A Girl’s Face In The Gaslight And An Important Part Of The World’s Work by Arthur Brisbane

Story type: Essay

On a corner of Rector street, down near the river, a loud drum was beating. A guitar and a tambourine competed shrilly with the drum’s dull booming. Slowly a careless crowd gathered round the Salvation Army workers.

There were bare-headed women, little girls holding little babies in their arms, sailors drunk, and one or two sober, ‘longshoremen pleased with the sound of the drum, and a few of the thin, hungry faces that disturb our well-fed happiness.

The man beat his drum, standing erect and proud in his army uniform.

The two thin, nervous young women played on guitar and tambourine with all their force, striving to gather the crowd whom they hoped to make better men and women.

Thirty or forty people gathered–glad to accept any noise and excitement in their dull lives.

The music stopped, and a young girl stepped to the centre of the circle.

She was frightened. Her voice was weak at first. Gradually her thin, pale face grew animated.

Her blue eyes dilated. In dull, routine way, doing her best, earning respectful silence from the night crowd, she told her story:

“I was bad. I tried to be good. But I couldn’t do it with my own strength. I asked God to save me. He did save me. He will save you, if you will ask Him.”

She spoke with a strong German accent. With all her deep, earnest soul, with all her poor, limited mental force, she longed to help the men and women around. As she spoke she bent her head farther and farther back, until her eyes looked up to the sky. There, with perfect faith, she saw the God whose work she was humbly doing in the muddy streets and flickering gaslight of the riverside.

See also  Literary Anecdotes by Isaac Disraeli

While she could control her voice and her deep emotion she talked on her one theme–the power of God to help the helpless. But she BELIEVED, and she FELT what she said. Soon the tears ran over from her upturned eyes, and she could speak no more.

Then a man began–thickset, earnest, with a strong Scotch accent.

He talked to the men about him in a rough way that appealed to them. —-

As the crowd stood listening many passed. A few were contemptuous; the majority were indifferent.

If you see these workers you ask perhaps:

“What good do they do?”

That is the question that may be asked of every man that ever lived, and only One can answer it.

The thin, white-faced girl, playing, singing and PREACHING in the dirty street, does this:

She touches the heart of a half-drunken man. Turning from the saloon door he goes home, and takes to his wife and children as much of his wages as is left, a feeling of repentance, good resolutions.

Her tears are answered by the tears of miserable girls and women who sink back into the shadow as they watch her pure face. Through them she helps to undo the horrible, soul-destroying work of brutal civilization. —-

Mysteriously, diversely, the work of the world is done.

The storm, endless in its power, washes down the mountain-tops to fertilize the valley.

The tiny earthworm works in darkness, crumbling up its little patch of earth to make it fit food for plants.

Each does its work.

See also  The Rockies by Rupert Brooke

The mighty intellect with cyclonic force gives to mankind grand, general views of cosmic grandeur, and introduces to minds prepared the “eternal silences,” and the vast serene fields of divine law.

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *