He being dead, yet
speaketh." In his life he bravely "did his duty in that state of life
unto which it had pleased God to call him"; he gave himself up to bring
joy and sunshine wherever he went; he gave his prayers, his service,
his will to God; for "with all my heart, I come," he said.

And may we not feel this happy Christmastide, when the world is glad
and joyful, when friends are true and the skies are blue and the sun is
shining, when in God's House we thank Him for the Babe of Bethlehem and
unite with the whole Heavenly Host in singing "Glory to God in the
Highest, and on earth peace to men of good-will"; may we not feel that
with all the voices in that mighty throng, one voice we know will also
be lovingly heard by our Father; and that will be the voice of Irish
Ned, the Winnipeg Newsy.

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