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Title: After Prison - What?
Author: Booth, Maud Ballington
Language: English
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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.

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[Illustration: A LIFETIMER'S CELL]


  _After Prison--What?_


  _By
  Maud Ballington Booth_


  [Illustration: Logo]


  _New York      Chicago      Toronto
  Fleming H. Revell Company
  London and Edinburgh_



  Copyright, 1903, by
  FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY
  (_September_)


  New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
  Chicago: 63 Washington Street
  Toronto: 27 Richmond Street, W
  London: 21 Paternoster Square
  Edinburgh: 30 St. Mary Street



_DEDICATION_


  _Lovingly dedicated to our boys in prison by
               their Little Mother
                       who
   believes in them and looks with confidence
         to a bright, victorious future
         when they shall have lived down
     the old, sad record, stormed the walls
                  of prejudice,
   wrested just recognition from the skeptical
                       and
       answered convincingly the question,
          "can a convict be reformed?"_



Preface


This message from my pen is not a work on criminology or penology.
No gathering of statistics, nor comparative study of the works or
theories of learned authorities on these subjects will be found within
its pages. It is just a plea from the heart of one who knows them, for
those who cannot voice to the world their own thoughts and feelings. We
ask no sentimental sympathy or pity, no patronage or charity, but only
understanding, justice, and fair play.

My point of view is that of the cell. All I know of this great sad
problem that casts its shadow so much further than the high walls of
prison I have learned from those for whom I work, and my great joy in
every labor is the knowledge that "the boys" are with me. In speaking
of them thus I do so in prison parlance; for just as Masons on the
floor call each other "Brothers"; soldiers in camp "Comrades"; men in
college "Fellows"; so we of the prison use the term "The Boys," and
leave unspoken that hated word "Convict," which seems to vibrate with
the sound of clanging chains and shuffling lock-step.

If I do not write of others, who, during the past century, have worked
in prison reform, it is not that I have disregarded their efforts,
but as this is a record of what I have personally seen and learned,
space and time will not permit the recording of experiences which can
doubtless be read elsewhere.

In sending forth these pages of personal experience I pray that
they may stir the hearts of the free, the happy, and the fortunate
throughout our dear country, that they, in their turn, may champion the
cause of those who cannot fight their own battle, giving to them the
practical help that they so sorely need.



Contents


  I.      GOLD IN THE MINE                        11

  II.     "REMEMBER ME"                           29

  III.    THE VOLUNTEER PRISON LEAGUE             48

  IV.     THE POWER BEHIND THE WORK               81

  V.      LETTERS FROM THE "BOYS"                103

  VI.     UNWELCOMED HOME-COMING                 115

  VII.    WELCOMED HOME                          141

  VIII.   THE SAME STORY FROM OTHER PENS         170

  IX.     LIFE STORIES                           194

  X.      WIVES AND MOTHERS                      217

  XI.     SANTA CLAUS RESURRECTED                241

  XII.    PRISON REFORM                          255

  XIII.   DOES IT PAY?                           273



After Prison What?



I

GOLD IN THE MINE


Long before the discovery of gold in Australasia, geologists had
pronounced the strata auriferous. They had propounded to the world
their theories and scientific conclusions on the subject. Those
who read undoubtedly gave respectful credence to their interesting
treatises because of the learning of the writers, and then as quickly
forgot the facts that had not very strongly appealed to any personal
interest. No one thought it worth while to sell out business, and leave
home to risk or venture anything on the theories advanced. The gold lay
there untouched until one day some shepherds from the bush came into
Melbourne and displayed fragments of rock encrusted with glittering
yellow particles which were found to be pure gold. After that people
believed, for they had seen and to almost all the world "seeing is
believing." The shepherds knew nothing of geology. They could not
speak of the strata, but they had found and could show the gold, and
in their footsteps tens of thousands followed in the great rush that
opened up the mines and sent forth to the world the vast wealth that
had lain hidden for ages.

Many who have faith in the hopefulness of all human nature have
believed and told the world of their belief in the possible reformation
of criminals. They have argued that every soul is precious in the eyes
of the great Father in heaven, and that beneath the stain and dross of
crime and sin must always be some grain of gold worth redeeming. Their
great difficulty is to convince those who are hopeless as to human
nature and who, seeing very vividly the evil, have not the discernment
to see beneath it any possible good.

To the world at large a State Prison has been looked upon as an abode
of the utterly evil, depraved and good-for-nothing. In the slums are
the unfortunate victims of drink, the helpless poor and straying
ones who can still be sought and saved, but in the prisons are those
whose lives are spoiled and ruined beyond repair. Many of course give
the subject no thought and their prejudices are the result of utter
ignorance. Others form their conceptions from the sensational accounts
of notorious criminals whose deeds have been exploited in the press.
Some, perhaps, base their unfavorable judgment on the theories advanced
against the possibility of reforming the criminal, and speak as if our
prisons were full of perverted degenerates, at the mention of whom it
is proper to shudder and about whom one can speak as of some species of
human animal quite alien to the common thoughts, feelings, instincts
and possibilities which are possessed by denizens of the outside world.
How truly may it be said that prejudice builds a higher, thicker wall
around our prisoners than those of brick and stone within which the
law has placed them. Naturally in my extensive travels all over this
country and my personal contact with people of every description, I
have had ample opportunity to gauge the thought and feeling of the
world towards those in whom I am so deeply interested, and, though
during the last few years I have seen with joy a very marked change of
feeling, there is yet much gross miscomprehension of the whole subject.

Those of us who have become familiar with the question on the inside of
the walls have found a veritable gold mine of possibility. We realize
fully however that it is only when they see this gold for themselves
that the world will lay aside its doubting for faith in the future
of these men and, casting to the wind prejudice, will stretch out a
friendly hand of good-will to those who come forth from the testing
furnace.

We realized in the early years of its history that such a work as
the one of which I write could only be seen and appreciated by the
world at large in the years of the future when our "boys" had come
back into liberty and had had time to prove the genuineness of their
purpose. Already this day has dawned, and all over the country the
forerunners of the thousands still to come are proving that the work is
no experiment, though naturally many have neither seen them nor looked
into the lives of those still in prison. It is hard to make the wholly
uninformed concede that any good thing can come from such a place.
Many a time when talking to friends after some drawing-room gathering,
at a dinner table or in the cars, they will say with a look of almost
compassion, "But are you not afraid to talk with these men? Is it not
very dreadful to have to come into contact with them?" I try to explain
that they are my friends, that the respect, courtesy and attention I
receive from them could not be excelled in any circle of society; but
the raised eyebrows and incredulous looks tell plainly that I have not
answered the question, simply because to their minds all criminals
are of the same stamp as Tracy, the James brothers and Czolgosz.
They cannot conceive of men of education, refinement or gentlemanly
instincts in prison.

Constantly I am asked, "But how can you talk to these men; what can
you say; how do you touch or appeal to such an audience?" I answer,
"Precisely as I should to any lecture audience or from the pulpit of
any fashionable church." I am talking, not to the criminal with the
theft of a pocketbook or with manslaughter, burglary or murder on his
record but to the man, to the soul, the heart. It is just here that a
grave error could be made. If we always associate the prisoner with his
crime, with the stripes, the cell, the surroundings, we get wofully
far away from him and even find ourselves beyond the point where we
can reach him at all. The crime was one incident of his life, his
imprisonment is but the fact of to-day. Before he was a prisoner he
was a man, and in the future world he will be simply a man, so why not
talk to him and think of him as a man to-day. A lady was recently being
shown over a penal institution (which will remain nameless save to say
that it was not a state prison), and the officer who was explaining
the system took her from room to room that she might understand their
régime. He showed off company after company as a professor might
exhibit specimens in the different classes of zoology, talking of them
loudly in their hearing. At last coming to one of the lower grades he
said, "You will note the inferior intelligence of these men, their
poorer development. These are much lower in mental and moral capacity
and there is very little hope for them. They are many of them very
degraded and seem devoid of moral instinct." Certain malformed heads
and many poorly nourished bodies were pointed out and all this while
these classified animals stood listening. How should we like such an
experience? What thoughts passed through those minds, what fierce hate,
what hopeless despair may not have swept over them as they listened to
the summing up of their case?

Prison communities come from no uncivilized island where they form
a different species of the human family nor are they drawn from one
section of the population confined to the slums. They are from the
great, wide world at large. Some have had homes of ease and comfort
and have been educated in our finest colleges and schools. Society
gives its quota, so does the great world of the common people, while
yet others come from homes of poverty and some from no homes at all.
There are the educated and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, the
industrious and the idle, the brilliant and the poorly endowed. In
fact our audiences in Prison are much like the audiences that we meet
in the free world, save that their hearts are sore and sensitive and
that that great shadow of suffering, the awful loss of liberty, has
brought anguish, despair and shame to quicken every feeling. Nowhere
have I found audiences more attentive, earnest and intelligent than
in prison and I find all who have had any experience will compare
them most favorably with those of the outside. One thing is very
evident--superficiality, seeming and artificiality have been swept away
by the close and bitter contact with life, hence the real man is easier
to recognize and reach. They in their turn are quick to read and judge
the speaker behind the subject, the faith behind the doctrine.

Another gross misconception is the belief that all men in prison are
dishonest. People forget how many and devious are the causes for which
men can be imprisoned. Sometimes when I have asked a business man to
employ one of our "boys" the answer has been, "I am in sympathy with
your work and pity these poor fellows, but in my business I dare not
do it as there would be opportunities to steal and it would not be
right to those whose interests I must protect." This has shown me how
constantly the thought of theft and robbery is associated with all
who come from prison. There are many within the walls who have never
misappropriated a cent. This does not mean they are guiltless, for
their crime may have very justly brought them to conviction but there
is no reason to imagine that because of that punishment they must be
ranked as dishonest.

Then there are those within prison walls who, though evil well nigh all
their lives, claim our sincerest pity. They may have done desperate
deeds, may perhaps be ranked as habitual criminals and may represent
to-day the most hardened and determined offenders and yet in strict
justice they should not be spoken of with harsh condemnation, before
the sad pages of their lives have been read. The judge and jury take
cognizance only of the offense; the police and prison record note the
list of charges and the number of returns to prison but those of us
who seek to know the man beneath the criminal have a right to go back
and ask ourselves, "What chance did this man have to do right, to act
and to be as we are?" The answer sometimes is a pathetic revelation
of a loveless babyhood and childhood where blows and curses took the
place of kiss and caress; a youth where revolt against society in
an embittered heart made it easy to develop every evil tendency and
to follow the lead of those in the under-world who proved the only
possible friends and associates.

Many, many letters have I received from just this class of prisoner. I
remember especially one that spoke of such a history. It was written
just after my first visit to Joliet State Prison and was in the
natural unrestrained language of one who had never learned the art of
deftly turning sentences. He began with an apology for bad spelling and
poor writing in which he explained that it was the first letter he had
attempted to write in seven years, for he had no one in the world who
cared whether he lived or died. Then he thanked me for what I had said
to them Sunday, adding, "You said you loved us. Nobody ever said that
to me before in my whole life and I hardly know what the word means.
You spoke of home. The nearest approach to it I ever had was my time
in the kitchen of one of the state prisons where the officer was very
kind to me." Briefly this was his story. He was born in a poorhouse
in Ireland and never knew father or mother and received in childhood
no touch of love or sympathy. When still very young he was sent out
to work and soon found evil companionship and was led into trouble.
He came out to this country only to continue on the same path which
was in fact the only path he had ever known. It naturally led him to
state prison and his whole life here has been spent within the walls
except for the few short holidays in the slums between the day of his
discharge and the next arrest. All through the letter I could see that
he had never dreamed there was another life for him. He confessed he
had never tried to be good, had had no inducement or chance to be
so. Very pathetic to me was the closing sentence in which he said,
"Now that I know somebody cares, I will try." Let me diverge from my
point enough to add that he made a success of the effort and became
an earnest member of our League. On his discharge from prison he had
a happy experience at our Home and from there launched out into a new
life. He soon proved himself a good workman and in time became the
possessor of a happy little home of his own and has for several years
been a useful member of society.

I have mentioned but one but I could fill a volume with such stories. I
do not think that the happy and fortunate in this life need look upon
it as foolish sentimentality to pity the prisoners. Surely our pity
is no more misspent upon them than upon the heathen for they too have
never seen the light that they might follow it.

A young man came not long since to our Home. He was a poorly developed,
broken-spirited, frightened looking boy. His parents died when he
and his brothers and sisters were very young. He was brought up in a
juvenile asylum, bound out to people who were hard on him, ran away
and herded with criminals. He never knew home, love, sympathy or
friendship. Our Home was the first true home he had ever known. It
took weeks to work a change in the physical, mental and moral attitude
of the man but when the change commenced it was wonderful to notice
how he developed. Naturally he became devotedly attached to the one
bright happy spot in a very sad and gloomy life. When we sent him out
to his first position which was some way from the Home, he broke down
and sobbed like a child whose vacation is over and he was so utterly
homesick that those who had offered him employment had to return him to
us so that we could place him somewhere nearer the Home, for, as they
wrote, they feared that his homesickness was incurable.

Again wholesale condemnation should be withheld by the thought that
there are some innocent men within prison walls. It is natural that
justice should sometimes miscarry and yet alas, the stigma and brand
remain with the man even after his innocence has been proved. A man
was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and served sixteen and a
half years. Most of the evidence had been purely circumstantial and he
was convicted mainly on the testimony of one witness. He was only saved
from the gallows by the earnest efforts of those who had known of his
previous good character. Last winter the woman who had borne witness
against him came to what she believed to be her deathbed and sending
for the priest she confessed that she had committed perjury. The matter
being brought to the Governor, the man was at once liberated. To the
world into which he passed nervous, unmanned and broken, he will always
be an "ex-convict."

At the present time I know a man who has served nine years and is still
in prison where he has been visited by the boy whom he was supposed to
have murdered. His "victim," a mere child, disappeared and this man,
a tramp who was overtaken in the forest by a search party was held
responsible. Some years after his conviction to state prison, the boy
returned from what proved to have been a runaway adventure, alive and
well. It is sometimes very hard work to make the wheels of justice turn
backward for those once confined within prison walls so the man who was
poor and friendless is in prison still.

A young German who was a member of the League told me one day his
story, not with a plea that I should help him for my "boys" know that
my mission is not to get them out of prison, and I found he was serving
an eight years' sentence for an offense of which at the time of his
conviction he was utterly ignorant. When arrested he could speak no
English and understood absolutely nothing of his trial. He had no
friends and could make no appeal and when he found himself within the
prison walls, he asked to be enlightened as to what he was supposed
to have done. He was a very bright fellow, a skilled workman and when
he had mastered the language, he very much impressed all who knew him
with his honest straightforwardness. I brought the matter to the notice
of the Governor who on investigation was perfectly satisfied with the
truth of the story and sent the innocent man home to me after he had
served some six years in prison. We found for him a good position and
he became a trusted and well-paid employee. In the first years of
his freedom he was able to lay by money with which he later bought a
farm. He was married to an estimable young woman and is now living a
thoroughly honorable life.

These instances are cited, not with the idea of proving that injustice
has been done, but merely to show that to look with horror and
wholesale condemnation at this great prison family is unfair and that
one may find much good metal worthy of redemption, even from the
standpoint of those who despair of the man who has sinned and fallen.

In contrast to some quoted comes the story of a young man who was
welcomed to the same Home in Illinois after a term in Joliet. He
sat rather silent at the dinner table where the newcomers had
gathered around the white cloth covered with its pretty table ware
and substantial fare. His companions thought he was dispirited and
afterwards finding him alone in a corner of one of the parlors, one
of the older inmates of the Home asked him what was the matter. "Had
he had bad news?" "Oh no," he answered, "it is not that. It is this
Home. Just think of the contrast! When I fell and was sent to prison I
thought I had forever made myself an outcast. For years I have sat in
a cell, dressed in the stripes; I have drunk my coffee and water from
a tin cup and eaten my food from a tin plate. When I sat down at that
table to-night, I was reminded of home and of the past and I seemed to
see the possibility of some day regaining what I had lost." He was not
a poor stray of the city streets but the son of a Christian home. His
father was an Episcopal clergyman and his environment had been one of
comfort and refinement until he had yielded to evil and started on a
downward course.

One of those whose return to rectitude I watched with deep interest had
been a professor of mathematics. Another came from a family with whom I
came in touch through correspondence, and found them honorable members
of one of the courts of Europe, and many represent homes in this
country very far removed from the ignorance and neglect of the slums.

It should also be remembered that there is in many of our prisons a
large foreign element of the illiterate, ignorant and helpless who have
drifted to our country and easily joined the ranks of the lawless if
indeed they have not belonged to them in their own native land. Some of
these however are in prison more through ignorance than criminal intent.

When we come to inquire into the cause of imprisonment, we are
constantly impressed with one fact, which cannot be denied, that the
curse of drunkenness has proved directly or indirectly the ruin of
between eighty and ninety per cent. of all those in prison. Many a blow
has been struck, many a deed committed, many a robbery perpetrated by
those so under the influence of this evil spirit that when they have
come to their senses in the prison cell they have asked, "Where am I,
what have I done?" and have literally had no memory of the deed that
brought them there. It would not of course be in accordance with common
sense or justice to say that they were therefore not guilty. They are
guilty; they do deserve punishment but have we not the right to believe
that, if delivered from this evil habit, they might be found to be
trustworthy and true-hearted men?

My experience gained by close contact with the men in our prisons
during the last seven years has convinced me that but a small
percentage of the eighty-four thousand now within the walls should be
called criminals at heart. In this statement I have been endorsed by
wardens who have had a far longer and more intimate experience and
who can speak from the standpoint of those whose duty it is to watch
very closely the actions, character and tendencies of the men under
their charge. This has to do with the manner of men in prison, the
birth, position, etc., of those who form the prison population, but
what of the hearts beneath the surface? No one could go into prison
with hope of success who did not possess faith in the redemptibility
of every soul, however far from the light it may have wandered. There
is naturally, much to discourage. Many of the men are utterly hopeless
about themselves; some are hard and bitter; others skeptical, liking
to boast, as do crowds on the outside, of their indifference and
carelessness. Yet for those who will be patient; who will look deeper,
there are pearls beneath the turbulent waters; gold in the darkest
corners of the mine and diamonds glittering amid the clay.

I believe that in every human heart however hardened or hopeless the
exterior, there is some tender spot if one know rightly how to touch
it; some chord of sweetness that can be made to vibrate to the very
harmony of heaven amid all the jangling discords of life; some little
spark that by the breath of inspiration may be fanned into a flame and
kindle the purifying fire. Amid these whom many would give up as beyond
reach and unworthy of effort, I have found generosity, unselfishness,
sympathy, patience and cheerfulness that would often teach people in
happier circumstances a striking lesson. How greatly this adds to the
hopefulness and courage of those who have gone forth into this field
can readily be conceived. Many, many instances could I cite but I will
quote one case of kindness which came under my personal observation.
A young man was serving a twenty years' term in Sing Sing. The long
sentence was nearing its close. Only a year more stood between him and
liberty. The old mother over seventy years of age, who had stood by
her boy all through these dreary years was very sick and reduced to
direst poverty. Her husband had died and after years of hard toil she
had reached the point where sickness and weakness made money earning
impossible, and eviction was imminent. In this hour of distress she
appealed to her boy for help. He was able to make a little money by
over-time work. It was very little, only a cent and a half a day or
five dollars in a whole year. He found on referring to the Warden that
he had already sent all that he possessed to his mother. The thought of
her need and possible death from want drove him nearly to distraction
and yet he felt himself utterly powerless to help her. In the same
prison was another man also serving twenty years. He was an old timer,
had served several terms before and this one was a sentence he would
probably never have received had it not been for his past record.
When he learned of his fellow-prisoner's anxiety, he took all his
own earnings, twenty dollars which represented the hard toil of four
years and sent them gladly to the old mother though it meant depriving
himself of all the extra little comforts he might have purchased.
Though for later chapters I reserve the after lives of my "boys" I must
give the sequel of this story. Both men came home to us. They became
earnest Christians and have good positions to-day where they have
proved themselves absolutely worthy of our confidence. They are earning
good wages, have won the confidence of their employers and the old
mother has been well provided for.



II

"REMEMBER ME"


As a little child I spent many a happy season in the home of my dear
aunt Miss Charlesworth, the authoress of "Ministering Children." The
pretty tree-shaded garden of Nutfield Cottage was bordered on one side
by the quiet village churchyard and a little private gate opened on
the path that led through it to the garden of Nutfield Court, where
our special playmates lived. By daylight one could run blithely enough
between the old quaint head-stones, many of them moss-covered, while
other mounds were bright with masses of blossom, when the breeze was
playing in the trees, the lark was sending forth its carol of praise
from the blue sky above or the quaint old ivy-covered tower of the
church might send forth its glad peal of chimes. There was so much of
life and beauty that children could run back and forth over the grassy
path with no thought of the death that lay still and solemn beneath the
smiling flowers and whispering grasses. But it was a different thing
entirely, if one walked back after nightfall, with senses alert for
every sound and heart beating fast with unknown terrors. The rustle
of a bird in the ivy; the creaking of a dead branch; the flitting
of a bat's dark wing or the play of moonbeam and shadow were things
that made the churchyard a place to be avoided for now the memory
was vivid that this was the village of the dead. In those childish
days death held for me a great horror. The thought connected with it,
that which made me feel most desolate, was the fact that when one was
dead, laid away deep in the earth and left alone in some dark place
beneath the tree shadows; to be covered in by the snow, or swept over
by howling winds or dismal rains, the world would still go on the same
as ever. For others, bright home lights would gleam, laughter and fun,
companionship and love, life with all it means would still exist, while
the dead would lie forgotten and alone.

I have thought of these things and seen once more the vivid picture and
felt the thrill of those childish fears as I have entered into sympathy
with "the boys" in prison. Prison to many is a living death. They
feel that they have dropped out of life. The rendering of the judge's
sentence was the "dust to dust" of their burial service; the rhythm
of the wheels that bore them away to prison sang the requiem of their
despair and desolation, and when the heavy iron door clanged to behind
them, it was like the falling of the sod upon their grave. Henceforth
they were not of the world. In it they were dead and forgotten and
this bitterness was harder to bear when they remembered that outside
amid the old scenes, the busy, happy rush of life would go on just as
blithely despite their sorrow. For others the home light still gleamed;
the sunshine, the joy, the love of life which was still dear to them
was continuing in all its fullness but beyond their reach. Forgotten!
There is more bitterness and tragedy in that one word than volumes
could describe. It holds a record of broken hearts and embittered
souls that blots the star of hope out of many a sky. "What a man sows
he must reap. They deserved it for they have sinned, they have broken
the law and it is only maudlin sentiment to pity and sympathize with
them," is a sentiment I have often heard expressed. From the purely
worldly point of view this may be so, among those who feel in no sense
their brother's keeper, and believe that the one who has fallen has put
himself forever without the pale of human sympathy. The whole question
can be solved by merely quoting the old saying, "They have made their
own bed, they must lie upon it." To Christians, however, this is
impossible. No, I will say more. To any who have an interest in their
fellow-men and a loyal love for their country, the grave responsibility
towards this vast prison population must loom up as a potential fact.
Yet it has been a very much forgotten subject.

"Remember me!" From the long ago past this cry rings out to-day. How
vividly we can call up the scene before us, when lips white and parched
with death and anguish first spoke them in the labored breath that was
hurrying a guilt-laden soul into the dark unknown hereafter. We hear
also the answer spoken in like mortal agony by the martyred One at his
side. With what light it must have come into his darkness as peace in
the storm and very life to that dying one, "This day shalt thou be with
me in Paradise." The Christ was perfectly aware of the past. There
is no intimation in the story that the man was suffering wrongfully
but the answer was not, "You've no one to blame but yourself;" "once
a thief always a thief." The deed that had brought him to death, the
sin that had ruined his life was forgiven, the soul that cried for
help, that believed in the power of the dying Christ beside him was
recognized by the world's Saviour. He was called and welcomed to go
into the mystery of eternal life side by side with his Lord. That
same cry goes up to-day from every cell in our dear Christian land,
from those who represent to-day that outcast of Calvary, "Remember
me!" To whom should it appeal more strongly than to the followers and
representatives of that same Christ, who would have His glad message
of hope sent clearly and convincingly, echoing and re-echoing into
every dark and lonely cell where it is so sorely needed. Has this
been done? Do the Christian people and philanthropists of our land
feel their responsibility to these men? Compare this corner of God's
vineyard with many others and let us ask ourselves whether it has
had its share of prominence in pulpit and press as a plea to efforts
of Christian charity. I fear not, and yet in the scene of the last
judgment as well as the one already quoted, we are reminded that this
is one of the Christ's requirements of those, who would follow in His
footsteps.

In response to those words, "Go ye into all the world," this country
has spent its millions on foreign missions and sent forth thousands of
consecrated men and women in willing exile. The Christ gathered little
children into His arms and blessed them, and the Church following
the divine example can show to-day its splendid Sunday-school work,
children's hospitals, orphanages, nurseries, kindergartens and many
other loving, saving missions to the little ones. He healed the
sick, and His followers have poured out their wealth in these days
to give hospitals to the poor, but He is also "in prison" and have
we in like manner visited Him there? I write thus and I ask these
questions because I have seen the great need so vividly that I have
been impelled to come back from the prison world to testify that the
criminal problem is what it is to-day because it has been neglected. If
the responsibility for those in prison was realized by the Christian
world as clearly as it has realized the need of the heathen, the whole
situation would in ten or twenty years be revolutionized. It has been
an overlooked and in a great measure an untilled field. Repeatedly was
I told when I contemplated making it my life mission, that my efforts
would be useless, nothing lasting could be accomplished, and that
these men were beyond hope, but it has always seemed to me that such
an argument merely furnished a greater reason for determined effort.
I would not have any misconstrue my statement and report me as saying
that this work was wholly neglected until our work began. I speak
in the wide sense and am comparing this field with other fields of
Christian activity and in what I say, I believe all who have worked in
prisons will agree with me. There have been of course some workers,
loving, loyal souls who have toiled away unknown and unrecognized so
far as the world is concerned, but they are the few whose devotion only
emphasizes the fact that this field has been abandoned by the forces
that should long since have conquered it. England in years gone by had
her Elizabeth Fry and John Howard. They did a lasting work, but should
not their example have been followed by tens of thousands in that land?
Her jails are still full of prisoners and one of her oldest wardens
has declared with emphasis, after an experience of thirty-five years,
that he has known only two cases of reformation in all that period. In
this country I could name other devoted workers. I would not slight
the consecrated toil of Chaplain Barnes who for twenty-eight years has
striven with the devotion of a saint for the welfare of "the boys"
in Massachusetts, or of Mrs. Courtland De Peyster Field who has for
twenty years led a Bible class in Sing Sing. There have been earnest
workers of the Society of Friends who have done valuable service in
Pennsylvania, and in Iowa there are Sunday-school teachers who have
had a record of over twenty years of teaching in the prison. But the
call has been unheeded by the many who are equally responsible with
the few who have heard and responded. From every pulpit, in every
Sunday-school, through the pages of the religious press, the need of
the heathen is constantly kept before the people and so impressed that
the youngest child knows all about it. What do the children in our
Sunday-schools or the congregations gathered in our churches know of
the need behind prison walls? Where has any large offering ever been
taken for this cause? Who has ever thought of leaving a generous legacy
for the redemption of these men? I do not for a moment grudge what has
been given to missions. I merely want to bring to remembrance these
others who have been overlooked, this occasion for help at our very
door, a need which may be unlovely and have nothing about it of the
glamour of romance which distance lends to a cause, but which all the
same concerns human souls divinely loved and groping in great darkness.

Those who have entered it can report that here is a glorious
opportunity. This field is indeed white to the harvest and there is no
reason why mighty results should not be gathered where people have been
inclined to look only for disappointment and failure.

In seeking for the cause of all this general indifference, I can
only conclude that the fact that these men have been wrong-doers and
are suffering in consequence, has robbed them of sympathy. If I were
pleading for the abolition of prisons, the lightening of punishment or
were making sentimental excuses for transgressors, I could understand
that the appeal might awaken no interest, for it would appear to be a
contradiction to justice. What we do advocate is the saving of these
derelicts, that while in prison and on their discharge, help be given
them in a practical way so as to prevent their relapse into crime.
From the purely worldly standpoint he who has sinned is unworthy
of help and therefore is not an object of pity or sympathy. From
the Christian side of the question he is more to be pitied and the
more earnestly to be sought after. Did not the Good Shepherd say He
would leave the ninety and nine to seek for the one straying sheep?
Surely his need of mercy is far greater with the guilt of sin on his
conscience, its haunting memory robbing him of confidence in himself or
faith in efforts at reformation.

How much the attitude of the world towards the prisoner and its
prevalent opinion have effected the men can hardly be imagined by an
outsider. Hope, encouragement and confidence mean everything to any
man in life's struggle. Take only as an illustration, the attitude of
the doctor at the sick bed. He knows that his cheering words to the
patient mean almost as much as his remedies, and were he to be forever
reminding the sufferer of each unfavorable symptom and shaking his head
disconsolately over the prognosis with an admission that it was little
or no use to try and save him, the result would be a depression on the
part of the patient which might even in many cases prove fatal. In
just this way have the morally weak and sick been too often robbed of
the hope and courage that might have meant ambition and effort in the
right and saving direction.

A learned writer some years since published in one of our scientific
papers a treatise concerning criminals, in which he proved from his
own mental conclusions that they could not be reformed. I did not
read the paper but I saw it mentioned in reviews and deplored the
fact that science should be prostituted to so demoralizing a use. On
the following Christmas day I planned to spend my time visiting the
cells in Sing Sing and talking individually to as many of the men as
possible, for that is a day full of home memories and the realization
of loneliness is even more keen and bitter than usual. To my surprise
I was met at cell after cell with the question, "Have you read, Little
Mother, what Professor ---- said about us?" and in some instances by
educated and skeptical men, it was used as an argument against the
duty of trying to do better. If those who toll the bell of doom for
these poor souls in bondage, fully realized how the damning tones
echo and reecho in disheartening vibration from prison to prison,
from cell to cell, they might understand that it is almost criminal
to break the bruised reed and quench the smoking flax. What should we
think of the physician who should calmly and cold-bloodedly put out
the spark of life in a patient where though his theories contradicted
the likelihood of recovery, some other doctor might save life in the
eleventh hour?

That there is a terrible influence in heredity, no one can deny. The
drunkard or impure liver leaves the taint of evil appetite to be
struggled against by the children to whom he gave life, but to use
this as an argument against the possibility of reforming certain men
is a contradiction of the teachings of Christ. His message of hope is
to every man; His offer of strength and power to the most needy and
unfortunate as well as to those in whom one would naturally look for
godly aspirations. We have seen enough in our work to understand that
many of those who have had the worst environment to contend with, and
have been handicapped by miserable parentage have yet been able to
accept and respond to the highest teaching, and have made a thorough
success of earnest Christian living. I was visiting Sing Sing on one
occasion when I had planned for a long list of interviews. As was my
custom I presented the list to the Warden, who was deeply in sympathy
with our work, and we went over it together that he might give me
information that would prove useful in meeting the wants of different
men. Coming to one name upon the list, he paused and asked me if I knew
the man. I told him that I knew him merely as one who had written me
a few lines requesting an interview. "Well," he said, "I will tell you
his reputation. We look upon him as the worst and most treacherous
man in this prison. He is an habitual criminal, has probably been a
criminal all his life, has had several terms in prison and has been
constantly punished for insubordination. Three times he has stabbed
officers and fellow-prisoners, he has been in plots to escape and twice
attempted to burn down the prisons he was in. He has been a morphine or
opium fiend, and now he is being kept in 'solitary' because he cannot
be trusted with the other men." I shall never forget my interview with
this man. It was towards evening of a very busy day for I had between
sixty and seventy private interviews between the opening and closing
of the prison day. I was sitting in the chapel close to one of the
barred windows that looked over the Hudson. The sun was setting and
the river gleamed like burnished gold while great shafts of glory were
flung upwards from the hills tinting the clouds with crimson and amber.
Looking back from the brilliant scene without I glanced down upon my
papers scattered upon the little table at which I was seated. There I
saw also the streaks of yellow light but between each sunbeam lay the
heavy shadow of a bar. I sat there thinking how like the lives of our
"boys" was that contrast. In every life there was that heavy shadow
blotting, discouraging, darkening the whole present and future, and
then turning from the sad side, I thanked God that there was a sunlight
that could force its way even into the darkest gloom of prison life,
the sunshine of God's own love and mercy, His pardon and His presence.
I suppose I had allowed myself to dream a little for I was startled
when I heard a shuffling footstep near me. I had not noticed that the
officer who stood outside the door had ushered in my next visitor.
Looking up I saw a man who might have been taken as a very type of
the hopeless habitual criminal. His walk, his attitude, the furtive,
distrustful look in his eyes, the nervous twitching of hand and lip and
muscles told of one who had been hunted and caged. As he stood there
with his dark eyes fixed searchingly on my face I saw how completely he
had become a nervous wreck and how he had lost his faith not only in
himself but in mankind. I rose to say a few words of welcome, drew up
his chair near the table and yet he said never a word. I noticed how
the hand that he had laid on the table to steady it shook and how the
poor face so white with prison pallor quivered with nervousness. I told
him again how glad I was to see him and that he had done quite right
in sending for me but it was not until some moments later that he
broke the silence and then with the abrupt question, "Do you know who I
am?" I was going to give him his name as I knew it, but before I could
speak he leaned forward and in the bitterest accents said, "I will tell
you. I am the worst and most treacherous man in this prison." Then
followed in short, concise words, the story of the efforts to escape,
the insubordination, the attempts at incendiary outrage. Pointing to
the chains that hung upon the pillar in the chapel, he said, "I have
been chained up there. I have been put in the dark cells. I have been
punished over and over again but it has not any of it done me any good.
Would you like to know what the magistrate who last sentenced me said
about me? He said after passing sentence, 'Take him away and lock him
up like a brute beast for that is all he is.'" Then with indescribable
pathos he turned and said, "Do you think there is any hope for me?" I
was at once upon ground where I could speak without hesitation, and I
told him simply that if he was through with an evil life, if he was
tired of wrong-doing and was thoroughly determined to do right there
was a love that could forgive him and a power that could help and keep
him in the future. When at last we knelt together, there in the glory
of the setting sun, I prayed that the dear Lord, who could bring
light into our darkness, might dispel the thick clouds that had shut
in this soul from hope, and bring to him the revelation that would
change his life. There were tears in the dark eyes as we parted, and
taking my hand in his he said, "I _will_ try, Little Mother." He did
try, and more than that he triumphed. At first it was a stern battle
of an awakened will and conscience fighting against desperate odds.
The feeling that a friend was watching and waiting anxiously for good
reports proved undoubtedly an incentive. Just about this time I was
taken dangerously ill and had to go to the hospital. The news was
received with the deepest concern within the prison walls and many men
who had never prayed in their lives were found on their knees night
after night asking God to spare my life. A letter from this "boy"
reached my secretary in which he said, "I am trying very hard to be
good these days because it says that the prayers of the righteous
avail much and I do want my prayers to help in making the Little
Mother well." It was not the highest motive for being good but it was
the best that had thus far ever inspired this life and it proved the
stepping-stone to better things. It was not long before he sought and
found Christ as his Saviour and became an earnest Christian. When he
left the prison I do not believe there was an officer who thought it
would be possible for him ever to make an honest living. That was over
five years ago. He is to-day a prosperous and happy man. He has become
by hard work and faithfulness assistant-superintendent in a large
industry in which he is employed. He has a comfortably furnished and
happy home, and is so changed in face and personal appearance that I do
not believe any of his old companions could recognize him. Some three
years ago a detective, who had several times arrested him, talked with
him sometime without for a moment suspecting it was the same man. So
truly when the heart is transformed do the face and manner reflect the
change. I quote from his last letter to me written after our seventh
anniversary gathering:

"My dear Little Mother: I write to let you know I enjoyed the seventh
anniversary celebration very much. How soon a man forgets the years of
misery in the days of happiness. My wife was quite disappointed when
I told her of the mistake I had made in leaving her in New York. How
pleased she would have been to have met you on such a great occasion.
The 'boys' and their families all seemed so happy and indeed it was a
sight worth seeing. I have a deep feeling in my heart for Hope Hall
'boys' and have often taken one into my home for a few days while he
was out of work. Some day I am going to own my own home and realize
what has been my day-dream. Do you remember that it was your confidence
in telling the public that you would give them 'flesh and blood facts'
that made me resolve to be one of the 'facts.' Well, I have fought
the fight and I have had a hard, even cruelly bitter struggle for the
first two years. How much sweeter is the victory! I would not have
it different. God has been very good to us and we can see His hand
in the working of our prosperity. When I think of those two years,
the struggles and trials, the hungry days and sleepless nights, it
only gives me and mine more zest in the enjoyment of the God-given
prosperity we have now. 'All things work together for good.' You know
I had to learn a trade since I left prison and that it was B---- G----
(one of our 'boys' who had been a notorious burglar but has made a
success of an honest life) who taught me the fundamental principles of
this trade, at which I am now earning a living that only good mechanics
can enjoy. Indeed no man can prosper unless he hustles and pushes
himself ahead, for business people these days are carrying no dead wood
on their pay rolls. Thank you for the very happy day, etc."

In this case there was certainly nothing in the past to bring in a
hopeful aspect. His environment had been of the worst, so had been his
parentage and rearing. From childhood his feet had been trained to
tread in the wrong path and, as he once said to my dear co-worker, Mrs.
E. A. McAlpin, he did not believe in heaven or hell, God or the devil.

Those who have been looked upon by all as the most hopeless are the
old timers in State Prison. Speaking one day in a court-room in New
York on behalf of a man to whom I wanted the Judge to give a chance
and the benefit of doubt in his case, I was told most definitely by
that gentleman that there was absolutely no hope for a man who had been
more than once in State Prison. He said, "Mrs. Booth, you may have
some success with the first offenders, but you can do nothing whatever
with those who have been in prison again and again. They are criminals
born and there is nothing to do for them but to rearrest them and put
them out of harm's way." This discouraging verdict I have heard from
the lips of many prison officers, police officers and authorities on
criminal questions and so has it been impressed upon the men that
they have repeatedly assured me that I was wasting my time upon them.
Can anything be imagined more utterly contradictory to the teaching
concerning the Almighty power of divine grace? Above all should these
be remembered and the greatest hope and most earnest effort be put
forth by those who would take hope to the prisoner.



III

THE VOLUNTEER PRISON LEAGUE


How small a thing may sometimes all unforeseen lead to momentous
results! How often a little turn of the tide which some of us call
chance and others Providence, opens up to us new channels that carry us
into unexpected futures! It was a letter from some of the prisoners in
San Quentin, California, asking me to visit them during my stay in San
Francisco that first led my steps over the threshold of a state prison.
That day left a deep impression on my heart, and what I had seen made
me long for an opportunity practically to help the prisoner.

Never shall I forget the sea of upturned faces, many of them so plainly
bearing the marring imprint of sorrow and sin--despair and misery,--yet
behind the scars and shadows there was such an eager longing,--such a
hungry appeal for a sight of the gleam of Hope's bright star, that one
could but feel an intense inspiration while delivering the message.
Never before had I seen the stripes,--never heard the clang behind me
of the iron gates, nor had I realized the hopelessness that enshrouds
the prisoner. It seemed almost an impertinence for me, coming as I
did from a happy sunlit world, from freedom, friends and home, to
undertake to preach to these into whose lives I had only just entered
and whose thought and feeling I could so poorly interpret. Is it a
wonder that tears rose more readily to my eyes than words to my lips,
and that it was hard for me to control either thoughts or voice? I did
not attempt to preach. Undoubtedly their consciences in many a dark
lonely hour had preached far more pointedly than I could. As far as
possible I tried in that brief hour to carry them away from prison. I
felt it would help them if I could make them forget where they were,
whereas the emphasizing of their position and condition might only
prove embittering. Stories I had gathered from the great fragrant
book of nature, or that had come to me from baby lips, I realized
would touch their hearts more swiftly than the most forcible arguments
or convincing condemnations. The response I read in those upturned
faces--the grateful words that reached me afterwards through the mail
and the constant memory of that scene as I witnessed it lasted with
me deepening into a determination to make their cause mine when the
opportunity should offer.

At that time my husband and I were leaders of the movement known as the
Salvation Army.

It would have been impossible to start prison work under the hampering
influence of regulations which governed that movement from a foreign
land. When our connection with the Salvation Army was finally severed,
we found ourselves free to enter new fields.

I wish to make it very clear, as many are often misled, _that our
movement has nothing to do with the Salvation Army, is in no way
connected with it, and is absolutely dissimilar in method and
government_. This distinction I venture to emphasize in order to avoid
a confusion that has frequently occurred in the past.

I wish to go no further into this subject save to say, that when we
severed our connection with the Salvation Army, it was not the action
of impulse or of disagreement with individuals, but from conscientious
principles and after much anxious thought and earnest prayer. It was
not easy to begin over again and build up a new movement. Starting in
two small rooms in the Bible House, with half-a-dozen workers to help
us, and absolutely no capital or source of income for the work that
opened out before us, the Volunteers had many difficulties to face.

We knew that God's hand was with us, and now, looking back over the
history of the movement during the seven years of its existence, we
have, indeed, much to be thankful for.

Many have come to feel that one of God's purposes in those leadings
that often seem so strange to us was that this new work in the prisons
might be undertaken.

Though this is but one branch of the work of the Volunteers of America,
which has of course many other fields in which much blessed success has
been obtained, yet it is the one which fills perhaps the most needed
gap in the defenses of Christ's Kingdom.

When we designed the new standard of the movement we placed in the
centre of a white field as our emblem the star of hope. I prayed then
that it might in time be known and loved in every prison of our land.
Though I longed from the first to undertake this special work for our
country's prisoners, I did not wish to open the way myself, for with my
whole heart I believe most strongly in Divine guidance and I wished to
be very sure that this was God's work for me.

The Volunteers had only been organized a few weeks when a letter
came from the warden of Sing Sing asking me to speak there. Another
small thing, but it put into my hands the key to the future and came
unsolicited. I felt that it was God's answer to my earnest prayer that
the door might be opened. On the 24th of May, 1896, the initial meeting
was held, and from that place and hour it has grown and widened, until
now the movement has attained national proportions. From Sing Sing the
call came to prison after prison. Sometimes it was a plea sent from
the boys by the chaplain with his request for a visit added in earnest
words. Sometimes it came from a warden who had heard the testimony
of other wardens as to what had been accomplished in their prisons.
The work was opened in the following State Prisons--Sing Sing--Auburn
and Clinton in New York State--Charlestown, Mass.,--Trenton, New
Jersey--San Quentin and Folsom, California--Joliet, Illinois--Columbus,
Ohio--Fort Leavenworth, Kansas--Canon City, Colorado--Anamosa, Iowa,
and Baltimore, Maryland.

The initial meetings have been held also in Lansing, Kansas--Jackson,
Michigan--Fort Madison, Iowa--Weathersfield, Connecticut--Fort
William--Governor's Island, New York. Yet there are many, many other
prisons from which most earnest invitations have come to us, which at
present to our great regret have to be denied for lack of time. Were my
shoulders free from the growing financial burden which has naturally
increased with the development of the work, I could spend infinitely
more time with these who need me so much and could double the good
already accomplished. It is a wide country and the breadth of the field
and urgency of the need often make we wish I could be in twenty places
at once.

In New York State I owe much to the loving and able assistance of my
dear friend, Mrs. E. A. McAlpin. She has won a very warm place in
the hearts of the "boys" and constantly leads my League meetings for
me--spending hours over interviews with the "boys" in the prisons of
New York. I have around me a devoted little band of workers who help
me in the outside work, and yet we all feel this longing for more
time, more means, more strength to fill the great opportunity that
has opened before us. We realize only too keenly that this is but the
small beginning of a great work. Already we are in touch with some
twenty-four thousand men within the walls, and with a growing number
who are now in the hard struggle to honorably maintain their regained
freedom.

We did not commence the enterprise with any preconceived ideas, plans
or hobbies of our own to work out. We believed that to be successful
the work must be of natural growth, developing with circumstances. To
plan your methods out in study or committee room and then to try to
bend the circumstances to your well laid track, will almost invariably
mean failure. All the plans and measures of the present organization
have been worked out in prison, and that which I know of the problems I
have learned from the "boys" themselves.

From the very first I realized that to make the work effectual there
must be the establishment of personal friendship, and that it was only
as we recognized and helped the individual that we could by degrees
affect the whole population. They needed friendship and the touch of
human sympathy far more than preachment or argument. To thus help
them practically we had of course to know the men that we might enter
as much as possible into their lives, so that we could meet them on
a more intimate footing than that of lecturer and audience--preacher
and congregation. The only way in which one can really understand a
man's life is to meet him on the level. We commenced with the chapel
services, talking to the men collectively in a strain that would
make them feel and realize the faith and hope we felt for them. Then
I expressed my willingness to correspond with all those who had no
friends to write to. The many letters which reached me as a consequence
soon gave us an insight into the thoughts and feelings of the men and
we were then able to become familiar with the names and histories of
many of them. After this we could follow up our correspondence with
personal interviews. It was wonderful how the hearts of the men were
touched and opened to us. In no field have I found a quicker and deeper
response to the message delivered, and there has certainly been
time now to prove that it was not a mere passing emotion or revival
enthusiasm, but that a deep and lasting work was being accomplished.

As men began to take the decisive step and declared their intention to
lead a different life it became evident that organization would be wise
to band them together and to enable them to show their colors in a way
that would strengthen and safeguard them, helping them to be a constant
example to others. To meet this need we started the V.P.L. or VOLUNTEER
PRISON LEAGUE. It is a very simple banding together in each prison of
those who stand for right living and good discipline. Each member has a
certificate of membership which reads as follows:

"This is to certify that ---- is a member of the Volunteer Prison League
having faithfully promised with God's help to conform to the following
conditions of membership:

First--to pray every morning and night.

Second--to read the Day Book faithfully.

Third--to refrain from the use of bad language.

Fourth--to be faithful in the observance of prison rules and discipline
so as to become an example of good conduct.

Fifth--to earnestly seek to cheer and encourage others in well-doing
and right living, trying where it is possible to make new members of
the League."

This document is hung in the prison cell and as the man pins on his
coat the badge of the order, a small white button with the blue star in
its centre and the motto of our League in red lettering--"Look up and
Hope"--he becomes at once a marked man. He is watched by officers and
men alike and that very fact is in itself a reminder to him in the hour
of temptation of the obligations he has taken upon himself. When the
League has attained some size it becomes a post and the white standard
is presented. Their loving loyalty to the flag is very clearly seen
among the men by the way in which they earnestly try to live up to the
principles it represents. Often in my letters I read such sentiments
as this--"Little Mother, as I entered the chapel Sunday and looked at
our white flag, I thought again of the promises I had made, of all they
ought to mean, and I promised God that with His help I would never
disgrace it. No one shall see anything in my life that could bring
dishonor or stain to its whiteness."

Naturally there is quite a bond of union among these League men and
it exists not between those in the one prison alone, but is a link of
prayer and fellowship, and sometimes almost produces healthy rivalry
between prison and prison as each Post wishes to keep the best record.
The thought that has made this League a strong foundation for the work
and that has proved the most rousing inspiration to the men is that the
work is not ours but theirs. No philanthropist, preacher or teacher in
the world can reform these men. An influence from without may prove
very helpful but it is from within that the true reform movement must
start. The whole key of this great question, the real solution of the
problem lies within the prisons. It rests with the men themselves. We
can bring them hope, can help them with our sympathy, can stimulate
their ambition and effort, but they must "work out their own
salvation." In the League they are made to realize this very keenly;
the responsibility is rolled back upon their own shoulders. They cease
to think that people must pick them out from their difficulties or
that some turn of fortune's wheel must come to place them in happier
circumstances, before they can become truly honest and upright. They
realize that they must fight their own battle,--commence to rebuild
their character, wresting from adverse circumstances every good lesson
and using every chance they can gain to raise themselves from the pit
into which they have fallen. Of course we lay the greatest stress on
the need of Divine help. We know from repeated experiences that the
"boys" must be transformed in heart and nature by the spirit of God if
they are to be truly successful, but we believe that God helps the man
whom He sees willing and anxious to help himself. Nowhere in the Bible
do we find that people can drift lazily into the kingdom of heaven.
Christian life must be an earnest warfare of watchful struggle in which
every faculty of the man is sincerely engaged. Since the starting of
the League we have enrolled nearly fourteen thousand men within prison
walls. We have found their interest in the work intense, and as news
of it has spread from prison to prison even before our coming to them,
the "boys" have learned to look upon it as their special work and have
longingly waited to welcome that which they have come to feel will mean
the dawning of a new hope for the future. To try and convey to you
something of this feeling of possession on the part of the men that
have prepared our way in prison after prison, I turn back to an old
diary of mine and quote from its pages the notes on the opening of our
work at Dannemora--November 22d, 1896.

"It was a dark, windy night, heavy snow clouds had gathered and dark
shadows lay around the prison wall. Long rows of electric lights
gleamed steadily through the gloom and the absolute stillness was
unbroken. Right there by my window I knelt and prayed for the many
we should soon see and learn to know; prayed that the 22d of November
might be as memorable a day as the 24th of May, the 27th of September,
the 17th of October and other red letter days in prison which I might
mention.

All through that night the snow fell and Dannemora presented a pretty
winter scene when we looked out of our windows Sunday morning. Clouds
were still in the sky, but streaks of silver light and pale primrose
tints behind the mountain range and patches of blue here and there
showed that fair weather was triumphing. The icicles hung in long,
glittering fringes from the roofs of the prison buildings and the crust
of the snow in the prison yard gleamed with frost brilliants. As the
hour of service approached we entered the prison and waited in the
warden's office until the word came that all was ready.

How can I describe what followed and the sight that greeted me? Loving
hands had for four weeks been decorating the chapel. Two thousand yards
of evergreen trimming was wreathed and festooned on pillars and walls.
Flags, shields, mottoes had been beautifully draped and designed and
the blending of the national colors with the Volunteer standard was
graceful and effective. Over the door through which I entered was the
word "welcome" surmounted by an eagle on a drapery of the two flags. As
we passed up the aisle escorted by the warden, the chapel was packed,
all the "boys" being present, save those who had charge of the boilers,
and the men in the condemned cells.

The audience was very still as I entered, but the moment I mounted the
flower-decked platform they burst into an enthusiastic welcome. What
a sight it was, that great sea of eager faces, amid the setting of
colors and greenery! I wish I could give you a picture of the chapel as
I saw it, but you must paint it in your own mind and when I tell you
it was the most beautifully decorated building I have been in, you can
realize how much loving thought and toil it represented. Is it a wonder
my heart was deeply touched? Who was I, to receive such marks of love
and honor? A stranger to all but three in that community, and yet they
opened their hearts to me as their friend, even before they had heard
my voice. I think they had learned already that I loved them, that I
believed in a future of hope for them and that God had formed a bond of
understanding and sympathy between us.

I cannot describe the meeting. The band played superbly, the singing
was hearty, the interest and enthusiasm were intense, and to me the
faces of my audience with their ever changing expressions were a
perfect inspiration. Then came the solemn closing minutes. Tears had
flowed freely, hearts had been moved by the influence of God's own
Spirit and now a hush seemed to fall and one could feel and see the
struggle going on in many hearts.

Clearly and definitely understanding all that it meant, one after
another arose. It was all I could do to control my feelings. The
chaplain was in tears: many of the officers were weeping, and, with
bowed heads, men were rising all over the place, until eighty-seven
stood in God's presence, seeking the light and cleansing and liberty
that He alone can give.

God was there. We could feel His presence, and the light came down
and shone on some of those tear stained faces until they were almost
transfigured.

When all was over, they had gone back to their cells, and I stood at
the window of my room looking out at the snow, over which now the sun
shone, my heart was very thankful, and the words seem to come to my
mind with new force "though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as
white as snow"; and looking up at the sky, where the sun had triumphed
and chased away the clouds, the blessed promise "I have blotted out as
a thick cloud thy transgressions and as a cloud thy sins," came to my
heart with a fresh wave of comfort.

The afternoon was a busy one with interviews, and in the evening I was
again fully occupied. What a glorious night that was! The brilliant
moon smiled down upon the snow-clad country making it glitter with
a myriad frost diamonds. As we looked out upon the prison buildings
from our windows, it was a very different scene from the night before.
Everything looked so bright, so pure, so peaceful. The dark shadows,
the heavy clouds, the fitful wind had given place to calm and silver
light. So I think in some of the hearts that were that night speaking
to God within those prison walls peace and light had triumphed, and
the shadows and gloom had fled away. I sometimes wonder if my friends
realize that I am thinking of them. I wonder if they know how near I am
to them in heart and thought all the time I am at the prison.

I had intended to leave early Monday morning, but the warden persuaded
me to remain over and take the night train. The whole day was spent
in interviews, which kept me right up to the moment the carriage was
at the door and I had to tear myself away. This enabled me to have a
little personal talk with seventy-six men.

I was very much touched by a mark of appreciation of our work shown
by a number of the men who subscribed nearly one hundred dollars out
of the money they had on deposit towards our Hope Hall fund. Does
not this show how truly they appreciate our plans and schemes and
efforts for their future? I think this should make the fortunate and
wealthy outside the prison eager to follow their example in generous
and loving sympathy with the good work. The officers of the prison
among themselves subscribed fifty-five dollars as a testimony of their
indorsement of the movement.

From men all over the country, in prisons not yet visited, comes the
plea to go to them and my heart longs to answer it, but so far we have
had to go slowly.

I was visiting recently for the first time a new prison, and was much
touched by a remark made by one of the men to the chaplain. He is
serving a life term and has proved himself to be an earnest Christian.
Meeting the chaplain the day before my expected visit he said,
"Chaplain, when there is some special request I have made in prayer, I
write it down and when the answer comes, I put O.K. against the prayer.
To-day I can do that again, for I have prayed so long that the Little
Mother might come to us, and at last my prayer is answered." Is it a
wonder that my heart turns longingly to the great wide field where the
harvest awaits us, to the many whose call to us is as clear as ever
the Macedonian call could be from heathen lands?

Alas, all too much of my time has to be filled with money-raising
lectures, so that long lecture-trips for this purpose keep me from the
work where I know I could do so much to cheer and comfort these waiting
hearts.

We do not want our labors in the prisons to be a mere evangelizing
effort, but we wish to establish a permanent work, and hence of course
we have had to move slowly. On the other hand the effect has been
much more lasting. How much it has meant of cheer and sunshine to the
men, can only be realized as we gather from day to day the news that
comes to us from all over the country. It must be remembered how shut
off these men are from friendship, from the world, from all matters
of interest that can carry them out of their dull, dreary routine in
cell and workshop life, to understand what this link with the outer
world has proved to many of them. We send to each prison a large
number of _Volunteers' Gazettes_, the official organ of our movement
and its pages are read with deepest interest giving, as they do, news
of progress of each prison League, and also constant reports of the
successes of men once their fellow-prisoners, who are now living free
and honest lives in the path that lies before them also. They look
forward intensely to their League meetings. The whole tendency of the
work is to stir up a new interest in life.

When one thinks of the men who are incarcerated for a lifetime, many
of whom have perhaps outlived all ties of friendship and relationship,
one can gain some idea of the help it proves to them in enduring their
position, to realize that they belong to something and some one, and
can still look for bright spots in the monotony of prison life.

The question may be raised as to the relationship of this work to the
labors of the chaplains in state prison. I want it most emphatically
understood that in all things our wish is to work harmoniously with
prison officers, not only with the spiritual advisers, but also the
wardens, and so far we have had the greatest help and sympathy from
them. Our work could not be construed into a reflection on that of
the chaplain. It is to help and to back up his efforts, to bring in
an outside influence which I have found the chaplain most ready to
welcome, a link to the outside world. The chaplain is of necessity of
the prison world and though he has a splendid sphere for helping and
blessing the men while under his charge, he cannot go with them into
the new life. We may come in and form a friendship and tie to which
they can turn after the chaplain has bidden them farewell, and they
are once more facing life's battle on the outside. In almost all the
prisons where the V.P.L. has been established, the chaplains have most
cordially welcomed us and are working heart and hand with us, some of
them even wearing the little League button and becoming officially
associated with the movement.

Chaplain Barnes of Massachusetts has an experience of twenty-three
years of devoted toil for the "boys" and he has often told me he feels
that a new era has come to the spiritual life of our prisons through
the establishing of the V.P.L. It has been wonderfully interesting
to us to watch the spiritual growth in grace, and the mental and
moral development of the men after they have started in the new life.
Often the most unlikely have seemed suddenly to wake up and develop
possibilities never dreamed of by those who had known them before. As
letter after letter has come to me from such I have felt as if I could
read here the unfolding of a better nature long dormant, between the
lines so simply and naturally telling of struggles and victories in the
passing days. I have seen over and over the birth and growth of a soul.

Just recently a little Day Book came into my hands by chance, and
knowing what I do of the owner, its record is a very pathetic glimpse
into a heart story. He was by no means a first offender but an inmate
of the prison of the old timers, Dannemora. Burglary had been his
special line and he had started in it quite young, as did his brother
whose story I shall tell elsewhere. My first acquaintance with him
was an urgent letter entreating me to care for his wife and little
one, who, he feared from news just received, were facing dire need.
My interest in them evidently touched a tender chord in his heart for
he became one of my warm friends and champions, though at that time
neither a Christian nor a League member. Many of the men who make no
profession of being good are still most heartily with us in sentiment,
and I have been looked upon as the "Little Mother" and stood up for
as loyally by these as by our own V.P.L. "boys." As time went on
and this man came more and more under the influence of the work, he
began to weigh well his future and at last took his stand with good
determination for the new life. When he joined the League I gave him
this little book which all our boys are supposed to read together
each morning and night. Five years afterwards it came into my hands
by accident and I read what he had written on the fly leaf the day
he had received it. "In accepting this little book I do so with a
firm determination and a promise to try and live faithfully a better
and purer life with God's help." Underneath his name and number are
signed, and then the words "seven years and six months" chronicled
the length of his sentence. Turning the leaves I found one verse
marked that had evidently proved his greatest comfort, "The Lord is
not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, but is
long-suffering to usward not willing that any should perish but that
all should come to repentance." Then came the record of the passing
days and years, marked off at the head of different daily portions
blending the interests near and dear to his heart and future, with
his daily devotion. "I am twenty-nine years old to-day," headed July
21st. On July 27th, "My wife is twenty-three years old to-day," and
yet later on the same page three years after he chronicled, "My wife
is twenty-six." In the shadow of that cell the baby face with golden
curls came often to smile upon him in fancy and on one page we find "My
little girl is two years old, 1897." In prison the days pass all too
slowly. We find on another page May 2d, "Eight hundred and fourteen
days more." Further on "Five hundred and seventy-two days more," then
"three hundred and sixty-five days more" and yet again "two hundred and
seventy" is marked and then the last entry "I go home to-day, July 27,
1901." So the Day Book, his little companion and guide, held on its
pages the record of the passing days in which he was preparing for the
future. I knew something of the fierce struggle he had with old habits,
evil temper, past memories and disappointments that had to be faced,
for during those prison days I sometimes talked with him personally,
but I also know how he conquered and how truly he came out "a new man
in Christ Jesus." He thought he was coming to a glad, bright, joyous
experience on his discharge and was met by a blow and sorrow that would
have staggered many a stronger man. I cannot chronicle the awful test
through which this soul passed, for there are confidences that cannot
be betrayed even to show the keeping grace of the new life, but I can
say this, he manfully stood the trial and is to-day a happy, earnest,
honest, Christian man. He has proved himself a good husband and a most
tenderly devoted father. He works hard all day, receiving excellent
wages and in the evening walks or reads with his little girl. He has
a bright, well furnished home and over a thousand dollars in the bank
laid by for a rainy day. He has never returned to the saloon or in
any way mixed with the old life which he considers buried with the
dead self, for truly he is living in a new world after a veritable
resurrection.

The little Day Book has proved a great comfort to many. At first we
used to send a copy to every League member, though now regretfully
we have had to desist, because we could not afford it with the great
increase in membership. Many of our "boys" had never taken any interest
in the Bible before and some are as indifferent and ignorant as the
heathen abroad, but this "Daily Light" collection of passages has been
to them a veritable revelation. Many feel towards it as one "boy" wrote
to me, "As I kneel down to pray and read before going to the workshop
in the morning it seems as if my Saviour sent me a direct message to
guide and warn me through the trials of the day, and at night when I
come in tired and read again, I find a message of comfort and a promise
from Him that cheers and encourages my heart." The writer of these
words died in prison a triumphantly happy death, leaving behind him
a record, the truth of which every officer could attest, of earnest
Christian living after having at one time been the terror of the
prison, for from childhood he had been absolutely ignorant of the first
rudiments of goodness and Christianity.

The following verses were sent by one of our League members and were
penned in a prison cell. They give an insight into the thought and
feeling of many another man who cannot perhaps as readily express
himself in verse.

    "Alone in my cell, where no eye can behold,
      Nor ear drink in what I say,
    I kneel by my cot, on the stones hard and cold,
      And earnestly, tearfully pray.

    "O, Jesus, dear Saviour, blot out from Thy scroll,
      Each record there penned against me,
    In mercy forgive me and ransom my soul,
      O, fit and prepare it for Thee!

    "I've wandered from Thee and forgotten Thy care,
      Thy love trampled under my feet;
    The songs of my boyhood, the altar of prayer,
      Are only a memory sweet.

    "Strange spirits oft come in the night to my cell
      And moisten my cheek with their tears;
    A message they bring and a story they tell,
      That I had forgotten for years.

    "They tell of a mother bowed down with despair,
      Bereft of her pride and her joy,
    Who morning and evening is breathing this prayer,
      'Dear Jesus, restore me my boy!'

    "O, Father, dear Father! in heaven forgive,
      My weakness, my sin and my shame,
    O, wash me and cleanse me and teach me to live,
      To honor Thy cause and Thy name!"

If the record of successful work in prison were written only in
numerical report one might still have many misgivings as to its
success. There is only one thing that really tells in Christian work
either in prison or on the outside and that is _the life_. Theory can
be questioned, argument can be refuted, profession doubted, creed
quibbled over, but a life that can be seen and read of all men is
testimony beyond criticism.

I remember after we had been working in Sing Sing six months an officer
called me on one side and speaking very earnestly of the work, he
said, "I want to confess to you that I was one who took no stock in
this movement at first. I used to laugh at the men making a profession
of living any better. I looked upon it as so much religious nonsense,
but I confess I have been forced to change my views. You do not know
the change it has made in this prison and the miracles that have been
wrought in many of these men. You can see them in the meetings and can
judge of them by their letters, but we live with them day after day and
know far more than you can. I never believed anything could take hold
of the whole prison population, the educated, the middle class and the
tougher element affecting them equally as this work has done." Then he
added, "There was one 'boy' in my company who was the foulest-mouthed
man I have ever met. He used an oath with almost every word and was so
criminal and evil that we never dreamed he could be anything else. The
absolute reformation in that man is what opened my eyes. That was not
talk but reality."

Perhaps the strongest testimony we could offer as to the effect of
the work on prison discipline, comes from the pens of our well-known
wardens. Speaking before the quarterly meeting of the Iowa State Board
of Control, Major McClaughry, late of Joliet, Ill., now Warden of the
Federal Prison at Fort Leavenworth, said:

"I wish to add a word in relation to influences in the prison that I
have found most helpful. Some years ago, Mrs. Booth came to the prison
to speak to the prisoners. She first had interviews with some of the
men which I permitted rather reluctantly, but I soon noticed her
wonderful personal influence over the men she talked with. When later
she spoke to the prisoners in chapel, and they were greatly interested
in her presentation without cant or denominational prejudice, of the
best way to live. I asked her to come again and she came. That time she
organized with us what is known as the 'Volunteer Prison League' an
association of men, who, realizing what is before them band themselves
together and wear the button of the League--which requires a great deal
of bravery in a prison like Joliet. The promise to them was, that so
long as they followed the motto of the League and looked upward and
not down, forward and not back, and helped one another, they should be
recognized as a force in the prison itself making for good order and
constituted authority.

"I entered upon the experiment, as I say, with a good deal of
apprehension, but I am glad to say that it proved to be one of the
most potent forces inside of the prison to secure not only cheerful
obedience and compliance with the rules and regulations of the prison,
but a force that co-operated with the authorities of the prison in the
direction of law and order. Wherever that League has been established,
while it has gone up and down and had its vicissitudes, like the early
church, it has proved most helpful in every respect, and its influence
upon the individual men, no person not familiar with its workings
can for a moment imagine. Therefore I feel that the Volunteer Prison
League, properly managed, is one of the most beneficent institutions
that can be introduced into prison life."

This testimony is all the more forceful when we remember that the one
speaking has been a prison warden for some twenty-eight years and has
also served as Chief of Police in Chicago. He certainly should know of
what he speaks.

I opened the work in Dannemora, New York State, where Warden Thayer
welcomed me most courteously, did all in his power both in his own
home and in the prison, to make me feel at home, but being frank and
outspoken he thought it well to impress me with the hopelessness of my
task. He said briefly that no obstacle should stand in my way as far
as he was concerned, but he did not want to see me heart-broken over
a work that he foresaw could never succeed. He told me clearly his
opinion and advised me not to try the impossible. After watching the
work, however, he became one of my stanch supporters and has repeatedly
championed our cause where the usefulness of such work has been
questioned.

At a public meeting in New York, he told a story on himself of which
I was up to that time ignorant. Speaking of our first enrollment of
men in prison, he said, "When I saw those men, one hundred and seven
of them, stand up, I began to feel sorry for Mrs. Booth. Here were
the very hardest men I had to deal with in the prison; men constantly
reported for punishment. I took a list of their names for future
reference. I kept that list in my desk, and when the year had passed I
brought it out with a view of paralyzing that little woman. Would you
credit it? I learned to my own surprise and satisfaction on comparing
it with the punishment book that out of those who stood up in the
chapel that Sunday morning, only three had required punishment during
that entire year. I saw now what I had not realized before, namely,
that as an aid to the observance of discipline of the prison no plans
had ever equalled the influence of this work."

Warden Darby of Columbus, Ohio, writes:

"The organization of Post No. 10, Volunteer Prison League in the Ohio
Penitentiary, has been very gratifying to the prisoners, who are
looking forward to a brighter and better future, who are striving to
build a moral foundation that will withstand the tides of adversity and
trial. The League has been of incalculable benefit, for it has been
directly instrumental in bringing many to right thinking, an absolutely
necessary prelude to right doing.

"The good derived has not been limited to the League members alone,
others have been induced to strive for better, higher and nobler lives.
The influence of good will manifest its usefulness in any community and
the rule is equally applicable on either side of the prison wall.

"The Volunteer Prison League is a factor in bettering the discipline
of its members, since they who live up to the obligations must strive
to improve their conduct, this being one of the primary objects of the
organization."

Space does not allow the reproduction of the much that has been said
and could be said of this work which, as I have tried to show, is not
my work but the work of the "boys" themselves, the result of earnest
conquering lives. Undoubtedly the lesson which men in prison need to
learn almost above any other is that of _self-mastery_. Many are there
through lack of self-control: others have utterly weakened will and
deadened conscience by yielding themselves slaves to strong drink and
yet others have let go their hold on the reins because, having once
failed, they have allowed the feeling that it is no use to try again
to rob them of courage. Just on this point their League membership
has proved invaluable. If the new leaf is ever to be turned over, it
should certainly be in prison. In the early days of our work many men
would say to me as also to my dear friend and fellow-worker, Mrs.
McAlpin, "No, I cannot take my stand now. It is too hard here, but I
am determined to do right the day of my discharge." More and more the
"boys" are coming to see how disastrous is such a fallacy. The man who
does not have the courage in prison lacks it as much in freedom, when
faced with the decision between right and wrong. There are, moreover,
so many pitfalls and temptations awaiting him, to say nothing of the
hard, up-hill road abounding in disappointments which almost all
have to tread, that if he be not well prepared, failure is almost
inevitable. Before he knows it, even with the best of intentions in
his heart, such a man will be swept aside and carried away back to the
whirlpool of vice and crime, from which he will all too quickly, be
cast again on to the rocks of wreck and ruin.

In many ways I have heard of the influence of the League from
unexpected sources. Travelling in a parlor car in the West on one
occasion, I was introduced by some friends to a judge of the Supreme
Court. In the conversation that followed, he told me he had heard of
our work and was deeply interested in it. "There is one of your men,"
he said, "who has come under my personal notice and to whose great
change of life I can myself testify. Some years ago I had to sentence
him to State Prison. The man protested his innocence but there was no
doubt in my mind as to his guilt. After he had become a member of your
League in prison he wrote me a letter telling of his intention to lead
an upright life in the future. He confessed his guilt and thanked me
for the sentence which he now looked upon as the best thing that had
befallen him. In due time he came out of prison, found work, has done
well and won the confidence of those who knew him. Quite recently he
wrote me saying that he had earned money enough to pay off his debts
little by little, until all were discharged and so far as money could
make restitution he had made it. Now he wanted to know the cost to the
State for his prosecution that he might pay that also." This desire to
make restitution and to undo past wrongs I have seen constantly, after
the men's consciences had been awakened, but in no other case have I
heard of it going to the extent of wishing to repay the State and had I
not heard this from the lips of the judge himself, I should have been
inclined to think it an exaggeration.

Speaking in one of our Volunteer meetings a short time since a young
man testified to the help the League had been to him in years gone by.
He told our officers that he had been in prison for a forgery amounting
to two thousand dollars; that on his discharge he had consulted me and
I had advised him to promise the gentleman whom he had wronged that he
would pay back the amount by degrees. He said further that he had just
succeeded in doing this and was now a trusted employee of the very man
who had had to prosecute him for crime.

This is not a place to lay bare confessions but I could give a
wonderful story of the many confidences that have been given to me by
hearts deeply enough touched and truly enough changed to become quick
and sensitive regarding hidden wrongs that should be righted.

As I have looked over what has already been accomplished in state
prison in its power on the future of these men and their relation to
the world, I can but realize the safeguarding and benefit to others
of that which tames and controls, changes and inspires men who might
otherwise go out into life hardened, imbittered and more depraved than
on the day of their incarceration, to prey on society and wreak their
vengeance for wrongs real or imaginary.



IV

THE POWER BEHIND THE WORK


In the bright fragrance of a spring morning our long, heavy train of
cars wound its way slowly up the Divide. The track curved and doubled
back and forth amid the forest like some great brown silver-streaked
serpent; here gliding into the earth to be lost in the blackness of
a tunnel, there, flinging itself over a dizzy chasm spanned only at
fabulous cost by a feat of engineering. Higher, ever higher we rose
until a glorious view of valley swept below us from the forest fringe
to Ashland. At the summit came a pause for breath and then the long,
dark, suffocating tunnel, and after it the sight that one would
gladly cross a continent to see, as we beheld it in all the glory of
brilliant sunshine and bluest ether. Below us stretched a great plain,
a veritable green ocean of prairie. To one side the ridge of rugged
forest-clad mountains that form the great Divide. Away ahead like high
rocky islands in the emerald sea rose the dark steep Buttes backed by
the spires and turreted peaks of the Castle Rocks.

But all this was only a setting for the jewel, the less beautiful,
above which towered in queenly majesty the glory of the Sierras,
Shasta. As we first saw her, it seemed impossible to believe that the
gleaming majestic mass of whiteness belonged to earth. She seemed to be
a great white cloud on the horizon, shimmering against the pale-blue
ether, resting but for a moment on the rock-bounded forest that swept
from the plain to form her base. As we slowly wound our way down to
the valley, as we glided in and out and round about over the plain,
we gazed for hours at this most wonderful of mountains, our eyes
fascinated, our lips silent, our hearts stirred by the wonder of her
quiet, queenly grandeur. At first she dazzled us in the full glory
of the sunlight as her snows shone against a vivid blue sky, then as
the sun sank to the ridge opposite, the background changed to palest
green and her whiteness was stained with crimson and touched with gold,
growing richer and deeper every moment. Darkness began to gather in the
valley; the woods grew mysterious with gloom; purple shadows crept up
to the timber-line and even dared to steal over her snowy base, but the
head of Shasta still glowed and blushed with the glory of the setting
sun. At last he was lost to us over the ridge and the swift twilight
claimed the whole land, but watching still the mountain heights above
us, we saw yet another change. Shasta was transfigured! The pale
primrose of the after-glow shone over all her pure whiteness and from
a queen of glory she seemed changed to the sweet loyalty of a loving
heart that held the sacred memory of the beloved long after he was lost
to other eyes.

Night found us creeping downwards in the solemn darkness of the
chasm on the further side. Great fir trees, giant sentinels of
the forest closed in about us and that strange, silent mystery of
mountain solitudes reigned supreme. Looking backwards, we could
still catch glimpses of the centre peak behind us, shining serenely
white now beneath the silvery moonbeams, which had not strength to
penetrate the dense forest that clothed the gorge. Leaning over the
edge of the observation car, I had become so absorbed in communion
with nature that it was startling to be aroused by a voice at my
side. A fellow-passenger was calling my attention to something away
down beneath us in the abyss which seemed to me to hold nothing but
impenetrable blackness. As my eyes became used to the obscurity,
however, I could distinguish a little silver line amid the rocks and
though at first I could hear only the creaking of the trestle bridge
beneath us and the labored breathing of our great locomotive, I
distinguished at last the far-away silvery music of a tiny mountain
stream. It struck me as strange that I should have my attention called
to this little brook when I had seen so many glorious streams and
rivers in my overland journeys. The explanation however gave reason
enough as my friend announced, "That is the Sacramento at its source.
During the night we shall cross it twenty-seven or twenty-eight times
and to-morrow you will see it very differently when we cross it for the
last time."

All through that night I watched the growth of the little stream. At
first it was narrow and shallow and its voice but a silvery song as it
threaded its way amid the rocks or sent a spray of mist and foam over
the moss when some obstruction barred its way. But by and by it grew to
be a rushing torrent, the double note of power and purpose dominated
its song, and as the train thundered over bridge after bridge, I saw
it dashing and crashing over its rugged bed, here leaping a precipice,
there rushing with wave-white fury against some mighty rock, tossing
great logs from side to side as if they were straws. Ever onward,
forward, downward, drawing with it every lesser stream, engulfing every
waterfall and spring, it kept us company through the long, moonlit
night and then in the broad daylight, we crossed it for the last time
and saw it in the might of its accomplished strength. As the great
ferry-boat bore our heavy train over the river, I looked out upon a
deep broad placid expanse of blue water. Sunbeams played with the
myriad ripples powdering the turquoise with gold. Fertile foothills
rolled away on either side and looking far off to the horizon the
mighty river joined the bay, and yet further lost itself through the
Golden Gate in the mighty Western ocean. Broad enough, deep enough,
strong enough to carry a nation's fleet upon its breast, that is what
the streamlet of the wilderness had become. What mighty lessons Nature
teaches us!

I have carried my readers far away to California and surely might
be accused of wandering from my point, but I wanted to tell them of
a voice that has been a blessed cheer and inspiration to my heart,
reminding me in hours of difficulty and discouragement of the great
Source of all strength and power. Had a critic paused in faithless
speculation by the side of the little Sacramento in its rocky cradle
days up there in the wilderness, he might have interrupted its silvery
song with a jarring note of discouragement. "Foolish little stream,"
the critic might have said, "what are you singing about so joyously?
Do you tell of the thirsty you are going to cool, of the wilderness
that shall blossom at your touch, of the great valleys you are going
to fertilize? Are you dreaming of ships you would carry, of the long
miles you would travel, of the great ocean upon whose breast you
would cast yourself? How absurd and unlikely are these day dreams!
Look at yourself! See how tiny and insignificant you are, so narrow
that a child could leap over you, so shallow that I can see the very
pebbles in your bed. It is a foolish fancy, impossible of realization.
You had better stop singing, you will only dry up and be absorbed by
the ferns and moss of the forest; that will be the easiest, happiest
end for you." If the stream had thought it worth while to respond, I
know the answer that would have rung out clear and sweet, for this is
the message it sang to my heart, "Yes, of myself I may be small and
insignificant. The distance and obstacles may be far and formidable.
I may of myself be too weak to face them, but look behind me, at the
snows of Shasta; think of the springs and water courses that gush from
her eternal rocks and remember that my help comes from the hills and
when thus helped, I too can become mighty."

In the early days of the work, it seemed an overwhelming undertaking
to meet the great sad problem that faced us within the walls of State
Prison. There was indeed a great desert representing thirst and need,
wreck and ruin. Many tried to discourage us by painting in vivid
colors, the difficulties of the undertaking, and I grant they cannot
be very easily exaggerated, for where vice and sin, human weakness
and life's misfortunes have swept over mankind, the problem is one
of the most overwhelming that can be faced. The work was spoken of
as an experiment and a very doubtful one at that, and if it had been
some new plan for the reforming of criminals, some mere exertion of
human influence or the hobby and scheme of an organization that was to
be tried, one might well have been faint-hearted. We, however, have
felt from the first and now feel more intensely than ever that this
undertaking has not been our work, but God's work. We can truly say
we are not attempting it in our own strength but we "lift up our eyes
unto the hills, from whence cometh our help," and to every doubter and
critic we answer, "God does not experiment." His work succeeds; His
building stands; His touch transforms. Were it not for this, what heart
should we have in dealing with those who have made trial of other help
and strength and found it to fail them?

Many of the men to whom we go are defiled with the leprosy of sin. They
have tried self-purification, and effort after effort has failed them.
What could we say to them unless we believed that the Voice that said
of old, "Be thou clean," could say it as truly to-day? We deal with
some who are truly blind as to things spiritual, and no human hands
could open these sightless eyes, no human voice could unstop the ears
of the spiritually deaf. There we must deal with souls and consciences
dead to right, unconscious of the responsibilities and possibilities of
life, and we know that only the Divine Hand that raised the dead can
quicken them again. We have realized and acknowledged this from the
first, so our work is not to be a moral education or a recommendation
tending to the turning over of a new leaf, but we have sought ever to
point the souls in darkness to the true light and those wrestling with
their own sin and weakness to the wondrous power of God.

Too often are we met when pleading with men to rise up and make a brave
effort to do right, with the discouraging answer, "I have tried and
failed," and each effort that proved fruitless has robbed them of the
courage to try again. While we do not for a moment discount the vital
importance of personal effort, of good resolves, of will exerted in
the right direction, we try most clearly to show the need of seeking
God's help, showing that when the man would start out on the road, it
is of the utmost importance to _start right_. Feeling as we do, we have
naturally been filled with hope and courage for our work. We do not
have to look for difficulties, we need not be overwhelmed by our own
weakness or inefficiency; nothing is too hard for God. No obstacle can
stand before Him. So from the first we have been full of faith and joy
in battle and have not been disappointed for victory after victory has
come to add inspiration to our efforts.

We believe that the great Father-heart feels intense pity and divine
compassion for the one who has strayed and fallen. Surely no child of
God can doubt this. It has seemed to us that the time has come when
that passage of Scripture is being fulfilled, "For He hath looked down
from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the
earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those that are
appointed to death." One can but be a believer in the miracles of old
when faced with the miracles of to-day, where the fetters that have
bound some souls have been snapped, and men have been delivered from
the power of opium, of strong drink and other vices after they had been
given up as utterly beyond redemption. During these years of work in
prison, onlookers have acknowledged to me over and over again, that
they have been forced to recognize some superhuman power when they have
seen lives transformed. From watching at first with indifference or
skeptical criticism, they have come at last to look upon the work with
absolute faith, even though personally they have had no knowledge of
the wonderful power at work.

Let me give you in his own words the abbreviated sketch of the life of
one of God's miracles:

"Everything looked fair for me as life lay all in front; money,
education, social standing were mine. Loving parents and sweet
surroundings beautified life, but alas they counted for nothing in one
sense. Before I was twenty-one I flung all that was good to the winds,
took my life into my own hands and decided to do as I pleased; I did
so. Why, if there was any reason, it is immaterial now. Surely there
should not have been. I left all who could help me and when twenty-two
years of age found myself in a strange country, with all the tastes and
ideas of one who had been gently raised, but without means to gratify
them. To work I was not able, to beg I could not, so from being a lamb
I gradually became a wolf. I realized that in order to succeed I must
learn to keep cool, I must face life desperately. As I lived in the far
West mostly, I had to acquire skill in the use of weapons and I was
also an expert horseman. There was no other career open to me but the
army. To my nature and character, there was no other safe place except
prison. I did well while in the service, but the dissatisfaction in
my heart drove me often to excesses that gained a hold over me that
constantly threw me down. Yielding to evil and despising myself for it,
had the effect of hardening and embittering me; though I committed many
lawless deeds, I generally managed to protect myself from consequences,
never being caught for the worst things, and though I have known the
inside of several prisons in the long years of my wanderings I have
only served nine years, which, compared to what I might have had, seems
small punishment. Once I escaped while in double irons and had it not
been for that escape I might have died in the miserable suffering I was
then enduring. I had to make a hundred miles on foot through desert
country without food or water, and the third day I faced death having
only just strength enough to reach the desired goal. I went through a
term in one of the hardest prisons of this country years ago, when men
suffered there indescribably and it was there that I took to opium,
because I found it makes men forget and by its use you can still the
anguish of remorse. A few years after that I served as Chief of Police
in one of the districts of Alaska, then under martial law and the hard
school through which I had passed gave me the stern recklessness of
life necessary for such a post. The opium which I still used I took
scientifically and was able to keep my own counsel in all things.
The first five years of the drug were comfortable, the second five it
lost its happy effect. I had commenced to use the hypodermic needle
and morphine, because of the quicker action of this method. During
this period I was a soldier of fortune in South America, Mexico and
Central America. I was a hospital steward in the Army, Sergeant Major
in a regiment, First Sergeant of a Company and I was able to hold my
own and fulfill my duties and yet I was becoming scarred from head to
foot with the use of the hypodermic needle. After this I was reckless
and careless as to my own life and I never knew, when the sun rose,
whether I would live to see it set. I became wholly indifferent as to
the consequences of my life, careless and reckless as to my actions.
Then came an imprisonment, out of which I came back into the world a
wreck. I made a desperate effort and managed to rehabilitate myself and
once more held a good position in life, but unable to break from the
bondage of the evil habit that behind everything held me in thralldom,
I was once more dragged down and was led to commit deed after deed that
I otherwise should have scorned. I have used as many as sixty grains of
morphine and thirty grains of cocaine, during these miserable days of
slavery.

Then came my last two years of imprisonment. I was looked upon as a
hard and desperate man in the prison, one who could not be reached or
influenced in any way. One day I was sent for to the front office of
the prison. The messenger said, 'A lady wants to see you.' 'Not me,' I
replied, 'no one wants to see me; it is a mistake.' But it was not. To
my surprise I found Mrs. McAlpin had sent for me. 'Twas almost a shock
for I had no visitors and it was long since I had talked to a lady.
Then came a never-to-be-forgotten meeting in the chapel, when the words
spoken thrilled in my heart; I felt for once that I was compelled to
stop and think. I had made many plans of what my future was to be, but
they were plans of evil design. I had decided that my apprenticeship
was served, that I ought to be able to do a master's work so I had
determined never to stand for an arrest again. But I deliberately
planned a coup that if successful would place me beyond the necessity
for such things and if a failure, I had determined never to be taken
alive. Then the Little Mother came and spoilt all my plans; as I heard
her talk, I felt she was putting me out of business; she was putting
me in the wrong. Shortly after this I was removed to a new cell and on
a shelf in the corner I came upon a piece of paper; it was a partly
torn piece of the _Volunteers' Gazette_ smeared with whitewash. It had
evidently been pasted on a cell wall once, but had become detached and
had been thrown up upon the shelf and there had been overlooked. It was
difficult to decipher, but with care I made out these words that I have
never forgotten. They were in an old message from the pen of our Leader
to her 'boys.' 'If I can afford to face difficulties and yet go on with
a faith that wavers not, you can also. So let us look up and hope,
taking a firm hold of the strong arm of God and looking for courage to
the stars of eternal promise that shine on above the clouds and mists
of earth.'

"Do not think all the good things came at once. They did not. It took
a long time to build up the edifice on the site of the old ruins.
Alone I certainly should have failed and the last end would have been
overwhelmingly worse than the first, but God's help is almighty and the
'I trust you' of His messenger meant everything."

Facing a stern struggle on his discharge this man proved strong enough
to withstand. The old vices were abandoned. He took the sharp turn to
the right that goes up the steep mountain side to the purer, clearer
altitudes where we can walk in the light and enjoy the sunshine of
God's approving smile. With wonder was the news received in prison,
month after month, year after year that he was standing firm. To-day
he is a worker at my side, a strength and comfort to many another
soul and a messenger of blessing in the many poor and sad homes that
he visits. A little while since he returned to the prison where he had
paced so often back and forth, back and forth through the weary hours
of struggle in the narrow little cell. As he talked to the men who had
known him, as he gave his thrilling message before the officers who had
doubted the possibility of his reformation, he appeared to them as one
who had gone into a new country and returned with tidings, not so much
of the giants that dwelt there as of the milk and honey and fruits of
peace and happiness which awaited those who in their turn would venture
over the dividing line.

On one of my visits to Trenton, the warden told me of a man whose
change of life was so remarkable that it had become the talk of the
prison. He had been the most treacherous and dangerous of the prison
population. Every officer agreed that he could never be trusted and
for insubordination and violence they had never known his equal. After
his conversion he was so quiet, amenable to discipline, cheerful and
helpful in his attitude to others and at all times consistent in living
up to his profession that his life made the most profound impression.
In speaking of him to me the warden said that it was nothing short of
a miracle, and that the work was well worth while if only for that one
case.

As I shall give many other life stories in their place, I will touch
only on one more phase of the blessed influence that the new life
brings to those in prison. It enables them to face the weary, dreary
monotony of their life with happy cheerful contentedness, despite the
difficulties and gloom that surround them.

There are many life-men in prison and many more with very long terms
whom one might expect to find gloomy and morose, embittered in heart
and utterly miserable. Among them I know innumerable cases of those
who have become cheerful, patient and humbly grateful for every good
gift of God, where we might see only cause for complaint. Many a
Christian on the outside would have his faith strengthened by coming
into contact with these men, and their bright experiences would make
the world realize that the essence of Christianity is its triumph over
circumstances. It can literally make the darkness light and put the
song of freedom in the heart of the caged bird.

Here is a letter I received from a man whose causes for complaint might
have been considered very justifiable. In the past he had been several
times in prison and was known to the police as an "ex-convict." On
his last discharge he came to us and we were witness of his manly
struggles to do right. It was before the days of our Hope Hall, and we
could not help him so much as we longed to. He passed through a period
of testing difficulties; he not only suffered from hunger but at times
went to the point of starvation before he was able to find work, and
endured it willingly rather than return to an evil but easy way of
making a living. He would not accept charity, and never once asked for
help except that help which we could give him by advice and sympathy,
and hid from us the need and suffering through which he was passing.
At last he found work and was doing well when he was arrested and
"railroaded" to prison for an offense he did not commit.

I speak advisedly, for I was well acquainted with the case and have
since heard from the man who did the deed. After his reimprisonment
with a sentence of ten years, he found Christ as his Saviour. He wrote
me constantly and the letter quoted below reached me after he had
passed through a period of great suffering and weakness in the prison
hospital.

"My dear Little Mother:--I am most happy to be able to write you a
cheering letter. I am afraid my letters the past two or three months
have been rather 'blue' reading to you, but now, thank God, I am
feeling very well and want to chase that sorrowful expression from your
face which I suspect has been there of late on receiving my letters.
I want to write you a cheering letter, first because I am cheerful,
hopeful and happy myself and then because I know it will cheer and
comfort you to hear that I am fighting the battle bravely, and that
the victory we all look forward to so intensely is mine. I have indeed
experienced the new life, and God has been my guide and refuge for two
years now and I tell you, Little Mother, I would not exchange it for
my old sinful life for the world. My past bad name and misdeeds sent
me to this place for ten years, but I have gained by it something I
never realized or had before, the love of our dear Saviour. I cannot
help but think of the bright happy future in store for me. Although the
state holds my body, my spirit is free, thank God, and though clouds
do gather at times in this dreary place I have One to go to who is all
sunshine and always understands and comforts me. Now Little Mother, I
am feeling very well. Good Dr. Ransom, God bless him, has been like a
father to me, you will never know how much he has done for me. He asked
me the other day when I had heard from you. I told him and he said I
must never forget you. Little Mother, I guess you know whether I could
or not. God bless you. I wish you every success on your western trip.
Pray for me," etc.

I give the letter just in the natural outspoken way in which it was
written. Shortly afterwards the Doctor wrote me that his patient
was undoubtedly suffering from the first inroads of tuberculosis. I
immediately set to work on the case, though, as a rule, I do not help
men to regain their liberty. They know that is not my mission. Here
however was one whom I believed innocent, who had served two years and
who in all likelihood could not live out the other eight, a man whom I
believed thoroughly safe to trust at large.

President Roosevelt, then governor, gave me his pardon the following
New Year, and when the "boy" received my wire with the news the joy
was too much for him, and he fainted away in the prison hospital.
We welcomed him home, put him under excellent medical treatment and
afterwards kept him for a spring and summer on the farm at Hope Hall.
The disease was checked, he was perfectly restored to health, and went
out into the world to work. He is still leading an upright life not far
from New York and keeps in touch with us.

Could I give space to the hundreds of happy letters that tell of the
change from gloom to brightness, from soul-bondage to freedom and
new strength, it would be clearly seen that, though the men deeply
appreciate their Home and friends and are intensely grateful for all
that may be done to help them, they fully realize the power behind
the work. It is this power that has given them new hope and from
it they have drawn their deepest consolation and surest certainty
for the unknown future. Often in life the human friendship is the
stepping-stone to the Divine. The moonlight makes us realize that the
sun still shines.

Sometime since the Chaplain of Auburn, a devoted shepherd to that big
flock wrote me as follows: "When you were so very sick three years ago
the men here were very much alarmed and anxious for your recovery.
Among them was an old-timer who had spent over twenty years solid in
prison out of forty-nine years of life, the longest time of liberty
between his incarcerations being seven months. When he heard that fears
were entertained that you might not recover, he felt impelled to pray
for you. In relating the story he said, 'I dropped on my knees to pray
for her and as I did so I was overwhelmed with the thought that God
would not hear such a sinner as I was. I began to pray for God to have
mercy upon me and in my pleading forgot where I was and everything but
the fact that I was a sinner and Jesus Christ my Saviour.' His sympathy
for you was the means of leading him to Christ." The sequel of this
story made another record of successful right-doing on the outside as
well as in prison.

Divine truth is not only whispered to our hearts from the leaves of
the forest, sung to us by the mountain brook and flashed into our mind
by the glint of the sunbeam, but sometimes it looks out at us from the
wonders of science. A nerve has been severed by accident or during an
operation and has remained for months or years perhaps useless and
atrophied. Yet operative skill can resurrect the buried nerve ends and
unite them again restoring perfectly the lost function. To this end
especially when there has been much loss of substance it is necessary
to interpose an aseptic absorbable body such as catgut or decalcified
bone tube to serve as a temporary scaffolding for the products of
tissue proliferation. Sutured to this connecting substance the nerve
reunites using it as a bridge over or through which the union can be
affected. When this end is accomplished the bridge or scaffolding is no
longer needed and disappears through absorption. This it seems to me is
the relative position of the soul-seeker to the unsaved. The poor soul
has wandered far from God, is lost, buried beneath numberless hindering
obstacles. To a great extent the functions of soul and conscience are
destroyed, the power to serve God, to feel aright, to be pure and
good, and honest are gone; even feelings and aspirations for things
Divine in many cases seem wanting, but we believe that all this can be
reawakened if only the soul is brought near to God. A helpless human
atom reunited to the Divine compassionate power above. The human friend
and messenger or the organization that has the privilege of stretching
out the helping hand to those thus needy can serve as the bridge or
connection, the link useful in the right place but worse than useless
if unaided by the loving miracle-working power from above.

As I turn the pages of our little Day Book a verse smiles out at me,
the truth of which I know, and the sweet realization of which hundreds
of happy hearts in prison to-day attest with earnest acclamation,
"Their voice was heard and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling
place even into Heaven."



V

LETTERS FROM THE "BOYS"


In such a work as that within prison walls the results can only be
fully understood by those who have the opportunity closely to watch
the lives of the men and who can keep in touch with them through
their after experience. Results cannot be statistically summed up and
proclaimed to the world. They are too intangible and far-reaching to
be fairly represented by figures. It is difficult to exhibit to the
public the direct issues of this toil behind the scenes. Reporters have
often asked to accompany me to prison and have earnestly requested
permission to visit our Hope Halls for the purpose of describing the
work. They have assured me that by allowing this, we could arouse
much public interest. We have declined. Our movement does not live by
sensational advertisement, and even wisely written reports would harm
us with those whom we seek to save. The men in prison are intensely
sensitive and through their bitter past experience very apt to be
suspicious of the motives of those who go to them. Among the men who
do not know us personally there might be the idea that the work was
done with a desire for advertising or lauding the Volunteers and to
all the men it would give the unpleasant impression that they were
still to be regarded in a different light from the denizens of the free
world. These men naturally do not want to be exploited or ticketed by
publicity. The very spirit of our work would be spoiled and its object
defeated by such an error, and the self-respecting men would shun a
place where their home life was not held sacred.

For similar reasons we do not have our graduates lined along the
platforms of public halls to relate the stories of their past lives,
their many crimes and subsequent conversions. This may be thought by
some to be helpful in mission work and among church people, but in a
work like ours it would be more than unwise. Talking of an evil past is
often the first step that leads to repeating the evil deeds. Anything
like boasting of the crimes and achievements of an evil past cannot
be too strongly deprecated. In their own little home gatherings among
themselves our "boys" freely give their testimonies as to what God has
done for them, but even there with no outsiders present, they feel too
deeply ashamed of the forgotten and buried past to wish to resurrect
it. One of the mottoes of Hope Hall is, "Never talk of the past and
so far as possible do not think of it." There is in this however one
disadvantage in that the world cannot have the object lesson which
would surely be helpful to many when brought face to face with the
results already gained. The missionary can bring back his Indian or
Chinese convert and the dark face and simple earnest broken words
appeal to a Christian audience; the doctor can exhibit his cures at the
clinic; the teacher can glory over her scholars at their examinations,
but in work like ours the victory can never be fully shown to the world
without violating sacred confidences, and making a show of that which
it would be cruelly unjust and unwise to parade.

That something of the grateful hearts and bright hopeful lives of
our graduates may be known to others, I gather here and there, from
hundreds of like letters, just a few that will speak for themselves.

To the "boys" still in prison one man writes: "Dear Comrades:--I
will try and write a few lines to assure you, that you have in me a
converted comrade who has left the 'college' but has not forgotten
those still confined there" (as not a few have since found out).

"I am very grateful for this, another opportunity to send a few words
of cheer to those who, I know, are deprived of many blessings of this
nature that cost so little--a smile, a cheering word or a pleasant nod
that you dare not receive or return.

"Dear comrades, you probably would not know me now, as such a
marvellous change has come over me. The dear Lord has been very good to
me. I am very often surprised at the wonderful alterations in my life
of late, the complete abnegation of my former desires, and, thank God!
I now possess a fervent desire to henceforth be a man.

"At the time of my conversion I little thought my future life would be
the success it has since proven to be.

"It is just a little over two years ago since I left 'college' and what
has that two years wrought in my life? I have made many new friends,
won their confidence and esteem, hold a fine position on the official
paper of this town, live right with the editor in his own home, have
been elected president of one of our local Sunday-schools, have a fine
large class of little girls, am studying preparatory to entering the
University of Illinois, have been restored to citizenship by Governor
Yates, and am now purchasing a two thousand dollar piece of property.

"Dear comrades, let me give you two keys to my success. One--God loves
to bestow where gratitude is extended; two--I have a private book on
the page of which it reads: 'May 3d, 1902. One-tenth of my earnings,
$---- paid and used in God's cause, May....'

"I fear I have gone beyond the space allotted me so must close, dear
comrades, with this, my last remark, and if you forget all the rest,
remember this: 'Value and grasp the opportunities to form character as
they are extended, and God will take care of the rest.' Fraternally
yours, ONE OF THE GRADUATES.

Another writes me after two years the following cheering news, though
as I write I can add on another year for the record since that date.

"Dear Little Mother:--It is now close to two years since I gained my
liberty from Joliet Prison, and I know that it will make you happy
to know that I am leading a good life. The thought that you were
instrumental in procuring my release upon parole, and that you still
take an interest in me for the future gives me great joy and pride, and
I thank God for the many benefits I have received at His hands through
you.

"I have a splendid position at $21 per week, and save half of it. I
have the respect of my employers and neighbors and live with my father
and mother and have the knowledge that I am loved of God. I am happy,
and have good reason to be. I shall always appreciate your loving
kindness to me, also the help I have received from Adjutant and Mrs.
McCormick and Sergeant Sam of Hope Hall No. 2.--Yours truly, Frank ----"

The next letter is from a man who was a very successful and notorious
forger. Of him the warden said to me one day while he was still in
prison, "If you can keep that man right after his discharge, you will
save the country thousands of dollars. All your work would be worth
while only for one such." He was, when we first met him a pronounced
infidel and terribly embittered against the world in general. He became
a sincere simple-hearted Christian, coming straight to us from fifteen
years in prison. He was nervous and unstrung and felt utterly helpless
to cope with life. In this condition Hope Hall meant everything to him.
He soon regained strength, nerve and courage. He is now a prosperous
man and has been out of prison nearly five years.

"Dear Little Mother:--It was my intention to write you ere this, but my
time has been so much taken up with the cares and labor of my position,
and things are so unsettled yet, that I put it off from one day to
another, but I will not neglect to obey the call of duty; the more so,
as it entails only a labor of love. I want you to believe me, that my
heart is in no manner changed towards you and your work. It is just as
full of love as when first I had the happiness to meet you in those
dark and bitter days, when nothing but darkness and friendlessness
seemed to be before me, and you proved yourself such a faithful friend.
Though I still live in the shadow of the past, there is such a lot of
sunshine about me now. If any word of mine can be a comfort to you and
a help to any one of my comrades still behind the bars, I gladly give
the word.

"I am well in body and mind. It seems to me that I am making friends
and well wishers everywhere. It lies with me to stay or not, but there
are so many things in this particular business which I cannot entirely
approve, that of late I thought much if it were not better for me
to turn to something else. I have not decided yet, but as soon as I
shall have done so, I will let you know. Be sure of one thing, though,
whatever I shall do, or wherever I may be, there is none anywhere, that
I know of, who can replace the friend who found me in wretchedness and
stretched forth her hand to help and comfort me. To the Christ-love
planted then in my heart, I shall remain true in storm or sunshine."

Since then this man has gone into business for himself. He is now
married and has a happy little home.

Another writes:

"Dear Little Mother:--Yours of the 4th received, and I need not tell
you how happy it made me feel when I realized that though you are
constantly behind the walls or touring across the country for your
'boys' you have not forgotten me and the other graduates. I am sure
that there are none of the 'boys' who have forgotten you.

"What a blessing Hope Hall has been to the thousands that have passed
through its doors, almost all of whom have been faithful to all that
the V.P.L. means.

"I have a good position and am living the life of a God-fearing man.
You would be surprised at the number of 'boys' that I meet in the city
constantly, all looking bright and happy and doing well in every sense
of the word.

"Asking your prayers and praying God to bless and prosper you in the
work, Yours for Christ."

The remark has sometimes been made that it is innate laziness that
leads to crime. I do not agree with this statement, but I can say that
if any of our "boys" were lazy in the old days, they certainly have not
shown it in their new life, for we find them most anxious to work and
they often undertake and keep bravely at work far beyond their strength.

"My dear Little Mother:--I was both surprised and happy to receive your
letter. I have not only friends of the right sort, but a position and a
prospect which increases in brightness each time I look forward after
doing nine years in prison. When I received my pay yesterday it was
the first legitimately earned money I have had in fifteen years. I have
never regretted giving up the past. I am satisfied with my position,
although the first few days I was not. I wrote to Lieutenant B----,
and he advised me to stick, in my own behalf, and his advice I have
taken. My work is hard and the hours long, but it can never be so hard
as to make me throw up the sponge. I have a little of your writing,
which I received on last Christmas in a Christmas present while at Hope
Hall. God bless you and your work for the 'boys' behind the bars. Your
comrade.

"P.S.--Enclosed find my first subscription to the Maintenance League."

The next letter is from a young man who had been the sorrow of his
home people because of his wild life. He was bright, well educated and
had good ability but he sold his soul to evil, demoralizing pleasures.
He became a thief and at last reached the point where the patience
of his people was exhausted and they believed it impossible for him
to be reclaimed. He came to us from a prison where our work was not
yet established. A copy of the _Gazette_ had reached him and through
its influence he learned to look upon us as his friends. He made no
profession of conversion but merely declared that he was anxious to
try and make a success of an honest life. His stay at Hope Hall was
quite a long one and we who watched him closely, could see the growth
and development of his better self as he fought desperately the old
vices.

Speaking to a comrade about this time he said, "When I have written in
the past to Mrs. Booth I have never called her Little Mother because
I was not sure I was going to stay right. I dared not call her that
until I was _sure_ but now when I write it will be always, 'Little
Mother.'" Here is a letter from him after he had been twelve months in
one position, and at the same time there came to me a letter full of
commendation, from his employer.

"Dear Little Mother:--I am sorry that I must begin by asking your
pardon for not having written for so long a time, but I am deeply
thankful that my next words can be, that I have done well in every
sense of the word. After the dull emptiness of the past, my life here
comes like the opening of summer after a long winter of weariness and
discontent. Day by day the influences that had grown up in the old
life have been losing their place, and new interests coming into my
heart that make me happier and stronger and better. I have written but
few letters since the beginning of the year, and I cannot write much
now, but I think you can understand much, perhaps all, of what I feel
and would wish to say. But I can say, after the year that has passed
since I left Hope Hall, that there are few months of my life that I
can remember with more pleasure than those I spent there, and I have
felt since leaving, that I there gained the strength I needed to help
me start life anew. I shall always feel the influence of those months
of close companionship with the men--each with a different story, and
a different struggle, and, no matter where my life may be passed, or
how dear the interests that may come into it, I shall always feel, when
I think of Hope Hall, the tenderness one feels when thinking of an
absent, well-loved friend."

The following note was an acknowledgment of a special copy of the
little Day Book sent to one of our "boys" shortly after his graduation.
"Dear Little Mother:--I am more pleased than I can say for your
remembrance of me and the delightful manner of this remembrance
emphasizes itself in the gift. Every day as I read this precious little
book I will think of the giver, and pray that God may grant unto you
every good and perfect gift. I am now in the world and must fight my
fight, but I know that that power which alone can subdue the enemy will
be my strength and shield if I but walk circumspectly. I know too that
the testimony of words will avail nothing, but that it is my life that
must speak. In the selection of the evening portion for to-day I read,
'Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. Walk as
children of the light.' I want my life to say this for me. Accept, dear
Little Mother, the remembrance of a grateful heart and in the charity
of your prayers remember me."

To those who do not know the writers much behind the written words
cannot be realized and I find myself saying, "After all what will these
pages mean to the public?" To me they are unspeakably precious; they
represent so many nights of prayer and anxious days, after the darkness
of which they come as the touch of a rosy dawn; they remind me of tears
to which they have brought the rainbow gleam of promise. I almost
grudge them to other eyes and yet if by their words other hearts may be
strengthened, their value will be doubled.



VI

UNWELCOMED HOME-COMING


Liberty! How much that word means to all of us! It is the keynote of
our Constitution. It is the proud right of every citizen. The very
breeze that flutters our starry flag sings of it; the wild forests,
the rocky crags, the mountain torrents, the waving grasses of the
wide-stretching prairies echo and reecho it. Yet much as we may think
we know of the fullness, sweetness and power of that word, we cannot
form an estimate of its meaning to one who is in prison. He has lost
the gift and those who have it not, can often prize the treasure more
than those who possess it.

People have talked to me about the prisoner becoming quite reconciled
to his lot, and in time growing indifferent to the regaining of
liberty. I think this is one of the fallacies that the outside world
has woven. I do not know from what prison such an idea emanated. So
far as my observation goes, I have yet to find the first prisoner
who did not long with an unspeakable desire for freedom. Even the
older life-men who have been in long enough to outlive all their
friends, who have no kith or kin to return to, and for whom there is no
home-spot on earth, plead earnestly for the chance to die in liberty.
They hope and plan, they appeal and pray for pardon, though it would
send them from the familiar sheltering walls into a strange, cold
world, but the world of free men. In every cell are men who count all
dates by one date, the day coming to them in the future when they will
be free again. Sometimes it is very far away and yet that does not make
it any less vividly present in their thought. The chief use in the
calendar is to mark off the passing days and some have even figured off
minutely the hours that stand between them and liberty.

There is a weird cry that breaks out sometimes amid the midnight
stillness of the prison cell-house, the venting of a heart's repressed
longing, "Roll around, 1912," and from other cells other voices echo,
each putting in the year of his liberty. I heard the cry break out in
chapel one Christmas day as the gathering at their concert broke up,
every year being called by the "boys" who looked forward to it as their
special year of liberty. "Roll around, 1912." How far away it seems to
us even in liberty, but how much further to the man who must view it
through a vista of weary toilsome prison days.

Having talked with many just before their dis when the days and hours
leave but a few grains to trickle through the glass of time they have
watched so closely, I know just what a strain and tension these last
days represent. Often the man cannot sleep for nights together under
the excitement and the nervous strain proves intense. Through the dark
nights of wakefulness he puts the finishing touches to the castles in
the air that he has been building through the weary term when with his
body in prison, his mind wandered out into the days to come, and hope,
battling with fear, painted for him a rainbow in the storm clouds of
the future.

Can you imagine how hard and bitter is the awakening for such a man
when he returns to life to find himself a marked and branded being, one
to be distrusted and watched, pointed out and whispered about, with all
too often the door of honest toil shut in his face? The man discharged
from prison is not unreasonable. He does not expect an easy path. We do
not ask for him a way strewn with roses or a cheer of welcome. He has
sinned, he has strayed from the right road, plunged over the precipice
of wrong-doing, and it must at best be a hard climb back again. The
men do not ask nor do we ask for them an easy position, the immediate
restoration of the trust, confidence and sympathy of the world on the
day of their return. They know they cannot expect, having thrown away
their chances in an evil past, to find them awaiting their return to
moral sanity. I have not found them unreasonable and certainly very few
have been lazy or unwilling to prove their sincerity. What we do ask
for the released prisoner and what we feel he has a right to ask of the
world is a chance to live honestly, an opportunity to prove whether
or not he has learned his lesson so that he may climb back into the
world of freedom and into a useful respectable position where he may be
trusted.

When God forgives us He says that our sins and transgressions shall be
blotted out like a cloud or cast into the sea of His forgetfulness. He
believes in a buried past. The world alas! too often goes back to that
wretched old grave to dig up what lies there, and flaunts the miserable
skeleton before the eyes of the poor soul, who had fondly hoped that
when the law was satisfied to the last day and hour, he had paid for
his crime, and might begin afresh with a clean sheet to write a new
record.

How often we hear the term "ex-convict." Do the people who use it ever
stop to think that the wound is as deep and the term as odious as that
of "convict" to the man who has been in prison? When he is liberated,
when the law has said, "Go in peace and sin no more," he is a free
man, and no one has the right to regard him as other than this. Any
name which marks him out is a cruel injustice. If the State provided
for the future of these men; if they were not dependent on their
own labors for their daily bread, it would not be quite so ghastly,
but when one thinks that this prejudice and marking of discharged
prisoners, robs them of the chance of gaining a living, and in many
instances forces them back against their will into a dishonest career,
one can realize how truly tragic the situation is.

Many a time one can pick up a daily paper and see the headlines, "So
and So to be Liberated To-morrow," or, "Convict ... will return to the
world," or some such announcement. If a man who is at all notorious has
finished a term in prison, the article tells of the crime he committed
five, six or even ten years before; what he did; how he did it; why he
did it. Some account of his imprisonment--with an imaginary picture
of himself in his cell--may be added, with the stripes in evidence,
and even a chain and ball to make it more realistic. This heralds the
day of his discharge. What a welcome back after his weary paying of
the penalty through shame and loneliness, toil and disgrace, mingled
often with bitter tears of repentance during those best years lost from
his life forever! This raking up of the past reminds his friends and
acquaintances of the wretched story which had been nearly forgotten,
and tells it to many more who had not heard of it. Is this fair?
Perhaps it may be said that this is part of the penalty of doing wrong.
I answer that it should not be! In a civilized land our wrong-doers
must be punished by proper lawful means. The law does not require this
publicity after release. Why should the world ask it? Besides that,
could we not quote the recommendation given of old that only those who
are without sin have the right to cast stones, and, if that precept
were lived up to, very few would ever be cast at all, for the saint in
heart and life would be charitable.

It does not take many days of tramping in a fruitless search for
work, or many rebuffs and slights, to shake for the most sanguine man
the foundation of those castles he saw in the air before his term
expired. When money is gone, and there is no roof to cover the weary
head, no food to stop the gnawing of hunger, and no friend at hand to
sympathize, the whole airy structure topples to the ground amid the
dust and ashes of his fond hopes, and the poor man learns in bitterness
of heart an anger against society that makes him more dangerous and
desperate than he ever was before.

Much is said of the habitual criminal. Some contend that he is born,
that, as a poor helpless infant, he is doomed to a career of crime and
vice. Others believe that such lives are the outcome of malformation of
brain and skull, and yet others have their own pet theories to account
for the large number of "repeaters," as they are called in some states,
"old-timers," or "habituals," as they are known elsewhere. I have
personally known many of these men and have traced their lives, talked
with them heart to heart, and I can tell the world, as my profound
conviction, that the habitual criminal is made, not born; manufactured
by man, not doomed by a monster-god; that such criminals are the result
of the lack of charity, of knowledge or thought or whatever else you
may like to call it, that makes the world shrink from and doom the
sinner to a return to sin, that treads further down in the mire the man
who has fallen.

What is a man to do on leaving prison with his friends dead or false to
him, with no home, little money, the brand of imprisonment upon him,
nervous, unstrung, handicapped with the loss of confidence in himself,
and with neither references nor character? The cry of the world is,
"Let the man go to work; if he is honest, and proves himself so, then
we will trust him and stretch out a hand to help him." Ah, then if
that day ever comes to him, he will not need your outstretched hand.
Your chance to help and strengthen him will have passed forever; the
credit of his success will be all his own, but few can reach that
happy day. It is easy to say, let the man work, but where shall he
find occupation; who wants the man who can give no clear account of
himself? If in honesty of heart he tells the truth and states, "I am
straight from prison," he is told to go on his way, and often the voice
that gives the command is harsh with indignant contempt and loathing,
and yet this man has one inalienable right in common with all his
fellow-men, the right to live, and to live, the man must have bread.
Some have said to me that it is cruel that the right to end their lives
is denied them, for should they commit suicide they would only be
condemned, and if they attempted it and were not successful, they would
be imprisoned for trying to do away with that which no man helped them
to make endurable.

These released men are not of the beggar class. Their hands are
eager for work. Their brains have a capacity for useful service, yet
they have to stand idle and starve, or turn to the old activities
and steal. Does the world say this is exaggerated? I declare I have
again and again had proof of it. I believe that with hundreds who are
now habitual criminals, and have made themselves experts in their
nefarious business, there was a day when they truly wanted to be honest
and tried to follow up that desire, but found the chance denied them.

Of course the man who has a home, who has friends standing by him
or who is a very skilled workman can escape this trial in a great
measure, but I speak of the many who are friendless, and hence must
face the world alone. It has been said by those who would excuse their
apathy and lack of interest in the question, that, while there are
honest workmen unemployed, they do not see why people should concern
themselves about the returning criminal. This is very poor logic. You
might as well argue that it is sentimental to feed with care our sick
in the hospitals, because there are able bodied folk starving in the
streets of our cities. The Spartans took their old and sick and weak to
the caves of the mountains and left them there to meet death. Perhaps
that was the most convenient way of getting out of their problems and
shirking a care that meant trouble and expense. But we are not in
long-ago pagan Sparta but in twentieth century Christian America. Quite
apart from his claim on our sympathy as followers of Christ, in the
purely selfish light of the interest of the community, it is dangerous
to deprive men of the chance of making an honest living. Naturally they
will then prey on others and the problem will become more and more
complicated as they go farther from rectitude and honesty.

I know some writers of fiction have played on this theme of the poor
worthy workman and the unworthy "ex-prisoner" with telling effect.
They have made those who tried to help the latter appear in the light
of foolish sentimentalists while the workman is depicted as starving
for want of the friendship they refuse him. This however is but a
stage trick of literary coloring. The honest workman has his union
behind him; he is often out of work through its orders; if he does not
belong to the union, he at least has a character and, in this age of
philanthropy, charity and many missions, he can apply for aid which
will be speedily given, if he proves that he is deserving. He may be
unfortunate but he has not behind him the record, around him the almost
insurmountable difficulties of the man from prison. We ought to help
the latter because in most instances he cannot help himself. Alas,
there are very few ready to render practical help, writers of fiction
to the contrary.

I do not advocate carrying him and thus making him dependent upon
others. I do not believe in pauperizing any one. Give him a fair start
and then let him take his own chance with any other workman and by his
own actions stand or fall.

I was visiting my Hope Hall on one occasion after a lengthy western
trip. Many new men who had returned during my absence were anxious for
personal interviews and so I spent most of the day in this occupation.
One man who was ushered into my presence was considerably older than
any other of the newcomers. Grasping my hand he told me with tears in
his eyes of his gratitude for the Home. I asked him if he was happy.
"Happy," he answered, "why I am happier than I have ever been in my
life." As we talked I studied his face. I could recognize no criminal
trait and I wondered at one of his age with hair already white, being
friendless and homeless and at the place where he must begin life all
over again. I came to the conclusion that he had probably served a
very long term for some one offense committed in his early manhood.
It is not my custom to bring up the past. We do not catechise our men
concerning their deeds of the past. If it will help a man to tell me
in confidence any part of his story, I gladly listen, but I never make
one feel that I am eager to learn the wretched details that in many
instances are better buried and forgotten. In this case, however, I
diverged from my rule sufficiently to ask this man whether he had done
a very long term, that I might answer to myself some of those questions
that would better help me to prove myself his friend in the future.
"No," he answered with a smile, "I have that to be thankful for; I
have never been sentenced to any very long term. I have only done five
short five year bits." Just think of it! Twenty-five years in all! The
record of an habitual criminal indeed. Speaking afterwards to one of
my workers, who knew the man well, I asked him how it was that this
had happened. He told me that it was just the old story, that could
be recorded about many others. In his youth this man had committed a
crime which called for a five year term of imprisonment. He had been
overwhelmed with shame and regret, and during that first term in prison
had learned his lesson. During that period his father and mother both
died; he came back into the world homeless, friendless, a stranger. In
his pocket he had a few dollars given by the State and he started out
hopefully to look for work. He was met by rebuff, disappointment and
failure; then came hungry days and nights, when he had no money to pay
for lodging, and had to sleep in any sheltered corner where he might
hope to escape the vigilance of the police. Then followed starvation,
and he returned to what seemed the inevitable; he stole that he might
live; was arrested and sent back to prison. This was repeated after
each discharge, until at last he had Hope Hall to turn to, a haven of
refuge from the miserable sin and failure of his life.

A story even more startling was told me by a chaplain of one of our
State Prisons. The man of whom he spoke was brought up in the most
wretched environment; his parents were drunkards, his home did not
deserve the name. As a mere child he was cast out on the streets to
earn his own living by begging or theft. If he did not bring back
enough at night to suit his parents, he was beaten and thrown out
on the streets to sleep. He became early an expert young thief;
from picking pockets he advanced to a more dangerous branch of the
profession and became a burglar. When about eighteen years of age he
was arrested and given a long term in prison. During that term he was
for the first time taught the difference between right and wrong; he
learned to read and write in the night school and thus was opened up
a new world before him. He heard the teachings of the chaplain from
the chapel platform and for the first time, he understood that it was
possible even for him to live a different kind of life from that which
had seemed to be his destiny. On his discharge from prison, he was a
very different man from what he had been on his admission. He went out
with the firm resolve to do right. He laughed at difficulties, saying
cheerily that he was going to work and feeling in his heart that
with his earnest desire to do so faithfully, he must make a success
of the future. After a few days of effort in the big city, he found
that it was not so easy to obtain employment as he had anticipated.
Day after day he sought it earnestly, always meeting with the same
disappointment. Leaving the city, he tramped out to the surrounding
towns and villages; for several weeks this man sought for an honest
start in life, but no hand was stretched out to help him. His money
was long since spent; he had to sleep at night under some hedge or
in some secluded alley way. The food on which he subsisted was the
broken pieces and partly decayed fruit picked from the ash barrels of
the more fortunate. At last flesh and blood could stand the strain no
longer, and he returned to Boston, his strength gone, his mind benumbed
and a fever raging in his blood. Crossing the Common on a bleak rainy
afternoon, he stumbled and lost consciousness. Hours passed and in the
shadow he was unnoticed. The poor, lost, unwanted outcast lay there,
with the great happy busy world rushing on within a few feet of him. A
man who was crossing the Common chanced to stumble over the prostrate
figure. He stooped to see what lay in his path and finding that it was
a man, he turned him so that the lamplight fell upon his face and then
with an exclamation called him by name.

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. This poor, dying, friendless
man had been found by perhaps the one man who knew him best in that
great city. Thinking that he was sleeping or perhaps drunk, the man
shook him, saying, "Who's going to build a monument for you that you
lie out here on the Common catching your death of cold?" Finding no
answer, he repeated his question, adding, "Trying to be honest, are
you? Who cares enough to build your monument, I want to know." Then he
realized that the man was past speech, and lifting him from the ground,
he tenderly guided the staggering foot-steps to his own home. True,
his home consisted of rooms above a saloon; true, this Samaritan was
himself the leader of a gang of burglars, and yet the deed was one of
charity, and his was the one hand stretched out to help this sick and
helpless man. For weeks he was carefully nursed and tended. The doctor
was called to watch over him. When the fever left him and strength
returned, nourishing food was provided, and when he was well enough to
dress he was welcomed in the room where the gang met and not in any
sense made to feel that he had been a burden. All this time no effort
had been made to draw him back into the old way of living. One night
as he sat at a little distance he heard his friends plan a burglary.
They had a map stretched out upon the table before them and had marked
upon it the several positions to be occupied by different members of
the gang, some to enter, while others watched and guarded the house.
One point was unguarded and while they were seeking to readjust their
company to fill this place, the young man rose and coming to the table,
he laid his finger on the spot and said, "Put me down there." The
leader of the gang, who had proved so truly his friend, laid his hand
upon his shoulder and said quickly, "Don't you do it! You have been
trying to be honest, stick to it! You have had a long term in prison
and are sick of it. Don't go back to the old life." But the boy turning
on him (and there was much truth in his answer) said, "When I was sick
and hungry, who cared? When I was trying to be honest, who helped me?
When I lay dying on the common, who was it stretched out a helping
hand, who paid my doctor's bill and who nursed me? You did and with you
I shall cast in my lot." He would not be dissuaded. That night he not
only went out and aided in the burglary but was caught by the police.
In his trial the fact came out that he had only been a few months out
of prison. The fact that he had been so soon detected in crime with his
old gang was evidence of his criminal propensities and he was returned
to prison for an extra long term as an old offender.

There is, however, a court above where all cases will be tried again
and there the Judge will take loving cognizance of the hard struggle,
the awful loneliness and suffering, the earnest desire to do right that
went before this fall, and His judgment will be tempered with divine
mercy.

The watching and hounding of men to prison by unprincipled detectives
is not unknown in this country. In fact, you can find such cases often
quoted in the newspapers and every prison has its quota of men who
could tell you terrible stories of what they have endured. I do not
want to appear hostile to the Detective Department, for detectives are
necessary and many may be conscientious men. The criminal element know
and respect the conscientious detective, but they have a most profound
contempt for the man who vilely abuses his authority and seems to
have no conscience where one known as an "ex-prisoner" is concerned.
Revelations have been made in many of our big cities of the blackmail
levied upon criminals and the threats which have been used to extort
money. There is no need of my quoting cases to prove this point, as it
has been clearly proved over and over again in police investigations
which are fresh in the memory of the public.

The man from prison is a marked man and hence an easy prey to the
unscrupulous detective. Jean Val Jean, the hero of Victor Hugo's "Les
Miserables" is perhaps looked upon as a fictitious creation of the
great novelist's brain, but he is a reality! There are Jean Val Jeans
in the prisons of this land and many a man struggling to remake his
life, longing to forget the disgraceful past, has been dogged and
haunted by his crime, to be taken back at last to the horror of a
living death which, he had hoped, would never claim him again.

The impression and opinion that there is no good in one who has been
in prison not only robs him of sympathy on the part of the good and
honest and makes him an easy prey to the unscrupulous, but lessens
the compunction of society for the wrong it does him. "Oh, well," cry
the righteous in justification of their actions, "he would probably
have done the first job that offered, so it makes no odds. Criminals
are safer in prison anyway." So justice is drugged with excuses and
the helpless one she should have protected is handed over to rank
injustice, with the excuse that he deserves his fate. Has not the
sword of justice once been raised over him, setting him aloof from his
fellows?

Some years ago a young man who had fully learned his lesson in prison
was discharged from Sing Sing, with the earnest desire to retrieve
the past. At first it was difficult to find a position, but at last
he obtained employment with a large firm where he served some months,
giving every satisfaction to his employers. As time wore on, he felt
that the sad shadow of the past was gone forever. One day as he walked
up Broadway carrying under his arm a parcel which he was to deliver to
a customer, he felt a hand suddenly fall on his shoulder. The cheery
tune he had been whistling abruptly ceased. It seemed as if a cloud
passed over the sunshine obscuring it as he turned to recognize in the
man who accosted him, the detective who had once sent him to state
prison. "What are you doing?" asked the detective. "I am working for
such and such a firm," he said. "What have you got under your arm?" was
the next question. "Some clothes I am taking to a customer." "We'll
soon find out the truth of this," said the detective and despite the
entreaties of the man, he marched him back to the store, walked with
him past his fellow-employees and accosted the manager. "Is this man in
your employ?" he asked. The question was answered in the affirmative.
"Did you send him with these clothes to a customer?" Again the
satisfactory answer. "Oh, well," said the detective, "it is all right
but I thought I had better inquire and let you know that this man is
an ex-convict." Then he went on his way, but his work had been well
done. The young man was disgraced before all his fellow-clerks and was
promptly dismissed, not for dishonesty, not for laziness, not because
he had proved unworthy of trust, but simply and solely because he had
once been in prison. Once more he was made to suffer for the crime
which the law said he had fully expiated.

The following instance I give from one of our daily papers, only the
other day.

"How far a policeman may go in an effort to arrest persons charged with
no specific crime, but who have their pictures in the Rogues' Gallery,
may be determined by Commissioner Greene as a result of a shooting in
Twenty-third Street yesterday, when that thoroughfare was crowded.

"A detective sergeant, while in a car, saw seated near the rear door
two men whom he recognized, he says, as pickpockets. The men's pictures
and descriptions being, as alleged, in Inspector McClusky's private
album. The detective therefore determined to take them to headquarters.

"When near Lexington Avenue the two men left the car, being closely
followed by their pursuer. The detective sergeant called upon them
to halt, which they refused to do, and he fired. One of the men says
the detective sergeant fired at him, but the detective insists that he
fired in the air. Women screamed and men took refuge in entrances to
buildings. Two policemen then arrested the men, who gave their names
as John Kelley and Daniel Cherry. Commissioner Greene has ordered an
investigation."

I need add no comment. The story is merely an illustration of the old
adage, "Give a dog a bad name, and you might as well hang him." I do
not want my remarks to be one-sided. The detective officer is needed.
Some of the officers are very able, bright men and I have known some
who have been fair-minded and good at heart but that great abuses of
power have been practiced and many men made victims to the old idea
that the once marked man has no rights, no honor, and can come to no
possible good, is an incontestable fact. Public opinion, steered by
Christian charity regarding the rights of those who cannot protect
themselves, is the safe-guard to which we must appeal.

Perhaps the bitterest experience is that of the man who succeeds
in getting a start, who strives hard and in time makes for himself
a position by faithful, honest work and who after it all, has the
building of years torn down, and his life blasted by the unjustifiable
raking up of the past. A story startling the state of Ohio was flashed
all over the country not long since, which very pointedly illustrated
this fact. A man in his youth had committed an offense which had sent
him to prison for five years; I believe it was the striking of a blow
in a moment of anger; he served his term and it proved the lesson
of his life. Coming out of prison, he moved into the state of Ohio
and found work in Columbus. It was humble work at the very bottom of
the ladder, but, as years passed, his industry was rewarded by great
success and at last he became a very prominent and wealthy business
man. He had had to confide his past to one or two people in the city,
so that when he commenced to work, he would not be doing so under false
colors. As time went on and wealth, social position and important
business connections became his, these people in a most unprincipled
manner commenced the levying of blackmail. For many years his life was
made miserable, and he was thus robbed of thousands of dollars.

There was nothing dishonorable in his life; he was a perfectly
straight, successful business man, but he knew well that the prejudice
against the man that has been in prison is so great that his successful
career would be ruined and he himself ostracized, if these blackmailers
published the fact which they threatened to reveal, that he had once
been in prison. At last when he could stand this wretched position
no longer, he made a statement to the papers, through his lawyer,
publishing to the world the fact of his early imprisonment, that he
might thus break the weapons of his enemies. If the world's attitude to
the returned prisoner were more rational and its judgment were passed
on his after life and conduct instead of the mere fact of the past
penalty, such a state of things would be impossible.

Many will have read of the case that came up in the New York papers,
of the fireman who had served faithfully for fifteen years in the
fire department, receiving honorable mention for his bravery. In his
youth he had been in a prison, had served part of his term, from which
he had been pardoned by the then governor of our state; during the
investigation in the fire department this man was called to the stand,
and immediately his past was probed into by the opposing lawyer. He
pleaded with tears in his eyes, that the fifteen years of faithful
service should have lived down that one offense of his youth, but mercy
was not shown him and the head lines of the papers on the following
day announced in the most glaring type the "Ex-convict's" testimony.
Faithfulness, honesty, courage were all as nothing compared to the
stain which years of suffering and hard labor in prison ought to have
obliterated.

I had watched with interest the career of one of our "boys" who had
been a most notorious prisoner, living a desperate life and having
long experience in crime, which had brought him to the position where
many spoke of him as beyond hope. He had been out of prison over a
year and was doing well; he had been graduated from our Home and held
a position to which we sent him, most creditably, and was now living
with his wife in a little flat in Harlem, working in a shop where his
service was giving thorough satisfaction. Some flats were entered and
property stolen in the upper part of the city. There was no trace
of the perpetrator of the crime. A detective who had known this man
in the past, learning that he was in the city, started out to hunt
for him. He discovered the fact that he lived in Harlem: without a
scrap of evidence against him, he went to the house and put him under
arrest, and the first I knew of the case was a flaring account in
the papers headed, "Mrs. Booth's Protégé Gone Wrong." We received
almost immediately a letter from him from the Tombs, and one of my
representatives went at once to see our "boy." The second newspaper
article gave an interview with the detective, in which he mentioned
the fact that he had been at my office and that I had told him that
I had long since suspected this young man of wrong-doing; that I had
no faith or confidence in him, and could no longer help him. At the
time the interview was supposed to have taken place, I was fifteen
hundred miles away. When the case was brought up for investigation, my
representative was present to stand by the man, and to tell the judge
what we knew concerning him. There not being a particle of evidence to
connect him with the crime, the judge, with some irritation, was about
to dismiss the case, when the detective stepped forward, and asked that
the man be held to enable him to make further investigation. "What are
you going to investigate?" asked the judge, "you have no evidence to
go on." "Oh," said the detective, "I want to look up his past; he has
been many times in prison." Then, I am glad to say, the judge meted out
justice, and turning to the detective, reproved him most severely. He
told him that he was there to judge present facts and evidence, not to
condemn a man because of his past, and that it did not matter what the
man had been, if there was no evidence that he had perpetrated crime,
no one had any right to hold him or to investigate records that did
not concern the case. The man on his discharge went back to his former
employment, but it had been a severe and bitter trial, for naturally
he felt in his own heart the injustice of the whole incident. He has,
however, courageously fought through his dark days and now for years
has been a successful and prosperous man.

Of course there are men who come out of prison planning to do evil.
They are those who have not learned their lesson, and to whom
imprisonment has proved merely a deterring influence instead of
a reforming one. Some men deliberately go to the first saloon to
celebrate their discharge and some may be found in the old haunts the
first night of freedom. But even with these cases, which are apparently
utterly hardened and careless, there may have been a time before they
drifted so far, when they also longed for the friendly hand, which
might have helped them back from the deep waters to the safe ground
of honest living. Careless and hardened as they may seem to-day, we
have no right to think that there may not be an awakening to better
possibilities to-morrow; so while there is life, we should see to it
that so far as our part of the question is concerned, there is the
possibility of hope also.



VII

WELCOMED HOME


    "Home, home, sweet sweet home,
    Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

How often and how fervently are those simple words sung out by earnest
loyal hearts from end to end of the English-speaking world. The refrain
has burst forth at Christmas gatherings, at home-comings from school,
on every festive occasion, around all true home hearths, and its echo
has been heard on plain and prairie, amid mountain peaks and forest
fastness, as wanderers have in thought turned homeward. There is
perhaps no place where the old tune and well loved words sound with
more pathos, than when the refrain is raised in a prison audience and
rolled through the chapel or around the gallery by a thousand manly
voices. Heads are bowed, eyes grow dim with tears and sometimes lips
tremble too much to frame the words. I have heard it thus and have
tried to read the faces of the men as the song called up to them
the past. Some have sung with a longing and yearning in which still
lingered the note of glad possession, while for them arose a picture
of a dear home-spot where they were still held in loving remembrance
and to which in the future they would again be welcomed. Others under
still deeper emotion have seen a vision of the home that was, the
memory of childhood's happy hours gone forever with the passing of the
mother-heart into the far-away grave. Fathers sometimes drop their
heads upon the seats before them and strong men though they are, give
way to bitter tears as they picture the little white-robed tots who
kneel up in their beds to pray that papa may some day come home, and
ask the mother over again in childish perplexity why he stays away
so long, and then drop to sleep wondering at her tears. But some of
those in the great audience know no home as a future bright spot, for
they have never known the sacred influence which should be every man's
birthright. Even in their hearts there is a longing to possess that
which they have missed, and the song awakens a strange, untranslatable
thrill that makes them feel lonely and forsaken without knowing why.

Quite early in the history of our work the need of practical help for
men on their discharge from prison became very evident. They had given
us their confidence and accepted our proffered friendship, had made
resolves to live honest lives in the future and would go forth to be
met by the difficulties and sometimes almost insurmountable obstacles
awaiting them in an unfriendly world. Was it not natural to foresee
that they would turn in their difficulty to those who had been their
friends in prison? What then were we to do? Give them advice, bid them
trust in God? All very well in the right place, but, to the penniless,
homeless man, cold charity. We realized that to make our work
thoroughly practical, we must be as ready and able to help the man on
his discharge, as to counsel him during his incarceration. To do this
successfully, we soon understood that for the homeless and friendless
man we must provide a home. Some who have concerned themselves with
a scientific discussion of plans to help discharged prisoners have
argued against the wisdom of such a step. They speak of the danger of
congregating men and would, I suppose, advocate the finding work for
the man on the day of his discharge from prison. It is always easy to
theorize, discuss and argue when you are not in the midst of an urgent
need and obliged at once to face the subject and to decide by the
circumstances instead of by your own worked-out conclusions. Practical
experience is that which proves and alone can prove the wisdom or folly
of any step. We have found in our work that it is not possible or
practicable to find work for these men on the day of their discharge.
Many a one coming from State Prison is absolutely unfit to take his
place in the busy working world so soon after his prison experience.
On the other hand, is it wise to ask business men to take men whom we
have not tested and of whom we know nothing? Some men, indeed many are
in downright earnest, but a few may not be, and if one recommends a man
without knowing his capacity, suitability or sincerity, one is asking
of the employer that which few would care to undertake. If men thus
placed at work directly after their discharge fail through inability or
lack of nerve and strength, they become utterly discouraged and it is a
sore temptation to turn aside to an easier way of gaining a livelihood.
If on the other hand, they go wrong, the employer is prejudiced, and
the door is shut against others who might have made good use of the
chance. I believe this is one of the causes that has brought prison
work into disrepute and has made business men adverse to lending a
helping hand to men from prison.

That the gathering of men together for a time in a well conducted
happy home is not in any way detrimental, but exceedingly helpful, we
have had ample time to prove. If there is no home for these who are
homeless, where are they to go? Respectable boarding houses and hotels
would not willingly receive them and would be beyond their means.
They would have to go down to the common lodging houses where they
would immediately be liable to meet old companions and be faced again
with the temptation of spending their evenings on the street or in the
saloon. The rapid improvement physically, mentally and spiritually
of those who have come to Hope Hall has spoken more loudly than any
arguments or theories could have done. That many men come out of prison
in a terribly nervous, unmanned condition is incontestable. Far be it
from me, knowing of the improvements made during the last few years in
prison management, to cast any reflection on the care of our prisoners,
still, the fact is here and must be faced. If we were dealing with
horses and cattle, proper care in feeding, exercising, and in the
planning of hygienic surroundings would suffice to keep the subjects
well and would insure their good condition, for there one has only the
body to deal with. In the case of human beings, we must reckon with the
heart, brain and sensitive nervous system. Well fed, well clothed, well
housed and yet with the mind and heart crushed and sore and anxious,
at times almost insane with despair, a man may become a wreck however
well treated, and as years pass, he will lose the nerve and force he
so much needs for the efforts of the future. Even the most phlegmatic
of dispositions, coming out into a world after years of the strictly
ordered routine prison life, feels strangely cut adrift and utterly
bewildered in the rush of the world that has forged ahead in its racing
progress while he has been so long side-tracked. Fresh air, a good
sleeping place, friendly faces and cheering Christian influence with
elevating surroundings mean everything to a man in these early, anxious
days.

Thank God some have homes to go to, where a loving mother or a tender
wife stands between them and the gazing, critical world. There they can
regain self-control and can have a breathing space, before they face
the struggle which is almost sure to await them. But what of those who
have no home, no friends, no place to turn? Especially does this need
confront us in the case of the long time prisoner. Think of coming back
into life after fifteen or twenty years' imprisonment! After six weeks
in a hospital room, the streets seem to us a roaring torrent of danger.
One feels as if every car were bent on running one down and the very
pedestrians are possessed to one's imagination with a desire to collide
with one at every step. The weakened nerves are alarmed at the unusual
stir and noise; one's eyes are dazzled at the glare of light and one's
feet seem to move, not with one's own volition, but with some notion of
their own as to where they should stagger and it is a relief to creep
away into some quiet corner. Now picture the return of one who has been
banished behind high gates and kept in the close limits of cell and
prison workshop for twenty or thirty years. The "L" road, cable cars,
electric trolleys, sky scrapers and countless other wonders of the age
are absolutely new to him, and in the crowded streets, the throngs of
human beings pressing hither and thither are all strangers to this
man from the inside world. Added to this is the knowledge of his own
condition, and he is an easy prey to an abnormally developed fancy. He
imagines that every man who meets him can tell whence he has come. His
very nervousness and lack of confidence make him act suspiciously.

Then there are the sick. The fact that a man has been more or less
ailing for months is not a cause for detention in prison. When his
term expires, the authorities have no power to keep him and naturally
such a man would bitterly resent the lengthening of his term; and yet
he may be far too ill to undertake work and in just the condition when
kindness and care would mean everything to both present and future.

Surely it is needless to picture more causes for the step that we felt
led to take as the second phase of our work. The "boys" needed a home
and the need called for speedy action. The home was planned and opened
six months after the work in prison had started, and hundreds to-day
look back to it as a blessed haven of rest; a bright spot which has
been to many the first and only one in life. When we first started, the
plans were all talked over in prison. I took the men, not the public,
into my confidence. The idea was warmly welcomed and every item of news
about the project looked for with keenest interest. Our idea was to
have a place that would be a real home and not an institution. We did
not want a mission in the city with sleeping rooms attached; certainly
not a place placarded "Prisoners' Home," "Shelter for Ex-convicts,"
etc. Our friends were no longer prisoners, our guests were never to be
called ex-convicts. It was to be a home hidden away from the public,
and as much as possible patterned after that to which the mother would
welcome her boy were she living and able to do so. In Sing Sing Prison
we named our Home, and the name chosen was "Hope Hall." We felt that
that name would have no brand in it and we earnestly prayed that it
might prove the threshold of hope to those who passed through its doors
to the new life of the future. In the matter of furnishing, the same
idea of homelikeness and comfort without extravagance was carried out.
Pretty coloring and light cheeriness have always been aimed at as
affording the best contrast to the gloom and dreariness of the narrow
prison cell.

The house we first opened was a large frame building on Washington
Heights, that had once been a Club. After two years we moved into the
country on Long Island, that we might have a home of our own and more
ground to cultivate. We purchased a ten acre farm and by degrees have
enlarged and improved the house, reclaimed and cultivated the ground
and made a home which proves a veritable surprise to the many who have
looked forward to it for years, and yet even in their dreams have
not painted it as brightly as it deserved. If you give, give freely,
that the receiver may feel that you have done your best and then you
will appeal to his true heart gratitude. If your giving is with many
limitations the receiver will say, "Oh, I see they think anything is
good enough for me," and your intended blessing may lose all its value.
We have realized this fact and borne it in mind in all our work. As
our superintendent showed a newcomer around the Home on one occasion,
the man turned to him and with eyes filled with tears exclaimed, "Oh!
I ought to be good after this." The same thought has been seen in many
lives and we have wanted our Home to so truly fulfill its purpose that
it might form a veritable barrier between the men and their past.

Of course the undertaking was not an easy one. We had no capital behind
us, the Volunteer movement was then but a young organization and our
work in the prisons was at a stage where people looked at it as a
doubtful experiment. Money was gathered slowly and very uncertainly.
Some months, through our meetings we received very cheering returns;
during others, especially in the heat of summer we had to face grave
anxiety and often did not know where the next dollar was coming from.
On one such dark day, when bills were due and the funds exhausted, at
a meeting of my League in prison, I told the "boys" of the burden I
was bearing. Already we had so truly become sharers together of this
work that it seemed natural to lighten my heart by talking freely to
the "boys" and asking them to pray with me for the financial help we
so needed. Some weeks after this as I opened the pile of mail that lay
on my desk, I came to an envelope marked as coming from the warden's
office. Laying other letters aside I hastened to open it, thinking
it might be the news of some home-coming or other urgent business
connected with one of our many friends. There were only a few words on
the sheet of paper, but the enclosure proved to be a check for four
hundred and forty-seven dollars. This was the result of a collection
taken up by the men among themselves, in token of their appreciation
of and confidence in our work. This money represented a sacrifice the
outside world can hardly compute, for it was spared from the small sums
they had on deposit, which could furnish them with little comforts
or necessities during the long years of prison life. To say how much
comfort and strength my heart received from this thought and love so
practically expressed, would be impossible through the poor medium
of type and paper, but together with many subsequent signs, it made
it possible for me to realize how truly the "boys" were with us. To
have them in full accord with the work means more to me than would the
plaudits of the public or the patronage of the wealthy.

As years have passed, many dear friends have been raised up to help us
and they have done nobly. A large number have joined our Maintenance
League, paying a given sum monthly or yearly, and some very helpful
and generous donations have been received. Still the raising of the
funds is our one dark cloud and appears our hardest problem. For
five years past, this has forced me to spend much of my time on the
lecture platform, earning money to meet the growing needs of the work.
Fortunately through inheritance I am personally independent, so that
my husband and I take no salary for our services, but even giving as I
do all my earnings to the work, the fact remains that time thus spent
is taken from my direct purpose and is a great expenditure of effort
and strength sorely needed elsewhere.

When the Home was first started we laid down a few simple rules to
guard and govern it. It should be borne in mind that it is not a home
for criminals, it is a home for men who earnestly desire to do right.
They come there because they have done with the old life, and our
first condition is that those who come to Hope Hall must come direct
from State Prison. This is to guard our family of earnest men from
those who might come to Hope Hall as a last resort after spending
their money in the old haunts. We drew no narrow lines of eligibility.
The Catholic was to be as welcome as the Protestant, the Jew as the
infidel. It was not necessary for a man to have been a member of our
League, though of course we feel that the League can but prove a most
helpful preparation for the Home. Another strict rule that the men
have very deeply appreciated is the exclusion of the public. From the
first, we wished the sacredness of their home privacy to be respected.
All too long have these our friends been marked men, pointed out and
associated with their crimes and made to feel that they are the lawful
prey of the morbidly curious. The rule was therefore made that no one
who had not served at least one term in prison was to have admission to
the Home. Very few of our most intimate friends have ever been there
and they have been selected from among those who, having known the work
within prison walls, were somewhat acquainted with the men. We have no
public meetings at Hope Hall. The family prayers and Sunday services
are often attended by men who have returned for an hour or two's visit.
The testimonies given by such are most helpful and encouraging, but we
do not believe in inviting the outside world to hear these one-time
prisoners relate the history of their crimes.

Chancing to pick up a book the other day which dealt with the reaching
of "the submerged," I found the following account. A worker amid these
"under-world" scenes had smuggled in some wealthy and charitably
inclined people and while his poorer guests were eating, he enlightened
and entertained his rich acquaintances as follows: "This gentleman with
the bullet head very closely cropped, returned home only forty-eight
hours ago, after two years' absence for harboring mistaken notions
of the privileges of uninvited guests who make stealthy and forcible
entrance. This other gentleman with the foxy face and furtive eyes
has the distinction of being the cleverest jewel thief in London. As
with all children of genius his demon is at times too much for him.
Would Mrs. ---- therefore look to her gems and precious stones? That
slip of a girl in the back recently faced the law for pocket-picking
and in the dock picked the pocket of the guardian who stood beside
her, a pretty feat which gave rivals a thrill of envy. Yonder youth
with the well anointed head and the fore-lock curled over his eye
is the promising leader of a band of Hooligans. They could see the
belt buckle gleam at his waist; that buckle has knocked three men
senseless within ten days. The distinguished looking individual in the
corner with the large aggressive jowl wore the broad arrow for ten
years because of a sportive freak which an illiberal law construed
as manslaughter, and the man next to him likewise with a striking
countenance stood his trial on a capital charge and came off unscathed,
though moral certainty was dead against him." Now all this may be
very clever from the pen of a novelist and the speaking flippantly
of crime and criminals may be looked upon as literary license. The
book in all likelihood will never be read in the "under-world" where
feelings would be outraged by such a travesty on charity, but when one
comes to the reality, what could be more ghastly than the treating of
one's fellow-men as though they constituted some strange species to be
studied, exhibited and joked about. On the other hand the harm is quite
as grievous in allowing men to exploit in testimony before the public
the evil deeds of the past. Let them say all they like about the love
and mercy and power of the Christ, but let the evil, shameful past be
buried in the grave of the long ago.

Having been in the past for years connected with a movement that
encouraged the recital of such testimonies, I know of what I speak
when I say that they are harmful, and that talking of wrong-doing
is often the first step to feeling one can do it again. The shame
and humiliation that should be felt are soon lost to those who talk
much of what they have been, and a spirit of exaggeration and almost
boastfulness takes its place.

No reporters have been permitted to visit Hope Hall. I was assured that
the accounts I could thus secure of the work, would be most helpful and
would give our Movement wide public recognition, if I would consent
to waive this rule. On the other hand it would do incalculable harm
in prison, making the men feel that the work was done more or less
for the advertising of the Movement, and it would keep from us the
most self-respecting and earnest of the men. In this work the foremost
thought has been and must always be the "boys." We view questions
through their eyes, try to enter understandingly into their feelings
and in so doing the work must be kept on lines that hold their approval
and endorsement.

No discrimination as to crimes is made in the welcoming of our guests;
that is a matter of the past. Sin is sin, and we do not ask if it has
been little or big, when the sinner has repented. The number of terms
served, the nationality or the color of the man make to us no more
difference than their creed. All men who come straight from prison and
need Hope Hall are eligible. When they have come, they are expected to
behave as gentlemen. The rules are only such as would govern any well
regulated family and are made for the protection of the men against
those who might spoil the peace and comfort of the Home. We strongly
urge silence regarding the past and as far as possible the forgetting
of its sad memories. During the day all the men able to work are busy.
We have no industries such as mat or broom making, which we feared
would spoil the home aspect of the place, besides robbing the men of
their ambition to strike out in work for themselves. They are employed
in the work of the house; some are busy in the laundry, some at
painting, carpentering or building; others have the important position
of cooks; still there is also the garden, farming and care of horse and
cow to be remembered. The extension to our building with the twelve
new rooms was built entirely by the men. When there is no building or
farming to be done other occupations can easily be found.

In the evening they can gather in the music room to play games, of
which we have a good supply, or to listen to the phonograph or amuse
themselves with songs around the piano. We have already a rather nice
library and those who wish to read or write quietly in the parlors can
do so, while on summer nights the broad piazzas offer a quiet, cool
and inviting resting-place. There is no regulation as to the length
of stay of any man who comes to us. Some can obtain work much more
readily than others. The able bodied laborer and skilled mechanic have
the best chance; in spring time farm hands are in great demand, while
the man who has never done honest work in his life before or the one
who has been a bookkeeper or held some other position of trust are the
ones most disqualified for the next new start in life. Many are well
able and willing to work after a week or two weeks with us; others may
need months to strengthen and nerve them for their life struggle. I was
told by those who foretold disappointment that I should have to deal
with many men too lazy to work, who would come and stay at the Home as
long as we would support them. This has not been my experience. On the
contrary the difficulty has been to instill patience, so anxious are
they to launch out for themselves and prove their sincerity.

I remember the case of a man who came to us in the early days. He
had held a good paying position in the past before the yielding to
temptations which gave him his term in prison, but of course that
record was now against him. To work with pick and shovel, however
anxious he was to do so, would have broken him down in a few days, for
his health was wretched. During his stay with us his conduct was above
reproach and his work in charge of our dining-room was most systematic
and helpful. When he was graduated, it was to take the position of
dish washer in a restaurant, which he filled faithfully for over a
year. It meant long hours and small pay, yet he persevered and held the
position. From this he went to a better place in the country. There the
character given him helped him yet higher and now after six years he is
in a fine position and is receiving good wages. He is married and is
settled in a very comfortable little home. He feels that it was worth
the year of dish-washing to climb steadily to the position he now
holds.

Not long since a man came to us who was a gentleman by education and
training, a very bright and able fellow, whose fall had come by getting
embroiled in corrupt politics and by extravagant, intemperate living.
He thoroughly learned his lesson in prison, and showed the most earnest
desire to start right in the new life. As no suitable position opened,
his stay at the home had to be a long one, but each week saw a marked
improvement in his character. Finding that the officer was in need of
a man to take charge of the laundry, he volunteered and from early to
late was as faithful over the wash tub and ironing-board as if they had
been double entry or the balancing of office books. He graduated to a
humble position in a big New York house where we confidently expect
him to rise by his hard work and ability. Though his salary is as yet
small, he writes to us letters full of contentment and gratitude,
showing in every way that the new spirit has entered into him, proving
clearly that he realizes that life is a thing that must be made, not
merely spent.

To many the Home brings back sweet memories of a past long lost to
them, but perhaps those to whom it means the most, are those who have
never had much of a home to remember. It is to them a revelation, and
it is wonderful to watch the development in disposition and character
that takes place under the new experience. My secretary was driving
away from Hope Hall after one of the evening gatherings, and as the
carriage turned out of the driveway into the road, there was a pause
that she might look back at the brightly lighted windows gleaming
hospitably through the shade-trees which so prettily surround it. After
a long look the man who was driving turned and said, "Ah! you don't
know what this means to us 'boys'; the Little Mother does not, well as
she understands us. No one can know but an old-timer. I tell you when
you have never had a place in all your life to call home, it means
something to pass through these gates and say, 'This is _my_ home,' to
go into a room at night and feel, 'This is _my_ room,' to lie down on
a bed of which you can say, 'This is _my_ bed.'" Then, as they drove
on, he spoke of his past, and coming to the last imprisonment, which in
his case was, I believe, five or six years, he added: "When the Little
Mother came, I used to go into the chapel and listen with the other
'boys.' I liked to hear her talk, and I respected the men who joined
the League, but I did not think of joining or becoming a Christian. I
felt religion wasn't in my line. One day, however, she said, 'Boys,
I've got a home for you.' That is what first made me think. I said to
myself, 'Here is a woman who thinks enough of me to offer me a home,
something I never had before, and if she cares that much, it is time I
began to care a little myself.' So I began from that day to try and get
ready for my home. When the day of liberty came, the officer on my gang
said, 'I shall keep your job for you, for we expect you back before
three months are out.' And no wonder he said it, for I had never been
able to keep out that long before; but this time I knew it would be
different."

A fine tall fellow walked into my office years ago, and the greeting
that he would have spoken died on his trembling lips. He could only
hold my hand in his, and battle with the tears that unnerved him.
When he had taken his seat by my desk, and I had told him how glad I
was over his home-coming, he said, "Little Mother, I don't know what
I should do, were it not for Hope Hall to-day. I am so confused and
bewildered by the rush of the great city. So strange to outside life
I feel as helpless as a new-born child." Truly he was unnerved. The
trembling hand, the nervous start at every sound, the stammering tongue
all told the tale too painfully for any mistake. He was not naturally
a nervous, emotional man. There was nothing weak or cowardly about
him. I was told by companions who had known him that he was a most
desperate criminal; nothing thwarted him in his past deeds, even if he
had to force his point with the threatening muzzle of a revolver. He
was a man of education, could speak and write several languages, was
a thorough musician and had much talent and ability in other lines,
but he had misused his gifts and had become a notoriously successful
forger. Though for years an infidel he had proved himself an earnest
Christian as a member of our League and naturally he turned to us after
an experience of fifteen years within the walls. The prison from which
he came was one from which no part of the surrounding town can be seen.
The high walls and close confinement bury the men absolutely from the
world they have left. From years of service, he was turned out to face
life with but one dollar as capital with which to start in honest
living. In his case the warden supplemented the bill with five dollars
from his own pocket, which however the man lost in his confusion and
hurry at the station. I am glad to add that when I brought the matter
to the notice of the governor, and told him that our prisoners were
being sent forth into the world in that state, with absolutely no means
between them and starvation, he saw to it that better provision was
made for them; but even where five or ten dollars is given, it is a
very slender barrier between the one-time criminal and the temptations
of the old life. The money is soon spent for food, lodging and car fare
hither and thither, as they seek work, and what then can they do if
they do not find employment? In many stores and factories the men are
not paid until the end of the second week after obtaining employment,
and during those two weeks while working, they must have money for food
and lodging. The man of whom I have just spoken went to Hope Hall and
remained there until he was thoroughly able to cope with life. He has
since held a position of trust where he had the control of many men and
the oversight of responsible work. He won the confidence of all who
knew him in the town where he settled. They backed him in starting in
business for himself and he is now married and happily settled in life.
The prison experience is six years away in the shadow of the sad almost
forgotten past.

Not long since, the chaplain of Charlestown, Massachusetts, wrote me
of a man whom he very much wanted me to help. He said he believed the
authorities would give this man a chance in liberty, if there was some
one to vouch for him. He believed that the man was sincere and earnest
in his desire to do right. He further stated that the Board whose
duty it was to look into the cases of men who might be paroled had
expressed their willingness to turn him over to me, if I were disposed
to try him and give him a chance. Though only forty-six years of age,
this man had spent thirty-one years in prison, counting a juvenile
reformatory as the first place of incarceration. The last sentence was
for thirty years under the Habitual Criminal Act. We wrote at once
offering to take him to Hope Hall and the authorities gave him over to
us, thus saving him twelve weary years he would otherwise have had to
serve. He was unnerved and strangely restless when he first arrived.
The hammock in the sunshine seemed the best place to put him that first
day. In six weeks he was a new man, physically and mentally; he had
gained fifteen pounds in weight and when I came across him down on his
knees weeding the flower-beds, the face that looked up into mine was
brown with summer tan and bright with new hope and courage. It could
be truly said of this man that he had never had a chance. When his
mother died, he told the chaplain he wished he could weep. He wished
there was one thing in her life that could be a sweet memory, something
he could think of as done for his good, but there was not one bright
spot. Mother, father, sister and brother are buried in drunkards'
graves and the same curse so wrecked and ruined his life that in the
past he thought there was never to be any escape for him. How much
Hope Hall with its fresh air, quiet surroundings, good food and cheery
companionship mean to such a man only the men themselves can understand.

It is difficult in a work of this kind to chronicle its growth. To us
who have been in the midst of it, the development and improvement,
advance and victory are very evident, but it would need a carefully-kept
journal of many volumes to impart its history to others.

The old farmhouse on Long Island has been altered and enlarged. Old
walls and ceilings have been torn down to be replaced by new plaster
and paint. The new wing has given us a longer dining-room for our
increased family, new kitchens, laundry and storeroom, with overhead
a number of new bedrooms. The farm which was somewhat of a wilderness
has been put under cultivation; fruit trees, rose-bushes, vines and
shrubs added each spring and fall. Each addition means much to us, far
more than if we had had large capital to expend. This Home is not only
for the "boys" of New York State, but for all the Eastern prisons.
They come to us as readily from Charlestown and Trenton as from Sing
Sing. Even the prisons we have not visited send to us some, who through
the reading of the _Gazette_ have come to realize that they too are
welcome.

The Western Home in Chicago has meanwhile been doing a splendid work
for the "boys" from Joliet and the middle Western prisons. There we
have men mostly on parole; men who would have no chance of getting
their parole were it not that we are willing to be sponsors for them.
We find them work, keep in touch with them month by month, and report
to the prison, until we have the pleasure of handing them their final
discharge papers.

The third Hope Hall is in Iowa, and has been founded and given to the
"boys" of that state by our dear friend and co-laborer, Hon. L. S.
Coffin. Mr. Coffin was one of the pioneers of the state and a large
land owner. For a lifetime he has been earnest in temperance work and
has proved himself especially the friend of the railroad men. Sometime
since, his heart went out to the "boys" in prison. He met and talked
with me about the work and expressed his longing to see a Hope Hall
opened for them in his state. Being convinced of the wisdom and success
of the Hope Hall scheme he came to New York to study our Home. Going
back to Iowa he dedicated the choicest piece of his own farm to this
purpose and built upon it, at a cost of over ten thousand dollars, a
beautiful home.

I went on for the opening of Hope Hall number three and shall never
forget the scene. Judges, lawyers, ministers and farmers, the warden
and chaplain of State Prison and the members of the Prison Board of
Control were all present, and in their midst an old man of over eighty
whose face shone with joy, and whose voice trembled with emotion,
as he realized that the day for which he had worked so faithfully
single-handed had come at last. When our League work was started in
Iowa, we enrolled Father Coffin (as he is lovingly called) as a member
of the League, giving him its oversight for that state. When we think
of his energy and devotion at his advanced age; of the new and heavy
responsibilities he has shouldered in facing this great problem, we can
but feel that he sets a valiant example that others will follow some
day in the many other states where there is a similar need.

Statistics are not of very great interest, for they often fail to
convey anything like an idea of the work accomplished. They are of
course added to as months pass by, so that while the printers are at
work, they have materially changed. We can say briefly, however, that
of those who have come to our two Hope Halls (Hope Hall number three is
only just opened), seventy-five per cent. have done well; twenty per
cent. may be all right, and are often found to be so after we have
apparently lost track of them; five per cent. have perhaps returned to
prison. Over three thousand have passed through the two Homes. This of
course does not speak of the many hundreds who were once League members
and are to-day doing well all over the country, who did not need the
shelter and help of Hope Hall.

The real loving pride the "boys" feel for their home has been to me
very touching. Often when a man comes to say "good-bye" he can hardly
do so for the tears that make his voice unsteady, and the first letters
are full of homesick longing for the place that has so truly become
"home, sweet home."

For the graduates who are working within reach, it is possible to
run "home" for a visit on holidays, and then many happy reunions
take place. On the occasion of our seventh anniversary, over seventy
sat down to supper together. It had been a very bright sunny day and
the grounds represented a pretty picture. The teams composed of Home
"boys" and graduates were playing each other on the baseball ground;
little children whose fathers had been given back to them played in the
shade of the big trees; wives who had come to see the much talked of
starting place that had made all life different to their dear ones,
walked about the farm or listened to the music on the broad piazza and
from each glad face and each cheery voice came the same expression of
unutterable thankfulness for what God had accomplished.



VIII

THE SAME STORY FROM OTHER PENS


The idea of this book has been to show the subject as far as possible
from the standpoint of the cell. My life has become closely enough
linked with those in prison to see and feel, to know and understand the
problem from their view-point. I have tried to speak for them. Now I
will let them speak for themselves, that the touch may be closer and
more direct than it could be through the medium of my thought and pen.

The following letter was written to the editor of our _Volunteer
Gazette_ in the early days of the work, by one who had fought his
own way out of difficulty, but who knew well the hard path that his
one-time companions still had to tread.

"Dear Mr. Editor: I have been reading much lately in your paper, and
also in the daily papers about the 'Little Mother's' work in providing
a home for the fellow just out of prison. I am very glad indeed that
such a work is being carried forward, for if ever there existed a
class of men who need looking after it is the ex-prisoner. I recently
attended one of Mrs. Booth's meetings and was deeply impressed as she
made plain to her audience the great need of 'her boys.' It is very
probable that I was all the more interested in view of the fact that I,
many years ago, was sentenced to a term of eighteen months in the ----
Penitentiary and to-day, after the lapse of years, I very vividly
recall the utter friendlessness that was my lot at that time.

"The prison was one in which the prisoners were compelled to observe
the rule of silence; and my sentence carried with it also the
requirements of hard labor. No person can realize fully the meaning of
such a sentence except he pass through it. To sit at a work bench day
after day touching elbows with your fellows, not daring to say a word
becomes exquisite torture as the months pass slowly by.

"I understand that the Little Mother not only looks after the 'boys'
when they come out of prison, but takes to them a gospel of love and
light and peace. I do not want to disparage the work done by other
Christian workers. God bless them; they mean well, but some of them
fail to grasp the fact that what we wanted to hear were words of love
and sympathy.

"But what I want to bring out in this is the decided contrast between
coming out of prison years ago and coming out now.

"The majority of the men confined in that prison had no hope of being
met at the prison door by a friend or a relative when the day of their
discharge arrived, and I was one of that number. When my sentence had
expired, I was given a suit of clothes and a small sum of money, and
was told I was free. So I reentered the world. Free; but where could I
go? My first thought was to find employment. Need I tell you of that
weary search? I could furnish no recommendations. The prison pallor
showed all too plainly on my face. The shuffle of the lock-step still
clinging to me, with the instinctive folding of my arms when spoken to,
told plainer than words where I had last been employed.

"After many days I secured work only to be dismissed when my employer
was warned by a detective that he was employing an ex-convict.

"Then, at last discouraged, I joined that great army of men, known as
tramps, and for a time I wandered over the country, living an aimless,
hopeless life. That I am not now a tramp is due to my having been saved
by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

"So much for my experience as an ex-prisoner; but if reports be true,
and if the stories told me by former associates in crime are to be
believed, there has in the past four years been a very great change in
the attitude of the world towards the ex-prisoner. A new sentiment has
been formed and where, in my case, practically no hands were held out
to help; now the world stands ready to help the ex-prisoner, who really
desires to live an honest life once more.

"Years ago no door was open as a home for the ex-prisoner. To-day
Mrs. Booth's three Hope Halls are spoken of all over this country of
ours where the prison-weary men may find rest. Indeed I have met and
talked with several of the V. P. L. men and all spoke of 'Home' in
the most endearing terms. I am glad this is the condition of to-day.
The vast majority of men in prison really desire to live honest lives
again. But they need a champion who will help them in their new-made
resolution, one who will aid them, while in prison to be true to God
and themselves. One who will meet them at the prison gate upon their
discharge and take them home. One who will stand between them and the
frown and censure of a world which forgets that they have already been
fully punished for their misdeeds. One who will aid them in finding
honest employment and to whom they can always turn for help and
counsel. This has in the past been the problem the prisoners had to
solve. To-day it is no longer a problem.

"And yet it seems to me that the work Mrs. Booth has undertaken is
still in its infancy. There are still prisons that are unreached. The
serious, thinking world has recognized in this work the true solution
of this mighty problem, and is grandly rallying to its support.

"I believe the day is fast approaching when every state shall have its
Hope Hall and no man shall step out of state prison but that he shall
find in one of them a way of escape from the temptations of crime. God
hasten the day."

The next message comes from the pen of one who can truly be said to
have gone through the bitterness and darkness of prison experience.
In the old days, when prisons were hard, he suffered for days and
nights in the dungeon. He went through the days of shame and sorrow
to those of bitterness and cynicism and after his conversion, when
liberty became his, he knew what it was to take up the hardest, most
menial work and do it faithfully and patiently that he might regain
the confidence that the life of wrong-doing had lost him. To-day
these hands that have been unshackled are stretched out lovingly to
help others and he goes as a messenger to homes that are bereaved and
saddened, to bring practical help to the little ones of our "boys" in
prison.

Speaking to me of that cry in prison which he mentions so graphically,
he said, "But what is the use to write about it. The people will not
understand. What we have felt and been through in prison is a foreign
language to them."

Then he told me more in detail how he had often lain awake in the great
still gloomy building where over a thousand men are locked away in
their narrow little cells. Suddenly in the darkness and stillness of
night, an awful unearthly shriek will ring out through the galleries--a
cry that will make the strongest man tremble. Never in his life
elsewhere has he heard anything so heart-rending and blood-curdling.
He speaks of it as the cry of a soul awake in its anguish, though the
weary body may be in the torpor of sleep.

"If you ask me what the V. P. L. means I should say that it is an
inspiration to self-help with Christ as our anchor.

"The need, the crying necessity of this work can only be entirely
known to the man who has been made over by the grace of God through
the influence of this unique and wonderful work. The vaporings of
alleged scientists have been taken with all seriousness by some,
in derision by others, according to the ideas of the individuals,
who, placing themselves in the position of the unfortunates under
discussion, tried themselves and found a true bill or not according
to their faith in themselves. From the adverse reports it is needless
to say that these self-appointed censors of humanity had a very poor
opinion of themselves and had entirely omitted God Almighty from the
problem. The people of the world at large who were not scientific, put
down the man behind the bars as 'no good' and dismissed the subject
with indifference, so that the unfortunate found himself between the
scientist and the world very much in the position of the man who fell
among thieves, and who in a most desperate condition and sorely needing
help, has been passed by on the other side by the priest and the
Levite. They took a look at him, examined him and passed along. What
the Good Samaritan means only the subject of the rescue can know. It is
from that point of view I speak.

"The real punishment of the prisoner commences after the liberty he has
so longed for comes. The day he looked forward to arrives, he steps out
into the world a man, alone in the crowd, marked, branded, not entirely
alone for he has chained to him a corpse, his dead past. At the time
that success seems almost in his grasp his past arises, like an evil
spirit and drags him down in the mire again. So he drifts back to his
only home, the prison. The glamour of his life of crime, the follies of
youth, give way to cynicism, a feeling of kismet arises that excuses
his failures as being part of a fate that could not be evaded. Gladly
would the man escape the wretched past and the inevitable future.
Sometimes he tries, every time with less success. The past always
arises. Then his physical condition is gradually changed, in many cases
the habit of drugs, of opium especially has been acquired. It makes a
man forget--he needs to forget by now! Again so-called liberty comes.
Where can he go? A few dollars in his pocket, a cheap suit of clothes
on his back, every one seems to point the finger at him. The saloon is
always open, the woman with the painted face meets him, a few old chums
are there, and he is welcomed back to Hell. Perhaps he is successful,
turns a few good 'tricks,' puts his 'fall money' away (money to defend
him in case he is arrested and also to square himself with the police)
but sooner or later it is the old story,--back again to prison, a
matter of course by now--but he will be more careful next time.
Sometimes he thinks of the better days of long ago--it won't do, he
closes the door with a snap--he hates himself, he hates the world, and
if you were on the inside in the dead of night, you too would sometimes
hear that awful cry of the tortured soul--that involuntary wail that
makes even the night watch shrink--the soul crying against its murder
while the body sleeps. Underneath all is that yearning for a better
life. We get sometimes almost on the edge of the pit only to slip back
farther into the abyss than before.

"You, who have lived in the beautiful country of home and loved ones,
have never heard that awful cry and you never want to, for, if you did,
you could never forget it.

"The men that the V. P. L. appeals to more than any others are those
who are men of determined and positive natures, those who are no longer
novices in crime. Strange as it may appear, these men, if you know them
and have their confidence, will tell you that their life is a mistake,
but that there is no escape. They are chained to the work. If a strong
man can be faced about, he is just as potent for good as he once was
for evil. The only way to get good out of a 'given-up' man is by the
love of God, and it must be brought to him by his fellow-creatures as
messengers, but, when he asks for bread, don't give him a stone. Your
man behind the bars is suspicious. It is not a wonder that he is, when
he is approached on the subject of help. He naturally wonders where the
'graft' comes in.

"Now this is what the V. P. L. does. When the leaders and officers of
this glorious work step forward to speak to the 'boys' they know they
are not in the position of 'the hired man,' that there is no 'graft'
in it, that their lives are lives of sacrifice. They talk of the love
of God to the men and they prove it. If you want to impress the men
behind the bars, you _must_ prove it--make it real, also talk straight.
Don't tell them that they should not be in prison,--they know better;
don't get sentimental and weep over them, for they don't want that. The
Little Mother tells them 'I don't come here to prevent you from paying
the just penalty of your crimes; take your medicine like men. You know
what is right, do it _now_. When you have paid the penalty, I will help
you. I will nurse you back to health, I will get you work, above all,
I will trust you and it depends upon you whether I keep on doing so or
not. Mind, I will help you over rough places, but I won't carry you. If
any of you have little ones, wives or mothers, I will help them, and as
long as you are true and faithful, I will help you.' 'What then?' you
ask. Well the Little Mother makes good her promise, she does all this
and more. In extending her invitation to the country of the good Hope
she says, 'I want you all to come. I don't care what your religion is
or what your color is. All I ask is that you turn away from the old
life.'

"Starving wives and little children are fed and clothed. No man in
state prison ever applied for aid for his suffering loved ones in vain.
When you save a man's loved ones from a fate often worse than death, he
does not doubt your sincerity, when you give instead of take all the
time, he believes you.

"Then he comes out of prison broken down with the nervous strain--the
nights of anguish--his confidence in himself is gone. Nothing but
the old life of Hell in front of him, a branded man, but the doors
of Hope Halls are open! 'WELCOME' is on the door-step. Does he find
some ill-smelling building with whitewashed walls that remind him of
the place he has just left, abundance of advice and nothing to eat?
Not at all! He enters a beautiful Home such as any gentleman in the
land might be proud of, institutionalism is lacking--Home and loving
sympathy greet him, dainty rooms with whitest of sheets upon nattiest
of beds, an air of comfort and repose, beautiful grounds, kindness and
helpfulness on every hand. Hope has its resting-place here. On the
walls of one of the restful rooms in an illuminated text are these
words, 'Christ is the head of this House, the unseen listener to every
conversation.'

"The one who has saved the babies and the mothers is equally successful
with the man who comes Home. Every man is on honor. The farm and
household duties, the care of the beautiful grounds give enough
exercise to occupy the time though there is no particular task. Each
one is interested in his Home. After the day is over there is the
large library, music, games, etc. As the days go by, the man broken
down by long imprisonment improves in body and mind. The living in
God's sunshine helps body and soul. The terrible nervousness gives
place to confidence, the prison pallor goes gradually, the good that
has been sown brings forth fruit, the door is shut upon the past--tided
over at the critical point--our comrade, ruddy in health and strong
in spirit, is placed in a position. His past is known to one man--his
employer. How different from all past attempts! No one can throw him
down so long as he does well. The one who hires him will defend him and
the Little Mother is his friend, and his comrades cheer him on.

"The story I've told is the same one three thousand made-over men can
tell to-day. The V. P. L. has long since left the realms of theory for
the stronghold of facts. The finest sermon preached in a man's life,
the touchstone of our League is this, 'If a man is right, he will do
right.'"

I must not forget the life-men in prison. If it were only for them,
it would be well worth while to have our League established, that on
their horizon otherwise so dark and gloomy, might be seen some breaking
of the dawn that shall bring to them a brighter, sweeter life, when
the full penalty has been paid and they pass into a world where the
sweetest and fullest of liberty shall be theirs.

One of these life-men writes as follows:--"Dear Little Mother:--Nobody
knows better than I do myself what the League has done for me and the
men here. I have been in prison over twenty years, and know what I am
talking about. Without it prison would be much like what it was before.
I hope that with all the disappointments you are bound to meet with,
you will continue to believe that there are hundreds of men in our
great prisons who are in earnest. Most respectfully yours, No. 19595."

The following is written by one of our graduates who was for some years
a member of the V. P. L. He did not himself need the shelter of Hope
Hall, but he knew well what the Home was to those who were homeless. He
is now a successful business man, has a happy home of his own and is a
leader in the church to which he belongs, being the superintendent of
the Sunday-school and much interested in all the active work of that
little community.

"Dear Little Mother:--Word has reached me that you are completing a
book telling the glorious story of the Volunteer Prison League and
I am led to write you this expression of my joy that there is thus
to be given to the world, something of the truth which you so well
know of the real heart of the prisoner-man. Not only this, but after
the passage of more than three years since I left prison, I want to
bear this renewed testimony to you of the penetrating, permeating and
abiding power of our loved League, to give and to hold hope and faith
in the souls of disheartened, sinful, but contrite men.

"No good which has come to me in these prospering days of freedom, and
no gladness which still unlived years may have in store for me, can
ever dim in my grateful heart, the memory of what this League has done
for me, and what I have seen it do for others in leading us out of
despondency, imbuing us with courage, giving us strength to stand erect
and in guiding us back to Christ and to God.

"Only those who have been face to face with the conditions of prison
life, who know its revolting influences, who have daily breathed its
debasing atmosphere, who have felt its contaminating touch, to whom
has come the ever deepening sense of social degradation and of the
repellent stigma placed indelibly upon them by their prison term can
realize what the League means. They whose quickened consciences have
scourged them unto the wish and the will to retrieve the sinful past,
only to be hurled back into deeper disheartenment and desperation
by the popular prejudice which questions their ability and almost
denies them the rights to restoration, can fully appreciate the moral
uplifting and incentive which this League gives. No words can express
the tortures of the first awful days in prison. The isolation, the
remorse, the heart-hardening power of stern discipline which regulates
diet and toil, waking and sleeping and which sharply limits free-will
and free-act; the dread consciousness that you are henceforth to be
classed among social outcasts and forever mistrusted and distrusted are
all part of an unspeakable whole. The association with the multitude
of like conditioned men whose lengthened terms of confinement, and
whose repeated convictions perhaps have given them a fixed sense of
indifference to what happens to themselves and what they bring to pass
upon others, and from whose forbidding experience you learn the awful
truth of the fate which confronts you as a convicted man, and from
which they insist there is no sure escape, however sincere and earnest
the purpose and the striving, soon makes most prisoners hopeless, and
many of them heartless. Is it any wonder?

"Such was the atmosphere and such the invariable impression and effect
of prison life when I was justly condemned and confined. I found
men all about me longing for a fair new chance to live aright, but
impregnated with the doctrine that there was now no hope for them to
do so. There were men of all types and all classes of social condition.
Men serving their first term and others serving their second, third--or
fourth--who in the confidence and candor of our mutual misery and
degradation often told me (for we do communicate readily in prison, you
know) that their supreme desire was for a return to decent citizenship,
that they wanted to be 'straight' but that there was no chance for them
to be so for _no one would trust them_.

"I was amazed to find among the most 'hardened' of my fellow-prisoners
this controlling soul-thirst for confidence, for faith, and for trust.
There was practically no rebellion against physical features of
imprisonment and of prison discipline, there was no protest against the
severity of the material pains and penalties of our punishment, but we
yearned mightily for unselfish brotherly love and treasured to a degree
unknown to those to whom it has never been denied, such fractions
thereof as we received from each other. What was needed and all that
was needed to give us the true impetus, the sufficient incentive, the
conquering power to adjust ourselves anew and to set our lives in the
right way for future freedom, was some agency which by stimulating
unselfish love among ourselves and showing us that we were likewise
loved by Christly men and women outside the prison walls, should
inspire us to then and there have faith in God, to then and there have
faith in our fellow-men and to then and there live loyally to the truth
and the law.

"This agency came to us in the organization of this League in our
prisons. Adherence to its principles quickened us to newness of life,
gave us confidence in ourselves and others and taught us definitely
and unequivocally that it is that which is wrought within a man, and
not that which is wrought upon a man, that makes a man, and determines
what he is, irrespective of where he is. When he had learned that truth
we were all right. From that hour the fact of our conviction lost its
sovereign sway, our imprisonment was seen to be a new beginning and not
the final ending of our social careers and the future glowed brightly
for us with hopes sure to be realized if only we remained steadfast.

"And we are remaining steadfast, Little Mother, hundreds of us, and by
God's grace we will hold true to the end, and it is because this League
has so thoroughly imbedded its truths in our hearts and is thereby
daily shaping our lives, that so many of us are conquering in prison
and out of prison and that we so revere you and love it.

"The crowning factor in the work of the League beyond prison walls,
and the one feature which fulfills its promise of continuing love and
health until each discharged man is so conditioned that he needs such
help no longer, is Hope Hall. I did not have occasion to go there
except as a guest on Anniversary Day, but I tell you what I know of its
value to those who have no place else to go except the street, the den
and the dive.

"The average man in stripes, when he is freed of the law, has no spot
he can feel or know as his home. There is no available resting-place
where he can abide with cordial welcome and with provision made for
his every need during the weeks or months when he is regathering his
physical and mental powers, more or less shattered by his years in
confinement and sorrow, and until he finds the steady employment that
will give him the means of self-support.

"To such men this haven afforded by Hope Hall is a veritable salvation
for body and soul. Scores have shown me how their repeated convictions
were brought about by the fact that they were homeless and friendless,
except for evil associates, and in dire need after their former
imprisonment and they cursed conditions that made them convicts again
and again.

"I have seen these same men, awakened to the truth that Hope Hall was
theirs and for them and them alone, shed tears of appreciation as they
spoke of their finding shelter when they were again free and thus
avoiding the possibility of a return to evil ways. I have seen some of
these men, who later graduated from this home into useful lives, wholly
redeemed by its final service to them, without which the previous work
in their souls would have been wasted.

"There is no power quite so strong upon the human heart as that which
centres about one's home and it is because these otherwise homeless
men have come to look upon it and to call our Hope Hall their home and
who love it accordingly, that they there find the calm, the comforting
and the safety they require to make them wholly sound in body and soul
and they can afterwards go into other homes they themselves establish
strong to endure and overcome.

"God bless you and our League and make you both the means and the power
unto salvation of thousands more of the men among whom I am now forever
numbered, until the whole world shall recognize the regnant truth that
men in stripes are also the loved children of God, and are both subdued
and energized by the same Divine power which moves upon the souls of
other men and with like results."

The next opinion is from a talented and educated man, who has
thoughtfully and dispassionately written of what he has seen during the
past six years as an inmate of the prison where our League started.

"In making an estimate of the influence and value of the Volunteer
Prison League in prison, based upon favorable opportunities for
observation, I should say that its appeal at first was in its promise
of material aid, and its spiritual influences came after. When Mrs.
Booth came to Sing Sing, the men were unprepared for the ringing
message that she brought them and for her promises of substantial aid.
At first, they didn't believe it. It was too good to be true, and she
might have prayed and preached to them till Doomsday, without securing
anything more than passing attention, had she not coupled her plea for
spiritual reform with an offer of help of the most practical kind.
Their interest was aroused and when these offers took real form and
man after man went to Hope Hall, got help and employment, she gained
admission to their hearts and confidence and the field was ready for
the spiritual effort which has, I believe, been successfully made.

"These results are not altogether based upon gratitude, nor are they
merely emotional, but in many cases they are real and permanent. There
are scores of prisoners in Sing Sing who are making sincere efforts to
lead pure, Christian lives and who are supported in their aspirations
by the work of the League. These men are the most hopeful subjects of
permanent reform, but there are also many others who are moved by the
influences of the League, attracted by the decencies and respectability
that it offers and by its material support, who are also genuinely in
earnest and furnish many cases of the restoration of hitherto hopeless
men returning to society as useful members. The spiritual influence
is not so active with them, but they acknowledge that such influences
do exist and their attitude is respectful to them, whereas before
the establishment of the League they were contemptuous and scornful.
This is hopeful material to work upon, and from it Mrs. Booth will
undoubtedly gather a large number of complete converts.

"It is a fact that in the past the men were not only apathetic and
indifferent to religious teachings, but they entertained a positive
aversion to them. That is largely changed. It is still true with a
considerable number, but even with them the truculence has passed
away and the attitude of the whole community is at least respectful
and with a majority, appreciative of the League's work. I saw both
conditions during my six years' imprisonment and the change is marked
in a hundred ways. When the League button was first worn by a few men,
they were the subjects of open scorn by their fellow-prisoners. Now the
button is worn by a large majority of the prisoners with pride, and no
one of those who do not wear it ever thinks of making a slurring or
adverse comment upon them. At first, it was frequently said, in that
free spirit of criticism that prevails among prisoners, 'Oh, yes, Mrs.
Booth is in it for what it will bring, like the rest.' Now it would be
dangerous for a man to make such a remark openly. He would be called to
prompt account for his insulting speech. In fact, such things are not
said any more.

"The members of the League, on joining, make a promise to abstain from
obscene language and profanity. The effect of this principle in the
constitution of the League is perhaps more apparent than any other.
Oaths are less frequently heard and vile speech is far less common. It
has become bad form to swear, and clean conversation is supplanting the
ribald talk that prevailed among the men before the League's influence
manifested itself.

"The verdict of the prisoners upon the work of the League is unanimous
that it is the only real and practical scheme of help that has
ever been extended to them. There is no varying opinion about its
effectiveness. They recognize its value. It has opened the way for
hundreds of wretched men who turned from the contemplation of their
future with despair, but who now regard it with hope. The stories that
come back from Hope Hall, and from the many men who have secured
employment and who are leading clean and useful lives, have passed from
lip to lip, and every one gives new encouragement and supports new
resolutions of reform.

"Mrs. Booth's and Mrs. McAlpin's friendship has had another influence
upon the prisons, an indirect one it is true, but one of great
significance for the prisoner. It is useless to deny that the
discipline of prisons has been marked at times by cruelty and tyranny.
Such conditions are responding to a progressive spirit, and a factor
in that movement is the fact that these victims of the old abuses
are no longer friendless. They are able to make a complaint, and
they understand that their welfare will be guarded by those capable
of protecting it. The work on these lines is subjective but potent.
Similarly, the discipline has been helped by the organization. The
officials recognize that fact. Men are more biddable, officers, less
arrogant. The prisoner and keeper have become more considerate of each
other. There has been a vast change and improvement in every way. The
prisoner, having found a real incentive, is seeking to lift himself
up, and as he shows himself worthy of aid by those entrusted with the
control of his actions, they are encouraged to help him. How far these
good influences may extend, I am unable to say. It may be that they
will even reach a solution of the problems presented by crime, but if
they do not go so far, they are working with the cordial, grateful,
earnest coöperation of the prisoners themselves, without which all
efforts would be vain."



IX

LIFE STORIES


How strong and vivid an impression some pictures can make upon the
mind, photographed there in colors so striking or so appealing to the
soul, that all through life they come back to memory again and again as
clear and sharp in every detail as the day we first gazed upon them!
Perhaps it was the wondrous work of some master hand that stood out
for us as the one picture in a gallery of treasures. It may have been
a face that gazed at us from the shadowy corner of an old cathedral
through which the very thought and soul of the painter met our own,
and left with us the meaning that he strove to teach through form and
color. That which lives the longest may perchance be a crude picture
that hung on the nursery wall, weaving itself into our childish life,
and wearing for us a different aspect when we were good or naughty. The
firelight played mysteriously about it as we dozed off to sleep, and
then perhaps it took life and mingled with our childish dreams. If we
are lovers of nature, the brightest, most living pictures in memory's
gallery may have come to us amid the whisper of leaves and the play of
sunbeams. Some little glade where the shadows wavered on ferns and
moss, or the tiny streamlet whose pearly waters caught the sunbeams and
glittered like gems amid the lace work of the leaves. The photograph
was taken by the eye and brain long years ago, but we have seen the
picture again and again. When the earth has been hard and cold in the
icy grip of winter, as we have travelled over the thirsty desert, or
when counting the weary hours in the dark room where fever held us, it
has come back so clearly that we have almost heard the laughter of the
water and the rustle of the leaves. I wish instead of trying to paint
with words, I could use the pencil and brush of a master hand to show a
picture that made just such an impression on my mind, and that, if seen
by others, would bring to them without words the thought, the truth of
which no argument could gainsay.

It was a brilliant May morning, such a day as sets the birds singing
and drapes the apple-trees with masses of pink and white. The sky was
a vivid blue and great piles of cotton-wool cloud floated leisurely
across the distance as if to show up the tender reds and greens of
the foliage. The glory of the day without made the contrast greater
as I stepped within the walls of one of our oldest and gloomiest
state prisons. As the great iron door shut behind me, gone were the
sunshine, the breezes, the gladness and song of the spring, for sorrow
and sighs seemed to lurk in the dark corners. A few minutes later, I
found myself on the chapel platform, looking down on an audience garbed
in the dreary striped uniform that was in itself enough to add gloom to
the sombreness of prison walls and high barred windows. The room was so
built that not much of the brightness of out-of-doors penetrated it and
the contrast between the country through which I had passed, and this
sunless place was very striking. As the opening exercises proceeded,
I studied my audience. An audience means much to the speaker, and
especially is this true of one in State Prison. There were some whom I
had known for several years and the smile of recognition meant much to
them; others had come since my last visit, and I needed to know them
that I might learn to reach their hearts with the message. Of these
newcomers, some were mere boys whose heads were bowed in shame; others
showed a bitter and defiant front and appeared to be flinging out a
challenge to any who might dare approach the portal of their imprisoned
soul.

It was while engaged in this study of faces that I saw the picture of
which I would speak. In the roof of the chapel was a small sky-light,
and through it the sun sent down one bright clear shaft of yellow
glory. It shone on one man, making his face and figure stand out
distinctly amid the gloom that surrounded him. Looking at the face, I
saw at once that his was the type the criminologists would pick out as
a hardened offender. There was the stern jaw, the deep-set dark eyes,
on his face the lines that rough life had given and the prison pallor
that told of long years within the walls, made all the more noticeable
by the mass of black hair that fell low on his brow. There was much of
past suffering to be read in that face, but now utterly forgetful of
his surroundings, he had thrown his head back and was looking straight
up into the glory of the sunshine. The mouth that might have been stern
and cynical was smiling, and as I looked the dark eyes were softened
with a mist of tears, and then as they overflowed, the sunlight shone
and glistened upon them as they coursed their way down his face. These
were the words he was singing, and the whole expression of that face
told that they came not from the lips alone, but from a heart that knew
that of which it sang:

    "My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,
    For Thee all the follies of sin I resign,
    My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou,
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."

Could I have caught the spirit of the picture and shown that face in
the sunlight with the soul's door thrown open, with the convict garb
amid the setting of gloomy shadows, and had I had the power to make it
live on canvas I would have hung it where the passing world could read
its story. No need to write beneath it! Could they have seen it as I
saw it, they would have turned away to say, "So there _is_ hope for
the convict." Hope! Yes, indeed! That is what I am reading day by day
in the life experiences of our "boys" in prison. That is the message
that is being sent back in louder, more certain tones from the lives of
thousands who have stood the test of liberty. In a work like ours, the
happy, hopeful side is what gives us courage to face the hard, stern
difficulties that cannot be slighted or forgotten, but must from their
very urgency be faced and combated. It is the flesh and blood facts,
not the theories, that will prove to the world the redeemability of
those who have gone far astray, and it is this very evidence that I
wish to bring forward.

One hot summer day in 1896, shortly after the opening of our work in
prison, and before Hope Hall was in existence, a caller came to my
office who bore in face and manner the most unmistakable brand of
State Prison. My secretary was the first to greet him, but she almost
immediately came to my private office, and in her hands she carried
a sand bag, a revolver and a handful of cartridges. "He has come to
give you these," she said, and so I called him in at once to tell me
his story. He was a tall, stoop-shouldered fellow, whose whole figure
spoke of dejection and a broken spirit. His face had the distrustful,
hunted look that speaks of years of experience with every man's hand
against one. After I had welcomed him and tried to make him feel how
truly glad I was that he had turned to us in his extremity, I drew him
on to talk of himself. The feverishness of the hand, that had clasped
mine, the unnatural brightness of the sunken eyes, and the pain with
which his face was drawn made his tale all the more pathetic. When
our work was opened in Sing Sing, he had refused to leave his cell
to attend the service. He was an old-time prisoner, having been in
prison several times and he had reached the point where his heart
was hardened against everything. He had absolutely given up faith in
religion. Though he had never heard us speak, he received something
of the message from the other men. Sitting alone in his cell during
the last few weeks of his incarceration, he thought seriously over the
utter failure of his life. He was thoroughly tired of prison, there was
no doubt of that, but could there be any other life for him? Something
that I had said concerning my faith and hope for the "old-timer" came
as an encouragement in this hour of decision, and he finally determined
to have done with the crooked life and to give honest living one good,
fair trial.

On leaving prison he did not come to our Headquarters; he had never
met us and did not feel that he had any claim, so he faced his problem
alone and sought to find work for himself. Though a tall, large-boned
man, he was far from strong, for long terms in prison had told upon him
and the seeds of that wretched "prison consumption" that used to be so
prevalent in Sing Sing, had already found fertile soil in his lungs.
The first weeks represented weary hours of tramping back and forth
through the city asking for work, only to meet the same disappointment
everywhere. At last he found a job on Long Island at the work of
putting up telegraph poles. Wet weather came and he caught a violent
cold. The heavy work by day, with the fever and pain at night, told on
him in time and his courage failed. He saw that he could not work on at
that job much longer and if he broke down, what then? Well! he supposed
he must do something for a living, and there was one line of work at
which he knew he was an expert, so he turned back the good leaf and
gave up the struggle. He came to the city and purchased the implements
of an evil trade. The sand bag he made to be used in highway robbery
and the other weapon was to take his own life if he should be detected
in the crime. He was a desperate man, desperate with that desperation
that comes only to those who have tried to do right and found it a
failure. The whole outlook is infinitely darker for the defeated man
than for the one who is carelessly drifting. At nightfall, he went out
to watch for his prey, but unknown to him the angel of the Lord was
with him and he surely heard that voice behind him say, "This is the
way, walk ye in it," when he tried to turn to "the left hand or the
right." God's restraining influence he did not recognize, for he knew
and cared nothing for God. He told me that an unaccountable something
stopped him every time, and then some words that I had spoken in
prison, though he had only received them at second hand, rang in his
ears. I do not know what they were, but it was one of those instances
where the bread cast upon the waters comes back after many days to
bear its unexpected fruit, like the grains of rice that whirl in the
waters of the Nile and some day find a lodgment, and rear above the
muddy stream the harvest of future blessing. So the dreary long night
through, that fight between good and evil raged, and all the time the
weary feet tramped the city streets. When morning came, afraid of
himself, despairing and desperate, he turned to us and asked me to take
the weapons that only meant to him temptation. Hope Hall was not opened
then, but we were looking for a house and I told him of our plans,
assuring him of a hearty welcome when there should be a place for him
to come to. It was wonderful how cheering words and human sympathy
seemed to encourage him. Once more he began to hope for himself, and
a firmer, more determined expression chased away that of miserable
despair. After we received from him the promise that he would still
try and do right at any cost, we advised him to return to the work on
Long Island, telling him we would send for him at the earliest possible
moment. He took a copy of the little Day Book which he was to read with
us morning and evening as a reminder of his promise, and each day he
wrote just a line to say how things went with him. That somebody cared,
seemed to make all the difference in the world to this struggling soul.
He had refused to take any money from us as he had some of his earnings
left, and he was far too independent to wish to secure that kind of
aid. His letters showed a spirit of bravery despite difficulties, and
the greatest gratitude for the little we had been able to do for him.

Just as soon as Hope Hall was rented and the officer put in charge,
we telegraphed for this "boy," and he became the first inmate. He
turned to with a will at floor scrubbing, window cleaning and painting,
taking the liveliest interest in preparing the home for those who
would soon be free to claim it. As new "boys" came, he was ever ready
with a loving word of welcome. In a few weeks, he found Christ as his
Saviour and then the greatest change took place in the whole man. The
crushed, hunted, distrustful look vanished, the hopeless stoop left
his shoulders and with head held high, he had now courage to look the
world in the face, while the eyes were bright with joy that had before
expressed such pathetic despair. He took so much interest in the Home
that he was made Sergeant, and remained in that position until he left
us to take a place in open air work as a brakeman on the cable cars.
He worked faithfully and honorably at this occupation until his last
illness, which was sudden and short. He died in the home of Christian
friends whom he had met while at Hope Hall, and who gave him the loving
sympathy which he so needed in that last hour. His own mother had
refused to see him or own him, since his return from prison. She did
not even come to his deathbed, for when her heart at last relented, it
was too late; she could only sob over the coffin of the boy who had so
longed to see her and had been denied. "Is it true that ---- ---- went to
your place and became honest?" asked an officer of me in Sing Sing, and
when I told him the story of this changed life, he said, "Well, I would
never have thought it possible. He was a criminal through and through
and we certainly expected to see him back here to die."

I entered my office one morning to find a very worn and travel-stained
wanderer awaiting me. He was a tall, raw-boned man, with a face that
perhaps the criminologists would have liked to classify. The stern line
of jaw denoted fighting propensities; his eyes had the furtive, hunted
look of one accustomed to being suspected and across brow and cheek was
an ugly scar. A more dejected, hard looking fellow could not well have
been imagined and the worn-out shoes and dust covered clothing were
fully explained when he told me his story.

He had been a crook ever since he had been old enough to gain his
living and having had no home influence, but that which was evil, and
no teaching to lead him to the right path, the wrong one was very
faithfully followed to his own ruin. He had had several imprisonments
and when the League was started in Charlestown, he was in the last
year of his term. He did not make any religious profession, nor did
he connect himself with our organization, but he did gather a vague
inspiration for a better future. He determined that he would go out to
try and find honest work. This he sought to do before appealing to us,
having the mistaken idea that he had no claim upon us, because he had
not joined our League. He had never done honest work in his life, and
little did he realize how hard it would be to find it. But those first
days of unsuccessful effort opened his eyes to the difficult road he
must tread. With no trade, no character, no references, no friends,
and with the criminal past stamped on face and manner, how was he
ever to get the much needed first chance, and yet he did want to try
and be honest. His appearance was certainly against him, and when his
money was gone, the outlook was most discouraging. Just at this point
the policeman acted the part of fate and "ran him in," not because he
had committed any crime, but to prevent him from doing so. He looked
suspicious as he walked about seeking for work, and so naturally was
thought to be on mischief bent.

That night when the door of a cell clanged behind him and he looked
around on the narrow, confining walls, a deep realization of his
failure swept over him. "Prison, prison, is it always and forever to be
prison?" he groaned and throwing himself on his knees, for the first
time in his life he prayed. It was the desperate prayer of a man who
had come to the end of his own resources. He simply swore to God that
if He would help him out of this difficulty, he would give Him his
life and start right afterwards. How many have made like vows in the
dark, to forget them straightway when the sunshine is given unto them
again! The next day in court when he feared at least some months of
imprisonment because of his past record, some one unknown to him said a
good word in his behalf, and he was discharged. He left the court room
with but one thought and that was to make straight for Hope Hall. He
had no money and knew no one who could help him, but he felt that he
had but the one hope left. The man who has lived by his wits is not of
the beggar class; the thief and the criminal can show stern resolution
and suffer much privation in the new life, but they will not beg. This
man walked from Boston to New York, and when I had heard the story very
simply told in his own rough way, he turned and said with a pleading
pathos which no words could convey, "Now Little Mother, will you give
me a chance? Is there any hope for me?" There was no insincerity or
treachery in those dark eyes as he asked the question, but a beseeching
anxiety as if on the answer hung life or death. Very gladly did we bid
him welcome and he became a very happy and intensely appreciative
member of the Hope Hall family.

Never shall I forget his face as he said a few farewell words to his
comrades the night before his graduation from the Home. He was still
the angular, awkward fellow; there were still the stern jaw and the
disfiguring scar, but despite them, the face was wonderfully changed
and as he spoke with the deepest feeling of the new life that had
come to him, his countenance was so lit up with joy and peace that it
appeared transfigured. It was hard work he undertook, but he was a
proud man each morning, as he arose at four o'clock and started out
to gain an honest living with the certainty in his heart that he was
making a success of it. When the first pay day came, he called at my
office, coming in straight from work in toil-stained clothing, and
with his hands bearing the marks of toil which mean so much to us. I
was occupied at the time and my secretary demurred at disturbing me,
but he insisted he wanted only a moment. As I rose to greet him, he
clasped my fingers in his two strong hands and with tears filling his
eyes he said, "Little Mother, I just came to thank you. I can't tell
you what the Home has meant to me but I want my comrades to know I am
really grateful." And then he drew from his pocket a little roll of
bills and pressing it into my hand he said, "That is the first honest
money I ever earned. I want you to use it for the 'boys' who are now
where I was once." As I smoothed out the fifteen crumpled dollar bills,
their value to me was far beyond that inscribed upon them, for they
would have refuted the prognostications of those who told me of the
ingratitude which I should meet and the worthlessness of the treasure
for which I was seeking in the dark mines of state prison.

Within our prison walls there are naturally many men of foreign birth,
some of them very ignorant of our language, coming from the illiterate
classes even in their own land. In some cases they have drifted into
trouble, some from ignorance more than intentional criminality, while
many are of the helpless, shiftless classes who do well enough when
sternly governed but are very poor masters of their own life and
destiny. Herded together in the great slum sections of our large
cities, their surroundings on the outside prove a very hotbed of evil.
Friendless and unable to make themselves understood, many of them have
a very poor showing in the court-room and after their term expires,
go out into an unwelcoming world with no chance of escaping recurring
troubles in the future.

On one of my early visits to Clinton, the third prison in New York,
I was spending a long day in interviews. I believe there were over
seventy names on the list who had specially asked to see me. The warden
had very kindly placed his private office at my disposal, and he
himself introduced each newcomer, then leaving us alone that the man
might confide in me what he wished concerning his needs or those of his
loved ones. Hour after hour passed quickly and towards the end of the
day the warden introduced a very forlorn-looking man by a name which
was almost unpronounceable. It was his own name undoubtedly. No man
could have happened on such an alias. As I stepped forward to greet my
visitor, the warden passed out behind him but I caught a merry twinkle
in his eye that made me guess something was amusing him. My secretary
afterwards reported that when he reached the next room, he told her the
joke. He had introduced to me a Greek, whose English was as mysterious
as his own language and my interview was likely to be somewhat
one-sided. I certainly found it so. That my new friend was very forlorn
and unhappy was plain, that he needed sympathy and comfort was evident,
but the only words I could understand despite his most conscientious
and voluble efforts were these, "Me poor man, me no friends." Between
other remarks delivered with sighs and entreaties, those words always
remained the tenor of his thought. I assured him with word and gesture
I would gladly be his friend, but beyond that I could convey little
comfort, so I just sat and smiled on him, and fortunately a smile is
the same in all languages. When our interview came to an end and he
departed to his cell, I was inclined to believe it had been fruitless
and that I had given him no possible help.

On my next visit some months later, lo and behold! my Greek's name
appeared once more on the list. This time he impressed me again with
the sad news of his friendless condition but added, for he knew a
little more English, that he wanted to be good and managed to convey
to me the information that he was praying for God's help. That time we
prayed together to the One who understands the language of the heart
whatever words the tongue may utter, and after a few more smiles and
a number of efforts at coherent conversation, we parted. At my next
interview I saw a very marked change in my friend. His face had lost
its forlornness and he pointed very proudly to the little V. P. L.
button he wore on his striped suit. He assured me with many gestures he
was praying to God for help to be good and then he turned, perhaps by
habit, to the remark "Me no friends, me poor man," adding somewhat to
my dismay he was soon coming home. Mentally I said, "And what shall
we do when you come," but though I foresaw difficulties, I also felt
that it was to just such that Hope Hall could perhaps prove a veritable
haven of refuge. I assured him again that we were his friends and I
told him to come straight to me on his discharge.

Some months passed, our Greek learned still more of our language and
to him the long, looked-for day of liberty was very slow in coming,
while to us in our busy life of work, it was a surprise when one day we
entered our office to find him sitting there dressed in his new suit
and beaming with smiles. As I had had all the interviews with him in
prison and I foresaw this one would be somewhat lengthy, I turned him
over to my secretary after a few words of greeting and commenced my
morning mail opening. Sometime after she came in to report, and I saw
that her eyes were full of tears. The story certainly had its pathetic
side, though parts of it made our hearts beat quick with indignation.

He had been discharged from prison two days before, and had received
ninety-seven dollars which represented his earnings for over-time
(then allowed in this state) and the money he had deposited with the
warden on entering the prison. Realizing his deficiency in speech, he
had provided himself with plenty of matter to prove his connection
with the Volunteers. In one pocket was his Day Book more treasured
than comprehended; in another the latest _Volunteer Gazette_ and in
yet another his certificate of membership in the League, which made
a very formidable roll. Besides these possessions he proudly wore on
his new suit the little white button with its blue star and motto.
Arriving at the Grand Central Depot which was but fifteen minutes'
walk from my office in an absolutely straight line, he was faced by
the strange, bewildering rush of the great city, and realized in an
overwhelming manner his foreignness to all around him. He could not
ask his way of any member of that jostling crowd, and was not sure
enough of his powers of expression to venture on any hurried inquiry.
He therefore sought out a police officer, imagining that that official
was there to protect and advise bewildered strangers. Then he commenced
his explanations. Unrolling his V. P. L. certificate which had upon
it among other things a letter from my pen and a small photograph he
explained, pointing to the picture, "Me want go Mrs. Booth. Me belong
Mrs. Booth." The word, "Volunteers" upon the certificate was large
enough to be clearly read and my picture had been more frequently than
I had wished in the daily papers for over twelve years, but neither of
these things seemed to enlighten the officer of the law, for he only
shook his head and then, to get rid of the man, directed him to quite
another part of the city. Each time he realized himself astray he would
repeat his request to some officer and point to my picture, but none
seemed ever to have heard of me, or was it that it seemed sport to play
with this poor simple soul with the queer broken speech and prison-made
clothing? Any way when I heard the story I felt tempted to send my
picture to be placed in company with those of my "boys" in the Rogues'
Gallery, that it might be studied by the officers of the law so that
they might know where to direct those who so sorely needed my help and
protection.

When night at last closed in on the city, he found himself in a
down-town section where a policeman impressed upon him that it would
be too late to find me, and directed him to a low saloon above which
he might lodge for the night. Naturally, when he entered, he was
recognized at once as a simple foreigner and moreover as one newly from
prison. It is known that men from prison have some little money with
them, so he was at once offered drinks. Though he was in many things
ignorant he had gained one or two firm ideas as a League member and to
these he would adhere stubbornly. He promptly refused to drink saying
with a finger on the little white badge, "Me no drink. Me belong Mrs.
Booth!" Had he been able to express himself clearly, and had his poor
ignorant mind fully grasped the teachings of our League, the higher
motive and loyalty to the Great Captain of our salvation would have
been his strength, but what he was has to be remembered and to him
a human friend, meant hope and escape from despair and forlornness.
Finding that he would not drink at the bar they escorted him to the
room he was to share with three other men. They were drinking and
card playing, and there again he was offered drink and a cigar. He
reiterated the positive declaration which formed his few words of
explanation, "Me no drink! me no smoke. Me belong Mrs. Booth!" and I
fancy the denizens of the saloon were better informed than the police
as to what lay behind the words. Well for him he resisted that drink,
for had he taken it there was little chance of his waking to find his
money safe. Realizing the danger of robbery, he sat up all night that
he might not fall asleep. In the morning he had gained a little worldly
wisdom and, as he asked, slipped a silver piece in the policeman's
hands and lo! in a few minutes he was at our office door, for that
officer knew just where to find us. When we talked with him later
before sending him to Hope Hall, he handed all his money over to me to
bank and as he counted it out the bills were all ones, ones, ones,
whether fives, tens or twenties, and I had to explain their value.

Before sending a man to the Home, we generally inquire what his
occupation has been, if he has had any in the fields of labor, and also
what he did in prison, so as to be able to suggest the best department
of work for him at the Home, and to know what kind of place to secure
for him on graduation. When this question was put to our Greek, it
seemed to mystify him. We tried to make it as clear as possible and
at last as we repeated slowly, "What did you do in prison?" a light
of full comprehension broke over his face. "Oh! me wheel shoes," he
answered. I thought he meant "heeled" shoes but at that suggestion he
shook his head most decidedly. It was my turn to be mystified, for
I had never heard of "wheeling shoes" as a part of the shoemaking
industry. Further careful inquiry revealed the fact that his labor had
been the wheeling of the barrow, in which shoes were taken from the
workshop to the storehouse, probably the only duty for which they found
him well adapted. At Hope Hall we set him to weeding the garden and a
very happy inmate of the Home was our poor friendless Greek. When he
graduated, it was to start in business for himself at a bootblack stand
which we purchased for him with the money he had laid by. He has made
a success of his work and has for years occupied a very good corner
in the heart of the business portion of New York City. An ever-ready
smile greets the officer whom he knew in the Home when he chances to
pass that way, and he enjoys the cleaning of shoes much more than the
"wheeling" industry.

It is not hard to picture what the end of this story would have been,
had there been no V. P. L. and no Hope Hall. Coming a stranger to
New York, he might easily have been robbed that first night. When
men are robbed, especially ignorant foreigners, who do not know
how to appeal to the law, they generally resent it and show their
resentment by fighting. Men who are found fighting are arrested. On
his arrest he would have been detected as a newly returned prisoner,
and the witnesses against him could easily have proved his violent and
murderous attack. He would have been sent off again to prison with an
extra long term because his offense, committed so soon after release,
would have proved to some minds that he was an incorrigible criminal.
Once more in a prison cell with heart growing bitter and mind enraged,
he would have murmured, "Me poor man, me no friends."



X

WIVES AND MOTHERS


I had been presenting the cause of our "boys" in prison at a
drawing-room gathering in a company of the wealthy and fortunate,
whose lives were very remote from need, suffering and hunger. I passed
over the main branch of our work, to one that has grown out of it, and
told of the dark, sad shadow that has fallen on many homes, bringing
untold suffering to the helpless and innocent. After the meeting was
over, a lady made her way to my side and clasping my hand she said very
fervently, "I do thank you specially for one thought you have given me
this evening. I have seen the outside of state prisons and have always
regarded them as places full of evil-doers who justly deserve what they
are suffering, and there with me the whole question has ended. I never
for one moment realized that these men had wives and mothers and little
children. Of course, if I had stopped to think, I would have seen that
side of it, but I never gave the question a thought." I believe there
are very many who, if they confessed the truth, would have to admit
the same thing. This perhaps saddest side of the question hidden away
in aching hearts and shadowed homes does not flaunt itself in the
press, does not beg on our streets nor appeal to us through Christian
publications as do the needs that can be classified. Yet the need is
there and it is very real and urgent. If there are eighty-four thousand
men to-day in our prisons, think what a vast number of sorrowing hearts
must be bearing their suffering and shame in the outside world!

I think my work has become doubly dear and sacred to me since I
have realized that I could go to these "boys" as a messenger and
representative of their mothers. Very grateful have I been for the name
"Little Mother" which they have given me, for I feel that I go not to
impress my own personality upon them, but to revive in them the sacred
memories of the past and if possible, to help in bringing the answer
to the many mothers' prayers that for so long have seemed fruitless of
result.

I once received a letter from one of the men in which he said, "Little
Mother, as you talked to us on Sunday in the chapel it was not your
voice I heard, but it seemed to me my mother spoke again from the long
ago, and it was not your face I saw, but her face that came up before
me as I had seen it in the days of my childhood:" This thought has
meant a great deal to me and having come to feel how true this is of my
ministry to many of the prisoners, I have found I could take to them a
double message, first from their God and then from some loved one, the
very mention of whom aroused all their better nature and awakened purer
thoughts within their minds.

I always believed that mother-love was next to Divine love, the most
beautiful and unselfish of all affections, but the belief has been
intensified since I have learned to know the many sorrowing mothers
of our "boys" in prison, who despite all they have suffered; shame,
disappointment and wrong, have loved on and stood faithfully by their
erring ones. I believe such mothers are the great hope and very sheet
anchor to men who can never quite forget them, however far they may go
astray and disregard their prayers and wishes.

Just as we find within prison walls men of every class, so the homes
on which the blow has fallen are widely different, and the needs
represented are often in great contrast. One mother surrounded by
wealth in a home of ease and comfort may not need material help, but
craves that which comes from true heart sympathy. Another may, in her
old age, be left utterly destitute and have to face sickness and want,
yet with both, the boy in prison is the first thought, and any one who
can help him is welcome as their friend. No work especially organized
to help the mothers and families of men in prison and commencing with
them, could be successful. They are not to be found by inquiries from
tenement to tenement; they certainly would not be attracted by an
announcement over an office building proclaiming it as a bureau for
their special assistance. They have their pride and self-respect and
rather than go and seek help or pour out the story of their woes and
wrongs to strangers, they would hide away and bear their burden alone.

From the very commencement of our prison work I realized that it must
be a movement of natural growth, that each want as it was found must be
met by the method that developed to meet it. As the men grew to know
and trust us, they began to tell us of the dear ones at home. Many a
time a young man in prison under an alias would confide his real name,
and give us the duty of breaking gently to his dear ones the knowledge
of his whereabouts. With others there was the feeling that long silence
spoke of unforgiveness at home, and it was for us to try and bring
about a reconciliation. Very often the distress and suffering of his
family has caused a man worry almost to the point of madness and a
letter has been hurriedly written asking us to go post-haste and render
the needed help.

On the other hand, as the men became interested in the League and the
new experience deepened in their hearts, they wrote the good news to
their homes, sometimes away over the seas, and back from every part
of this country, and from very many distant lands came to us loving,
grateful letters from mothers who felt they could pour out to us the
heart-longings and anxiety that had been so long borne in solitude. The
tie of friendship and understanding is much stronger and draws hearts
together much more surely than that of charitable bounty. We can do far
more in every way for these women for the reason that we are introduced
to them by sons or husbands. My dear friend and helper, Mrs. McAlpin,
has especially taken this work on her heart, so far as the prisons
of this state are concerned, and through her talks with the men, she
has been enabled to put us in touch with numbers of families who in
this great city were in dire need of a helping hand. From the western
prisons the work comes to us mostly through the mail, and we find that
this new and unexpected field of usefulness has developed so rapidly
that we have had to appoint one worker to do nothing else but visit the
families thus referred to us. Before I write some of the stories of
those materially helped, I want to speak of the mothers who have been
cheered and comforted by good messages of their boys returning to the
right path within prison walls.

At the first meeting ever held in Sing Sing a little company of
men took their stand for the new life, and among them was a tall,
fine-looking young fellow whose deep emotion and evident sincerity very
much impressed me. He stood with his face sternly set, showing in its
pallor the effort that it cost him to rise before that great crowd of
fellow-prisoners, and yet, determination was written in every feature.
As I watched him, I saw the tears course their way down his cheeks. It
was such a striking and earnest face that the chaplain also especially
noticed him and found out his name for me. Shortly afterwards my mail
contained a letter which brought me into closer touch with him, and
then my interviews from time to time gave me his history link by link,
until I knew the whole. It is one that has undoubtedly a thousand
counterparts. He was the only black sheep of a bright, happy family,
the youngest son and his mother's darling. Associating with wild
companions, he went astray, saddening and bringing constant trouble
to his home. His mother and sisters clung to him, pleaded and wept in
vain. He went on in his wild course until he got into trouble in his
home state, from the consequence of which his people saved him. Then
he broke away entirely from home restraints and came east. By this
time drink had gained a strong hold on him and he mixed in his drinking
sprees with the roughest crowds. One night he was arrested in a saloon
with a gang that had committed a burglary, and soon after found himself
in state prison with a long term of years to serve. In that lonely cell
a picture hung over his cot that carried his mind away over the country
to the sunny Californian village where she, whose face smiled down upon
him, prayed still for her boy, knowing nothing of this last disgrace.
After enduring silence for some time, his longing for letters from home
compelled him to write, but he hid the fact of his imprisonment, giving
the prison number of the street as the place where he was working.
It happened however that a friend left their home village to visit
in New York state, and he was commissioned by the mother to see her
boy. Inquiring for the street and number in Sing Sing, he found the
prison, so that sad news winged its way to the distant home. Through
this trial the mother's love stood firm, and the most tender, helpful
letters came month after month to the little cell where time passed
all too drearily. When this boy took his stand for God and became
a Christian, he wrote the news home, and very shortly I received a
long, loving letter from his mother. She rejoiced in the change that
had come to her boy and then asked all about his prison life and
surroundings, begging me to watch over him and to be to him as far as
possible what she would be, if she were near enough to visit him. For
two years we corresponded, and I had much good news to tell her of the
boy's earnest, faithful life. Once we met and I shall never forget
that mother's face and words. I had been having a heavy programme of
engagements in San Francisco and was resting between the meetings.
The news came that two ladies wanted to speak to me, and I sent my
secretary to explain that I was very weary and had to rest. She came
back in a few moments to tell me their names, and at once I went to
them, realizing that it was the mother and sister of that "boy" in Sing
Sing. When I entered the room I found a truly beautiful young girl with
a sweet, refined face, and a dear old lady dressed in widow's weeds.
As she rose to greet me, the words died on her lips and she could only
sob, "Oh, you've seen my boy, my boy!" When she was calmer she told me
she had come forty miles that day to meet me. She had been ill in bed
and her daughters tried to dissuade her from the effort, but she said,
"I could not stay away; I think it would have killed me to miss this
chance of seeing one who had seen my boy." Then she began to talk of
him in the tender intimate way only a mother can talk. She asked me
many questions that were difficult to answer: just how he looked, what
they gave him to eat, what his cell was like, what work he had to do,
etc. When we parted, she put her hands on my shoulders and kissed me
saying, "Oh, you have lifted such a heavy, heavy burden from my heart,"
while the sister added, "There was an empty place in our home we never
expected to have filled again, but you have brought us the assurance
that our boy will soon be there with us again." As I turned back again
to my work, I said to myself, "It is all worth while, if only to bring
the grain of comfort to such loyal, loving hearts."

On his discharge from prison the "boy" came to us, waited at Hope Hall
until I could get his ticket, and then went back to the home from which
I received the brightest news of their happy reunion. During the late
war, he served under Dewey at Manila and I have a letter written just
before he entered into action, a letter full of earnest Christian joy
and courage.

Many a time, as I travel, I meet mothers whom I have not known through
correspondence, but who seek me out to tell the glad news of homes to
which a real change has come with the dear ones' restoration, with a
new purpose in life and the strength to fulfill it.

Here is a letter lately received from a village in Germany:--"Dear
Mrs. Booth:--Since a long time I had the intention to write to you and
to express you my deepest thank and veneration for the Christian love
and care you have for my poor son Hans, which is fallen so deep. You
may imagine what a relief it is for my heart to hear that in foreign
land is found a soul who take such interest at heart for my poor son,
to guide him again to Christian love. For me it is unfortunately quite
impossible to do anything for him, only I pray for him to the Lord, who
never wills the death of sinner and who alone can reform him truly. I
beg, dear Mrs. Booth, help him as much as you can for the Saviour. All
you have done and your exhortations have quite won his heart and he is
full of trust and confidence in you. You may believe with what grief
and sorrow I ever think of my son. He once got such a good education,
and was trained with care and love in a positive Christian home. May
God you assist in your blessed undertaking that Hans may turn over a
new leaf and be again a useful and smart fellow. I am so very sorry
that I can do nothing at all than lay all my cares and troubles in your
hand and assure you that I feel exceeding thankful. You will oblige me
very much if you will be so kind to give me once a little note upon my
son and please excuse my bad English. I hope you will understand it
but I have no exercise at all in writing. I hope this lines will come
to your hands and with kindest regards, I am, Yours truly."

As I lay down the letter, I have a vision of a dear soul with her
dictionary at her side laboriously putting these thoughts on paper and
I imagine the longing and yearning with which her mother heart goes out
over the seas to her boy in prison, beyond her reach, but not beyond
her love.

Often the letters have come written in German, French or Italian, but
in all the same story "watch over my boy, give me tidings of him." Once
or twice the letters have been from those in high social position, and
often the poorly written efforts of a very humble folk, but the message
is always the same. Love and forgiveness, yearning through the shame
and sorrow. Several times we have had the joy of sending the boy back
to his far away home, and getting good news from him when he is again
under the safest, strongest influences on earth.

Perhaps the most pathetic letter from over seas came to me from a
mother in Australia. I had had the duty of breaking to her the news of
her son's imprisonment, and afterwards forwarding his letters to her
each month and receiving hers for him. She was an earnest Christian and
though quite old and feeble, wrote him very long and loving letters
by every mail and prayed without ceasing that she might see his face
once more before she died. At last a letter reached me that told me
of a very dangerous seizure; the doctor had informed her that she had
perhaps but a few hours to live and at most could not last many days.
The writing was very shaky and in many places almost illegible, while
gaps here and there told where the pencil had dropped from the fingers
that were already growing cold in death. She had had to rest often to
gain strength to finish it. Her letter is too sacred for reproduction.
In it she poured out to me her anguish and heart's longing for her boy.
She told me his weak points, and begged me to stand by him. She asked
me to break the news of her death and to pass on her last message. The
last few lines were literally written in the anguish of death, and she
closed with the words "if you get no news by the next mail you can tell
my boy his mother is gone." The next mail brought a letter but it was
black edged and from another member of the family, telling me that she
had died with his name on her lips.

Such instances as this add much to the sacredness of our work and to
our intense desire for its lasting results where so much is often at
stake. I remember one young man in Sing Sing whose earnest efforts to
do right made him a very marked and successful member of our League.
He was among the first to enroll and when I talked with him personally
I found him very happy in his new found experience. He told me frankly
that his past had been a wretchedly unworthy one; and it was not his
first imprisonment. Drink had been the cause of his downfall every
time, as it is with most of the "boys," and he had over and over again
broken the law when under its influence. "But," he said, "that is not
my worst sin; what I feel most now, is the wrong I have done my poor
old mother. I have well nigh broken her heart, and over and over again
brought her sorrow and disgrace, but she has loved me through it all.
She won't believe I am half as bad as I really am." With tears and the
deepest emotion, he told me how he would with God's help make up to
her what she had suffered. Sometime later the mother called on me. She
came to tell me of her joy over her son's letters. He had told her that
at last her God had become his God and that her prayers were answered.
No pen could paint a word picture of that mother's face. Transfigured
with the divine love she felt for her wandering boy, as she told me of
all his good points and tried to make me see as she did how well worth
saving he was. Behind the love there were so many lines of pain and
anxiety, that coupled with her story, I could realize something of the
tragedy, but the tears that fell so thick and fast were of the quality
that would make them precious in heaven, and they surely would not
pass unremembered by the One who fully knows and understands all the
suffering of which the human heart is capable.

On a Good Friday, I saw him in prison for the last time. Very cheerily
he greeted me with the news of his approaching release and promised
he would come to our office the first hour of his arrival in New
York. On my engagement list I entered the initials of his name, that
when the day came, we might watch for his arrival. The morning hours
passed; we thought some slight delay had arisen. The afternoon went
by, still he did not come. Very reluctantly we closed our desks and
went home. The next day we waited and watched and still no news. I
suppose if I had had any "Job's comforters," on my little staff, they
would have suggested to me that the first saloon had proved too much
for him, and that our returning wanderer had most likely drowned all
his good resolves in the same stuff that had been his undoing in the
past. Fortunately we were all of us workers on the sunny side of the
street and evil shadows were not hunted up to cloud our confidence. We
felt sure all was well, and the mail four days later told the story.
He explained how sorry he was not to report at headquarters, but on
reaching New York his brother had met him with the news of the mother's
illness and he hurried at once to her side. The next day he had found
work and he added, "Now, Little Mother, I fear I shall not be able to
see you, for I must work every day for my mother's sake, for you know
what I have promised. I want to build up a home for her and make up for
the sorrow I have caused her in the past." Some days later the mother
came herself to tell me of her boy's home-coming, and the tears that
fell now were tears of joy. The most pathetic part of the story to me
was this; she said that, as the time grew near for his home-coming, the
old dread crept into her heart. She had so often watched for him, not
knowing in what condition he might return, or whether he would come at
all, that the habit of fear triumphed over her faith, and though his
letters had been so different and his promises seemed so earnest, her
heart misgave her. She said, "What do you think my boy did? The very
first thing he went to the telegraph office and sent me this message,
'Don't worry, mother, I am coming.'"--Ah, God grant that we may help to
flash that message to the hundreds of sorrowing mothers whose hearts
turn anxiously to those opening prison doors! Are not all the efforts,
all the toils, all the dollars expended well worth while to bring back
brightness and comfort to these hearts, that for so long have sat in
the gloom of the most tragic bereavement? As the months passed, good
news came to me of this happy family. The young man joined the church
in the village where his mother had long been a respected Christian.
He became attached to temperance work, and by his warnings many other
young men were induced to take the pledge. He and his brother went into
business; they prospered, and at last they fulfilled his ambition,
building with their own hands the home that they had promised to their
dear old mother.

These are stories of mothers; what of the wives and little children?
It seems hopeless to give any adequate idea of that sad side of the
picture. In many cases the imprisonment of the man means absolute want
and suffering to the innocent family. I remember a very strong letter
I received from one of the "boys," in which he said, "I cannot tell
you, Little Mother, how bitterly I reproach myself for the suffering
I have brought upon my wife and little children. My lot is easy to
theirs. They are the real sufferers for my wrong-doing. I have shelter
and clothing, with three meals a day provided by the state, while
they have to face want and perhaps absolute starvation. No words can
describe the anguish I suffer on their behalf." This is only too true.
The state takes away the mainstay of the family and for them there is
suffering worse than his to be faced. I do not blame the state; I am
not so irrational as to plead that for their sake he must be given his
liberty, but I do say that some hand must be stretched out to help
them, and that here is a great field where there is no fear of misspent
charity.

Many of these women have not been accustomed to work for a living,
and when left to their own resources they have no trade or any means
of livelihood, while such work as washing or scrubbing often proves
far too heavy for their strength. They are not the kind of women who
can beg. They dread making an appeal to public charity, because they
would have to tell of the husband's whereabouts and of his crime, and
in their loyal hearts they long to shield him, so alone they battle
on, trying to keep the wolf from the door and to hold the little
family together, until they almost drop with exhaustion or are driven
to desperation, when faced with temptations that are worse than death
itself.

I remember a letter I received one day from Sing Sing with a special
delivery stamp announcing its urgency. The man was at that time a
stranger to me, but he turned to us in this darkest moment of despair.
The letter was written as the gray light of dawn crept into his cell.
It told how all night long he had walked back and forth and how in his
anguish and helplessness, he felt as if his brain would give way. He
had a young wife and baby; she had had a hard unequal struggle, and
was not a woman of strong nature or any skill as a worker. At last he
received a letter in which she said she could stand the struggle no
longer. She was at the end of her resources; she and her child could
not starve. Anyway, an easy though evil way, was open and she was going
to take it. "For God's sake," he wrote, "go and find her and save her
from what would be worse than death." Before many hours were passed
we had her in our care. She was sent to a position and her little one
watched over and the good news flashed back to that anxious heart
behind the bars.

Another man who was serving five years in prison, wrote to us to say
that he had heard his wife and five children were in dire need. I
copy the report of the case as it stands on our books from the pen of
our representative who investigated and afterwards watched over the
family: "We took hold of this case about two years before expiration
of sentence. Eldest child, a girl, was eleven years of age; next a boy
of nine; all the rest were little ones. Baby was born three days after
father went to prison. Mother worked from five in the morning until
dark in the summer, picking peas and other such work for sixty cents a
day. I have waited until eight o'clock at night for her to come home.
Children were all locked out in the street for fear they would burn
the house down. They spent their time making mud-pies in a lot. The
neighbors used to help them sometimes, but they were poor themselves.
They reported that the children often came at night under their windows
and cried for bread when they were starving. When first found, they
were half naked and very hungry. When fed, which had to be done at once
with what could be purchased at a near-by store, they fell on the food
like little wild beasts, literally tearing it in their hunger." For two
years we helped them with clothing, food and in many ways. Then the
father came home, found work and has written us very grateful, happy
letters.

Here is another story: The husband was an almost prosperous man,
keeping a county hotel and having an interest in a factory. He was
murderously attacked by a man whom he afterwards shot, as he thought,
in self-defense. Had he shot the man on his own property, he would
have been guiltless in the eyes of the law, but as he shot him after
he had forced him from the gate, he was sentenced to five years'
imprisonment. For four years his wife fought bravely with starvation.
When we found her, the three children were down with scarlet fever;
they had previously had measles. The mother worked at the hardest kind
of labor for a living, and was herself sick, first with malaria and
then with hemorrhages of the lungs and was often found in a fainting
condition. We took this family on our list, and Mrs. McAlpin also
helped them generously. Had they not been tided over the hard places
during sickness, severe cold and in other emergencies, this family must
have gone under in the unequal struggle. On his return from prison, the
father found work and was enabled to provide them with a home. Now they
are comfortably off, and the mother with proper care is regaining her
health.

A German who had held splendid positions before his incarceration,
wrote us in great distress about his wife and children. She had with
indomitable courage maintained herself and the little ones, but at
the time of writing, he informed us, he had just received news that
the children were down with diphtheria and that she was quarantined
with them, which meant of course, that she was unable to work, hence
the necessary money for rent and food would not be forthcoming. We
sent at once to investigate, paid the rent and sent in a supply of
groceries, with some of the nourishing food which the sick children so
much needed. From that time we kept them under observation, until the
father's return made them independent.

Another letter sent from prison led us to hunt up a family where we
found the woman helpless with a new-born babe, and she had besides a
boy of seven and a girl of three and had just buried her eldest child,
a girl of nine years. They had gone behind in rent and as she was in no
condition to work, we sent her with her two little girls to our Home.
The boy was placed in a school where he is having a good education
and every care. We have watched over and provided for the family ever
since, and hope shortly to get the father paroled so that he may again
make a home for them.

I found the following report of a case on my desk the other day:
"Husband ... has five years' sentence only just commenced. Wife is
a young woman, has a boy four years of age and very shortly expects
another little one. She has lived with her newly-married sister, a mere
girl, whose husband is now out of work. Wife has been sick lately, and
is very delicate. Rent due and liable to be dispossessed any time. Has
had nothing to eat to-day. Borrowed a little coffee from a neighbor. We
gave her two dollars to meet immediate need. Woman was very grateful,
said that two dollars was just as if she had fifty, she was so glad
of it. This is a worthy case. The woman was clean and neat, though
both she and the child have practically no clothing. Clothes should
be furnished immediately from our storeroom. These are really brave
people."

Entering my office one day I found a very young girl waiting to see me.
She was clad in a cotton gown, though it was bitter winter weather.
She seemed to be numbed, not only with the cold, but with the awful
lethargy of despair. On her lap lay what looked like an old blanket,
but as she talked, the blanket fell back and disclosed the naked body
of a tiny babe not three weeks old. It was blue with cold and cried in
the weak, gasping way that speaks of starvation. "Yes, I suppose it is
hungry," said the child mother, "but so am I; I have had nothing to eat
for twenty-four hours." The father was in prison and her people had
turned her out because they could not be burdened with the unwelcome
little one.

Another young mother came to see me, but she was of quite another
type. Not the helpless apathetic girl, whom sorrow robs of feeling,
but a woman young, strong and beautiful, but maddened by despair. As
she pressed her tiny babe to her heart she said, "What am I to do? We
must live. I cannot see my baby starve and yet I can't get work, for
nobody wants me with a babe at my breast. It is a hard, hard path in
this great city for the woman who wants to keep good and do right,
but it seems, for the one who goes wrong and does evil, that there is
plenty of good food, fine clothes, warmth and shelter. I don't want to
do that, I can't sell my soul, so I was on my way to the river, which
seemed the best place for baby and me."

In just such cases as these the friend in the hour of need can save the
misstep and point out the better, safer way to the weary, stumbling
feet. We have two Children's Homes, to which not only children, but
mothers can be sent, to tide them over until strong enough to work and
get a little home together.

Here is another case of a woman who made a brave struggle to keep
herself and her three children alive. She worked early and late and for
a long while kept her home together. Sickness came and then starvation
stared her in the face. A delicate, refined woman, she could not beg;
she was finally discovered almost too late, seemingly sick unto death.
Carefully and tenderly she was nursed back to health. One child died
and was buried. Thank God, not in Potter's Field, but where the mother
could see where her darling lay. As she recovered from the delirium of
sickness, she asked of what the baby died. "Tell her that it was sick,"
the doctor said, "its little heart stopped, but never let her know
that her child starved to death." And she never did. The father is home
by now, and works hard every day. The door is shut upon the sad past.
They are happy children and thankful parents.

We try to keep a fund to meet the needs of these families; a little
help in meeting the rent, providing suitable clothing for the children
who attend school, money for medicine or nourishing foods when there is
sickness, may just tide them over and prevent great misery, without in
any sense robbing them of their self-respect or making them dependent
upon charity.

These stories give you only a glimpse of the wide field. They could be
multiplied by the score, aye by the hundred, but even then the much
that lies beneath and behind the work, must be seen and felt to be
understood.



XI

SANTA CLAUS RESURRECTED


Christmas is a sad season in prison, because it is, perhaps of all
days, the one when thoughts most surely circle around home and when
pictures of past happy days shine out in vivid contrast to the lonely
narrow cell with its bare walls and heavy barred door. But if it is a
sad day for the men within the walls it is equally so for many of the
families who have to abandon the thought of any Christmas cheer to
brighten their poverty.

Naturally fathers in prison, whose little ones are still intensely
dear to them, grieve much over their inability to do anything towards
the cheering and gladdening of the children's Christmas. We have for
several years now made our Christmas greeting to the families of our
"boys" a special feature of our work. We have a big book in which a
list of our families is carefully recorded, every child's sex and age,
and, as far as possible, size, can be found therein. Besides this we
send to the New York and New Jersey prisons some weeks before the
holidays, and ask all men who know that their dear ones are in poverty,
to send us the home address that we may visit them, and in this way
compile a very complete list of those who need help. Naturally this
has proved a great cheer to the men themselves, and in many instances
has touched hearts that were hardened against any religious influence.
Kindness breaks down barriers that preachment or argument would only
cause to close the tighter.

A man who had been quite indifferent as to himself and full of ridicule
and abuse towards members of our prison league, was talking to some
fellow-prisoners about the dire poverty of his family, distressing
news of which had just reached him through the mail. A League member
overhearing, said, "Why don't you write and tell the Little Mother?"
"Much notice she would take of it," he answered. "Why, I am not a
member of the League--she don't know me--I would get no answer to my
letter." The V. P. L. boy persisted and at last the other said, "Well
I'll test it, but I don't expect anything." Sometime afterwards he
received a very happy letter from his wife telling of the big parcel
of things received, food, clothing and toys for the children. He was
deeply touched, and acknowledging this to the boy who had advised him,
he added, "Look here--it's time I made a man of myself. I've neglected
my family and made them suffer, and here are strangers who think
enough of them to help them. It's time I did the same." He joined the
League and became a most earnest member, getting ready to be the kind
of man who could on his return make a happy home, where in the past he
had only brought sorrow and misery.

Our preparations for Christmas have to begin several weeks beforehand.
Our idea has never been to prepare a big banquet to which the hungry
are bidden for one good meal. Many of our families are out of town
or scattered from one end to the other of this long island, and even
could we gather them all together, we want our help to be more lasting.
The Christmas tree decked for the children is a treat always enjoyed
by little ones, but even that sends them back to a very gloomy home
that seems all the colder with its fireless stove and empty cupboard,
after the glitter and brightness of the festivity. Our idea is to make
the home, poor though it may be, the centre of rejoicing. By visiting
beforehand and by our close knowledge of the circumstances, we can tell
just the needs of each family and can prepare accordingly. Our plan is
to give to each child one good suit of clothing,--to provide a supply
of groceries, a turkey and money sufficient for fuel and vegetables.
Some needed article of clothing for the mother is added and then
toys and candies for the children. We could hardly send the mothers
instructions to hang up the stockings for us to fill, for sometimes the
nuts, candy and oranges, would drop through these much-worn articles,
and often there would be no stockings to hang up. We therefore buy
stockings wholesale and fill them at our office. Not only do we attach
its mate to each filled stocking, but we add another pair so that every
child may have a change. I could not speak of the need of the Christmas
season without speaking also of the way our friends have helped us to
meet it. The girls of Vassar and Smith Colleges have year after year
dressed dolls and collected toys for us. Many of the children in happy
homes have done likewise, as also in some of the private schools. Boxes
containing these gifts commence arriving in the weeks before Christmas
and each new supply is received with acclamation by the little staff
of workers who know the joy that it will bring to the hearts of our
Christmasless little ones. The chapter of "King's Daughters and Sons
of Hartford, Connecticut"--organized three years ago to help my work,
is especially generous in its Christmas effort. Barrels of clothing
and toys can always be relied on to come from that source, and so much
personal work and careful thought is expended on the gifts that they
seem doubly valuable.

We raise a Christmas fund by newspaper appeal and from our regular
donors, and then follow our shopping trips armed with a list of the
ages and sizes of my many boys and girls and babies. I descend on
the stores to amaze the salesgirls with the size of my family, which
proves a mystery until they find out who I am. Trousers for ninety or
a hundred boys, dresses for an equal number of little girls--sweaters
by the score and baby outfits by the dozen, are soon chosen, and our
storeroom at headquarters becomes almost like a department store. We
spend about a hundred dollars for shoes of various sizes and always lay
in a large supply of toboggan caps, which are a special delight to the
boys.

The work of packing is not easy, where the special garments and toys
must always be assigned to needs and ages. When the parcels for distant
families are ready, they are shipped by express, but all within reach
are given out personally. Our Hope Hall wagon goes from home to home
the whole day before Christmas.

The poverty revealed is pitiful in the extreme and the gratitude of
mothers who receive this Christmas cheer is pathetic in its intensity.
To many of the little ones it has been explained that no Santa Claus
can come to their home because father is away, so the surprise is all
the greater. One family we heard of through the letter of the eldest
child, a ten year old boy, in which he told us that their "Santa Claus
was dead." He had a baby brother thirteen months old, another aged
six years and three little sisters. The child added, "Mother goes out
working but she can't get us anything." You can imagine the joy that
the Christmas gifts caused, when we resurrected Santa Claus in that top
floor tenement.

Last Christmas, in all the homes visited, not one could boast of
fire or fuel. It would have been mockery to give out the turkeys and
chickens without also giving the wherewithal to cook them.

In one home just under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge was found
a mother and her three little girls. They had nothing to eat in the
cupboard and no fire to drive the damp chill from the two rooms they
called home. Everything however was neat and clean. The woman was found
weak from sickness and starvation. She had just buried a two days' old
baby. When the gifts were displayed, she was too overcome to speak
but her tears showed how strong was her feeling. The children were
wild with delight but when the eldest commenced to tell something, the
mother tried to hush her; urged to go on, she said--"This morning we
had just three cents left--we went out and got tea with it and made it
good and strong for we could have nothing to eat." This is the mother's
letter received a day or two afterwards--

"I am very thankful to you for your kindness to my children and myself.
It was a big surprise to us, as it is three weeks since we had a good
substantial meal. I have given birth to a girl baby and buried her a
day after she was born. I was laid up two weeks and not able to work,
nor could I provide the necessary things for her burial, but the
children of the neighborhood made up a collection for it. You can see
what a hard struggle I have had to fight. If you could possibly get me
some sewing to do, so as to make my rent, it would be a relief to my
heart."

One Christmas, when I was able to do the work of distribution
personally, I entered a home on the fifth floor of a big tenement.
There was a small living room and kitchen combined and a windowless
bedroom not much more than a cupboard in size. A mother and five
children lived there. There was no fire in the stove. The cupboard door
was off its hinges and it certainly was not needed, for there was not
even a loaf of bread in the house. The only occupant of the room when I
entered, was a little girl of about eight years. She sat at the table
with her doll. It had neither legs nor arms and, having lost its wig,
there was a terrible looking cavity in its head. She was trying to
cover its far from handsome body with a piece of red flannel. I was
glad to know that a beautifully dressed doll would be hers when the
Christmas parcels were opened. The mother when visited a year before
had said to us in her broken English, "No happy Christmas till he come
home," pointing to the picture on the wall of the father who was in
prison. Is it a wonder that her face looked hopeless, and the tears
fell fast when we asked her how long that day would be in coming, and
she had to answer "Twenty years."

Late one Christmas eve, when the work of distribution was nearly over,
the officer who had charge of that duty for the upper part of the city,
climbed up the many gloomy stairs of a great tenement and knocked at
the rear door. All was dark and quiet, but when the knock was repeated
she heard a child-voice answer, "Wait a minute, please." In a few
moments the door was opened, and in the light stood a lovely child.
She was about six years old and clad in her little white night-dress,
with the halo effect of her golden curls, she looked like an angel. The
child seemed surprised to see a visitor but with much natural courtesy
she asked her in, placed a chair for her, and then with an "excuse
me, please" she flitted into the inner room to slip on her dress and
shoes, explaining also that she must "see to the children." The bedroom
revealed two other little ones--a boy of about four and a baby of
some sixteen months whom the little girl tucked in again very tenderly
after dressing her brother, with the instruction "You must keep covered
up, baby dear." Then she returned to talk to the visitor. Mother, it
seemed, was out trying to collect some money which was owing her for
work. Did she know about Santa Claus? Oh! yes, she knew all about him,
only mother said he could not call at their house this year. A look
around, however, showed that he was much needed. There was neither food
nor fuel in the house, but it was scrupulously clean and the children's
clothing, which was very threadbare and much patched, showed that the
mother's loving fingers had done all that could be done to keep them
neat and clean. Waxing confidential on the subject of Santa Claus, the
little girl added, "Johnny and I have been listening and we thought
we heard him whistling down the chimney. Didn't we, Johnny?" Johnny,
round-eyed and wide awake by now assented, and then the interest of
both children was riveted on the visitor by her startling announcement
that Santa Claus' wagon was down below in the street. On being asked
if she would like a doll, if such a treasure could be found in the
wonderful wagon, her little face lighted up with joy and she cried
impetuously, "Oh, yes!" But immediately checking herself she added,
"No thank you, ma'am, I think I am too old, but baby would like it,
I am sure." Poor tiny mother with the care of the children on her
shoulders, she had already learned to sacrifice, and to realize how
short a childhood is the lot of the children of the poor. The scene
can be imagined better than described, when parcel after parcel was
piled up on the table and the children, joined even by the baby, danced
around in an expectancy of delight. It was a happy Christmas after all,
and the father in his prison cell, heard the echo of it afterwards. He
has been home now some time and the little family is prosperous once
more. They have now no fear that Santa Claus will only "whistle down
the chimney" in passing as he whirls by to the more fortunate ones to
leave them hungry, cold and forgotten.

Our representative who has for two years taken the greatest interest in
this work writes as follows:

"This is the size of the baby's shoes. The mother had put the baby's
foot on a piece of paper marking around it with a pencil and forwarded
it to Mrs. Booth with the above explanation. The baby got the shoes.
There is no way however in which we can mark the size of the hearts
that went out in pity and compassion to bring a happy Christmas into
the homes of hundreds of poor mothers and little children where the
man of the house was gone. Often the little ones had said, 'Oh! mamma,
where is papa?' The mother with aching heart and tearful eyes gave an
evasive answer, for the father was in prison. Whatever may have been
the guilt of the man behind the bars, there can be no doubt about the
misery and wretchedness of these poor creatures, bereft of the bread
winner. The struggle to keep the gaunt wolf--poverty--from the door was
greatly enhanced last winter by the scarcity of coal. In nearly all
the houses I visited in New York City the fire was out. In some coal
was only a memory--driftwood, broken boxes and cinders from ash heaps
having been used. Some children doing nothing but search from morning
till night for anything that could be made to burn.

"In one family the old grandfather, too old to work, keeps the house, a
boy of thirteen works in a Broadway store and he is the sole support of
the family. Another brother of seven forages for fuel all day, and the
little sister of five goes to school.

"On the upper east side, among other things we gave a little girl not
only a doll but a beautiful little trunk full of clothes that had been
sent with it. Her brother of ten received a sled and they both got new
clothes. These two children simply went mad with joy. Running into a
back room, they stood and screamed aloud to vent their feelings and
the good woman, a hard worker, said with tears in her eyes, 'My man
will be home this time next year.' For five years she had fought the
wolf alone. This woman walked the streets of New York (being evicted
the very day her husband was sentenced) all night long, with her two
little children clinging to her skirts. Finally she procured a room--a
wash tub and an old stove, and she and her little ones lay upon the
bare floor every night for six weeks with nothing to cover them but the
mother's skirts.

"Christmas was made happy for another woman and her two children. She
works in a box factory and in good times earns three dollars and a
half a week. The poor are kind to each other. This woman said after we
had given her her gifts, 'I wish you could do something for the woman
in the cellar. She is worse off than I am.' In the cellar we found a
forlorn starving creature with a baby and a boy of seven. The husband
was paralyzed in one arm. He made only one dollar the week before. We
attended to the immediate wants of this family and since then have
sent clothing, for the woman and children were practically naked. The
help she received was so unexpected that she walked up and down the
miserable foul cellar pressing her baby to her breast, and saying over
and over again like one in a dream, 'I never expected it.'

"We turn into a side street and stop at a house--one of the kind
Dickens liked to describe. No one lived on the ground floor--at least
all was dark, and the front door without a lock banged upon its hinges.
Rails upon the staircase were partly gone and the cold wind rushed
through the hall. At the top of the stairs is a smoky oil lamp with
broken chimney. We knock at the first door to the left and a young girl
timidly opens it. Two little children, five and seven respectively,
peer out suspiciously from behind their sister, who is in this case
mother of the house. She is eighteen years old, and when we explain our
mission, the door swings wide open, for food, coal, and clothing mean a
happy Christmas. The little ones set up an impromptu dance and the girl
stepping back, shades her eyes with her hands. She is crying but it is
because she is glad. Each of the little ones has a doll by now and one
has crept off to the corner and is talking to hers in mysterious doll
language. They do not worry any more about the visitor because they are
absorbed in their treasure. Finally we get them interested in sundry
little dresses that the man from the wagon below is bringing, with a
turkey and other good things, until the little mother of the house
hardly knows what to say but she says as we hand her a good sized bill,
'Oh! thank you sir.' I can never tell you all that the 'thank you,
sir!' expressed. So with a merry Christmas we left them all overwhelmed
with joy.

"Near the top of a tenement on the west side I find a mother and
two little girls and a tiny baby. No fire--two bare rooms cold and
cheerless. They all have scared faces. One can see they expect good
from no one. After a little, we gain the confidence of the poor mother.
We bring out dresses, stockings, warm undergarments, things to eat,
chickens, and besides that, we leave some substantial help to warm the
room. Then the mother begins to cry softly and the little girls are so
wild with delight that, smiling through her tears, the mother tries to
quiet them saying, 'children, have you gone mad?' As I turned away from
home after home they sent back the message, 'May God bless Mrs. Booth
and may she never be hungry,' and wished for me the same good blessing.
Never be hungry! that is the key-note, the best thing that these poor
souls can wish to the more fortunate, is that you may never be hungry.
What a story there is in that sentence."

When this message from the chilly cheerless homes was brought to me by
our officer, strong man as he was, the tears were in his eyes, and to
my heart the words opened up a whole vista of struggle and suffering.
"May you never be hungry!" We should never think of giving such a wish
to our friends. Why? Because we have never known the horror of the
struggle with that gaunt wolf at the door. With these poor mothers he
is an ever present nightmare. It takes all their strength, all their
time and thought, to hold him at bay. Should they lose their work or
be laid aside through sickness, he will force an entrance and some of
them have seen that dark day more than once, when his cruel fangs have
been at the throats of their best beloved and he has crushed the little
ones to the ground beneath him. To them, that wish embraces a condition
of rest and satisfaction, of comfort and safety, almost beyond their
imaginings. So to those who are kind to them they wish the best they
can think of. May they never be hungry! Never know the dread and
anguish, the weakness and struggle, of starvation.



XII

PRISON REFORM


All punishment should tend to reform. The thinking world of to-day
recognizes this and the tendency in our country is so thoroughly one
of advance, that to keep to the old systems of prison government would
be impossible. Even during the past seven years, I have seen great
changes within our prisons and I want to speak in the strongest terms
of the earnest, faithful, humane work, accomplished by many of our
wardens whose administration I have watched. Prison reform is work that
cannot be accomplished by outside agencies. It is the specific duty
of those placed in charge of these institutions, and they alone can
fully see and understand the needs of the great problem, for they are
closely and practically in touch with it. Outside workers can of course
help very materially in educating public opinion, and in influencing
legislation, but so far as the work of improvement in our prison system
is concerned, that must be accomplished by those who are studying it,
not as students of criminology, anthropology or in theory only, but as
students of the prisoner and his requirements.

Every year in this country there is a gathering of our prison wardens,
when questions of the deepest moment are discussed and opinions
exchanged. The papers read, ideas advanced, and interest manifested,
should prove to the onlooker that these men are not contented to run
in a prescribed groove, but that advanced ideas and radical changes
are being most strongly advocated. My personal experience has made me
admire the deep interest and earnest efforts of the wardens whom I
have come to know, but I have often wondered if the public understands
how much their work is often hindered and thwarted by politics. Many
expenditures that the warden sees are necessary for the improvement of
his prison, have to wait, despite his urgent plea, because it is well
nigh impossible to get sufficient appropriations in some of our states
for the prisons. Money spent by the state on the criminal population,
is looked upon by many as an extravagance. It would be found easier to
get half a million dollars for the beautifying of some state building,
than ten thousand for the improving of the sanitary condition of a
prison cell house. Yet in the long run the latter expenditure might
prove a tremendous saving to the state.

Then in every state throughout the country, the appointment not only
of our wardens but of all officers in minor positions in the prisons
should be taken out of politics. I have seen splendid, able men in
charge thrown out because of a political change in the state. They
had put their heart and soul into their work, and through years of
experience had made themselves familiar with the needs and difficulties
of their position. They were in the midst of much needed changes,
when they had to step out, and turn over the reins of government to
some new man, who however good, and able a citizen, was absolutely
new to the conditions in state prison, and would have to begin at the
beginning and learn it all over again. I believe that this in the past
has retarded much good work at prison reform. Then again in some of
our prisons the wardens have been terribly handicapped by the class of
men whom they have had under them as officers. In many instances these
men have been ignorant and utterly unsuitable for the handling of the
prisoners. Good work that the warden might accomplish has been thwarted
by them, and yet he has had his hands tied, having neither the power to
dismiss them, nor to choose and appoint others.

In some states these unfortunate circumstances have been corrected and
in one or two, political influence has no control in prison affairs.
The prison officer who is able and efficient and who advances the best
interests of the men should be retained and valued, and only the one
who proves unfit should be removed. It is the interest, the reform,
the health, the usefulness of the prisoners, that should have first
consideration. What right has a governor to sacrifice them to please a
party or a man who worked for his election. A thousand, two thousand
or perhaps three thousand helpless human beings, for whom the state is
responsible, are at stake. We cannot disregard this fact.

The appointment of chaplain has also been political in some states.
What a travesty on the sacred office! There can be but one standard by
which to choose the spiritual adviser of these souls in darkness. They
need the most spiritual, consecrated, self-sacrificing, hard-working
pastor who can be found, and any other would do more harm than good.
Above all, both chaplains and wardens must be men who believe in
the possibility of the reformation of those under their charge. The
prisoner is very quick to discern the pessimistic attitude of others.
No one can do satisfactory or effectual work who does not truly believe
that it will be successful, or at least that there will be something to
show for it.

Picking up an English book on the prisons of the old world I read the
following sentence, "The governor of Portland Convict Prison said
to me one day, I have only known two cases of real reformation in
thirty-five years." What a ghastly confession of unfitness for duty!
What are our prisons for, if not for reform? Is this vast expenditure
by the country for its police and detectives, its courts of justice,
its prisons and prison officials, to be thrown away so far as the vast
army of prisoners is concerned?

Most assuredly not in this age of civilization, and I am confident
no warden in this country would ever give voice to so self-accusing
a statement. If he did, however, he would have his fellow-wardens
to reckon with, and after them the great public would cry shame on
him, and I venture to say that the resignation of such a man would be
demanded at very short notice. There is a pitiable side to this for
the man himself. What has he to show for thirty-five years of service?
A prison well guarded, men kept in their hideous bondage without
dangerous mutiny, going like machines through the given routine of
hard labor, bodies clothed and fed with only the average death rate,
but no poor soul bettered or made more fit to live in freedom or face
death happily. That statement can be taken as the representation of the
old idea which was created with the old system, from which sprang the
abuses that were only to brand, intimidate and degrade the man, who
being beyond reform was to be kept in check by breaking his spirit,
and keeping him as far as possible in a position in which he could do
the least possible harm to the community.

Not so long ago many of the branding and degrading ideas were in
existence even in this country. I can remember the time when men were
hung up by their wrists for hours in torture for some infringement of
prison discipline. The lock-step was at one time to be found in all our
prisons, the short hair cut and the hideous stripes were universal. In
prison after prison now the lock-step is being abolished, and a manly
military march takes its place. Within the next few years it will in
all probability pass out forever.

In many prisons the stripes have been replaced by a neat gray or blue
uniform, and they are worn only by men who have been refractory or
attempted to escape. While we have the right to punish the wrong-doer,
and it is only justice to himself as well as to the community to do so,
we have no right to brand him. Anything that tends to mark a man or
that will send him out into the world incapacitated to take his place
among the free again, is a cruel wrong and should be abolished.

In speaking of their doubt and distrust of the man who has come from
prison, people have quoted to me the unfavorable impression that has
been made upon them by the manner, the bearing, the very speech of
recently discharged men with whom they have come into contact. They
have repeatedly said to me that the shuffling uncertain gait, the head
hung down, the shifty look in the eye, and the fact that he can hardly
give a straight clear statement of what he needs, have all gone to rob
him of confidence, and people have turned away merely to say, "I could
not think of employing such a one." Alas, in the past, that picture has
been only too true of many a long termed man in the first days after
his discharge from prison. But what has made him so? The world says a
guilty conscience, a shiftless unstable character; he merely shows what
he is, a criminal born! No! I answer he is a criminal, branded, and in
his poor crushed body and hopeless mind, he carries the cruel marks for
which God Almighty will demand justice in the great reckoning day. A
thoughtless world quick to condemn and damn the one who has fallen, a
brutal system that drove and lashed instead of helped and raised the
one in servitude, will be held responsible for the shattered minds and
ruined bodies that can be found amid the driftwood in the great under
world.

Do you know what the lock-step is and does? The shuffling column of
men is not allowed to step or march with a soldierly swing, but is so
near together that the arms of one man rest on the shoulder of the one
in front of him, and they walk with the feet interlocked, so that each
step must be a sliding shuffle. Let a man walk thus during the years
of his imprisonment, and there is not a detective or police officer,
who could not pick him out in the city throng, however well he might be
dressed. People complain of the shifty eye, the downward glance of the
man who they say betrays by it the fact that he cannot look the world
in the face. Are we not taught that habit is second nature, and what
is the habit in which these men have been drilled for years in some
of our prisons? They are forbidden to look up from their work in the
workshops should any one pass through the room. If any one meets them
in the prison corridor or in the yard they are to keep their eyes down,
or, worse still, to turn their faces to the wall. Take an innocent man
and drill him on pain of punishment by this rule, and on his discharge
he would unconsciously do the same thing whenever accosted, and hence
very probably give the impression of insincerity. Then what of speech?
Many men to whom I talk in prison or on the days subsequent to their
discharge, stutter and stammer helplessly, becoming sometimes painfully
embarrassed, as they try to explain themselves. What is that but the
result of long silence? I do not argue that it would be wise or
possible for these men to be allowed to talk freely in work shop or in
cell house, but I know prisons in which talking is permitted during
recreation in the yard, and I do believe that the outside world is
unfair in drawing conclusions from an affliction brought about by the
silence system.

All these things should be remembered when we stand in judgment on the
man returned from years of confinement. In this country all our prisons
save one, are on the congregate system and solitary confinement is only
used as a punishment. No one who has been closely and sympathetically
in touch with his fellow-men can fail to realize the unfortunate
influence of the solitary system. Human beings must become warped
and be disqualified for after life when they have been robbed of all
companionship. The man shut away with his own thoughts and those
often of the worst character, is doomed to a deteriorating influence
that spoils the brain, and often disqualifies the whole nature for
reinstatement in a rational after life.

Only the other day I heard from one of my "boys" of two ways in which
men have sought to save their reason when long in the dark cells for
punishment. They are I believe much practiced and well-known in prison.
One is to take a pin into the punishment cell with you--then you
divert the weary hours in that pitch darkness, by throwing it up in
the air and when it falls you hunt for it on hands and knees and thus
give yourself an occupation. But, alas, the officer may know of this,
hunt for the pin and take it from you, so perhaps the other practice
is more sure to keep the brain from madness. That is the spelling of
words backwards. I have at the present time in our Hope Hall a man who
can spell anything just as quickly in that fashion as in the ordinary
way, and when asked why he taught himself what seemed such a useless
accomplishment he answered, "I saved myself from insanity by it." Ah!
we who have freedom and light and happy companionship, know nothing of
the battle and struggle, the gloom and the shadow, that these men have
had to face and live through, and those who would help them and would
deal wisely with this problem must learn to so understand it that they
will be charitable and patient in their judgment.

The greatest blessing to the man in prison is work. I had the
opportunity of witnessing the cruel evils of enforced idleness, at the
time all work was taken from the men in the prisons of New York through
the labor agitation. A bill was passed for the purpose of protecting
the outside market from prison-made goods. It was passed and suddenly
put into effect, without giving the prison officials proper time to
prepare for the consequences. Three thousand five hundred men in state
prison were thus forced to sit idle in their narrow little cells day
after day. Some lost their reason! There were several attempts at
suicide, one man flinging himself from the sixth gallery of the Sing
Sing cell house to a certain death. The wardens, sympathizing deeply
with the men, did all in their power to help them, and felt keenly
the difficult position in which they were placed, and the inhuman
cruelty thus inflicted upon the men. Naturally the plea of the world
on the outside, is that the working man must be protected but the
state is equally responsible for these men in captivity, and it cannot
afford to say as some of the agitators for free-labor, brutally said
at that time "Well, let them go insane." Warden Sage of Sing Sing
told me to come as often as possible to the prison, as he appreciated
the opportunity of letting the men out for some hours in the chapel
for my meetings. At Dannemora they were allowed to go into the empty
workshops in charge of the guards that they might have a change from
their cells, and in each prison they were allowed exercise in the yard
once a day. It was a grave time of anxiety for the officers and of
distress to the men. The matter was at last adjusted by the provision
in the law allowing the prisoners to manufacture all goods needed by
state institutions, and in the large state of New York that is quite
sufficient to give the men all the work they can do. By degrees, many
new industries were introduced into the prisons, and the problem so
far as New York is concerned was satisfactorily solved. No sooner was
this plan made a success, than criticisms were heard from labor circles
again, and they would undoubtedly have taken this work also from their
more unfortunate brothers, if it were possible for them to change the
law. Their sentiments seem to be "let the convict go insane, what
does it matter to us. The State must look after him." This is a very
short-sighted view. It should not be forgotten that many of these men
belonged to the world of honest, free labor yesterday, and will belong
to it again to-morrow. If they are spoiled in physical strength and
brain capacity, the world will sustain a loss, to say nothing of their
claim as human beings to common justice and humane treatment. Ask any
warden to name the one thing which above all others would be productive
of evil habits, insubordination and mutiny in prison and he will answer
"idleness." The public should allow no legislation that interferes
with the proper occupation of all able-bodied men in prison. There
are objections that can be brought against the contract system, but
no change should be made where it is in vogue in a prison, until such
arrangements have been made as will enable the officers to introduce
the change without leaving an interval of idleness.

The system of using the money produced by the work of the men for their
own support is of course perfectly wise. Out of the money realized,
the state can always make enough to clothe and feed the men and in
many prisons after that, there is a large surplus. Great benefit could
be derived by using part of the man's earnings for the support of his
destitute family. It would be a comfort to the man himself if it were
made possible for him to earn money for them, and it would prevent the
innocent from suffering with the guilty. We are sufficiently in touch
with this side of the problem to realize how much suffering this would
alleviate and how many lives it would save. It does not seem right that
a man should be cut off from his obligations towards wife and children
and aged parents, because of his wrong-doing. Punishment should curtail
his own pleasure, should place him where he could learn his lesson, and
should save the community from his depredations, but it should not cast
an honest woman on the streets, leave little children naked and hungry,
and wreck the homes which have sheltered them. It may be argued that
this is one of the unfortunate circumstances that are beyond the power
of the state and cannot be avoided. I have talked with gentlemen in
authority over our penal institutions, who have felt that it was not
only possible but should be undertaken as a duty of the state, to make
the man support his family by his work in prison.

Good libraries and the night schools instituted in many of our
prisons are most important aids in reformatory influence. In some of
our prisons, very fine libraries are already in existence, and in
those where books are lacking and the state has not yet been able to
provide them, donors of libraries could find no more suitable fields
for their gifts. There are three hours every evening, and all day on
Sundays and holidays, when the men have time to read. To many, this
will represent the only good opportunity for study in a lifetime. The
hard working man in the tussle of life outside, comes home at night
too weary to wend his way to the library, and even were he not tired,
there are home duties to occupy his attention. But the man in prison
can turn to books to pass the weary hours, and in so doing widens
his point of view and educates himself. There is in every prison a
percentage who are uneducated, and also a foreign element unfamiliar
with our language. Many a man who writes to me regularly has told me
that all he knows of writing and reading has been learned in prison.
We know that ignorance and the lack of proper perceptions of the
duties and responsibilities of life, are among the things conducive
to crime, hence the educating of the ignorant during the years when
such education could be encouraged or even enforced, could not fail
of good results. To increase the facilities for teaching the men and
to establish day-schools also, to make it a part of the prison labor
for all the uneducated to learn at least the rudiments of education,
would prove excellent economy for the state in the long run, and an
inestimable benefit to the prisoners themselves.

I believe I speak not from my own experience only, which has been
limited to seven years, but from that of many of our oldest wardens,
when I raise my voice against long sentences and in favor of a parole
system. The long weary years in prison unnerve--unman, and often
break a man down physically and mentally and there is no compensating
good to be gained. The shame of detection--the disgrace of his trial
and sentence with the humiliation of the first weeks of imprisonment
constitute the man's greatest punishment. After that the months and
years are ground out one after the other, without producing any great
change except on the harmful and degenerating side of the question.
Wardens have often said to me in speaking of certain men, "All that
prison can do for that man is done. He is as safe to-day to go at large
as he ever will be," and yet in the cases spoken of there were long
years yet to be served. The state is not the gainer. The men lose much
as these precious years of life pass by. The families are suffering
on the outside, and the world at large is robbed of their energies,
which, if they have learned their lesson, should be well used in the
future. By a good parole system, men when reformed, could have a chance
to prove themselves worthy of full reinstatement in the world. Liberty
would be theirs before they had lost courage, strength and confidence,
and yet the state would have them under surveillance, and, if they
proved unworthy, they could be returned to prison. Undoubtedly the
knowledge that they were on probation would be a safeguard to many
men and would make them careful as to their actions. I very strongly
believe however that a parole system to be truly just, should be
extended to all men proving worthy, irrespective of the length of
sentence for which their crime would call under the old system. I would
not say that the man who had stolen a pocketbook could be paroled, and
the man who had committed burglary or forgery could not be eligible.
Every case must stand on its own merits, and the test should be whether
the man has shown signs of genuine reform. Many of the long term men
are far more worthy of parole and are far more worthy of trust, than
some whose deeds have called for a lighter sentence. Again the thought
comes up in this connection that it is the man we are dealing with, and
not the crime.

My work has sometimes been called "prison reform work." That is
erroneous. "Prisoner reforming" would be more correct. I believe the
wardens of this country are the right workers to advance the needed
reforms and the best able to do so, and it is the duty of the public to
stand by and help them, backing up the legislative measures that they
advocate as helpful to the men in prisons. This especially is urged
where they have proved themselves earnest and faithful workers on the
advance lines of thought in penology. I must not fail to speak of the
excellent work accomplished by Superintendent Cornelius V. Collins
in New York State, nor of the earnest men composing the Board of
Control in Iowa. More such men with the liberty and power to undertake
the interests of the "boys" will soon bring about a wiser and more
practicable system in our prisons.



XIII

DOES IT PAY?


In every enterprise that represents expenditure of money, time or
energy, the question naturally asked by the practical business man is,
"Does it pay?" The capitalist expects the output of the mine to bring
in some substantial return for the money sunk therein, and the quality
and quantity of the precious metal workable is of the greatest moment
to him.

It is natural that those who have helped with their means should ask
the same question of work undertaken for the seeking of God's gold in
the deep, dark mine of state prison. If those who have given money to
such an enterprise are anxious as to the result how much more must
those who have put time, life and strength into the cause desire to
see a paying return. Such a work as this cannot be undertaken by any
who would enter into it as a fad or give to it leisure hours. It must
be a serious life-work and its demands are great on time and thought,
strength and energy. Tears, and many trials through dark hours of
struggle and disappointment must be endured, while weary days of
unceasing toil must be put into the work by those who would succeed.
Naturally, year after year, those who have thus toiled have their day
of account balancing when they place what it costs into one side of the
balance, and into the other what they have to show for it in tangible,
practical, lasting result. Since one has but one life to live, to
those who look upon life as a precious talent to be accounted for, the
question must naturally be one of the most vital importance.

Very frankly was I told by prison officers, outside advisers, and
even by "the boys" themselves, that the result of our prison work
would be very small compared to its cost. If, however, we value the
victory by the hardness of the fight that won it, gems by the cost of
their purchase, the edleweiss with its snowy blossoms by the long and
dangerous climb up mountain crags to gather it, in this field its very
difficulties should make the results of greater worth and moment.

It would be obvious folly to claim that such a mission as this
is uniformly successful. To refuse to own that there are in it
disappointments and failures would be cowardice. In every work that
aims at the raising of fallen humanity there must be a certain measure
of apparent defeat. The weakness of human nature and the tendency of
those who have once gone astray to retrograde, if earnest watchfulness
is for a moment relaxed, make failure a very easy matter. Every
minister of Christ's Gospel knows of those for whom he has prayed,
toiled and struggled only to be rewarded by their return to the evil
thing that has proved too strong for them. Amid the twelve even the
Christ Himself had this experience. Avarice proved too strong for the
Judas who betrayed Him. Doubt made Thomas forget the teachings and
revelations of the Christ as the divine Messiah, cowardice made Peter
deny his Lord, and there were many who forsook Him when they should
have been steadfast.

If retrograding is found in every field of Christian work, this
prison field can certainly be no exception, especially when you take
into consideration the terribly heavy handicap these men have from
the enemies within and without who must be withstood and overcome
at every step. The ever-open door of the saloon, the fellow-workmen
or old companions anxious for them to drink the friendly glass,
disappointments in losing work, the sneer and slur of those who may
have learned of their past, combine to drag them back. Above all, the
old habits of evil doing and weakness, that have become interwoven
with every thought and act and plan of life are as a fetter upon their
progress. These things form a solid phalanx of foes.

I frankly confess we have had our disappointments, and over them
bitter tears have been shed and painful heartaches endured. Some men
have proved unworthy, some have proved weak, but they have been the
exceptions to the rule. Many thought we would have a majority that
would prove unworthy, and but a small minority to remain faithful,
but even had it been so, should we have a right to say that the work
was not worth while? We have however to record that the many have
proved worthy and faithful, and only the few have failed us. It is
always a lamented fact that it is just the few who do go wrong, who
arrive at public notice, while the multitude who do well are never
heard of through the public press, but are hidden away in the quiet,
commonplace, workaday world of those who tread the straight path of
honesty. I can unhesitatingly say that the results have already shown
such a return in homes made happy, lives redeemed and wrong-doers
changed into good law-abiding citizens that we, who have made the
largest investment, feel a thousandfold repaid. In my journeys
hither and thither all over the country, I am constantly seeing the
far-reaching results of the work, which, coming at unexpected times and
unlooked for places, are all the more welcome.

I had boarded a "sleeper" at one of our large terminal depots, and was
bestowing my baggage beneath the berth in an already-darkened car. A
man in the uniform of the road hurried by me, swinging his lantern.
After he had passed me, I looked up, and the light must have fallen on
my face, for he stopped with an exclamation, and looking quickly to
right and left to see if his words might be overheard, he turned to me,
and stretching out his hand, said, "Little Mother, I can't miss the
chance of speaking to you. You don't know me, but you will be glad to
hear that I am doing well, and have been living right ever since I left
the place where I met you last. I have been making a good record now
for nearly two years, and all is well."

I had changed cars in a western city on a somewhat gloomy day, and
while I was rechecking my baggage, a freight train pulled into the
depot. One of the crew sprang down, making his way to me with a smiling
face and an outstretched hand. "Why I thought it was you, Little
Mother," he said as he held my hand in his, blackened and hardened with
toil. "I am so glad to see you again, for I have only good news to
tell. I went straight home to my people when I left Joliet, and they
can testify to the change in me, and now I am leading a happy, steady
life, and have proved that it is possible to do so, despite the past. I
have worked nearly two years on this road now, and best of all, I am
keeping my promise to God and proving faithful to what I learned as a
League member."

Arriving at one of the big Chicago stations I stood undecided on the
crowded sidewalk as to which direction I should take. A voice hailed me
and I looked up to see a cabman waving his whip enthusiastically at me.
Thinking that after the manner of his tribe, he was seeking a fare, I
paid no attention. Leaving his cab, he hastened to me to greet me with
outstretched hand and smiling face. "Yes," said the officer at my side,
"he is one of your boys paroled from Joliet, and lately he has received
his full discharge."

I had been speaking in a crowded audience in one of the large churches
in the far west. At the close of my address quite a number of friends
came forward to speak to me. A gentleman grasped my hand and as I
looked into the handsome, intelligent face, I had a faint recollection
of having met him before, or was it only a resemblance to some one I
had known? As he greeted me, I caught the gleam of the little silver
pin worn by members of the Defenders' League, an organization of the
friends of the Volunteers. I said most cordially how glad I always was
to meet our Defenders, but his hand did not loosen its grasp, and he
was searching my face for a more personal recognition. "So you don't
know me," he said at last. "No," I said, "I must confess I do not.
Where have I met you before?" "It was in Charlestown, Little Mother,"
came the answer with that thrill of loving gratitude that has so often
warmed my heart in the voices of many of my "boys." Could it be? Yes,
truly it was a young man who had gone from our League in that Eastern
prison years before, and here he was, a prosperous successful business
man. "I have brought my mother with me," he said and my hand was laid
in that of a sweet-faced gentlewoman, in whose eyes a wealth of love
and pride shone through the moisture of tears. That was not all, for
he then told me he had been recently married and brought forward a
beautiful young girl whom he presented to me with the pride of a true
affection. She made the last of the happy trio who lived in the pretty
little home in the outskirts of that city, where flowers and birds and
almost perpetual sunshine make the shadows of prison bars seem very far
away. Those prison days to him are now but the nightmare of the dead
years which, through God's grace, will come again no more.

At that same gathering I had started to leave the platform when I found
my way barred by a little family group who had waited for me at the
steps,--father, mother and three little tots. In a few brief words he
told me he was one of my San Quentin "boys," home now over a year
and that all was well with him. Then he left the little wife to tell
the rest of it which she did most fervently, describing the earnest
hard-working life her husband was leading, and their now happy home,
while the tears that could not be kept back, told their own tale of how
much it all meant to her and the three little children they had brought
with them to see me.

Sometimes it is a motorman who smiles me a greeting as I board his car,
or a waiter in a restaurant who drops a word or two that have nothing
to do with the bill of fare. Once a cook in white cap and apron ran out
to greet me regardless of the crowd of passers-by. Wherever it may be,
there are always the glad smiles and the few earnest words that send me
on way saying, "It is all well worth while."

Some gentlemen in an office were discussing the possibility of the
reformation of prisoners, and questions were exchanged concerning
the stamp of men reached at Hope Hall and their sincerity. After the
conversation had been carried on for some little time one of the
gentlemen said, "Well, I am one of Mrs. Booth's 'boys.'"

A contractor came to seek men from our Home, whom he said he was
willing to employ. After he had talked about the character of work
and the style of man needed, it was found that he had himself some
time ago, graduated from Hope Hall, and now that he was successful and
prosperous, he returned to give the helping hand to others.

As I travel in my lecture trips all over the country, sometimes
speaking for four or five weeks every night in a different city, I
am brought constantly into touch with new audiences, and in almost
every audience, I find some one of my "boys" who, seeing my lecture
announced, has come there to greet me with the news of his well-doing.
It is all these pleasant surprises by the way that are helping to prove
to us how far-reaching and successful the work has already become.

I have written much of our "boys" but what of our "girls"? That
question has been asked me many a time, and in the first years of our
work I had nothing to report, as our efforts were confined to the men
in state prison. They of course present the greatest need. This is
evident for two reasons; first, they vastly outnumber the women, and
secondly, there are no places for them to turn to on their discharge,
while throughout the country there are many rescue homes for women,
where girls from state prison can be received. Our work is not in
operation in the reformatories, lesser penitentiaries or jails where
women are mostly confined. We have kept exclusively to state prison,
because the field is so large that time and strength and limited means
compel us to draw the line somewhere, and we naturally have chosen the
field where the need is the greatest. In many of the prisons we visit
there are no women, and where they are incarcerated, there are very
few. In New York state for instance, the number is about fifty women
to thirty-five hundred men; in New Jersey about twenty women to eight
hundred men; in California fifteen women to eighteen hundred men, and
so on. Where there are women, we have started our League among them
and recently we have had several come home, some being paroled to us
while others have turned to us for help when they have received their
discharge. Of course, they could not be received at Hope Hall, which
is a men's institution, but we have either sent them to the Volunteer
Rescue Home or found positions for them at once.

One woman came to us with a sweet little child in her arms, a
prison-born baby who had never before seen the outside world. It was
a sad story of a hard-working woman yielding to temptation, at a time
when woman through physical weakness should hardly be blamed for her
actions. The little child that came to share her sorrow was born in
jail before her trial, and together they were sent to state prison,
when the babe was two weeks old, on a five years' sentence. They were
forgotten and abandoned by the father and husband. After two years she
was paroled to us, but in that first return to the world with the babe
in her arms she was overwhelmed by bewilderment and despair. She had
no home. Her husband had deserted her. One little child had died of
grief when she was sent to prison, and two others were in institutions.
The first week she almost wished herself back in prison, for she felt
her bereaved condition so acutely. We found her a good position in a
Christian family, where she has proved a most faithful hard worker. The
little one boards with good people near enough for the mother to see
her constantly. This woman is receiving excellent wages, and saving
her money carefully, and she hopes some day to make a little home for
herself.

Another "girl" was a sweet-faced Jewish maiden. The prison authorities
hesitated about her parole because she had been very hard to manage in
prison, and had been constantly punished. This was probably due to a
highly-strung temperament, fighting against the confining high walls
and prison regulations. She came direct to us and then went to work in
a Jewish family. Every month she reported to us and her bright face
and the good news she brought always told a story of faithful effort
to do right. After she had received her final discharge papers, she
was married and now has a happy and comfortable little home, with a
kind husband well able to support her, as he is a good workman. She
runs into my little office constantly with all the news of her life,
and advises with me upon every question of importance. Her only sorrow
since she came home has been the loss of her first baby, a grief
which to her with her intensely affectionate nature, proved an almost
unbearable bereavement.

The next woman sent home had served eight years. She was a respectable
body who during an unhappy wifehood had suffered much with a drunken
husband, and on whom prison life had told severely. "Oh," she said
when we first talked together, "do get me a place with people who will
trust me. I will work hard and be faithful, only I do want a chance to
prove I am in earnest." I sent her to work for friends of mine whom I
knew to be earnest Christians, where I felt sure she would receive the
kind words and sympathy she needed more than the dollars that would
be paid her for her services. They have sent me the best kind of news
concerning her. She has proved herself most trustworthy, willing and
helpful. In her turn she cannot speak too warmly of her employers and
their kindness, and is perfectly contented and happy in her new life.

The next woman was a colored girl. She had served her sentence and it
was not her first either, for she had seen the inside of one of our
big western prisons before coming east. Born of respectable Christian
parents in a southern state, she had been led astray in the city of
Chicago, had gone very far down the wrong road and lived for some ten
years an evil life. They did not think at the prison that she would
come to me, but she did. By a delay of trains she reached the city at
4 A. M. and walked up and down the streets until our office opened. "I
tell you, Mrs. Booth," she said, "I'd not have come to you if I did
not really want to be good. I know where I could get money and where I
could find friends, but I am through with the old life. I do not want
to live like that any more. Get me a place. I am not afraid of work and
I will prove to you I am in earnest." She is in her place now, happy
and hard working and those who employ her, though they know the past,
never remind her of it nor have they been given any cause to think of
it themselves.

Our last girl to come home was a mere child when first imprisoned. The
crime was a terrible one, it is true, but is a woman quite responsible
in the first hours of shame-shadowed motherhood? When I heard of the
long imprisonment, I asked the question, "And what of the man?" Oh!
the hand of the law that caught the weak, unhappy woman, was powerless
to touch him, and she alone bore the weight of shame and punishment.
It was just a week before her discharge that she held my hand tight in
hers in the prison office and pleaded, "Little Mother, may I come to
you? I am worrying so about a place, and don't know what is best to do
in the future. I can work and I shall be so grateful for the chance if
you will trust me that you shall have no cause to be sorry you did so!"

Such an innocent face was hers, such a willing little worker the matron
said she had proved herself to be, and there were at home earnest,
respectable loved ones, longing to hear good news of her, so there
was indeed every cause to give her the chance she asked. We talk of
"by chance" when we might better say "by God's guidance." It was thus
unexpectedly that two days before our "girl's" discharge, I met a
friend who spoke of going away that week to a beautiful mountain home.
"Have you all the servants you need?" I asked. "All but one," she
answered. "I have that one for you," I said, and in a few brief words I
told her the pitiful story that was to be a secret, known only to the
employer. So our "girl" went straight to the very best place she could
have found, with a lady who is herself an earnest Christian worker.
Cheering words, busy occupation and beautiful surroundings will chase
away the memory of cruel wrong and dreary imprisonment. Here is a
letter from the one who employed her.

"My dear Mrs. Booth:--I should have written you before in regard to
your girl, but have been so busy since coming here that I have not
found time. I want to tell you I am delighted with her and she will
prove a most valuable girl. She is capable, willing and so cheerful
with it all. She works in such an intelligent manner that it is truly
remarkable. She plods right along and does not have to be followed up
after she is started at something. She certainly has had good training
in the 'big hotel' she talks about having worked in."

Here is the girl's side of the story.

"My dear Friend:--I received your kind letter last night and I hasten
to reply. I like my place very much. It is a delightful place! I wrote
to Mrs. ---- last week. She was so kind to me while I was in her care
that I feel it is a small thing for me to write her once in a while.
Mrs. Booth, I do wish you could come to this beautiful spot and rest
here, for I know what your labors are for us. I brought my Day Book
with me and read it and pray often for God's guidance and blessing.
Hoping you are well but not tired, I remain obediently yours," etc.

So as we again turn back to prison to seek yet others still within
those gloomy walls, our hearts whisper, "Yes, it does pay, it is all
worth while." And why should this work be any other than a great and
lasting success? Have we not the right to talk confidently about it,
and to glory in it, when we know and acknowledge the source of power,
and the cause of the far-reaching influence? The wire used to carry
the current from the dynamo has nothing to boast of, the pipes that
bring the water from the hills to the city, need not feel diffident
in the praise of the water supply or its life-giving results! So we
who are privileged to be God's messengers, who can sometimes prove the
connecting link between the human and divine, can glory in the blessed
results without a thought of self-intruding, for the work is not human
but Divine.

The one dark cloud on the otherwise bright horizon is that which has
across it written those burning words "financial responsibility." They
flash out ominously every time we long to do yet more along the line
of practical help for our "boys" and "girls," or for their dear loved
ones in poverty-stricken homes. Some day we trust some man of wealth
will take this special need upon his heart and so endow this enterprise
that our hands and hearts may be free for the work itself. Perhaps the
help that will lift the burden may come from the many, as they learn
how much their little share in the responsibility would count in the
lightening of our care; or dying, some one may leave behind him for
those in prison, a gift that will lay up a mighty treasure in the fair
country to which he has passed. I cannot tell whence this help will
come, but for it we pray earnestly and without ceasing for the need
is desperate, and the burden is all too heavy for those who carry it
on. Tremendous, too, is the responsibility for the lives and souls
represented by the work.

It may be well to state that "The Volunteers of America" is a properly
organized American movement being incorporated under the membership act
of New York. We have our duly elected and appointed treasurer and our
accounts are audited by a chartered accountant. We publish a yearly
balance sheet and, in addition, any responsible person who cares to
do so, can go through our books and satisfy himself as to the careful
system of bookkeeping. Every gift is receipted for, and monies are most
carefully expended. Mr. William J. Schieffelin of 5 E. 66th Street, New
York, will receive monies donated to the special prison fund.

The prison work forms but one branch of the movement under the
leadership of my dear husband Ballington Booth. It is working along
home-mission lines in many cities throughout the country, achieving
among the artisan classes, as well as the very poor, the most
commendable result. The local Volunteers in many cities can of course
help our prison branch by welcoming and cheering the men who would
naturally turn to them as friends and comrades on the regaining of
their liberty.

Looking out over the great field, notwithstanding the difficulties that
still confront us, there is one word that shines out supreme, "Hope!"
At first it was flashed to us from above because of our faith in the
Divine, now it flashes up from below, as we catch the gleam of the
grain of gold in the many human souls still in the shadow. So we can
go forward with hearts strong to endure, brave to suffer and warm to
sympathize, for we know beyond a doubt or fear, that in the last great
day of reckoning, we shall find that the toil has paid in that coin
which is current in the world beyond.


       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:


What appeared to be clear typographical errors were corrected; any
other mistakes or inconsistencies were retained.

All quotation marks have been retained as they appear in the original
publication.

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.

The Table of Contents erroneously indicated that Chapter XII starts on
page 255, this was corrected.





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