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THE BLACK BEARDED BARBARIAN
This is a very little story of a very great man. It contains only
a few of the wonderful adventures he met, and the splendid deeds
he did. Most of them may never be written. Perhaps they may be
lived again in the lives of some of the readers. Who knows?
Even this brief account of Dr. Mackay's life could not have been
written had it not been for the help of many kind friends. The
Rev. R.P. Mackay, D.D., of Toronto, Canada, who visited Formosa,
and met many of the people mentioned in this story, gave me great
assistance. Mr. Alexander Mackay, brother of the hero of this
book, was very kind in telling many interesting tales of boyhood
in Zorra. My most untiring and painstaking assistant has been the
Rev. J. B. Fraser, M.D., of Annan, Ontario, formerly of Formosa.
You will find him among the many heroes of this story. To his
kind and careful oversight is due much that gives this little
book any value as a history. The life of Dr. Mackay in Far From
Formosa, compiled by Dr. J. A. MacDonald, editor of the Toronto
Globe, has been my chief source of information. Indeed this story
has been taken almost entirely from its pages, and owes Dr.
MacDonald much thanks.
And now there is just one more favor it asks, that you who read
it may in some measure strive to catch the great spirit of its
Toronto, Canada, April 24, 1912.
THE BLACK BEARDED BARBARIAN
 The name by which George Leslie Mackay was known among the
Chinese of north Formosa.
CHAPTER I. SPLITTING ROCKS
Up in the stony pasture-field behind the barn the boys had been
working all the long afternoon. Nearly all, that is, for, being
boys, they had managed to mix a good deal of fun with their
labor. But now they were tired of both work and play, and
wondered audibly, many times over, why they were not yet called
home to supper.
The work really belonged to the Mackay boys, but, like Tom
Sawyer, they had made it so attractive that several volunteers
had come to their aid. Their father was putting up a new stone
house, near the old one down there behind the orchard, and the
two youngest of the family had been put at the task of breaking
the largest stones in the field.
It meant only to drag some underbrush and wood from the forest
skirting the farm, pile them on the stones, set fire to them, and
let the heat do the rest. It had been grand sport at first, they
all voted, better than playing shinny, and almost as good as
going fishing. In fact it was a kind of free picnic, where one
could play at Indians all day long. But as the day wore on, the
picnic idea had languished, and the stone-breaking grew more and
more to resemble hard work.
The warm spring sunset had begun to color the western sky; the
meadow-larks had gone to bed, and the stone-breakers were tired
and ravenously hungry--as hungry as only wolves or country boys
can be. The visitors suggested that they ought to be going home.
"Hold on, Danny, just till this one breaks," said the older
Mackay boy, as he set a burning stick to a new pile of brush.
"This'll be a dandy, and it's the last, too. They're sure to call
us to supper before we've time to do another."
The new fire, roaring and snapping, sending up showers of sparks
and filling the air with the sweet odor of burning cedar, proved
too alluring to be left. The company squatted on the ground
before it, hugging their knees and watching the blue column of
smoke go straight up into the colored sky. It suggested a
camp-fire in war times, and each boy began to tell what great and
daring deeds he intended to perform when he became a man.
Jimmy, one of the visitors, who had been most enthusiastic over
the picnic side of the day's work, announced that he was going to
be a sailor. He would command a fleet on the high seas, so he
would, and capture pirates, and grow fabulously wealthy on
prize-money. Danny, who was also a guest, declared his purpose
one day to lead a band of rough riders to the Western plains,
where he would kill Indians, and escape fearful deaths by the
"Mebbe I'm goin' to be Premier of Canada, some day," said one
youngster, poking his bare toes as near as he dared to the
There were hoots of derision. This was entirely too tame to be
even considered as a career.
"And what are you going to be, G. L.?" inquired the biggest boy
of the smallest.
The others looked at the little fellow and laughed. George Mackay
was the youngest of the group, and was a small wiry youngster
with a pair of flashing eyes lighting up his thin little face. He
seemed far too small and insignificant to even think about a
career. But for all the difference in their size and age the
bigger boys treated little George with a good deal of respect.
For, somehow, he never failed to do what he set out to do. He
always won at races, he was never anywhere but at the head of his
class, he was never known to be afraid of anything in field or
forest or school ground, he was the hardest worker at home or at
school, and by sheer pluck he managed to do everything that boys
bigger and older and stronger could do.
So when Danny asked, "And what are you going to be, G. L.?"
though the boys laughed at the small thin little body, they
respected the daring spirit it held, and listened for his answer.
"He's goin' to be a giant, and go off with a show," cried one,
and they all laughed again.
Little G. L. laughed too, but he did not say what he intended to
do when he grew big. Down in his heart he held a far greater
ambition than the others dreamed of. It was too great to be
told--so great he scarcely knew what it was himself. So he only
shook his small head and closed his lips tightly, and the rest
forgot him and chattered on.
Away beyond the dark woods, the sunset shone red and gold between
the black tree trunks. The little boy gazed at it wonderingly.
The sight of those morning and evening glories always stirred his
child's soul, and made him long to go away--away, he knew not
where--to do great and glorious deeds. The Mackay boys'
grandfather had fought at Waterloo, and little George Leslie, the
youngest of six, had heard many, many tales of that gallant
struggle, and every time they had been told him he had silently
resolved that, some day, he too would do just such brave deeds as
his grandfather had done.
As the boys talked on, and the little fellow gazed at the sunset
and dreamed, the big stone cracked in two, the fire died down,
and still there came no welcome call to supper from any of the
farmhouses in sight. The Mackay boys had been trained in a fine
old-fashioned Canadian home, and did not dream of quitting work
until they were summoned. But the visitors were merely visitors,
and could go home when they liked. The future admiral of the
pirate-killing fleet declared he must go and get supper, or he'd
eat the grass, he was so hungry. The coming Premier of Canada and
the Indian-slayer agreed with him, and they all jumped the fence,
and went whooping away over the soft brown fields toward home.
There was just one big stone left. It was a huge boulder, four
"We'll never get enough wood to crack that, G. L.," declared his
brother. "It just can't be done."
But little George answered just as any one who knew his
determination would have expected. In school he astonished his
teacher by learning everything at a tremendous rate, but there
was one small word he refused to learn--the little word "can't."
His bright eyes flashed, now, at the sound of it. He jumped upon
the big stone, and clenched his fist.
"It's GOT to be broken!" he cried. "I WON'T let it beat me." He
leaped down, and away he ran toward the woods. His brother caught
his spirit, and ran too. They forgot they were both tired and
hungry. They seized a big limb of a fallen tree and dragged it
across the field. They chopped it into pieces, and piled it high
with plenty of brush, upon the big stone. In a few minutes it was
all in a splendid blaze, leaping and crackling, and sending the
boys' long shadows far across the field.
The fire grew fiercer and hotter, and suddenly the big boulder
cracked in four pieces, as neatly as though it had been slashed
by a giant's sword. Little G. L. danced around it, and laughed
triumphantly. The next moment there came the welcome "hoo-hoo"
from the house behind the orchard, and away the two scampered
down the hill toward home and supper.
When the day's work of the farmhouse had been finished, the
Mackay family gathered about the fire, for the spring evening was
chilly. George Leslie sat near his mother, his face full of deep
thought. It was the hour for family worship, and always at this
time he felt most keenly that longing to do something great and
glorious. Tonight his father read of a Man who was sending out
his army to conquer the world. It was only a little army, just
twelve men, but they knew their Leader had more power than all
the soldiers of the world. And they were not afraid, though he
said, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves."
For he added, "Fear ye not," for he would march before them, and
they would be sure of victory.
The little boy listened with all his might. He did everything
that way. Surely this was a story of great and glorious deeds,
even better than Waterloo, he felt. And there came to his heart a
great longing to go out and fight wrong and put down evil as
these men had done. He did not know that the longing was the
voice of the great King calling his young knight to go out and
"Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King."
But there came a day when he did understand, and on that day he
was ready to obey.
When bedtime came the boys were asked if they had finished their
work, and the story of the last big stone was told. "G. L. would
not leave it," the brother explained. The father looked smilingly
at little G. L. who still sat, dangling his short legs from his
chair, and studying the fire.
He spoke to his wife in Gaelic. "Perhaps the lad will be called
to break a great rock some day. The Lord grant he may do it."
The boy looked up wonderingly. He understood Gaelic as well as
English, but he did not comprehend his father's words. He had no
idea they were prophetic, and that away on the other side of the
world, in a land his geography lessons had not yet touched, there
stood a great rock, ugly and hard and grim, which he was one day
to be called upon to break.
CHAPTER II. A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY
The steamship America, bound for Hongkong, was leaving the dock
at San Francisco. All was bustle and noise and stir. Friends
called a last farewell from the deck, handkerchiefs waved, many
of them wet with tears. The long boom of a gun roared out over
the harbor, a bell rang, and the signal was given. Up came the
anchor, and slowly and with dignity the great vessel moved out
through the Golden Gate into the wide Pacific.
Crowds stood on the deck to get a last glimpse of home and loved
ones, and to wave to friends as long as they could be
distinguished. There was one young man who stood apart from the
crowd, and who did not wave farewell to any one. He had come on
board with a couple of men, but they had gone back to the dock,
and were lost in the crowd. He seemed entirely alone. He leaned
against the deck-railing and gazed intently over the widening
strip of tumbling wafers to the city on the shore. But he did not
see it. Instead, he saw a Canadian farmhouse, a garden and
orchard, and gently sloping meadows hedged in by forest. And up
behind the barn he saw a stony field, where long ago he and his
brother and the neighbor boys had broken the stones for the new
His quick movements, his slim, straight figure, and his bright,
piercing eyes showed he was the same boy who had broken the big
rock in the pasture-field long before. Just the same boy, only
bigger, and more man than boy now, for he wore an air of command
and his thin keen face bore a beard, a deep black, like his hair.
And now he was going away, as he had longed to go, when he was a
boy, and ahead of him lay the big frowning rock, which he must
either break or be broken upon.
He had learned many things since those days when he had scampered
barefoot over the fields, or down the road to school. He had been
to college in Toronto, in Princeton, and away over in Edinburgh,
in the old homeland where his father and mother were born. And
all through his life that call to go and do great deeds for the
King had come again and again. He had determined to obey it when
he was but a little lad at school. He had encountered many big
stones in his way, which he had to break, before he could go on.
But the biggest stone of all lay across his path when college was
over, and he was ready and anxious to go away as a missionary.
The Presbyterian Church of Canada had never yet sent out a
missionary to a foreign land, and some of the good old men bade
George Mackay stay at home and preach the gospel there. But as
usual he conquered. Every one saw he would be a great missionary
if he were only given a chance. At last the General Assembly gave
its consent, and now, in spite of all stones in the way, here he
was, bound for China, and ready to do anything the King
commanded. Land was beginning to fade away into a gray mist, the
November wind was damp and chill, he turned and went down to his
stateroom. He sat down on his little steamer trunk, and for the
first time the utter loneliness and the uncertainty of this
voyage came over him. He took up his Bible and turned to the
fly-leaf. There he read the inscription:
REV. G. L. MACKAY
First missionary of the Canadian Presbyterian Church to China, by
the Foreign Mission Committee, as a parting token of their
esteem, when about to leave his native land for the sphere of his
future labors among the heathen.
WILLIAM MACLAREN, Convener.
Ottawa, 9th October, 1871.
Matthew xxviii: 18-20. Psalm cxxi
It was a moment of severe trial to the young soldier. But he
turned to the Psalm marked on the fly-leaf of his Bible, and he
read it again and again.
"My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.". . .
"The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right
"The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night."
The beautiful words gave him comfort. Homesickness, loneliness,
and fears for the future all vanished. He was going out to an
unknown land where dangers and perhaps death awaited him, but the
Lord would be his keeper and nothing could harm him.
Twenty-six days on the Pacific! And a stormy voyage it was, for
the Pacific does not always live up to her beautiful name, and
she tossed the America about in a shocking manner. But the voyage
did not seem long to George Mackay. There were other missionaries
on board with whom he had become acquainted, and he had long
delightful talks with them and they taught him many things about
his new work. He was the same busy G. L. he had been when a boy;
always working, working, and he did not waste a moment on the
voyage. There was a fine library on the ship and he studied the
books on China until he knew more about the religion of that
country than did many of the Chinese themselves.
One day, as he was poring over a Chinese history, some one called
him hastily to come on deck. He threw down his book and ran
up-stairs. The whole ship was in a joyous commotion. His friend
pointed toward the horizon, and away off there against the sky
stood the top of a snow-capped peak--Fujiyama!--the majestic,
sacred mountain of Japan!
It was a welcome sight, after the long ocean voyage, and the
hours they lay in Yokahama harbor were full of enjoyment. Every
sight was thrilling and strange to young Mackay's Western eyes.
The harbor fairly swarmed with noisy, shouting, chattering
Japanese boatmen. He wondered why they seemed so familiar, until
it suddenly dawned on him that their queer rice-straw coats made
them look like a swarm of Robinson Crusoes who had just been
rescued from their islands.
When he landed he found things still funnier. The streets were
noisier than the harbor. Through them rolled large heavy wooden
carts, pulled and pushed by men, with much grunting and groaning.
Past him whirled what looked like overgrown baby carriages, also
pulled by men, and each containing a big grown-up human baby. It
was all so pretty too, and so enchanting that the young
missionary would fain have remained there. But China was still
farther on, so when the America again set sail, he was on board.
Away they sailed farther and farther east, or was it west? He
often asked himself that question in some amusement as they
approached the coast of China. They entered a long winding
channel and steamed this way and that until one day they sailed
into a fine broad harbor with a magnificent city rising far up
the steep sides of a hill. It was an Oriental city, and therefore
strange to the young traveller. But for all that there seemed
something familiar in the fine European buildings that lined the
streets, and something still more homelike in that which floated
high above them--something that brought a thrill to the heart of
the young Canadian--the red-crossed banner of Britain!
It was Hongkong, the great British port of the East, and here he
decided to land. No sooner had the travelers touched the dock,
than they were surrounded by a yelling, jostling crowd of Chinese
coolies, all shouting in an outlandish gibberish for the
privilege of carrying the Barbarians' baggage. A group gathered
round Mackay, and in their eagerness began hammering each other
with bamboo poles. He was well-nigh bewildered, when above the
din sounded the welcome music of an English voice.
"Are you Mackay from Canada?"
He whirled round joyfully. It was Dr. E. J. Eitel, a missionary
from England. He had been told that the young Canadian would
arrive on the America and was there to welcome him.
Although the Canadian Presbyterian Church had as yet sent out no
missionaries to a foreign land, the Presbyterian Church of
England had many scattered over China. They were all hoping that
the new recruit would join them, and invited him to visit
different mission stations, and see where he would like to
So he remained that night in Hongkong, as Dr. Eitel's guest, and
the next morning he took a steamer for Canton. Here he was met on
the pier by an old fellow student of Princeton University, and
the two old college friends had a grand reunion. He returned to
Hongkong shortly, and next visited Swatow. As they sailed into
the harbor, he noticed two Englishmen rowing out toward them in a
sampan.* No sooner had the ship's ladder been lowered, than the
two sprang out of their boat and clambered quickly on deck. To
Mackay's amazement, one of them called out, "Is Mackay of Canada
* A Chinese boat from twelve to fifteen feet long, covered with a
"Mackay of Canada," sprang forward delighted, and found his two
new friends to be Mr. Hobson of the Chinese imperial customs, and
Dr. Thompson of the English Presbyterian mission in Swatow.
The missionaries here gave the stranger a warm welcome. At every
place he had visited there had awaited him a cordial invitation
to stay and work. And now at Swatow he was urged to settle down
and help them. There was plenty to be done, and they would be
delighted to have his help.
But for some reason, Mackay scarcely knew why himself, he wanted
to see another place.
Away off the southeastern coast of China lies a large island
called Formosa. It is separated from the mainland by a body of
water called the Formosa Channel. This is in some places eighty
miles wide, in others almost two hundred. Mackay had often heard
of Formosa even before coming to China, and knew it was famed for
Even its name shows this. Long, long years before, some
navigators from Portugal sailed to this beautiful island. They
had stood on the deck of their ship as they approached it, and
were amazed at its loveliness. They saw lofty green mountains
piercing the clouds. They saw silvery cascades tumbling down
their sides, flashing in the sunlight, and, below, terraced
plains sloping down to the sea, covered with waving bamboo or
with little water-covered rice-fields. It was all so delightful
that no wonder they cried,
"Illha Formosa! Illha Formosa!"
"Beautiful Isle! Beautiful Isle." Since that day the "Beautiful
Isle," perhaps the most charming in all the world, has been
And, somehow, Mackay longed to see this Beautiful Isle before he
decided where he was going to preach the gospel. And so when the
kind friends at Swatow said, "Stay and work with us," he always
answered, "I must first see Formosa."
So, one day, he sailed away from the mainland toward the
Beautiful Isle. He landed at Takow in the south of the island,
just about Christmas-time. But Formosa was green, the weather was
hot, and he could scarcely believe that, at home in Oxford
county, Ontario, they were flying over the snow to the music of
sleigh-bells. On New Year's day he met a missionary of this south
Formosa field, named Dr. Ritchie. He belonged to the Presbyterian
Church of England, which had a fine mission there. For nearly a
month Mackay visited with him and studied the language.
And while he visited and worked there the missionaries told him
of the northern part of the island. No person was there to tell
all those crowded cities of Jesus Christ and His love. It would
be lonely for him there, it would be terribly hard work, but it
would be a grand thing to lay the foundations, to be the first to
tell those people the "good news," the young missionary thought.
And, one day, he looked up from the Chinese book he was studying
and said to Dr. Ritchie:
"I have decided to settle in north Formosa."
And Dr. Ritchie's quick answer was:
"God bless you, Mackay."
As soon as the decision was made, another missionary, Dr.
Dickson, who was with Mr. Ritchie, decided to go to north Formosa
with the young man, and show him over the ground. So, early in
the month of March in the year 1872, the three men set off by
steamship to sail for Tamsui, a port in north Formosa. They were
two days making the voyage, and a tropical storm pitched the
small vessel hither and thither, so that they were very much
relieved when they sailed up to the mouth of the Tamsui river.
It was low tide and a bare sand-bar stretched across the mouth of
the harbor, so the anchor was dropped, and they waited until the
tide should cover the bar, and allow them to sail in.
This wait gave the travellers a fine opportunity to see the
country. The view from this harbor of the "Beautiful Island" was
an enchanting one. Before them, toward the east, rose tier upon
tier of magnificent mountains, stretching north and south. Down
their sloping sides tumbled sparkling cascades and here and there
patches of bright green showed where there were tea plantations.
Farther down were stretches of grass and groves of lovely
feathery bamboo. And between these groves stretched what seemed
to be little silvery lakes, with the reflection of the great
mountains in them. They were really the famous rice-fields of
Formosa, at this time of the year all under water. There were no
fences round their little lake-fields. They were of all shapes
and sizes, and were divided from each other by little green
fringed dykes or walls. Each row of fields was lower than the
last until they came right down to the sea-level, and all lay
blue and smiling in the blazing sunlight.
As the young missionary stood spellbound, gazing over the lovely,
fairylike scene, Mr. Ritchie touched his arm.
"This is your parish, Mackay," he whispered smilingly.
And then for the first time since he had started on his long,
long journey, the young missionary felt his spirit at peace. The
restlessness that had driven him on from one Chinese port to
another was gone. This was indeed HIS parish.
Suddenly out swung a signal; the tide had risen. Up came the
anchor, and away they glided over the now submerged sand-bar into
A nearer view showed greater charms in the Beautiful Isle. On the
south, at their right, lay the great Quan Yin mountain, towering
seventeen hundred feet above them, clothed in tall grass and
groves of bamboo, banyan, and fir trees of every conceivable
shade of green. Nestling at its feet were little villages almost
buried in trees. Slowly the ship drifted along, passing, here a
queer fishing village close to the sandy shore, yonder a
light-house, there a battered Chinese fort rising from the top of
And now Tamsui came in sight--the new home of the young
missionary. It seemed to him that it was the prettiest and the
dirtiest place he had ever seen. The town lay along the bank of
the river at the foot of a hill. This bluff rose abruptly behind
it to a height of two hundred feet. On its face stood a
queer-looking building. It was red in color, solid and weather
worn, and above it floated the grand old flag of Britain.
"That's an old Dutch fort," explained Mr. Ritchie, "left there
since they were in the island. It is the British consulate now.
There, next to it, is the consul's residence."
It was a handsome house, just below the fort, and surrounded by
lovely gardens. But down beneath it, on the shore, was the most
interesting place to the newcomer, the town of Tamsui proper, or
Ho Be, as the Chinese called it. The foreigners landed and made
their way up the street. To the two from south Formosa, Tamsui
was like every other small Chinese town, but Mackay had not yet
become accustomed to the strange sights and sounds and stranger
smells, and his bright eyes were keen with interest.
The main thoroughfare wound this way and that, only seven or
eight feet wide at its best. It was filled with noisy crowds of
men who acted as if they were on the verge of a terrible fight.
But the older missionaries knew that they were merely acting as
Chinese crowds always do. On each side were shops,--tea shops,
rice shops, tobacco shops, and many other kinds. And most
numerous of all were the shops where opium, one of the greatest
curses of Chinese life, was sold. The front wall of each was
removed, and the customers stood in the street and dickered with
the shopkeeper, while at the top of his harsh voice the latter
swore by all the gods in China that he was giving the article
away at a terrific loss. Through the crowd pushed hawkers,
carrying their wares balanced on poles across their shoulders.
Boys with trays of Chinese candies and sugar-cane yelled their
wares above the din. The visitors stumbled along over the rough
stones of the pavement until they came to the market-place.
Foreigners were not such a curiosity in Tamsui as in the inland
towns, and not a great deal of notice was taken of them, but
occasionally Mackay could hear the now familiar words of contempt
--"Ugly barbarian"--"Foreign devil" from the men that passed
them. And one man, pointing to Mackay, shouted "Ho! the
black-bearded barbarian!" It was a name the young missionary was
destined to hear very frequently. Past opium-dens, barber shops,
and drug stores they went and through the noise and bustle and
din of the market-place. They knew that the inns, judging by the
outside, would be filthy, so Mr. Ritchie suggested, as evening
was approaching, that they find some comfortable place to spend
There was a British merchant in Tamsui named Mr. Dodd, whom the
missionaries knew. So to him they went, and were given fine
quarters in his warehouse. They ate their supper here, from the
provisions they had bought in the market, and stretching
themselves out on their grass mats they slept soundly. The next
day was Sunday, but the three travelers spent it quietly in the
warehouse by the river, studying their Bibles and discussing
their proposed trip. They concluded it was best not to provoke
the anger of the people against the new missionary by preaching,
so they did not go out. To-morrow they would start southward and
take Mackay to the bounds of their mission field, and show him
the land that was to be "his parish."
CHAPTER III. RECONNOITERING THE TERRITORY
Early Monday morning Mackay peeped out of the big warehouse door
at the great calm mountain shrouded in the pale mists of early
dawn. The other two travelers were soon astir, and were surprised
to find their young companion all ready. They were not yet well
enough acquainted with him to know that he could do with less
sleep at night than an owl. He was in high spirits and as eager
to be off as he had ever been to start for a day's fishing in the
old times back in Ontario. And indeed this was just a great
fishing expedition he was commencing. For had not one said to
him, long long ago when he was but a little boy, "Come follow me,
and I will make you to become a fisher of men?" and he had
obeyed. The first task was to go out and buy food for the
journey, and to hire a couple of coolies to carry it and what
baggage they must take.
Dr. Dickson went off on this errand, and being well acquainted
with Formosan customs and language, soon returned with two
Chinese carriers and plenty of food. This last consisted of
canned meats, biscuits, coffee, and condensed milk, bought at a
store where ships' supplies were kept for sale. There was also
some salted water-buffalo meat, a Chinese dish with which the
young missionary was destined to become very familiar.
They started out three abreast, Mr. Ritchie's blue serge figure
capped by a white helmet on the right, Dr. Dickson on the left in
his Scotch tweed, and between them the alert, slim figure of the
newcomer, in his suit of Canadian gray. The coolies, with baskets
hung to a pole across their shoulders, came ambling along behind.
The three travelers were in the gayest mood. Perhaps it was the
clear spring morning air, or the breath of the salt ocean,
perhaps it was the intoxicating beauty of mountain and plain and
river that surrounded them or it may have been because they had
given their lives in perfect service to the One who is the source
of all happiness, but whatever was the cause, they were all like
schoolboys off for a holiday. The coolies who trotted in the rear
were very much amazed and not a little amused at the actions of
these foolish foreign devils, who laughed and joked and seemed in
such high spirits for no reason at all.
They swung along the bank of the river until they came to the
ferry that was to take them to the other side. They sprang into
the boat and were shoved off. Before they reached the other side,
at Dr. Dickson's suggestion, they took off their shoes and socks,
and stowed them away in the carriers' baskets. When they came to
the opposite bank they rolled up their trousers to their knees
and sprang out into the shallow water. For a short distance they
had the joy of tramping barefoot along the hard gleaming sand of
But shoes and stockings had to be resumed, for soon they turned
inland, on a path that wound up to the high plain above the
river. "Do you ever use a horse on your travels?" asked young
Mackay as they climbed upward.
Mr. Ritchie laughed. "You couldn't get one in north Formosa for
love or money. And if you could, he wouldn't be any use."
"Unless he was a second Pegasus, and could soar above the
Formosan roads," added Dr. Dickson. "Wait a bit and you'll
The young missionary waited, and kept his eyes open for the
answer. The pathway crossed a grassy plain where groups of
queer-looking, mouse-colored animals, half ox, half buffalo, with
great spreading horns, strayed about, herded by boys, or lay
wallowing in deep pools.
"Water-buffaloes," he said, remembering them as he had seen them
in the south.
"The most useful animal on the island," remarked Mr. Ritchie,
adding with a laugh, "except perhaps the pig. You'll have a taste
of Mr. Buffalo for your dinner, Mackay."
And now they were up on the heights, and the lovely country lay
spread out before them. Mackay mentally compared this walk to
many he had taken along the country roads of his native land. It
was early in March, but as there had been no winter, so there was
no spring. It was summer, warm, radiant summer, like a lovely day
in June at home. Dandelions, violets, and many gay flowers that
he did not recognize spangled the grassy plain. The skylark high
overhead was pouring out its glorious song, just as he had heard
it in his student days in Scotland. Here and there were clumps of
fir trees that reminded him of Canada, but on the whole the scene
was new and wonderful to his Western eyes.
They were now on the first level of the rice-fields. The farms
were tiny things, none larger than eight or ten acres. They were
divided into queer-shaped little irrigated fields, separated not
by fences, but by little low walls of mud. Every farm was under
water now, and here and there, wading through his little flooded
fields, went the farmer with his plough, drawn by a useful
water-buffalo,--the latter apparently quite happy at being
allowed to splash about in the mud.
These rice-farms soon became a familiar sight to the newcomer. He
liked to see them at all times--when each field was a pretty blue
or green lake, later when the water was choked with the fresh
green growth, or in harvest days, when the farmers stripped the
fields of their grain. Just now they were at their prettiest. Row
above row, they went up the mountainside, like a great glass
stairs, each row reflecting the green hills and the bamboo groves
above. And from each terrace to the one below, the water tumbled
in pretty little cascades that sparkled in the sunlight and
filled the air with music. For travelers there were only narrow
paths between farms, and often only the ridge of the dykes
between field and field. As they made their way between the tiny
fields, walking along the narrow dykes, and listening to the
splashing sound of the water, Mackay understood what Dr. Dickson
meant, when he remarked that only a flying horse could be of use
on such Formosan cross-country journeys.
Soon the pathway changed once more to the broader public highway.
Here there was much traffic, and many travelers carried in
sedan-chairs passed them. And many times by the roadside Mackay
saw something that reminded him forcibly of why he had come to
Formosa--a heathen shrine. The whole countryside seemed dotted
with them. And as he watched the worshippers coming and going,
and heard the disdainful words from the priests cast at the hated
foreigners, he realized that he was face to face with an awful
opposing force. It was the great stone of heathenism he had come
to break, and the question was, would he be as successful as he
had been long ago in the Canadian pasture-field?
The travelers ate their dinner by the roadside under the shade of
some fir trees that made Mackay feel at home. They were soon up
and off again, and, tired with their long tramp, they arrived at
a town called Tionglek, and decided to spend the night there. The
place was about the size of Tamsui, with between four and five
thousand inhabitants, and was quite as dirty and almost as noisy.
They walked down the main street with its uneven stone pavement,
its open shops, its noisy bargains, and above all its horrible
smells. With the exception of an occasional visit from an
official, foreigners scarcely ever came to Tionglek, and on every
side were revilings and threatenings. One yellow-faced youngster
picked up a handful of mud and threw it at the hated foreigners;
and "Black-bearded barbarian," mingled with their shouts.
Mackay's bright eyes took in everything, and he realized more and
more the difficulties of the task before him.
They stopped in front of a low one-story building made of
sun-dried bricks. This was the Tionglek hotel where they were to
spend the night. Like most Chinese houses it was composed of a
number of buildings arranged in the form of a square with a
courtyard in the center. Dr. Dickson asked for lodgings from the
slant-eyed proprietor. He looked askance at the foreigners, but
concluded that their money was as good as any one else's, and he
led them through the deep doorway into the courtyard.
In the center of this yard stood an earthen range, with a fire in
it. Several travelers stood about it cooking their rice. It was
evidently the hotel dining-room; a dining-room that was open to
all too, for chickens clucked and cackled and pigs grunted about
the range and made themselves quite at home. The men about the
gateway scowled and muttered "Foreign devil," as the three
strangers passed them.
They crossed the courtyard and entered their room, or rather
stumbled into it, in semi-darkness. Mackay peered about him
curiously. He discovered three beds, made of planks and set on
brick pillars for legs. Each was covered with a dirty mat woven
from grass and reeking with the odor of opium smoke.
A servant came in with something evidently intended for a lamp--a
burning pith wick set in a saucer of peanut oil. It gave out only
a faint glimmer of light, but enough to enable the young
missionary to see something else in the room,--some THINGS
rather, that ran and skipped and swarmed all over the damp
earthen floor and the dirty walls. There were thousands of these
brisk little creatures, all leaping about in pleasant
anticipation of the good time they would have when the barbarians
went to bed. There was no window, and only the one door that
opened into the courtyard. An old pig, evidently more friendly to
the foreigners than her masters, came waddling toward them
followed by her squealing little brood, and flopping down into
the mud in the doorway lay there uttering grunts of content.
The evil smells of the room, the stench from the pigs, and the
still more dreadful odors wafted from the queer food cooking on
the range, made the young traveler's unaccustomed senses revolt.
He had a half notion that the two older men were putting up a
joke on him.
"I suppose you thought it wise to give me a strong dose of all
this at the start?" he inquired humorously, holding his nose and
glancing from the pigs at the door to the crawlers on the wall.
"A strong dose!" laughed Mr. Ritchie. "Not a bit of it, young
man. Wait till you've had some experience of the luxuries of
Formosan inns. You'll be calling this the Queen's Hotel, before
you've been here long!"
And so indeed it proved later, for George Mackay had yet much to
learn of the true character of Chinese inns. Needless to say he
spent a wakeful night, on his hard plank bed, and was up early in
the morning. The travelers ate their breakfast in a room where
the ducks and hens clattered about under the table and between
their legs. Fortunately the food was taken from their own stores,
and in spite of the surroundings was quite appetizing.
They started off early, drawing in great breaths of the pure
morning air, relieved to be away from the odors of the "Queen's
Hotel." Three hundred feet above them, high against the deep blue
of the morning sky, stood Table Hill, and they started on a brisk
climb up its side. The sun had not risen, but already the farmers
were out in their little water-fields, or working in their tea
plantations. The mountain with its groves of bamboo lay reflected
in the little mirrors of the rice-fields. A steady climb brought
them to the summit, and after a long descent on the other side
and a tramp through tea plantations they arrived in the evening
at a large city with a high wall around it, the city of
Tek-chham. That night in the city inn was so much worse than the
one at Tionglek that the Canadian was convinced his friends must
have reserved the "strong dose" for the second night. There were
the same smells, the same sorts of pigs and ducks and hens, the
same breeds of lively nightly companions, and each seemed to have
gained a fresh force.
It was a relief to be out in the fields again after the foul
odors of the night, and the travelers were off before dawn. The
country looked more familiar to Mackay this morning, for they
passed through wheat and barley fields. It seemed so strange to
wander over a man's farm by a footpath, but it was a Chinese
custom to which he soon became accustomed.
The sun was blazing hot, and it was a great relief when they
entered the cool shade of a forest. It was a delightful place and
George Mackay reveled in its beauty. Ever since he had been able
to run about his own home farm in Ontario his eyes had always
been wide open to observe anything new. He had studied as much
out of doors, all his life, as he had done in college, and now he
found this forest a perfect library of new things. Nearly every
tree and flower was strange to his Canadian eyes. Here and there,
in sheltered valleys, grew the tree-fern, the most beautiful
object in the forest, towering away up sometimes to a height of
sixty feet, and spreading its stately fronds out to a width of
fifteen feet. There was a lovely big plant with purple stem and
purple leaves, and when Dr. Dickson told him it was the
castor-oil plant, he smiled at the remembrance of the trials that
plant had caused him in younger days. One elegant tree, straight
as a pine, rose fifty feet in height, with leaves away up at the
This was the betel-nut tree.
"The nuts of that tree," said Mr. Ritchie, standing and pointing
away up to where the sunlight filtered through the far-off
leaves, "are the chewing tobacco of Formosa and all the islands
about here. The Chinese do not chew it, but the Malayans do. You
will meet some of these natives soon."
On every side grew the rattan, half tree, half vine. It started
off as a tree and grew straight up often to twenty feet in
height, and then spread itself out over the tops of other trees
and plants in vine-like fashion; some of its branches measured
almost five hundred feet in length.
The travelers paused to admire one high in the branches of the
"Many a Chinaman loses his head hunting that plant," remarked Mr.
Ritchie. "These islanders export a great deal of rattan, and the
head-hunters up there in the mountains watch for the Chinese when
they are working in the forest."
Mackay listened eagerly to his friends' tales of the head-hunting
savages, living in the mountains. They were always on the lookout
for the farmers near their forest lairs. They watched for any
unwary man who went too near the woods, pounced upon him, and
went off in triumph with his head in a bag.
The young traveler's eyes brightened, "I'll visit them some day!"
he cried, looking off toward the mountainside. Mr. Ritchie
glanced quickly at the flashing eyes and the quick, alert figure
of the young man as he strode along, and some hint came to him of
the dauntless young heart which beat beneath that coat of
Two days more over hill and dale, through rice and tea and
tobacco-fields, and then, in the middle of a hot afternoon, Mr.
Ritchie began to shiver and shake as though half frozen. Dr.
Dickson understood, and at the next stopping-place he ordered a
sedan-chair and four coolies to carry it. It was the old dreaded
disease that hangs like a black cloud over lovely Formosa, the
malarial fever. Mr. Ritchie had been a missionary only four years
in the island, but already the scourge had come upon him, and his
system was weakened. For, once seized by malaria in Formosa, one
seldom makes his escape. They put the sick man into the chair,
now in a raging fever, and he was carried by the four coolies.
They were nearing the end of their journey and were now among a
people not Chinese. They belonged to the original Malayan race of
the island. They had been conquered by the Chinese, who in the
early days came over from China under a pirate named Koxinga. As
the Chinese name every one but themselves "barbarians," they gave
this name to all the natives of the island. They had conquered
all but the dreaded head-hunters, who, free in their mountain
fastnesses, took a terrible toll of heads from their would-be
conquerors, or even from their own half-civilized brethren.
The native Malayans who had been subdued by the Chinese were
given different names. Those who lived on the great level
rice-plain over which the missionaries were traveling, were
called Pe-po-hoan, "Barbarians of the plain." Mackay could see
little difference between them and the Chinese, except in the
cast of their features, and their long-shaped heads. They wore
Chinese dress, even to the cue, worshiped the Chinese gods, and
spoke with a peculiar Malayan twang.
The travelers were journeying rather wearily over a low muddy
stretch of ground, picking their way along the narrow paths
between the rice-fields, when they saw a group of men come
hurrying down the path to meet them. They kept calling out, but
the words they used were not the familiar "foreign devil" or
"ugly barbarian." Instead the people were shouting words of
Dr. Dickson hailed them with delight, and soon he and Mr.
Ritchie's sedan-chair were surrounded by a clamorous group of
They had journeyed so far south that they had arrived at the
borders of the English Presbyterian mission, and the people
crowding about them were native Christians. It was all so
different from their treatment by the heathen that Mackay's heart
was warmed. When the great stone of heathenism was broken, what
love and kindness were revealed!
The visitors were led in triumph to the village. There was a
chapel here, and they stayed nearly a week, preaching and
The rest did Mr. Ritchie much good, and at the end of their visit
he was once more able to start off on foot. They moved on from
village to village and everywhere the Pe-po-hoan Christians
received them with the greatest hospitality.
But at last the three friends found the time had come for them to
part. The two Englishmen had to go on through their fields to
their south Formosan home and the young Canadian must go back to
fight the battle alone in the north of the island. He had
endeared himself to the two older men, and when the farewells
came they were filled with regret.
They bade him a lingering good-by, with many blessings upon his
young head, and many prayers for success in the hard fight upon
which he was entering. They walked a short way with him, and
stood watching the straight, lithe young figure, so full of
courage and hope until it disappeared down the valley. They knew
only too well the dangers and trials ahead of him, but they knew
also that he was not going into the fight alone. For the Captain
was going with his young soldier.
There was a suspicion of moisture in the eyes of the older
missionaries as they turned back to prepare for their own journey
"God bless the boy!" said Dr. Dickson fervently. "We'll hear of
that young fellow yet, Ritchie. He's on fire."
CHAPTER IV. BEGINNING THE SIEGE
The news was soon noised about Tamsui that one of the three
barbarians who had so lately visited the town had returned to
make the place his home. This was most unwelcome tidings to the
heathen, and the air was filled with mutterings and threatenings,
and every one was determined to drive the foreign devil out if at
So Mackay found himself meeting every kind of opposition. He was
too independent to ask assistance from the British consul in the
old Dutch fort on the bluff, or of any other European settlers in
Tamsui. He was bound to make his own way. But it was not easy to
do so in view of the forces which opposed him. He had now been in
Formosa about two months and had studied the Chinese language
every waking hour, but it was very difficult, and he found his
usually ready tongue wofully handicapped.
His first concern was to get a dwelling-place, and he went from
house to house inquiring for some place to rent. Everywhere he
went he was turned away with rough abuse, and occasionally the
dogs were set upon him.
But at last he was successful. Up on the bank of the river, a
little way from the edge of the town, he found a place which the
owner condescended to rent. It was a miserable little hut, half
house, half cellar, built into the side of the hill facing the
river. A military officer had intended it for his horse-stable,
and yet Mackay paid for this hovel the sum of fifteen dollars a
month. It had three rooms, one without a floor. The road ran past
the door, and a few feet beyond was the river. By spending money
rather liberally he managed to hire the coolie who had
accompanied him to south Formosa. With his servant's help Mackay
had his new establishment thoroughly cleaned and whitewashed, and
then he moved in his furniture. He laughed as he called it
furniture, for it consisted of but two packing boxes full of
books and clothing. But more came later. The British consul, Mr.
Frater, lent him a chair and a bed. There was one old Chinese,
who kept a shop near by, and who seemed inclined to be friendly
to the queer barbarian with the black beard. He presented him
with an old pewter lamp, and the house was furnished complete.
Mackay sat down at his one table, the first night after he was
settled. The damp air was hot and heavy, and swarms of tormenting
mosquitoes filled the room. Through the open door came the murmur
of the river, and from far down in the village the sounds of
harsh, clamorous voices. He was alone, many, many miles from home
and friends. Around him on every side were bitter enemies.
One might have supposed he would be overcome at the thought of
the stupendous task before him, but whoever supposed that did not
know George Mackay. He lighted his pewter lamp, opened his diary,
and these are the words he wrote:
"Here I am in this house, having been led all the way from the
old homestead in Zorra by Jesus, as direct as though my boxes
were labeled, 'Tamsui, Formosa, China.' Oh, the glorious
privilege to lay the foundation of Christ's Church in unbroken
heathenism! God help me to do this with the open Bible! Again I
swear allegiance to thee, O King Jesus, my Captain. So help me
And now his first duty was to learn the Chinese language. He
could already speak a little, but it would be a long time, he
knew, before he could preach. And yet, how was he to learn? he
asked himself. He was a scholar without a teacher or school. But
there was his servant, and nothing daunted by the difficulties to
be overcome, he set to work to make him his teacher also.
George Mackay always went at any task with all his might and
main, and he attacked the Chinese language in the same manner. He
found it a hard stone to break, however. "Of all earthly things I
know of," he remarked once, "it is the most intricate and
difficult to master."
His unwilling teacher was just about as hard to manage as his
task, for the coolie did not take kindly to giving lessons. He
certainly had a rather hard time. Day and night his master
deluged him with questions. He made him repeat phrases again and
again until his pupil could say them correctly. He asked him the
name of everything inside the house and out, until the easy-going
Oriental was overcome with dismay. This wild barbarian, with the
fiery eyes and the black beard, was a terrible creature who gave
one no rest night nor day. Sometimes after Mackay had spent hours
with him, imitating sounds and repeating the names of things over
and over, his harassed teacher would back out of the room
stealthily, keeping an anxious eye on his master, and showing
plainly he had grave fears that the foreigner had gone quite mad.
Mackay realized that the pace was too hard for his servant, and
that the poor fellow was in a fair way to lose what little wits
he had, if not left alone occasionally. So one day he wandered
out along the riverbank, in search of some one who would talk
with him. He turned into a path that led up the hill behind the
town. He was in hopes he might meet a farmer who would be
When he reached the top of the bluff he found a grassy common
stretching back toward the rice-fields. Here and there over these
downs strayed the queer-looking water-buffaloes. Some of them
were plunged deep in pools of water, and lay there like pigs with
only their noses out.
He heard a merry laugh and shout from another part of the common,
and there sat a crowd of frolicsome Chinese boys, in large sun
hats, and short loose trousers. There were about a dozen of them,
and they were supposed to be herding the water-buffaloes to keep
them out of the unfenced fields. But, boylike, they were flying
kites, and letting their huge-horned charges herd themselves.
Mackay walked over toward them. It was not so long since he had
been a boy himself, and these jolly lads appealed to him. But the
moment one caught sight of the stranger, he gave a shout of
alarm. The rest jumped up, and with yells of terror and cries of
"Here's the foreign devil!" "Run, or the foreign devil will get
you!" away they went helter-skelter, their big hats waving, their
loose clothes flapping wildly. They all disappeared like magic
behind a big boulder, and the cause of their terror had to walk
But the next day, when his servant once more showed signs of
mental exhaustion, he strolled out again upon the downs. The boys
were there and saw him coming. Though they did not actually run
away this time, they retired to a safe distance, and stood ready
to fly at any sign of the barbarian's approach. They watched him
wonderingly. They noticed his strange white face, his black
beard, his hair cut off quite short, his amazing hat, and his
ridiculous clothes. And when at last he walked away, and all
danger was over, they burst into shouts of laughter.
The next day, as they scampered about the common, here again came
the absurd-looking stranger, walking slowly, as though careful
not to frighten them. The boys did not run away this time, and to
their utter astonishment he spoke to them. Mackay had practised
carefully the words he was to say to them, and the well-spoken
Chinese astounded the lads as much as if one of the monkeys that
gamboled about the trees of their forests should come down and
say, "How do you do, boys?"
"Why, he speaks our words!" they all cried at once.
As they stood staring, Mackay took out his watch and held it up
for them to see. It glittered in the sun, and at the sight of it
and the kind smiling face above, they lost their fears and
crowded around him. They examined the watch in great wonder. They
handled his clothes, exclaimed over the buttons on his coat, and
inquired what they were for. They felt his hands and his fingers,
and finally decided that, in spite of his queer looks, he was
after all a man.
From that day the young missionary and the herd-boys were great
friends. Every day he joined them in the buffalo pasture, and
would spend from four to five hours with them. And as they were
very willing to talk, he not only learned their language rapidly,
but also learned much about their homes, their schools, their
customs, and their religion.
One day, after a lengthy lesson from his servant, the latter
decided that the barbarian was unbearable, and bundling up his
clothes he marched off, without so much as "by your leave." So
Mackay fell back entirely upon his little teachers on the common.
With their assistance in the daytime and his Chinese-English
dictionary at night, he made wonderful progress.
He was left alone now, to get his own meals and keep the swarms
of flies and the damp mold out of his hut by the riverside. He
soon learned to eat rice and water-buffalo meat, but he missed
the milk and butter and cheese of his old Canadian home. For he
discovered that cows were never milked in Formosa. There was
variety of food, however, as almost every kind of vegetable that
he had ever tasted and many new kinds that he found delicious
were for sale in the open-fronted shops in the village. Then the
fruits! They were fresh at all seasons--oranges the whole year,
bananas fresh from the fields--and such pineapples! He realized
that he had never really tasted pineapples before.
Meanwhile, he was becoming acquainted. All the families of the
herd-boys learned to like him, and when others came to know him
they treated him with respect. He was a teacher, they learned,
and in China a teacher is always looked upon with something like
reverence. And, besides, he had a beard. This appendage was
considered very honorable among Chinese, so the black-bearded
barbarian was respected because of this.
But there was one class that treated him with the greatest scorn.
These were the Chinese scholars. They were the literati, and were
like princes in the land. They despised every one who was not a
graduate of their schools, and most of all they despised this
barbarian who dared to set himself up as a teacher. Mackay had
now learned Chinese well enough to preach, and his sermons
aroused the indignation of these proud graduates.
Sometimes when one was passing the little hut by the river, he
would drop in, and glance around just to see what sort of place
the barbarian kept. He would pick up the Bible and other books,
throw them on the floor, and with words of contempt strut proudly
Mackay endured this treatment patiently, but he set himself to
study their books, for he felt sure that the day was not far
distant when he must meet these conceited literati in argument.
He went about a good deal now. The Tamsui people became
accustomed to him, and he was not troubled much. His bright eyes
were always wide open and he learned much of the lives of the
people he had come to teach. Among the poor he found a poverty of
which he had never dreamed. They could live upon what a so-called
poor family in Canada would throw away. Nothing was wasted in
China. He often saw the meat and fruit tins he threw away when
they were emptied, reappearing in the market-place. He learned
that these poorer people suffered cruel wrongs at the hands of
their magistrates. He visited a yamen, or court-house, and saw
the mandarin dispense "justice," but his judgment was said to be
always given in favor of the one who paid him the highest bribe.
He saw the widow robbed, and the innocent suffering frightful
tortures, and sometimes he strode home to his little hut by the
river, his blood tingling with righteous indignation. And then he
would pray with all his soul:
"O God, give me power to teach these people of thy love through
But of all the horrors of heathenism, and there were many, he
found the religion the most dreadful. He had read about it when
on board ship, but he found it was infinitely worse when written
in men's lives than when set down in print. He never realized
what a blessing was the religion of Jesus Christ to a nation
until he lived among a people who did not know Him.
He found almost as much difficulty in learning the Chinese
religion as the Chinese language. After he had spent days trying
to understand it, it would seem to him like some horrible
nightmare filled with wicked devils and no less wicked gods and
evil spirits and ugly idols. And to make matters worse there was
not one religion, but a bewildering mixture of three. First of
all there was the ancient Chinese religion, called Confucianism.
Confucius, a wise man of China, who lived ages before, had laid
down some rules of conduct, and had been worshiped ever since.
Very good rules they were as far as they went, and if the Chinese
had followed this wise man they would not have drifted so far
from the truth. But Confucianism meant ancestor-worship. In every
home was a little tablet with the names of the family's ancestors
upon it, and every one in the house worshiped the spirits of
those departed. With this was another religion called Taoism.
This taught belief in wicked demons who lurked about people ready
to do them some ill. Then, years and years before, some people
from India had brought over their religion, Buddhism, which had
become a system of idol-worship. These three religions were so
mixed up that the people themselves were not able to distinguish
between them. The names of their idols would cover pages, and an
account of their religion would fill volumes. The more Mackay
learned of it, the more he yearned to tell the people of the one
God who was Lord and Father of them all.
As soon as he had learned to write clearly, he bought a large
sheet of paper, and printed on it the ten commandments in Chinese
characters. Then he hung it on the outside of his door. People
who passed read it and made comments of various kinds. Several
threw mud at it, and at last a proud graduate, who came striding
past his silk robes rustling grandly, caught the paper and tore
it down. Mackay promptly put up another. It shared the fate of
the first. Then he put up a third, and the people let it alone.
Even these heathen Chinese were beginning to get an impression of
the dauntless determination of the man with whom they were to get
much better acquainted.
And all this time, while he was studying and working and arguing
with the heathen and preaching to them, the young missionary was
working just as hard at something else; something into which he
was putting as much energy and force as he did into learning the
Chinese language. With all his might and main, day and night, he
was praying--praying for one special object. He had been praying
for this long before he saw Formosa. He was pleading with God to
give him, as his first convert, a young man of education. And so
he was always on the lookout for such, as he preached and taught,
and never once did he cease praying that he might find him.
One forenoon he was sitting at his books, near the open door,
when a visitor stopped before him. It was a fine-looking young
man, well dressed and with all the unmistakable signs of the
scholar. He had none of the graduate's proud insolence, however,
for when Mackay arose, he spoke in the most gentlemanly manner.
At the missionary's invitation he entered, and sat down, and the
two chatted pleasantly. The visitor seemed interested in the
foreigner, and asked him many questions that showed a bright,
intelligent mind. When he arose to go, Mackay invited him to come
again, and he promised he would. He left his card, a strip of
pink paper about three inches by six; the name on it read Giam
Cheng Hoa. Mackay was very much interested in him, he was so
bright, so affable, and such pleasant company. He waited
anxiously to see if he would return.
At the appointed hour the visitor was at the door, and the
missionary welcomed him warmly. The second visit was even more
pleasant than the first. And Mackay told his guest why he had
come to Formosa, and of Jesus Christ who was both God and man and
who had come to the earth to save mankind.
The young man's bright eyes were fixed steadily upon the
missionary as he talked, and when he went away his face was very
thoughtful. Mackay sat thinking about him long after he had left.
He had met many graduates, but none had impressed him as had this
youth, with his frank face and his kind, genial manner. There was
something too about the young fellow, he felt, that marked him as
superior to his companions. And then a sudden divine inspiration
flashed into the lonely young missionary's heart. THIS WAS HIS
MAN! This was the man for whom he had been praying. The stranger
had as yet shown no sign of conversion, but Mackay could not get
away from that inspired thought. And that night he could not
sleep for joy.
In a day or two the young man returned. With him was a noted
graduate, who asked many questions about the new religion. The
next day he came again with six graduates, who argued and
When they were gone Mackay paced up and down the room and faced
the serious situation which he realized he was in. He saw plainly
that the educated men of the town were banded together to beat
him in argument. And with all his energy and desperate
determination he set to work to be ready for them.
His first task was to gain a thorough knowledge of the Chinese
religions. He had already learned much about them, both from
books on shipboard and since he had come to the island. But now
he spent long hours of the night, poring over the books of
Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, by the light of his smoky
little pewter lamp. And before the next visit of his enemies he
knew almost more of their jumble of religions than they did
It was well he was prepared, for his opponents came down upon him
in full force. Every day a band of college graduates, always
headed by Giam Cheng Hoa, came up from the town to the
missionary's little hut by the river, and for hours they would
sit arguing and talking. They were always the most noted scholars
the place could produce, but in spite of all their cleverness the
barbarian teacher silenced them every time. He fairly took the
wind out of their sails by showing he knew quite as much about
Chinese religions as they did. If they quoted Confucius to
contradict the Bible, he would quote Confucius to contradict
them. He confounded them by proving that they were not really
followers of Confucius, for they did not keep his sayings. And
with unanswerable arguments he went on to show that the religion
taught by Jesus Christ was the one and only religion to make man
good and noble.
Each day the group of visitors grew larger, and at last one
morning, as Mackay looked out of his door, he saw quite a crowd
approaching. They were led, as usual, by the friendly young
scholar. By his side walked, or rather, swaggered a man of whom
the missionary had often heard. He was a scholar of high degree
and was famed all over Formosa for his great learning. Behind him
came about twenty men, and Mackay could see by their dress and
appearance that they were all literary graduates. They were
coming in great force this time, to crush the barbarian with
their combined knowledge. He met them at the door with his usual
politeness and hospitality. He was always courteous to these
proud literati, but he always treated them as equals, and showed
none of the deference they felt he owed them. The crowd seated
itself on improvised benches and the argument opened.
This time Mackay led the attack. He carried the war right into
the enemy's camp. Instead of letting them put questions to him,
he asked them question after question concerning Confucianism,
Buddhism, and Taoism. They were questions that sometimes they
could not answer, and to their chagrin they had to hear "the
barbarian" answer for them. There were other questions, still
more humiliating, which, when they answered, only served to show
their religion as false and degrading. Their spokesman, the great
learned man, became at last so entangled that there was nothing
for him but flight. He arose and stalked angrily away, and in a
little while they all left. Mackay looked wistfully at young Giam
as he went out, wondering what effect these words had upon him.
He was not left long in doubt. Not half an hour after a shadow
fell across the open Bible the missionary was studying. He
glanced up. There he stood! His bright face was very serious. He
looked gravely at the other young man, and his eyes shone as he
"I brought all those graduates and teachers here," he confessed,
"to silence you or be silenced. And now I am convinced that the
doctrines you teach are true. I am determined to become a
Christian, even though I suffer death for it."
Mackay rose from his seat, his face alight with an overwhelming
joy. The man he had prayed for! He took the young fellow's hand--
speechless. And together the only missionary of north Formosa and
his first convert fell upon their knees before the true God and
poured out their hearts in joy and thanksgiving.
CHAPTER V. SOLDIERS TWO
And now a new day dawned for the lonely young missionary. He had
not a convert but a helper and a delightful companion. His new
friend was of a bright, joyous nature, the sort that everybody
loves. Giam was his surname, but almost every one called him by
his given name, Hoa, and those who knew him best called him A
Hoa. Mackay used this more familiar boyish name, for Giam was the
younger by a few years.
To A Hoa his new friend was always Pastor Mackay, or as the
Chinese put it, Mackay Pastor, Kai Bok-su was the real Chinese of
it, and Kai Bok-su soon became a name known all over the island
A Hoa needed all his kind new friend's help in the first days
after his conversion. For family, relatives, and friends turned
upon him with the bitterest hatred for taking up the barbarian's
religion. So, driven from his friends, he came to live in the
little hut by the river with Mackay. While at home these two
read, sang, and studied together all the day long. It would have
been hard for an observer to guess who was teacher and who pupil.
For at one time A Hoa was receiving Bible instruction and the
next time Mackay was being drilled in the Chinese of the educated
classes. Each teacher was as eager to instruct as each pupil was
eager to learn.
The Bible was, of course, the chief textbook, but they studied
other things, astronomy, geology, history, and similar subjects.
One day the Canadian took out a map of the world, and the Chinese
gazed with amazement at the sight of the many large countries
outside China. A Hoa had been private secretary to a mandarin,
and had traveled much in China, and once spent six months in
Peking. His idea had been that China was everything, that all
countries outside it were but insignificant barbarian places. His
geography lessons were like revelations.
His progress was simply astonishing, as was also Mackay's. The
two seemed possessed with the spirit of hard work. But a
superstitious old man who lived near believed they were possessed
with a demon. He often listened to the two singing, drilling, and
repeating words as they marched up and down, either in the house
or in front of it, and he became alarmed. He was a kindly old
fellow, and, though a heathen, felt well disposed toward the
missionary and A Hoa. So one day, very much afraid, he slipped
over to the little house with two small cups of strong tea. He
came to the door and proffered them with a polite bow. He hoped
they might prove soothing to the disturbed nerves of the
patients, he said. He suggested, also, that a visit to the
nearest temple might help them.
The two affected ones received his advice politely, but the humor
of it struck them both, and when their visitor was gone they
laughed so hard the tea nearly choked them.
The missionary was soon able to speak so fluently that he
preached almost every day, either in the little house by the
river, or on the street in some open square. There were other
things he did, too. On every side he saw great suffering from
disease. The chief malady was the terrible malaria, and the
native doctors with their ridiculous remedies only made the poor
sufferers worse. Mackay had studied medicine for a short time
while in college, and now found his knowledge very useful. He
gave some simple remedies to several victims of malaria which
proved effective. The news of the cures spread far and wide. The
barbarian was kind, he had a good heart, the people declared.
Many more came to him for medicine, and day by day the circle of
his friends grew. And wherever he went, curing disease, teaching,
or preaching, A Hoa went with him, and shared with him the taunts
of their heathen enemies.
But the gospel was gradually making its way. Not long after A
Hoa's conversion a second man confessed Christ. He had previously
disturbed the meetings by throwing stones into the doorway
whenever he passed. But his sister was cured of malaria by the
missionary's medicine, and soon both sister and mother became
Christians, and finally the stone-thrower himself. And so,
gradually, the lines of the enemy were falling back, and at every
sign of retreat the little army of two advanced. A little army?
No! For was there not the whole host of heaven moving with them?
And Mackay was learning that his boyish dreams of glory were
truly to be fulfilled. He had wanted always to be a soldier like
his grandfather, and fight a great Waterloo, and here he was
right in the midst of the battle with the victory and the glory
The two missionaries often went on short trips here and there
into the country around Tamsui, and Mackay determined that when
the intense summer heat had lessened they would make a long tour
to some of the large cities. The heat of August was almost
overpowering to the Canadian. Flies and mosquitoes and insect
pests of all kinds made his life miserable, too, and prevented
his studying as hard as he wished.
One oppressive day he and A Hoa returned from a preaching tour in
the country to find their home in a state of siege. Right across
the threshold lay a monster serpent, eight feet in length. A Hoa
shouted a warning, and seized a long pole, and the two managed to
kill it. But their troubles were not yet over. The next morning,
Mackay stepped outside the door and sprang back just in time to
escape another, the mate of the one killed. This one was even
larger than the first, and was very fierce. But they finished it
with sticks and stones.
When September came the days grew clearer, and the many pests of
summer were not so numerous. The mosquitoes and flies that had
been such torments disappeared, and there was some relief from
the damp oppressive heat. But he had only begun to enjoy the
refreshing breaths of cool air, and had remarked to A Hoa that
days reminded him of Canadian summers, when the weather gave him
to understand that every Formosan season has its drawbacks.
September brought tropical storms and typhoons that were
terrible, and he saw from his little house on the hillside big
trees torn up by the root, buildings swept away like chaff, and
out in the harbor great ships lifted from their anchorage and
whirled away to destruction. And then he was sometimes thankful
that his little hut was built into the hillside, solid and
But the fierce storms cleared away the heavy dampness that had
made the heat of the summer so unbearable, and October and
November brought delightful days. The weather was still warm of
course, but the nights were cool and pleasant.
So early one October morning, Mackay and A Hoa started off on a
tour to the cities.
"We shall go to Kelung first," said the missionary. Kelung was a
seaport city on the northern coast, straight east across the
island from Tamsui. A coolie to carry food and clothing was
hired, and early in the morning, while the stars were still
shining, they passed through the sleeping town and out on the
little paths between the rice-fields. Though it was yet scarcely
daylight, the farmers were already in their fields. It was
harvest-time--the second harvest of the year--and the little
rice-fields were no longer like mirrors, but were filled with
high rustling grain ready for the sickle. The water had been
drained off and the reaper and thrasher were going through the
fields before dawn. There was no machinery like that used at
home. The reaper was a short sickle, the thrashing-machine a kind
of portable tub, and Mackay looked at them with some amusement,
and described to A Hoa how they took off the great wheat crops in
The two were in high spirits, ready for any sort of adventure and
they met some. Toward evening they reached a place called
Sek-khau, and went to the little brick inn to get a
sleeping-place. The landlord came to the door and was about to
bid A Hoa enter, when the light fell upon Mackay's face. With a
shout, "Black-bearded barbarian!" he slammed the door in their
faces. They turned away, but already a crowd had begun to gather.
"The black-bearded barbarian is here! The foreign devil from
Tamsui has come!" was the cry. The mob followed the two down the
streets, shouting curses. Some one threw a broken piece of brick,
another a stone. Mackay turned and faced them, and for a few
moments they seemed cowed. But the crowd was increasing, and he
deemed it wise to move on. So the two marched out of the town
followed by stones and curses. And, as they went, Mackay reminded
A Hoa of what they had been reading the night before.
"Yes," said A Hoa brightly. "The Lord was driven out of his own
town in Galilee."
"Yes, and Paul--you remember how he was stoned. Our Master counts
us worthy to suffer for him." But where to go was the question.
Before they could decide, night came down upon them, and it came
in that sudden tropical way to which Mackay, all his life
accustomed to the long mellow twilights of his northern home,
could never grow accustomed. They each took a torch out of the
carrier's bag, lighted it, and marched bravely on. The path led
along the Kelung river, through tall grass. They were not sure
where it led to, but thought it wise to follow the river; they
would surely come to Kelung some time. Mackay was ahead, A Hoa
right at his heels, and behind them the basket-bearer. At a
sudden turn in the path A Hoa gave a shout of warning, and the
next instant, a band of robbers leaped from the long reeds and
grass, and brandished their spears in the travelers' faces. The
torchlight shone on their fierce evil eyes and their long knives,
making a horrible picture. The young Canadian Scot did not flinch
for a second. He looked the wild leader straight in the face.
"We have no money, so you cannot rob us," he said steadily, "and
you must let us pass at once. I am a teacher and--"
"A TEACHER!" he was interrupted by a dismayed exclamation from
several of the wild band. "A teacher!" As if with one accord they
turned and fled into the darkness. For even a highwayman in China
respects a man of learning. The travelers went on again, with
something of relief and something of the exultation that youth
feels in having faced danger. But a second trouble was upon them.
One of those terrible storms that still raged occasionally had
been brewing all evening, and now it opened its artillery. Great
howling gusts came down from the mountain, carrying sheets of
driving rain. Their torches went out like matches, and they were
left to stagger along in the black darkness. What were they to
do? They could not go back. They could not stay there. They
scarcely dared go on. For they did not know the way, and any
moment a fresh blast of wind or a misstep might hurl them into
the river. But they decided that they must go on, and on they
went, stumbling, slipping, sprawling, and falling outright. Now
there would be an exclamation from Mackay as he sank to the knees
in the mud of a rice-field, now a groan from A Hoa as he fell
over a boulder and bruised and scratched himself, and oftenest a
yell from the poor coolie, as he slipped, baskets and all, into
some rocky crevice, and was sure he was tumbling into the river;
but they staggered on, Mackay secure in his faith in God. His
Father knew and his Father would keep him safely. And behind him
came brave young A Hoa, buoyed up by his new growing faith, and
learning the lesson that sometimes the Captain asks his soldier
to march into hard encounters, but that the soldier must never
The "everlasting arms" were around them, for by midnight they
reached Kelung. They were drenched, breathless, and worn out, and
they spent the night in a damp hovel, glad of any shelter from
the wind and rain.
But the next morning, young soldier A Hoa had a fiercer battle to
fight than any with robbers or storms. As soon as the city was
astir, Mackay and he went out to find a good place to preach.
They passed down the main thoroughfare, and everywhere they
attracted attention. Cries of "Ugly barbarian!" and oftenest
"Black-bearded barbarian" were heard on all sides. A Hoa was
known in Kelung and contempt and ridicule was heaped upon him by
his old college acquaintances. He was consorting with the
barbarian! He was a friend of this foreigner! They poured more
insults upon him than they did upon the barbarian himself. Some
took the stranger as a joke, and laughed and made funny remarks
upon his appearance. Here and there an old woman, peeping through
the doorway, would utter a loud cackling laugh, and pointing a
wizened finger at the missionary would cry: "Eh, eh, look at him!
Tee hee! He's got a wash basin on for a hat!" A Hoa was
distressed at these remarks, but Mackay was highly amused.
"We're drawing a crowd, anyway," he remarked cheerfully, "and
that's what we want."
Soon they came to an open square in front of a heathen temple.
The building had several large stone steps leading up to the
door. Mackay mounted them and stood facing the buzzing crowd,
with A Hoa at his side. They started a hymn.
All people that on earth do dwell
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
The open square in front of them began to fill rapidly. The
people jostled each other in their endeavors to get a view of the
barbarian. Every one was curious, but every one was angry and
indignant, so sometimes the sound of the singing was lost in the
shouts of derision.
When the hymn was finished, Mackay had a sudden inspiration.
"They will surely listen to one of their own people," he said to
himself, and turned to A Hoa.
"Speak to them," he said. "Tell them about the true God."
That was a hard moment for the young convert. He had been a
Christian only a few months and had never yet spoken in public
for Christ. He looked desperately over the sea of mocking faces
beneath him. He opened his mouth, as though to speak, and
hesitated. Just then came a rough and bitter taunt from one of
his old companions. It was too much. A Hoa turned away and hung
The young missionary said nothing. But he did the very wisest
thing he could have done. He had some time before taught A Hoa a
grand old Scottish paraphrase, and they had often sung it
I'm not ashamed to own my Lord
Or to defend his cause,
Maintain the glory of his cross
And honor all his laws.
Mackay's voice, loud and clear, burst into this fine old hymn. A
Hoa raised his head. He joined in the hymn and sang it to the
end. It put mettle into him. It was the battle-song that brought
back the young recruit's courage. Almost before the last note
sounded he began to speak. His voice rang out bold and unafraid
over the crowd of angry heathen.
"I am a Christian!" he said distinctly. "I worship the true God.
I cannot worship idols," with a gesture toward the temple door,
"that rats can destroy. I am not afraid. I love Jesus. He is my
Savior and Friend."
No, A Hoa was not "ashamed" any more. His testing time had come,
and he had not failed after all. And his brave, true words sent a
thrill of joy through the more seasoned soldier at his side.
That was not the only difficult situation he met on that journey.
The two soldiers of the cross had many trials, but the thrill of
that victory before the Kelung temple never left them.
When they returned to Tamsui they held daily services in their
house, and A Hoa often spoke to the people who gathered there.
One Sunday they noticed an old woman present, who had come down
the river in a boat. Women as a rule did not come out to the
meetings, but this old lady continued to come every Sunday. She
showed great interest in the missionary's words, and, at the
close of one meeting, he spoke to her. She told him she was a
poor widow, that her name was Thah-so, and that she had come down
the river from Go-ko-khi to hear him preach. Then she added, "I
have passed through many trials in this world, and my idols never
gave me any comfort." Then her eyes shone, "But I like your
teaching very much," she went on. "I believe the God you tell
about will give me peace. I will come again, and bring others."
Next Sunday she was there with several other women. And after
that she came every Sunday, bringing more each time, until at
last a whole boat-load would come down to the service.
These people were so interested that they asked the missionary if
he would not visit them. So one day he and A Hoa boarded one of
the queer-looking flat-bottomed river-boats and were pulled up
the rapids to Go-ko-khi. Every village in Formosa had its
headman, who is virtually the ruler of the place. When the boat
landed, many of the villagers were at the shore to meet their
visitors and took them at once to their mayor's house, the best
building in the village. Tan Paugh, a fine, big, powerfully-built
man, received them cordially. He frankly declared that he was
tired and sick of idols and wanted to hear more of this new
religion. An empty granary was obtained for both church and home,
and the missionary and his assistant took up their quarters
there, and for several months they remained, preaching and
teaching the Bible either in Go-ko-khi, or in the lovely
CHAPTER VI. THE GREAT KAI BOK-SU
The missionary was now becoming a familiar figure both in Tamsui
and in the surrounding country. By many he was loved, by all he
was respected, but by a large number he was bitterly hated. The
scholars continued his worst enemies. They could never forgive
him for beating them so completely in argument, in the days when
A Hoa was striving for the light, and their hatred increased as
they saw other scholars becoming Christians under his teaching.
There was something about him, however, that compelled their
respect and even their admiration. Wherever they met him--on the
street, by their temples, or on the country roads--he bore
himself in such a way as to make them confess that he was their
superior both in ability and knowledge.
These Chinese literati had a custom which Mackay found very
interesting. One proud scholar marching down the street and
scarcely noticing the obsequious bows of his inferiors, would
meet another equally proud scholar. Each would salute the other
in an exceedingly grand manner, and then one would spin off a
quotation from the writings of Confucius or some other Chinese
sage and say, "Now tell me where that is found." And scholar
number two had to ransack his brains to remember where the saying
was found, or else confess himself beaten. Mackay thought it
might be a good habit for the graduates of his own alma mater
across the wide sea to adopt. He wondered what some of his old
college chums would think, if, when he got back to Canada, he
should buttonhole one on the street some day, recite a quotation
from Shakespeare or Macaulay, and demand from his friend where it
could be found. He had a suspicion that the old friend would be
afraid that the Oriental sun had touched George Mackay's brain.
Nevertheless he thought the custom one he could turn to good
account, and before long he was trying it himself. He had such a
wonderful memory that he never forgot anything he had once read.
So the scholars of north Formosa soon discovered, again to their
humiliation, that this Kai Bok-su of Tamsui could beat them at
their own game. They did not care how much he might profess to
know of writers and lands beyond China. Such were only barbarians
anyway. But when, right before a crowd, he would display a surer
knowledge of the Chinese classics than they themselves, they
began not only to respect but to fear him. It was no use trying
to humiliate him with a quotation. With his bright eyes flashing,
he would tell, without a moment's hesitation, where it was found
and come back at the questioner swiftly with another, most
probably one long forgotten, and reel it off as though he had
studied Chinese all his life.
He was a wonderful man certainly, they all agreed, and one whom
it was not safe to oppose. The common people liked him better
every day. He was so tactful, so kind, and always so careful not
to arouse the prejudice of the heathen. He was extremely wise in
dealing with their superstitions. No matter how absurd or
childish they might be, he never ridiculed them, but only strove
to show the people how much happier they might be if they
believed in God as their Father and in Jesus Christ as their
Savior. He never made light of anything sacred to the Chinese
mind, but always tried to take whatever germ of good he could
find in their religion, and lead on from it to the greater good
found in Christianity. He discovered that the ancestral worship
made the younger people kind and respectful to older folk, and he
saw that Chinese children reverenced their parents and elders in
a way that he felt many of his young friends across the sea would
do well to copy.
One day when he and A Hoa were out on a preaching tour, the wise
Kai Bok-su made use of this respect for parents in quieting a
mob. He and his comrade were standing side by side on the steps
of a heathen temple as they had done at Kelung. The angry crowd
was scowling and muttering, ready to throw stones as soon as the
preacher uttered a word. Mackay knew this, and when they had sung
a hymn and the people waited, ready for a riot, his voice rang
out clear and steady, repeating the fifth commandment "Honor thy
father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land
which the Lord thy God giveth thee." A silence fell over the
muttering crowd, and an old heathen whose cue was white and whose
aged hands trembled on the top of his staff, nodded his head and
said, "That is heavenly doctrine." The people were surprised and
disarmed. If the black-bearded barbarian taught such truths as
this, he surely was not so very wicked after all. And so they
listened attentively as he went on to show that they had all one
great Father, even God.
He sometimes found it rather a task to treat with respect that
which the Chinese held sacred. Especially was this so when he
discovered to his amusement and to some carefully concealed
disgust, that in the Chinese family the pig was looked upon with
affection, and as a young naval officer, who visited Mackay
remarked, "was treated like a gentleman."
Every Chinese house of any size was made up of three buildings
joined together so as to make three sides of an enclosure. This
space was called a court, and a door led from it to another next
the street. In this outer yard pigs and fowl were always to be
found. Whenever the missionary dropped in at a home, mother pig
and all the little pigs often followed him inside the house,
quite like members of the family. Every one was always glad to
see Kai Bok-su, pigs and all, and as soon as he appeared the
order was given--"Infuse tea." And when the little handleless
cups of clear brown liquid were passed around and they all drank
and chatted, Mrs. Pig and her children strolled about as welcome
as the guest.
The Chinese would allow no one to hurt their pigs, either. One
day as Mackay sat in his rooms facing the river, battling with
some new Chinese characters, he heard a great hubbub coming up
the street. The threatening mobs that used to surround his house
had long ago ceased to trouble him. He arose in some surprise and
went to the door to see what was the matter. A very unusual sight
for Tamsui met his gaze. Coming up the street at a wild run were
some half-dozen English sailors, their loose blue blouses and
trousers flapping madly. They were evidently from a ship which
Mackay had seen lying in the harbor that morning.
"Give us a gun!" roared the foremost as soon as he saw the
Mackay did not possess a gun, and would not have given the
enraged bluejacket one had he owned a dozen. But the Chinese mob,
roaring with fury, were coming up the street after the men and he
swiftly pointed out a narrow alley that led down to the river.
"Run down there!" he shouted to the sailors. "You can get to your
boats before they find you."
They were gone in an instant, and the next moment the crowd of
pursuers were storming about the door demanding whither the enemy
"What is all this disturbance about?" demanded Kai Bok-su calmly,
glad of an opportunity to gain time for the fleeing sailors.
The aggrieved Chinese gathered about him, each telling the story
as loud as his voice would permit. Those barbarians of the sea
had come swaggering along the streets waving their big sticks.
And they had dared--yes actually DARED--to hit the pet pigs
belonging to every house as they passed. The poor pigs who lay
sunning themselves at the door!
This was indeed a serious offense. Mackay could picture the
rollicking sailor-lads gaily whacking the lazy porkers with their
canes as they passed, happily unconscious of the trouble they
were raising. But there was no amusement in Kai Bok-su's grave
face. He spoke kindly, and soothingly, and promised that if the
offenders misbehaved again he would complain to the authorities.
That made it all right. Heathen though they were, they knew Kai
Bok-su's promise would not be broken, and away they went quite
One day he learned, quite by accident, a new and very useful way
of helping his people. He and A Hoa and several other young men
who had become Christians, went on a missionary tour to
Tek-chham, a large city which he had visited once before.
On the day they left the place, Kai Bok-su's preaching had drawn
such crowds that the authorities of the city became afraid of
him. And when the little party left, a dozen soldiers were sent
to follow the dangerous barbarian and his students and see that
they did not bewitch the people on the road.
The soldiers tramped along after the missionary party, and with
his usual ability to make use of any situation, Mackay stepped
back and chatted with his spies. He found one poor fellow in
agony with the toothache. This malady was very common in north
Formosa, partly owing to the habit of chewing the betel-nut. He
examined the aching tooth and found it badly decayed. "There is a
worm in it," the soldier said, for the Formosan doctors had
taught the people this was the cause of toothache.
Mackay had no forceps, but he knew how to pull a tooth, and he
was not the sort to be daunted by the lack of tools. He got a
piece of hard wood, whittled it into shape and with it pried out
the tooth. The relief from pain was so great that the soldier
almost wept for joy and overwhelmed the tooth-puller with
gratitude. And for the remainder of the journey the guards sent
to spy on the missionary's doings were his warmest friends.
After this, dentistry became a part of this many-sided
missionary's work. He went to a native blacksmith and had a pair
of forceps hammered out of iron. It was a rather clumsy
instrument, but it proved of great value, and later he sent for a
complete set of the best instruments made in New York.
So with forceps in one hand and the Bible in the other, Mackay
found himself doubly equipped. Every second person seemed to be
suffering from toothache, and when the pain was relieved by the
missionary, the patient was in a state of mind to receive his
teaching kindly. The cruel methods by which the native doctors
extracted teeth often caused more suffering than the toothache,
and sometimes even resulted in death through blood-poisoning.
A Hoa and some of the other young converts learned from their
teacher how to pull a tooth, and they, too, became experts in the
Whenever they visited a town or city after this, they had a
program which they always followed. First they would place
themselves in front of an idol temple or in an open square. Here
they would sing a hymn which always attracted a crowd. Next, any
one who wanted a tooth pulled was invited to come forward. Many
accepted the invitation gladly and sometimes a long line of
twenty or thirty would be waiting, each his turn. The Chinese had
considerable nerve, the Canadian discovered, and stood the pain
bravely. They literally "stood" it, too, for there was no
dentist's chair and every man stood up for his operation, very
much pleased and very grateful when it was over. Then there were
quinine and other simple remedies for malaria handed round, for
in a Formosan crowd there were often many shaking in the grip of
this terrible disease. And now, having opened the people's hearts
by his kindness, Kai Bok-su brought forth his cure for souls. He
would mount the steps of the temple or stand on a box or stone,
and tell the wonderful old story of the man Jesus who was also
God, and who said to all sick and weary and troubled ones, "Come
unto me, . . . and I will give you rest." And often, when he had
finished, the disease of sin in many a heart was cured by the
remedy of the gospel.
And so the autumn passed away happily and busily, and Mackay
entered his first Formosan winter. And such a winter! The young
man who had felt the clear, bright cold of a Canadian January
needed all his fine courage to bear up under its dreariness. It
started about Christmas time. Just when his own people far away
in Canada were gathering about the blazing fire or jingling over
the crisp snow in sleighs and cutters, the great winter rains
commenced. Christmas day--his first Christmas in a land that did
not know its beautiful meaning--was one long dreary downpour. It
rained steadily all Christmas week. It poured on New Year's day
and for a week after. It came down in torrents all January.
February set in and still it rained and rained, with only a short
interval each afternoon. Day and night, week in, week out, it
poured, until Mackay forgot what sunlight looked like. His house
grew damp, his clothes moldy. A stream broke out up in the hill
behind and one morning he awoke to find a cascade tumbling into
his kitchen, and rushing across the floor out into the river
beyond. And still it poured and the wind blew and everything was
damp and cold and dreary.
He caught an occasional glimpse of snow, only a very far-off
view, for it lay away up on the top of a mountain, but it made
his heart long for just one breath of good dry Canadian air, just
one whiff of the keen, cutting frost.
But Kai Bok-su was not the sort to spend these dismal days
repining. Indeed he had no time, even had he been so inclined.
His work filled up every minute of every rainy day and hours of
the drenched night. If there was no sunshine outside there was
plenty in his brave heart, and A Hoa's whole nature radiated
And there were many reasons for being happy after all. On the
second Sabbath of February, 1873, just one year after his arrival
in Tamsui, the missionary announced, at the close of one of his
Sabbath services, that he would receive a number into the
Christian church. There was instantly a commotion among the
heathen who were in the house, and yells and jeers from those
crowding about the door outside.
"We'll stop him," they shouted. "Let us beat the converts," was
But Mackay went quietly on with the beautiful ceremony in spite
of the disturbance. Five young men, with A Hoa at their head,
came and were baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and
the Holy Spirit.
When the next Sabbath came these five with their missionary sat
down for the first time to partake of the Lord's Supper. It was a
very impressive ceremony. One young fellow broke down, declaring
he was not worthy. Mackay took him alone into his little room and
they prayed together, and the young man came out to the Lord's
Supper comforted, knowing that all might be worthy in Jesus
Spring came at last, bright and clear, and Mackay announced to A
Hoa that they must go up the river and visit their friends at Go-ko-khi. The two did not go alone this time.
Three other young men
who wanted to be missionaries were now spending their days with
their teacher, learning with A Hoa how to preach the gospel. So
it was quite a little band of disciples that walked along the
river bank up to Go-ko-khi. Mackay preached at all the villages
along the route, and visited the homes of Christians.
One day, as they passed a yamen or Chinese court-house where a
mandarin was trying some cases, they stepped in to see what was
going on. At one end of the room sat the mandarin who was judge.
He was dressed in magnificent silks and looked down very
haughtily upon the lesser people and the retinue of servants who
were gathered about him. On either side of the room stood a row
of constables and near them the executioners. The rest of the
room was filled with friends of the people on trial and by the
rabble from the street. The missionaries mixed with the former
and stood watching proceedings. There were no lawyers, no jury.
The mandarin's decision was law.
The first case was one of theft. Whether the man had really
committed the crime or not was a question freely discussed among
the onlookers around Mackay. But there seemed no doubt as to his
punishment being swift and heavy. "He has not paid the mandarin,"
a friend explained to the missionary. "He will be punished."
"The mandarin eats cash," remarked another with a shrug. It was a
saying to which Mackay had become accustomed. For it was one of
the shameless proverbs of poor, oppressed Formosa.
The case was soon finished. Nothing was definitely proven against
the man. But the mandarin pronounced the sentence of death. The
victim was hurried out, shrieking his innocence, and praying for
mercy. Case followed case, each one becoming more revolting than
the last to the eyes of the young man accustomed to British
justice. Imprisonment and torture were meted out to prisoners,
and even witnesses were laid hold of and beaten on the face by
the executioners if their tale did not suit the mandarin. Men who
were plainly guilty but who had given their judge a liberal bribe
were let off, while innocent men were made to pay heavy fines or
were thrown into prison. The young missionary went out and on his
way sickened by the sights he had witnessed. And as he went, he
raised his eyes to heaven and prayed fervently that he might be a
faithful preacher of the gospel, and that one day Formosa would
be a Christian land and injustice and oppression be done away.
The next scene was a happier one. There was an earnest little