Up the river to Go-ko-khi! That was always a joy, and whenever Mackay could take a day from his many duties, with A Hoa and one or more other students, he would go up and visit old Thah-so and the kindly people of this little village.
One day, after they had preached in the empty granary and the rain had come in, Mr. Tan, the headman, walked up the village street with them, and he made them an offer. They might have the plot of ground opposite his house for a chapel-site. This was grand news. A chapel in north Formosa! Mackay could hardly believe it, but it seemed that there really was to be one. There were many Christians in Go-ko-khi now, and each one was ready for work. Some collected stones, others prepared sun-dried bricks, others dug the foundation, and the first church in north Formosa was commenced.
Now Go-ko-khi was, unfortunately, near the great city of Bang-kah. This was the most hostile and wicked place in all that country, and A Hoa and Mackay had been stoned out of it on their visit there. The people in Bang-kah learned of the new church building, and one day, when the brick walls were about three feet high, there arose a tramp of feet, beating of drums, and loud shouts, and up marched a detachment of soldiers sent with orders from the prefect of Bang-kah to stop the building of the chapel. Their officers went straight to the house of the headman with his commands. Mr. Tan was six feet two and he rose to his full height and towered above his visitor majestically. The "mayor" of Go-ko-khi was a Christian now, and on the wall of his house was pasted a large sheet of paper with the ten commandments printed on it. He pointed to this and said: "I am determined to abide by these." The officer was taken aback. He was scarcely prepared to defy the headman, and he went away to stir up the villagers. But everywhere the soldiers met with opposition. There seemed no one who would take their part. The officer knew he and his men were scarcely within their rights in what they were doing; so, fearing trouble, he marched back to the city, reporting there that the black-bearded barbarian had bewitched the villagers with some magic art.
The prefect of Bang-kah next sent a message to the British consul. The missionary was building a fort at Go-ko-khi, he declared in great alarm, and would probably bring guns up the river at night. He was a very bad man indeed, and if the British consul desired peace he should stop this wicked Kai Bok-su at once. And the British consul down in his old Dutch fort at Tamsui laughed heartily over the letter, knowing all about Kai Bok-su and the sort of fort he was building.
So, in spite of all opposition, the little church rose steadily up and up until it was crowned with a tiled roof and was ready for the worshipers.
That was a great day for north Formosa and its young missionary, the day the first church was opened. The place was packed to the doors, and many stood outside listening at the windows. And of that crowd one hundred and fifty arose and declared that from henceforth they would cast away their idols and worship only the one and true God. Standing up there in his first pulpit and looking down upon the crowd of upturned faces, and seeing the new light in them which the blessed good news of Jesus and his love had brought, Kai Bok-su's heart swelled with joy.
He stayed with them some time after this, for, though so many people had become Christians, they were like little children and needed much careful teaching. Especially they must learn how to live as Jesus Christ would have his followers live. Many heathen as well as the Christians came to his meetings and listened eagerly. At first the people found it almost impossible to sit quiet and still during a service. They had never been accustomed to such a task, and some of the missionary's experiences were very funny. When they had sung a hymn and had settled down to listen to the address, the preacher would no sooner start than out would come one long pipe after another, pieces of flint would strike on steel, and in a few minutes the smoke would begin to ascend. Mackay would pause and gently tell them that as this was a Christian service they must not do anything that might disturb it. They were anxious to do just as he bade, so the pipes would disappear, and nodding their heads politely they would say, "Oh, yes, we must be quiet; oh, yes, indeed."
One day when the congregation was very still and their young pastor was speaking earnest words to them, one man less attentive than the others happened to glance out of the window. Instantly he sprang to his feet shouting, "Buffaloes in the rice-fields! Buffaloes in the rice-fields!" and away he went with a good fraction of the congregation helter-skelter at his heels.
The missionary spoke again upon the necessity of quiet, and his hearers nodded agreeably and murmured, "Yes, yes, we must be quiet."
They were very good for the next few minutes and the minister had reached a very important point in his address, when there was a great disturbance at the door. An old woman came hobbling up on her small feet and poking her head in at the church door screamed, "My pig has gone! Pig has gone!" and away went another portion of the congregation to help find the truant porker.
But, in spite of many interruptions, the congregation at Go-ko-khi learned much of the beautiful truth of their new religion. Their indulgent pastor never blamed his restless hearers, but before the church was two months old he had trained them so well that there was not a more orderly and attentive congregation even in his own Christian Canada than that which gathered in the first chapel in north Formosa.
But the day came at last when he had to leave them, and the question was who should be left over them. The answer seemed very plain, -- A Hoa. The first convert placed as pastor over the first church! It was very fitting. Some months before, down in Tamsui, when A Hoa had been baptized and had taken his first communion, he had vowed to give his life more fully to his Master's service. So here was his field of labor, and here he began his work. He was so utterly sincere and lovable, so bright and jovial, so firm of purpose and yet so kindly, that he was soon beloved by all the Christians and respected by the heathen. And one of his greatest helpers was widow Thah-so, who had been instrumental in bringing the missionary with his glad tidings to her village.
Mackay missed A Hoa sorely at first, but he had his other students about him, and often when bent upon a long journey would send for his first convert, and together they would travel here and there over the island, making new recruits everywhere for the army of their great Captain.
The little church at Go-ko-khi was but the first of many. Like the hepaticas that used to peep forth in the missionary's home woods, telling that spring had arrived, here and there they came up, showing that the long cruel winter of heathenism in north Formosa was drawing to an end.
Away up the Tamsui river, nestled at the foot of the mountains, stood a busy town called Sin-tiam. A young man from this place sailed down to Tamsui on business one day and there heard the great Kai Bok-su preach of the new Jehovah-God, he went home full of the wonderful news, and so much did he talk about it that a large number of people in Sin-tiam were very anxious to hear the barbarian themselves. So one day a delegation came down the river to the house on the bluff above Tamsui. They made this request known to the missionary as he sat teaching his students in the study. Would he not come and tell the people of Sin-tiam the story about this Jesus-God who loved all men? Would he go? Kai Bok-su was on the road almost before the slow-going Orientals had finished delivering the message.
It was the season of a feast to their idols in Sin-tiam when the missionary and his party arrived. Great crowds thronged the streets, and the barbarian with his white face and his black beard and his queer clothes attracted unusual attention. The familiar cry, "Foreign devil," was mingled with "Kill the barbarian," "Down with the foreigner." The crowd began to surge closer around the missionary party, and affairs looked very serious. Suddenly a little boy right in Mackay's path was struck on the head by a brick intended for the missionary. He was picked up, and Mackay, pressing through the crowd to where the little fellow lay, took out his surgical instruments and dressed the wound. All about him the cries of "Kill the foreign devil" changed to cries of "Good heart! Good heart!" The crowd became friendly at once, and Mackay passed on, having had once more a narrow escape from death.
The work of preaching to these people was carried on vigorously, and before many months had passed the Christians met together and declared they must build a chapel for the worship of the true God. So, close by the riverside, in a most picturesque spot, the walls of the second chapel of north Formosa began to rise. It was not without opposition of course. One rabid idol-worshiper stopped before the half-finished building with its busy workmen, and, picking up a large stone, declared that he would smash the head of the black-bearded barbarian if the work was not stopped that moment. Needless to say, the missionary, standing within a good stone's throw of his enemy, ordered the workers to continue. George Mackay was not to be stopped by all the stones in north Formosa.
This stone was never thrown, however, and at last the chapel was finished. Once more a preacher was ready to be its pastor. Tan He, a young man who had been studying earnestly under his leader for some time, was placed over this second congregation, and once more there blossomed out a sure sign that the spring had indeed come to north Formosa.
Tek-chham, a walled city of over forty thousand inhabitants, was the next place to be attacked by this little army of the King's soldiers. The first visit of the missionary caused a riot, but before long Tek-chham had a chapel with some of the rioters for its best members, and a once proud graduate and worshiper of Confucius installed in it as its pastor.
Ten miles from Tek-chham stood a little village called Geh-bai. The missionary-soldiers visited it, and to their delight found a church building ready for them. It was quite a wonderful place, capable of holding fully a thousand people without much crowding. Its roof was the boughs of the great banyan tree; its one pillar the trunk, and its walls the branches that bent down to enter the ground and take root. It made a delightful shelter from the broiling sun. And here Kai Bok-su preached. But a banyan does not give perfect shelter in all kinds of weather, so when a number of people had declared themselves followers of the Lord Jesus, a large house was rented and fitted up as a chapel, with another native pastor over it.
Away over at Kelung a church was founded through a man who had carried the gospel home from one of the missionary's sermons. Here and there the hepaticas were springing up. From all sides came invitations to preach the great news of the true God, and the young missionary gave himself scarcely time to eat or sleep. be worked like a giant himself, and he inspired the same spirit in the students that accompanied him. He was like a Napoleon among his soldiers. Wherever he went they would go, even though it would surely mean abuse and might mean death. And, wherever they went, they brought such a wonderful, glad change to people's hearts that they were like slave-liberators setting captives free.
The most lawless and dangerous region in all north Formosa was that surrounding the small town of Sa-kak-eng. In the mountains near by lived a band of robbers who kept the people in a constant state of dread by their terrible deeds of plunder and murder. Sometimes the frightened townspeople would help the highwaymen just to gain their good-will, and such treatment only made them bolder. Bands of them would even come down into the town and march through the streets, frightening every one into flight. They would shout and sing, and their favorite song was one that showed how little they cared for the laws of the land.
You trust the mandarins,
We trust the mountains.
So the song went, and when the missionary heard it first he could not help confessing that after all it was a sorry job trusting the mandarins for protection.
The first time he visited the place with A Hoa they were stoned and driven out. But the missionaries came back, and at last were allowed to preach. And then converts came and a church was established. The robber bands received no more assistance from the people, and were soon scattered by the officers of the law. And Sa-kak-eng was in peace because the missionary had come.
But there was one place Mackay had so far scarcely dared to enter. Even the robber-infested Sa-kak-eng would yield, but Bang-kah defied all efforts. To the missionary it was the Gibraltar of heathen Formosa, and he longed to storm it. North, south, east, and west of this great wicked city churches had been planted, some only within a few miles of its walls. But Bang-kah still stood frowning and unyielding. It had always been very bitter against outsiders of all kinds. No foreign merchant was allowed to do business in Bang-kah, so no wonder the foreign missionary was driven out.
Mackay had dared to enter the place, being of the sort that would dare anything. It was soon after he had settled in Formosa and A Hoa had accompanied him. The result had been a riot. The streets had immediately filled with a yelling, cursing mob that pelted the two missionaries with stones and rotten eggs and filth, and drove them from the city.
But "Mackay never knew when he was beaten," as a fellow worker of his once said, and though he was taking desperate chances, he went once more inside the walls of Bang-kah. This time he barely escaped with his life, and the city authorities forbade every one, on pain of death, to lease or sell property to him or in any way accommodate the barbarian missionary.
But meanwhile Kai Bok-su was keeping his eye on Bang-kah, and when the territory around had been possessed, he went up to Go-ko-khi and made the daring proposition to A Hoa. Should they go up again and storm the citadel of heathenism? And A Hoa answered promptly and bravely, "Let us go."
So one day early in December, when the winter rains had commenced to pour down, these two marched across the plain and into Bang-kah. By keeping quiet and avoiding the main thoroughfare, they managed to rent a house. It was a low, mean hovel in a dirty, narrow street, but it was inside the forbidden city, and that was something. The two daring young men then procured a large sheet of paper, printed on it in Chinese characters "Jesus' Temple," and pasted it on the door. This announced what they had come for, and they awaited results.
Presently there came the heavy tramp, tramp of feet on the stone pavement. Mackay and A Hoa looked out. A party of soldiers, armed with spears and swords, were returning from camp. They stopped before the hut and read the inscription. They shouted loud threats and tramped away to report the affair to headquarters.
In a short time, with a great noise and tramping, once more soldiers were at the door. Mackay waked out and faced them quietly. The general had given orders that the barbarian must leave this house immediately, the soldier declared in a loud voice. The place belonged to the military authorities.
"Show me your proof," said Mackay calmly. His bold behavior demanded respectful treatment, so the soldier produced the deed for the property.
"I respect your law," said Mackay after he examined it, "and my companion and I will vacate. But I have paid rent for this place, therefore I am entitled to remain for the night. I will not go out until morning."
His firm words and fearless manner had their effect both on the soldiers and the noisy mob waiting for him outside, and the men, muttering angrily, turned away. That night Mackay and A Hoa lay on a dirty grass mat on the mud floor. The place was damp and filthy, but even had it been comfortable they would have had little sleep. For, far into the night, angry soldiers paraded the street. Often their voices rose to a clamor and they would make a rush for the frail door of the little hut. Many times the two young fellows arose, believing their last hour had come. But the long night passed and they found that they were still left untouched.
They rose early and started out. Already a great mob filled the space in front of the house. Even the low roofs of the surrounding houses were covered with people all out early to see the barbarian and his despised companion driven from Bang-kah, and perhaps have the added pleasure of witnessing their death.
The two walked bravely down the street. Curses were showered upon them from all sides; broken tiles, stones, and filth were thrown at them, but they moved on steadily. The mob hampered them so that they were hours walking the short distance to the river. Here they entered a boat and went down a few miles to a point where a chapel stood, and where some of Mackay's students awaited them.
But the man who "did not know when he was beaten" had not turned his back on the enemy. He gathered the group of students around him in the little room attached to the chapel. Here they all knelt and the young missionary laid their trouble before the great Captain who had said, "All power is given unto me." "Give us an entrance to Bang-kah," was the burden of the missionary's prayer. They arose from their knees, and he turned to A Hoa with that quick challenging movement his students had learned to know so well.
"Come," he said, "we are going back to Bang-kah."
And A Hoa, whose habit it was to walk into all danger with a smile, answered with all his heart:
"It is well, Kai Bok-su; we go back to Bang-kah."
And straight back to this Gibraltar the little army of two marched. It was quite dark by the time they entered. A Formosan city is not the blaze of electricity to which Westerners are accustomed, and only here and there in the narrow streets shone a dim light. The travelers stumbled along, scarcely knowing whither they were going. As they turned a dark corner and plunged into another black street they met an old man hobbling with the aid of a staff over the uneven stones of the pavement. Mackay spoke to him politely and asked if he could tell him of any one who would rent a house. "We want to do mission work," he added, feeling that he must not get anything under false pretenses.
The old man nodded. "Yes, I can rent you my place," he answered readily. "Come with me."
Full of amazement and gratitude the two adventurers groped their way after him, stumbling over stones and heaps of rubbish. They could not help realizing, as they got farther into the city, that should the old man prove false and give an alarm the whole murderous populace of that district would be around them instantly like a swarm of hornets. But whether he was leading them into a trap or not their only course was to follow.
At last he paused at a low door opening into the back part of a house. The old man lighted a lamp, a pith wick in a saucer of peanut oil, and the visitors looked around. The room was damp and dirty and infested with the crawling creatures that fairly swarm in the Chinese houses of the lower order. Rain dripped from the low ceiling on the mud floor, and the meager furniture was dirty and sticky.
But the two young men who had found it were delighted. They felt like the advance guard of an army that has taken the enemy's first outpost. They were established in Bang-kah! They set to work at once to draw out a rental paper. A Hoa sat at the table and wrote it out so that they might be within the law which said that no foreigner must hold property in Bang-kah. When the paper was signed and the money paid, the old man crept stealthily away. He had his money, but he was too wary to let his fellow citizens find how he had earned it.
As soon as morning came the little army in the midst of the hostile camp hoisted its banner. When the citizens of Bang-kah awoke, they found on the door of the hut the hated sign, in large Chinese characters, "Jesus' Temple."
In less than an hour the street in front of it was thronged with a shouting crowd. Before the day was past the news spread, and the whole city was in an uproar. By the next afternoon the excitement had reached white heat, and a wild crowd of men came roaring down the street. They hurled themselves at the little house where the missionaries were waiting and literally tore it to splinters. The screams of rage and triumph were so horrible that they reminded Mackay of the savage yells of the head-hunters.
When the mob leaped upon the roof and tore it off, the two hunted men slipped out through a side door, and across the street into an inn. The crowd instantly attacked it, smashing doors, ripping the tiles off the roof, and uttering such bloodthirsty howls that they resembled wild beasts far more than human beings. The landlord ordered the missionaries out to where the mob was waiting to tear them limb from limb.
It was an awful moment. To go out was instant death, to remain merely put off the end a few moments. Mackay, knowing his source of help, sent up a desperate prayer to his Father in heaven.
Suddenly there was a strange lull in the street outside. The yells ceased, the crashing of tiles stopped. The door opened, and there in his sedan-chair of state surrounded by his bodyguard, appeared the Chinese mandarin. And just behind him -- blessed sight to the eyes of Kai Bok-su -- Mr. Scott, the British consul of Tamsui!
Without a word the two British-born clasped hands. It was not an occasion for words. There was immediately a council of war. The mandarin urged the British consul to send the missionary out of the city.
"I have no authority to give such an order," retorted Mr. Scott quickly. "On the other hand you must protect him while he is here. He is a British subject."
Mackay's heart swelled with pride. And he thanked God that his Empire had such a worthy representative.
Having again impressed upon the mandarin that the missionary must be protected or there would be trouble, Mr. Scott set off for his home. Mackay accompanied him to the city gate. Then he turned and walked back through the muttering crowds straight to the inn he had left. He stopped occasionally to pull a tooth or give medicine for malaria, for even in Bang-kah he had a few friends.
The mandarin was now as much afraid of the missionary as if he had been the plague. He knew he dared not allow him to be touched, and he also knew he had very little power over a mob. He was responsible, too, to men in higher office, for the control of the people, and would be severely punished if there was a riot. He was indeed in a very bad way when he heard that the troublesome missionary had come back, and he followed him to the inn to try to induce him to leave.
He found Mackay with A Hoa, quietly seated in their room. First he commanded, then he tried to bribe, and then he even descended to beg the "foreign devil" to leave the city. But Mackay was immovable.
"I cannot leave," he said, touched by the man's distress. "I cannot quit this city until I have preached the gospel here." He held up his forceps and his Bible. "See! I use these to relieve pain of the body, and this gives relief from sin, -- the disease of the soul. I cannot go until I have given your people the benefit of them."
The mandarin went away enraged and baffled. He could not persuade the man to go; he dared not drive him out. He left a squad of soldiers to guard the place, however, remembering the British consul's warning.
In a few days the excitement subsided. People became accustomed to seeing the barbarian teacher and his companion go about the streets. Many were relieved of much pain by him too, and a large number listened with some interest to the new doctrine he taught concerning one God.
He had been there a week when some prominent citizens came to him with a polite offer. They would give him free a piece of ground outside the city on which to build a church. Kai Bok-su's flashing black eyes at once saw the bribe. They wanted to coax him out when they could not drive him. He refused politely but firmly.
"I own that property," he declared, pointing to the heap of ruins into which his house had been turned, "and there I will build a church."
They did everything in their power to prevent him, but one day, many months after, right on the site where they had literally torn the roof from above him, arose a pretty little stone church, and that was the beginning of great things in Bang-kah.
And so Gibraltar was taken, -- taken by an army of two, -- a Canadian missionary and a Chinese soldier of the King, for behind them stood all the army of the Lord of hosts, and he led them to victory!